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The Saga of the Gwandorlings - 44

Definition of nasty:

A Sky-bull afflicted with diarrhoea spirits.

There was a young man named Osweld Stormspeach who lived in the big hall on Gudnysstead. He was the son of Gudny Stormchaser and the husband of Ailana Springflower who was a daughter of Sigmund Stormblade. Osweld was strong in the ways of Orlanth having been trained from an early age by his father.

At this time Osweld bid his family well and fared south through the heavy winter snows to join Gudny in Knight Fort. From there he was directed to Stone-Storm valley where he joined the magical warband Gudny was forming to serve his king.

Also at this time, Rrulaf Redmane, a warrior from the Telmori people, came before Argrath bearing word of the King's champion Turog. Rrulaf told how Turog had passed into the Spirit Realm on a great quest some two weeks back and would, Telmor willing, be there a while longer.

Now came the appointed time to meet with Sir Korlaman of the Orshanti. Argrath was readying himself to call upon the Dragonnewts for advice and so he sent Gudny and Kamoar to meet with the Lord.

Accompanied by Gudny's warband, the Companions flew over and met with Gurd, the headman they had previously contacted. Gurd introduced them to Sir Vustar of Jarnsholm a knight in Lord Korlaman's service. Vustar marvelled at the Companion's mounts. The knight led the band into the Troll Woods where they found a hidden hall in Kotori lands a few leagues north of the Print [1].

The hall was fortified in the Hendriki style and boasted some 50 warriors, a mix of St. Taurox knights, Uroxi berserks and Orshanti weaponthanes. Though the hall was old it was sound. It had the look of a place that was only inhabited in times of dire need and then abandoned again.

Korlaman stood and greeted the Companions well. He bade them sit and showed them to benches next to his High Seat. Gudny and Kamoar presented the lord with gifts from Argrath: a mighty battle-blade in the western style; a pair of golden spurs; an ancient Orshanti battle-banner found in the Rokari treasury at Knight Keep; and a sack fashioned by Kamoar from bull's leather that held a Chaos-Eater spirit.

Korlaman thanked them for their gifts and asked after their mission with him. The Companions spoke of what they knew of the chaos horde and the Empire's hand in it. They spoke of Argrath's wish to aid the people of the region in their need and asked what aid was needed.

Korlaman spoke his tale. He told how his family were traditional dukes in Jansholm but were periodically ousted by invaders. He spoke of his desire to see Heortland unified again under one ruler, including the Eastern Marches. He told the Friends that what he needed was more chaos killers and a larger army. He wanted a further thousand warriors that he could lead into the Stone Wood and do battle with the hordes of Shepelkirk's minions. When Gudny asked about the Empire and what action they would take if the Aeolian were to led that force through their lands Korlaman spoke of the siege of Nochet and the fact that the Empire was too busy to stop him.

The Friends said that they would take the lord's words back to their king and see what could be done. Korlaman guested them in his hall that night and they returned to Stone-Storm valley in the morrow.

Our tale need turn to the north where Argrath and Bronwyn journeyed upon the dragon roads to Dragon's Eye. With them were Rolf and Von, Argrath's Shield Thanes, and a score of doughty warriors.

Before they embarked on their journey, Argrath and Bronwyn followed Mastakos' path back to Dragon's Rest. The two of them stepped from Mastakos' shrine in Stone-Storm keep and placed their left foot upon Dragon's Scale Mountain. They then set their right foot on the Paps. With three more steps, and a leap over the Copper Sands they arrived at the monastery. There they performed a ritual cleansing and meditated upon an appropriate gift for the Inhuman King who they hoped to meet. Argrath chose to give the King obsidian teeth for a dragon newt's sacred Klanth [2].

At Dragon's Eye Bronwyn spake with the guards there and asked to see Glowing Eyes, his ancient patron. One of the guards left and returned with a Tailed Priest who greeted them in the Draconic Way. They replied properly and gained great honour among their warriors. Leaving their men outside the city they were taken to a waiting room.

It should be said that Dragon's Eye looked different to Argrath than the last time he was there. Bronwyn said that it had to do with his awakened Left Hand. They studied the architecture anew while they were led through the city streets by a band of Crested Newts. Argrath noted that the city was different, even the sky looked different from outside. There were spires everywhere, beautiful and eerie that seemed to defy every law of construction. Even the ambience of the city was one of weirdness.

The Tailed Priest led them to the central spire which, they saw, was carved from the back bone of a true dragon. The carving was intricate and Argrath felt his mind twist as he stared at it and the arching stairs carved from the beast's ribs. Once within the spire they were led down into the bowels of the earth and into the central lair of the Inhuman King.

The Inhuman King was the leader of all the dragon newts in Dragon Pass. There was another Inhuman King in Esrolia and Bronwyn told of one in Ralios. The King was a being that should have been a dragon for it had transcended his mortal life but had tied himself to this world to serve his people. If measured from the tip of his fanged nose to the end of his scaled tail the King would have measured twenty strides of a tall man. He lay coiled upon a heavy rock pedestal on a sea of jewellery and other things he considered valuable.

Next to the Inhuman King was a Priest Newt who named himself Sibilant Speaker. Sibilant Speaker hatched from his egg while the Sun Emperor Anaxial floated upon the flooded Oslira and he served as bodyguard to Discordant Thought who attended the Dawn Council. At the Dragon Kill, Sibilant Speaker returned to his egg and emerged after as a full Priest Newt.

Argrath made to introduce himself to the Inhuman King but was interrupted by Sibilant Speaker. “We know who you are. Your coming was foretold and expected,” he turned to Bronwyn, “as was yours. Though you were both told never to return.”

Argrath told how he came seeking their aid in a great quest. “We are aware of your purpose here,” was the response. They asked Argrath what sort of aid he sought and what he was willing to pay to achieve it.

Argrath told how he sought military aid to battle the Empire. He told them that he needed help stopping the Redman's Temple and he needed more knowledge of the Draconic Path. He told them that he needed to know how to speak with the Cosmic Dragon.

Sibilant Speaker said that asking the Cosmic Dragon to stop the temple would be difficult. The Dragon was the Cosmos and the temple is of the Cosmos. It would be asking the Cosmos to stop the Cosmos. “Has the Cosmic Dragon aided people in this world before,” asked Argrath. The priest replied that it had but that such aid came with a heavy price. Argrath asked after that price and Sibilant Speaker told him that he would have to willingly trade his eventual transcendence for this mortal gain.

Argrath briefly considered the exchange and declared, “I so swear before my friends that I will pay this price.” The priest produced a piece of meat and handed it to Argrath. It was a piece of the Cosmic Dragon's tongue and had fallen to earth when Yelm slew the Dragon. He told Argrath to place the meat in the Dragn's mouth, you will know it when you see it, and it will allow you to speak with the Cosmic Dragon.

The Inhuman King turned to Bronwyn. His eyes glowed a deep green and Bronwyn was engulfed in a brilliant green light. A voice formed in his mind and asked, “What is your sound?” Bronwyn immediately replied “The sound of the Great Dragon breathing.” Bronwyn realised he had just had an epiphany and felt his Third-Eye opening; his understanding of the Cosmic Cycle increased dramatically and he wept at the price Argrath paid for the Dragon's aid.

The Inhuman King spoke to Bronwyn, “You will be greatly enhanced by your visit to the Cosmic Dragon, if you survive.”

Now there was a stonecutter named Loiret who was born in the Northern Quarter of Alda-Chur. Loiret was the son of Yigar the Block who was the son of Horvel of Yellow Ridge whose father had befriended a Dwarf. Loiret had married Fenisal Hairybrow of the Tovtaros tribe who was the daughter of Gorman the Black whose brother had died with the Household of Death.

At this time Loiret was one of the workmen employed in the construction of the Empire's new temple complex. He met Telman Sagasinger who was a sagamaster in the service of Bronwyn Fallenstead. Listening to Telman's tales and stories Loiret's anger at the Empire fully revealed itself to him and he became another strand in Bronwyn's web of contacts covering Sartar.

Now came the time for Argrath to visit Queen Varadis in Nochet. Though she was not happy with it, Voydag accompanied Argrath to appease the Esrolian noble lady. Argrath gathered the Companions and his warband and they boarded a ship at Crab Town to sail to Nochet. There was Bronwyn, Gudny, Kamoar and Sigmund. Rolf, Von, Gruelok Crooked-Fang and the Dragonman's Shadows, Tulmult and four score of Argrath's warband, Borne, Viga-Vedda, and six more of Gudny's warband.

Nochet was a truly immense place. There were docks there for Waertagi Dragonships whose slips were over a mile long. The city sprawled upon both sides of the Lysos river delta. The docks were vast and teeming with people of all cultures. There were quays and shanty towns upon the ocean front and across the river a small town with the Empire's banner fluttering in the breeze.

Around the city itself were massive walls. A 20-foot ditch, 60-feet wide protected the outer wall. The outer wall reached 15 feet high. The inner wall was 60-feet high with 80-foot towers. The walls were proving impossible for the Empire to storm and they were trying to force their way into the Portside areas to sever the city's connection with the outside.

Argrath was taken directly to Queen Varadis' palace in the Esrolian Quarter. The palace was opulent and showed the benefits of ruling the largest city in the region. Argrath's warriors were taken into the Free Quarter and billets were found for them in the inns of Oak Alley.

A barrel-chested chamberlain swung the doors of the audience room open and banged his heavy spear upon the polished marble. “Queen Voydag of the Marches - and her husband,” he announced. Voydag retorted, “Equal husband! I'd nay marry some ponsy sissy loik they 'ave hereabouts. I dinna go for that Esrolian crap!”

The queen paled visibly under her make-up but greeted them well regardless. She spoke with Voydag of the need for their peoples to work together in this time of distress and the mutual benefit that could be garnered by such co-operation. She said that she had invited them there as Queen Voydag had “some influence in the Marchers.” Voydag glared at her and made a sharp reply, “Yep.”

Varadis faltered again and turned her gaze towards Argrath. She spoke to Argrath about her concerns for Heortland and the role that masculine irresponsibility was playing in the troubles there. She was concerned about the return of the Wolf Pirates and particularly the return of Harrek. She was also concerned with Maniskisson and his ally Broyan. “We are not happy with a barbarian warlord setting himself up where the rightful queens should rule.” She told how she would grant trade rights to any who would help her and she saw Argrath as being able to help her.

Argrath replied that the Empire was the problem and needed to be solved. Varadis agreed that the Empire was “vexing” them. Argrath affirmed his commitment to help throw off the Empire. “Ally with me and give me troops,” he said.

Varadis replied that no Esrolian would fight for a Hendriki warlord or a Sartari king. She told that she could help in other ways.

At this point she abruptly ended the audience and told how she could not provide a proper guest-meal. She told them that the Lords of the City, the Rokari faction, wanted to meet with Argrath. Until then he needed to find quarters in the Free Quarter with his warband.




[1] The Print is a large depression in the Stone Wood from whence the chaos comes.
[2] Klanth a flat wooden club with obsidian teeth embedded in both edges. Used as a weapon and ceremonial tool by the dragon newts.

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March 27, 2001

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