The Forests were beset by a number of troubles during the Bad Times.
First came the Winds which threatened to tear down the trees. Many stood up against the Winds and many were destroyed. One of those was Yelmalio, the Defender and Forest Sun who stood against the wind. First he threw his Lightning Spear at Orlanth who laughed and caught it harmlessly. Then Yelmalio stood firm and was blown down, his legs broken and his armour ripped off. The remaining trees spoke to the Winds and agreed that they would bend and allow the Winds to roar through the forests unhindered if the Winds would not break their backs. Orlanth was impressed by the sacrifice of Yelmalio and agreed to their request. Even now, some of the Trees forget and stand up to the Winds only to be broken and destroyed.
Second was Zorak Zoran the Destroyer who had always hated Aldrya and had killed Flamal. He saw broken Yelmalio and attacked him with his great club. He beat the broken God and beat him almost to death, but Yelmalio gathered all his energy and hurled his Fires at Zorak Zoran, burning him horribly and making him forget about hurting the Forests, at least for that day. Zorak Zoran ran off, leaving Yelmalio a cold shell. However, he was so frightened of the Fires that he ate that he ran screaming from the Forests and even now cannot use the Fires properly. However, the Forests are sometimes dark even in the daytime and scare the unprepared.
Third was Inora, Cold Winter Queen. She spread her cold across the land and sucked the last remaining spark of life from Yelmalio. In desperation he gave her his Cloak of Brilliance if she would protect the Forests from the Cold with her blanket of Snow. Inora relented, moved by his pleas, and allowed him to live, but took his Cloak of Brilliance and laid it over her blanket to protect the plants from the cold of her father and of Himile who walked the lands at that time.
Finally, came the Evil Ones, the Eaters who loved nothing and hated everything. They almost devoured Yelmalio as he was naked and defenceless in the Forests, but his friends Arroin and High King Elf saw him and helped him. High King Elf drove off the Eaters and Arroin gave his essence to Yelmalio to heal him. Ever since, Yelmalio has helped the Forests and is the prime Guardian with High King Elf.
The Hill of Gold Quest as known by the Aldryami is basically a Defence of the Forest where Yelmalio defends the Forest against all-comers, is defeated by each but succeeds in protecting the Forest by each defeat. Unlike the normal Yelmalian Quest it is not a Loser Quest as Yelmalio succeeds by sacrificing himself. It can therefore also be seen as a Morality Play where the lesson of self-sacrifice is taught to young elves.
There is no shame for Elven Yelmalians to perform the Quest and trying to win. After all, they can defend the Forests in victory as well as defeat. In this way, it differes from the standard Yelmalian version.
The Yelmalian Hill of Gold Quest has Four Stations.
On the Stations, Yelmalio may not heal himself of any of the wounds taken earlier in the Quest. Only Inora and Arroin may heal him.
Here, Orlanth storms into the Forest and fights Yelmlaio. This is a toe-to-toe slugging contest where Yelmalio traditionally goes into Shield Wall mode and tries to resist Orlanth's attacks. However, Orlanth is too strong for him and knocks him down.
Orlanth uses Storm magic here to blow Yelmalio over, often summoning strong winds for this very purpose. Orlanth's prize is the Yelmalian's Spear which he throws at Orlanth (and always misses) and his armour.
Yelmalio must defeat this god or lose Fire Powers.
Zorak Zoran must fight Yelmalio here. If Yelmalio was defeated by Orlanth previously he will have no armour and no spear and will be unable to cast Protection or Shield. If he has the Cloak of Brilliance he may cast Sunbright and Shimmer. Obviously, this will be an unequal contest. If Yelmalio defeated Orlanth but gave up his armour and Spear then he may still cast Shield and Protection. If he defeated Orlanth and kept his armour and spear then he may fight as normal.
If Zorak Zoran wins here then he may take all Fire Powers owned by Yelmalio. This includes magic items, spells and abilities. He may choose to kill Yelmalio but will be prevented if Yelmalio makes a Just trait roll. If Yelmalio wins here he may take any Fire Powers owned by the Zorak Zoran Questor and may use them without the normal Yelmalian restrictions.
Here, Yelmalio must resist Inora's wiles. If he defeated Zorak Zoran then he may attempt to defeat Inora to achieve the purpose of the original Quest. Some Summer Questors attempt this to drive Winter back.
Yelmalio must defeat Inora here. If he has defeated Orlanth or Zorak Zoran he may have his Spear, Armour or Fire with him. If he has his Spear or Fire then he can try to defeat Inora. If he has his Armour then he is protected against Inora's Weapons. If he has his Fire then he is protected against her Cold. If he defeats Inora here then he forces her away from the land for a year and gains a Control spell or ability or Resistance to Cold or similar ability.
If Yelmalio has his Armour then he can wear it and can cast Protection and Shield. If he does not have his armour but defeated Orlanth and gave up his armour then he may cast Shield and protection. If he was defeated by Orlanth and does not have his armour then he cannot cast Protection or Shield. If he does not have his Fire then he cannot cast Fire Magics. If he resisted Inora then he will not have the Cloak of Brilliance and will not be able to cast Shimmer of Sunbright.
He is faced by a number of Chaos Creatures, the number varies but always starts from a base. For every Station he defeats the number of Chaos Creatures is increased by the base number. So, if the Base Number is 3 and the Questor defeats Orlanth and Zorak Zoran then he is faced by 9 Creatures of Chaos, 3 for Orlanth, 3 for Zorak Zoran and 3 to start off with. At this stage, he will still have the unhealed wounds he gained on the earlier stations so the fight should be one-sided. Bear in mind that each of the Chaos Beasts should be at approximately the same level as the Questor - often Chaotic HeroQuestors will perform the Hill of Gold and will face Yelmalio, Inora, Orlanth and Zorak Zoran.
If Yelmalio is being defeated by Chaos then he will be rescued by Arroin and High King Elf. These will often take the form of a HeroQuest party of Elves and Healers who perform their part of the Hill of Gold time and time again. They will drive off the Chaos and will heal Yelmalio. High King Elf will arm Yelmalio with a new Spear and new Armour. In return, Yelmalio agrees to help defend the Forests and Arroin, becoming an Elf Friend.
Should Yelmalio defeat the Chaos then Arroin and High King Elf will meet him as an ally rather than rescuing him. If he defeated the Chaos without Weapons, Armour or Fire then he gains the Big Prize, otherwise he merely survives and can add the combat to his Victory list. It is quite possible to defeat Orlanth, Zorak Zoran and Inora yet at each stage to give up his abilities as if he lost. This proves how strong and pious he is.
In a God Plane Quest, this is Immortality. He will not age, is immune to normal disease and normal death. He is only damaged by Runic or Magic Weapons. He recovers from normal damage quickly, maybe regenerating damage done. Even if killed, he may not die for his POW SR after death and may heal himself in that time. He is immune to functional incapacitation. All damage done to him can be healed even if this is not normally the case. Perhaps all damage done to him is halved or has his POW subtracted first. In any case, he will be much harder to kill.
On Practice Run Quests the benefits of the Big Prize are less but along the same lines. Depending on the difficulty of the Quest the Questor may choose one or more of the above abilities. Initiate HeroQuestors gain one ability, Rune Levels may gain two or more abilities. It may be that one ability is gained for each foe defeated in the Quest, so that a Questor who defeats Orlanth, Zorak Zoran, Inora and Chaos may gain four abilities, although initiates generally only gain one ability.