The Saga of the Gwandorlings - 5
Know you now that Sir Benthor and his family had left Carmania and
settled in the Zola Fel Valley to take up farming. Unfortunately,
the dark knight knew as much about farming as Gudny knew about Alkothi
politics. Sir Benthor was well known to the Lunar cavalry units
in the region, he covered many leagues riding with them to alleviate
the boredom of farming. When Verthun and his band raided the farm
and killed his family, Sir Benthor swore a blood-oath to avenge
them. Most of the Red Empire's horse-men heard of the atrocity and
It must now be told that, while the troupe settled in for the night, a large patrol of Antelope Lancers with Sable clan outriders was spied approaching Biggle-stone. Argrath recognized the unit and named it's centurion as Hresdan the Relentless. Hresdan was the man who had led the charge that broke the Gwandor shield wall at the Battle of Caromen. Argrath also pointed out the names of each file leader and he knew the ancestry of most of them.
Hresdan lazily waved his gauntlet at the companions and demanded in a sharp voice to know their clan, tribe and their business there. Gudny bade him "Good-day" and told him where they hailed from. Hresdan ignored the greeting and spake thusly, "You barbarians are a long way from home, warriors too, why are you so heavily armed?" "To protect ourselves from bandits red- rider" was how Gudny responded.
"You probably _are_ the bandits," he responded, but afore more could be spake, Sir Benthor strode forward and named himself. The centurion bowed and bid him "Good-day". The knight reminded the rider of his quest to seek the Gargarthi, Hresdan knew of the vows. Benthor told of how he had found the companions wandering lost in the wastes and taken then in his employ to help find Verthun. Hresdan was thusly satisfied and moved off to set camp for the night.
Through that night, Benthor gathered news from the Antelope-riders. The Wild Hunt had been out, it had slaughtered a Lunar caravan and the men had pleasured themselves with a Deezola priestess. It razed three villages and killed all of the inhabitants. The Lunar occupation forces had now sent out several large cavalry patrols to try and find the Hunt's home.
In the morn, using a tale told them by the Twisted One, the troupe found their quarry. Verthun's lair was in a serpentine gully to the north-east, the band rode there that day. They encamped a league away and sent out scouts to gather information. Argrath called on Mastakos to carry he and Kamour over the gully and spy the bandit's disposition. Kamour sang the Cat's Eyes song so he could see in the dark.
The scouting revealed a cave opening in the gully and riders patrolling the area. Gudny asked that Yurgwah bring them one of these riders, alive, so that they could interrogate him.
It must be said that, among his clan, Yurgwah is considered a great joking-man. So it was when he returned and presented Gudny and Agrath with the head of a bandit scout. "Alive!" Argrath exclaimed. "We needed him alive!" spake Gudny. Yurgwah let out a great laugh and brought forward a second, living, prisoner. He spent the rest of the night chuckling to himself and telling all of his great joke.
The companions now set to beating information out of the gargarthi but fared poorly. None spoke praxian. They finally sent for Yurgwah and asked him to provide a translator for them. Yurgwah was displeased with the summons as he was with his mate in his tent. Gudny soothed his concerns by saying that any translator would do and as soon as Yurgwah brought one forth, he could rejoin his wife. Yurgwah brightened up and strode off into his camp. He returned shortly with a gnarled old man. He ran off to rejoin his mate.
It must be told that the old man wore many talismans and other decorations on his clothing and in his hair. He also seemed stark, raving mad. For a while, all they could get out of him was a strange cry, "UUNNNDAN!"
he would shout and wave his arms wildly. It was finally decided that this was his name. Undan told the friends that no information would they get from the gargarthi by beating him. The wild wind thrives on pain and suffering, they are hardy men and nearly fearless. Gudny asked how the tribes-man would go about getting the information they needed from the striken bandit then. Undan grinned manicly from ear to ear and started muttering to himself. He snatched up the bodyless head and peered at it, "You no get wisdom from him, TOO late!" and threw the head over his shoulder. The companions glanced at each other un- easily. Undan peered into the now terrified eyes of the gargarthi and smiled wickedly. With a motion a quick as a desert adder, he drew his dagger and thrust it through the man's temple delivering him his death-blow. Argrath cried out in dismay, "What are you doing?!" Gudny finally understood and told the rest that this crazy old man must be a spirit-talker. A shaman. Undan sat on the mat holding the corpse and began chanting. Shortly, he bade the companions ask their questions. For the next several minutes, the companions spoke their questions to Undan while he spake with the dead man's spirit.
When they had finished, they had learnt that there were two-score men in the cave. That there was another entrance and that there were three spirit-talkers there aswell and two of Verthun's captains.
For his services, Gudny gifted Undan with a Telmori wolf-paw. He was greatly pleased saying that the paw was big magic. Undan gifted the companions with a bag of Dragon's teeth collected by Jaldon Toothmaker. Argrath thought that they were the teeth of a dragonnewt.
It must be told how the Twisted One and Undan both told Argrath the same prophesy. They both told him that he would gain great power and that he would travel many paths but that he would do so by mostly traveling the left paths (1).
When Elmal lifted his sleepy head over the horizon, the warband was ready. The Llama riders and Sir Benthor did charge the cave entrance. Yurgwah's braves smote the riding sentries, and the Gwandori burst through the second entrance.
Sounding his great war-horn, Sir Benthor led the warriors into the cave mouth. It was 15 ells across and as high as three men, they rode their mounts into the cave and down the tunnel. A llama fell into a pit but the rest jumped it and charged on. A swinging rope tore another man's head off but the rest ducked it and charged on. As the tunnel flattened from it's decent Sir Benthor, having fallen behind the surging llamas, heard several thumps and crunches ahead of him. When he reached the flat area he found that the first few riders, in their eagerness, had not seen the massive doors barring the passage.
The tale turns now to the Gwandori. The second entrance was a trap door with a rope dangling into the darkness below. Varax shouted his battle cry and scrabbled down the rope. Gudny leapt down the pit and used Orlanth's winds to cushion his landing. Seeing this, Varax jumped the remaining distance down the hole and landed on a large feather bed. Argrath and Katla followed using the powers of Mastakos. Lothar and Kamour climbed down the rope. The room they were in was empty of people. They left it to seek Verthun's stash.
The cavern was large. There were several mud and thatch huts in the opening, there was a coral for mounts, large twin doors barricaded one end of the cavern and another door in the stone wall attracted the companion's interest. The large doors reverberated with several impacts and a war horn could be heard sounding on the far side. An alarm was called and the men in the cave scurried for defensive positions.
Calling the power of Bisos, the Carmanian Bull, Benthor charged the door and smashed it with his head. He gained great respect from the Llama riders from that deed. The riders pored through the rent doors and sent the defenders to the underworld.
The companions approached the door on the other side of the cavern and found Verthun's captains there. Lothar and Varax charged them. Argrath called on Mastakos to send one flying into the ceiling. Gudny called on the Vadrudi winds to send the other crashing into the roof as well. He hit with such force that several chunks of rock were dislodged and pieces of the man fell to ground all over the cavern. The cavern is now called the Blood-rain caves among the High Llama tribe.
It came to pass that the companions collected Sartar's Lamp from Verthun's stash, they also found a map made to look like the EWF's battle standard, it was mounted on a pole like the real standard. They also found enough wealth to enrich the entire clan. They gave half to the Llama riders, Yurgwah gifted the companions three cows each for helping remove the stain on their honour. To avoid a confrontation with the willful Carmanian, Argrath gave Benthor a fifth of the remaining treasure. Loading the captured horses with plunder and bidding farwell to the Praxians, the companions rode for home. With no home left to him, Benthor accompanied them.
When the companions returned to the Gwandor tula, they found several columns of smoke rising over the land.
(1) The left path is a euphemism
for doing things the draconic way.
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