The Saga of the Gwandorlings 15
Now it must be told how Argrath and his war-band arrived on the Firebull tula in the Sambari tribe. Argrath and his ring, Gudny, Lothar, Kamoar, Sigmund, Varax and Katla, Gudny's band, the two rescued Kings, the 20 freed prisoners and the nine Telmori warriors. They had traveled fast to stay ahead of a pursuing Lunar force. They journeyed south and east passing through Balmyr land and close to Keldon territory. They were seeking the red-men and their moon rock and Crag-spider had told them it was in Sambari pass.
Sigmund was excited about entering the pass, it had been created by Hedkoranth when he slew a mountain giant with Great Weighty.
The region was a hilly one with poor farmland. Most of the people here lived on livestock of one sort or another.
As Argrath's band fared into Firebull land they were greeted by the chief, his thanes, and a lot of his fyrd.. Argrath strode forth and greeted the belligerent clansmen well. He then declared his blood, "I am the true King of Sartar and lighter of Sartar's Flame!" The Chief looked skeptical, "But the Lunars said Prince Temertain had lit the flame." "Have you never known the Lunars to lie?" asked Argrath.
After more bandied words, Chief Urdhard noticed the growing restlessness and displeasure of Argrath's war-band and quickly granted limited Guesting, roof but no food. Argrath thanked him for his generosity.
Later in the day, Argrath and Urdhard sat talking. Argrath explained why he was there and what he wanted. The lunars had told the Firebull that they were prospecting for valuable minerals and would pay the clan for what they found. Argrath told them what the red-men really wanted. A Temple of the Reaching Moon. He explained that if such a temple were founded on Firebull land the Firebull would be kicked off of their land and the lunars would build a town around the Temple. Orlanth would be choked off as the Red Moon's domain was extended into the area.
The Firebull's sage was called in to recount the composition of the lunar party: A man named Kirvandar Streetscar, who was once a gladiator in Glamour before earning a place in the Imperial forces, led the expedition. 100 cavalrymen from the Bell Temple Cavalry and 20 Tarnils Elite Goddess Guards provided the escort and watched one of the wagons like it held the Emperor himself. There was a magical group with strange magicians, an Irrippi Ontor sage and led by Torthus Seven Seventhed a strange mystic.
Argrath pointed out that prospectors are not guarded by 120 warriors. He also pointed out that Goddess Guards guard Temples of the Reaching Moon and other institutions directly related to the Red Moon herself. The chief reluctantly agreed that the lunars were doing no good in the hills and called a moot to discuss it with the clan and sent a messenger to bring the King to meet Argrath.
During the day, Kamoar scouted into the hills and found the lunar party, he returned with the layout of their encampment and the good news that the guards were relaxed and complacent in their duties.
The Firebull clan has the region's High Priest for Hedkoranth, one known as Vost Chaosbreaker. Sigmund sought him out to talk to him and learn from him how to make his famous Chaos breaking thunderstones. Vost agreed to teach him.
The clan met that night to discuss what Argrath had told them. They agreed overwhelmingly to attack the Lunars regardless of the consequences. King Rognvarth of the Sambari declined to support them. He needed to think about the health of his tribe before all else, "You did not see what they did to the Dundealos" he said. Rognvarth agreed to ask for volunteers from the rest of the tribe and departed so that he could honestly answer a truth test that he did not know what was going on.
Urdhard left to call his fyrd. Kamoar kept watch on the Lunars and Argrath's band prepared themselves for the battle.
Argrath asked Urdhard to recognise him as the High King. The Chief said he would do so if they won the up coming battle.
On the night of the dead moon, they struck. The Imperials had camped in a small valley and surrounded themselves with an earthen berm. Gudny summoned a thunderstorm which raged through the night. The Firebull clan, 400 of them and 100 volunteers from the rest of the tribe, formed in the forest on the western slope out of sight of the camp. Argrath's band formed on the eastern slope but were seen. Argrath plucked the man into the air and dropped him at Varax's feet who slew him, but he had already raised the alarm.
Men burst out of tents with their weapons and tried to don their armour at the run. The Firebull's summoned their name-sake. A huge fiery bull which made the earth shudder as it charged through the foliage and into the encampment; everything it touched burst into flames. Argrath's warband lifted into the air and flew into the centre of the foes; they descended on the magician's tents like a herd of Uroxi.
Gudny blasted a sorcerer with a thunderbolt. Sigmund hurled Little Weighty at Torthus the mystic. Torthus, with a glowing red spot on his brow, assumed a strange position and Little Weighty bounced off of his open palm. With a new stance, he hurled a blast of moon magic at Sigmund and sent him reeling to the ground stunned. Varax sang his battle songs and charged into the camp frothing at the mouth, he struck left and right leaving a path of puzzled dead and dying men behind him. Kirvandar emerged from his tent with twin swords glinting in the heavy rain. He moved like a blur and three clansmen fell headless in the mud. With a mighty heavy Argrath sent his Vingkot spear hurling at Kirvandar's head; the gladiator twitched to one side and the spear flew on into the darkness. With a mightly leap, the man flew into the air and struck Argrath down where he hovered over the melee. He landed with a small hop and a roll and came up with two more corpses falling around him. Kamoar shifted to his Yinkin form and lept on Torthus. The mystic head butted Kamoar and sent him flying back, he shrugged off Kamoar's alynx's attacks. Lothar carved his way through the milling cavalrymen towards Kirvandar.
On the far side of the camp, the clansmen overwhelmed the guards on the berm and drove into the dazed and sleeping men stumbling from their tents. The cavalrymen's captain fell early in the fight and the company surrendered to the savage attackers. The Fire Bull raged through the camp crushing anything it stepped on including tents, wagons, lunars and clansmen.
Torthus spun into the ground and disappeared. He reappeared moments later under the Bull and drove himself right through it, the spirit vanished back to it's own realm. Kirvandar was embattled by the clan's thanes and slowly beaten down, Gudny finished him off with a bolt of lightning. Argrath called for the mystic's surrender, with a puzzled look on his face he responded, "But why?" and spun into the ground again. He reappeared next to Kirvandar, seized the warrior and vanished.
The great wagon in the centre of the camp was banded in iron and carved with many strange glyphs. Upon opening it Argrath found the moon rock within. When the door opened the scent of chaos immediately filled the area and all of the Uroxi in clan surged at the wagon. Argrath convinced them that the stone was needed to help bring down the Empire and they should leave it to him. He would depart with it immediately.
Thinking there must be some other treasure in the wagon, the grubby chief of the Firebull would not allow Argrath to depart with the wagon until he had inspected it and held yet another moot to discuss the happenings with his people. Argrath pointed out that there was a large force of Imperial troops pursuing him and that they really did not have time for that but did not wish to kill the chief so agreed to the moot.
When the force returned to the chief's hall, they were told that 2-3,000 Imperial soldiers had been sighted traveling south towards the clan's lands. The Firebull clan decided to flee with Argrath to Old Wind hoping to gain refuge there. Many in the clan left to join other clans.
Urdhard demanded a truth test to see if Argrath had done what he claimed in Boldhome. Argrath passed wonderously and was acclaimed as High King by weapon-take. Urdhard had no choice but to agree with his people and swear fealty to Argrath.
And so Argrath fared to Old Wind as Utguard had commanded, accompanied by his war-band and the remaining 900 folk of the Firebull with their herds and as much of their possessions as they could find.
Old Wind is located in a deep valley. Everything in and around the valley looked blasted and wind-swept. Winds came from all direction in the valley, now gentle like a caress, now brutally harsh flinging stones and branches around. Many, many sylphs inhabited the valley and played in the crevasses. At the end of the valley stood a towering storm. Black clouds, thunder and lightning and raging winds compressed into a huge pillar reaching into the sky. A rent in the border between this world and the next.
As Argrath's band approached the pillar, a cloud detached from the roiling storm and flew to Argrath. It touched the ground before him and dissipated leaving a dozen warriors standing before him. They were covered in tattoos of power and their equipment glowed with the strength of the storm. Their leader introduced himself as "Fedrin Stormguard" and demanded to know their purpose in the valley. "I am Argrath Dragonfriend, the rightful High King of Sartar and lighter of Sartar's Flame. I come at the invitation of Utguard Stormstrider." Fedrin was unimpressed, "I care not who you are, all are equal before the storm. Your heart and soul will prove your worth. If you wish to follow, follow, your will will see you into Old Wind." With that he turned and strode away followed by his men.
As Argrath and his band followed, the winds grew stronger and buffeted them relentlessly. First from one direction then another. It grew stronger and stronger. Kamoar and Lothar were reduced to crawling and clawing their way forward and then could make no more headway against the wind. The gusts started to pick them up and threatened to blow them back but they pressed on. Argrath, Katla and Sigmund were held on to the stone to keep from blowing off and could not go further. Varax and Gudny drove on, fighting the winds. Argrath sat and relaxed, "I want to join with the winds," he thought. The winds stopped buffeting him and he floated into the air and into Old Wind. The rest of his companions quickly followed his example and they floated into the air and passed within the Storm.
They landed in a clear pasture, the land was surrounded by towering walls of boiling clouds and raging winds. "Welcome to Old Wind," grunted Fedrin who then took them to see Utguard.
It seemed that Utguard had summoned Argrath to help convince the Stormwalkers to support Argrath's campaign to free Sartar. The Stormwalkers, as the priests within Old Wind were called, were divided into four main camps.
Far Storm, headed by Utguard wished to use their power and knowledge to help Orlanthi in the world, they wanted to help Argrath throw off the evil Red Empire.
Closed Storm, led by Gaid the Stern, a tired old man, thought that the outside world had nothing to do with them and they owed it nothing. They served the Storm in their own way and that should not change.
Old Storm, led by Kjal Beastbase, wants to Stormwalkers to support King Bryon. Kjal had fough against Telmori under Jon and was against aiding Argrath because he had allied with the Telmori.
The Heroic Storm, led by [.....], thought that this world was only a mask of the Otherside and that the war should be fought and won there. They did not care for kingdoms or clans.
Utguard said that he would call a council meeting to discuss it. He also said that the Firebull clan would find a home in Old Wind. The council would have several tasks and tests for Argrath to accomplish to earn their support. At the council meeting the following tests were declared:
Closed Storm - Humility, Old Storm - Caution, Heroic Storm - Cosmos. The Tasks they laid on Argrath were: Closed Storm - Reclaim Vingkot's Sword and Helm, Old Storm - Form an alliance with other Orlanthi, Heroic Storm - Defeat the Lunars on the Otherside.
 A lunar tax collector raped the
daughter of the King of the Dundealos; he was of course slain. The
Empire declared the entire tribe to be in rebellion and killed 7000
of the 10,000 tribesmen. Of the rest, those that were not sold into
slavery were forcibly converted to the Lunar Way, any who would
not convert are included in that 7000. The road that led to the
tribal center is still lined with over 500 crucifixes.
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