My involvement with Orlanthi Studies began as a youth. Like so many of us, I was fascinated by the groundbreaking work of Greg Stafford and his contemporaries, the vivid tales of Glorantha they brought to light in seminal works like Cults of Prax, Snake Pipe Hollow, or White Bear and Red Moon. Though the translation and study of Gloranthan myth and history was really just in its early stages at the time, it nevertheless exerted a powerful influence over me...almost a spell. My own academic career, studying the languages and myth cycles of early Indo-European peoples, no doubt owes its origin to this adolescent fascination. I never imagined that I might end up working in the field of Orlanthi Studies myself, though.
By now we all know of the discoveries made at Kot Diji, the unearthing of so many remarkably well preserved tablets written in the ancient Harappan script. Dating back to at least 3500 BCE, these writings bring us closer to the Hero Wars than scholars were ever able to get before. In these tablets we find recorded a wealth of tales from the Hero Wars period, stories that no doubt must have been orally passed down for countless generations before being committed to writing. Many concern the "Black Stag," a clan from the ancient kingdom of Sartar. In being called to translate these, my professional world collided with the love affair of my youth. I have spent the last three decades engaged in the pursuit.
What follows here is an overview of the Black Stag. It is culled from numerous sources, both among the Kot Diji writings (H13 through H56 especially) and the researches of Stafford and others. It cannot claim to be an authoritative overview of Orlanthi culture, or even Heortling or Sartarite for that matter. It is simply the preserved record of a single clan. It will mark the first of several essays, reviving the memory of this remarkable people.