Opoudelian Starker

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The Opoudelian Starker is a figure of (popular) legend, a Ghyllian condemned to wander (from place to place) forever, immortal (and homeless). Some say that he walks the earth, limping on his right (or left) foot; some that he sails the Dagger Seas (or the Shallow Gulf, or even the River Ocean beyond) forever in a ship filled with ghosts (also known as revenants), being forbidden to come to shore (except once every hundred years, or every seven years); others that he flies through the air and can never set foot (on the ground) again.

The legends give him many names, including Mathlus, Butthedeo, Karthaphilthius, Akhashverosh, Sanjiovan, and even (wonder of wonders) Marcus Aurelius Pontoppidanus, though he is not said to have any connection with the Dulalian Empire (or its antecessors) whatsoever. In his aquatic (or captainly) incarnation he is most often called Vanderdecken or -vecken or -schusen, the last of which is doubtless a folk reminiscence of the famous (and deservedly so) inventor Briorus Jan-Vanderschusen. But according to the best opinion (that is to say, mine) the Opoudelian Starker is (or was) simply the Jhrool, simply the Jhrool.

All legends agree that he was born (of humble parentage) in the (capital) city of Threel about a century before the Extraordinarily Bloodless Revolution and lived an ordinary (if amphigorous) life until he either swore a rash oath (of unknown purport) by, or cast a rash aspersion on, a holy man. The holy man (whose name is also very variable (in the legendarium), but most call him Hezu or Alvu) cursed the Jhrool to wander the earth (or seas or skies) until he is redeemed.

The process by which his redemption (from the curse) can supposedly be achieved (if at all) involves the usual folklorish motifs of the Love of a Good Woman (or Women, or Man, or Men, as the case may be), the Coming of the Redeemer (which Redeemer is meant, generally depends on the (particular) philosophunculism of the tale-teller), or the Conquest of Mount Yurch. It is odd how the third persists (in the popular speech, at least) as one symbol of an unachievable (or nearly so) goal, despite its (successful) conquest (by a Grommie) (nearly) a century ago. In any case, this (the matter of redemption, that is) is one of the most diverse points of this most diverse of legends.

The Opoudelian Starker should not (and must not) be confused (but all too often is, even by (those posing as) scholars) with the Budgerigar Master, an (in my humble opinion) equally legendary immortal. Nor is he the same (in any way) as Captain Riquiras, despite what Oblibestircus has to say on the (much controverted) subject.

Citations: Captain Riquiras, Briorus Jan-Vanderschusen, Threel.

--John Cowan 16:47, 21 Jan 2005 (EST)

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