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Gwandor Saga

The Saga of the Gwandorlings - 60

"I'm going after his ass!"

- Sigmund re: Verthun

Now we have to go back and tell about that which had already happened.

When Storm Season arrived, Gudny went about gathering the support of his family and followers. He studied the histories and sacrificed a storm-marked bull, an angry horse and a black ram. He painted himself in woad and bade his supporters do the same. He prayed and readied himself, sitting under a lightning-struck tree, enduring all that the winter could throw at him while wearing naught but the bright blue woad. On Brother's Day, when the first thaw came, Gudny rose up and crossed into the God Time.

Gudny arrived on the edge of the Storm Realm, surrounded by many umbroli - storm daimones. He shifted and lifted his voice, "I AM UMBROL!" he shouted. The daimones shifted and roiled about him. Gudny thrashed about and cowed them all into submission. "Aye," they replied. "You are Ohorlanth Orlanthsson, our father." Ohorlanth smiled at his children and called them from across the God Time to form a great storm. The clouds gathered and boiled across the worlds. They burst upon the Solar Realm and ignored the Emperor's disapproval. Ohorlanth laughed and danced with the umbroli as the rain fell and thunder rolled across the plains. When the golden armies gathered Ohorlanth turned his children for home. Grasping his spear tightly in his right fist, Ohorlanth sate himself under a blackened tree.

Gudny danced out of the ravaging storm and landed before his followers surrounded by a sheet of lighting and a deafening blast of thunder. In his right hand he clasped a stout spear, with a blackened shaft. The wood was deeply carved with runes of power and storm and was twisted at the top, as though warped by the intense heat of a lightning strike. The blade glowed a deep blue and flashed in response to the rolling peals of thunder in the sky overhead. The iron was warped and jagged, as though it were forged and then melted by an intense heat.

"I am Ohorlanth!" he declared and waved the Thunderbolt spear over his head [1].

There was a man named Osgrid. He was the son of Ljill of the Smord, who was the son of Kari Leaping who fought Yeuthugarathar the Impala Champion and slew him on the North Shield Ridge. Osgrid was a captain in Argrath's warband and led a score of the Dragonlord's weaponthegns. Osgrid wielded a mighty axe and was a renown rider who had once leapt the Good Canal while hewing a seven legged chaos monstrosity. Osgrid's wife, Myrdra, lay dead those last twelve years and his son stayed in Stone Storm Valley learning the way of the sword and the spear.

Immediately after the felling of Brangbane, Osgrid led his band to seize the Dinacoli manse in Boldhome. It was Osgrid who discovered the catacombs under the building and determined that the Dinacoli had been storing bodies there for some time.

Now Kallyr was wroth and her face clenched in rage. At her command, Dragonfriend sent the War Arrow out summoning the fyrds of Sartar to deal with the Dinacoli oath-breakers.

The Argrath Council met and decided upon war.

Dragonfriend summoned the March Knights and his Light Horse. He sent word for the Eagle Brown Warlocks and the Eleven Lights to travel to meet him. He brought Kamoar and Turrog Kingwolf - captain of the Wolf Runners - into his hall and spoke thusly. "The Dinacoli have broken their word and spurned Heort's Laws. Take thine warriors and harry their lands." He turned to Kamoar and said these words. "To you I give another task as well. Take thineself into Dinacoliland and find for me the Dinacoli. Bring me word of their dispositions and hiding places."

Thereupon the two captains took up their weapons and led their warbands into Dinacoliland to burn and rend.

Dragonfriend sent word of the Dinacoli rising to Orgovalt, Prince of Far Point and bade him gather his forces and strike the nithlings [2] dire blows. Orgovalt sent a message reporting that the Dinacoli had sealed Herongreen and the King's Road was blocked. He then said that he would indeed gather his forces, including the Little Shadows and Dragonfriend's foot warband and assail the Dinacoli town.

When Dragonfriend sent out the summons to war, he commanded that the fyrds gather at Jonstown. He and Kallyr rode there with the Free Army.

It took two weeks for most of the host to assemble. Kallyr had her warband, five hundreds of the fiercest vingan warriors. The Freemen and the Guildsmen regiments, each numbering eight hundreds of infantry. The Queen's Own Foot, previously named the Boldhome Foot, fully one thousand strong. There was the Thieves Arm, three hundreds of horsemen. Finally, there were the Free Philosophers, storm godyr, and the newly formed Warm Sisters, a band of one hundred earth godyr.

The tribes came in force. There were seven hundreds of the Culbrea, three hundreds of the Cincina, one thousands of the Colymar - and Queen Beti brought two hundreds of her own vingans. There were five hundreds of the Kheldon and the Balmyr. Six hundreds of the Aranwyth and four hundreds of the Balkoth and the Sambari. The Malani warded the ford at Old Top and raided the Dinacoli lands across the Creek. The Lismelder and the Loceam held their hosts at home in response to several serious raids from the Swamp.

Jolmes Wulf rode in with four hundreds of his horsemen.

Maniskisson told the council that he was leading the Exiles in to Tarsh on heavy raids. "I will do the main fighting, doing the Warlord's job for him by engaging the Empire's main host while Dragonfriend deals with this minor internal squabble". Dragonfriend retained his serene demeanour and bade Maniskisson well. Maniskisson also reported that Harvar Ironfist had shifted his army to Bagnot

Dragonfriend gathered five hundreds of his March Knights - the other hundred of them rode with Orgovalt in the north. He had one hundred of the March Light Horse. Erdhar No-Horse rode into Jonstown with two hundreds of the Firefull and eight hundreds of the Dundealos fyrd. There were the Eagle Brown Warlocks and the Eleven Lights, one hundred each of magical warriors. Turrog led four hundreds of the Wolf Runners, two hundred lean warriors and the same again of ravening wolf-brothers. Fifty and one hundred were the flying thegns with Dragonfriend. His Dragon's Shadows and other body thegns numbered fifty. Gudny led fifty storm warriors. Lothar and Garthael led fifty humakti killers. Kamoar commanded two hundreds of March Wardens, scouts, shamans and hunters.

Venharlsson flew in with five hundreds of the Storm Walkers including Norulf Hundred-fighter.

When the Council broke, Whitebull rode back into Prax and gathered his host. He came into Jonstown leading the Bollocks, four hundred riders, all mounted on white bison bulls. Behind them rode the Sword Brothers, three hundreds of humakti horsemen. He brought the Twin Spears, two hundreds of Agimori spearmen and he brought the Pavis Sun Dome Phalanx, eight hundreds of those grim faced hoplites.

Sharpsword sent word to Jonstown. With no wars of his own, he was marching into Sartar with his full force. With him came the Baron Sanuel with three hundreds of his rokari knights and the Army of Tomorrow with five hundreds of knights and one thousand of foot. Five hundreds of the Knights of Ehilm, an aeolian sect, rode with him. He marched with five hundreds of the Coralinthor Archers, one thousand of the Karse Spears and nine hundreds of the Goldgotti regiment - a privately owned formation. His own warband numbered three hundreds and he had one hundred sorcerers from Sir Narib's Company. Sixteen hundreds of Sun Dome hoplites from Sun County marched as well in his host. Sharpsword would arrive late and Dragonfriend decided not to await him.

All totalled, there would be nearly twenty thousands of troops gathered to smite the oath-breakers.

When the time came to march, Kamoar returned with word of the Dinacoli. "They are all, every last woman, goat and coward of them, huddled in Blue Boar Fort and Herongreen waiting for the dragon's claw to rout them out." It seemed that the clansmen had burned everything that they couldn't carry and retreated into their two forts. There was nothing left without.

It should be said that Kallyr had not relied entirely on force. During the muster she sent many envoys into Dinacoliland. None returned.

Dragonfriend led the Free Army north along the King's Road and passed through Dangerfort. They marched into Dinacoliland and made for Blue Boar Fort intent on siege.

Now we needs tell of Blue Boar Fort. Its origins are in the Dawn Age, though none now know who built it. It survived the coming of Gbaji and the Dragonkill. The fort surmounts the largest hill on the Dinacoli plain. Three great walls, fully twenty ells thick [3] faced with sod and a ditch deeper than two men. The final ring of walls encircled the hilltop and could ward most of the Dinacoli and their herds. Those that couldn't fit into Blue Boar had barricaded Herongreen. The eastern side of the hilltop was crowned with a citadel, the seat of the Dinacoli kings since the time of Gizur Far-Rider.

Dragonfriend had spent many a late night pondering the reduction of that imposing fortress in the least amount of time. "If we dost become tied down in a siege then Harvar will fall upon our kingdom in our absence."

And so it came to pass that the Free Army, without Sharpsword's host arrived before Blue Boar Fort. To the amazement of all, the Dinacoli stood ready for battle outside their walls.

Surprisingly, Verthun Battle-mood sate his horse with four hundreds of his followers on the Dinacoli left. Sigmund, commanding the March Knights, was quite insistent that he be had the right to battle the Gargarthi.

Dragonfriend arranged all of his best infantry so that three thousands of them would impact the twelve hundreds of the Dinacoli fyrd and trample it underfoot. His cavalry was on the right where it would sweep around the Dinacoli flank. Gudny took Dragonfriend's flying warband and Norulf with one hundred of the Storm Walkers and readied them for an assault on the fort's citadel. Venharlsson and the rest of the Storm Walkers were to battle the gargarthi in the air while the March Knights battled them on the ground.

Map: The Battle of Blue Boar Fort

Dragonfriend, learning from his experiences fighting the Empire, took his place behind the line of battle. From there he could see all that was happening and arrange for his ample reserves to be where he needed them. We needs not say what Maniskisson said when he heard of that arrangement.

The magical bands unleashed their assaults on the warbanner of Hengot Foe-Breaker, the new Dinacoli king. There was a clap of thunder and the co-ordinated chants and dances died. Several of the godyr fell over as though dead. The leaders spake to Dragonfriend of the Dinacoli's wytr being greatly empowered in some way, most likely concerted hero questing over the past year. They sensed many godyr on the keep directing the wytr and warned that there were powers among the Dinacoli host that they could not fathom. "Therein lies hero powers whose measure we cannot make."

Dragonfriend nodded curtly and pointed to his companions. Twelve blood-swans [4] raised their bronze throats and released their calls to war. The host stepped forth to bring retribution to the oath-breakers.

A rider came then and spake of Sharpsword's army being but hours behind. Dragonfriend rightly refused to stop his advance as it would have sown confusion among the troops. He was greatly concerned though that Harrek was said to be with Sharpsword.

Turrog led his Wolf Runners against the Dinacoli skirmishers. Two hundreds of the mightiest warriors in Telmoriland with their battle-hardened wolf-brothers loped, baying, towards three hundreds of the Dinacoli's children, mostly twelve and thirteen years of age, the skirmishers stood no chance. Few managed to outrun the slavering wolves.

The infantry lines crashed together and the Dinacoli recoiled. Whitebull led his Bollocks in a frontal charge into the Dinacoli vingans. Most were Red Women who had, until recently, been widows and spinsters. They broke when the earthshaking bison cavalry crashed into their ranks and ran from the field.

Verthun led one hundred of his warband into the air to fight with Venharlsson. Sigmund led his knights in a mighty charge that crashed into the remaining gargarthi.

Gudny led his band over the fort's walls. The Dinacoli god-talkers cast down a score of them before the came to blows. Three score of the warband made for the roof of the citadel and the gathered godyr there. Norulf led the rest into the courtyard. Gudny's men carried Lothar, Garthael and fifty humakti on umbroli and skybulls. All were thrust onto the roof.

Verthun met the Storm Walkers with a great crash of thunder. The Storm Walkers were smashed and scattered in confustion. Dozens of the heroes died on the spot and the March Knights were showered in gore from above. Venharlsson's head bounced off of Sigmund's gold shield. Those that could, paused to stare agast as Verthun fully manifested Gargarth and his Wild Hunt.

The battle line staggered to a startled halt as zombies and ghouls clawed at them from the ground. Kallyr worked to rally the reeling warriors. The Warm Sisters turned and commanded the earth to reclaim that which was hers.

Lothar stepped onto the topmost rampart of the keep. His blades glowed with the power of Hu. Before him stood Ellida Five-Men, a mighty godi and warrior of Yelmalio. His armour shone brilliant gold, his shield was held high and his spear sweep the wall before him. Lothar danced to the attack, Deathbringer swept that golden spear aside and Severance forced the hoplite back two steps. Lothar jumped from the rampart. Ellida growled and lunged at the humakti. Lothar held his place. He squatted down on his heals, put his shoulder to Ellida's shield and struck him once, twice and then a third time cutting both his legs and then striking off his head.

Gudny shook Thunderbolt at a man named Hall-Gyathur, a godyr of Ohorlanth, and knocked him senseless with a clap of Crushing Noise.

Now there was a man named Ullir, called the Rooted for no man had ever knocked him from his feet. Ullir was the champion of the Dinacoli tribe and the epitome of what a Yelmalian man was to be. Ullir bore so much gold on his war harness that his skin could not be seen. So bright was his shield that few could look at him in his glory. His spear was short for a yelmalian, but his reach rivalled that of an ancient oak and he once had strangled a hill bear with his left hand while holding a rok egg in his right.

Garthael stepped into Ullir and staggered back like a lamb from a rock. Ullir smiled invisibly behind his heavy helm and struck at Garthael so hard that he should have had his death right then and there. But Hu had strengthened his arms. Garthael brought his battle blade, fully five feet in length, sweeping over his shoulder in a great blow that cut through the advancing spear and fell upon that golden shield. The blade burst the shield asunder, cut through Ullir's arm and fell upon his gold tunic cleaving the champion from chine to groin and giving him his death instead.

Kamoar led the flanking charge. As he loped along with his band and the Twin Spears he espied an ancient enemy, Paedur Redgold, the outlawed chief of the Gorde and a lunar who had long ago earned the enmity of the Companions. Blood lust welled and the world went red. Nothing mattered to Kamoar then but to slay the lunar and all who rode with him. His howl of fury raised the hackles on all within hearing as his hands turned to claws and his pelt grew thick. Paedur turned his horsemen to meet the charge and rode to cleave the berserking Companion. In his blood frenzy Kamoar ignored the swinging scimitar and Paedur's blow would have fallen full upon his crown had not the Hound's Pelt batted the blow aside. With a prodigious leap Kamoar bore the outlaw from his horse. A negligent swipe of his clawed foot tore the steed's neck out and laid it out on the ground beside Paedur. The lunar tried to stab the frenzied warrior but failed. And then died as Kamoar plunged his claws through shield and iron links; cotton shirt and bloody ribs to tear out his heart and eat it. He tore off Paedur's head and used it as a flail to pummel anybody he could reach including several of his own wardens and one agimori before he regained his senses.

Then Dragonfriend demonstrated his hard won wisdom. By remaining out of the battle line he could turn the magicians to attack the Wild Hunt. Then he bravely charged into the wheeling melee in the air and rallied the Storm Walkers. Heedless of his own danger he flew right to the edge of the Hunt to defend failing Walkers.

The gargarthi left on the ground broke under Sigmund's merciless onslaught. He felled a score with Little Weighty before he drew his lightning sword and rode into them. The fleeing bandits were caught by Jolmes Wulf leading a charge in from the side.

Free of the fleeing vingans, Whitebull wheeled his bison riders into the rear of the Dinacoli fyrd and wrought havoc there.

When Norulf had landed in the courtyard he was beset by hidden warriors. Some one hundred of Harvar's personal thegns led by Triolf the Fist and two hundreds of alkothi warriors, the Servants of Immortal Justice. The fighting was fierce and bloody with many falling on both sides.

With the roof of the keep now cleared, Gudny directed Lothar to lead a score of his warriors into the keep to take it. He then gathered Garthael and the rest of his band and plunged over the rampart into the courtyard. "Triolf! Loko-man [5]! I have come for you!" he cried. Triolf laughed and leapt into the air to meet him. "Come Stormchaser, Bookburner, let us finish this finally. Shall we battle with blades or winds?" Winds, was the reply, "For this is a battle of right over wrong. Loko will never overcome the Orlanthi again!" "Good," Triolf smirked, "I'm better with my winds than my sword."

With that the two storm warriors clashed in a climatic battle. Whirlvelishes spun off, lighting flashed and thunder rolled. Triolf forced Gudny down and down again. He took a deep breath and unleashed all that he had left to finish off the Stormchaser. There was a final clap of thunder and a blinding ball of light enveloped both godyr. When the dazzle left their eyes all could see Gudny dancing the victory dance and crowing triumphantly atop an umbroli while shaking Triolf's dead body in his fist [6].

With that, Triolf's cowardly dog-diddlers flew like a flock of startled starlings. The remaining alkothi shrugged and gave themselves to their mad god. They fought to the death in a berserk rage.

Dragonfriend was still directing the magical warbands to battle the Wild Hunt. In twos and threes the magicians were falling dead at the overwhelming task of facing a manifested god.

Sigmund turned to Verthun and made to take his revenge. He hurled Little Weighty at the manifesting bandit. The thunderstone struck Gargarth in the back of the head, bounced and struck Sigmund from his horse leaving him lying broken on the battlefield [7].

As Dragonfriend despaired at defeating Verthun a great fur-clad hand fell on his shoulder.

He turned to see Harrek standing behind him looking bored. "Wotcha," the wolf pirate said. He then proceeded to complain about the lack of action, "Is this all that's left? Why did I bother coming," he asked. Dragonfriend smiled, "If thou wouldst but rid me of this minor god I would grant you plunder rights to the fortress." Harrek looked at Gargarth, "I'd a done it anyways but okay."

With a roar, Harrek charged across the field. He leapt into the air and met the Wild Hunt with a shattering concussion that stunned all upon the battlefield. The black clouds dissipated and Harrek sauntered over to Dragonfriend chewing on a horseleg. "That it?" he asked. He didn't know where Verthun had gone. "I tore out his entrails and ripped off his leg but I don't know where the body went." Despite vigorous searching, Verthun's corpse was not found and the Companions could do not but assume he escaped.

Now despite Harrek's easy manner, many believed that his fight had been nothing like easy. He sported several minor wounds and his bear cloak was torn.

And so it came to pass that the Dinacoli's host was smashed and Blue Boar Fort taken. Sharpsword arrived shortly thereafter and reported an engagement with Harvar Ironfist. It seemed that the Tarshite had marched to within a few hours of Blue Boar Fort before Sharpsword's rushing cavalry fought him in a meeting engagement on the plain. Harvar turned back shortly after that, presumably he had learned that the Dinacoli had been defeated. Harrek was angered at the news that a Black Horse Troop had crushed a band of his wolf pirates.

He asked Dragonfriend who those horsemen were and where to find them. "I am tired of dealing them," Harrek stated. "I am going to go and plunder this Muse Roost. Want to come?" he asked the Companions. "Aye," replied Gudny. "Let's talk about it after you have enjoyed your new plunder," spake Dragonfriend.

Effusive was the praise and great the glory won buy the Companions in the battle. All of the kings and chiefs paid respect to Dragonfriend's facing of Gargarth. Kallyr gave him the honour of appointing a new king for the Dinacoli, they were not to be trusted in selecting their own. Dragonfriend granted that boon - curse? - upon his champion, Garthael Flashing-blade.

Casualties among the specialised forces had been fierce. Four-score of Dragonfriend's warband lay dead. Fully one half of Lothar and Garthael's bands had joined Humakt. The Warlocks lost thirty dead while the Eleven Lights lost five and twenty. The sartari line regiments suffered five hundreds of losses. The fyrds were untouched.

After a difficult quest Yoldra Walks-the-Vale, the chief Chalana Arroy healer in Sartar managed to retrieve Venharlsson's soul and return him to life. The death sickness lay heavily upon him for a while.

Kallyr called a festival to celebrate the final settlement of all dissent in Sartar. At the festival in Boldhome she announced her marriage to Whitebull. Sharpsword was wroth and claimed that it would change the balance on the Argrath Council. He lobbied the other Argrath's to ban the wedding but got no support. He held several yelling matches with Kallyr but could sway her not.

Upon his return from Tarsh, Maniskisson announced his marriage to the Feathered Horse Queen.

Harrek spent the rest of the year in revelry. His pirates took over the Old Pocket of Boldhome.

Storm Season

Storm Season saw the double marriage of the Argraths. Immediately afterwards Maniskisson declared himself King of Dragon Pass. Kallyr was seen to be vexed at that.

It was about that time that Bronwyn returned from Tarsh. He brought word that the Emperor had vanished at some debauched rite during Sacred Time, 1628 and hadn't reappeared. There was some uncertainty in the Empire over this. He also spake of the Black Horse troops, all of them apparently, riding into Darjiin, a satrapy of the Empire under contract to the local king.

Harrek approached Dragonfriend again about raiding Muse Roost. The Companions agreed to join him.

[1] Gudny performed the Ohorlanth and Thunderbolt hero quest to learn the secret of his god.
[2] A sartari word that denotes a person with no honour.
[3] Ell = two feet.
[4] war horns.
[5] Loko, a reference to Lokomyadon. A dire insult among the Heortlings, though a very accurate assessment of Triolf's religion.
[6] It turned out Triolf had a mastery advantage over Gudny. Gudny fought on though, as he is fearless of death and was willing to pay any price for a chance to kill Triolf. In the final exchange, Triolf bid 70 AP against Gudny; Gudny rolled an 18. With a plot point it took it to a success. If Triolf rolled anything under 18 Gudny would died most messily - Triolf rolled a 19 and exploded when he forfeited 140 AP.
[7] It seemed that Verthun/Gargarth was somewhere around w8 and he didn't even notice Little Weighty. Sigmund however landed on the ground at -32 AP. Luckily his knights brought a medic to him.

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September 19, 2001

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