The Saga of the Gwandorlings
When Harrek came
back to the Council he brought two of his companions with him. Gunda,
called The Guilty, was a warrior woman from the far west. She was
one of his Captains of Battle leading the left wing flotillas. Keener
Than was a strange, skinny man. He stood as tall as Dragonfriend and
his grip was as strong as Sigmund's. He wore western clothing. Now,
it happened that Keener Than has once served Sir Ethilrist as his
Keeper of the Hound.
got him for 50% off!"
Argrath re. Ethilrist
sure Harrek will be reasonable"
of Harrek's plan to plunder Muse Roost. "This plan is reckless
and dangerous," she said. "It leaves us open to attack
and retribution." With that, she forbid any of the Free Army
to aid in the expedition.
exclaimed Harrek. "Who else is coming?"
told the Council that he was going. Maniskisson said that he was
going and that the Luminous Stallion King had agreed to send help
as well. "I have convinced him to allow us passage." Whitebull
claimed not to have any troops available though it was more likely
that he did not wish to go against the wishes of Kallyr. Venharlsson
declined to leave Old Wind.
in the corner, had spent the entire conference eyeing Whitebull.
"Bull-boy," she sneered. "What say you and I go somewhere
and find out if you're hung like your name."
fuck," Gunda retorted. "Don't worry," she said when
Whitebull glanced at Kallyr in dismay, "the red-haired bitch
can join in. Might be fun!"
uproariously on seeing the expression on Kallyr's face. "Let's
have a bitch fight!"
commented on the inappropriate comments and how they didn't have
time to be fighting among themselves. "That's why I should
be the king," he said to general disinterest.
unhuh," grunted Harrek. Whitebull and Kallyr stormed from the
room. Gunda smiled at the room, "I'll get him in bed, don't
And so the raiding
party rode from Boldhome and fared down the King's Road to Duck
Point. They crossed the Stream and then the Creek-Stream and climbed
over the Ten Ridges. In Richpost they met with the Grazer King.
Now there was
a man, Orgol Yavorsson who was a Wind Lord of Yavor Thunderous.
Orgol lead five-score huscarls called the Yavori, or the Lightning
Spears, and harried the Lunar occupiers with the best of them. His
name was known across the Pass and Tatius the Bright was said to
have offered five-hundred cows and land in Tarsh for his capture.
hundred raiders crossed the Dragonspine through Beladrin Pass. Dragonfriend
rode with three hundreds. Harrek rode with five hundreds of his
wolf pirates. Orgol rode with his Yavori. Maniskisson had three
hundreds of his warbanders. The Grazer king rode with five hundreds
of his warband and the mustered strength of four clans - two thousands
of grazer horse warriors. Keener Than rode with his own band of
some fifty warriors of all races.
As they rode
or camped on the journey, Keener Than told his tale. His Sartari
was very rough but his tale was easily understood. Keener Than has
been a slave, entrusted with the care and training of Ethilrist's
hound until he escaped. He claimed to have served the Count for
over seven-score and ten years. He told about his time in Hell with
Ethilrist and how they had found, battled and tamed the Hound of
Zeral. He spoke of his time as a wizard in Ethilrist's Order of
Damnation - many of Argrath's warband cringed at the close proximity
of a meldek . Finally, said so casually that many missed it,
he said that the Hound would obey him over anybody else, including
and the raid leaders reviewed what they knew of the Black Horse
Troop. There were fifty-five hundreds of them under arms. The Companions
had received news that Ethilrist has ridden into the Empire with
six of the seven horse troops to fight for the Satrap of Darjiin.
Keener Than estimated that there would twenty-five hundreds left
in the County.
then described Muse Roost itself. He told how it had walls forty
feet tall and stood atop deep catacombs leading into the Underworld.
It had all of the modern, western, defences including bastions,
portcullises and murder holes. He told how the castle had taken
ten years to complete and was built to be impregnable.
we going to get in then?" whined Maniskisson. Keener Than replied
that he had a key.
of this, the listeners determined that Keener Than harboured a raging
hatred for Ethilrist.
rode by, playing keep away with a flask of Dinacoli summer wine,
and ensured that everybody knew the gold, gems and silver in the
castle were his. He had no interest in any other plunder from the
As the raiders
neared the borders of Black Horse County Harrek called a halt and
gathered the captains and kings to him. He told them that the gatehouse
of the city needed to be seized by a small band that then needed
to hold it until the rest of the raiders could arrive. It would
be a difficult task for the gatehouse was a mighty fortress and
well garrisoned by the hardy foot soldiers of Ethilrist's army.
Dragonfriend suggested hiding a small band in a hay wagon and approaching
the gate that way. He then volunteered his Companions for the task.
At the border
of the County, those with god's eyes could see the interlocking
sorcerous wards that Ethilrist's wizards had spent eighty years
weaving over all. Dragonfriend sent Kamoar and his killers into
the nearest village to defile the church and the altar and thus
break the border wards without setting them off. Kamoar successfully
avoided the wardings and entered the village breaking the meldek's
rode up, Kamoar had the inhabitants lined up in the square in front
of their church. There were two hundreds of them and the village
wizard stood trembling in fear and anger. His name was Artarox and
he refused to help when Argrath threatened his flock and then his
very soul. "You foreign demons are intrinsically dishonourable
and you will kill us all either way." After Artarox was drowned
in night soil, Maniskisson declared that he would take the villagers
as one of his shares in the raid's booty. His exiles, obviously
experienced at it, quickly bound the dazed villages and a score
of his warriors led the coffle back into the Grazelands.
adopted the priest's mantle while twenty of his men dressed as peasants.
The Companions and fifty of Argrath's weaponthanes hid in the village's
hay wagons. When all was ready, Keener Than led the convoy out of
the village and down the track to Muse Roost.
It should be
said that the guards before the city gates were much like guards
anywhere. If you looked and acted like you belonged somewhere then
they will generally ignore the fact that you really shouldn't be
there. The guards were kneeling before a lowly village priest, kissing
his ring of office, before they had a chance to wonder why he was
leading a convoy of hay wagons into the keep in the middle of the
As the massive
gates swung open Keener Than chanted harshly and jerked his hand
towards the guards; both fell down on the spot and choked to death.
The Companions shouted in victory and stormed the gate keep. The
towering fortress, five-score feet in height, was quickly secured,
its garrison slain in the sleep or slaughtered unarmoured in the
an umbroli to him and sent it to Harrek bearing the news of their
success but the people of Muse Roost were no strangers to war or
courage and the city quickly awoke with the clangour of arms. Soon,
the Companions could see movement in the square before the keep
and the great stone building Keener Than named the Cathedral of
the Atroxic Church. Dozens of robed figures gathered to it, defended
by the mustering of the only Black Horse Troop in the city. All
could feel the gathering magic within the Cathedral and the stone
streets, with their tightly packed western houses, disgorged into
the square a growing force of Atroxic soldiers armed with halberd
and fitted with fine mail.
And so it was
that a knight rode forth on a massive demon charger. "Surrender
in the name of Sir Ethilrist! You have no chance of survival otherwise."
Argrath made a curt reply, "no," and the knight rode away
followed by the jeers of the warband.
Before the cathedral,
which was much like the ones the Companions had seen in Nochet and
Jansholm, the priests and acolytes began building a large bonfire.
They stood around it and chanted in their foul language. A fiery
figure began to form in the flames.
a salamander," spake Gudny. "Aid me with my magic."
With that the storm lord threw off his clothes and stood sky-clad
in the centre of the roof. The Companions and their followers gathered
about and joined Gudny in his ritual to summon a rainstorm. The
priests below showed no sign of having noticed the gathering storm
magic until the clouds burst and Ohorlanth's rains crashed down
upon them. Their fire flickered and the chant wavered. Then they
recovered and the fires surged skyward once more before Gudny scattered
them with a sizzling thunderbolt and snuffed the elemental with
the torrential rainfall.
smiled approvingly. "That was well done." He went on to
say how that had only been the cathedral's first effort. "There
were only three-score liturgists around the fire. Another two-hundreds
should gather within the hour."
passed and then the very air about the raiders shuddered and a feeling
of despair nagged at their hearts. "It happens," spake
Keener Than. "They open Hell's Gate. The Hound comes."
And then it
was there before them.
The Hound reminded
the Companions of the fighting dogs of Tarsh, the pit bulls. It
stood taller than five men at the shoulder and was five and twenty
ells in length.
The Hound passed
through the town. Any building that was in its way was crushed and
any citizen that it spied was eaten. The arrows and magics of the
Companions had no effect on this demon. With a small leap the hound
reached the battlements of the gate-tower. It held to the side of
the stone-walls and stuck its head over the top - the Companions
prepared to die.
then surprised one and all within that city's walls. Keener Than
smiled and stepped up before the Hound. He spoke to it and patted
its nose. The Hound shifted and sniffed the man. It licked Keener
Than and then flipped its head about and one floppy ear ended up
inside out. The mighty tail wagged and several houses collapsed
from the casual blows. Keener Than climbed onto its nose and spoke
to it again. He pointed at the cathedral and then jumped back onto
To the horror
of the watching Atroxi, the hound leapt from the tower and charged
into the Cathedral. Screams came from within, the stained glass
shattered and wizards were spied leaping from the windows.
smiled happily and related this, "I told my puppy to shit on
their altar." The gathered raiders felt a surge in magic within
the temple and then nothing. Keener Than opinioned that the Hound
had been forced back into Hell.
At that point,
the gathered host of Muse Roost made its way through secondary gates
and passed down the road leading back the way the Companions had
come. Within an hour the shattered host returned with Harrek in
pursuit. The Companions felt odd to be grateful for the appearance
of Harrek but with his presence the Atroxi abandoned hope of defending
the city and evacuated, leaving it to the mercies of the raiders.
And so Harrek
and the other raiders plundered Muse Roost. When they left the next
day, they had one hundred and fifty wagons in tow and many slaves.
Harrek took for himself all of the gold and silver and the gems
that were to be found. Maniskisson and the Grazers took for themselves
the slaves. Dragonfriend took the scrolls, tomes and artefacts from
Ethilrist's deepest vaults. Long was the Plunder of the Roost remembered
by the skalds of Dragon Pass for Ethilrist had horded much for many
years and had received great bounty for his mercenary wars. The
Companions gained great honour from the telling of their tale and
great wealth to gift their followers with.
all spake of Ethilrist's imminent return and that the Atroxic Church
would have its vengeance.
called his greatest Sage, Wyrmquil, to him in Boldhome and showed
him the artefacts gained from the raid. "Much of this is strange
to me," he replied. He gathered it up and told Argrath that
he would investigate what secrets were locked within.
him interrupted carousing with his pirates and Boldhome shook with
passed with great rituals to strengthen the kingdom lead by good
Queen Kallyr and her loyal Argraths.
In Sea Season
there came a man to Boldhome, named Sir Treth of the Valley. Treth
was a knight in the Black Horse Troop and was clad from foot to
crown in black armour that seemed to churn under the sun - some
sort of hell metal. With him were nine riders and a liturgist of
the Black Horse Order. Sir Treth had come with "words for the
the knight well and brought him into his hall. Treth said "Good-day"
but refused to sit or accept guesting. "My lord desirest his
book, that thee hast taken from him and would speak with you about
it." Argrath agreed to meet with Ethilrist and it was decided
that they would speak before the gates of Glasswall. Wyrmquill indeed
noted that the Companions had taken the multiple volumes of Ethilrists
history of the Black Horse Troop during their plundering. The hero
had been working on it for centuries and counted it as his most
And so it came
to be that the rains of late Sea Season found Argrath sitting in
his booth with Ethilrist on his right and his Companions sitting
in his left. The count's Hell Riders, seven of the most potent wizard-knights
of his Order of Damnation, sat to his right.
Agrath and the
count negotiated over the return of his book. Argrath's sages had
already copied much that was useful from the cumbersome tome and
the Dragonfriend had no compunction over returning it, "But
thou must make it worth mine time," he told Ethilrist. Ethilrist
replied thusly, "When mine contract with the Emperor expires
I will offer you the right of first refusal for my services."
Argrath asked when the contract was to expire and learned that a
further score of years remained. Argrath replied that he respected
Ethilrist's unwillingness to break his contract but spake, "that
is not enough." He went on to demand a concession on the contract
terms, "I will pay one in two of your normal fee." Ethilrist
replied correctly but said that was impossible. "Perhaps three
in four." Argrath was a canny man and though he was wealthy
- perhaps wealthier than Kallyr herself, he was as frugal as the
Druish. "One in two for three years and then full price after
that." Ethilrist agreed and replied, "now thou hast only
to live these next score of years to collect on your deal-making!"
After the knights
departed Argrath spoke with Wyrmquill again. The sage was verily
dancing with glee. Much of the plunder was very ancient and many
of the artefacts held great power.
his friend Kazokang of the Sazdorf. The troll trader bade him "Good-day"
and they spoke of this and that and generally traded news of the
world. Gudny sought after any need the trolls had that Argrath could
supply in return for military aid but Kazokang spake that they were
doing well and needed nothing more. He reminded Gudny that the Sazdorf
had never interfered in Sartari matters and that his queen had no
intention of beginning.
found the Argraths gathered again in Boldhome. Kallyr spake her
desire for the kingdom to take war into Tarsh. Dragonfriend agreed
that this was the time to do so. Fazzursson told how his people
were ready to rise against the king. "Harvar has the only mobile
forces as the royal troops are busy holding the people down."
Dragonfriend reminded the council of the supplies he had been collecting
over the last year to feed the army.
at a banquet in Kallyr's palace, Gunda got roaring drunk. She staggered
up to Kallyr and her husband and grabbed Whitebull by the crotch.
Kallyr flew into a rage and struck her across the face. Gunda drew
her knife and the two warrior-women danced Humakt's dance. There
was a flash of arms and Kallyr straightened from her crouch. Gunda
stared at her in shock as her life's blood ran in a torrent from
her slashed throat. Kallyr waited for the corpse to hit the floor
before cutting of the head and kicking it into the fire. Dragonfriend
tried to catch the head first but only managed to gather the charred
spake Whitebull. Kallyr looked about the room, "This is my
problem. All of you stay out of it." A roaring erupted from
afar, like a drunken bear. There came a crunching noise like cracking
stone from outside the doors of the palace hall. She turned to Whitebull
and Dragonfriend, "Stay out of this. I will die if I have to
but neither of you needs perish for me."
With that, Harrek
came through the doors, literally. He spied Gunda's body on the
floor and her burnt head in Dragonfriend's hands and demanded to
know what had happened.
replied that Gunda had moved on her man and that Kallyr had killed
her in a knife fight. Harrek replied thusly, "That isn't funny."
He turned and then spun around decapitating the queen. He crushed
her skull between his fists and tore her heart from her chest. "Now
that was funny!" he declared.
berserk in grief. He tried to wrestle with Harrek and then drew
his sword. He smote the Bear and stared in shock when his blade
bent from the blow.
backhanded him across the room and the ruler of Prax fell brokenly
to the floor. He turned to Dragonfriend and directed that he accompany
him. Harrek strode from the hall and out of the palace. He stopped
before Sartar's Flame. He squeezed her heart into the roaring fire,
which burst to the heavens like a beacon of ire and declared that
he was the new King of Sartar. Dragonfriend gaped and protested.
"You have a problem with me as king?" Argrath replied
that he did not but that being King involved much tedious work and
toil and wouldn't Harrek much prefer to carouse in the bars? He
spoke of the boredom of the throne and the duty involved, "Thou
hast become the protector and law-bringer for the cottars and the
thanes." Harrek yawned and tapped his foot as Argrath went
on. When he grew tired of those sage words of advice he cuffed Argrath
across the face and then strode the twenty paces to where the Dragonlord
had landed. "Anything more?" Argrath wisely kept his council
The Wolf Pirates
proceeded to plunder Boldhome and slay the allies and friends of
Kallyr who made protest at her death and anyone else who happened
to be in the path of their drunken fury. Gunda was well loved among
their hard-bitten crews and they cared nothing for the people they
had caroused with but hours before. Harrek eventually stopped the
fighting when Dragonfriend pointed out that his men were destroying
the property of his kingdom.
but not dead, spent several weeks in his palace being nursed by
the healers. Dragonfriend made his way to his friend's sickbed and
Whitebull spake thusly, "I am faring to my old home in Pavis.
I don't want to be near him when vengeance is a dream. It is up
to you to watch over Sartar but I will hear your call should you
only comment was that Harrek would eventually get bored and leave.
Kallyr's death elicited a shrug from him.
of Kallyr's followers joined Dragonfriend's warband. For the most
part, her Vingans returned to the Kheldon.
that it was "Good to be King" and called for celebration
at his taking the throne. The tribal Kings, knowing of his reputation,
acceded to his demands and gave their reluctant loyalty.
It came to pass
that when he sobered up, he summoned his "Loyal Lords",
the Argraths to his hall. Harrek sat slouching on his high seat.
He gnawed on some nameless piece of meat. He told them that Kallyr
had missed the news. He waved a message at them and told how Kallyr
appeared to have an extensive network of contacts in the Empire.
These contacts had sent tales of woe to the queen. It seemed that
the imperial demoness, JarEel the Razoress, had raised a host on
her own initiative and was faring to Sartar with many thousands
of spears. Harrek was greatly pleased by this turn of events as
it would relieve the impending boredom. He turned to Dragonfriend,
"Yer the warlord right?" Dragonfriend stated that he was.
"Git me a big army to watch while I kick this lunar bitch's
ass." He took another bite out of his haunch and looked around
at the Argraths. "I'm finished with you. Fuck off!"
gathered in Dragonfriend's palace and spoke of the future. Venharlsson
reaffirmed his loyalty to the kingdom. Maniskisson complained. "I
should have been the king," he stated. Dragonfriend suggested
that he could fight Harrek for the throne but the coward claimed
that he'd never do anything that base, "Fight a barbarian?"
approached Whitebull, the lord of Prax refused to send any troops,
not even to help his friend. "I hope JarEel slays him though
I fear Sartar's fate if that were to happen, for none of us can
stand against her." He wished them all luck though. Dragonfriend
asked Whitebull to consider the good of Sartar and to send troops
to help the kingdom, not the king. Whitebull agreed that he would
think on the matter.
the Argraths again and stated that he was tired of fighting in the
hills and wanted to take the army into Tarsh. "We'll kill that
Harvar bastard and rape the lunar bitch!"
 Meldek - Heortling word for a wizard or sorcerer.
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