The Saga of the Gwandorlings - 7
So it came to pass that the King told the clan how he had called the tribe to send volunteers to help the Gwandor fight with the Cinsina. When asked why he told a tale of grosse injustice.
Brandast had sent his Golden Tongue, Ostig Fairtongue, to treat with the Cinsina. He was to present the tribe's case for weregeld from the Gorde for the Gwandor's losses in the last raid. Ostig was waylaid by the Gorde and beaten. They knocked out most of his teeth, broke several ribs and smeared his clothes with pig dung.
Now it must be told that Issaries messengers are granted free passage through all lands. To interfere with their mission is not only a breach of Sartar's Laws, but also Heort's and Orlanth's as well. No person can stand by and let this kind of insult go unavenged.
Over the next day, a further 99 tribesmen arrived at the tula to help fight. The Culbri clan sent 5 huscarls and 18 spearmen. The Barlamoni sent 2 huscarls and 12 spearmen, the Marthiadoring sent 2 huscarls and 10 spearmen, and the Elk sent 3 huscarls and 9 spearmen.
Brandast announced his intention to carry a personal suit against the Gorde for the insult to his Golden Tongue and to follow up the Gwandor's suit against the Cinsina for the killings and burning during the raid. With that, the fyrd marched on the Gorde lands where the King demanded that the Chief come forth and that the King of the Cinsina be summoned.
Early the next day, 80 Lunar cavalrymen rode up led by Frundig the Loyal. The men belonged to the so-called Royal Sartar Army but were just Red-men in disguise. Frundig reminded all that tribal warfare was against the laws of Sartar, he then offered to sit as judge over the dispute and make a ruling, both sides agreed to accept his ruling.
Brandast presented his suit for the beating of Ostig and then the suit for the Gwandor. The Gorde denied beating the Golden Tongue but when Frundig called upon Humakt to witness their oath; they proved to be lying.
After hearing both sides, the officer made his rulings. For Brendast's suit, he awarded weregeld of 20 cows, this is nearly 5 times what a beating should bring. For the Gwandor's suit, he awarded 10 cows for both killings and the three burnt steads. This was atrocious! The Gwandor had been slapped in the face! As Frundig left, the Gorde jeered the Gwandor and promised to be visiting them again soon.
Brendast stopped the clansmen from accosting Frundig and explained his view of the ruling. The officer had made peace between the tribes and removed their support for each clan. This opened the way for the Gwandor to have their revenge on the Gorde and the small judgement gave more fuel for the feud.
The Gwandori were incensed but knew they would get no justice that they did not claim for themselves with their swords and spears. The armies returned to their homes and the Gwandor plotted their vengeance.
With the crisis momentarily averted, a small market sprang up on the road between the two clan tulas and people from both mingled amid a festival atmosphere.
Gudny, seeing how many Humakti weapon thanes were in the area, decided to embark on a hero quest to emulate Orlanth when he borrowed Humakt's sword. Going into the forests on the far side of a hill, Gudny and his friends prepared their journey.
Gudny took the place of Orlanth, Noh was Eurmal, Argrath played Vingkot, Kamour agreed to portray Yelm while Sigmund played Hedkoranth and Erkenbrand played Elmal.
Gudny drew a circle in the soil and the friends enacted the rituals to take them back to the God-time.
The Sun froze in the sky and grew larger. The Sky grew bluer, the plants seemed more verdant, and everything seemed brighter. The world changed to look as it would during the God's-Time.
The companions were in Orlanth's stead. Vingkot walked to walls talking with Hedkoranth. Suddenly a pile of horse dung stuck Hedkoranth in the face. Vingkot spied a small spindly man running away and gave chase. He caught the man and threw him to the ground and started beating him. When he looked again, the man had become a sack of leaves.
Vingkot was struck with dung and spied the man running away in the other direction. He drew back his spear and threw it with all the might of the Son of Orlanth piercing the stickpicker through the hip. He raced up to collect his spear and found it sticking into a sack of leaves.
When he looked around again, he saw the man limping over the horizon and disappearing.
The two summoned Orlanth and told him of this strange man. Orlanth resolved to find him as any who could escape two of his mightiest warriors had to have some useful skills.
With his Thunder Brothers at his back and the rest of his warband following like a flock of hunting birds, Orlanth flew over the lands looking for the strange man.
Yelm in the sky spied the unruly Orlanth flying around and demanded that he stop. He was not supposed to be doing that. Orlanth irreverently blew his war horn at Yelm cajoled his warband to fly faster and higher. Yelm tried to use his Imperial authority to command Orlanth to obey but the Storm god just laughed at him and flew on.
Orlanth spied a form lying on the ground unmoving. He landed next to it and saw that it was Grand Father with a strange wound in his chest. Oddly, Grand Father's spirit was not in his body. Orlanth blew his winds into the body but it did not come back to life. The warband was puzzled as this had never happened before.
After casting around to find one who knew what had happened, Orlanth found Humakt nearby. Humakt told of how Eurmal had given him Death and that Grand Father had been slain by it, permanently.
Orlanth immediately saw the use for this new thing, Death, in his contests with Yelm and asked his brother if he could borrow it. Humakt told Orlanth that he would do ill with Death but in consideration of their previous kinship he would loan it to him. Orlanth thanked him, took Death and flew away with his warband.
The quest was successful.
The only drawback to the quest was that somewhere in the area, a Humakti weaponthane's sword had been swapped for Gudny's old sword. Gudny could tell from the markings on the hilt that this sword did not belong to any in his clan but could not determine more than that. Gudny wrapped the hilt and scabbard in leather and returned to the festival.
It happened that three people approached the Gwandor asking to join their clan during the festival.
The first to do so was Voydag, daughter of Bethin. Voydag hailed from the Gorde clan but had left when her husband, Illig Blacktrew was slain for objecting to the clan worshiping Yelmalio. Voydag wished to join the clan to help in the feud and to smite the Gorde. Argrath was taken with her and spoke for her to the clan. She was accepted.
The story now turns south to Barliuststead in the Balamoni clan. Barliust the Enduring was a hard working Thane with rich lands. Manag Nimblefoot was Barliust's second son. He was ever eager to travel abroad and had a, for the Balamoni, violent streak in him. Vomarli Flatnose was Barliust's foster son. He was like Manag in all things except the colour of his hair.
When the King had called for men to fight for him against the Cinsina, Balriust's sons seized their arms and eagerly followed the King. Barliust followed also.
At the festival, Manag and Vomarli spied Elsi Flosidottir and Heela Smithdottir, both of the Stormchaser household and both young widows. They were smitten with the women and asked their father to speak with Gudny for them.
Barliust came to Gudny at his hall and he bade him "Good-day." Gudny rose to meet them, and took him by the hand and made him sit down by his side, and his sons sat next to Barliust. So after they had talked much of this and that, at last Barliust said, "I have a bargain to speak to thee
about; my sons wish to become thy son-in-laws, and buy thy foster-daughters, and I, for my part, will not be sparing in the matter."
Gudny answered, "I know that thou art a great thane, but thy sons are unknown to me. Also, the women do not wish to leave their homes."
"They are more lively than I," spake Barliust, "And would fit in well with the Gwandor."
"Thou wilt need to lay down a large sum with them, for the women come with property of their own," said Gudny.
"There is no need," said Barliust, "to wait long before thou hearest what I give my word lie shall have. They shall have a burnie of good mail, a sturdy spear, a stout shield, and a strong sword. They shall also have a good horse and a saddle for it."
So they settle on a bride price, 5 cows for each woman, and agreed that the men would move to land on Gudnystead and farm it. The women were consulted for their approval and it was received. The date for the marriage was set for the next week on Earthday.
As the first dustings of Valind's snow fell on the region, Kazokang of the Sazdorf busked several giant beetles loaded with trade goods to the clan's tula. He asked after Gudny and was guested at his stead that night.
Kazokang meant to journey to the west to trade and to deliver some Mostali artifacts to a man in the town of Tink.
It happened that it was the same man that Argrath wished to speak with; Ferang Ferosh.
The friends asked after the artifacts and Kazokang showed them the mysterious items. One, was a hand's breadth long. A piece of metal that spread into three prongs on one end, like a pitch-fork. The second was like a small knife. The same size as the first item but with no edge on it, and it appeared to have never had an edge on it. There were others as well and they all had the Empire of Wyrm Friend's emblem on them.
Kazokang asked Gudny if he know any guides through the lands between here and Tink. Gudny offered to accompany his friend on his journey and to find others to go also.
So it came to be that Argrath, Sigmund, Kamaor, and Gudny left with Kazokang; Argrath having to beg more time off from Kulbrast.
As they fared west, Gudny spake to Kazokang of trading for a Mostali artifact himself. He was seeking something that would make his Redsmith's day easier. Kazokang promised to see what he could find.
The party rode west on the King's road to Jonstown. Kazokang, two Dark Uz and 7 enlo along with the friends. The Uz's goods were carried on the backs of giant beetles.
Now Jonstown was the only town in the region. It housed nearly 1500 people and was surrounded by stone walls over three man-heights tall. Many of the inhabitants were Lunar settlers and traders. There was a Lhankor Mhy college there aswell.
It must be told how the Gwandor had built an inn at Jonstown to house their clansmen when they visited the town. It could also house any others who paid the rate of 1 ½ silvers a night. Hamdir Hardbargain, the Clan's Issaries trader, was responsible for managing the house.
When the companions arrived in Jonstown, they made for the Gwandor house to lodge for the night. They were extremely surprised to find that there was no lodging available. Hamdir had let it out entirely to the Lunar garrison. The Lunars would not be evicted and the companions had to find lodging elsewhere.
When the innkeeper was questioned, violently, he admitted that the Red-men were paying 5 silvers a night! Gudny knew for a certain that none of this money was making it back to the clan.
Gudny decided to visit his Uncle Vistol while he was in town. He brought him up to date on family news and clan happenings. He asked his uncle to look into the financial arrangements made between the Occupiers and Gwandor house. He wanted to know how much money was owed to the clan.
The companions continued on their journey in the frosty morning traveling north now on the Kings road to Dangerford.
Dangerford was a Lunar fortress on an island in the river. It sat astride the only ford across the water for many leagues and was guarded by stone walls 9 ells in height and a large Imperial garrison.
The caravan left the road here and struck out west, over the ford and into Dinacoli land. The Dinacoli were of the Far Point confederation, ruled by Harvar Ironfist; Nestin's old master.
Normally, the Gwandor would not be safe on Dinacoli land, having warred against Harvar. However, this time they were guides for the Uz and were allowed to pass unhindered.
As they rode on through and then past the Dinacoli, the caravan came across a tall stone plinth. The plinth was carved with strange runes and had the marks of the dragon newts on it. Several score human heads surrounded the plinth impaled on long lances.
Argrath told the tale of the heads. The plinth was called the "Angry Plinth". It seemed that the people had tried to tap the Draconic power flowing through it. A army of dragon newts appeared from the monolith and slew them all. They posted the heads here as warning to others who would try to steal their power. The battle took place 6 generation ago.
Argrath and Sigmund spread their cloaks on the ground and sat in front of the plinth. They contemplated it's nature and meditated on the power it radiated. As they sat there, a bright green light grew out of the plinth and surrounded both men. Their eyes grew wide with sudden understanding and then dimmed into disappointment and the momentary revelation faded and was gone. They were filled with a great inner harmony and would say not that which they saw.
On another crisp morning, the companions lead the wagons out of the hills and spied "Trader's Plinth" and the dragon newt city of Dragon's Eye in the distance.
The City of Dragon's Eye stretched over 6 leagues from side to side. A strange green glow emanated from the buildings which seemed to defy logic. The entire city just looked wrong. Perspective did not seem to work right.
Kazokang told that he had chosen this route as oft times there are newts at Trader's plinth willing to trade with passers-by. The party spied several newts standing by the plinth with three cows. Argrath strode up with Kazokang to speak with them.
The newts did not have any trade goods but claimed to have found the cattle and wanted the friends to return them to their rightful owners. When asked, the newts told that they cows were from the Karandoli clan. Belatedly the companions noticed that the speaker had his forked tongue tied together so that he was speaking trade.
It must be told that the Karandoli had been a clan in the Colymar tribe. They were destroyed by the savaged Varmandi clan when they fled from the Malani fyrd. Twenty generations of Varmandi have since grown old on the old Karandoli lands.
The companions decided that they would return the cows to the King of the Colymar and agreed to take them from the newts.
Before the groups parted ways, the talking newt peered hard at Argrath. "You been the light of Plinth," it spake. "You will speak with forked tongue," it told him and then the newts left.
Now the companions continued on their way, and when they had passed Dragon's Eye they spied a large dust plume coming their way across the plain. A score of giant birds, the famous "Demi-Birds" that the dragon newts used as mounts ran at the convoy.
Hoping that they may be tamed, Argrath cried out "Stop!" in draconic. The confused birds came to a skidding stop and looked around for the speaker. Argrath strode up to the largest one, dodged a snap from it's razor-sharp beak and again shouted at it to stop. The poor bird again looked around for the newt that was giving it commands but saw none. Argrath commanded the bird to crouch and climbed onto it's back. Sigmund followed suit and, to their great delight, they had mastered the animals in moments.
They decided to return the animals to the city thinking that they may be strays and rode up to the walls. Upon explaining their errand to a sentry, they were thanked for their thoughts and gifted with the birds they sat upon.
They rejoined the convoy in high spirits. The horses were not so happy.
So it happened that the party reached the town of Tink. Tink had been a vibrant mining town but with the end of the veins, had fallen into decay. Most of the buildings were weather beaten or burnt out. There was an old foundry here that was slowly falling in upon itself.
The companions took lodging at the inn and laughed uproariously as they watched the stable boy try to decide how to get the demi-birds housed.
"I gobble humanz who cause problems," stated the Uz doorman.
"We don't cause problems," replied Argrath.
After inquiring after Ferang, the companions settled into jars of ale to wait until he arrived. Sigmund joined in a dice game with two tarshites and got cleaned out. They offered to buy the friends a round of drinks and were cheered boisterously for their good souls.
Then they talked about this and that until they traded names and homelands. The tarshites looked up sharply when Argrath named himself. "That is a name of great omens," they spake. They told the friends of the reformation of the Mitchuinn Moonhater cult in Winter Top.
Mitchuinn was a hero of Vingkot who was slain by a chaos demon summoned to save the Emperor's daughter from his onslaught. His children swore dreadful blood oaths never to rest until they had brought down the Red Empire. For ever after,even unto this day, three hundred years later, the Cult of Mitchuinn gave powerful magics to fight the redmen.
The tarshites had named themselves Thoban and Thobia. They told Argrath that he was too trusting telling them of his family and himself, but that in telling them he had chosen wisely. To prove their truth, the men gave Argrath a string with a cluster of Lunar identity disks on it. Many still coated in their previous owners dried blood. "Test the truth of our words," they spake, "for we will be in touch with you."
That evening, Ferang came and completed his trade with Kazokang who had spent the day trading with people in town. When they had finished, Argrath tried to greet Ferang in draconic but, again, Noh tripped him up by vomiting on Argrath's boots. As Argrath chased Noh around the room with his dagger, Sigmund greeted Ferang warmly in draconic and bade him join he and Argrath for a drink.
Argrath talked with Ferang about the portents he had seen and the riddles he had been told. He asked Ferang if he knew the answers to these puzzles and agreed to answer them for him if Argrath delivered a package to Isildirian the Wise, the leader of the Mostali at Dwarf Mine. Argrath agreed.
 A fork and table knife. The other
item was a tea grinder.
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