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Gwandor Saga



The Saga of the Gwandorlings - 70

 


"What the hell is she doing?"

- Argrath regarding Voydag

Fire Season/1632

Come Fire Season, Dragonfriend received another Argrath Directive from the High King.

Directive for 1632 (Fire Season Onwards)
As dictated by Argrath Son of Maniski, High King of Dragon Pass, Prince of Sartar, Protector of the Grazelands, Champion of the Pol Joni, Liberator of Tarsh, Esrolia Victor, Moonberg Breaker, Wolfslayer, Beastfriend and servant of Orlanth.

This year will see the solidification of our position in Tarsh thanks to the efforts of our loyal subjects in the Holy Country and to sterling work elsewhere. 1634 will be the year we liberate all of Tarsh and all aspects of our efforts this year must be to bolster our forces, supplies and skills to that end.

All reports from the Empire indicate that it is in a state of extreme internal disorder that seems likely to intensify in the following year. Sources in Holay have observed the Imperial army in Filichet is readying to march and given the lack of supplies being prepared in Tarsh, we can reasonably assume that they will be heading north along the Daughter's Road or down the Oslir to the Heartlands.

To aid in our efforts next year, agents in our employ have ventured deep into the northlands and have made contact with the Norguntay Confederation of the Pentan nomads currently encamped in Garsting. Thanks to common ancestry with our own allies, the Grazers, the Norguntay, a Pure Horse People, have agreed to action against the empire. Significant fiscal resources were allocated to persuading them to this task, for though friendly, even garrulous with our embassy, these are a hard people who care little for sentiment. They have promised, with oaths of blood, to invade the Empire, south of the Imther Mountains by Storm Season of this year with some 10,000 riders.

A political offensive has also been initiated against Imperial support in Holay and Aggar. Contact with Holay and Aggar will be facilitated with the fall of Tarsh but we must make all efforts to isolate the Lunars from any support the other provinces can give. The Sword of Sartar is therefore ordered to prepare a mission to Aggar, using the contacts available to Duke Wulf and his family. We understand that the Sheath of the Sword [1] has already been active in Holay and we commend and further promote her efforts.

While these events are unfolding, we must redouble our preparations in Tarsh. The Sword will organise a training regimen to bolster our forces and will assign the yearly 400 replacements mustering in Boldhome to the regiments in the Free Army. Whitebull, Sharpsword and Fazzursson are all adding forces to their contingents. Esrolia has already earmarked much of its surplus to our war effort for the coming year and depots for supplies should be set up, as well as secure lines of communication through the Dragonspine.

Should Tarsh forces attempt an offensive or should Harvar's army march against us, the rapid concentration of our dispersed elements is to be carried out along a suitable line of retreat until operational envelopment can be achieved.

We trust that these directives will be carried out with the utmost haste and alacrity.

Argrath Maniskisson

Argrath Maniskisson
High King


And so it was that Dragonfriend gathered his Companions about him once again. They spoke of the directive and discussed how best to supply the Free Army in Tarsh. They finally decided to build a road across the Dragonspine at Dragon Pass. It would pass down the Feyghost River until it was navigable where they would establish a landing. Supplies for the host would pass up and down the Creek-Stream from Sartar and Esrolia.

He turned to Gudny, Kamoar and Garthael and spoke thusly, "I would that you busked to Wulfsland and spoke with the Duke." They were to find what they could from Jomes and then hurry themselves into Aggar where they would speak with the highlanders and learn their minds. The three nodded and went to make their preparations.

Dragonfriend turned to Lothar and Sigmund. "Thou art to accompany me whilst we speak with the Beastfolk along the Feyghost of our plans. Then we are bound to the dragonewt city, called Ghosts Around, where we will seek their aid in our endeavours.

With that Argrath mounted his horse and rode for Duck Point. Tull the Staunch bore his banner. Lothar and Sigmund rode at his sides along with Von and Rulf. Ten of the Alone Knights and ten of the Storm Dragon Guards rode with him. At Duck Point they took to rafts, guided by Druluz, and sailed up the Feyghost River. When the barge could not safely go further they stopped.

Now they found themselves on the tula of the Trickle Falls clan, a clan of Centaurs. They waited a short while and near upon five score centaurs came forth led by their chief Urath Windmane. Urath was a massive centaur, standing over sixteen hands high. He greeted Argrath well and offered him guesting. Argrath bade the chief "Good day" and accepted guesting.

Urath's village needs now be described for the centaurs live a simpler life than the men in Sartar do. They had no herders, for they were vegetarians, and they had no smiths for they did not work metal. To Argrath's eye, the village appeared ramshackle. There was no palisade, nor a great hall. In the centaurs' huts, there were no seats for centaurs had no use for them. The Companions had to stand or sit on the rush-covered floor.

In Urath's hut, Argrath gifted the chieftain richly and praised him most high for he had recognised the centaur as one that had fought well at the Battle of Heroes. Urath thanked Argrath for his gifts and words. They spoke of this and that and then Argrath spake of why he had come to visit the Centaurs. Argrath spoke of the wars against the Empire and the need for a road across Dragon Pass. He told Urath that he would like to build a road through the Trickle Falls tula and the next two tulas up the river. He would also like to set up trading agreements with those three clans for food and fodder and finally would like to make arrangements for the Centaurs to police the road. Urath thought for a time and then spake thusly, "Thy road would be on mine people's land and would greatly disrupt our way of life. Those on the road would be subject to our law while they were on our land and they would not be permitted to move more than fifty paces from the road." Argrath agreed to those terms. Urath said that he would send for the other two chieftains and present Argrath's wishes to them with his endorsement.

The next day the two chiefs came. They were Borea Blackhoof and Tobal Goodlance. Uralf feasted one and all in his hut. The other two chiefs quickly agreed to the terms that Urath and Argrath had discussed. Then they spoke of the price that the High King Maniskisson would pay for his roadway. The centaurs started high and Argrath negotiated ruthlessly. In the end he pledged to pay ten suits of metal armour and barding to each clan. Each suit was to be specifically crafted for use by centaurs. Each clan would also get one iron suit. Urath's clan would get an additional ten sets of bronze armour as the new landing would be in his tula. Each clan would gain a further two suits of armour every year in tribute for the use of the land.

Then Urath spake these words, "We would that you paid afore you started building thy road even though thy work may lie unfinished in the future." Argrath asked why the work wouldn't be finished. "The Feyghost Wilds are haunted and no man may enter them with impunity." Argrath smiled and replied, "I know of these ghosts and they worry me not."

With that Argrath rode further up the Feyghost River. They passed the Wild Temple and entered the dragonewt huntlands about Ghosts Around. There was within Ghosts Around a dragonewt priest called Speaks-With-Dreams who was the leader of that city. It was with Speaks-With-Dreams that Argrath met. They spoke briefly of the Cosmic Dragon and of the dragonewts that Argrath had found in Ralios. Then Speaks-With-Dreams addressed the Companions, "We knew that you would come. We know why you have come. We know what you wish to ask. Our answers are yes, you may build your road; yes, we will provide fodder; yes, we will ward your road from the ghosts; and there is nothing that we wish in return. You may go now."

Our tale needs now turn to the other Companions, Gudny, Kamoar and Garthael, who had ridden for Wulfsland. Ten of Gudny's Third Thunder warband rode with them and ten of Kamoar's Wardens loped along with their chief. They busked over the Dragonspine, rested at Aldachur, rode east on the Tarsh Road to Heron Green and then turned south and east. They fared through Dinacoliland and entered Wulfsland.

With the addition of Dinacoliland to his holdings, Jomes now had some fifteen thousands of people in his lands. Wulf Fort was now a small town with more than eight hundreds living there. Wulf's Heavy Horse had nearly been brought up to full strength after the heavy casualties it has suffered.

The Companions were greeted well at the main gate, and when they reached Jomes' keep he was waiting to greet them himself. He bade them all "Good day" and ushered them into his sitting room. "The Hall is too drafty and formal for friends such as you," he said. He bade the Companions be comfortable and summoned food to share with them. Then he turned to Gudny and spoke of needing a favour from the godi. "I would that you initiated me into the ways of Orlanth." Gudny agreed straight away and said that it would be done in Storm Season. "Then we shall sit together then and I shall tell you of Alakoring."

We should mention now that up until this time Duke Wulf had worshipped the Provincial Church of the Seven Mothers.

With that out of the way and each man holding a brimming mead horn, Jomes spoke of his homeland, Aggar. He told how the northern Aggari followed the ways of the ancient Vingkotling Winter tribes while the southern Aggari clove to those of Alakoring. "Though the King be a Lunar, many among the southern hills still sacrifice to Orlanth." He went on to tell how the Lunars did not have a tight hold on the highlanders. "The High King," he said, "is more concerned with gathering the Empire's bounty to himself than he is crushing the Orlanthings." Jomes spoke then of the Telmori tribes south of Angry Lake - tribes that he had grown up fighting. "I hast been here in Sartar for more years than I care to recount, but I still have family in the highlands and I correspond with them and other people." With that, he spoke of troubles among the Sun Dome temples. "Turmoil," he spake, "a heroquester has gone among the temples stirring up trouble." [2]

Then Jomes said that "the highlanders are a boisterous bunch and little enamoured with empires. The Alakorings are very individualistic. All they need to throw off the Lunars is for an Alakoring hero to arise and yell - Follow me!"

Gudny asked Jomes of the City of Ten-Thousand Magicians. Jomes said that once ten thousand magicians had passed through the gates the city was fated to be destroyed. "They refuse to let any magician within the city walls unless he be a member of their council." Later, Bronwyn spoke of a dragon that had allowed the city to be built on his head during the EWF period. "Once a certain amount of magical energy has gathered the dragon will eat it - and the city - and return to his rest," he said.

And so the Companions parted ways with the Duke and rode for Aggar. They carried gifts from Argrath and from Jomes for his family. They rode through the Uitaros tribes north of the Hydra Mountains and were greeted well at every hall they encountered for their fame and honour was such that all the tribesmen knew of them. They passed south of Holay and entered the Billiz hills about Angry Lake. There they encountered the Tarkaling People.

And so it was in the middle of Fire Season when the Companions came to the hall of King Leikan of the Vandaros Tribe. The King was a regal man, tall of body but thin of arm. The Vandaros were one tribe among the Tarkalings and numbered some ten thousands of highlanders. The King had the companions brought directly to him in his hall and he greeted them well though subdued. The hall was richly furnished and showed much Imperial influence. Gudny stepped forth and spake thusly, "Hail King Leikan of the Vandaros, kin of our own Duke Jomes Wulf." King Leikan returned Gudny's greetings and bade them welcome.

There was then in Aggar a man, Sangor Redsword by name, who was the High King Rassius One-Eye's Champion. Sangor was a mighty warrior and a powerful devotee of Yanafal the Ram. He spent much of his time in the highlands seeking Orlanthi and killing them.

It so happened that Sangor was guesting with King Leikan when the Companions came there. Gudny assured the king that he would respect all of the laws of hospitality. King Leikan assured Gudny that Sangor would be leaving shortly. Before anymore could be said, Sangor swaggered into the hall. He looked at Gudny with his tattoos and runes and smiled. "Thou are a follower of a proscribed god," he said. "Thou art outlaw and criminal." Gudny replied that he was no outlaw in any land and was accounted a thane in his home. Sangor laughed and said that no criminal that worshipped Orlanth could be anything but an outlaw. Gudny replied that he did not in fact worship Orlanth but was a follower of Ohorlanth but Sangor would have none of that, "Orlanth, Ohorlanth, both are proscribed. Is not Doburdan the Loyal Storm?" Gudny pointed out that the King had granted guesting to them both and that Sangor had no place disrupting Alakoring's laws. Then the champion turned to King Leikan and spoke harshly to him, "Harbouring an outlaw is also a crime against the High King's laws. Come the morrow I will take this outlaw back to Eneal with me and he will be tried. You would do well not to interfere." With that he turned and left the hall.

Gudny gave his apologies to King Leikan for causing him this trouble and offered to leave to avoid it. The king replied that he had granted guest-right to the Companions and that naught would make him lift it. Gudny replied then that he would challenge Sangor's interpretation of the law through Trial-by-Combat and that Garthael would be his champion. With that King Leikan called his people to feast and sat Gudny on his right on the High Seat. He sat Kamoar on his left and Garthael to his left. Then he told Gudny that he would summon the other Tarkaling Kings to meet with him.

A little later Sangor entered the hall and spoke thusly, "I hear that you would challenge the law. May I be the last person that ignores the High King's laws, unlike some in this hall, I will meet you in the morning and we will fight. I assume that you will have a champion?" When Gudny named Garthael as his champion Sangor sneared, "Grim man, prepare to learn something in the morrow and then to take my greetings to your ignorant god."

Now in the morrow, when the moon was at half, most of the tribe had gathered to watch the Champions Duel. Garthael had spent much of the night preparing his dark magics and he wore his hero light proudly. His muscles bulged and he moved with a grim grace that betold his skill. His battle-blade glowed hotly in his fists. Sangor strode from the king's hall and smiled at the suddenly quiet crowd. Sangor's helm glowed red and ethereal horns curled tightly on his temples. His sword, a straight and narrow blade glowed malevolently with the moon's poisonous magic.

Sangor saluted Garthael with a curious gesture and settled into a defensive stance with one arm behind his back. Garthael smiled behind his helm and spoke thusly, "Hark, do I hear thy bedboy crying in his room? Surely it is thou art a boy-lover." Sangor continued to smile and replied that at least he was getting some. Garthael shrugged and watched Sangor for some further time and then attacked. Sangor hurled his hidden throwing knife at the humakti who dodged it with some difficulty. Then their blades met.

Sangor turned Garthael's great blade with his own, smaller one and forced Garthael back. "That is how it is done boy," he taunted the humakti. Then Sangor hewed at the humakti but Garthael stopped his blow with his own blade and then made to hew the redman's knees. Sangor quickly leapt back and replied, "No boy, you can't hit anything with a blow like that". Garthael started to sing his death song and entered a sword trance, becoming one with his blade. Their sword flashed and clashed quickly, too fast for most of the tribesmen to follow but Sangor's cutting commentary carried over the crash of iron. Clan champions looked on in awe as the blades flew to and fro and the warriors danced left, now right, now leaping over a glowing length of iron and now ducking under another. Sangor drove Garthael back and back again. He forced Garthael to the ground but was then struck full on by five feet of iron-edge sword and staggered back. Garthael leapt upright and his great blow numbed Sangor's hand. Sangor spun on his heal and hewed at the humakti drawing blood from his thigh. Garthael's song never faltered and he struck at Sangor from the left and then the right cleaving Sangor's arm. With a snarl the Tarnilsman summoned the fury of the Ram and leapt at Garthael. The Humakti turned and thrust forth with his blade and struck Sangor full upon the breast. His sword passed through the champion's iron breastplate and on into his chest until it stood four feet out of his back and Sangor fell down dead on the spot.

Garthael turned to the cheering crowd and nodded curtly to them. When the cheering turned to a gasp of horror he spun about again and saw Sangor standing with sword in hand once again. "Would you care to try that again," he said to the humakti. They were both prepared to fight again when Gudny spoke up and said these words, "That was most nobly fought but it was a Trial-by-Combat with death to the loser. Thy death, Redman, has shown the right of my claim to be a thane and the failure of yours that I be outlaw. Thou are the King's Champion and it is not thy place to break Alakoring's Laws. The Gods have spoken." Though he was not pleased, Sangor agreed that the law must be obeyed. He gathered his men and left the King's lands.

When all was settled and the crowds had returned to their homes King Leikan called the Companions before his high seat. "There will be trouble from this," he spake. "I would that you left my lands now. We know how to reach you and I will speak with my fellow kings." Gudny agreed to depart and the Companions gathered their followers and went on their way.

They fared west out of the Billiz hills and then north up the Salantor Valley. They stopped at the Sun Dome temples along the way seeking words with Sota but learned that he had trod the heropaths on the Hill of Gold. They also learned that the Templars were having trouble with Ogunjar and Harvar for it seemed that the pair were heroquesting to become Palangio and Lokomyadan.

The Companions made their way into the Autumn Mtns west of Bear Mtn and came upon an outlaw called Brandig the Bandit King. They never learned why and by whom he was called the Bandit King for he had but six followers. Gudny described the valley where Harangot had spoken his stash and Brandig took the Companions there. They found naught but an old ruined archway that was half buried in fallen stone. Then Gudny performed the ritual that Harangot had described and the archway glowed with power. The Companions stepped through the arch and found themselves in a short world. The valley was the same but now was filled with buildings, most looked like store houses. The entrance to the valley was now curtained in a shimmering wall of light. Within the storerooms they found the promised Hoard of Harangot.

With that, the Companions made their way back to Dunstop. On their journey they found the highlands seething. The High King had taken punitive action against the Vandaros and the other tribes had retaliated by turning away the King's taxmen and his thanes. The Sun Dome Confederation was said to support the highlanders. Now while no fight had taken place, many a sword had been drawn and was a near thing.

Dark Season

And so it came to pass that Sigmund rode into Sambari Pass in Dark Season. There he made his way to the Hedkoranth Temple and convinced the worshippers there to become his warband. He had some 20 devotees and and a further four score initiates that joined his band. With that, Argrath sent word to Sir Pallon the Black in Knight Fort and asked that he become the Lord of the Keep replacing Sigmund.

Bronwyn brought news that the Orms Fang assassins were wreaking a terrible slaughter throughout the Oslir Valley in Tarsh and that Harvar had been distancing himself from the Tarshites. The Companions suspected that Harvar's host would soon be marching north for the nomads that Maniskisson had mentioned in his directive were ravaging Imther and the Dog Plains in Holay.

Dragonfriend learned that in the new campaign season he would have more warriors. The Grazers were sending some three thousand horsemen, the Esrolians were sending some five thousands of spear and axe. Whitebull sent a further three hundreds of Axe Brothers and a new regiment, the Pavic County Foot to join the Free Army. After his trip to Nochet, Dragonfriend's warband was back up to six hundred warriors.

News came from deeper in the Empire of more trouble. It seemed that the distant kingdom of Carmania had liberated itself from the Empire and begun a war against its former oppressors - much as the Argrath's had done for Sartar. Further news reported that something called the Wall of Charg had fallen and a kingdom led by descendants of the Blood-Kings had allied itself with Carmania.

Storm Season

As winter descended on Dragon Pass the Companions learned that the nomad invaders had defeated the Provincial Army in a three-day running battle. Bronwyn's sources reported that Harvar had instructions to move north in Sea Season. Dragonfriend chose to rest the Free Army through the winter to prepare it for the coming campaigns. Orgovalt reported that many of the Tusk Riders were migrating out of the Stinking Woods, headed north. Kamoar fared into the woods and returned with an Aramite [3] prisoner. When Argrath questioned him the rider said that they were following, "Arim-who-had-returned." It seemed that some ten thousands of them were following this "Arim the Tuskless" to a Promised Land. Upon further questioning the Companions discovered that this newly arisen Arim's more common name was Harvar.

 

[1] Sheath of the Sword: Dragonfriend's wife, Voydag.
[2] Probably Sota Lampbringer
[3] The Tusk Riders call themselves Aramites.


 


 



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April 15, 2002

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