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The Gwandor Campaign
Gwandor Saga

The Saga of the Gwandorlings - 6


"1/2 the map needs to be killed!"

- Argrath on Vengeance

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 night.

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 Bigger Wind..."

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 their lands.

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 [1]. 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 side!"

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 waist.

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!"

[1] euphemism for a thunder storm.

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March 26, 2001

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