We take up the tale when the friends arrive at the
hall of their Chief, Kulbrast. Kulbrast looked demoralized and trod-upon,
it was told how the King of the Cinsina tribe had come with over
five score tribal warriors to raid the Gwandor. They had burned
three steads, taken a dozen cattle and killed two weapon-thanes
in the fighting. "Where were you?" Demanded Kulbrast, "you said
you would be gone a week, you were gone nye on three. We did not
have enough men to fight them off." It happened that the Culbrea's
king would not send help to the Gwandor.
Argrath pointed out that an extra seven spears would
not have made a difference in that fight while Gudny pointed out
that they had brought more than enough plunder home to replace the
loses and still greatly enrich the clan. He was concerned as one
of the burnt steads belonged to one of his cottars.
Argrath was for war with the Cinsina and counciled
thusly, "Take this wealth we have brought and hire 200 spears!"
He described what the clan could do to the Cinsina with that many
warriors. Kulbrast told how he had called a moot for a week's time
and it could be discussed there.
Gudny spake of his desire to deliver the Telmori
pelts to the Blueberry clan in return for the blueberry tribute
and Kulbrast bid the friends see him in the morrow.
Gudny and Sigmund returned to their lands to see
the damage wrought by the raiders while the others helped clean
up the village.
In the morning, Kulbrast bid the companions travel
to the Blueberry clan and collect the blueberry tribute. He also
bid them address the chief and find why the Blueberry had left the
Culbrea and how they felt towards the tribe. He gave them a strong
horse, several cattle and a fine sword to gift the Blueberry with.
The friends departed.
It must be told that the Blueberry clan's tula is
across the Jonstown road from the Gwandor. It is barely an hour's
ride from Gwandor lands and that the farmer's on either side knew
one another by sight if not name. However, the Blueberry had joined
the Cinsina after the Starbrow rebellion.
So it came to pass that the friends rode to the
Blueberry lands and into them. They were challenged by a farmer
and claimed guest-right. The farmer took them to the chief's hall
and there they found Edrath the Wise, Chief of the Blueberry.
Edrath gave them a hearty welcome. They presented
Edrath with Kulbrast's gifts, Gudny and Sigmund also gifted him
with two sheep, a barrel of mead and several wine-skins. Gudny further
gifted Edrath with a sack of horse-shoes from his smith. Edrath
was pleased with the gifts and promised to gift the friends before
they left. He told how the sheep and the wine must be for that night's
feast and the companions must stay for it.
Gudny told Edrath how they had come to collect the
Blueberry tribute and presented him with the Telmori pelts. Edrath
bid him tell the tale of their taking at the feast that night.
At the feast, Edrath named his huscarls to the companions.
They were Kjallar Skyshield, a follwer of Heler, Torrig Quickblood,
a Humakti, Meddar Hransson, an Orlanth the Warrior worshiper, Uthi
the Sylph, who also follows Orlanth the Warrior, Gendle Edrathsshield,
also Orlanth the Warrior, Orostolf Wulfbiter, a Humakti, Vridal
Elmalstrue, an Elmali Horsethane, and Meadhall Anstaf, a pleasant
drunk. They greeted the friends warmly and sat the friends amongst
them at his table.
Gudny did the telling of their battle with the Telmori
warband to great applause from the host and his men. Edrath toasted
the Gwandor's great might and sung an honour poem about them protecting
the tribe from wolf attacks and their mighty strength in arms. Gudny
rose after and toasted the Blueberry and added these verses to Edrath's
poem, to great acclaim:
Like the Legacy and Legends of old
The Gwandor will fight and guard the clan
But they cannot brave the fight alone
with Blueberry's aid and bold spearmen
Sartar will again be free.
During the dinner, Varax slipped out with Meadhall
Anstaf to meet some friendly ladies and was not seen again that
During the feast Argrath spake with Torrig about
the recent raid on the Gwandor. The friends knew that none of the
Blueberry had gone raiding with their king and thus escaped his
fury. Argrath asked after the names of the raiders and marked them
for future retribution. Torrig told him that the Blueberry refused
to raise their fyrd against the Gwandor as they owed them too much.
Torrig also warned Argrath that the Gwandor were a marked clan.
The Cinsina and the Lunars were out to get them; and with them most
of the Culbrea.
Gudny traded news with Edrath and questioned him
on the clan's will. It was told how the Blueberry had left the Culbrea
to protect them from Lunar retribution after the rebellion. They
had not sent their entire fyrd to fight as the Gwandor had and escaped
with only a small tribute. By joining the Cinsina they escaped the
retaliatory raids that the Gwandor were feeling now. Edrath spake
at length about the honourless king of the Cinsina and how, when
the Culbrea gained their strength back, the Blueberry would renew
their vows of allegiance to their proper king. For now, Edrath needs
see to his people's safety afore all else. Gudny remarked on his
wisdom and justice putting his people before his own honour.
In the morrow, the companions, minus Varax, were
awoken by the news that a large band had entered the tula and wished
to see Edrath who had ridden forth to greet them. Edrath brought
the strangers into his hall and granted them guest right. They were
a varied lot representing several interests of the Red Empire.
The strangers named themselves: Ammund of Goldedge,
an Imperial Factor for the region. He followed the Lunar trade god
Etyries and traveled with 10 Aggari Highlanders from the Provincial
army and 2 Tarnils men from the Provincial Army trained in Mrins
Cross. Also in the party was Chandon Goldtongue, the Goodvoice of
the Gorde clan, Neston Hollowdancer of Alda-chur and Harron Toothtorc
– a deadly warrior from Vanch who represented Jomes Wulf.
Argrath approached Chandon and traded insults with
him, Chandon got the better of Argrath in the exchange.
It happened that Nestin had come to reveal the truth
of Bigger Wind to the local storm worshipers. Bigger Wind is the
god worshiped in Far Point by Harvar Ironfist who brutally represses
any other storm god especially Orlanth. Fortunately for Nestin,
he sought out Gudny and made to convert him to the Bigger Wind.
After greeting Gudny, Nestin addressed him thusly,
"Have you thought about the Greater Storm? That which Orlanth is
but only a small part of?"
A manic gleam came into Gudny's eyes as he responded
"But truly the Greater Storm was Umath! Father of Orlanth and when
Umath was slain Orlanth took his father's place as the Greater Storm."
"Ah, but even Umath was nought but a part of the
Gudny cut him off with a violent slash of his hand,
"Umath IS the air! There is NO bigger wind than he!" Gudny continued
on this way for several minutes, getting louder and more animated
as he spoke, Nestin had trouble getting any comments in at all.
Finally a look of dawning horror crept into Nestin's
expression. A sharp breeze blew across the room and all conversation
fell silent. The people in the hall all turned to look at Gudny
and though the doors were closed and the windows drawn, his cloak
fluttered about him as in a heavy wind and small surges of lightning
crackled through his hair. He was nearly shouting the Truths of
Orlanth at Nestin. Orlanth's immanence was heavy in the air and
a long peal of thunder rolled across the village. Nestin fell on
his knees before Gudny and begged his forgiveness for his apostasy.
Gudny said "Tis not mine to forgive you. Thou shalt have to prove
thy truth to Orlanth." Gudny pointed out that Orlanth is forgiving
of those who recognize their apostasy and return to his path but
that the oaths they swore to do so would have to be mighty and truthful.
"And if ye are not faithful to him this time, he will surely strike
you down". Nestin swore then on the sword of Humakt to serve Gudny
from that day forth.
Gudny was next sought out by Harron Toothtorc. Harron
had come to recruit help in Jomes' fight with the Telmori. The Duke
felt that the wolfmen were preparing to launch another series of
raids into the area and wanted to smite them first. Harron pointed
out that Jomes has great respect for the Gwandor and would be able
to use his considerable influence with the Provincial government
to reduce the tributes laid on the clan and to reduce the Empire's
support of the Cinsina's vendetta. Gudny replied that they would
be happy to help in return for Jomes' help at court but that they
need to ensure that their own lands were safe first.
At this time, Edrath bid the companions attend him
in the common. He apologized for having to take these men in as
guests and putting the Gwandori at discomfort. But Ammund of Goldedge
had just concluded a bargain with the clan to buy the blueberries
from them and sell them in the Empire. In exchange Ammund would
use his influence with the Provincial government to try and get
the tributes on the clan reduced or even removed.
Gudny congratulated Edrath on his canny bargaining
and wished him luck. Edrath thanked them and paid the tribute. He
paid two baskets for each pelt rather than the one that he had to.
Edrath spake that he would do all he could to support the Gwandor
but that there was not much he could do without endangering his
clan. He bid the companions visit again and bade them return to
It came to pass that a Dragonnewt was spied standing
in the clan's moot circle. The news was brought to the Chief's hall
whereupon he seized his weapons, took his weaponthanes about him
and went to see the creature.
It must be said that the Gwandor have always distrusted
and even hated the Dragonfolk. The Chief went preparing to see the
monster off of his lands. When he arrived at the circle, the newt
was standing there, immobile as a cliff face while Heler's blessing
poured down his flanks. Kulbrast demanded to know its business in
the tula and how it came to be there without being challenged. The
figure shifted minutely and locked its gaze on Argrath.
Argrath strode towards the newt careless of the
puddles he stomped through. The dragonnewt assumed a curious pose
with its arms in the air and addressed him:
"The black true is your sword to the left hand."
Argrath asked what that was supposed to mean and
the creature repeated itself, and again. It then turned and ran
off into the distance at an incredible speed; fading like it had
turned to mist.
That night, in the comfort of Sigmund's home, the
companions discussed these developments while the rain hammered
down and Orlanth crashed his spear on his shield and hurled his
javelins at the mountaintops . They knew that there was a powerful
Uz spirit named Cragspider who lived near Skyfall Lake and had chained
a Black True Dragon. Sigmund had heard a rumour that there was a
man living far to the west who had lived during the time of the
EWF and had great knowledge of all things draconic.
It had also happened that day, that an envoy had
come from the Blueberry clan bearing news of a lawsuit being brought
against Varax for adultery.
It needs be told what happened to Varax that night
he left the feast at Edrath's hall. Meadhall Anstaf had taken him
to a home in the village and introduced him to the two women living
there. The women turned out to be Uralda worshippers and were quite
pleased to have an Uroxi in their bed. Anstaf passed out and Varax
spent a very satisfying night with the women. In the morrow, Varax
returned to Edrath's hall long enough to break fast and then returned
to the warmth of the Uraldan's bed for more rutting.
When he went to leave the next morning, the women
propositioned him for marriage. All he had to do was slay their
underhusbands and they would both marry him and bring their considerable
wealth with them. Varax decided to think on it and returned to Sigmundvale.
Kulbrast was understandably upset at this. "I sent
you to negotiate peace with the Blueberry and you commit adultery
with his clanswomen!"
Gudny and Sigmund returned to Siugmund's home to
discuss this development. They knew of these women's husbands. They
were knows to be great duelists. They had amassed large fortunes
by committing adultery and then killing the husband when he complained.
They also urged their wives to commit adultery and then collected
weregeld from the other men.
Now the news of a large warband approaching the
tula was brought before Kulbrast. The leader of the band had halted
outside the clan's lands and sought guest right for his people.
Kulbrast again seized his weapons and with his huscarls about him
went forth to meet the strangers.
The band consisted of 12 warriors and 20-30 women
and their children with several large wagons. Their leader named
himself Gestan the Stubborn and named his people the survivors of
the Dundaelos clan.
Gestan told how they had come seeking to join the
Gwandor. "Orlanth came to me in mine dreams and sayeth to me,
'The flame flickered among the Gwandor; blow on it
and fan its fury.'"
Kulbrast granted guest right and bid them join him
for feast that night.
At the feast, Gestan told of their journeys since
the Red-men destroyed his clan. 200 of them had escaped the slaughter
and after braving Praxian raids, Gargathi slavers and several years
hiding with the Pol Joni, the survivors were here now, seeking admittance
to the Gwandor.
Orgumlelde the Sinew took Gestan to Death Hollow
and tested the truth of his story with the sword of Humakt. Gestan
passed and Kulbrast promised to ask the clan to accept them tomorrow
at the moot.
As Elmal rose over the hills and Heler let off with
his copious blessings, the clan started to gather for the moot.
When they had all arrived, Hamdir Hardbargain, the Issaries priest,
called on his god to bless this meeting. Orgumlelde called on the
Gwandor to watch over his people. Menja Borescar, the Ernaldan priestess,
called on her god to watch over the lands and the herds while the
clan meets. When this was done, Kulbrast called the moot together
and it began.
The first issue raised was the lawsuit against Varax.
The Blueberry's juror brought forth evidence that the two women
involved admitted to the crime and stated that they enjoyed doing
it. Anstaf admitted to leading Varax to the women's home. Several
witnesses claimed to have seen Varax leaving the home after his
friends had left. The husbands were claiming 10 cows each for weregeld.
Varax chose trial-by-combat and asked Lothar to fight with him against
the two husbands.
Next Kulbrast raised the issue of Gestan's band
seeking admittance into the clan. Gudny stated that they should
be allowed into the clan to strengthen them.
Yorden spake "But surely, they should be taken in
as thralls. The Gwandor have always taken in remnant peoples and
put them to work in the fields as slaves."
Gudny reasoned with him, "But surely when Ernalda
came to join the Storm tribe she was not made into a slave? When
the rest of her Earth Tribe came with her and joined Orlanth's people
they were not made into thralls. And those that were enslaved were
freed when it became apparent that they were loyal and that their
skills were needed, like Heler was. During the Darkness when Chaos
was all around, did not Vingkot take in any who would help protect
the tribe? Surely you are not going to say that they were all thralls?
The Gwandor are surrounded by Chaos, a new darkness is creeping
across the land and we must draw strength from where we can. Gestan
was spoken to by Orlanth and guided to the Gwandor! Are you arguing
that we go against the words of Orlanth? Would you place the shackles
on a man such as this? Who had journeyed so far, through so much,
to get here? I say not! Let them join us a equals and fight by our
All around the circle shouted their agreement and
crashed their weapons together in support. Gestan nodded gratefully
at Gudny and finally relaxed after a long journey. Kulbrast announced
their admittance into the clan.
Now it was that Kulbrast called the companions to
give the telling of their journeys. Argrath strode forth and told
tale. He spake of the friends they had made and the companionships
renewed. He presented Kulbrast with the baskets of blueberries and
Kulbrast gifted half of them back to the friends. He told of the
insults traded with Chandon and the vengeance that must be had.
He told of the raid on the Gargathi lair and the treasures brought
back for the clan. He spoke of Jomes Wolf's offer of help in return
for fighting the Telmori.
When his tale was done, Argrath called on the clan
to war with the Gorde. "These traitors must be burned out and spitted
on their own spears. They must be slain to the last babe and left
for the wolves to feast upon."
Kulbrast looked around at his Thanes and saw them
all slowly shake their heads. He spoke to the moot, "Now is not
our time. The Spirit of the Gwandor is growing distant as we fall
further from our purpose of defending the tribe from the Telmori.
We must send men to fight with Jomes Wolf to appease the Gwandor.
Then we can look at striking back at our foes."
With that the moot was over.
It came to pass that a day was set for the trial-by-combat
for Varax and Lothar. When that day arrived, the Gwandori and the
Blueberry met on the Jonstown road. The Blueberry juror stepped
forth and demanded payment of the weregeld. Lothar strode forward
and sent the juror off with a withering look.
Ketil Bloodblade, one of the aggrieved husbands
stepped forward tentatively. He had been told that the man who had
violated the women was a cottar and here he was facing an Humakti
Deathlord. Why do you champion an adulterer he asked Lothar. Lothar
said nothing but fixed the man with a disinterested look. As Ketil
stared into those eyes he knew what fear was, Lothar did not look
at him as a man, but as a thing to butcher, the eyes showed him
the gates of hell.
Lothar slowly turned his head from side to side
stretching the muscles but never moving his gaze from Ketil. He
slowly drew a sword and pointed it at Ketil, "Because he asked."
Ketil ran at Lothar letting his fear power his charge.
He smote at Lothar with his sword and forced the Humakti to step
back. Lothar then drew his other sword and smote at Ketil; but Ketil
made a cut at him too, and Lothar's sword fell on Ketil's hilt,
and glanced off it on to Ketil's wrist, and took the arm off, and
down it fell, and the sword too. Then Lothar's sword passed on into
Ketil's side, and between his ribs, and so Ketil fell down and was
like to be dead on the spot yet he still breathed.
Now Eric Bloodblade, Ketil's brother and the husband
of the other woman stood forth and called on Varax, the Cottar to
show himself. His blood turned to ice when the Uroxi berserker stalked
forth grinning wickedly and stroking his axe.
Eric hurled his spear at Varax but Varax swiped
it aside with Beheader. Eric made to swipe at Varax with his sword
but was forced back by that dread axe. Varax started to cry his
battle shout and entered his berserker rage as he hewed at Eric;
he made a sweep at Eric with his bill, and cut him asunder at the
It took several minutes to calm the berserker down
and to collect the various well-hacked pieces of Eric.
The Jurors declared that Orlanth had spoken and
Varax was not to be penalized for his crime and there was much jubilation
in the Gwandor and even in the Blueberry as the Bloodblade brothers
were well hated in their clan.
Varax strode over to the two women and declared
"You WILL be my wives. You will be UNDERwives. I will never treat
you as these dogs did but if you EVER do to me as you just did to
them there will be a telling the likes of which you have not seen!"
and he strode off to find a flagon of mead.
The wedding was hastily arranged and Gudny presided
over it the next day. Sigmund gifted Varax with land to work and
to build his own home on. The two women brought their belongings
and herds, the property was worth 50 cows.
After that, the King, Brendast Turntail was seen
to approach the tula. Rather than calling for guesting as was his
right, he brought enough food to feed his band and the entire clan
for several days. When Brendast heard of Varax's wedding, he chose
a horse from his own remounts to gift him with. He gifted the Chief
with a fine horse and more importantly, a fine sword crafted of
iron. With the sword, he said these words:
"Hear me of the Gwandor. I give this iron blade to
your chief and clan and bid you keep it sharp. The Gwandor were
ever the sword of the Culbrea and I would have it so again. This
gift I seek no answer to but the sharpness of your blades and the
willingness to use them. In the darkness of our season and the darkness
of our souls, do not fall to despair for we shall rise again!"
 euphemism for a thunder storm.
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