The Saga of the Gwandorlings
Our saga needs turn
to Wintertop where the Companions arrived ahead of the first valindi
storm of the season. As the winter winds screamed and the snow shrouded
the sky, Dragonfriend claimed guest right from Maniskisson and had
it granted with great glee.
god! This is worse than dwarves!"
Dragonfriend, about Maniskisson's boasting
Now, it seems
that Wyrmquill had found some scrap of lore about a missing piece
of the regalia of the Emperor of Dara Happa. Before Argrath departed,
Wyrmquill spake of a heortling warlord, Harangot by name, who had
been a War Captain of Arkat's. While Arkat turned his troll armies
on Dorastor and crushed the Deceiver, Harangot fought north and
conquered the Dara Happans. After that, Harangot collected vast
tributes from the Empire and the Heortlings grew wealthy.
Well it came
to pass that the Solar Empire rebelled and treacherously attacked
Harangot in the citadel of Raibanth. Now Harangot was a hero of
Orlanth and gathering his companions, much booty and pieces of the
imperial regalia about him, he flew from the city and was never
to travel to Orlanth's hall and speak with Harangot hoping to find
And so we find
the Companions in Wintertop where Argrath had decided to conduct
his rituals and pass over to the God Time on Orlanth's High Holy
feasted Dragonfriend well and treated the Companions to a reading
from "My Glories as Argrath", Maniskisson's newly commissioned
gathered in the temple on the holy day. Gudny stood in the center
of a storm rune formed by Argrath, Sigmund, Kamoar and Lothar. Also
joining the quest was Doryl Safepath, Gudny's Issaries Pathguide,
Nestin Hollowdancer, Von Heartstopper, Wyrmquill and Stonehead-Ureg.
was a great troll and one of Argrath's bodyguards. He was the most
perceptive and sharpest eyed of the Stormdragon's Shadows but was
a little slow of thought, even for a great troll.
With the support
of the congregation and Argrath's warband Gudny easily led the band
into the Hero Plane. Their souls joined the winds about Kerofin
and blew off into the Storm Realm. They passed over the endless
forests and passed through Adin's Gap and came to rest on the threshold
of Orlanth's Hall.
them in and jostled his way to a long table. He filled his horn
with Minlinster's Inspiration, mead, and set to boasting about his
battles with the Evil Emperor. He counted the warriors of Yelmalio
that he had slain. He numbered the years he fought with Hengal the
Second Son. He named the Lunar champions he had slain and gloated
over the widows he had created. Soon the he had a cheering gathering
about him as Orlanthi champions from all ages toasted his accomplishments.
And then Orlanth's
voice rolled across the room. "You are truly a fine son of
mine," spake the Adventurer and he beckoned Argrath to his
high chair. "You have done many mighty deeds and earned great
honour among us. But I sense that you are not here merely to boast
of your prowess. What brings you to my hall?"
of his desire to speak with Harangot, "a mighty champion who
drinks among the warriors here."
"I know not this Harangot." He raised his voice and called
to the room, "Know any of you this Harangot that Argrath seeks?"
A chorus of no's came back. Then a man asked, "Dost thou mean
Harangot the Bull-biter from Brolia?" No, replied Argrath.
"How about Harangot the Sailor from the Kodigvari?" No,
spake Argrath. "What about Harangot of Raibanth?" cried
a voice from the back of the hall. "Aye," spake Argrath,
"that is the one."
now," cried Orlanth. "Tell us of Harangot of Raibanth."
And so the champion came forth and spoke of Harangot. Much that
he said was told in this saga already. The teller was Broad-Bord
the Axeman and he had fought with Harangot in the siege of Yuthuppa.
keep poor news," he said. "Harangot never made it to this
fine hall." Broad-Bord told how the Solars had unleashed the
hounds of hell to chase Harangot after he fled from Raibanth. He
went onto speak of the chase up the Oslir and how the hounds had
dragged Harangot back to Hellgate. "His soul must be trapped
within," he concluded.
atop the nearest table. "Hear me, this is my oath!"
An oath!" cried the crowd.
fare into Hellgate and free Harangot from the Jagrekriandi or die
trying!" The room erupted in applause.
at Argrath and pointed to one of the doors along the side of the
hall. "You will need to use that door to get to Hellgate,"
he intoned. "But the boar has arrived, eat and drink."
And the Companions did.
have been elsewhere that night for the Companions awoke without
difficulty in the morning.
Now the doorway
was dark and emanated dark power. "You stand before the passage
to Orlanth's Ring," spake Wyrmquill. It must be in the Underworld
now, which is where Hellgate's foundations rest. "I recommend
against this journey as it is fraught with danger. None have tread
this hero path ."
Passing through the doorway, the Companions found themselves on
an eternal plain. Black broken rock stretched to the horizon. Two
monoliths stood to each side of them, hard, cold, black rock. The
sky was grey, dark and forbidding. The stars feeble for they were
the Dead stars. Directly overhead was Orlanth's Ring on its passage
through the Underworld. The air was still, dead and it was hard
to see much further than one's spear tip.
about and pointed straight ahead, our goal lies there. Doryl agreed
with the King.
grated Stonehead-Ureg. "Boss! Stuff coming." "Stuff
that eat uz," he replied to Argrath's question.
With that, the
Companions could hear thundering footfalls and leapt into the air.
A host of Jakhars, guardians of the Underworld roared up and shouted
their impotence at the flying thanes.
Now a Jakhar
was a horrible sight, each was over eight feet tall with four arms,
each wielding a wicked blade, and a prehensile tail. There were
seven-score of them.
flew off over the plain but could not outpace the demons. Sigmund
stopped and began to smash at them with Little Weighty. One fell,
then two, a dozen and then a score. When eight and thirty lay dead
the rest fled.
landed and continued their journey.
As they fared
over the plain they found themselves following a faint trail through
the shattered rocks. They came upon a bunch of humans trudging along
the road towards them. All could see that these were nothing more
than souls, lost souls.
them and asked who they were and where they were going. They sighed
at the first question. "No where, and everywhere," they
replied to second. "We are trapped and cannot leave unless
we are released." They no longer remembered who they had been
or where they had come from.
his swords, "I can release you from this world and usher you
on your way." The souls cheered and swarmed about the Deathlord
clamouring for release. Lothar turned to Argrath. "We need
to find Hellgate," spake Gudny. "Tell us the way and he
will release you," spake Argrath. The souls told them to find
the Light of the Underworld. "No enough," replied Argrath.
"Remain on this road and you will find it. And we will each
gift our Releaser."
and Lothar turned Severance upon them and slaughtered them all.
As each died they dropped a small black crystal upon the ground,
a piece of their soul's energy. Lothat took them up and put all
twenty of them into his pouch.
continued down the road and soon found themselves on a rise overlooking
a small town. The buildings were all grey or black. In the centre
of the settlement stood a small citadel. A few lights in the tower
glowed with light and music drifted through the still air.
avoid this place," spoke Argrath for they had decided nothing
was going to be friendly down there. They finally decided to seek
directions from one of the inhabitants that could be seen walking
The first person
that they found bared wicked fangs at them before growling something
unintelligible when Argrath asked for the town's name. Doryl called
upon the Goldentongue and understanding dawned. The town was called
the Town of Light. Argrath asked after the tower and learned that
it was the Light of the Underworld.
the tower and spied a sign over the door. It shifted and flowed
before resolving into Sartari letters that named the tower. A large
warrior, eight feet in height stood before the door, his eyes glowing
red behind his helm. "None shall pass but those that pay in
blood - for blood sustains us. Who is your champion and how many
Lothar on the shoulder. "Yon Deathlord is mine champion and
we will require 10 rooms."
clapped his hands and a wizened old man appeared before them. "Take
them through the side door for they are yet to become guests of
the Light. Their champion will stand in the Pit," he finished
with a snarl.
The old man
limped through a side door and beckoned the Companions to follow.
They found themselves on the lip of a fighting pit, the sand stained
black with blood. "Send forth the challenger!" came the
cry from the crowd. Lothar strode down the ramp and strutted to
the centre of the arena. A great multi-armed figure slithered towards
him - with the body of a slug. He turned and looked at the old man,
"You want me to kill it?" The man replied that he must
if they wished to become guests of the inn.
and drew his blades. He chanted his death song and raced across
the sands in a whirlwind of iron-edged death. He leapt through the
air and landed upon the slug's chest. He struck with both blades.
Death passed through creature's helm, pierced its eye and passed
on to stand a hand's breath from the back of its skull. Severance
fell full upon the carapaced neck and passed on through the armour,
cutting sinew and bone leaving the head free of its body. The slug
fell down then with its death wounds.
With that the
Companions were welcomed as guests of the inn, the Light of the
Underworld. They were led into the common room and introduced to
Frandor Blacklord, the inn-keeper.
a huge figure, a black-skinned demon-man with oiled muscles and
red eyes. The bar was packed with people from every place and every
time. "The first drink is on the house," Frandor said.
"After that you pay in blood." Argrath replied that what
he really wanted was information. "You hear that Venden!"
laughed Frandor to a friend, "He wants information."
was a head, sitting in a saucer of beer. "Did you hear the
one about the headless body?" asked Venden. No, replied the
Companions. "Oh, okay."
for directions to Hellgate. He told them he sought a friend who
was within the fortress. "Are you Jagrekriandi," asked
Venden. "No", said Argrath. "We are going there to
you now," replied Venden. "Who are you seeking?"
Harangot, replied Argrath. "You sure you're not shargashi?"
Argrath scowled at the head. "I killed more shargashi than
you have ever seen!" "I hardly think that 's likely,"
replied Venden. "Ya see; I was in Harangot's warband."
And so it passed
that Venden told his tale of woe. He spoke of how Harangot had been
prepared for the solar soldiers but hadn't been ready for the Shazdoring
demons that the Alkothi unleashed. "We took the Girdle of Strength
when we left, and that was the part of the Regalia from Alkoth."
He went on to describe the frantic flight with the demons on their
trail. "We split up when we reached Sylila and I don't' know
where Harangot went." Venden told them that when Harangot joined
them in Saird he had hidden the plunder. "We were caught and
taken back to Earthgate. They tortured us seeking to find the regalia
but we wouldn't tell them. They cut my head off and threw it into
the river. Luckily my family has long known the secret of how to
live without your body - a secret with limited usefulness let me
Venden said that Earthgate is what the people of the Underworld
call the Hellgate, "because it is the gate to the Earth."
to free Venden's body when they freed Harangot and so allow them
both to pass into the Storm Realm.
It was about
then that several of Sir Ethilrist's knights came across the Companions
in the inn. The first that the Companions knew of that was when
several pieces of sharp iron flew by their heads and smashed the
bottles on the back wall. The knights quickly died under the well
used blades of the Companions - Frandor slew several on his own.
at Frandor, "does their blood pay for some food?" Frandor
smiled at him. "You were attacked in my establishment while
under my hospitality. You will eat and stay for free as long as
you want." When Argrath made it known that he was leaving right
then Frandor made him a chit. "Present that at the door anytime
you wish and you will get free access to the Light of the Underworld."
head under Von's arm, the Companions returned to their journey.
And so the Companions
fared further down their road, directed by Frandor. Venden was a
ceaseless talker - probably the result of several centuries with
no body. Stonehead-Ureg came to an abrupt halt and cocked an ear.
"Boss," he grated. "Stuff come. Many stuff."
Argrath asked him what kind of creature and would they want to eat
us. "Don't know. Many stuff."
With that the
measured tramp of thousands of feet came to them through the ground.
A great column of trolls came towards them on the road. As the column
neared the Companions were awed to see thousands of Mistress trolls
 marching across the Underworld.
Good eating!" said the leader. Gudny stepped forth and named
himself and Argrath Trollfriend. The leading troll squinted at them,
"Trollfriend? Prove it." Argrath nudged Ureg, "Tell
I dunno." Argrath addressed the
mistress before him. "I am Argrath Trollfriend. I march into
battled with the Stormdragon's Shadows, ten of Cragspider's best
great trolls. Cragspider is my patron." The troll scowled at
him, "The Fire Bitch?" "Yes the Fire Witch,"
replied Argrath. "Where you go'n?" Hellgate, spake Gudny.
"Oh, you not come back then."
With that the
trolls resumed their march. It took several hours for the column
to pass the Companions.
Some time later
the earth began to shake and undulate like the water in a lake.
The Companions again took to the air. A giant earth serpent burst
from the ground below them and snapped at their heels. Sigmund hurled
a thunderstone at it to no avail. The serpent belched a gout of
black ichor and Stonehead-Ureg gained his death then.
steady on his breath and hurled Little Weighty at the serpent. A
snake flinched and blood flowed at the thunderstone tore into a
vast coil. Another fountain of ichor flew at Wyrmquill. The sage
quite luckily avoided the stream. Sigmund wound up again and ran
at the snake. He released a mighty shout and hurled Little Weighty.
The thunderstone smote the snake between the eyes and crushed its
skull. The mighty serpent was still writhing in its death throes
when the Companions flew over the horizon.
It was then
that the Companions came upon a dead forest, its trees petrified,
across the road. They head a sad and poignant song from among the
bare trunks and sought its source.
They found a
grey elf sitting in a clearing. It greeted them well, but with no
enthusiasm. Argrath returned its greetings thusly, "Why do
you sit here crying Greyone?" The elf replied that he sorrowed
over the death of the forest. He told them that he was trapped here
and could not be released. He explained that the forest had been
Yelm's underworld forest and grown and thrived under his light.
"But my forest will never see Yelm's light again." He
then asked the Companions if they were from Above. "Aye,"
replied Argrath. "Would you take these seeds and plant them
under the light of Yelm," he asked. Argrath agreed to do so
and the Companions resumed their journey.
We needs now
tell what the Companions found when they reached Hellgate. This
was Shargash's fortress. His castle. It was a giant stone tower
that reached all the way to the roof of the Underworld. The tower
was surrounded in mountains of slag and garbage. Chutes uncountable
discharged a constant stream of refuse and a sickening red light
glowed from thousands of windows and openings.
them that he could feel his body and that it was high up in the
fortress so the Companions flew as high as they could up the side
of the tower. As they neared the roof of the Underworld they passed
into the tower through a small archway.
They then wandered
through endless tunnels and covered in ash and bone. Guttering torches
made from human tallow lit their way. The entire building reverberated
to the beat of Shargah's drum. Demons and other creatures were everywhere
shovelling ash from place to place. The companions could see that
new life and souls were being born from the refuse of the old.
Most of the
denizens of that hive ignored the Companions. Those that didn't
were easily avoided in the maze of corridors. Venden guided them
to and fro, ever closer to his body.
stood outside the cells of Torturous Abandon. "These are the
suffer cells of Jagrekriand where he seeks to gain that which he
cannot find. My body and that of Harangot lie within."
And so the Companions
burst into Shargash's torture cells and did battle with the demons
a pinioned crocodile daemon. His lightning sword crackled and he
dealt a twenty-foot shazdoring his death right there. Kamoar rolled
under a rack of nails and his claws passed through the abdomen of
a smaller demon. So hard was Argrath's spear trust that he took
several moments to pull his battle-shaft from the wall in which
it had pinned a mewling demon. Gudny thundered about the room. He
axe Babeestor clove a demon's arm off and the shazdoring fell down
dead on the spot.
were very careful not to free any of the other inhabitants of the
room while they released Harangot and Venden reattached his head
to his body.
With the rolling
of the alarm drums the Companions fled the cells. They fought their
way up the tower and finally reached the bottom of the Great Shaft.
High above their spied a spot of light and new this to be the way
And so the Companions
flew up the Great Shaft of Hellgate. It took them nye on two weeks
to fly through the thickness of the Earth. They had to constantly
dodge falling objects, armies, villages, towns, mountains, as they
flew through that twenty-mile wide shaft. They faced very little
opposition as the passing demons were so surprised to see anything
flying up the shaft.
As they stood
on the lip of the shaft, they saw that they were in the Solar Realm
during the Great Darkness. Two massive columns reached into the
air on either side of the shaft - when they looked high above, the
realised that they were in fact Shargash's legs. The mighty god
stood far above with his red crown on his head - a red orb, like
a planet. The destroyer was reaching out and throwing things down
When last the
Companions saw him there was an entire elf forest in his grasp.
And so the Companions
returned Haragnot and Venden to Orlanth's hall. The dawn-age heroes
thanked them mightily and Harangot offered to aide the Companions
if they needed. He taught them how to call him.
Harangot about the regalia taken from Raibanth. Harangot told them
how he had a hidden world in the Autumn Mountains  and had concealed
his treasures there. He spoke of using that pocket world all through
the Gbaji wars and told Argrath how to find it and open it.
by hoping that his descendants would aid the Companions as the Companions
had aided him.
was worried because the Companions were about to set out on an experimental
 Mistress trolls are extremely rare in the current times. They
are god-like in their power and to see ONE is a once-in-a-lifetime
 In Aggar.
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