“From their joining came Glorianna the Rose, the first new god to step foot in Heaven’s hallowed realm for an age. Born of both Ealar and Elehu, Glorianna woke bold and impetuous in a cradle of lava, possessing all the passion of her father’s bright flame and her mother’s beauty. Tall and fair, the scarlet garbed huntress stood upon a sea of magma with long golden tresses lashing at cinders drifting by, each strand a soldier to stand against the Dark Lord. And lo, she shone with ardor, for she was passion, warm and pounding. She was beauty, a rose among weeds, her thorns jealousy and envy. She was the hunt, hungry and swift, bounding after her prey. She was lust, a ruby of desire, a fire to inflame the hearts of men. She was love, sweet and manic, tempting and seductive, gentle and caressing.”
Glorianna (glorr-ee-ann-nah), Goddess of Love, Beauty, Passion and the Hearth. Glorianna the Rose, the Huntress, Mistress of passion and Beauty.
Glorianna the Rose wore many aspects. If you wish, you can picture her as a composite of Artemis and Aphrodite from your Greek mythology. A goddess of love, of beauty, and of passion, she was also a huntress and, like all the Vanara, a god of war. She appeared as a beautiful maiden, tan, with golden hair, and equipped with twin short swords she named Love and Heart, and her short bow Beauty.
Passion was her calling, in love and in war, and every cause she embraced, she undertook with all her heart. Whether rolling in the arms of an unsuspecting mortal she seduced on a visit to Sangrar, or tracking the trail of a bounding deer, or clashing with Dark Ones, she pursued all challenges with the fervency of a zealot. More often than not, her endless zeal served her well, but on occasion it moved her to action before she thought things through. Glorianna had many virtues, but patience was not one of them.
Like Aphrodite, she had a vain streak when it came to her beauty and considered Celetran and Lillandra rivals for most fair. The goddesses quarreled often on this topic, according to Kandol, who would know better than just about anyone. This topic always disturbed me. I thought it rather petty of them. They were goddesses after all, mistresses of their domains, adored by all, and each beautiful in their own way. They once held a contest, this would have been early in the Age of Man, well before Thar who was Umbar fell from the Outermost Heavens, to see which of them could win the hearts of the most men. It’s unclear to me how they counted the votes. Prayers? Wet dreams? In any event, golden Finbardin declared the contest a draw and unworthy of them. That’s why he was King of Heaven, he really knew how to cut through the crap.
Glorianna inherited her good looks from her mother, Norath the Seeress, though it might be more accurate to say she stole them from her mother. Before giving birth to Glorianna, the Seeress had the good looks of a Victoria’s Secret model, but afterwards, she was a shriveled crone. It would be easy to lay all the blame at Yarnor’s feet. The Ravager was flame incarnate and when Norath lay with him, his heat drained her. But, it would also be fair to say that the Seeress aged, in part, of her own accord when she chose to feed the child growing inside her. You have to give Norath credit. She was a good mother, giving freely of herself to nourish her child. Unfortunately, all that good will evaporated at the moment of Glorianna’s birth. That’s when Norath realized how much giving birth to the Huntress took from of her. The once fair Seeress now appeared as old as the Earth Mother in the barren winter. She feared for her life, perhaps she saw a vision of Glorianna’s birth in Aux’s swirling waters and knew the fate that would befall her should she stay at her daughter’s side. She bid Glorianna leave and never return, lest she drain what strength remained to her.
I will give the Rose the credit she’s due. For all her vanity, she prized being a Huntress far more than she did her beauty. Being beautiful required good luck (granted the odds are stacked in your favor when you’re a god) more than it did hard work, though I’m sure those wafer-thin girls your magazines put on covers would disagree. Being a huntress, on the other hand, was all about putting in the hours. I’ve read that it takes ten thousand hours to master a skill. Glorianna spent a thousand times ten thousand hours learning her craft. She could shoot a mosquito from the sky at a thousand paces, or track a deer across an ocean – I know, deer don’t swim. It’s called hyperbole.
Vanity was ultimately Glorianna’s undoing, but not her aforementioned Miss Universe styled vanity. No, hunter’s pride undid her when the monstrosities crawling out of the Breeding Pits offended her sensibilities. She got it in her head that the Pits must be destroyed and so she stole away from the Crystal Palace, determined to creep unseen into the Darkstar and ruin the Dark Lord’s ability to grow his legions.
She sped through the Firmament to the Darkstar. Those great hunting skills that allowed her to sneak up on prey unseen would give her the advantage of surprise, she thought without really thinking it through. Had she properly planned her jaunt, instead of racing off to the Darkstar the moment the idea popped into her head, she might have remembered that Malunis kept watch on the Darkstar from the moons.
Malunis did indeed see Glorianna speeding through the Firmament like a bullet, heading straight towards the Darkstar. The Wolf Maiden didn’t have to be a mind reader to guess her intent. She sent warning to the Dark Lord.
Glorianna flew down one of the geysers on the surface of the Darkstar. She expected some resistance, but she wasn’t prepared for the massive numbers lying in ambush. Erlik hadn’t pulled any punches. He summoned a legion of Maldoks to stop her. Glorianna was a goddess, and a war goddess at that. One Maldok, she wouldn’t even sneeze at. Ten wouldn’t make her sweat. One hundred would be a workout.
Three hundred and thirty three Maldoks awaited Glorianna in the Breeding Pits. Dozens fell to Beauty’s arrows as she descended the geyser. Dozens more fell to Love and Heart, the twin short swords cutting a swath through the enemy. Glorianna spied Ymryl in the distance and fought her way toward the Mistress of the Pits. Ymryl’s experimentations weren’t limited to the Pits. She changed her own configuration constantly, exchanging her arm for a Troll’s, or her legs for those of a goat. To face Glorianna, she came prepared, with Maldok mandibles protruding from her cloak’s hood, and instead of arms, long, slithery tentacles.
I’ll give Glorianna kudos for trying. She almost succeeded in taking out the Mistress of the Pits. She closed to within a few feet of Ymryl before succumbing to the sheer number of Maldoks. They pressed against her from all sides. Glorianna fought to her last breath, defended by Love and Heart until the demons were so close that she could not bring them to bear. She went down, her last thought was one of shame, for having failed so miserably.
Before the Maldoks could rend the flesh from her body, Beldar the Bear strode into battle with his mighty mace Skullcrusher. He loved Glorianna, but could never find the words to tell her. He always kept an eye on her, like a guardian angel, and yes, it was very stalker-like move. When she entered the Darkstar, he hadn’t been far behind.
He swung Skullcrusher to and fro, flinging Maldoks away like flies until he cleared a path to the fallen Huntress. He picked up her still form, let out a roar so loud that Maldoks staggered back from him, and then leapt upward, through the geyser above him and into the Firmament. Once clear of the Darkstar, he whisked Glorianna away to one of his favorite caves and began nursing her back to health.
Glorianna did not open her eyes right away. The Maldoks had done a number on her and she slept for many days in Beldar’s cave. When she finally awoke, she saw the love in eyes. A lump formed in her throat. Not a lump of love, a lump of shame, that same shame she felt when the Maldoks overwhelmed her. Had Glorianna been honest with herself, she’d have been ashamed at her vanity. That’s what led to her poorly planned, foolhardy mission into the heart of One-Eye’s stronghold, the belief the Huntress could not fail, but her only shame was that of failing.
She felt even worse in the presence of her rescuer. She knew Beldar had saved her from a horrible fate, and for that she was grateful, but her gratitude paled before her embarrassment at being rescued. She never needed anyone’s help before and didn’t begin to know how to thank Beldar. To top it off, she realized that the Bear was obviously smitten with her. They might have made a great couple. They were more alike than Glorianna would like to admit, but she couldn’t be with someone who had seen her at her worst, someone who would always see her as a damsel in distress. Her pride wouldn’t allow it, and so she fled Beldar’s cave. Their paths crossed many times afterwards and for Glorianna, it was always an awkward, uncomfortable experience.
You’ve probably already guessed what I’m going to say next. It goes back to the parents, doesn’t it? I may sound like a broken record, but the parents always matter. Glorianna stole her mother’s beauty, youth and vigor when she came into the world. That’s a heavy load to bear. It can’t have been easy thing to live with. Maybe that’s the source of her vanity. Take, for example, her petty rivalry with other goddesses over who was the most fair. Given the circumstances of her birth, Glorianna might have felt that losing a beauty competition would be an insult to her mother. The Huntress and her mother had virtually no relationship, but she was still in better straits than the other Vanara, excepting Bangal who had a healthy relationship with both his mother and father. The deceit employed to conceive Pugnar, Vitale and Beldar left these gods estranged from their parents. Norath banished Glorianna from her sight, but that in and of itself does not offer enough evidence to conclude whether or not Norath felt any love for her daughter. She might have been bitter that Glorianna stole from her, but I’m not inclined to accept this supposition since the Seeress did nurture her while pregnant. Isn’t it more likely that she kept her distance from Glorianna as a matter of self-preservation? I prefer to think that there was a bond between mother and daughter, making their long estrangement quite tragic.
If the guilt Glorianna felt when thinking about her mother seeded her vanity, as I have posited, then it’s not much of a stretch to understand her reaction to Beldar saving her. Her guilt hid an inner inadequacy that her failure in the Darkstar heightened. To some extent, those feelings might have been magnified because she was the only female Vanara. She might have felt additional responsibility to uphold her gender, to be a strong female role model for the people of Sangrar. This pressure would have been entirely self-inflicted, but that wouldn’t make it any less real.
It’s really a shame that these inner demons dragged Glorianna down at time. She was a glorious goddess. Beautiful, full of passion, and of good and noble heart, she was as a good a role model for the young women of Sangrar as your Wonder Woman. A little pride and vanity can be a good thing.
On the bright side, the people of Sangrar were not as aware of Glorianna’s internal struggles as me. I have the benefit of hindsight and can view the events of history through the lens of the Greater Realm, both of which bring clarity to otherwise murky situations. Glorianna was widely revered in the kingdoms of Man. The Endironians and Orlandians, countries of sophistication that honored the arts, held her aspects of love and beauty in the highest regard. The Vaneri put her on a pedestal too, but for them the aspect of the Huntress had the greatest appeal.