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Gwandor Saga

The Saga of the Gwandorlings - 55

Our tale now takes up again in Boldhome. Kallyr formed three rings to rule the kingdom: the Sartar Ring, the Iron Ring and the Argrath Ring. Now the Sartar Ring consisted of the traditional Ring of Sartar including the tribal kings. The Iron Ring consisted of new lords and Eorls. All of the Argraths sat on the Argrath Ring.

Dragonfriend and the Companions advanced the idea, in all three rings, that all of the imperial sycophants that still remained in Sartar should be forced to join the Enstelos; it was thought that Erdhar could keep them from causing in trouble for the fledgling kingdom. The idea was eagerly accepted and Dragonfriend gained much renown for it.

It was at this time also that Jomes Wulf swore fealty to Queen Kallyr and promised to raise a regiment of heavy horse as his feudal obligation – few of the Heortlings knew what that meant but Kallyr and Dragonfriend did.

Queen Kallyr also let it be known that she would support any clan that wished to change tribes.

Bronwyn learned that Triof the Fist, Harvar’s warleader, had last been seen boarding a river barge in Furthest headed down river – it seemed he sought employ as a mercenary in the Empire. Gudny and Sigmund were greatly dismayed at this temporary escape of their chosen quarry.

Dark Season/1625

Dark Season that year was harsh. Valind flayed the land with storm after storm while the frost giants strode through the most sheltered valleys. That winter an enlo could have walked from Gudnysstead to Battle Valley without being seen above the snow.

It was into this fearsome winter that Dragonfriend rode on Viga-holstein, his sky bull. He visited the tribes around Alone and the city itself. Harvar had stripped the city, nothing remained of any value – even the glass and lead tiles had been removed from the buildings.

Gudny rode out of Jonstown on Brun-jarl, his sky bull. With him rode twenty of his weaponthanes and four of his godyr. Gudny meant to visit the tribes in his confederation, much as Argrath was doing, and decided to begin with the Malani. He wished to make a good a start as possible with them for they had reason to dislike him for stealing their tribal champion’s sword and then slaying him.

So it was with great surprise that Gudny was confronted by Bordar Blacksword, a weaponthane from the Treebrothers clan in the Malani and refused guesting on the clan’s tula. At Gudny’s insistence, Vorindal, the Chief of the Treebrothers, was summoned. He also refused to grant Gudny guesting, or even passage.

“Why do you this thing?” demanded Gudny. “I am the Eorl of Jonstown, head of your confederation.” “What is that to us?” sneered Vorindal. “The Malani joined Sartar and swore to follow the High King in Boldhome. The leader of the ring of Jonstown – yourself – has no power over us.”

Gudny replied that Kallyr had given him power over the confederation to which Vorindal replied, “No one can force us to do anything. You can sit in Jonstown and twiddle your beard for all the Malani care. We didn’t want you as Eorl, we don’t want you as Eorl and we won’t want you as Eorl.” He spat at Gudny’s feet to emphasise his point. Vornidal went on to say that there was no precedent for the very existence of an Eorl and the Malani had no wish to acknowledge one now. “High King Kodig established the first Eorls in the Vingkot Age,” replied Gudny. “He formed the Five Vingkotlings Nations and appointed sub-kings under him. The Vingkotling tribes answered to the sub-kings.” Vorindal snorted, “We are Heortlings! Kodig’s ways led to the Sword and Helm war and the downfall of the Storm peoples. Heort taught us better ways and they don’t include you self-styled sub-kings!”

With that, Vorindal stormed away through the snow and Gudny turned back for Jonstown.

So it happened soon after, the gates of Jonstown were closed to Malani traders and merchants. All royal bridges, including Dangerford, charged Malani triple the normal tolls to pass them. Gudny visited with the kings of the Cinsina and Culbrea.

Now the Cinsina greeted him coolly but well. King Horangir the Bright spoke of the Malani losing their trading rights in Jonstown and how the Cinsina could take the extra rights. Gudny smiled but made no commitments. Horangir and Gudny spoke more of this and that and Gudny learned that the king had no problem with Gudny as his Eorl; he would have preferred Maniskisson but would not cause trouble for Gudny. Horangir also agreed to let the old Culbrea clans return to the their tribe if they so chose. All three clans, the Blueberry, Greenhaft and – surprisingly – the Gorde so chose.

It is interesting to note that with the defeat of the Empire, the Gorde had exiled all of the moon-sworn and returned to their traditional ways, they had destroyed their temples to the Seven Mothers and to Yelmalio and rebuilt their Elmali and Orlanthi temples.

It should be mentioned, now, that Gudny had been given responsibility for garrisoning the fort at Dangerford. He was doing the best that he could at the time but needed more troops. He invited the Wolf Runners to garrison there and awaited word from Dragonfriend and Turrog.

Turrog’s clan, the Black Wolf was invited to trade at Jonstown. The Sazdorf were also invited to trade at Jonstown. Both were granted generous concessions.

It should also be told that Lothar stalked into Death Hollow, the Humakt temple in Gwandor lands and served challenge on Artamesh’s man. Lothar defeated him easily and became the leader of Death Hollow, the third largest temple in Sartar.

Storm Season

The winter grew colder and fiercer, as did the voices in council. Maniskisson brought complaints to the Argrath Ring about Gudny Book-Burner. It seemed that the Malani were unhappy about losing their trading rights in Jonstown. “The Malani cook in a cauldron of their own making,” replied Dragonfriend. “They refused the Eorl guesting, they refused even to allow him on their tulas. They told him to do anything he wanted in Jonstown – and he did.” The argument went to and fro with Maniskisson reminding all that he opposed Gudny’s assuming the Eorlship but there was no will on the ring to oppose Dragonfriend on his appointment.

It was at this time that the Queen learned of King Moriadies’s quest for aid from the Empire. Apparently his generals wished to invade Sartar to erase their previous defeat. Throughout the howling winter King Moriadies continued to raid the kingdom.

The Argrath Ring also learned that King Korlaman’s siege of Duchamp had been broken by the crusading Rokari. Five thousands of them had passed through Leskos – Sharpsword’s city – and taken Korlaman’s army from behind. The same travellers brought word the Sharpsword had appointed Mularik Iron-Eye Count of Karse.

Bronwyn brought word to Dragonfriend of Fazzur Wideread. It seemed that the old general had retired, at least that was the word used, and returned to his lands around Gold Edge. It also seemed that many of his family had chosen to visit him, for an extended length of time. They were all very heavily armed, apparently for hunting. The Companions smiled knowingly at each other when they heard that.

Harvar voiced his concern about Imperial retribution in the Iron Ring. He suggested building up royal troops at Alda-Chur to defend against the inevitable attack. Kallyr agreed but offered no gold, Harvar would have to fund the troops himself. She also suggested that Dragonfriend work at increasing his troop strength.

Kallyr also let it be known that she would conduct the Short Lightbringer’s Quest to bring greater prosperity to the realm.

When Dragonfriend spoke to the Companions about Harvar’s troop build-up he asked for ideas on how to monitor the troops, “I don’t want Harvar rebuilding his army like this.” Bronwyn spoke up, “Harvar canst hardly refuse to accept one of Kallyr’s captains as an advisor.” Dragonfriend’s eyes lit up and he nodded sagely.

Kallyr quickly agreed to the idea and asked Dragonfriend to choose the man. Dragonfriend sent Garthael and his humakti warband.

It was now that Dragonfriend learned of the ready status of his enlo legion. Gudny’s friend, Kazo Kang had been training them for some years now and five hundreds of them were ready for battle. Now, no one expected to them be overly reliable in battle but they would probably be able to stand with, or against, any fyrdwall – even in daylight.

And so it came to be that Dragonfriend named his legion the Little Shadows and stationed it in Alone. He also placed one hundred of his knights in that city and sent the rest back to Knight Fort.

Dragonfriend sent instructions to Sir Pallon the Black. The knight was to fare to Nochet when the roads cleared and was to work with Yannar Writeweb, Argrath’s factor in Nochet, to raise another company of knights.

Sacred Time/1625

Our tale now turns to Sacred Time as the old year made ready to give way to the new. The winter storms continued, promising more snow and ice and people’s food grew short.

With the loyalty of the Amad, Bachad, Enstelos and Tres tribes, Dragonfriend felt the pull of Vingkot the High King and changed his sacrifice from Dar the King.

Gudny left on a heroquest to aid his confederation. He enacted the story of how Orlanth Released the Fertile Rain with great success. He gained much glory among the tribesmen for that.

Bronwyn returned to the south. He visited his holdings around Hammer Hold and then fared to Storn Storm Valley. There, he led his magical regiment onto the heroplane to do battle. The joined the EWF forces as they smashed Uriak the Horselord’s army in Kostaddi. When they returned to the Keep they had learned much about the EWF way of war.

Sigmund returned to Knight Fort for Sacred Time. There he led his hedkoranth worshippers onto the Heroplane where they enacted the tale of how The Thunder Brothers Punished Korkien Bent-Wind.

Queen Kallyr’s quest failed horribly. At the third stage a red dancer appeared, an Imperial hero, in the middle of her own sword dance. The red-bitch cut down many of the Queen’s companions and wounded Kallyr herself. Many in Sartar prepared for the worst when they received word of their queen’s failure.

Sea Season/1626

And so the new year came about full of ill omen. Queen Kallyr quickly recovered from her wounds but no effort by the healers could remove the terrible scars left by the moon-blades.

More importantly, the new year brought treachery and war.

Now Garthael had fared into Farpoint at Argrath’s behest and taken his place as Harvar’s aide and advisor in creating defences against the Empire. The main road from Tarsh into Sartar passed through Dwarf Valley and climbed onto the Far Point plateau at Wylflas’s Cut. Atop the cut was Wylflas’s keep, a stout fortress that squatted across the road and blocked any access. It was this keep that Harvar garrisoned and where Garthael found himself billeted.

One night Garthael awoke when Humakt whispered in his ear, “Arise mine champion and acquit yourself well, your place awaits you in mine hall.”

Argrath’s mighty champion rolled from his bed with his great battleblade in-hand. His ears twitched and he heard voices in the hall before his door. Sky-clad [1], Garthael kicked the door from its hinges. Now one can surely imagine the surprised assassins without when that oaken door flew from its frame, outwards when it opens inwards, and instead of the sleeping warrior they hoped to find they were confronted by a wild-eyed, naked, humakti Deathlord.

Now the four archers released their shafts with little thought as to where the arrows went and Garthael was un-hurt. With seven blows of that gigantic blade Garthael felled all nine of his assailants and broke nary a sweat.

The champion donned his tunic and hauberk before he raced down the corridor seeking his warbanders. Before their door he found abandoned axes and bows, obviously left by fleeing assassins. He kicked that door open as well and found his men roused from sleep by the splintering timber. “What ails thee,” they asked. “Foul bloody assassins,” Garthael hissed. The warriors gathered their arms and armour and followed their captain.

Garthael raced through the keep seeking Trygvar Fulgarsson, Harvar’s lieutenant. When he reached the roof and found naught, Garthael saw that the gates stood open and rank upon rank of imperial troops marched through them. Trygvar and most of the garrison stood in the courtyard greeting the red-bastards like long-lost brethren. Garthael easily counted more than two thousands of troops passing through the keep and the long snake of men continued far out into the night.

Now Garthael offered a quick prayer of thanks to the Grim Slayer [2] for awakening him. He led his band over the far wall of the keep and made for Hollowdancer Tower – Argrath had to know about these happenings.

Hollowdancer Tower stands at the mouth of Snakepipe Hollow and was the fastness of the Hollowdancers, the very same band that Gudny’s man Nestin had belonged to. They were famed chaos stalkers and were self-tasked with protecting Dwarf Valley from the horrors in the Hollow.

It took Garthael over a week to return to Boldhome with his news and he was the first to bring it to Dragonfriend and the Queen.

The invasion could not have come at a worse time.

Whitebull was back in Pavis. Sharpsword was in Heortland. When the black arrow went out to the tribes, Lunar cavalry was already riding through the fields around Dangerford.

Kamoar quickly supplied a detailed breakdown on the invaders.

The force was led by an imperial officer called Young Kastakos. Captured prisoners – and Kamoar wore several more trophies around his neck – related that this Kastakos had named himself after an ancient Dara Happan hero. Young Kastakos appeared to have a love for military history and was a student of the elegant yet swift strike.

Kastakos led a force that dwarfed the previous Tarshite effort. The veteran Stalwarts, 1,000 heavy infantrymen, the Jillaro Cutters, 200 heavy infantry, the Bear’s Claws from Saird, 400 berserks. There were the Penitents, 1,500 poorly armed conscripts. The Flowers of Death with 500 medium horse. 1,000 Darjini hoplites marched in Kotor’s Wall matched by 1,000 peltasts in the Jaharra Regiment. There were 500 horse in the Moon Arrows, 200 Imperial Guards in the Feathered Axes, 1,000 spearmen in the Talford Foot. More horses, 500 heavy riders in the Sairdic Imperial Horse and 500 medium in the Chiton Medium Horse. There were 1,200 peltasts in the Foot Bisons. 800 medium troops in the Sword Thieves. There were another 2,000 phalangites in the Mirinite Pikes and the South Sun Dome Phalanx. Finally, there were 1,500 horse in the Lowland Horse, Furthest Cavalry and Furthest Horsewomen regiments.

All told, Kamoar had counted nye on 14,000 troops. Queen Kallyr could not quite field 11,000 against them. “At least there are no magical units,” one tribal king said quietly. “Not that we have seen yet,” replied Dragonfriend.

Kamoar returned to shadowing the imperial column and sent reports back to Dragonfriend in Jonstown, for that was where the armies of Sartar gathered. Kamoar related that many of the troops had encamped at Alda-Chur and Herongreen. He also spoke of many scouts, mostly horsemen, spreading across the Donalf and Lizardwood Flats.

Bronwyn passed into the Quivini Mountains behind Boldhome and stepped onto the dragon road there. He fared to Dragon’s Eye to seek aid from the Inhuman King. Glowing Eyes, his ancient patron, said that the dragonnewts would aid in this battle. With that Bronwyn returned to Dragonfriend’s side.

About this time, an unsigned, and unsealed, scroll was delivered to Bronwyn by an unnamed traveller. It was very short. “Seven of Vistor”. Puzzeled, Bronwyn showed the scroll to Argrath. Dragonfriend related how the Seven of Vistor were an Imperial magical college that specialised in bridging. They had led the final assault on Whitewall with magical bridges for the soldiers to charge across.

For the next few days the Companions led raids into the Flats against the imperial scouts while the hosts gathered at Jonstown.

Sota sent 1,000 templars. Dragonfriend summoned his knights back from Knight Fort and found that they had been brought back up to 500 men after he detached 100 for Alone. His few losses at the Battle of Dangerford had been replaced and his warband was again 350. Turrog came with 500 Wolf Runners and their Wolf Brothers. The Storm Walkers from Old Wind responded to Dragonfriend’s and Venharlsson’s pleas and sent 200 storm-warriors. Duke Wulf brought 400 heavy horse. 2,000 Colymar fyrdmen arrived shortly before 1,000 Malani fyrdmen. 1,000 Culbrea fyrdmen answered the war arrow. The Cinsina certainly seemed less than eager to do battle and sent a mere 500 fyrdmen. Kallyr’s warband gathered about her, all 200 of them. All of the other tribes sent troops as well with the total reaching just over 10,000.

The difference between the hosts was telling though. Where most of the imperial forces were veteran soldiers, most of Sartar’s host were fyrdmen.

“We are mightly outnumbered and outclassed,” spake Dragonfriend to Venharlsson. “Aye,” the wind walker agreed. “Canst thou and the Storm Walkers summon a storm? A storm like as has not been seen in any man’s lifetime?” asked Dragonfriend. Venharlsson smiled, “Aye.” And so Venharlsson and the Storm Walkers set about gathering all the storm daimons in the Pass and readying them to be unleashed on the Empire.

It was said afterwards that the redmen couldn’t believe their luck when all of the storm clouds and strong winds vanished in the days leading up to the battles. Little did they know what awaited them.

Now Kamoar sent further word on the redmen’s movements. It seemed that the host had split at Herongreen with half of it faring south and west past Blue Boar Fort across the Donalf Flats and the other half passing down the royal road towards Dangerford.

Dragonfriend suggested that the fastest moving warbands should shadow the imperial force moving across the Flats, “For Dangerford can be held until the Sun stops again,” he said. Kallyr agreed and chose to lead that force herself.

And so the Wolf Runners, Storm Walkers, Colymar and Malani raced through the Stael Hills keeping pace with the foe. Dragonfriend sent Sigmund along with his 150 flying thanes along with the host.

“If we can catch them crossing the river and unleash the storm on them, then we can divide their host and defeat it in detail,” he said. To further aid Kallyr, Dragonfriend sent all of the tribal fyrds, except the Culbrea and Cinsina to follow her. The rest were kept as reserves at Dangerford.

It was about this time that Kamoar arrived back at Dangerford. He brought word that the Dinacoli and Far Point fyrds had risen again. And again they were serving the invaders by screening Herongreen from the east. The forces in Alone were cut off.

As he readied for battle, Kamoar prowled the spirit realm collecting spirits that he could use in battle. By the time that the redmen arrived before Dangerford he held three new fetishes that fairly hissed with power.

Now Kallyr’s force marched west along the Creek river. And arrived at Old Top, a ridge overlooking the Creek and the village of Two Sisters. Now Two Sisters was found where the Creek poured into the Upland Marsh and offered the only ford for many miles.

At Two Sisters, Kallyr found that the Empire was already busking across the river. They had a wide magical bridge next to the ford and their troops were marching across in good order.

The Malani and Wolf Runners made to hold the invaders. They skirmished with the Foot Bison as those peltasts screened the rest of the imperial host. Before long the Queen Beti Leika arrived with her Colymar fyrd and Kallyr was ready to join battle.

And so the Penitents moved up aside the Foot Bison and made their way towards the hills. Behind them the army began to form and the Moon Arrows moved to cross the river. When that force was half over, Kally shouted for the attack.

Venharlsson unleashed the pent up storms. Rain hammered down and turned the fields to mud. The Creek swelled and washed away hundreds of horsemen on the ford and bridge.

Sigmund led his warband aloft but found the flying difficult – half of the men could not get off of the ground. The Hurler sensed a hostile magic in the village, he suspected the presence of a band named The Grounders from Tarsh; a group of Ernaldan godyr. With a shout of anger he hurled Little Weighty at the village. Again and again he pounded the huts with the thunderstone.

The fyrds surged down the hill and smashed into the lunar lines.

A cry of dismay came from the hilltop as a band of moon-heroes appeared nye Kallyr. They sprang to the assault and clove their way through her bodythanes. Sigmund raced for the fight with his warriors following as they could but to no affect. The fighting stopped and the imperials retreated. They danced a short dance and vanished into the rain. When Sigmund arrived he saw Kallyr lying dead. Her household quickly took up the body and fled the field with it.

Queen Leika espied this and screamed in anger. She turned back to the battle and led the Colymar in a frenzied assault on the Imperial forces. Sigmund returned to battering the village.

And so the Colymar pushed the invaders back into the river and slew them in their scores. The Feathered Axes managed to withdraw across the bridge without being drowned but the peltasts were not so fortunate. Many who lived near the marsh were to see strangely clad zombies in the coming days.

Now Dragonfriend learned that the host before Dangerford had dispatched a force to the east. Kotor’s Wall, Chiton’s Horse, the Talford Foot and the Furthest Cavalry all marched for Red Cow village. Dragonfriend sent Gudny meet them. With the Stormlord went the Sun Dome Phalanx, Dragonfriend’s knights, Wulf’s horse, the Cinsina fyrd and Gudny’s warband.

And so Gudny’s host met the imperials across the Creek from Red Cow. The lunars found a ford across the Solfint but not yet made an assault on the fortified village.

Gudny waved and Djarn the Voice lifted his sacred horn splitting the clouds with a resounding peal. Sota sang the Song of Step and led the phalanx on.

Gudny took the Star Bear Bag from his belt and released Black Cloud. “Here me Vadrusson!” he cried. He pointed to the Talford Foot’s waving standard, “Rend, tear, destroy! Do you hear me Black Cloud?” “Yippie! I’m out! I’m out!” raged the daemon. “Rend! Tear! Destroy!” it shouted over and over as it set upon the hapless spearmen. An earthy light flared and died as the regiment’s wytr met Black Cloud and fled.

The March Knights cantered forth singing Aeol’s praises. With a shout those heavy lances fell and five-hundred warhorses lunged at the Furthest Cavalry. Duke Wulf led his horse in a wild charge that met the Chiton Horse with a crash.

Kotor’s Wall stepped forth and the two phalanxes ground together. On the right, the templars pushed the storm-washed Tarshites back but on the left the iron disciplined Darjini ground relentlessly onward.

The knights crashed into the Furthest Cavalry and their charge broke. The imperial horsemen counter-charged and pushed the knights back. The Chiton broke in the face of Wulf’s riders and fled across the ford.

Gudny called for the Cinsina fyrd to advance but they refused. “We will attack when we are good and ready to,” they replied.

The phalanx recovered but continued to fall back under the imperial advance. Wulf charged at the Wall’s flank. There was a sharp command and the phalanxes flank sprouted pikes stopping the charge. Kotor’s Wall continued to advance giving as good a demonstration of imperial prowess as any would care to see.

Gudny led his warband, his Storm Lords, over the battle and struck at the opposing general. First he released his bag of winds, two-dozens of Uroxi daimons tore through the man’s bodyguards. Then the Storm Lords descended upon the survivors. Gudny met Kordigian, a Ram of Yanafal Tarnils, in personal combat.

The two leaders battled back and forth with magic crashing about. Their swords sang and shields groaned. Finally the red-ram withdrew and his host pulled back with him.

Then the Cinsina made to joined the fray.

Now it needs be told how Argrath valiantly held Dangerford against overwhelming assault.

The Empire threw five thousand soldiers at the fortress led by the Jillaro Cutters and the Stalwarts. Two siege towers were brought forth and the two regiments followed them. In the east, the Stalwarts’ assault was stymied when the Jonstown Ernalda godyr opened a crevasse beneath the tower and it went crashing into the bowels of the earth. On the west, the Jillaro Cutters forced their tower against the fortress walls and stormed the battlements.

Argrath leapt onto their tower and struck down their chapions with his serpent-blade. Kamoar raged along the walls, murdering any lunar that scaled the wall. Many were the warbanders who thanked their ancestors that Kamoar didn’t enter the berserk fit that day on the narrow walls.

The moon-men only made one attempt at the walls and then withdrew beyond arrow-range to menace the fort. The Cutters suffered mightily from Argrath’s blade.

And so Young Kastakos’ first advance broke and he withdrew from the Creek. His main force was assailed by a host of mounted dragonnewts, righting on demi-birds, as they crossed the Donalf Flats. Some people claimed to have counted over one thousand klanths in that host.

Now it took two days for the news of Kallyr’s death to reach Argrath in Dangerford. By that time Gudny had rejoined his King and stood ready to pursue the retreating invaders.

Dragonfriend dispatched messengers to all the kings of Sartar bearing the dire news and summoning them to Boldhome.

At the mountain city, Dragonfriend found nye two-thousands of Maniskisson’s warriors encamped around the palace. Word came that Whitebull rode for the Quivini with five thousands of his men as well.

Dragonfriend turned from the city and met Whitebull on the road. “Hail Whitebull!” he called. “Hail Dragonfriend!” was the warm reply. “We need to talk,” spake Dragonfriend as he guided Whitebull aside. The praxian nodded somberly.

Dragonfriend spoke thusly. “Our Queen lies dead, the Lunars are in disarray. Somebody needs to lead the Kingdom in these turbulent times.”

Whitebull nodded and spoke, “I give thanks to Orlanth for as loyal a friend as thou Dragonfriend. I thank you for your support.” Dragonfriend smiled at Whitebull. “I mis-spoke,” he spake, “for I am the one to sit on the throne of Sartar. I defeated the Tarsh invasion. I defeated the latest invasion.”

Whitebull replied, “We have all won glorious victories. Where would we be now if I hadn’t destroyed the imperial forces in Prax? Let us not quarrel amongst ourselves, friend.” Dragonfriend agreed, cautiously. “Let us see what the others plot, and plot they will as you well know! Then we can foil them,” was Whitebull’s suggestion.

Dragonfriend agreed again, “In these dark days we need unity to fight the Empire. Let it be as you say.” With that the two warlords rode into Boldhome to confront the other Argraths.

When they arrived at Boldhome they found another army had arrived. A host of orderly spearmen and gaily-attired knights camped with rugged wolf pirates. Sharpsword had brought four thousands of his men to lend weight to his voice.

In the palace, Dragonfriend found Venharlsson arguing with Maniskisson while Sharpsword watched from the far end of the room. The Companions frowned fearfully when they espied Maniskisson – he was wearing the accoutrements of the king.

Maniskisson turned from Venharlsson. “A Dragonfriend! My Warlord!” he boomed with a smile fit to match Eurmal.

Dragonfriend stared at him coldly. “Where were you while we fought for Sartar?”

Maniskisson brushed off the comment, like a duck would water. “Now that we are all here we need to acclaim me king!”

Dragonfriend cocked his head. “You do mean ‘elect’ you as king?” He looked about the room. “Who votes for Maniskisson? Raise your hands”. None stirred. “We don’t have time for this nonsense. We will not be able to agree on anything except the need to fight the Empire. So let us do so while we still can and sort out the rule of Sartar after we have assured ourselves that there will be a Sartar to rule.”

Whitebull nodded, Sharpsword said “I agree.” Maniskisson frowned. “Well, under my leadership we will of course win.”

As the Champion, Dragonfriend was to arrange the army. Sharpsword pledged one thousand of his best. “I cannot stray too far from my realms with the rest of them,” he explained. Whitebull pledged three thousands. Maniskisson sniffed, “I have significant force that I shall bring, and besides, my Grazers are raiding Tarsh as we speak.” Venharlsson had little force of his own but pledged to bring the fyrds of his supporting tribes.

Now, none could agree on whom was to hold command of the force so in the end it was held jointly. Sharpsword said that he would send a proxy but the proxy was to hold no command position.

Finally, the Argraths decided to leave the kingdom as it was at the time, with two exceptions. Dragonfriend became Warlord and asked Gudny to step aside as Eorl, “In the interest of harmony and the greater good of Sartar.” Gudny eagerly agreed and Maniskisson claimed the seat himself.

[1] Sky-clad means naked.
[2] A name for Humakt

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April 16, 2001

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