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Gwandor Saga

The Saga of the Gwandorlings 25

And so after several days of hard traveling, the Companions once again gathered at Drayce Hold. Erdhar and Gudny had journeyed back along the mountains from Old Wind and fared well. Bronwyn and Kamoar stealthily crossed the plains from the Sog Ruins.

The Firebull were preparing to move and only awaited the call of their chief.

We must tell of the advice Utgaard had given Gudny. Utgaard had told how the quest had to start at a hill sacred to Orlanth. He suggested Horn Hill as that is where Orlanth had defeated many Praxian armies. The quester's supporters must form an eternal ring to give aid to the Hero on his journey. They needed to give the Hero a strand of their hair, which was then woven into a rope. The Hero needed also to take a stick with him. The ritual needed to be begun with the Hero's lord by giving the Hero the quest to rid the land of the Urox menace.

The Drayce, the Brone, and the Stollberg agreed to help and placed most of their people's magical support behind Gudny.

It must be told that this level of aid is extraordinary for a people to offer as failure does serious, and lasting, magical damage to the supporting peoples.

As Gudny had asked Argrath to fulfill the role of Vingkot Orlanthsson in the quest, he could not be Gudny's lord. Gudny swore fealty and loyalty to The Drayce, the March Lord for the duration of the quest. Hurred accepted his oath on those conditions and declared Gudny the Baron of Bull Graze Valley.

The questers assembled at the base of Horn Hill. A great pyre had been made ready but remained unlit. The fire would show the watching clansmen the progress of the quest.

Gudny stood in Orlanth's place. Vingkot Orlanthsson was filled by Argrath. Hedkoranth Orlanthsson was Sigmund. Yinkin, Orlanth's brother was Kamoar. Bronwyn was Gwarlier, a Thunderbrother. Von Heartstopper was Humakt. Viga-Vedda was Vinga. Djarn the Voice was Drogarsi. Nestin, Shadowstalker, Bodal, Noh, Erdhar, Turog, and Borne Gudnyssman came as well. The Borne sent his clan champion, Errend Blackfist and the Stollberg did likewise sending Arvor Sharpeye, so called for his prowess with his bow. Sir Thorarir, the First Knight for The Drayce came as well.

As there were none to fill the role of Issaries Pathfinder[4], The Drayce brought forth his people's Issaries idol to be used.

Each of the Barons had brought nye 200 of their people to help in the ritual and all 600 were eager to participate in such a major quest.

Hurred stood forth and his voice rose over the crowd, "Gudny Bjarnsson, I call upon you, and give you leave to fare forth and rid our land of the troublesome bull-type folk."

Now there was then serving in the Stollberg's household a man named Tharn, Sotli's son, known as the Rain-Dancer. Tharn was a good man, strong in body and quick in mind and well beloved by his lord and his friends. Tharn followed the Wyrd of Heler and was accounted a mighty Raincaller. Now when Orlanth prepared for battle, his loyal hirdman Heler gird him in his war gear and handed him his weapons. So at the right time, Tharn came forth and performed the ritual Arming of Orlanth, dressing Gudny in his war gear. As he handed over each piece, the clouds began to gather.

The priests marked out the ritual areas and the ceremony began. The drums beat, the crowd chanted and the clouds grew thicker and became roiled. The wind howled through the animal horns on the hill. Thunder rolled across the vale and crashed back from the hills. A great bolt of lightning flashed and struck the pyre, which burst into roaring flame.

Gudny cried out to the crowd, "Do you swear to support me, to remember me and to provide your strength to help me pass the dark paths?" "Aye! We so swear!" they roared and with that the Eternal ring was born anew.

Argrath's ferocious warband formed the guard around the base of the hill.

The band offered sacrifice to Issaries Pathfinder to lead them safely on their way. A glow appeared in the clouds wreathing the hilltop and the idol's outstretched hand pointed the way up the hill.

Up the hill they journeyed traveling in a storm rune fashion spiraling around the hill. They passed into the clouds with heavy rain drenching them, thunder beating at their ears and lightning assailing their eyes.

Soon, their path flattened out and Issaries pointed the way forth. They had passed onto the Hero Path.

The band was in the Storm Age in an area where Valid held sway. Heavy clouds covered the sky and the very earth groaned under the weight of the storm. Ice covered all, snow blew and coated their beards. Ice demons danced in the trees and giggled at the passing band.

They fared on and entered a dark valley surrounded by brooding mountains. The terrain was battered and smashed. Lightning crashed off of the hills and piles of debris stood on all sides. They espied a figure in the distance lying on the ground; it looked distorted and out of perspective with the terrain. As they approached they realised that it was a giant, over 30 ells in height. He lay slumped against a boulder and had a great tree bough thrust through his chest. He was moaning pitifully and crying for someone to free him.

Gudny strode forth and asked what had happened there. The giant named himself as Fronthir Highvalley. "Orlanth, help me. I was set upon by foul Vadrus and beaten and then Gargarth impaled me and pinned to this rock. Free me, he who has been wronged by your kin."

Gudny immediately agreed to help Fronthir. The band gathered around and went to heave on the bough but all were sent flying by lightning but Gudny. "Gargarth cursed the bough, one god thrust it home, only one may remove it or face the lightning," spake Fronthir. Gudny nodded and set his feet, he pulled gently on the bough to test its resistance and then gave a mighty heave. With a crack it came free and Fronthir was free.

"Thou hast been foully wronged by my kin, but I would have you a friend and ask that you name thy atonement," spake Gudny but Fronthir would take none. In thanks for his freedom, he gifted Gudny with his Earth Stone, the symbol of his rule over this valley. "I name you Giant-friend. Take this stone to my land and you will receive my blessing." With that, Fronthir strode off over the trees.

Sir Thorarir peered about and cried in surprise, they were in the valley behind Drace Guard Moutain. It must be said that the Aeolian, though he followed the Saint Orlanth, had never been on a major hero quest and was stunned by what he had been seeing. The Companions marked this valley as one to return to once they were finished the quest to see what Fronthir's blessing may be.

The band passed onward following Issaries' guidance. They approached another valley and heard a strange whirling and wizzing sound accompanied by a heavy crashing. As they fared closer the ground shook violently under them and they had need to cover their ears against the force of the crashes. They came out at the head of a deep valley and spied a marvelous sight.

A 300 ell iron statue stood at the bottom with a huge hammer. At his feet was a huge black pit with creatures of darkness pouring out of it. Uz of a size never seen by any in the band assailed the statue while great winged things flew from the pit. The statue was pounding these creatures with its hammer and the blows echoed off of the distant peaks. As powerful as it was it was slowly losing the battle with pieces flying off under the relentless assault. Finally the golem turned its blows on the mountain itself and brought down a tremendous rockslide burying both itself and the pit. Many in the band were struck with falling rock and needed aid to continue. The Companions remembered that there is a mountain north of Drayce Guard named Iron Giant Mountain, it rests next to Black Heart Mountain.

Issaries led the band through many other passes and valleys. In one they saw a large band of warriors desperately sealing a cave opening with great magics. The warriors appeared to be Orlanthi but wore strange garb. Bronwyn thought that they may be Old Day Traditionalists from his time; people who rejected both the Bigger Wind and the ways of Orlanth Dragonfriend. They worshipped an older, purer form of Orlanth but were no more.

Suddenly, the sky changed and grew darker. The light vanished like a snuffed torch and the warriors cried in dismay. A small dragon flew over the mountain peaks. It measured a mere 2km in length. The warriors immediately leapt to attack raking the dragon with lightning and buffeting it with harsh winds. Scales, teeth and bits of wing flew off like a shedding Alynx's fur. The dragon's tail lashed out and struck the top off of a mountain which buried the valley. It caught the rest of the warriors in its great maw and finally flew off badly wounded.

The Pathfinder led them onwards once again and they arrived at the base of Stormwalk Mountain. They entered a glade of trees and found a 10 foot standing stone in the center. The stone had many faint runes covering it's sides, many being the names of those who had attempted this quest afore. The top of the stone was carved into the likeness of a great bull with ivory horns, cracked from age.

Gudny performed a small ritual to open the path to the top of the mountain and carved his name on the stone. Such was to power of their quest that he had but to run his fingers over the stone to score it.

Leading the way up the mountain, Gudny tripped over a figure lying on the path. He landed in the mud and arose furious. A man lay there, snoring happily, wearing brightly coloured clothing. He was cuddled up to a stone and muttering endearments to it in his sleep.

Gudny roughly awakened him and asked his business here. Brigpeace was his name and he was drunk. It turned out he was an Eurmali. He asked Gudny for wine. "What can you offer us for it?" asked Argrath. "Well," Brigpeace leered, "I've got something ta show ya," he said reaching into his pants. "No, I don't think so," spake Argrath hastily. "But it'll help you on your quest," Brigpeace taunted. "Show me this boon," demanded Gudny who was getting impatient and remembering the favoured Orlanthi past-time of beating Eurmali. Brigpeace drew five stones from his pants and began to juggle them. "Stones of Virtue" he called them. I'll give them to you for a riddle each.

"That sparkle of my spirit
Keeps me champing at the bit
And my soul will not rest
For I am too full of zest"

Bronwyn immediately answered "Vitality" and Brigpeace handed over the stone.

"What tokem am I
That money cannot buy
But can be handsome
Or princely when done"

"Generosity" spake Argrath and took the stone.

"I balance a great weight
And decide upon your fate
What weight cannot be bought
But ends all battles fought"

Gudny identified that stone as Justice and received the stone.

"Chest puffed out with it
Some call it dignity
A haughty, foolish wit
Or purely vanity"

"Pride" sayeth Argrath and was correct.

"My mettle cannot be melt
By bottle cannot be broke
And the lionhearted have felt
This marvel in lesser folk"

"Courage" spake Gudny and Brigpeace was mighty annoyed at the ease that they had answered them all.

"Remember, throw them hard and throw them true," he spake. Gudny recalled that Utgaard had told him he would encountere a two-headed monster and the Trickster's gifts would aid in defeating it. They thanked Brigpeace and left him with a full wine-skin.

They passed through the trees, with Kamoar leading now, and onto the bare rock face. They were immediately struck with the full fury of the storm that raged over and around the mountain. The path wound round the peak, now wide, now narrow, now bare, and now icy, through waterfalls and over creeks.

The wind battered them but they were one with the storm and passed on.

They came to a break in the trail flew over it.

They rounded a shoulder of the mount and were struck in the face by a mighty hailstorm. Sigmund was blasted off of the path by the wind and hail. Argrath made a quick lunge and caught him but the weight of his friend pulled him over the edge as well. Gudny reached out and caught them both, pulling them to safety. "We mustn't let Valid get the better of us," he declared. Nestin was stunned by a large hailstone and rose shakily to his feet, "I don't like this mountain." Sir Thorarir's iron boots slipped on the ice and he plunged from the path. Bronwyn's eyes flared green and his hand lashed out with Draconic speed to grasp the knight. With a mighty heave of his Dragonthews he drew the gaping man back onto the path. The knight was startled at the sudden strength in Bronwn's diminutive form and thanked Bronwyn for his life.

They continued to round the mountain and watched a violent thunder cloud descend over them. Lightning flared and thunder crashed off of the rock. The orlanthi all reveled in this display of Orlanth's power and one of the great bolts struck Gudny square on the chest. He thanked Orlanth for the blessing. Noh, the trickster went screaming up the trail after being struck in the rear; his pants were aflame. The heavily armoured Sir Thorarir was struck in the back and chunks of his armour flew off with the force of the blow. His hair was to stand on end for three days hence.

The band continued along the path and found it leveling off and the storm abating. They heard a rockslide roaring down the slope above them and they hid in a nook and it missed them. The top of the mountain was flat. The path led to a solid wall of roiling cloud and a sheer cliff that fell in to the depths.

Arrayed on the mesa was a small warband. 15 ragged warriors stood there. When Gudny strode forth the leader cried out in rage. "YOU! Where's my sword?!" Gudny instantly remembered the quest he had gone on to gain his sword "Humakt"; this must have been the man who had lost his sword to Gudny.

The man named himself at being Ordar Shameblade, once the champion of the Malani tribe but after he lost his sword, he lost his place in the tribe and fell into brigandry to survive. He had sworn a blood oath to reclaim his sword and slay the thief and all of the thief's followers or die in the attempt. "I have sought you across Sartar and when I felt the pulling of the Hero plane I came gladly." Gudny bade him come forth and fulfill the latter part of the oath.

With a cry of primal hate the Deathlord charge at Gudny. His warband charged with him and Gudny's sprang into the fray. Djarn's warhorn rang above the shouts and its echoes were heard at Horn Hill.

Gudny leapt upon the wind and smote down at the humakti with Thunder driving him back a step. Ordar caught the spear on his shield and nearly tore it from Gudny's grasp. "Die!" Ordar screamed and hurled his magics of death at Gudny. Orlanth's Virtues were with him and he was unfazed by the assault. They battled to and fro across the mesa. Finally, Gudny thrust his spear at Ordar and it passed into and through Ordar's neck and Ordar fell down dead on the spot.

Kamoar entered a blood frenzy and sprouted clawed from his hands. He was struck by a fell sword stroke but his heavy pelt turned the blow[1]. He tore the humakti's shield from his arm and then ripped him from chine to hip. He continued to tear at the corpse long after it was dead and feasted on the man's entrails.

Bronwyn leapt unto the air and smote at his foe with thunder as well. He drove the warrior back with a blow, ducked under the return stroke and struck the man with a gout of lightning so powerful his helm never landed on the ground again.

A great ox of a man charged at Sigmund with his greatblade held aloft. Sigmund planted his feet and hurled Little Weight at him. With a tremendous crash and flash of light the man was pulverised by the blow. Only his boots and his badly twisted sword remained to mark where he fell.

A grim warrior advanced on Argrath and trust at him with a bill. Argrath sprang lightly aside and plucked the man from his feet with, Mastakos' gift of movement, and flung him over the cliff.

Those few of Ordar's warband still standing broke and fled at this turning.

Gudny collected the enchanted iron chain byrnie from Ordar's body.

Once Kamoar returned from his rage his ears perked. "Hark, a woman cries," he said and stalked across the plateau. They found a small cave at the back of the mesa and a woman within. She stared at them with dark green eyes and her skin was brown. "Have you come to destroy that which is beyond?" she asked. "Aye," replied Gudny as Utgaard had told him. "Take this and avenge my lord," she touched Gudny's shield and it sprang into light, glowing in an earthly way.

Gudny strode over to the towering clouds at the end of the path and, trusting to his faith in Orlanth, he leapt into the void...and landed on solid clouds. He laughed and strode forth with his companions at his back.

They passed through the cloud and into a wide verdant valley. Urox's herd of sky bulls could be seen grazing quietly in the meadows and flying around over head.

With a heavy growl, a huge wolf raised both its heads from the ground and sniffed the air. When it stood it was as large as Gudny's hall back home. He turned to the band and loped towards them letting loose with a great soul rattling bark. Errend Blackfist, Arvor Sharpeye and Sir Thorarir were struck boneless with terror at this sight. The rest of the band sprang to the assault.

Gudny flew over the beast and rained blows of thunder upon it to no effect. Kamoar frenzied again and charged straight for it. Bronwyn stood and tried to think of a good stratagem to defeat the wolf. Sigmund hurled the Stone of Courage at it striking it on the nose. The hound unleashed a terrifying howl of pain and they all shuddered in their boots. Argrath struck it with the Stone of Pride.

All of the companions had given over their Stones of Virtue to Sigmund, as he was the best thrower in the band.

Lightning flashed from the beast's eyes and blasted Erdhar from his feet, but he charged right back at it.

Sigmund struck it with the Stone of Vitality and it howled again. Gudny buffeted it with Valind's winds to draw its attention from Kamoar who leapt at its left face only to be battered aside. Bronwyn struck it in a muzzle with a thunderbolt causing it to rear. Argrath threw his battle-rod[2] at it with Mastakos' blessings but it missed and fell way, he raced after it.

Sigmund struck it again with the Stone of Generosity. Gudny staggered the beast with another blast of the icy winds and Kamoar fastened himself to a throat and tore it out reveling in the spouting blood while the hound entered its death throes.

Erdhar claimed an eye as his trophy, he who ate one would gain the beast's powers over lightning. Argrath claimed another and a canine, which would empower any weapon coated in the powdered tooth. Kamoar received the victor's portion and he claimed the hound's pelt, which he wore as armour afterwards. He also claimed a tooth. Bronwyn claimed the left heart and found that he had gained the beast's Howl of Pain ability afterwards. The howl was so terrible that it would put fear into the most resolute heart. Sigmund claimed an eye and a tooth. Gudny claimed the right heart and later found that he could utter the Bark of Terror. He also claimed an eye and the remaining 3 teeth to gift his followers with.

With that, Gudny led the way towards the herd. The largest bull in the herd stalked forth, eyeing Gudny warily. He was over 7 feet tall at the shoulder and wider than he was high. He had a thick dark brown strip down his back and his horns were wider than Gudny was tall. He took wing and charged at Gudny meaning to trample him. Gudny sprang into the air and took out the Eternal Ring's rope which had been fashioned into a lariat[3].

Gudny's lariat caught the tip of one horn but the bull slipped out and tried to gore him. Gudny skipped aside and caught the bull around the neck with the lariat. He then beat it to the ground with the stick and landed on its back. He could hear the thoughts of the bull. "Why should I serve you," it asked. "Are you virtuous like Orlanth?" Gudny replied that he was and showed the bull his great leadership skills, the bull agreed to serve him. Brunjarl was his name and he was the biggest bull in the herd and its leader.

Argrath mounted a now complacent bull and showed his virtue of charisma to gain its loyalty. Bronwyn showed his great wit with a funny story and won his own mount. Sigmund showed his virtue of leadership and gained a mount. Kamoar tried three different bulls before one agreed to serve him. He should have remembered that he had the pelt of a the Hound on back and the bulls didn't like that. Erdhar gained a bull for the Firebull clan to use. Nestin and Von each tamed a bull as well.

A great roar rent the peace in the valley and a lumbering giant came into view. He stood twice again the height of the trees and was in a rage. The band recognised him as Baskelos, shepherd and guardian of Urox's herd. He had horns growing from his head. Gudny called on the Eternal Ring to give him strength for the confrontation.

As Gudny could not wield both the lariat and his shield, Argrath fearlessly strode forth and took up the shield to be Gudny's shieldthane.

Baskelos charged forth and aimed a mighty blow at Gudny. Argrath valliantly caught it on the shield that the earthmaiden had blessed and stopped it dead. Baskelos and Argrath both stared at each other in astonishment, as the club Baskelos wielded was thrice Argrath's size.

Daring all, Gudny ran out from behind Argrath and roped the giant with his lariat. With his threws strengthed by the Eternal Ring, he then tugged the giant from his feet and swung him around his head before throwing him out of the valley.

The band mounted their new riding beasts and flew from the valley and from the Hero Plane. They were standing at the top of Storm Walk Mountain and were surrounded by 300 Uroxi warriors. The warriors hailed from the Block, Urox's most holy site and had come here in a rage that someone was attempting the quest to tame Storm Bull.

Their leader, High Khan Rark Ironbear screamed a challenge at Gudny and charged him in a berserk rage. Gudny rode forth on Brunjarl to face his onslaught but had no need. Suddenly Rark stopped, came to his senses and look puzzled. He peered at Gudny, flinched, and then muttered an apology, "wrong person, sorry," and tried to skulk away. The rest of his band started to mount and were trying to ride off.

It must be told that they were all Uroxi. Gudny and his band had just finished the Orlanth Tames Urox quest and they had just realised he had succeeded. There were trying to leave before Gudny realised that he had power over them.

Gudny summoned Rark back and bade him swear loyalty to him which Rark did. This gave the Companions much influence over all of the Uroxi in Prax. Gudny bade Rark attend him when he needed his help to rid the Marches of the Rokari and Rark agreed to heed the call and then went on his way.

[1] He was Yinkin in the quest and he also assumes a pseudo-alynx form when he goes berserk.
[2] Spear
[3] Lasso
[4] Issaries the Pathfinder, also known as the Explorer, is the guide for travelers and merchants. He explores new trails and new lands and returns to show others the way to get there. Mastakos, who is often associated with these feats, is a wanderer. He wanders to many new lands but has no desire to return and show others how to get there. Often, a Pathfinder will also worship Mastakos to speed his travels.

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March 27, 2001

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