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Gwandor Saga



The Saga of the Gwandorlings 23

"I'm Argrath and so's my wife!"
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.

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 weapontake [1]

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 Dragonfriend.

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 there.

"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 asked.

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 in chains.

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 arrow.

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 moonboats.

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 many warriors.

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.



[1] 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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March 27, 2001

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