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The Saga of the Gwandorlings - 59

"Who's your king!
Who's your king!
Who's your king!"

Earth/1628

Argrath Dragonlord remained in Boldhome that summer with high esteem.

Bronwyn brought tales of Tarsh when he visited in Fire Season. He saw Fazzur die and put rest to the rumours of his escape. He spake of a restless countryside and cities under martial law. The old regiments seethed while the new lunar regiments guarded the streets. It seemed that Harvar Ironfist had the only mobile forces in the kingdom.

Kallyr named her regiments the Free Army and summoned godi from across Sartar to join her Free Philosophers magical regiment. Orgovalt formed a regiment in Argrath's name and named them the Headhunters; they could fight as light horsemen or form the shield wall afoot.

Maniskisson fought several small battles and large skirmishes with Harvar as he withdrew into the Bush Range. Late in the season Harvar turned his host to the north and encamped outside Furthest.

Kallyr summoned Osmod of the Dinacoli to the King's Thing in Sea Season 1629 to face charges of treason.

We needs relate the deeds of Gudny Stormchaser in Fire Season. Now Gudny was a trusted companion of Argrath's and a renown godi. Among the Culbrea tribe Gudny was known as a mighty warrior, respected speaker and canny negotiator.

Now there was at that time a clan within the Culbrea called the Marthiording. They were feuding with another Culbrea clan called the Varnding. The feud had been going on for nye two centuries, ever since Gwithord GreyOwl saw in a vision that the Marthiording were to own the Mole Fields. It should be mentioned that the Varnding then lived there and had been living there since they first came to Dragon Pass. And so it came to pass that the Marthioding attacked the Varndings and drove them from the land with much bloodshed.

So Gudny went into Varndingland and offered to negotiate a settlement to the long-standing feud. Kjart Gellir was chief of the Varndings. "I would agree to any settlement you would care to suggest, but it is pointless. The Marthiordings will never agree." Gudny nodded and passed over to Marthiordingland. He bade good-day to Bolli Ridge-Dancer, chief of the clan. He made the same offer to Bolli and received the same response. Over the next several days Gudny convinced both chiefs to split the Mole Fields and arbitrated on where that split would be. The chiefs accepted Gudny's demarcation and swore to abide by the Mole Field Treaty.

Gudny gained great acclaim in the tribe for his wisdom and perseverance.

Our tales needs now turn to Wintertop where the Argrath Council was to meet with Onjur Fazzursson.

Wintertop was an old city, built in the time of the EWF, that was perched on a shoulder high on the side of Kero Fin. It had walls higher than six men and spires that reached high into the air. On three sides the city glared out over sheer cliff faces. On the fourth, the city's back, reared the main spine of Kero Fin herself.

Argrath and his Companions flew into Wintertop atop their sky-bulls.

Argrath sate upon Viga-Holstein, his sky-bull, and wore a shirt and pants of fine green silk from Dragon's Rest. He was girded round with dragon-scale armour and wore a high, gold-chased, iron helm. Ormsword hung from his hip while the Spear of Vingkot was clasped tightly in his fist. Around his neck was the Iron Torque, the sign of the Warlord of Sartar. His appearance brought him great respect among the locals.

Sigmund rode Crashing, an evil tempered sky-bull with a red hide. He wore a brilliantly dyed blue shirt with silken pants. He wore tightly laced boots and a western-style iron helm - a gift from the St Taurox Church in Hendrikiland. He also wore dragon-scale armour and clenched a Vingkotling spear in his right fist. He carried a gold-faced shield in his left hand and had tossed his intricately embroidered cloak over his massive shoulders.

Lothar did not have a bull of his own and so rode behind Argrath's bodythegn Von. He leapt to his feet when the bull touched down and stood close beside his king. Lothar wore a dark grey tunic under his dragon-scale byrnie. His hands rested lightly upon the hilts of his twined iron blades. He had set the skull of a tusker over his helm and stared about the courtyard through the preserved jaw. The bristled boar's hide hung over his shoulders like a heavy cloak.

Gudny set down on Brunjarl, his massive brown sky-bull. He wore a simple white tunic under the byrnie Turn Spear though his arms were heavy with gold bands. The blade Humakt hung from his rune-carved belt and the shield Arran hung from his saddle. He held the javelins Lightning in his left hand and tossed his heavy wolf-pelt cloak over his shoulder.

Kamoar set down upon Thunder-Hooves, his spirited young bull. He alone wore no finery for he cared little for his physical appearance. He was wrapped around in his Hound's Pelt and was hung all over with fetishes and charms. He clasped Heart's Thew, his father's hunting spear, in his left hand and rested his right upon his alynx Shadow Weaver.

Behind the Companions were four-score of Argrath's warbanders.

Maniskisson greeted Dragonfriend well - in his way. Maniskisson guested the Companions in his palace and toured Dragonfriend around his city. He showed Dragonfriend the new barracks and stables where the Bush Children and the Yarandros Chargers abode. He showed them the newly expanded hospital, overflowing with wounded from the recent battles. They met thanes from the Iristaros, Hendarii, Marantaros and Mitchuinn tribes.

As they walked, they talked. Maniskisson spoke of his campaigns and named himself "the Great General." Dragonfriend snorted and asked who had been winning the battles in Sartar. "Of course," replied Maniskisson. "Like Elmal, you are loyally guarding my homeland while I, like Orlanth, do the important work of harrying the enemy. It will not be long now, Kallyr cannot stand with the real men. Soon, I will have my throne back."

Dragonfriend greeted Freidar Fazzursson and spoke his condolences over the death of Fazzur. "Thank you for your thoughts, though I am sure you are eager to meet with my brother."

With that, Maniskisson turned towards his palace. "The rest of the council awaits," he said. In the hall Dragonfriend found the Argrath Council, excepting Kallyr who claimed to be busy elsewhere. Sharpsword greeted him coolly. Whitebull greeted him with his typical warmth. "Sorry I've been not been around. I have settled my troubles," he said. With that Whitebull pulled Jaldon's head out of a sack at his side and patted it happily.

Maniskisson called the meeting to order. "Can I take this opportunity to introduce our new brother," he waved at Onjur Fazzursson sitting next to him, "Argrath Fazzursson!" Whitebull scowled and replied that the council needed to discuss any new members. Dragonfriend asked Onjur what his plans were and how he thought to claim a seat on the council. Onjur spake well of his desire to free all Heortlings from the Empire. He told of the wide support he had among the Tarshites and said that if he could combine it with the other Argraths they could defeat the hosts arrayed against them.

"That is a noble cause," spake Dragonfriend. "I raise no opposition to his taking a seat on this council." Sharpsword muttered about Argrath the Vanchite and Argrath the Argarri then reluctantly gave his ascent. Whitebull agreed as well.

Dragonfriend asked after the Council's plans. They decided to harry Tarsh and continue to build their forces to invade the Kingdom. Dragonfriend asked Fazzursson what he needed from the rest of them. "Shelter and arms." They then spoke of their preparations. Dragonfriend related the progress of Kallyr's Free Army. Maniskisson spoke of his plans for a new raid into the Dunstop region. Whitebull pledged increased aid now that he had pacified Pavis County and the grantlands.

Before the Council broke up, Maniskisson arranged a military review of his forces. The riders in the Yarandros Chargers and the Bush Children were greatly pleased to receive the attention of the Argrath Council.

After his return to Boldhome, Dragonfriend ordered Kamoar and Orgovalt to raid into Trader Valley around Slavewall.

Dark Season

It was about this time that Argrath turned his hand to training the Free Army and Gudny began to spend time teaching the Free Philosophers.

Now, it is said that Argrath's relationship with the Dragon's Fang was begat at this time. Though Argrath never kept it secret - that would have been secret murder - he was a king renown for not boasting of his deeds. It would appear that Argrath paid two thousands of cows for the Dragon's Fang to slay Triof the Fist.

Storm Season

Argrath remained in Boldhome through the winter working with the Free Army.

The news travelled quickly telling of Maniskisson's Great Raid. It seemed that the Sacred King had led a force of Grazers and Exiles deep into Tarsh and had nearly managed to pillage Talfort! Orgovalt led his Headhunters deep into Tarsh and rode within sight of the Reaching Moon Temple. There they battled the Reachittes - the temple's garrison - and Orgovalt cut off the arm of their commander, Kurrash Khan-Eater before his horse was slain beneath him. Kamoar's March Wardens razed several lunar plantations and brought four-score freed slaves back to Sartar - they were inducted into Kallyr's Freedman regiment.

In Sacred Time, Dragonfriend consecrated a new temple to Vingkot in Boldhome. The Erlthanthlings formed a clan and instituted hero worship of Dragonfriend as their patron deity.

1629

In the new year the coast of Maniria erupted into flame as Harrek sailed out of the south and retook his place as chief of the Wolves of the Three-Step Islands. It was said that his reavers reached as far as Seshnela. Sharpsword retained control of the pirates in the Mirrorsea but now called himself High Admiral. Interestingly, Harrek stayed out of the bay.

Our tale need now turn to the King's Thing in Sea Season. All of the kings of Sartar and most of the chiefs were there to see the Dinacoli trial. Of the Argrath's, only Dragonfriend and Venharlsson were there. Sitting as jurors were all the tribal kings of Sartar.

Kallyr's lawspeakers argued that Osmod and the Dinacoli had broken Sartar's laws and owed weregeld to the Queen. Osmod's lawspeakers spoke of the High King's responsibilities for keeping the tribes safe and the Dinacoli's guaranteed rights under Sartar's Ring.

The lawsuit droned on for a week. During that time, Whitebull came and spent much time with Kallyr, riding in the hills and supping in her palace.

The jurors found that the Dinacoli were guilty and owed weregeld to Kallyr and all those tribes hurt by their raids. The decision was sixteen to eight and the man-price was set at three thousands of cows, nye on three in ten of the tribe's entire wealth. Osmod called it shameful tribute but agreed to pay it.

It was later that week when Lothar felt the breath of Death Vale upon his sleeping face. He immediately girt himself for war and went about awakening all within Argrath's palace. When questioned he could give no reason for his unease but none doubted his sense for imminent death.

Kamoar strode onto the ramparts and peered out over the city with his alynx-like vision. He gasped in shock. Hundreds of grey forms were scaling the rock under the walls of Kallyr's palace.

The Companions took to the air with Argrath's warband and flew for the palace. Flying to meet them came a warband on a mixture of flying animals.

Argrath rode Mastakos' chariot into Kallyr's throne room and raised the alarm. Whitebull burst from her bedchambers, skyclad [1], with his sword in hand. "What is the danger Dragonfriend?" Dragonfriend told him about the climbing forms and the flying warband. Whitebull returned to Kallyr's room to gather his Queen and put on a shirt. The three leaders then ran for the walls.

The climbing forms released a ghastly howl into the night air. "Ghouls!" cursed Lothar. "Foul undeath! Humakt comes for thee!" The humakti dropped from a slyph into the open gate of the palace. A wave of ghouls surged forth. Lothar called for Hu's blessings on his swords and charged into the undead horde. His blades danced and the ghouls screamed. Within moments a pile of corpses had formed about him.

Gudny and his bloodbrother Sigmund rode to meet the riding foe. As they neared they spied Verthun Battlemood leading his Wild Hunt.

Dark clouds boiled before the charging bandits and formed into the Wild Hounds. Kamoar released his spirits to battle the Hounds. Gudny unleashed Black Cloud to join the battle.

Sigmund leapt onto his saddle and hurled Little Weighty at Verthun. The gargarthi grinned and tore open a small sack. Out of the sack a cyclone leapt forth and seized up the thunderstone carrying it off over the mountain. Verthun called to Sigmund, "Come now Hurler, let us see how you fight without your stones! Or is that stone?"

Sigmund snarled and let loose a deafening battle shout. Several riders on both sides of the battle fell from the sky stunned. Verthun shrugged and spake "Are you finished your wailing? I have heard the baying of the Wild Hunt, what is your yelping to me?" With that they came together with a flurry of blows. Sigmund's lightning blade crashed upon Verthun's shield and staggered the bandit. Verthun spun on his saddle and stabbed at Sigmund with Gargarth's Spear. That fell tip passed through the golden shield and on into Sigmund's side. Verthun leapt from his mount and landed atop Sigmund knocking him senseless.

Gudny knocked a flying llama rider from his saddle with a crash of crushing noise.

Kallyr, Whitebull and Dragonfriend raced for the walls. A door burst open and Osmod Dashing-Blade charged through with his warband. "Die harlot!" he cried. Kallyr turned to the others, "Dinacoli, Brangbane!"

We should remind our readers that Brangbane was an ancient king of the Dinacoli who had been made into a ghoul by Sartar to punish him for his foul habits. He now wandered the hills of Sartar with a host of ghouls plaguing and hating until the ghosts of those he has slain catch up to him.

The Argraths charged into battle. Whitebull left with his long axe and right with his battle blade dealing three weaponthanes their deaths right there. Kallyr struck fast with her broadspear and sent two more warriors to Ty Kora Tek. Dragonfriend used his powers of movement to hurl Osmod into the ceiling. Such was the force of his impact that the entire room was coated in gore as the traitorous king's head exploded. With the death of their king, the surviving Dinacoli warbanders fled.

Kamoar came down behind Lothar and began the summoning of Brangbane's Victims. These ghosts were said to aid people in their contests with the ghouls. Lothar continued to kill. Two score ghouls had been laid to rest by his blades when he paused. A powerful force approached, parting the hordes of undead. A massive ghoul with iron arms and armour stepped forth. His eyes glowed a cold blue and the ancient crown atop his head glowed a dull red. He bore a glowing sword and a smoking sickle.

"Death-man, meet your lord!" With that Brangbane leapt at Lothar. He swung his sword at Lothar's head and the sickle hooked evilly towards his belly. Lothar spun and blocked both blows. The king stared agape. Lothat kicked the ghoul back and struck with all the power and speed of Humakt himself. He dealt the ghoul king his death then and there and Brangbane fell to the ground in four pieces.

Every ghoul in the city fell down then for the power that had driven them was gone.

Gudny battled with a Gargarthi shaman who turned and fled when Verthun summoned his followers and flew off into the night.

We needs tell now of what Verthun did to Sigmund after he overpowered him. Now Verthun's temperament is well known to all and his many sick appetites have been amply displayed. Sigmund awoke to find Verthun acting like his god's ancient kinsman, and using the hedkoranthi like Ragnaglar would with a sick snickering as he worked.

Now this was a secret that Sigmund took to the afterlife with him. He swore a blood-vendetta upon the bandit but none ever learned the real reason for it.

Little Weighty returned shortly after Verthun flew off.

Kallyr grew wroth at this betrayal by the Dinacoli and called for a general muster to take fire and death into Dinacoliland.




[1] Skyclad - naked.

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September 13, 2001

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