The Principia Mythica
The Smiths of Muirthemne
This is perhaps the single most complex, convoluted and far-reaching theory in all of Myth's short existance. But it got off to an innocent enough start, and I wasn't even the one to start it. As usual, I just make connections between seemingly unrelated topics, and bring all-new meaning to the big picture.
The picture began when somebody years ago noted that only Dwarves can pick up the tiny Tain crystals on TFL's "The Smiths of Muirthemne", and postulated that perhaps the Smiths, who built the Tain, were Dwarves, and made it so only Dwarves could escape from it. Most people didn't think much about this, because it could easily just be an engine limitation. A few people also noted that the pillars within the Tain are engraved with images of spiders, and perhaps the Smiths had some relation to the spiders. This is further backed by Spiders being mentioned in early Dwarven eddas, and living in their subterranean caverns.
Myth II actually enforced this, to my surprise. The Spider flavor texts speak of the atrocities committed by the Spider Cults, and that when Connacht went to destroy their shrines nothing could be found of the Smiths of Muirthemne or their followers. The Dwarven Ghost flavor text speaks of the masons who built the Mausoleum of Clovis, indicating that Dwarves indeed did work in Muirthemne. The spider symbols inside the mausoleum in "The Ibis Crown", and on the walls in "Walls of Muirthemne" and "Redemption", seem to indicate that the Smiths of Muirthemne were indeed Spider Cults. GURPS Myth tells us, however, that the Spider Cults were human.
Look back at that quote, "the Smiths of Muirthemne or their followers." The most likely situation here, IMO, is that the the Smiths themselves were Dwarves, who worshipped spiders, and developed a human following that became the Spider Cults.
The Tain was also reportedly stolen from Muirthemne by raiding barbarians from the south. I suspect that the Smiths may have fled into the Tain when Connacht came looking for them, arranged to have the Tain stolen from Muirthemne, and then exited from it when safe away in Forest Heart of wherever.
The Other Realm
In the official Bungie comic, "Tales from Myth: The Fallen Lords", there is a piece on the Tain, in which an odd shrine seems to teleport its victim's soul to a twisted other realm, while a Spider Queen is born out of his cracked skull. Perhaps this is the native realm of the Spiders, and the Smiths took their victims here to sacrifice them to the Spider-gods?
The Tain itself seems to be another realm, as opposed to the tiny pocket universe we once thought it was. Because from any shattered piece of the Tain you can enter into the Tain realm, and then out through another piece. This was how the Deceiver got the jump on Soulbligher in Myth II.
Now, GURPS Myth mentions that the some theorize that the Great Devoid leads into another dimension, but the Dwarves dismiss this as nonsense. I suspect that they know the Tru7h, and just want to hide it. I believe that the Great Devoid DOES lead to another dimension, and that that is how the spiders first came to the lands of Myth - they crawled up it from their own realm. Since the Dwarves live around the Devoid, that would explain how they came to know the spiders, and perhaps how they are so gifted in interplanar magics.
But if the Devoid leads to another realm, why? It was created by the Callieach. Why would they make a portal to the other realm? We'll come back to that in a second...
The last point about this other realm is, the Fetch. Balor summoned them from another realm. Balor, as Connacht, sent the Myrkridia to the Tain realm. Perhaps the Fetch are from the realm on the other side of the Tain realm? They are priestesses of some gods in their dimension; perhaps of the Spider-gods?
(A weak connection here is the color of lightning: with the exception of the Bow of Furious Incandescence, nothing in the Myth series has white lightning except Tain devices and Fetch. Balor's is green, Balmung's is yellow, etc...)
Sovereigns of the Time Before
Back to the Callieach. Why would they create a portal back to the other realm? Well, first lets put some more facts out on the table. GURPS tells us the creation myth accepted by most of the races of Myth, parts of which are also told in the "Antero's Bestiary" section of Tales From Myth TFL. It tells that Wyrd awoke from the One Dream and created the world, but apparently had some sort of differences with the goddess Nyx over this and they had a titanic battle. The volcano Tharsis was created in this battle, and Nyx created on Wyrd's world the Trow. It also mentions that the Dark Gods (aka Old Gods) felt somehow betrayed by this creation, and shattered the One Dream in retaliation.
But the question arises, if there were Old Gods before Wyrd, Nyx, etc, and Wyrd created the world, then what were the Old Gods the gods of? It is said that the Ghols alone remember their names, but the Trow are much older than the Ghols, or any other race, both as a species and as individuals.
This last, greatest leap occurred to me when I read a passage in GURPS which reffers to the Callieach, the last and greatest enemies of the Trow, as "Sovereigns of the Time Before."
Time before what? Time before the world? Well what was there before the world? Now we get into a bit of semantics. Common Mythworlders believe in the "Edge of All", an imaginary line in the east beyond which nothing really exists. You can walk over there, see and touch and kill things, but it's not really real because it was not a part of Wyrd's vision. So to common Mythworlders, "the world" is just the map we see in the games, and nothing beyond it really exists.
So perhaps Wyrd created his "world" upon an existing planet, transforming one continent of it into whatever vision he saw in the One Dream, from whence he (and perhaps Nyx too?) came - yet another dimension, perhaps? But what lived there before?
I suggest that the races of the other realm - the spiders, the Fetch, and the Callieach - were the original inhabitants of this world. There is evidence of relation: on the Tain gate on "Smiths of Muirthemne" there is an image of a pregnant (and hence female) thing with horns, that looks somewhat insectoid. The Fetch are priestesses, and hence female, and they have horns, and they wear human skins so we don't really know what they look like - could these images be the true form of the Fetch?
As for the Dark Gods, we don't know what happened to them, they just seem to have vanished somehow, as they have no real effect on our world - perhaps Wyrd banished them and all their kind to the other realm for shattering the One Dream? If so, then the Spider-gods ARE the Dark gods...
Now the Callieach attacked the Trow as the last of a series of millenial waves of enemies, who would appear out of nowhere and eventually come into conflict with the Trow. If the Callieach were servants of the Old/Dark/Spider Gods - lets just call them Old Gods now - then it makes sense that these other waves would have been as well. Which means that the Old Gods must have something to do with the Leveller, and the millenial cycles - though what exactly the connection is, not even I know. So when the Callieach were all but defeated, they created the Devoid, leading back to their gods' realm, where they were safe and any Trow who came with them were doomed.
This all ties back in to the Ghols again. The Ghols live near the Great Devoid, as do the Dwarves. If the Old Gods live down the Devoid, this could explain how the Ghols, presumably one of Wyrd's Younger Races, came to know of them and worship them. Further evidence of this I recently discovered on the level "The Ibis Crown", where it depics images of humans battling Ghols, and humans forging a truce, with a satisfied godlike face beneath the war scene and an angry godlike face beneath the truce. I speculate that this face is one of the Old Gods, put in the catacombs by the Smiths of Muirthemne. It is angry that the humans are at peace, and happy because the Ghols are attacking the humans. The Ghols are significant because they are not a major Dark race, and thus likely wouldn't be portrayed in some major battle mural carved by humans.
The Old Gods ruled over a world of spiders, Fetch, Callieach, and their kin. Wyrd and Nyx arrived from... somewhere. Wyrd created the world, fighting with Nyx about it, and Nyx created the Trow. The Old Gods shattered the One Dream.
The Old Gods were banished, or by some other means wound up in an alternate realm. They initiated or somehow became involved in the cycles, sending new forces against the Trow every thousand years, climaxing with the Callieach, who created a portal back to their realm. Wyrd created the Younger Races as Trow civilization declined.
Spiders crawled up from the Devoid, and a cult of Dwarves, whose tunnels wound around and ran into the Devoid, came to worship them and their gods. The Ghols, also living near the Devoid, came to worship the Dark Gods as well.
The Dwarves founded the Smiths of Muirthemne, who built everything in the old city. Later, the Smiths built the Tain, a portal to an intermediate realm where the younger races within would be sacrificed to the Spider Gods, bringing Spider Queens through to our realm. A cult of spider worshippers developed around the Smiths. The savior Connacht used the Tain to rid the world of the Myrkridia, and then turned to assail the Smiths and their followers, who had escaped into the Tain.
A thousand years later, Connacht returned as Balor, and used his knowledge of interdimensional magics to summon the Fetch, priestesses of the Spider Gods. The Tain was rediscovered and used against the Light, only to be shattered in the process. Balor was killed and his head thrown down the Great Devoid - a fitting fate.
The shattered Tain was later used to ressurrect the Myrkridia, and the Fetch remain stranded in our world. Perhaps they may someday find a way home through the Great Devoid...
Cunbelin suggests some interesting additions to this theory on the Asylum:
...you mentioned the edge of all but you failed to mention the double sided and constantly spinning world theory, while it could be metaphorical for the cycle itself, it could also be a way to explain the spider realm and such in a more simple manner. To extend this further, what if it combines both the cycle and mutiple dimensions, rather than one side being evil they are rather just one side and another, one ruled by the old gods and one ruled by Nyx and Wyrd, and the cycles are the extension of the battle between the two.
To twist it further, what if there is no battle between the gods, but rather another being is being traded back and forth between the respective worlds, in the form of the leveler, if you think about it at least two levelers have been effectively sent to the other side, Balor's head thrown into the great devoid, and "A thousand years later he was drawn and quartered on the plains before Ileum, the tireless horses dragging the pieces of his lifeless body to the four corners of the world" sounds like just as effective a way to send him to the other side, the burying under the Mountains of Kor, could have been deep enough to perhaps over time send the leveler over the other side.
I do like this concept, it does simplify things a bit. Not sure what I think about the battles between the gods or trading the Leveller back and forth, but the geography unifies the other realm and ours together. My only problem with it is that it messes with the geographic theories detailed in my previous article on the Cycle. Perhaps the spinning-coin is metaphorical of the entire universe, and the Mythworld is just one planet inside that universe? But that ruins the whole bit about being able to drag things over the edges of the world to the other realm, or sending them there through the ground. Also also, if the Mythworld is physically coin-shaped, then the Tain could simply transport people deep "underground", as the caverns inside it appear to be - midway through the world, an intermediate realm between ours and the other side.
General Pepper adds his comments on Cun's theory:
....Also have u noticed that Ghols and Mauls are the only two races that are not ancient (No tro or forest giants) and are not humans (or formaly humans…or parts of humans) The ghols could be originally from the dark dimension and thats why they seem to be monsters. and mauls are from the blind steppes really really north east... so they're forein monsters :)
Another point for the coin-shaped world. Now if only we could consolidate the other geographical evidence with this...