The Saga of the Gwandorlings 23
The euphoria from ceremony lasted until next morn when leaders of rebellion met. town center was filled with Orlanthi across Dragon Pass and beyond. Aeolians, Sartari, Heortlanders, Esrolians, Praxians, Rakori.
Argrath and so's my wife!"
All those who fought Empire were represented.
King Broyan of the Volsaxi stood forth and welcomed
all. "We art here to determine the future of the struggle against
the Evil Empire". He recounted the campaign to date, Kallyr's uprising,
the battles in Heortland, the defeat of the Lunars at Whitewall
and the general rising throughout Hendrikiland. "We should focus
our efforts to clear the Empire from one part of Dragon Pass and
use that local as a base to drive them from all of the Pass. Petty
local disputes and concerns need to be dropped to that we can all
rally behind the true King of Sartar; Kallyr Starbrow!" Broyan and
Kallyr's supporters responded loudly to this speech with a clamorous
Argrath Dragonfriend stood and addressed the crowd,
"If we gather all of our forces into one place and try to battle
the Empire we will just make it easier for them crush us all in
one blow! I say we must continue the guerrilla war and make our
land too expensive for them to keep a hold on." Many in the crowd
and Argrath's supporters set up an weapontake of their own.
Kallyr glared at Argrath, "I am the rightful ruler
of Sartar. Broyan has done well in his fighting. He is the only
one of us to defeat a Lunar army and the bat. Who are you to be
arguing with him? "Argrath" means "Liberator", what have you done
to earn that title? Who are you? I have never heard of you?"
"I am the true King of Sartar," Dragonfriend replied,
"my blood has been tested, I have lit the flame of Sartar, I did
not make it flicker like another." Kallyr's eyes bulged and she
grasped her sword hilt.
"I am the true King of Sartar," claimed a loud voice
in the crowd. A young looking heroquester forced his way to the
front of the gathering. "I am Argrath Maniskisson." Maniskisson
claimed to belong to a clan that had been preparing for the arrival
of Argrath for years. He said that he was the chosen one.
"I am the true King of Sartar," claimed another
man as he forced his way through the crowd. "I am Argrath Sharpsword."
Sharpsword was a grizzled warrior from Pavis who had fought the
Empire during the initial invasion and had been fighting ever since.
"I have been fighting the Empire for 20 years. I have contacts across
Prax and Sartar."
"I am the true King of Sartar," claimed a weather
beaten Praxian, "I am Argrath Whitebull." He was dressed in a combination
of Orlanthi cloths and plains feathers. "I have learned that I am
the rightful King from the Bitter Well of Vengeance."
Several other minor war leaders tried to claim their
leadership but were generally drowned out by the main warbands.
It was at this time that Broyan realised how difficult
this was going to be. The various warbands were getting restless,
several stormbullers had started a fist fight at the back of the
crowd and Sharpsword's and Whitebull's warbands were trading dangerous
insults. "I suggest that we reconvene this meeting later. I will
summon the leaders to the Keep." The attention of the crowd immediately
turned to the fist fights and politics was forgotten.
Our tale now turns to Bronwyn. While the meeting
was going on, he had wandered the town seeking information on the
Border Marches. This was where the companions were planning on relocating
the Firebull clan to. He talked to the traders in the market but
they were too busy to gossip. He tried the wandering Donandari troupes
but they did not journey there. He finally asked a beggar. The beggar
told him that there was another old beggar at the main gates, named
Old Tidder. He had no legs but saw everyone and everything that
came into town. "E's got no legs see, so he canna wander far."
Bronwyn did find Old Tidder by the gate. He was
an old man but sharp of eye. "What ken I do fer ya sonny?" he asked.
Bronwyn related how he had heard of him and asked
what he knew of the Border Marches, he dropped a few silver coins
into Tidder's hat. Tidder couldn't tell him anything about them
but had seen a man enter might know the information he needed, "I
ken tell you who he is, who he is with, where he is, when he came
in..." he gazed contentedly at Bronwyn. "Well?" asked Bronwyn. Tidder
looked significantly at his hat and back to Bronwyn. Several more
silvers landed there. "Ah, I saw a representative of the Border
Baron ride into town three days back. They are getting raided rather
heavily by the Praxians now that there is no king and no garrison.
What small garrison is left is in Knight Fort led by a Rokari Knight
who is trying to set up his own kingdom there. He is Hurred the
Drayce." Tidder told Bronwyn where to find Hurred. Bronwyn thanked
him, gave him some more silver and asked him to keep Bronwyn and
Argrath Dragonfriend in mind if he heard anything else that they
may like to know.
Gudny's man, Djarn the Voice, a Drogarsi Sagamaster,
regaled all who would listen with his sagas and songs. Many of them
related the tales of the Friends and the accomplishments of Argrath
Bronwyn related what he had learned to Argrath and
the Friends went to visit Hurred. Hurred agreed to see them immediately
and they were ushered in. Hurred dressed in a combination of Western
and Hendriki garb. His cuirass has his family crest emblazoned across
the chest. Argrath introduced his companions and himself and Hurred
bade them welcome and be seated. He asked Argrath what brought him
"I believe that we can help each other out. I have
heard some rumours of your homeland that I would like confirmed."
Argrath related what Tidder had told them to Hurred.
"You are very well informed," Hurred said, "Indeed
it is as you say. I hate to admit weakness to any man but we are
in dire straights." It seemed that with the fall of Heortland to
the Red-men that the mobile garrison that protected the Marches
from Praxian invaders had not been replaced. Lord Guennvar of Lovine,
Lord of Knight Keep, was trying to form his own kingdom and treated
the local clans poorly. He had several hundred knights and sergeants
and some of the local clans fought for him as well. "He is the bane
of our existence!" Hurred declared. "What can you do to help?" he
Argrath told of the Firebull and their search for
a new home. He introduced Erdhar and told that he had many warriors
with him that could be used to help remove Guennvar.
Hurred and Argrath agreed to return to the Marches
together after the assembly was finished.
That evening Broyan sent a summons to each of the
major rebel leaders. Whitebull, Maniskisson, Sharpsword, Dragonfriend,
Kallyr and Broyan were there. Each with three or four advisors.
They sat staring at each other in frosty silence
until Broyan spoke up, "Who's first?" he asked.
Kallyr stands, "I consulted with my Lawspeaker.
'Argrath' is a title which means 'Liberator'. I am now taking that
title myself. I am now 'Kallyr Argrath'"
Dragonfriend says that they should recount their
feats to prove who is the true Argrath.
Kallyr tells how she has ruled Sartar already. She
has ruled a tribe and that she has many friends and allies in and
out of Sartar.
Maniskisson laughs at her, "You tell the true Argrath
by blood and choice. An entire clan prepared for the coming of Argrath
and they declared that man to be me." He detailed the support he
has from the Mitchuinn Moonhaters organisation and some of the Grazelanders.
Dragonfriend recounts his friendship with the Dragonnewts,
Cragspider, and the Telmori. He recounts his storming of Sartar's
Palace and stopping the war between Sun County and the local tribes.
Whitebull tells how he encountered the spirit of
the Whitebull on a heroquest and tamed it and how he will use it
to unify the tribes of Prax. He will then liberate the plains and
then liberate Sartar with the help of a rising against the Empire.
"The rising can be led by one of you lesser Argraths as long as
you recognise my suzerainty. "
Sharpsword sneered at Whitebull. He recounted his
history of fighting Lunars across Sartar and Prax and his friendship
with the Giants.
Broyan acknowledges that they are all powerful warlords
with many allies and resources. He reminds them that they need to
fight together and pool those resources or the Empire will crush
them all separately.
The leaders spent more hours talking about this
and that and could reach no consensus. Broyan finally suggested
that they form a rebel council to co-ordinate their actions rather
than attempt to chose a leader. All are in agreement on this. They
retire for the night to determine what form the council should take.
The Companions encountered a strange sight as they
fared back to their lodgings. In the central market a large crowd
had gathered and was booing and hissing a figure standing on the
slave block. The Friends pushed forward through the crowd to hear
what she was saying.
The woman was dressed all in crimson. Her head was
bald and she called herself Sister Gera. She told how she had come
to talk to the free people of Bullford. She was preaching the evils
of the Lunar way. She told how peaceful and loving their murdering
goddess was and that the people should love the Empire not fight
it. Some in the crowd were listening to her but most were shouting
her down. A few were fingering their spears in anger.
Dragonfriend leapt atop the slave block and exhorted
the people to be try to Orlanth and fight the invaders. He told
them that they will lay down their swords when they are pried from
their lifeless hands. The Sartari people will not rest until every
last Red-demon has been driven from their land.
Gera easily replied showing how angry and violent
Argrath was and countered with the peace and love of her goddess.
She told how the roads in Sartar were safe to travel and the clans
did not raid each other constantly as they did before the Goddess
brought her blessing to the land. Argrath was left gaping unable
to counter her tales. Her revealing gown and liberal use of creative
openings in it helped.
Gudny strode forth and chanted a litany of the death
and destruction the Empire had brought to Dragon Pass. He tallied
the cities sacked, the clans and even tribes destroyed, the honest
leaders in exile and the ruinous tributes levied from the carls.
Gera spoke of the blessings bestowed on loyal clans, Gudny sang
of the evil done by those clans to their neighbours. Gera spoke
of the exemption of taxes from peaceful clans and Gudny described
the poverty and desperation of those stuck with tributes. Gera spoke
of life, Gudny told of 7000 crucified Dundealos tribesmen. Gera
spoke of the Goddess' joy, Gudny spoke of the pain it caused, Gera
of the Goddess' love, Gudny of the rapes she sanctioned.
Finally Gera could no longer be heard over the cries
and snarls of the crowd. Many were calling for her head and the
Friends needed to save her life for Gudny had divined her purpose
in faring hither; she had come to die and become a martyr. Broyan
and Kallyr arrived and escorted her out of town.
Come morn, the companions espied yet another person
preaching in the square. Nestin named him as Hrungir Rockleaper
from Alda-Chur. Hrungir was a fanatical Bigger Wind devotee but
was completely apolitical. Gudny surged forward to shout him down
as he had to Nestin but was deterred. Nestin told how Hrungir openly,
and publicly argued with Harvar Ironfist and lived.
An ill omen must now be recounted. As Argrath strode
towards the Keep for the meeting, a beam of sunlight burst through
the heavy cloud cover and struck the ground afore him. In the beam
he saw the visage of Sota Lamplighter. But Sota looked distraught,
then upset. The beam showed Sota fighting and falling and then sitting
It should be mentioned that there were others in
Bullford looking to profit from this gathering of leaders.
Molaric Ironeye, First Wolf of Three-Step Island,
a Champion of the Wolf Pirates was there for an unknown reason.
Weffard Fasthand, First Speaker of the Council of
the God Forgot Islands was there to speak to the leader of the Orlanthi.
He went home unheard.
Sir Toth-Duprese, Knight of Rokari was there from
Nochet. He led a band for hire called the Army of Tomorrow and had
once held land around Bullford. He had come seeking employment and
somebody to return his land to him.
Queen Forthir of the Old Earth Alliance with a guard
of Babeester Gor Axe Maidens was there to seek council with the
leaders of the Rebellion.
When Dragonfriend arrived at the Keep, Whitebull
drew him aside to speak. "There are too many Argraths and not enough
Kingdoms," said Whitebull. Whitebull sought his friendship and a
secret alliance against the rest of the Argraths. Dragonfriend insisted
that any co-operation between the leaders be made known at the council
and they finally agreed that they would share resources and forces
with each other as needed. Whitebull pointed out that Dragonfriend
had a problem that "Bordered" on Whitebull's area of influence and
he may be able to help. They parted in agreement and exchanged tokens,
Dragonfriend gave a dragon's tooth and Whitebull gave a white fletched
It was at this time that people cried out in dismay.
The roiling clouds that had covered the city for the past days were
breaking up. The sun was shining brightly through and most shocking,
the full moon was glowing brightly in the sky.
All over town, godi could be seen working to remake
the cloud cover. The moon pulsed and a small speck could be seen
falling from it leaving a trail of fire in the sky behind it. The
friends flew to the ramparts of the Keep and joined the other leaders
and their priests to reform the clouds.
With a sudden surge the storm clouds raced in and
covered the town, a great bolt of lightning lashed out and struck
the moon meteor and knocked it off course. It crashed to earth a
mile from town and shook the city to its roots.
The moon pulsed again and two more rocks flew, they
landed a hundred ells from town, two more rocks and this time they
could not be deflected and they landed in town smashing buildings
and setting fire to great sections of the city.
A great floating ship was seen zooming towards the
Keep riding on a moonbeam. It came to rest directly over the Citadel
and raked the ramparts with searing beams of moonlight. A multitude
of ropes were flung over the bulwarks and Imperial Sky Warriors
swarmed down them.
It must be told that they Sky Warriors are an elite
band of Pole Star devotees who were trained in the use of the Empire's
Among the Sky Warriors was Seven-Seventh, the Mystic
the Companions met in Sambariland.
Dragonfriend tried to use the powers of Mastakos
to throw a Sky Warrior off of the ramparts but he was in-tune with
the Pole Star and could not be moved, he struck Argrath down with
a mighty blow of his spear.
A towering Scimitar of Tarnils alit next to Sigmund
and made to strike him. Sigmund parried his stroke and smashed his
shield with Little Weighty, the power of the blow toppled the warrior
over the edge. Bronwyn was confronted with a grinning Sky Warrior
in his golden armour. The warrior struck left and right driving
Bronwyn before him. Then with a sharp yell, Bronwyn smote the warrior
upon the breast with a great thunderclap and sent the man flying,
he landed at the base of the Keep.
Gudny leapt to attack a Sky Warrior. The force of
their blows stunned those around them. Gudny drew the power of the
gathered storm clouds to him and struck at the warrior with his
spear. The mighty blow passed through the man's shield and on into
his chest and he fell down dead on the spot.
Maniskisson fought bravely and held his ground.
Sharpsword laid about him with great blows slaying
Whitebull slew three champions with a single thrust
of his spear.
Kallyr slew an entire file and then fought Seven-Seventh.
She hewed off his arm, whereupon he grew six more and beat her around
the roof before he vanished in a flash of crimson light.
Broyan fought bravely and also held his ground.
The battle raged on. Warrior-Priests from one of
Lunar Colleges came next. All the while, the storm beat on the ship,
a heavy rainfall beat down filling the boat with water. Sigmund
sent Little Weighty crashing time after time into the hull timbers
and lighting bolts uncounted scored its flanks.
With heavy casualties on both sides, the craven
Red-men fled to lick their wounds.
Broyan immediately called the council meeting. He
pointed out that they had just fought the Empire together and succeeded,
"This shows what we can do when we fight together". They quickly
decided that they would form a council and they would fight the
Empire together and not interfere with each other. Broyan then bid
them all farewell and said as he did not want to wait around for
the next Lunar attack, and Fazzur was reputed to be on the march
south again, it was time for him to leave.
On the way out, Sharpsword took Dragonfriend aside.
"We both have a problem," he said. "Whitebull thinks he is the Great
Leader and Maniskisson is a slippery sludge-eel." Sharpsword told
how he had been impressed with Dragonfriend when they had met at
Tourney Alter in Prax and wanted to extend this friendly warning
to him. "Maniskisson is dangerous, he will cause trouble for you
in the future."
Know you now that the Friends went two ways here.
Bronwyn and Kamoar journeyed to Sun County to seek news on Sota
Lamplighter. Argrath, Gudny and Sigmund busked south with Hurred
the Drayce to the Border Marches.
 weapontake - the crowd beats their weapons against
their shields and shouts their approval of an idea. This is the
most common form of voting in Orlanthi society.
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