The Saga of the Gwandorlings - 2
We must take up the story back at the Telmori glade where Varax, seeing the red horse-men ride off stepped out of the bushes and made his way to find his friends. Kamour found him wandering the woods and led him back to the camp. Strife nearly broke out when Argrath mistook them for foes in the dark but all was set all-right and the night passed quietly.
In the morn, Gudny called on Issaries to bless their journey where upon they rode to the east and fared well. They met a band of horse-men on the path and greeted them, they took the greeting well. Their leader called himself Joban Standsaddle of the Arrowmane clan, part of the Pol joni tribe, he was their war-leader. Gudny shared bread and meat with Joban and they talked long.
When asked why he was called Standsaddle, Joban put on a feat of archery never seen by any of the Gwandor before. He stood on his saddle while his horse galloped across the glade and he shot an entire quiver into a mark on a near-by tree.
When it came out that the two groups were boun the same way, Standsaddle warned the companions not to get in his way during his journey. Gudny reminded him of the long-lasting friendship and good-will between the Gwandor and the Pol Joni and gifted him well with the paw from one of the wolf-brother pelts. Joban thanked the companions for the gift and reaffirmed the friendship between their peoples before he rode on his way. The friends gained great honour from the meeting.
It came to pass that the group happened upon some Gorde steads between them and their destination. Lothar suggested that they skirt the steads to the south and move up the creek bed hidden from the Lunars in the tower. Katla thought that with her empathic link to the horses, she could guide the group through the steads and that the creek-bed was too troublesome for the horses. Argrath spake to her to convince her to follow his lead and travel through the creek-bed. She persevered. Gudny tried to charm her into abandoning her course and was rebuffed. Sigmund towered over her and threatened to carry her into the creek-bed if need be but was ridiculed.
So it happened that the companions made their way through the Gorde steads in the dark of night with nought but the steady clump of horses hooves as sound and found themselves on the back of the tower's hill come morn.
The peak of the mount rose above the tip of the tower and afforded a good view of the lay-out to the companions while concealing them from view. They spied out the buildings and decided to assault the compound that night by air. They would land on the tower's roof and strike their blow.
The story must be told of a thing they saw while on that mount. Joban and his band returned from harrying the Gorde with several hands of cattle. They rode straight down the middle of the valley in full view of the occupied tower. A small detachment of Lunar horse-men rode down to meet them and returned with several head of cattle. The Arrowmane continued on their way.
The companions needed to ready themselves for the attack. First they danced the dances of power and sang their songs to the gods.
Gudny jerked around in a jagged circle while calling the Thunderer's
wrath to heed his commands. Orlanth's rams(1) gathered over the
hill and lightning flickered through the clouds. Argrath called
on Orlanth's justice so he could scour the eyes from the unjust
red-men with lightning, he could hear mocking laughter float by
on the breeze; Orlanth was not pleased. Argrath then tried to call
on Mastakos to speed his blows in the coming fight but got no response.
Sigmund drew upon his link to Great Weighty to bless a stone to
blast down the magical defenses on the tower's roof. Kamour danced
the sinuous Cat's Dance to take on the strengths of the Alynx but
all he got were whiskers and a stubby tail. Lothar bathed his blades
in man-blood to whet their thirst and called on Humakt to help them
seek more during the night. Katla danced the Arrow Shield dance
but no protective breeze came. Varax called on the Storm Bull to
lend power to his axe strokes but Urox was still upset at him hiding
from Lunars. His ally Beheader, who lives in his axe, also refused
It must be told how their preparations were interrupted at this point when an Uz tapped Kamour on the shoulder and asked what the friends were doing preparing all of that magic. He named himself Jonakel, a hunter of the Sazdorf clan.
Argrath spake thusly, "We will visit the tower there and bring our doom upon it. We will give the Lunars a stroke like from the very hand of Orlanth himself!"
The troll told the friends that his queen would have something to say about that and bid them wait for his return when he would bring news from the lady. Gudny tried to recite a poem about Kyger Litor fighting by Orlanth's side during the Great Darkness but spied Noh, the trickster, about to pelt Jonakel with horse dung and lost his tongue. The companions affirmed that they would wait the queen's words and then carried on their preparations.
Sigmund and Gudny sat and called the spirits of Orlanth to them. The air around them started to dance with the power of the spirits called. Each bound two great sylphs to come on their command.
Katla and Argrath called on the powers of Mastakos the Mover to
help them fly to the tower but Mastakos must have been busy elsewhere
As Elmal sank into the west, Jonakel returned and bade the companions to accompany him to his queen's hall. They did.
Now there was an uz named Kozakang and he was the son of Broamoratz who was the daughter of Thorhorar. He followed the troll god of Argan Argar and thus knew somewhat of the surface dwellers and their tongue. He was the queen's mouth when she wished to address humans, and was her ears when she wished to hear what they had to say. He had great honour and was accounted wise indeed among the Sazdorf uz.
Gudny greeted the queen well but received angry scowls in reply. Kozakang approached Gudny and told him that he was queen Martoraz's tongue and ears. Gudny could speak to Kozakang and he would speak to the queen.
Queen Martoraz bid the companions to tell her what they were doing on the hill. They were calling enough magic to flatten an enlo company and she did not like it in her land. Gudny and Argrath told the story of the lamp and their plans for the tower to the queen.
She asked how they were going to keep the sun-lovers from taking their vengeance out on her people. The attack will be with powerful storm magics, explained Gudny, and the red-men could not but know that it was the Orlanthi who had stricken them. The queen was happy with this.
"The moon-men are the foes of us all," she spake. "They must be smote." With that she had a sack brought forth and passed to Gudny. The sack contained 5 Dahari shades she told them. "Release it when you find the red-light, the shades will destroy it." The queen then told the companions the composition of the garrison and that there was a Lunar sorcerer who had the red- light. "The red-light hurts us," she told them. "This is the price of our help, destroy the red-light. Do not open the sack for any other reason, the shades will destroy all that is not Uz."
Queen Martoraz also recounted a tale of some sisters who lived in the Guhab mountains. These sisters had power over old earth spirits and could get the friends into the red-tower with relative ease. She gave them direction on how to find these sisters.
And that evening the trolls feasted the humans. They brought forth man-food and it was passable. As the night progressed, a large troll warrior, a Humakti, stepped forward and challenged Lothar to a friendly match, no intentional fatalities, he said. Lothar looked up at the towering brute and nodded curtly.
Among much cheering and hooting a ring was opened in the middle of the crowd in front of Martoraz's chair and the two warriors faced each other across it. "May Humakt bless this contest," the troll intoned. Lothar grunted an acknowledgment and concentrated on the duel. With a shout the uz charged at Lothar swinging his girder sized sword from behind a large shield. Lothar grunted under the impact and gave space but held off the girder with his twin swords Severance and Deathbringer. As the wall of the room approached his heels, Lothar stepped up his blade work to another notch and came a little closer to Humakt through it, he wove a net of iron in front of himself and forced the troll back with a hail of metal. The warrior's smug look of assurance dropped instantly from his face and was replaced with the blank glaze of utter concentration as he defended himself from the hurricane. Lothar advanced relentlessly until he strode upon the entrails of a food-trollkin and faltered. It was all the troll needed to send him crashing, senseless, to the ground 3 ells(2) away.
"That was an impressive feat," announced the Sazdorf warlord. "The best of you nearly defeated the worst of us."
Argrath leaned forward in his seat, "Are you the best of this clan?" he asked the warlord. Yes, he responded. "Then let us see who is the better warrior" and Argrath seized his weapons and faced the great troll across the circle. The uz sent Argrath reeling across the room with a negligent back-handed blow with his mace and ran over to him planing to deal a huge two-handed blow and drive the human into the ground. Argrath stepped forward and nearly dealt him his death-blow so hard did he smite the troll. He sat back down and finished his gourd with a smile amid the cheers of his friends and even some of the clansmen. Argrath gained great honour from the match.
Gudny recited this poem about Kyger Litor and Orlanth fighting together against Chaos with no distractions this time and the queen smiled hugely.
As darkness fell and despair descended
two foes who fought the frequent fight
man and woman mastered by none
shared their might to slay their foe
as Ragnaglar's brood ravaged the earth
shades and sylphs sallied forth
Red-moon rises and ravages the land
Dark and storm should fight no-more
until the blight is stopped again
Gudny talked deep into the night with Kozakang and when they parted, they parted as friends and allies.
It must be told that Varax, unable to turn down any kind of brew, accepted a challenge to a drinking contest. The uz were quite surprised, but happily included him in their fun. They were even more surprised when he quickly downed three flagons of that stone-burner they call ale. More surprised again when he hurled the contents of his stomach across the table after the fourth flagon and slipped to the floor in a coma.
Sigmund accepted a challenge to arm-wrestle a troll and though his wrist was driven through the table, he suffered no harm. Kamour engaged in an archery challenge with a troll hunter and fared well.
An applicant for initiation into the ways of Zong, the Hunter was to under go his trial that night. He was to catch a greased enlo and eat his heart. Katla was invited to provide the competition for him. A greased food-trollkin was led into the room and released. Katla and the young hopeful chased it around the room and under the tables; Katla cornered and caught it. As tradition demanded, she cut it's heart out, ignoring it's screams, and was supposed to eat it. Instead, she offered it to the applicant and gained much honour with the clan.
(1) Orlanth brought sheep to the Storm tribe when he took them
on a raid against the Sea tribe. Really fluffy clouds are known
as Orlanth's sheep. Dark storm clouds are called Orlanth's rams.
(2) measure of distance, 1 ell is about 2 feet.
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