The Saga of the Gwandorlings - 53
And so it happened that the Companions became the Virtue Stars - parts of the Ring of Orlanth constellation. The companions danced the Virtue Dance and spun across the sky of the underworld until they reached the Storm Gate.
Now the gate led from the underworld into the Sky Dome. Towering thunder-columns roiled and thrashed around a glowing cloud. As the Virtue Stars spun towards that angry maelstrom the glowing cloud thinned and dissipated - the Storm Gate was open!
The Companions danced through the open gate and burst into the middle of Tatius's great ceremony.
Now we need tell what the Companions found when they spun through the Storm Gate. They found themselves in a ceremony circle, a great courtyard four hundred ells across, in the middle of the Reaching Moon complex in Sambari Pass. There were two-score other dancers in the circle moving slowly to a rhythm that only they knew. Around the circle Tatius had arrayed at least eight regiments of shepelkirt's soldiers - there were also some four thousand onlookers: brushie nobles, traitor Sartari and others.
Now it should also be said that each dancer in the circle represented one of the stars in the heavens above. As the dancers moved, so did their star - or did they move as the star did? The circle itself represented the Sky Dome. The cowards looking on, come to gloat at Tatius's glory and bask in his benevolence, were unaffected by the celestial dance. They moved alynx-fast compared to the dancers.
And so it happened that the Companions burst through the Storm Gate and Orlanth's Ring appeared in the sky, at a time when it should be deep, deep within the underworld.
With the Companions came their warbanders and the entire constellation began to kill as they danced across the circle.
Someone in the crowd cried in shock, "The Ring of Orlanth!"
They danced past a woman carrying a giant harp and playing happily. She died without a sound under Lothar's iron swords. Above, Orlanth's Ring flowed across the sky dome and brushed a star; it flared and died.
They danced inwards towards Polestar, the choreographer - an Imperial priest - standing absolutely still staring at the star above him. Behind them Scarlet Enerian, a priestess of shepelkirt, spun tightly in place, her red and black robes streaming around her and the red moon turned in the sky.
Beyond Polestar the Companions could see Zenith, a part of the Cosmic Dragon's head. From the west, Durbudan turned from his normal path and moved towards the Ring.
The Companions danced onwards, passing Lorion.
Suddenly, Shargash burst into the sky. A massive warrior steps into the circle and rushes at the Ring shoving other people aside. In the sky the Bloody planet surges across the dome smashing other stars out of its way.
Arraz turns from his place in the west and moves. Bisos moves from the south-east. The War Stars follow in Shargash's wake. Quail and Lion race in from the north.
At Rausa, the Western Gate, the Gate of Dusk, Tatius lies unconscious while his star, Yelm, passes through the Underworld.
It should be said that all across Glorantha people stared at the sky in wonder and horror. For those outside of Dragon Pass there was no explanation for the antics of the stars and planets. Many were the tales born that night.
Through all of this the Companios kept to their dance.
Argrath concentrated his on his dance and prayed. He faced Shargash and reached out with his magic to shove the Red Destroyer aside. Shargash snarled and shoved back rocking Argrath. Our glorious king kept his feet and maintained his step in the dance. He gritted his teeth and struck at Shargash again sending him crashing into Arraz.
The Red Planet careened wildly across the sky and struck Arraz. They both flared and died. The dancers fell to the ground like unto the dead.
Entekos turned and unleashed the funnelled power of Peloria at the Ring. Gudny staggered under the assault but maintained his step, shouldering his way through the raging imperial storm. He struck back and rocked the star. Another magical blow and the High Priestess for Peloria collapsed in the dance.
Overhead a storm raged across the sky and swallowed Entekos.
Durbudath leapt at the Ring. Kamoar struck him with his left paw and tore him from hip to hip. He struck again with his right paw and tore out the priest's throat.
Overhead a star collided with the Ring and bounced off fading to black.
Sigmund called on Great Weighty's ricochet blessing and hurled Little Weighty at Quail . The priestess vanished in a soft explosion and Little Weighty bounced on to strike the Red Moon before returning to the warrior's hand.
In the sky, Quail flared an ugly red and turned black. The Red Moon wobbled and a new crater appeared on her face.
The War Stars continued to pursue the Ring, now they were pushing dancers aside.
Bisos lowered his head and charged the Ring. Bronwyn belched dragon-fire at the brown planet rocking the priest. The man strode on through the flames. Bronwyn breathed again and the man staggered off with his clothes aflame. He bumped into another dancer and they both burned.
Overhead Bisos turned from the Ring with a red corona flicking about it. The planet bumped another star and both blazed.
Behind the Ring, Shargash rose from the ground.
Now the Companions noticed that Kallyr had joined the dance. She and her band were fighting the War Stars and Doburdan.
Now it came that the Ring reached Zenith.
We needs remind our readers that the Companions had left Orlanth's hall with Aroka's head. So now Bronwyn took that head and attached it to the celestial dragon. Bronwyn became the dragon's head. He lunged at Shargash and sent him crashing to the ground with a great blow.
In the sky above the green star, the Dragon Star, appeared and the Cosmic dragon came to life. The Dragon's neck snapped around and it took a bite out of Shargash.
A green light reached from the Dragon Star and bathed the circle. Kallyr cried out, "Fly!" The Companions leapt skyward at Kallyr's heals.
From below, like a summer trout snapping a bug from the creek, rose the mouth of a dragon.
The dragon was unknown before. No one recognised it. No one knew all the dragons, of course, but even Bronwyn did not know him. So he was new, brought there for that moment by the magic of the Cosmic Dragon.
The mouth was not small. The first bite swallowed the choreographer, most of the lunar sorcerers, most of a regiment of hoplites and a large portion of the onlookers. It rose high enough that it snapped off the heels from the boots of Minaryth Purple. They were forty feet in the air, then. The dragon sank back underground as if the earth were water, and then rose again and swallowed Tatius, who had just been wakened; Scarlet Enerian, whose last burst of magic brought a gout of black blood from the consuming monster; another regiment and a half, and a smaller part of the panicked mob. A third bite got the last of the priests and a good part of the new buildings. With a fourth bite, it swallowed the part of the building which had held the sacred moon stone. Then, it turned over once, knocking down everyone for twenty miles around, and left above itself a crack in the earth which stretched for ten miles.
The Companions landed on a small hillock and smiled at Kallyr. "I think that was a success," opinioned Argrath. "Aye," she agreed.
With that, Kallyr left to raise the tribes and overthrow the scattered imperial survivors. The Companions spread across the Pass to do likewise.
Now it was about this time that Duke Jerard of Mt. Passant seized Duchamp. King Korlaman besieged Durenguard when the Rokari refused him entry. Sharpsword seized Leskos, apparently in support of Korlaman. It was also at this time that the Rokari of Nochet launched a crusade to free Durenguard and slay the pagans.
Gudny passed on into Culbrea lands. The King guested Gudny and greeted him well. Gudny spake of the heroic deeds of Argrath and stirred them all with the telling. Argrath gained much renown that day. But it had passed that the tribe had already risen - in the name of Queen Kallyr.
Kamoar travelled to the west. With him was Boron Alfgarsson, son of King Alfgar of the Loceam and they fared to the Lismelder and Locaem tribes.
Dragonfriend summoned his warband and knights to him and marched on Swenstown.
At Wilmkirk, Kamoar found a new Argrath. Venharlsson. The Locaem had risen in his name and destroyed the garrison in the city.
Dragonfriend found the Whitebull had already stormed Swenstown and taken Boldhome.
News arrived that Whitewall was empty and that Maniskisson had taken Duckpoint with the help of the Drulz who now called him King. It seemed that the red-men had fled right back to Tarsh.
The Keldon rose for Kallyr. The Aranwyth for Whitebull. The Lismelder for Dragonfriend. Sharpsword seized Whitewall and the Volsaxi rallied around his banners. The Poljoni followed Whitebull. Jomes Wulf, the Telmori and Cinsina followed Kallyr. Utgard from Old Wind and Sota Lamplighter supported Dragonfriend. The rest of Old Wind called for Venharlsson's ascent.
Kallyr issued a proclamation from Boldhome. In it she commended one and all for their parts in the valiant struggle. She then declared her imminent enthronement at Queen of Sartar.
Dragonfriend rode into Boldhome at the head of his warband. He wore a rich green-silk robe, secured with an iron chain. He bore Ormsword on his hip and wore his iron byrnie. Behind him rode the Storm Dragon Guards. His 40 best weaponthanes each wearing the full panoply of that elite EWF force. With the Guards were the Dragon's Shadows, his ten Uzdo bodyguards. Behind the guards came half of his knights, their armour shinning and their banner snapping in the wind; then his warband and finally the last half of the knights. With the warband were seven heavily laden wagons. All groaning under the loads of treasure that Argrath was going to gift Kallyr with.
Within the city all was astir. There were many armed forces in the valley, though none as magnificent as the Dragonlord's. Kallyr herself came to the gate to greet Argrath. Dragonlord smiled at her and indicated the massed warbands, "I doth see the vultures have arrived and circle the corpse seeking their strips of plunder." Kallyr agreed with him but shrugged her shoulders, "What can one do?" She spoke of the news from Tarsh. "King Moirades has claimed Sartar and sends seven thousand spears to take it." As they rode towards the palace she turned to Argrath, "What do you want?" Dragonfriend stared at her thoughtfully, "Has it come to that?" "Aye," she said. "Dundealos Valley." Kallyr nodded, "done."
And so the leaders of Sartar gathered in Sartar's palace to forge a new nation. The tribal kings were there. Maniskisson came with a host of grazers and drulz. He nodded coldly at the other Argraths. Dragonfriend noted that his arm, lost on the Great Boat, had nearly grown back. Venharlsson stood in a corner atop a small tornado, he was never seen to step off of it for any reason. Whitebull greeted Dragonfriend warmly and congratulated him on his mighty deeds. They traded stories of their doings and were quite friendly to each other. Sharpsword was there to watch and advise, he claimed no interest in having any power in Sartar. Sota greeted Dragonfriend cordially and spoke of the need to crush Ogunjar.
Kallyr called the gathering to some semblance of order. "Our first task is complete," she said. "We have freed Sartar from the grasp of the Evil Emperor. Now," she continued, "we need only keep it free." There was general agreement at this. The various leaders came forth and presented gifts to Kallyr, none were even half as rich as Dragonfriend's and he gained much honour from the giving.
Kallyr set about satisfying each of the leaders to the best of her abilities. She made each a lord of some portion of the kingdom. Now this was unprecedented and few knew how it would work though each was eager for their piece of the kingdom.
Maniskisson was named Lord and Eorl of Duckpoint. Venharlsson was Lord and Eorl of Wilmskirk. Whitebull was named Eorl of Swenstown and Duke of Pavis. Dragonfriend was named Champion of Sartar and Overlord of the Dundealos. Sharpsword was acknowledged as King of the Volsaxi.
Several of the tribal kings raised a clamour at this. Many were unhappy with new lords where none had been before. The Malani king wanted to know who was going to be lord of Jonstown. Maniskisson spoke up, "Mine is that honour." Malani nodded, "I can accept that." Dragonfriend shook his head, "That honour belongs to Gudny Stormchaser of the Culbrea." Maniskisson sneered, "One needs to have the true blood of rule to be a lord, that I have. I was born to rules and I shall!" Gudny stood and snapped back, "Your blood is no more pure than any in this room. I, on the other hand, am Kodigvari! I am of the blood of the High Kings of the Vingkotlings. Don't you tell me about blood lowborn."
Kallyr broke in, "This is a matter that is best decided in battle, and we have a big one coming.
 With the ritual bonuses we had accrued so far in the heroquest Sigmund's thunderstone magic hit 10w7!!
 "King of Sartar", page 153.
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