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Gwandor Saga

The Saga of the Gwandorlings - 77

Did I just give a fortress to somebody that is no longer loyal to me?

- Warwyrm Dragonfriend

And so with the fall of Furthest all of Tarsh was finally free from the insidious rule of the Poison Moon. High King Maniskisson turned to his Warwyrm, Argrath the Dragonlord, and spake thusly: "I leave it to you to divide the lands of Tarsh and the spoils of the siege. I have important matters of state to attend to." The Dragonfriend asked: "I thought Argrath Fazzursson was to be King of Tarsh?" "Not all of it!" replied the High King. Maniskisson further directed that Furthest was to be the capital of the High King of Dragon Pass.

And so it was that Argrath Dragonfriend doled out the spoils of the siege.

Speaking with Lord Mularik Iron-Eye and King Fazzursson he divided Tarsh between then. He spoke of the oaths given to Mularik that northern Tarsh would be his in reward for his aid in the campaign and described a line that ran east from the Oslir to the Rockwoords, one half of the way between Furthest and Talfort. "The High King has decreed that this shall be the southern extent of Lord Iron-Eye's lands." Argrath Fazzursson was not pleased and spake thusly to the Dragonfriend: "Mularik had better not make any mistakes or allow the redmen back into the land for I will not come to his aid." Dragonfriend replied that Mularik was an able general with an army to match and should have little problem controlling the northern Tarshites.

And Mularik did seem to be doing well at subjugating the land. He was rousting out all lunars and any sympathisers that he could find - though some claimed he was less than selective in his pogrom. He confiscated their lands and their properties and gifted it to his soldiers. He ruled the clans and towns with an iron fist and brutally put down any opposition. The road from Talfort to Furthest became lined with spears bearing the heads of those who had displeased Mularik. He made Talfort the seat of his rule and named his lands the Grand Duchy of Talfort and himself Archduke. His subordinates became counts and barons of various towns and cities, as was the custom of the Western people.

Next the Shakers of Maranaba sent an acolyte, Hjorla the Fierce, to collect their promised bounty, one from every three of the thralls taken in the siege. Argrath greeted her well and spake: "There were five and ten thousands of slaves captured when the city fell. As was our pact I have gathered five thousands of them for you to take." Hjorla thanked him for his efficiency and led the screaming slaves back to her blood-soaked temple - Dragonfriend later learned that many of them had been sold in the slave markets rather than sacrificed and that the Temple had grown rich from the profits.

A gold dwarf identified as WindSpeak23-4e/6 came next to speak with Argrath. He reminded the Warwyrm of the price he had agreed for Isildirian's aide, all of the iron in Furthest. A horde of dwarven workmen scoured the city using strange scurrying creatures and collected every last chip and fragment of iron. They also rebuilt their siege towers, turning them into an immense cart powered by their infernal engines and carried the fallen jolanti off with it.

Now King Fazzursson staked his claim to the city's spoils: "I will be content with one thousand slaves, one part in ten of the gold and the heirloom of my people - the Axe of Palashee." Dragonfriend granted his request and there was much rejoicing among the Tarshites at the recovery of that magical axe. Annstad of Dunstop was made holder of the axe as warlord for King Fazzursson.

Jandetin the Avenger, the Luminous Stallion King received 1000 slaves and his share of the plunder for the efforts of the Grazer Great Army, which had screened Mularik's charge so well at Denston.

Warwyrm Dragonfriend, Sword Sharpsword and General Whitebull each received 300 slaves and their shares of the booty. The Dragonlord, ever clement, gave lands to those who would take a vow to him and swear to worship Orlanth.

As the High King, Maniskisson collected half of the slaves and booty. To provide some population for his capital city, the High King offered freedom to any of his slaves that would renounce the Seven Mothers and convert to the Storm Tribe, six of the seven thousand did. The High King would not move into the city until the ruins were cleared and a new palace citadel had been built for him. Till then he remained in Boldhome.

Dragonfriend then turned to his Companion Lothar of the Twin Blades. To him he granted the Phargentite Keep and the right to collect tolls on the roads and bridges around Furthest. In return Lothar was to raise a regiment of Humakti and provide a city watch for Furthest until other arrangements could be made.

He then turned to his Companion Sigmund the Stormblade and granted him support for his heroquesting plans.

Once all of that was completed the Argrath Council gathered once again in Dunstop, to plan their further operations. King Argrath Fazzursson hosted the gathered warlords and their hosts in his palace. The High King Argrath Maniskisson rode in with his Wolfskins and grumbled about being torn away from his hawking and hunting. The disciple Argrath Venharlsson floated in on an urothrol cloud and greeted one and all distractedly. Warwyrm Argrath Dragonfriend stalked into the palace with a band of his Storm Dragon Guards and greeted one and all properly. Prince Argrath Whitebull of Prax joyfully entered the palace and greeted his fellows well. King Argrath Sharpsword of Ketheala forcefully entered the room and ignored all about him [1].

There was an altercation before Fazzursson's hall when Gudny Stormchaser was refused entry by the King's guards for, "only the Argraths may pass within at this time." Gudny's booming reply echoed throughout the palace, "I am Argrath!"

Argrath Maniskisson replied thusly: "Enter our hall and be tested. Who are you and by what right do you claim a seat on our council?" Gudny replied thusly: "I am Argrath Stormchaser, called Alakoringsson by some. I am the High King of Aggar and bear the Water Torque of Alakoring. I am the Telmor-Victor, the Dragonbreaker and the Champion of Delela." Maniskisson acknowledged his claims as did the other Argrathi, though some more readily than others, and stated that he would have to swear the Argrath Oath. "What oath is this?" asked Stormchaser. "You must swear to thrown down the Empire at all costs, to put aside personal feelings and feuds in the face of the common foe and to never rest until Shepelkirt is torn from the Sky and all peoples subjugated by it's evil light are freed." Stormchaser laughed and replied that he had sworn that oath a decade past when the Empire had exiled him from his clan. "But I will gladly swear it again on the blade of Humakt that I bear."

And so the Argrath Council grew to seven and now represented the peoples from Corfu to Skanthiland, from the Sha Yar Valley to Caladraland.

The council discussed the progress of the Army of Dragon Pass and of the situation in their lands. Then Argrath Stormchaser presented the Treaty of Salantor to the council. Argrath Fazzursson complained thusly: "Art thou saying that I will lose control of the Sun Dome of Ever New Glory?" Argrath Stormchaser retorted: "Thou hast never had control of the temple and would never be able to gain control of it." He turned to the rest of the council and said, "Thou need not approve this treaty but these are the terms that the Disciple Sota the Lamplighter demands for further use of his templars including the Vaantar, Ever New Glory and Praxian phalanxes. Argrath Dragonfriend opinioned that the treaty was a good one. "The phalanxes will cease to be mercenary as they are now and there will be more of them." Argrath Maniskisson agreed and called for a vote by secret ballot. One Argrath abstained; one voted "nay" but five voted "aye".

Our tale needs now turn to the Dragonfriend's Champion, Lothar Twinswords. About this time Lothar was approached in Furthest by one Bardor the Drum, the High Sword of the Death Hollow temple in Gwandorland. Bardor greeted Lothar thusly: "Things are prepared for you Lord. It is time." It turned out that Humakt had spoken to Bardor and revealed the details of a grim ceremony that Lothar was to undertake. Lothar knew naught of this at the time but agreed to accompany the priest none-the-less. A score of battle-masked Humakti rode from the shadows with rope and whips. Bardor instructed Lothar to strip on the spot. Lothar's hands were tied before him and he was lashed by the mounted sword-brethren. His hands were then tied to Bardor's saddle and he was dragged from the city.

For seven long days the Humakti rode in silence with Lothar dragged behind them. He was given sips of water every night but naught else. His guides slept naught. Lothar stoically endured the torture.

Now, while the sword brothers dragged him along, many people who saw it thought that they were seeing a criminal dragged to his death. The lucky clucked their tongues and went on their way. The unlucky jeered the champion and one group of village children threw garbage at him; all that mocked Lothar - be they man, woman, child or elder - were ridden down by the Humakti and slain on the spot for daring to sully the ceremony of becoming.

At Death Hollow, there were some three hundred of the Death God's worshippers waiting in the great gloomy depression. The Great Death Drum was beating in the depths of the temple and a wooden death rune stood upright in the centre of the Hollow. The High priests of Dragon Pass performed a grim ceremony and nailed Lothar to the death rune [2]. When the ceremony was over the gathered Humakti planted their blades in the earth around Lothar and left the temple.

For five days Lothar hung on the rune. He knew that he could have torn himself free at any time but knew also that he would have been tearing himself away from Death.

Finally, he gave up the fight for life and passed on to Humakt. He heard the grim voice of Death and it spake so: "You fought to hold on to Life but now you are Mine. You will be Death Incarnate and carry out my work in the Middle World. Do you accept?" Lothar replied that he wished to join his Lord in his hall but that he felt that there was yet more Severance to bring to the world, he accepted Humakt's offer. "When next I see you I expect you to have a sword in your hand and the blood of a thousand foes on your blade."

When Lothar returned to this world he found that his skin had taken on a grey pallor and his heart beat half as fast as it had. He was now very firmly connected to Death and all of his relationships and loyalties from his previous life were sundered. He tore himself free of the death rune and staggered out of the temple. There, the gathered sword brothers greeted him with a deathly silence and then raised a soul-wracking weaponstake - still without saying a word to him.

Every Humakti priest in Dragon Pass was there to see and to spread the word of the creation of the first Disciple of Humakt since the fall of the Household of Death in 1602.

When Lothar Deathbringer rode from the temple with his reclaimed and awakened swords, there were over two hundred sword brothers in his band and he was already making preparations to awaken the Raven-banner of a new Humakti battalion.

Argrath Dragonfriend received a letter from Queen Karsalla of Holay seeking to meet with him in secret. And so he rode to a village on the border of Tarsh and Holay with this guard and met with his future mother-in-law. The Queen spoke more of the creation of the Kingdom of Saird and the affect that that it would have on Holay. She also said that she had been declared anathema within the Provinces by the Overseer in Mirin's Cross and that her sister had been declared Queen of Holay. "The people of the south and those of Furthest are still loyal but I will need aid to hold my throne." The Warwyrm pledged to do what he could and rode back to Furthest.

Once again the allied rulers were called to conclave and Warwyrm Dragonfriend spoke of the plight of the Queen of Holay. He said naught of his impending marriage to any but Argrath Stormchaser but impressed upon them all the opportunity to deal the Lunars a further blow by freeing the Queendom from the Red Moon's chains. He asked them all what forces they would pledge to join the Army of Dragon Pass in this new campaign.

King Fazzursson spoke of the weakened state of Tarsh but that Holay must be freed. He pledged his own guard the Quivers, the Bovakite Light Foot, the Tarsh Light Foot and the Yarandros Chargers. He also spake of the Luminous Stallion King providing his Golden Bows and one warband each of lancers and archers. The king would not personally be joining this campaign.

High King Stormchaser pledged to launch an assault out of the highlands of Aggar against the Winter tribes to split the Provincial Overseer's attention.

Queen Nerestina pledged her Axe Sisters, Mace Wives and the Elmal Husband Horse.

Prince Whitebull pledged his own guard, the Bullocks, the Long Spear Slayers and a mercenary cavalry regiment named Magan's Greys.

King Sharpsword pledged the Volsaxar Huscarls, Karse Spears, the Knights of St. Elhim and the St. Tauroxi Killers.

Lord Mularik pledged a regiment of knights, one of spears and a company of engineers.

The Tarsh, Vaantar and Praxian phalanxes stood ready.

Warwyrm Dragonfriend pledged the March Light Horse, the Little Shadows, the March Knights and Sir Nandaras' Company of sorcerers.

There would also be the Goldgotti Spears, Sir Holburn's Axe Brothers and the Army of Tomorrow Knights, Foot and magicians.

All of this veteran force would compliment the inexperienced regiments of the Army of Dragon Pass and was tallied to be nye upon five and thirty thousands.

Warwyrm Dragonfriend spoke of the forces available to Queen Karsalla. He spoke of the Queen's Heavy Foot a few shield wall regiments, two Sun Dome phalanxes and a regiment of highlanders.

The war captains then set about making their plans.

First, the Warwyrm's Companion, Kamoar Shadowstalker, was to march into Balazaar with his March Wardens and the Bovakite Light Foot to seize Elkoi and butcher the few hundred of defenders. It was hoped that support could be raised against the Empire in Balazaar. Dragonfriend's follower Gettig Kingsvoice would accompany him to speak with the natives once they were freed from the Empire's yoke.

General Whitebull was assigned ten thousand men and told to storm Eneal, the seat of the Bad-King Rassius the Old of Aggar. It was thought that there were some three thousand defenders and that some of them may leave when King Stormchaser attacked the Summer tribes. Stormchaser claimed the right to lead the assault on the city once Whitebull had it invested. Whitebull's host included the Goldgotti, Axe Brothers, Long Spear Slayers, Little Shadows, Karse Spears, Tauroxi Killers, Ever-New-Glory Phalanx, March Light Horse, Volsaxar, the Tarsh Light Foot and a foot regiment from the Army of Dragon Pass.

General Sharpsword was to assault the Reaching Moon Temple outside Filichet. He would have the rest of the combined host to pull troops from. Dragonfriend sent his Companion Sigmund to aid Sharpsword and then he asked the Deathlord Lothar if he would participate in the assault. "There are many enemies to slay within the complex and temple to the hated Tarnils to thrown down." Lothar agreed.

Queen Karsalla sent word that she would seize the Daughter's Keep in Fillichet - this was the fortress that warded southern end of the Daughter's Road and was held by warriors loyal to the Provincial Overseer.

[1] Sir Argrath Not-Appearing and Sir Argrath Caught-in-Traffic still couldn't make it to the meeting.
[2] A cross.



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January 14, 2003

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