The Saga of the Gwandorlings - 4
Gudny and Sigmund directed the sylphs to bear back to the High Llama
camp where their horses remained. Upon their arrival, the Dundealos
warriors broke out some wine and handed it around. Borsana tended to
Now a strange thing happened, all save Sigmund, fell asleep soon after quaffing the wine. When they slept, the Dundealos cravens trussed them like hogs; Sigmund offered no resistance when presented with a dozen sword points. A brief, but bitter, fight ensured when the Llama riders discerned the foul plan. The surviving riders ran off into the darkness.
When the Gwandorlings awoke, the dungbeardling Battle-mood stood over Argrath with Sartar's lamp in his filthy hands. Argrath's burly frame burst his bounds, he tore the gag from his mouth and he called on Mostakos to whisk the lamp to the highest point on the mountain. Though surprised by Argrath's feat, the Dundealosling was at the climax of his heroquest and he fought back with the full strength of his god; Gargath. It was at that moment that the companions recognized the coward for who he really was. The lamp flickered but did not leave and Argrath was again subdued and tied.
The Dundealos riders mounted and rode off leaving their mocking laughter to float back on the wind.
It came to pass that the friends were freed, Lothar joined them healed almost entirely and the scattered Llama riders regrouped. Yurgwah was found bleeding in the dust and aided.
A tale of Orlanth and Gargath must be now recounted. Before the Storm age, a strange missionary came to the lands of the Storm tribe and preached a strange creed. Orlanth decided to slay the strange priest, for he taught dark things. Outside the Sage's hall, Orlanth found Gargath also readying an attack on the out-lander. The two old foes decided to fight together against this common evil and attacked and killed the priest. When they camped for the night to celebrate their deed, Gargath drugged Orlanth and stole his greatest treasure when he left.
Once Gudny recounted this story to the group, all became clear, as did their path. The friends decided to undertake a "Vinkot kills the bandits" heroquest to gain their vengeance on the Dundealoslings.
Yurgwah welcomed this news and swore blood-bond with Argrath to help him hunt this coward to the ends of the world. He then left with his troupe to return to his clan, heal, and call his kinsmen to battle.
Argrath appointed each person to their place in the heroquest: he took the place of king Vingkot. Sigmund took the place of Hedkoranth. Katla, Vinga. Gudny was the Lawspeaker. Varax, the Uroxi. Lothar was to be Humakt. Noh, what else, he was Eurmal.
To make the ritual even more potent, the companions, having witnessed his blood burning in the lamp, swore that Argrath was the king. Argrath swore a mighty oath to emulate Vingkot in all ways, even unto death for aid in getting his vengeance. Gudny sacrificed a valuable golden ring for Orlanth's favour. Varax swore on his soul and by his axe, to retrieve the lamp and place the rightful king on the throne of Sartar. Beheader, his axe, told him he would hold him to that oath, Varax replied that he would hold Beheader to the oath as well. Lothar swore to challenge the bandit to single combat to avenge the dishonour done them and that he would never turn down a similar challenge in the future.
With that, the companions finished their ritual and rode off into Prax seeking their foe. Kamour led them off following the trail of their quarry.
During the first night in Prax, a raven swooped into their camp. The raven questioned them about their journey and their goal. He admitted to knowing where to find the dungbeardlings but would not tell the friends. He finally agreed to let them alone after Lothar challenged him to a riddling contest and won. It was only later that Gudny remembered that, in Prax, the Trickster takes the form of a raven. Yurgwah was to tell them later that all strangers entering Prax are tested by the trickster to see if he allows them to enter.
The companions continued to follow the trail. At mid-day they found a plate-armored heavy cavalryman riding towards them on an exhausted horse. Gudny greeted him politely and bade him tell his name and what he was doing alone on the plains.
His response surprised the friends. Though outnumbered 8-1 and riding a horse ready to drop from fatigue, the lump-head replied rudely and arrogantly demanded the companions business. Gudny told him of their quest and who they were hunting, holding his temper in check, he again asked the stranger wither he was bound.
It eventually came out, past the rider's blustering and nonsensery that he was also seeking the Dundealos troupe and was tracking them west. The rider was a knight from the far land of Carmania and was traveling to avenge the death of his family. The simpleton was eventually convinced that the bandits had fled _east_ and that he may accompany the companions on their search. After miraculously holding their temper, and soothing the braggarts ego, the companions were on their way again.
The troupe came across the raven again, it was standing square in their path; on one leg, pointing with it's beak to the south-east. When addressed all it would say was that it was busy, pointing. The companions decided to follow the raven's directions and made their way to the south-east.
They came across an oasis with a large camp and a sunken amphitheater. Yurgwah was waiting for them. Yurgwah had made his way here to gather his warriors and ready them for the quest to slay the thieves. They had arrived at Battle Altar.
The amphitheater is where many of the plainsmen's warriors come to prove themselves and to initiate into the warrior cults, especially humakti. The companions, being on the threshold of the other-side for their quest, saw a black cloud of violence hanging in the air over the altar. Yurgwah told them that this was where Humakt fought the heros of the nomads to gain himself a place in the Praxian way. The companions watched several duels being fought in the amphitheater and some of them decided to partake.
Varax strode into the center of the arena and planted his bill in
the ground. "Who is man enough to take me?!" he cried. Those watching
saw a new warrior of the Bison clan step forward and accept his
challenge. Varax immediately went berserk and clove the poor lad
in twain. He continued to hack the body until it was unrecognizable.
The watchers did not know that the companions, being on the threshold of the other-side, did not see a small lad from Bison-clan. They saw Urox's greatest foe, chaos, come to fight him in this, Humakt's arena.
Sigmund stepped forward and asked for challengers, a large barrel-chested warrior accepted. The friends saw a stoney skinned giant come forth to battle Hedkoranth and this time Great-Weighty failed to knock him down and the man bore Sigmund to the ground.
Kamour sauntered onto the sands searching a foe and was confronted by Basmol. He quickly called on Yinkin to take the man-cat form and attacked the Lion-man. The warrior batted him aside like a kitten and Kamour struck the ground with no wind.
Lothar strode onto the arena and planted his swords in the sand. He did not say anything but crossed his arms and stared around through his helm. The companions saw a heavily armed and armoured humakti weapons-thane push through the crowd and nodd curtly at Lothar, he drew his two swords and prepared to fight. Who else but Humakt is Humakt's greatest challenge. Lothar and Not-Lothar battled ferociously around the arena, such was their speed that none could see the sword blows they were trading. The music of iron clanging on iron danced through the air all in the place stopped their business to watch. Not-Lothar drove his foe to his knees with a wicked stroke but Lothar entering into a frenzy, ignored the pain and fighting from his knees he smote Not-Lothar in the trunk sending him moaning to the ground.
The tale continues the next day when the Llama riders are ready to ride and the war-band moves off to the south-east again. They eventually arrived at Biggle-Stone, a glade of giant mushrooms inhabited by a being known as "The Twisted One". After weathering the sales-speel from the shop-keeper the companions decided to move on but were intercepted outside the shop by the Twisted One. He recognized that they were on a quest and would only address Argrath as King Vingkot.
It happened that on one of Vingkot's troll killing expeditions he freed the slaves of a troll clan and left. Those slaves were dark-elves and provided his people with food in thanks.
The Twisted One remembered Vingkot's deeds and though Vingkot thought nothing of it (So what? I killed some trolls, you happened to be there and I let you go, so?) he insisted on helping them on their quest. He gave several of his potions to help them and told Vingkot that his people would serve him again during the coming darkness as long as Vingkot protected them again.
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