The Saga of the Gwandorlings
the Free Army limped back into Sartar. The fyrds returned to their
homes, the standing regiments returned to barracks and the mercenaries
marched away. Sharpsword sent most of his host down the King's Road
and then through Volsaxiland to his realm in the south.
we're in a recession?"
Council convened in their hall in the Palace. Dragonfriend sat at
the head of the table. Maniskisson sat to his right; Sharpsword
on the left; Venharlsson at the foot and Fazzurson next to Maniskisson.
As expected, Whitebull did not attend. King Harrek also declined
to join them - he was drinking heavily trying to douse the discomfort
of his wounds, wounds that the healers could not heal.
They had but
one thing to discuss: "What next."
spake of continuing the campaign in Tarsh but told of some difficulties
in that plan. "The High King did agree to pay the Poljoni one
wheel per rider per day." He paused while the others did the
mental arithmetic, "that means that the kingdom owes the horsemen
sixty and five hundreds thousand marks. The treasury has about a
tenth of that." He remarked that the situation was made worse
by half of the tribes refusing their tribute to the "Pirate
King". He asked them if they had any suggestions.
told how he had paid a bounty to Iron Hoof for the Beast Riders,
given most of his plunder to the Grazers, supported the Yarandros
Chargers and heavily supplemented the Exiles. "Harrek hasn't
paid me for this - now I know why," he spake. "I have
no gold to help Sartar."
claimed to have nothing in his treasury. "I invested heavily
in infrastructure development and grain futures. Then the junk bond
market collapsed and the luxury market dried up. I was expected
Harrek to help pay the costs of bringing my army here."
looked at them both with exasperation. "I think you are both
full of shit." He then told them both that if they were owed
money they should take it up with Harrek. Maniskisson replied that,
"As his Warlord," Dragonfriend should take it up with
Harrek and represent the council.
about hoping for funds to support his rising in Tarsh. "Without
the support of Sartar we will still throw down the King - but it
will take much longer." They all agreed that with Jareel gone
only good could come of it.
It was then
that the council doors flew open and Durak Bloodblade, boon campanion
of Harrek entered the hall. "Lords! Your King wants you to
join his party." The Argraths looked at each other and replied,
What party? Durak grinned, "A great party. He's invited the
whole town. He's got cask after cask of beer and wine and girls."
groaned, "The treasury is now empty," and obediently joined
Harrek was on
his high seat drinking like there was no tomorrow. He appeared unhappy.
"Dr'gonfrn!" he shouted. "Have a flagon! Your face
is as long as a donkey's!"
took the flagon and quietly addressed the King. "Indeed my
face is long for your kingdom is broke. There is no gold and no
silver left in the treasury."
surprised, "But I'm King! My cash is limitless. Look at the
Emperor. He never runs out of money." Dragonfriend replied
that the Empire was much larger than Sartar and had not been fighting
for its survival for several years. "Well," was Harrek's
drunken reply, "we'll have to raid for money then. That's what
I always did with my pirates, we'd just go and loot another town."
looked thoughtful for a moment, "Surprisingly that sounds like
a good idea, with one problem. You need to pay your soldiers for
the last campaign before they will go on the next one."
at him, "You'rrrr annoying. Fuck off!"
Our story now
follows Dragonfriend as he returns to his palace in Boldhome. Before
the gates a large cowled figure stepped out of the shadows and said
"Good-day". Argrath's bodythegns released their weapons
when they recognised Whitebull. "I came to visit," he
spake. "But Harrek musn't know I was here. You have a problem."
acknowledged that he did but Whitebull cut him off. "No, you
have another problem. We will speak within."
And so Dragonfriend
bade Whitebull enter and be his guest. He sate him down on at his
right hand and had bread and salt brought forth. They shared mugs
of spiced ale and spoke of this and that. Finally Whitebull spoke
of the reason for his visit. "Sartar has a problem, Peace broke
out in Prax."
had to think a moment to understand the trouble with that, "Jaldon's
been raised again!" "Aye," intoned Whitebull. The
Praxian went on to explain that somebody had managed to perform
the ritual even though the tribes were not all united and that the
entire Zola Fel was being heavily raided. "You will not see
or hear from me for a while after this as I must deal with this
trouble." He sipped from his flagon. Then he spoke of Dragonfriend's
trouble. He told how the Army of the Reborn Sands had resurfaced
and gathered several thousand warriors. They were last seen passing
the Paps headed west.
was thinking furiously, "They are moving on my Marches. They
are less than four days from Knight Fort. Why?"
and told of a secret society called Genert's Blessing, "I've
used them from time-to-time," and how they were dedicated to
reincarnating the ancient Praxian hero Tada. "The Poljoni met
with the Bison tribe who they had been warring with. They made peace.
Two days later Jaldon rose from his rest." With that, Whitebull
took his leave and returned to Pavis.
summoned his companions and champions.
He ordered the
Royal Army, now loyal to him rather than the Pirate King, to march
for Knight Fort. With them would ride his knights and the March
Light Horse. King Erdhar of the Dundealos would raise his fyrd and
command the host. "Seize Barbarian Town on your way. I would
show the Poljoni what it means to attack my holdings."
directed the Eaglebrown Warlocks to fly to Knight Fort and join
the garrison there, currently made up of militiamen from the Marches.
He flew there himself with his flying warband and his Companions.
was sent to Duke Gerrard in Mt. Passant seeking help for if the
Praxians could defeat Knight Fort then all of Hendrikiland would
be open to them. The March Barons were warned and told to make their
stood upon the Keep in Knight Fort, looked about him and was pleased.
The Fort had been besieged before, by larger hosts, and never taken
by storm. The coming host would quickly run out of food before the
walls and would then melt away.
gathered and flew out into Prax seeking to parley with the nomads.
Before long they spied the horde moving quickly across the plains.
A wind arose and buffeted the skybulls. It began to form a whirlwind
about them but Gudny turned the winds aside.
his storm-voice and called a greeting to the nomads who were a half-mile
away. "I come with my sword sheathed and my hands open in peace.
I would speak with you."
at them through his helm of farseeing and quickly counted their
numbers. He saw some 2,000 Sable riders and 500 Rhinos. There were
1000 blue-painted,shambling footmen, 1000 Basmoli and further 3000
human-looking footmen with hide shields and maces. There were 5000
Morocanths and a batch of wagon and donkey-riding men.
When the Praxians
gave no sign of hearing or caring what he had said the Companions
turned to leave. Those winds whipped up again and Argrath's skybull
got caught up in them and whipped about in the air. Argrath said
a quick prayer to Mastakos and the Running God's chariot whisked
from the host, Argrath borrowed Gudny's helm. He found a powerful
looking khan among the Sables and snatched him from his mount with
Mastakos' Chariot. With Rolf and Von holding him securely the Companions
flew to the Monkey Ruins.
Once at the
ruins Argrath spoke with the khan but received no answer. "I
wish you no harm," the King spake. "I seek only to know
why your army makes war on me. Once you have answered my questions
I will set you free."
then, I may answer." And so Argrath learned that his captive
was Murdost the Reaper, leader of the Lost Moon faction among the
Sables Riders. Murdost was an ardent Empire hater and held sway
over an eighth of the Sable Nation. "We come to take back that
which was ours and was taken by the Ancieint Ones and trapped within
your pile of stone." Upon further questioning from Argrath
Murdost told that they sought the Heart of Tada. "This is the
courage of our people. With it we can unite and retrieve the Loincloth
which will return fertility to our land."
thusly to the khan, "Were I to know what this Heart was I would
give it to you. Tell your priests, that if they can describe it
to me and I am able, I will let them enter the fort and take the
at him, "I will tell them." With that Argrath sent him
back to his people upon Mastakos' chariot.
With that the
Companions returned to Knight Fort. Argrath summoned Wyrmquill from
Cragspider's library upon another of Mastakos' chariots and sought
from him the location of the Heart. Wyrmquill went through the Fort's
history and found what he was looking for.
As we all know,
Knight Fort was built by the God Learners to protect Heortland from
the Praxians. We also know that the God Learners were reviled for
their practice of taking one people's magic and twisting it against
them. This is what they did to the Heart. The Heart had been turned
into the foundation stone of the Fort and bound to empower the defenders
against Praxians. The Heart could not be removed without destroying
long and hard about the value of making peace with the oncoming
horde or keeping his fortress. He finally decided that making peace
with this horde would not help him against the next horde and the
people of the March would feel betrayed were he to leave them open
to the nomads. "We fight," was his decision.
Gudny flew to
the Block where he knew several Fury Jarls one of which, Rark Ironbear,
owed the Stormlord service. Rark was pleased to see Gudny and made
to throw a great party in his honour. Gudny accepted his hospitality
but spake that he was on a mission of great urgency. He gifted the
Uroxi richly and the Fury Jarl became very serious, very fast. "My
King, Argrath of the Marches, would have your help defending his
people from the Army of the Reborn Sands." Rark agreed to ride
to Barbarian Town and join Erdhar's host with seven score riders.
Gudny thanked him for his help and gifted him again. Gudny gained
great honour among the maniacs there with his obvious wealth and
Rark then spoke
of the Reborn Sands and he knew quite a bit about them. "Borron
Stone-Breaker leads them. He is of the Rhino Nation and is said
to be able to incarnate the Rhino Founder. That would make him the
most powerful Rhino hero in several centuries." Gudny grimaced.
Rark continued, "Borron is said to have a Great Horn of Cornucopia
and his entire life has been surrounded by prophesy." Rark
spoke of Dukarek the Lone Eagle, the First Shaman of the Wandering
Band, the focus of the society. He spoke of Gepir Hardfur leading
the Morocanths. He described the Morocanth herdwarriors, herdmen
trained to fight. "They don't fight well but they will trap
your spear by dying on it." He then identified the shambling
men as part of the Cannibal Cult - maniacs who ate their fallen
foes to gain their powers.
When he had
finished his description Gudny thanked him for the information and
returned to Knight Fort. Rark led his riders off before nightfall.
That night Wyrmquill
spoke with Argrath about the Heart. He thought that it was also
possible to use the Heart to attack Praxians rather than wait for
them to attack the fort. He didn't now how to do it yet but was
working on it. "These histories are written in Old Seshnelan
and I am not practiced at that tongue. You should have some wizards
in here looking at these tomes." Argrath made a mental note
to bring some in later.
It was about
then that a dehori, a spirit of the Darkness, brought word to Argrath
that his patron Cragspider wished to speak with him. "My mistress
has a boon to ask," hissed the spirit. It was not necessary
for the spirit to remind Argrath of the many favours he owed the
And so Argrath
strode along Mastakos' path. He jumped to the top of Sjorscliff
Mtn. Placed his right foot on Quivin Mtn, his left next to the Chalkman
and skipped into Cragspider's Library. He was ushered into the Fire
Witch's hall and greeted her well.
straight to the point. "I thank you for retrieving my ancient
husband's talisman from the Wastes. With it he and I have conceived
a child. I need you to place my child where it can grow properly."
Argrath asked where that would be. "My child must be reared
in the Underworld and we have decided to use the Giant's method.
Two days ago a large floe broke off from the Great Glacier and now
floats on the Ocean. You will take my baby to it and deliver it
into the hands of its kin. The floe will then sail down Magasta's
Pool." Argrath stared at her thoughtfully and then asked how
large her baby was. "Twenty human feet. You own a shipyard
in the Only Old One's city of Nochet, sail my child to the floe.
I understand you have some nagging difficulty in one of your lands.
I will give a few days to resolve it before you take my child."
returned to Knight Fort Kamoar had news from Bronwyn to relay. It
appeared that the Imperial army had withdrawn from Tarsh in some
haste. News had reached Bronwyn of Pentan nomads overrunning the
Satrapy of Oraya and that the ancient land of Rinliddi had declared
its independence from the Empire. The vast majority of the warriors
from the Reaching Moon Temple in Tarsh had ridden north to battle
the nomads. All of the Provincial Army troops rode with them except
for Harvar's host.
spake of growing troubles within the Tarsh Royal Army; several regiments
were openly supporting Fazzursson and many of the rest were of questionable
had moved to Bagnot where he could ward the Kingdom from attack.
He left three troops of the Black Horse Troop in Slave Wall to guard
the road from Alone and sent a force of engineers to fortify Dendrogi
Pass. He then started to build a military road from Bagnot through
the Coffer Hills to link up with Trader Valley.
The Tarsh King
made it known that he wanted to make Harvar a Phagentite but the
Phargentites refused - several were imprisoned over the matter.
what he had learned from Rark.
in satisfaction. "Let us see what we can do about that Horn
of Borron's." With that the King gathered his Companions again
and flew to the Monkey Ruin. He took out the monkey paw given to
him by Kettle Blackfur so long ago and bent one of the fingers over.
"I wish that the Great Horn of Cornucopia would be stolen and
lost to the Army of Reborn Sands." With that the King returned
to Knight Fort.
the news that much of the Fort's supplies had gone missing. Voydag
screamed at her husband when her jewellery was stolen. A good third
of the stockpiled arrows had also vanished.
his humakti to questioning all within the keep. He set his Knowing
Men to viewing the past. The humakti found that all were loyal.
The Knowing Men found that flocks of raven spirits were assailing
the fortress. They were fouling the well, stealing the food and
leaving droppings on Argrath's bed.
to Wyrmquill and asked about the fortress' magical defences and
why they were not blocking the ravens. Wyrmquill blinked and screamed
in delight. "We had wondered what that blessed was for. Now
we know." The sage ran off and soon the spirits were barred
from the fort.
Word came from
the north where King Erdhar had besieged Barbarian Town. He had
defeated two clans of the Poljoni and drove off the Krise warband.
He was preparing an assault on the rickety walls.
That was the
day that the Praxians arrived before Knight Fort and laid their
siege. All told, there were about ten thousands of them.
As night fell
over the fort, the defenders spied the Morocanths beginning a great
his thunderstones into the enemy host until they withdrew beyond
his range. Argrath used his powers of Movement to augment the range
of the castle's catapults. Kamoar slipped over the wall to stalk
the enemy camp like a vengeful spirit.
We needs tell
what the Morocanths got up to with their ritual. As it progressed
the darkness grew thicker and solider. When the Companions realised
what was happening it was too late.
solidified and formed a vast ramp up to the ramparts. 3000 screaming
herdwarriors swarmed up that ramp. Hundreds of bows sang as one
and arrows fell sleeting in to the charging mass. The ballistae
snapped and the catapults thudded and still the horde came on.
his warband, the Third Thunder, around him. With their support he
attempted to summon a great hailstorm and blast the attackers off
of the ramp. A countering magic rose from the Morcanths and battled
with his. The Calming Air overcame Gudny's Ohorlanth storm and stilled
all of the winds in the area.
crashed into the defenders atop the wall and the fighting was terrible.
The attackers knew no fear and cared nothing for their lives. They
were content to thrust themselves upon a defender's sword to allow
their companions to kill him. They died in the dozens and then scores
but they were pushing their way onto the wall. The Basmoli berserkers
climbed the ramp behind the herdmen and crashed into the defenders.
The Cannibal cult began collecting bodies and carrying them back
into their camp.
and shifted his prayers. If his foe was going to still his storm
then Gudny would simply remove his foe's breath. Joined now by Sigmund
the two slew hundreds of herdmen by snatching their breath from
the Eagle Brown Warlocks to counter the ramp and they began their
gained the ramparts and the fighting again grew fierce.
In the midst
of the enemy camp a crimson glow grew up. The wagons could be seen
encircling a group of magicians. Sigmund smashed a wagon with Little
Weighty and all could see the band of priests around an altar of
some sort. A red cloud formed over a section of rampart and the
defenders scream in madness before running about in panic tearing
at their faces. As the cloud moved along the wall more and more
defenders fled from before it. The Basmoli reached the courtyard
but were hemmed in by the Argrath's cavalry.
And then the
We needs tell
of Kamoar's adventures that night. He stalked the enemy camp killing
a man here and another there. He lamed an entire Sable clan's mounts
but left them standing behind him. He followed the red glow, properly
recognising the magic as lunar. He snarled his hate when he saw
the Red School of Masks arrayed about their high priest chanting
over an open book. Kamoar stroked his Alynx tattoo and burst into
the circle of priests. The high priest spun around and thrust his
glowing staff out to smite the shaman upon the chest. When that
sickly red glow struck Kamoar's spirits, the staff burst in slivers
of burning wood. Kamoar leapt over the sprawling priest, grabbed
the book and scurried off into the darkness with a scream of malicious
That red cloud
did not bother the defenders again.
With the entire
Morocanth host turned to stifling his magic, Gudny took up his sword
and shield and charged into the melee atop the ramparts with Sigmund
at his side.
It was Gudny
drawing their attention that allowed the Eagle Browns to finally
dismiss that black ramp and break the assault.
trapped within the fort surrendered and were led to a dungeon under
the keep. The Chalana Arroy healers from the temple rushed about
healing who they could.
them to greater efforts for nye upon half of his eight hundred defenders
lay wounded or dead upon the walls. Fully two thousands of the herdwarriors
had fallen and several hundreds of the Basmoli with them but the
Fort had held.
Kamoar returned to the fort and gave Argrath the book he had taken.
Argrath gave it to Wyrmquill who looked it over.
Argrath that he thought that this was "the Book of Dale"
written by a mad sorcerer some time ago. "It is said that this
book will augment any magician, of any tradition, who reads it and
uses it as a talisman when he summons his powers."
impressed and gifted it to the Eagle Browns. "Use it well,"
As Elmal lifted
his torch into the sky the defenders could see a great disturbance
in the Praxian camp. Warriors raced about seeking something. Scouts
scattered across the valley and hills. Argrath smiled coldly, "What
think thou my Companions. Hast our foe lost a Great Horn?"
The Companions smiled back, "Aye."
the better part of the morning enchanting a pile of catapult stone
to make them into thunderstones. Argrath used his movement blessings
to enhance the range of several catapults and soon exploding stones
were falling within the enemy's camp.
the enemy gathered, outside the enhanced range, and began another
ritual. As the defenders watched one of the Rhino tribes' mounts
began to pulse with earthly magic and then grew to an earth-shattering
height of 30 feet at the shoulder. A giant of a man, fully 10 feet
tall, leapt atop the rhino - Borron had incarnated the Rhino Founder.
a thunderstone. He swung around twice, hopped and threw the stone
with a great shout. The giant rhino swung its horn around and batted
the rock from the air ignoring the explosion. There was an uneasy
muttering along the walls.
lifted his spear over his head, it shuddered and spat in his hands
like a living bar of lightning. Gudny opinioned that Borron was
using Lightning Boy as his weapon. With a shout, Borron charged
towards the barbican.
Gudny stood behind Sigmund and poured their magic into the Hurler.
Sigmund took a firm grasp on another thunderstone and hurled it
with another great shout. With a resounding crash the stone struck
Borron on the brow and rocked him in his saddle. Borron cried in
anger and hurled Lightning Boy at Sigmund. The Hurler threw Little
Weighty at the spirit-spear.
There was a
flash and an explosion. Everyone on the field and in the Fort were
blasted from their feet. There was an earthquake. Little Weighty
blew up. Lightning Boy blew up. The barbican was blasted off of
its foundation and landed in the dry-moat. The giant Rhino was thrown
thirty ells. There were cracks in the walls of Knight Fort. When
the dust settled there was a twenty-foot crater before the barbican.
Erdhar later reported that they heard the explosion at Barbarian
It took two
hours before anybody could hear anything and several days before
the ringing would go away. Those closest to the blast were permanently
his warband and set about augmenting his Vadrudi deva, Black Cloud.
They could see that the Praxians had recovered from the blast and
were doing the same with the rhino.
Borron was striding
through his host readying them for another attack when horns sounded
from the hills around the Fort. Ranks of glittering spears and lances
appeared over the hilltops and dropped horizontal as the knights
of Mt. Passant charged into the nomad horde, smashing them against
the fort. The Praxians scattered across the plain. The siege was
We needs not
take up our tale at Sacred Time.
by the Telmori and the loss of Barbarian Town convinced the Poljoni
to settle a peace accord with Dragonfriend. They agreed to take
fifty thousands in silver, in instalments, to cover the debt owed
demanded, the King came before the people of Boldhome and re-lit
the Flame of Sartar - barely. The flame flickered and most people
couldn't see it.
King Harrek called for the Argrath Council to attend him. Once again,
Whitebull did not come.
Once all of
the Argraths were gathered in his hall, Harrek had this to say:
"This King thing isn't going too well. I don't like it anymore."
To that, Sharpsword
said, "I should hope not, you suck at it!"
you for that!" spate the King.
quick in reply, "No you wont. You are half crippled and can
barely walk. You may have been able to kill me once but not now."
well," spake Harrek, "I'm bored of this place. I think
that I'm going to leave." Sharpsword urged him to do just that
for "were it not for your having saved us in several battles
I'd kill you myself, now." Harrek scowled but Sharpsword wasn't
done. "Were ye to leave now I'd let you live."
nodded his agreement, as did Dragonfriend.
"Well, like I said, I'm bored. I'm out of here." He tossed
a key to Dragonfriend, "Here is the key to my office. There's
a bunch of paperwork in there that I never bothered doing."
With that Harrek
limped from the hall. In the coming days he gathered his Wolf Pirates
and made for the coast.
Now we needs
tell what Dragonfriend found when he checked Harrek's office. At
the mention of paperwork the other Argrath's made themselves very
scarce and Dragonfriend was left alone to handle it. Argrath found
a room, thirty paces by twenty, that was piled to the ceiling with
gold, silver and gems. On a table near the door was a note, "Use
it and abuse it as you would. I will return."
very careful to conceal the treasure's existence from the rest of
the Kingdom. Using Mastakos' road he transferred it all to Stone
was running at 7w4 with the augment from Gudny and Argrath. Little
Weighty gave him a bump and he spent a plot point for a total of
7w6. Borron unleashed Lightning Boy who had a might of 15w5 and
also spent a plot point. He bid 100AP in his attack on Sigmund and
rolled an 18. The GM expected his prime NPC to get smashed. Sigmund
rolled a 20. Rather than kill everybody in both armies with the
AP losses, the GM ruled that the hero-weapons had destroyed each
<< Previous | Part 64| Next