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The Gwandor Campaign
Gwandor Saga

The Saga of the Gwandorlings 35

"I feel like I’m being [cheated] so they should get shit for it" [1]

- Argrath on trading with Morocanths

Our tale need now relate what happened to those left atop the canyon with the mounts.

Know you now that the Praxians with their leader Burgua Two-Scar refused to approach closer than three leagues to the canyon. That left Garthael and Lothar with Varax and Began Ok to watch the herd next to the waterfall.

With a great clamour the party were surrounded on three sides by a mass of Giant-Eaters. The Giant-Eaters screamed and danced and unleashed volley after volley of arrows. The sky turned dark as ten thousand flights leapt yelm-ward and fell in a hissing hail among the defenders and the sables.

Began spake that the creatures were speaking an ancient dark-tongue and calling for the death of the “Tree-Killer” [2]. She unleashed a great darkness across the land allowing Garthael and his companions to withdraw over the serpent as ten thousand more flights fell, and ten thousand more. A wave of small figures swarmed over the twitching forms of the sables and a cloud of blood arose from the mass of bodies. Garthael strode back into the serpent and summoned Humakt’s powers of death, he funnelled those dark powers into a great shout that sent hundreds of the lilliputians fleeing in abject terror – the rest ignored him and continued tearing into the hapless animals.

Finally the struggling carpet of creatures broke up and they all trudged off dragging pieces of sable to their caves.

It was shortly after this that the rest of the Quest returned with their plunder. Upon hearing of the assault Argrath spake his desire to destroy the Giant-Eaters but elected not to waste the time trying.

The Companions fared the three leagues to Burgua’s camp and found naught but bloody trails in the dirt and Burgua himself. He was propped against a tree trunk where the Giant-Eaters had left him after severing his legs and cauterising the wounds. “They left me with a message,” he said. “This is revenge on the Giant Tree-Killer”.

At this point the Friends made council of their situation. They were deep in the Wastes with no mounts and several man-weights of wealth that they needed to busk with themselves. They decided to call upon the Monkey King for aid. Argrath pulled the monkey’s paw from his tunic and asked the King to send them mounts; one of the fingers on the paw curled over but nothing else happened.

Over the next few days the Friends carried their newfound wealth up the cliff and poled their rafts back up the rapidly dwindling serpent. A league further north from the Praxian’s camp they were again greeted by Kettul Black-Fur.

“Where you be? You call Monkey King, he send us, we wait, you no come.” The Friends asked Kettul for his advice and how they could find more mounts. He suggested raiding or trading. “Morocanth stay close-by here.” The Companions decided to trade with the Morocanths for the supplies they needed.

Two score baboon sorted the Companions’ load and grinned in delight, “Shinny” they said and shook the boxes and crates in interest. They carted it off over the chaparral after Kettul and the Friends.

They journeyed to the east and fared well arriving at the Morocanth’s camp the next morn. Kettul knew of the Morocanth’s khan and secured guesting for he and his friends.

It must now be told that a Morocanth is a Praxian nomad like any other, except they are not human. They are great rodents who kept their intelligence and gained herds of herdmen from Waha when he created the great tribes of Prax. They look like tapirs standing upright but use tools – though they lack thumbs – and take slaves.

The Friends saw that this was a wall used watering hole and that an entire clan of the Morocanth tribe rested here with their mounts and herdmen.

Goryeuthorue Keen-Eye took them into his tent and sat Kettul on his right side with the Friends sitting next to him. Goryeuthorue’s elders were seated to his left side. He clapped his paws and his women brought bread and salt into the tent and Goryeuthorue shared it with his guests in the Ritual pledge of peace and protection.

Like the shrewd trader he was, Goryeuthorue got straight to business, “Kettul say you trade.” Argrath spake of their needs for mounts and tents, torches, water skins and saddles; at this last the Morocanths laughed among themselves for they used them not. Goryeuthorue set a price of a pound of silver per mount and agreed to trade 20 mounts for 5 sturdy swords, helms and byrnies. After trying to dicker Argrath realised that he had no position to bargain from and completed the deal.

Goryeuthorue told Argrath it would take three passings of Yelm for them to collect the animals. The Friend’s took that time to rest for their rest of the journey. Bronwyn studied the tomes they had collected.

After three days Goryeuthorue spake that it would take two more passings of Yelm; the Companions realised that the Morocanth’s were raiding for the animals.

Week 5 in the Wastes

On the fifth day, Goryeuthorue brought the Friends to his herd. His hunters had collected eight bison, 12 sable, 20 llama and 10 impala. Argrath refused to accept the impala, as they were too small to carry any load. Goryeuthorue agreed to trade them for more sables at another pound of silver each.

As Argrath returned to his camp he was grabbed from behind. Von and Rolf his bodythanes drew their swords and Argrath twisted desperately in the embrace – to find Undan hugging him in joy [3]. Argrath greeted him with pleasure and asked after Yurgwah the Sept leader and he gifted Undan with a small gem. Undan grinned “Pretty!” and swallowed the stone.

Argrath bade Undan return with Yurgwah and they could trade tales, which he did. Yurgwah and the Companions talked of this and that. It seemed that Yurgwah was still seeking Verthun who was now in the Wastes with the Wild Hunt. Argrath spake of their journey to the Plateau of Statues and asked for any lore Yurgwah may have. Yurgwah spake of three routes to the top but he knew not what they were. He spoke of an encampment of Storm Bulls north of the plateau who may know more.

So it came to pass that the Friends learned that a band of thirty Storm Bulls had joined the camp. Gudny greeted one of them and asked to see their leader. “Gertah with cow” replied the surly guard. Gudny stared at the berserk intently and asked when it would be convenient to see Gertah; the guard blinked and said he would fetch him immediately [4].

Gertah, called Iron-Leg for the heavy greave he wears on his left shin, came forth grumbling and tucking himself into his pants. He was a large man with heavily matted hair and years of built-up grime; Gudny could smell him from 20 ells.

Gudny learned that the band was indeed faring for the Tunnelled Hills and asked to be taken there with his Friends. Gertah peered at him and spake thusly, “You smell like Bull. I like you. We take you, no fee. You friends, need pay.” They settled on the price of a funny story every night as the price of his friend’s passage.

When Theya again entered the world the band fared forth. Though they were nye on thirty leagues from the plateau it was plainly visible on the horizon for it stretched nearly a league into the sky. Gudny regaled the Praxians with his tales of baths, white cloth and the perfume that the city dwellers used; the nomads laughed until they cried and slapped each other on the back in their mirth.

The Friends asked Gertah for news on Argrath White-Bull and learned that he was often in these parts. It seemed that he went onto the plateau frequently and returned with plunder. Often he would go there and stare into the Otherworld and there were times when he did not come down but approached out of the Wastes again.

Three days into their journey they were approached by an Aggimori hunting party. The Aggimori are also called Man-an-a-half for the shortest of them stand a head taller than Sigmund and the average was nearly half again his height. Their skin was a dark brown and they ran over the chaparral as easily as an antelope and as tirelessly as the impala.

Gertah hailed them and they learned that the Aggimori were hunting Quimm-spawn, a form of chaos infestation. Utmeshi Four-spears was their leader and he told of a great gathering in the north to repel Horse-Demon raids [5]. When asked they spake of the White-Bull’s being in the north gathering the tribes. They were greatly impressed with White-Bull and Utmeshi told how he had joined the Two-Spears, a band of Aggimori that supported White-Bull.

The next day, Rorgueh Broo-Biter, from the Bison Nation, scented chaos in the air. The band plunged off seeking the source and found a small cave from which it emanated. Altwyae the Clean, a small impala riding Storm Bull, scouted the cave and told of a pack of feral broo.

The Storm Bulls started hopping from foot to foot and chewing on their beards. They called to their mighty god for strength and the band raced into the cave frothing at the mouth and with madness in their eyes. The broo looked up in surprise and seized bones from the floor as weapons. Argrath smote on with Orlanth’s lightning and Gudny set a whirlwind on another. The remaining five disappeared under a welter of falling ax-heads and the Friends quickly left to avoid any accidents with the berserks.

As the Storm Bulls rested and celebrated their great victory Wyrmquill investigated the cave. He thought that there may be, and found that there were, fossils there-in. Among the scattered bones and the stinking bodies Wyrmquill found human bones and then wyrm-bones. At the back of the cave he found a drinking-horn carved from a great bison horn covered in carvings. None knew what it was and decided not to reveal it to the Storm-Bulls.

That night, as the band camped, a strange wind sprang up. It grew stronger and they all seized their weapons and peered about them. Out of the south a great whirlvish approached, it was headed directly towards them across the chaparral.

Gudny immediately went about preparing his magic while Bronwyn arranged the rest of the Companions to aid Gudny. Borne traced the Storm rune in the soil, five ells across. Sigmund, Argrath, Borne, Vedda and Djarn followed Gudny as he danced the Wind-lord’s dance. Bronwyn used his co-ordination magics taught to him as a battle mage of the EWF to funnel power from the rest of the band to the dancers.

Gudny danced along the rune stopped at the centre, staring at the approaching tornado. One after another, the other dancers stopped at the beginning of the rune and let a drop of their blood fall on the rune. A great wind sprang up and raced along the rune finally engulfing Gudny in a twisting, turning tornado. Gudny could be seen calling on Orlanth and dancing within the madly swirling winds. He stopped and clapped his hands once and both tornadoes vanished.

Those standing near heard him speak thusly:

The Wild-hunt bays like a bitch in heat
But Storm-Lords sneer at snivelling dogs
And set the cat on them.

The next day the band arrived at Only-Safe the Storm Bull’s camp at the Tunnelled Hills. We need tell how this is the only human settlement in the hills and was inhabited by ten-score of the Storm Bull’s followers. The chaos city of Than-Ulbar lay close by and birthed a never-ending stream of filth into the hills.

Here the Companions learned of the three ways up the plateau. The Bloody Path along which one had to fight viscous chaos guardians, the No-Go path which was infested with desiccating insects and no water and the Upward Crack which was a near-vertical climb to the summit a league overhead.

The Friends shrugged at the daunting descriptions and told their audience they would fly up.

[1] Most of the bullion the Companions had taken from the Mesa was in nuggets that looked like animal pellets.
[2] Check Argrath’s blasting of a tree in Gwandor 34.
[3] Undan was the Shaman of the Gyaldo sept of the High Llama who helped the Friends in their quest to recapture Sartar’s Lamp from Verthun Battle-mood.
[4] Since Gudny’s completion of the Gorangi Vak quest to tame the Sky Bull he has an aura of authority that many Storm Bulls find compelling.
[5] Horse-Demons are horse nomads from Pent. They and the Praxians hate each other.

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March 27, 2001

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