The Saga of the Gwandorlings 28
With Valind's blanket  settling across the land, preparations were made for Sacred Time.
Argrath appointed Bronwyn Baron of Hammer Hold.
Sigmund consecrated a shrine to Hedkoranth in Knight Fort and had 30 new Hedkoranthi; 10 initiated into the secret.
Argrath took over the old Rokari church in Knight Fort and consecrated it to Vingkot. He had nye a man's count of new Vingkotlings.
Wyorl Illigsson, the High Priest of the Horn Hill Orlanth Temple asked Gudny to lead their sacred time ceremonies, Gudny did so and they all rejoiced at the power of the experience. Many Aeolians converted to Orlanth worship including Hurred's son.
Kamoar recruited 12 hunters to form the Border Wardens; three of them asked to be taught the mysteries of Yinkin.
As Argrath had gifted Cloudy Vale to Sota to form a Sun Dome Temple, Sota consecrated part of the land and performed his own ceremony. At the peak of it, he stepped into a sunbeam and vanished. He later told that he had appeared at the Sun Dome in Sun County at the peak of their own ceremonies; much to the surprise of Ogunjar Straight-Arm. Ogunjar was trying to install one of his followers as the new High Priest of the Sun Dome. Sota slew the man with a thrust of Munrogh's Spear and told the assemblage how Ogunjar had had him taken by the Bandits. "Ogunjar is not a just ruler! He does not have the support of the Priests of Munrogh," he said before vanishing again into the sunbeam. He returned to Cloudy Vale.
During the coming weeks many Yelmalian priests, farmers and even a few Templars arrived from across the lands to join Sota's new temple.
In the last week of Sea Season, Gettig Kingsvoice arrived and brought news of his master, Broyan. He told of Fazzur's new army ready to campaign in Heortland, 6,000 troops. He told how the southerners were not that interested in fighting the Empire and were more concerned with the God Forgoti so Broyan could only muster 3,000 warriors to face Fazzur. Gettig presents Argrath with rich gifts from Broyan: A chest full of gold and silver, over 1,000 marks worth. Several gold torques, gilt helms and a spear with gold inlay on the shaft. He also presented Argrath with March Lord's crown; it had been kept at the capital as there was no March Lord after the fall of King Richard. Broyan thought Argrath would like to have it. Argrath presented it to Hurred the Drayce.
Gettig asked Argrath to send aid to his king in his hour of need and Argrath immediately agreed. He put out a call for volunteers. The Grim and Knife instantly agreed to go; they raided that side of the mountains anyway, but to do it with their lord's sanction was a new experience. Urdhard agreed to go and to lead the expedition, he assemled 100 Firebul clansmen to accompany him. All told, 300 of the March warriors would return with Gettig.
Bronwyn sent his man Koreno Fastladle to Boldhome with the intention of getting a position in Prince Temertain's household.
Now King Argrath decided to fare north and visit his friends and vassals there. He took Gudny, Bronwyn, Kamaor, and Sigmund with him. They journeyed north on their skybull mounts and fared well.
They came to the Gwandor tula and landed within the Chief's enclosure. They were hailed by the clan and ushered into the hall. Erkenbrand sat Gudny on the high bench at his right. Argrath was sat to his left. Messengers were sent to every stead to summon the clan for a massive feast. Gudny remarked on the new stone walls around the Chief's hall, they stood 15 feet tall and had been completed with Mostali help. Also with Mostali help, the huscarls were equipped with high quality war gear.
The clan was impressed with how much the Companions had changed and how powerful they had become and many of the younger warriors clamoured to join Gudny in the south. Gudny told them to bide their time and continue to increase the strength of the clan. Argrath told how he would send men to teach them how to help fight the guerilla war against the Empire.
Erkenbrand told of the goings on of the clan and they talked long into the night talking of this and that. The year had been good for the clan, rich crops, bountiful herds, and profitable trading. The Gorde had had a hard winter. Their crops had failed and they had to trade with their neighbours, including the Gwandor for food. With their new chief and the lose of their Imperial backing they were much quieter and more friendly to the Gwandor.
Sigmund's steward told of a few wolf raids on Sigmundvale's upper paddock, the paddock where Argrath and Sigmund's demi-birds were kept. The raids stopped soon after and the demi-birds have warm wolf-down lining their nests.
Gudny and Sigmund greeted their wives warmly and spent most of the next day with them and attending to their households.
After several days there, the Companions continued their journey. They fared north to Torkaniland and rode their bulls up to King Jafoksor the Short's hall. Jafoksor greeted them warmly and bade them sit at his high bench with him. They traded news and talked of what they had all done since last meeting. Jafoksor told how the Torkani had had a good year and with the help of Argrath's warbanders had not suffered too badly from Harvar's raids. They were worried about the coming summer fearing the Harvar would mount a major effort against them come Fire season. Argrath pledged to send another contingent of warriors to their aid.
Now the Friends flew onto the Orgovalti. They saw as they came in that the clan's village was much larger than when they had left. They were later to learn that the clan boasted 350 members and had taken 80 thralls in their many raids on Harvar's holdings. The village was well defended with several watchtowers, a large earth berm and - of course - the swamp.
As they alit afore the chief's hall, Lothar strode forth to greet them. He bore dire news. Orgovalt had been taken in an ambush and Harvar was touting the capture as having crushed the rebellion. Orgovalt and five of his hyrdmen were to be executed in the center of Alda-Chur come two weeks.
Argrath was incensed and demanded to know how it happened. Lothar told of a caravan full of gold and silver that their spies had heard of. They had lost several lives trying to get the information out to Orgovalt but had succeeded. Orgovalt sallied forth with most of his fyrd to take the caravan but it was a trap. The wagons were full of Harvar's men and the warriors had to fight their way out. Orgovalt led the rear-guard to hold of Harvar long enough for his men to escape. They lost 30 in the fighting and Orgovalt was taken.
Gudny immediately flew south to fetch Nestin from Horn Vale as he was intimately acquainted with Alda-Chur.
Bronwyn flew to Jafoksor's hall and, disguising himself as a mad man, joined a caravan faring west on the Pavis road towards Alda-Chur .
It took nye on a week for the caravan to reach Alda-Chur. Alda-Chur was a large bustling city with 5-6,000 people. The Empire maintained a large logistical center there supply their operations in Pavis and Sartar. A large, solid wall surrounded the city and there were two major keeps.
While the merchants made their way to the market, Bronwyn sought a beggar and questioned him about Orgovalt. With an appropriate donation of silver, the beggar recounted the stories told by Harvar and told Bronwyn that Orgovalt was being held in Hollow Keep. Hollow Keep is the home of the Hollowdancers and guards the northern gate of the city. Guarding Orgovalt was on of Harvar's warlords Dekarn Two-Axe and 30 of his "Wind Lords" warband. Dekarn was a devotee of the Bigger Wind. The beggar also told that Harvar was not in Alda-Chur and had journeyed to Furthest with his guard to meet the Provincial Overseer.
That knight, Bronwyn made his way to Hollow Keep. The guard on the keep's open door did not notice Bronwyn when he made his way into the Keep to look around. The keep was a separate walled area with the Hollowdancer barracks and a six story tower. While he studied the place, two alert warriors strode out of the tower and peered around. When they were satisfied that there was no danger they nodded back at the doors and more warriors came forth escorting three Lhankor Mhy sages. They band mounted their horses and rode off into the city. Bronwyn flew after them riding Orlanth's breath. They escorted the sages to the Lhankor Mhy temple and returned to the Keep.
Once again, the guards did not notice Bronwyn walking into the temple and the temple's defensive spirits did not notice him either . He followed the sounds of voices and found a room where the sage was instructing his two students to prepare the report on the nights interrogation for the morning. He then departed. Bronwyn listened to the students talk about the information that they had gotten from probing Orgovalt's mind and then he acted.
Bronwyn summoned his draconic powers and took on the form of a small dragon. He leapt into the room and over the table that the students were working on. As he passed over his lashed out with one razorous set of claws and ripped the first student's head open. He grasped the second student by throat and had him lead him to the Sage's quarters. Bronwyn knocked on the Sage's door and when it opened he flew through the doorway taking the Sage by the throat. His other fist spasmed and the forgotten student fell dead with a torn throat.
The sage Bronwyn used his dragon breath to set the room alight and then flew out the front door of the temple, knocking the guards over, carrying the sage in his arms; his dragon wings flapping loudly in the still night. He called a sylph to help him carry the sage and made his way back to the Orgovalti.
Argrath interrogated the sage and learned that Orgovalt was being help in the dungeon, three doors stood locked between the tower's entrance and the dungeon and there were two guards at each door. Two guards also watched the main door and the roof. The sage, Linus, was imprisoned by the Orgovalti and the Friends departed to enact the rescue.
Falling from the sky like so much deadly hail, the Companions alit in the courtyard before the tower. Bronwyn immediately made for the stables, freed the horses and fired the building.
Sigmund hurled Little Weighty - once, and then twice - at the main door blasting it to splinters. The band flung themselves through the entranceway. The main door guards lay in pieces on the floor brutally butchered by flying splinters. The guards for the second door lay crying on the floor with many splinters in their bodies. The second door was open. The third door flew from its hinges and crushed its guards against the fourth door when struck by Sigmund's rock. The fourth door disintegrated from Sigmund's blows. Two guards stood there gaping at the door. Gudny and Kamaor leapt over the wreckage. Gudny smote one with Orlanth's Spear and knocked him flying across the room. The man struck the far wall and fell down there dead. Kamoar struck with his spear and his strength was such that the spear passed through the man's shield and on through his mid-section and struck the floor sticking nearly the length of the blade into the stone; the warrior died at that time.
Gudny spake these words to Kamaor:
Hardy the arm of Harvar's hounds;
Hardier still the thews of the Cat-man.
No house-cat art thou.
With Kamoar and Gudny watching the door, the Companions freed Orgovalt and his men. They rushed back out of the tower and, mounting their bulls, made their way back to Orgovaltiland.
It was many a happy Wind Lord who watched the Friends fly off and could still count themselves among the living. None had raised a finger to stop them, as none wanted to visit Daka Fel yet.