The Saga of the Gwandorlings 11
So it happened that when the companions returned from the journey to Tarsh, a frustrated Kulbrast assigned his loyal champion, Argrath to two weeks of border patrol duty.
Sigmund and Gudny worked long and hard trying to get caught up with the planting.
The companions pressed the Chief at every opportunity to raid the Gorde again. The day came, in the next week, that Kulbrast came to Gudny and Sigmund, he summoned Argrath and asked for their support in a moot to raise the fyrd again and raid the Gorde. They all agreed and the moot was called for the next Windsday.
As Elmal rose into the sky in the morn, Argrath spied a band of riders faring from Gorde towards the tula; he readied his men and challenged the riders. The lead rider was Pader, Chief of the Gorde. He sat his horse, smirked at Argrath and threw a sack at his feet. The riders rode off in haste.
Argrath opened the sack and found Kulbrast's head and that of his wife in the sack.
With a howl of primal rage Argrath and his men chased the Gorde challenging them to fight. The Gorde responded with more speed and laughter. Argrath called on the winds to blow Pader from his horse. When the wind struck the chief a great flash of golden light flashed out and struck Argrath from his demi-bird. With his men stopped around him, Argrath stood and stared after the cowardly murderers. Kamoar spied many more Gorde warriors in the trees ahead and knew it to be an ambush. The band rode for Kulbrast's hall.
Our tale must turn to the hall. At dawn there was an uproar. Kulbrast was dead. And his mistress. A hole was found in the roof and signs of several men on the roof. His huscarls were shamed and raged around the hillock seeking a foe. The villagers were in a panic. Several people blamed the Gorde and were ready to rush off and attack them.
The Ring called for calm. Lothar settled the huscarls while Gudny sent for his Uncle Vistol from Jonstown. Argrath arrived at this point and organized the fyrd to defend the clan if the Gorde decided to attack them.
Vistol, a Lhankor Mhy sage, arrived the next evening. He performed a divination to find what had happened in Kulbrast's rooms.
The tale raced through the tula like an Uroxi: Flying Gorde, Hamdir the Outlaw guiding them, landing on the roof, cutting a hole in the roof so they can see Kulbrast, teleporting into his room and two of them slaying him in his sleep. They then teleported out and flew off back to their foul land.
Vistol recounted a tale of Vadrus killing a chieftan and thought that the Gorde had enacted this ritual to slay Kulbrast. The Tula resounded with the cries for vengeance. Gudny told the ring a tale of Orlanth punishing Vadrus and smashing his warband. He vowed to enact this rite and make the lands tremble to the sound of Gwandori war-horns.
The immediate problem was to find a new chief. Gudny canvassed the thanes individually to see their wishes. Gestan nominated Gudny. All of the thanes supported this except Menja. "You are too hot-headed," she spake, "Too likely to lead our clan back to war and destruction." She suggested her kinsman as chief.
Gudny talked with her of this and that and what she wanted to see happen in the clan. He argued with her on the history of the clan and the mythic structures that empowered them. He finally convinced her that he did hold the welfare of the clan to be paramount. "Did not Ernalda teach Orlanth that 'There is always another way'?" he asked her. He admitted that he would lead the clan to war if he was chief, but that if he did not then they would be crushed by the Lunars and their lackeys. Menja was swayed by his arguments and agreed to support him as chief. Kulbrast's old household agreed to support him if he agreed not to rearrange the land holdings overmuch when he moved into the Hall. Gudny agreed.
In the morn, Randver Battlespeak address the moot asking for nominations for Chief. Gestan spake for Gudny and the clan acclaimed him by weapon-take. Their cries could be heard in Blueberry land.
Gudny declared his intention to raid the Gorde in vengeance and smash them. "This I swear as my Chief test," he shouted. Gudny did not change his ring from Kulbrast's but made Nestin the Storm Voice to replace himself.
So it came to pass that Gudny prepared the ritual for his quest. The story showed Orlanth burning the slain chief on a pyre and leading his warband against Vadrus' stead. The Gwandor built a huge pyre and placed Kulbrast and his wife on it and Gudny and his men ritually prepared themselves.
Argrath and Kamoar spent their time preparing in their own way. Argrath decided to incarnate a Hidden King. He and Kamoar stalked a Gorde shepard and made off with the boy. They prepared the ritual circle and got several of the Hidden King Ring's men together; all those not helping Gudny ready his rituals. They performed the rites to bring them back to the Darkness. The clouds turned black and roiled angrily. The trees withered and died and an ice hurricane raged around them. It was bitterly cold and there was no light. Argrath's jaw elongated, his teeth became large canines, and he noticed that he was covered in a heavy pelt of fur. All of his men began to take on the forms of animals. Argrath was a bear. There were wolves, cougars, alynxes, owls, and others. Kamoar became an alynx. Both were struck with a great hunger. The boy was on the ground before them; he screamed in terror as Argrath leapt on him and then the band tore him to pieces and voraciously ate him alive.
Now it must be told that the Hidden Kings lived during the Darkness when Chaos-man's armies roamed the lands killing all they found. The Hidden Kings were cast out from their own people and lived by banditry, shape-shifting, and eating anything they could find. Argrath had performed the ritual so well that he incarnated Jardfor, the mightiest of the Hidden ones. He was ready to wreak vengeance on the Gorde. He and his band returned to Gudny's ritual still in their own threshold state, he identified Gudny as one of his band and they all prepared to raid.
It happened that while Gudny was readying his quest, Sigmund was awoken by a great crash in his barn. He seized his spear and rushed out to find the barn burning with a hole in the roof. Throwing open the door he spied a crater, 7 ells across in the ground and several of his cows smeared across the walls. A boulder the size of a hog lay in glowing in the bottom of the crater. When it had cooled, Sigmund broke it open and found a piece of strange metal, the size of two fists at its core. The stone had fallen from the sky, from the "Ring of Orlanth", and the metal was a Thunderbother. Part of the sky. It had a spirit of Hedkoranth in it and come to the Gwandor seeking a Warlord of Hedkoranth, summoned by a need. The spirit said it would serve Sigmund if he proved himself worthy of Hedkoranth, prove his strength and his piety.
Gudny meanwhile, had lit Kulbrast's pyre, he told off 30 men to accompany him on the raid. He spoke the name of the place each person held in the ritual and sang the songs of power to call Orlanth to him. Argrath was Kodig, son of Vingkot, Kamoar was Odayla, Sigmund, Hedkoranth. Gudny's re-enactment of the ritual was perfect, great powers flowed through them all as they passed to the other side.
Orlanth led his warband thundering across the land. They passed far into the north and came to the icy lands where Vadrus dwelt. A great wall of ice surrounded Vadrus' stead. Hedkoranth threw "Great Weighty" his thunderstone at the wall and cracked it with a great thunderous impact. The stone returned to his hand and he threw again this time throwing the entire wall down. Orlanth led his warband through singing their battle songs and hungering for revenge.
Vadrus stood there before his band and called a challenge to Orlanth. Was his brother was man enough to face him in single combat? Orlanth knew that Vadrus never kept his word and would always cheat but his honour bound him to accept the challenge. The ritual words were exchanged and they flew at each other howling their war cries.
Vadrus struck a great blow with his warhammer "Rhino" driving Orlanth to his knees. He then leapt over "Thunder" when Orlanth struck at him. Orlanth smites at Vadrus' thigh, so that the spear passed clean through it but Vadrus tore the spear from Orlanth's hands and made a side blow at him with his hammer. Orlanth leapt back and dragged "Babestor", his war-axe from his belt and struck at him but Vadrus threw his shield before the axe, and caught the blow on it. Orlanth struck again and the axe clove through the shield and the arm and passed into Vadrus' hip knocking him to the ground senseless.
Vadrus' men had been awaiting the signal to attack Orlanth but Vadrus fell before he could give it. They charged Orlanth now while the Thunderbrothers leapt to protect their lord.
Hedkoranth struck a Star Captain mercenary with "Great Weighty" and blew him into small pieces.
Argrath changed into a bear and charged the largest of Vadrus' warband. The foe struck him a great blow on the head and knocked him from his feet. As he went down, Argrath grasped the man in the great embrace of the bear and ripped his limbs off and started to eat the body. His warbanders did likewise including Odayla.
The fight turned to a rout and Valind, one of Vadrus' sons threw himself before Orlanth and begged for the mercy that Orlanth was sure to grant. He did and managed with difficulty to reign in his warriors.
The world around them faded back to their normal world. Pader, lay on the ground before Gudny with his arm and leg badly wounded. Hamdir the Outlaw lay half eaten before Argrath who was holding his head. Argrath's men looked around sheepishly and realised they were chewing people.
They stood in a clearing with a small, burning stead, and several tents. Bodies lay everywhere and fire could be seen burning in the trees. The trees surrounding the clearing were in flames and a path seemed to have been blasted through them and crateres dotted the area.
Gudny seized the Gorde war-banner and Argrath stuck Hamdir's head on it's peak. The warband collected the heads of the dead Gorde and looted their way back to the Gwandor tula collecting 30 cows, 6 horses, and 1000 marks of other treasure. There was a path of destruction carved through the Gorde land that the Gwandori followed home. Steads burning, animals running around, women weeping and men cringing when the war-horns blew. The entire sky was lit with the flames.
Upon their return, Gudny ordered the collected heads impaled on pikes before his hall. He gifted his warband with all of the cattle, gave a horse to Gestan, another to Menja, and one to Kulbrast's household. The clan celebrated their victory and their vengeance. Gudny had passed his Chief test in glorious fashion and brought more honour and booty to the clan.
Lissa the Crone, Gudny's sister, read the auguries for his reign, "Blood, and fire will run through the land. Blood-serpents will spread their way. A wolf rides on the back of a dragon. Burning, all being consumed, the whole world in flames."
Sigmund named his thunderstone "Little Weighty" and it agreed to serve him; he decided to build a temple to Hedkoranth.
Gudny fared to Brendast, the King, and gifted him with 3 horses and a fine set of mail and a sword taken from the Gorde. Brendast accepted him as a chief in the tribe.
When Argrath and Gudny returned from visiting Brendast, a messenger was waiting for Argrath. It was an Uz from Cragspider. He had come to summon Argrath before his queen in the next season. Argrath agreed to attend.
The next morning a large bird was spied flying towards the tula. As it drew nearer, it was seen to be no bird, it was a dragon. It hovered over the Chief's hall and the whole area was battered by the wind of its wings. Argrath flew up to speak with the creature which he identified as a Dream Dragon. It spake this to him:
"Give them to the earth and they shall serve. Once
served they shall have freedom. Seek Wyrmquill and you shall know
and then flew away.
 Blood-serpent = sword
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