“Davyrma fled Umbar, returning to her mountaintop, and her sorrow was endless, yet the babe in her womb would be free. And then, Beldar the Bear came forth. Like the others, he possessed great strength of arms, for Davyrma could delve like a dozen Forge Folk and a snap of her tail could topple forests. From his father, Beldar was as quixotic as the sea, ever brash and unpredictable and quick to offer the justice of his mace Skullcrusher. More like Glorianna in spirit than Pugnar, Beldar cared little for the stratagems of war. One such as he need only wade into battle and foes would fall by the score as surely as the Dark Lord had but one eye. Hirsute like his namesake, the Bear disdained armor or trappings that might slow his advance, for none loved the rush of battle as much as he, to whom death in righteous combat was the highest honor one could attain.”
Beldar (bell-dahr), God of Strength, War, and Glory. Beldar the Bear, Champion of War and Glory. Son of Umbar and Davyrma (before she became evil).
They called him Beldar the Bear. Why a bear, you might ask. Was it the alliteration? I think not, but there were other reasons. If I had to settle on one, I’d say it was his solitary nature. Beldar wasn’t a social animal like the other three Vanara living in the Crystal Palace. He was more like Bangal, but with Beldar that was a matter of choice, not a job requirement as it was with the Rainbow Lord. Beldar shared many attributes with his namesake. He chose to appear as a huge man, tall enough to tower over the other gods, with broad almost hunched shoulders, and a snout-like nose. He was a hairy dude too, quite shaggy in the winters when he let his hair grow. Like his namesake, he was ferocious when his ire was tickled, but even with all these similarities, I’ll stick with my initial hypothesis. Beldar was a lonely god, lonelier than he deserved.
The loneliness was part of him almost from the beginning. He went straight from his place of birth, more on that later, to the Crystal Palace. Glorianna the Rose greeted him upon arrival and her beauty struck him like an arrow from Cupid’s bow, corny as that sounds. Beldar wanted to get down on his knees and propose right then and there, but he tripped over his tongue like club-footed runner. As strong as he was, women cut him to the quick, reducing him to a quivering tub of jelly. Instead of confessing his love, Beldar bolted from the Palace and found a cave in which he could hunker down like a bear in hibernation. As it turned out, hiding in caves became a lifelong habit. Like other Vanara, Beldar visited Sangrar on occasion, but instead of visiting the kingdoms of Man, he wandered the wilderness searching for caves where he could take naps.
Beldar never lost his feelings for Glorianna and it wasn’t much of a secret. When all five Vanara gathered for the first time in the Crystal Palace, they felt it important to name a leader. Vitale was the natural choice. Four of them, including Glorianna herself, supported the Lifter of Oppression as their champion. He’d been conceived with leadership in mind and had the backing of the Prophecies. Beldar spoke strongly for Glorianna, but was outvoted. Did he truly believe her most suited, or did he nominate her in hope that she’d look more kindly upon him? I think that latter, but that was a fool’s hope. Poor Glorianna didn’t even know how much he cared for her since he could never find the words to tell her.
Throughout the Age of Man, Beldar always kept an eye on Glorianna from afar. Even when he was napping in caves, a part of his consciousness remained awake and tethered to her presence. When she slipped away from the Crystal Palace to destroy the Dark Lord’s Breeding Pits, none of the gods noticed save Beldar. Luckily, he followed her to the Darkstar because she stepped right into an ambush. The Huntress might have perished if Beldar hadn’t stormed the Darkstar. Waving his mace Skullcrusher about his head, he beat back the Dark Ones clawing at Glorianna and whisked her away to safety, to a cave, naturally.
Her wounds were deep. She lay in a deep sleep, hovering between life and death and all the while Beldar watched over her, tending her wounds with gentle ministrations. In time, she opened her eyes. Beldar thought the she might reciprocate the love he felt for her, but the opposite happened. Glorianna, proud of her accomplishments as a huntress and warrior, was doubly ashamed, once for having fallen prey to the ambush and again for needed to be rescued. Beldar thought she’d see him as a friend and savior, as someone who cared deeply for her, yet all she could saw was someone who witnessed her at her absolute worst. Instead of gratitude, she felt uneasy around the Bear, and as soon as she was well enough to leave Beldar’s cave, she did. Thereafter, she avoided being in his presence as much as possible.
Perhaps this in and of itself is enough to explain why Beldar was such a solitary god, but I think it goes deeper. Beldar was always estranged, from Man, from his fellow gods, and from the world at large. He was at ease only when he was by himself or reveling in battle. The Bear was easily enraged and took out his many frustrations, only some of which he was aware, by meting out justice with Skullcrusher.
The roots of his social disorder trace back to his birth. As you may recall, his mother and father were Davyrma and Umbar. Davyrma had spent an eternity alone on a mountaintop, awaiting the fulfillment of Norath’s Doom. She seduced Umbar by disguising herself as Lillandra of the Hearth. As a sidebar I must mention the interesting parallel with Dracorys, her intended mate, who also wore another’s guise to capture the heart of the Laughing God.
To Davyrma’s surprise, she fell in love with Umbar. But, when the Lord of Sea and Storm discovered her deception, he was angered beyond words and banished her from sight his sight well before she gave birth to Beldar. When Davyrma finally spat out Beldar, he seemed to her an ugly reminder of the love she yearned for but would never have. She was so lost to despair that she threw herself into the sea and would have drowned had Mad Rabyn not found her, but that is another story told elsewhere.
All Beldar knew in that moment was that his mother rejected him. He did not understand why, he did not know how she suffered under Norath’s Doom, did not know how she deceived his father, did not know how deeply Umbar’s rejection cut her. All he knew was that his mother would rather take her own life than be with him, and that hurt never left him.
When Glorianna ran from him embarrassment, she became the second woman to spurn him. The trauma of being rejected, first by his mother and then by the woman he loved, turned Beldar’s heart to stone. Thereafter, he found it difficult to form attachments, difficult to even abide the company of others, and so he became an angry, isolated god, only at peace when he was at war.
You might think that Beldar’s loner tendencies diminished his stature in the eyes of Man, but such an assumption would be way off base. The kingdoms of Man didn’t care one bit about his circle of friends or how many problems he had dealing with women. The Bear was a warrior unparalleled and that was enough for them. In Vanerum, they held Beldar above all the other gods. In him, they saw a god who idealized war, who threw himself wholeheartedly against his enemies, asking for and giving no quarter. Endiron, Jeheris and the Humadin also reserved a special place for Beldar, though I’ll allow that the Humadin did recognize his solitary nature, which they considered a boon.