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The Stormchaser Fragments - 1
Being the tales told of the Alakoringson, Gudny the Stormchaser, in his quest to be.

I am Leary, son of Cormac the Bald who a cousin of High King Kocholang of Lankst. To my companions I am named the Rock-Stepper; in Dunrigh, the King's hall, I am the Merry; the godyr call me Helamath. I don't mind saying that I am a slight man, short of stature and bone-thin. Not for me is the crush of the front-line of battle or the boisterous wrestling around the hearth. I am more apt with the long spear and the breast-bow, at the love-poem and the mead-horn.

Now hear my telling. My telling of the Alakoringson. My telling of the Stormchaser.

He first came among us in the 9th year of King Kocholang, during Ernalda's time - Earth Season. The Theyans would have called it 1631. Those were the darkest of days for the peoples of Lankst for the Meldeks of Otkorian pressed us sorely and the High King and his brother the great Garundyar Stormhero had led our hosts out for the final battle. As the fighting raged fierce, and the knights of Otkorian looked set to sunder the shieldwall, King Argrath the Dragonfriend swooped out of the clouds atop a fire-breathing beast bound round by a great, black, hurricane. With him rode my lord, the Stormchaser.

In short order the King Dragonfriend and his Companions had scattered the hosts arrayed before us and saved our people. They were feasted in the hall of High King Kocholang for two days and many were the tales traded between the Dragonfriend's Teller, Gudny, and King Kocholang's, Beilrunya Buttertongue. In the end all declared that Gudny was the more masterful teller and that King Dragronfriend's deeds were glorious to hear. The noble Garundyar gifted King Dragonfriend with his great horn and pledged to fight with him when called.

When next I met Gudny Alakoringsson it was Fire Season in the 10th year of King Kocholang - 1632. The Stormchaser came out of the clouds atop his fearsome sky-bull and landed before Lord Garundyar's hall. With him was a massive shadow cat with uncanny eyes, a score of Gudny's picked champions and the Humathsson, Lothar of the Two Swords.

Garundyar came from his hall to personally to greet Gudny and Lothar. The visitors responded properly, praised Garundyar's might and hospitality and asked for guesting at his hearth. Garundyar replied thusly: "There is no reason for you to ask for my hospitality. You are both valiant warriors and among the best of men. You are always welcome in my home."

With that Garundyar led his guests into the hall. He called for meat, mead and salt to be brought. He sat Gudny and Lothar on the High Bench - Gudny to his right, Lothar to his left and served them himself - the Lord chose not to notice when a passing bowl of milk curdled from the grim presence of Lothar. We all feasted long into the night and traded news of our feats since last the lords had met. They spoke of this and that, of their children, grandchildren and wives. Lothar spoke of the Moon Berg. Garundyar spoke of the Sack of Otkorian.

Then Gudny stood and gifted Garundyar richly. "This golden bow was taken from the palace of the Emperor of Dara Happa by the Heortling, Harangot when he sacked the City of Gold during the wars against The Deceiver." Garundyar thanked Gudny for his gift and praised him for his generosity. Now Gudny spoke again: "Mighty Garundyar, brother of High King Kocholang, I seek a boon."

Garundyar instantly replied thusly: "Thunderer, you and your king saved our people and my brother from the sorcerers of Otkorian. Ask what you would and I will move Top of the World itself to make it so."

Gudny smiled, "I would like to be adopted into the royal family of Lankst."

Garundyar replied, "Then we must speak with the King. There will be tests but such as you would be more than worthy of being my kin." He turned to Lothar and looked the question at him.

Lothar shook his head, "I am Humath's man, I have no kin but His swords."

In the morning Lord Garundyar took Gudny to speak with the king.

High King Kocholang replied much as Garundyar had. "I would be honoured to have a proven champion like you as my kin. It strikes me though that this is a strange request. You have no interests in Lankst, you have considerable interests in Sartar, and your devotion to your king's cause would make it unlikely that you would be considering a move to our land."

Gudny thanked the king for his words. "My interest in you kinship has more to do with my quest to emulate Alakoring than it does to gain any power in Lankst." Then Gudny explained to the king and his advisors that his aim was to raise rebellion in Aggar against the Empire, "much as Alakoring did against the despised EWF. With your approval and support, I would become part of the royal house of Lankst, as was Alakoring. I would quest against the wolfmen and the dragonmen, as did Alakoring. Then I would take my warband over the mountains to Aggar, as did Alakoring."

King Kocholang nodded at this, "You have grand plans and there will be much danger for you in this. We owe you a great boon for the aid that you gave us when we needed it. Here is what I shall do: We shall test your suitability to be of the royal house of Lankst - as you are Kodigvari, I don't think the tests will be too difficult. Having passed those tests I will give you permission to raise a warband from those of my champions who would follow you."

The next day the king and his advisors listened as his Knowing Man tested Gudny's knowledge of their myths. Though Gudny's knowledge of local heroes and tales was no better than any cottar, his tellings of the gods were unmatched by any in the hall.

The next day the king and his ring subjected Gudny to trial-by-combat. Gudny out-wrestled Cuiltach the Homely. His lightning-javelins flew further than Neirdra the Red's. He rode Brunjarl, his skybull, _over_ the course while racing the Lightning Knight Ailbry Koolysson - to much laughter all around. The king's Mastakosthane Saelrot the Mover out-raced him in chariots.

Finally, the Lightning Knights drew lots to see who would have the honour of testing Gudny's blade, Sheamus the Stomper won. He drew his helm low over his eyes and crouched behind his shield. Gudny summoned Ohorlanth's blessings and let loose a shout that startled Sheamus so badly he landed on his rear. Gudny apologised to the champion and helped him up with a smile. They fought with axes, without blessings, and Gudny defeated his foe after a hard-fought contest.

Next the king tested Gudny's magic. Gudny made it snow on a sunny day. He brought a fertilising rain to the queen's vegetable garden. Finally, Gudny stepped atop Black Cloud and flew through the air on the daimone's back.

The king's next test was of wisdom. He sat with Gudny and they spoke of what a leader was. They traded poems and battle tactics. They debated before the king's court and discussed the laws of their lands.

On the fifth day, Windsday, King Kocholang consulted with his ring and then declared that Gudny was a mighty follower of Orlanth and a suitable champion of Lankst. He gathered his people before Dunrigh and summoned his clan's ancestors. King Kocholang invoked the blessings of Alakoring and of the ancestors. He called for their approval to formally adopted Gudny into his family, "as though he were one of my own sons." All those present saw the ancestor Huirach Hot-Tongue go to Gudny and hand him a token. Gudny smiled and promptly spit fire from his mouth [1]. The clan set up a mighty weapontake showing their approval.

That was the night that I joined Gudny's warband, the Thunderspears.

Over the next few days Gudny never stopped. He visited the local temples and made sacrifices to the local heroes. He was especially interested in Muirtach Wolfbane and spent an entire day there in prayer and ritual preparation. At every place that he visited he won over the thanes and godyr and gathered another handful of warriors for his quest against the wolf-men. At Beacanstead he spent a day helping with the harvest.

Meanwhile, Lothar the Deathman visited the local clans and spoke with the Humathi there. He made sacrifice at the temple in Ciarglade and fought several ritual duels with the various champions.

When Gudny was ready, he gathered his band, a scant two score, about him. Included in his band was Lothar the Wolfbane who had taken those days to prepare himself for a great wolf-killing. There was Borne Gudnyssman, Skorvijji Unseen a scout and more champions. Gudny said the words that Alakoring said and named Lothar as the Sword of Lankst. He gave Lothar his own sword, as Alakoring did and stepped onto the chariot that King Kocholang had loaned him. Then he led his host along the trail that Alakoring had ridden into Telmoriland.

He stopped at the Grey Cairn and performed the ritual summoning of Telmor. The summoning went on into the dark of night. When Elmal was at his weakest the wolves came, five-score telmori warriors and wolfbrothers. Gudny and his champions tore into their foes like a hurricane storm. Lothar strode among them like an avenging fury; nine and ten telmori were sent to their spirits by the Humathi himself.

That was when Rworg OverGlen, a mighty champion of his pack called forth his challenge. As he was bound by his quest to do, Gudny accepted it and his thanes stepped back.

Rworg tried to challenge Gudny's identification with Alakoring. "You are not Alakoring," he said. "Your tattoos are those of a foreigner."

"Of course I am Alakoring! Would a foreigner breathe fire like the High King's clan?" replied Gudny swelling with power as his magic strengthened. "Am I not wearing a white tunic given to me by my daughter like Alakoring did?"

"You are not Alakoring," said Rworg, "for he was the King of Lankst."

"Who but the King would have ridden here in the King's chariot?" Gudny replied. "Am I not of the royal house of Lankst? Am I not served by the Sword of Lankst?" At that Rworg could think of nothing more to say and prepared to fight.

The two of them battled to and fro with sword and claw, tooth and shield. In time Rworg lay on the ground and Gudny stood with his sword to the telmori's throat. Rworg swore to pay the ritual tribute and, in the Ralian way, Gudny laid this geas upon him, "You will loyally serve me for one turning of the seasons."

And then Gudny gathered his band, had the healers tend to the wounded and returned to Dunrigh with the tribute, a mule load of rich pelts and five thralls - we also carried back the pelts of the wolves we had slain. Gudny gifted the tribute to King Kocholang before his people and spoke of the valour of his warband. He spoke eloquently of Lothar's wolf-killing prowess and described the bravery of several members of his band. Then the thane Raegan o'Carrekmoore stepped forth and described the battle between Gudny and the telmori champion. The people of the clan were greatly impressed with the quest and the success that Gudny had achieved.

King Kocholang thanked Gudny for his gifts and called for a feast. Two boars were brought out and roasted while barrels of mead and ale were broken open and served around. The King sat on his high seat with his ring to his left. To his right were Gudny and Lothar with the rest of us victorious thanes below them. Gudny's alynx-companion, Shadowstalker, curled around his feet and fed well from the scraps that I fed him - the cat had slain three wolves on his own in the battle.

When spirits were at their highest the king stood and shouted down the noise in the room. "Last week we adopted a new man into our clan and into my family, Gudny the Stormchaser." We all erupted into cheering. "Quiet!" shouted the king. "Tonight I tell you that he is not just my son-by-choice, this man is a champion in his own right!" To much cheering and acclaim Kocholang gifted Gudny with a gold-chased, tin armband and a tin torque. Gudny thanked King Kocholang for his generosity and tried to recite a verse in praise of the king - but his command of our language failed him.

In the morning there were several devotees of humath waiting to speak with Lothar, with them was their priest Lunn Mac Dara, and so Lothar returned to Ciarglade Temple with them. I learned later that week that Lunn wished to learn the myths of Lothar's hero, Guandair Wolf-killer, and that several of the deaththanes asked to follow Lothar back over the mountains when he went.

Gudny also had several warriors clamouring to join his band. There was Larkin Wide-Eye, a Jarl of Bemurok - whom Gudny named Urox - with his styrmen; Laughing-Meallan, an godyr of Siglaf Cloudcrusher; Fergal the Racer, Niall Ormsbane and Andraste Mile-Thrower. There were some 40 in all. Not all of them were thanes but all were hard men who had fought in the front in a dozen battles. Gudny gave those that did not own mail a byrnie once we crossed the mountains.

We spent the next week preparing for the next part in Gudny's quest. We offered great sacrifices to Alakoring Dragonbreaker and Orvanshagar the Dragonslayer. We put on the white woad of ormslaying and took up our swords. Then, led by Gudny and Lothar - once more named Sword of Lankst - we rode off into Ormsland following the path that Alakoring took when he went to kill the Inhuman King.

In Ormidale we slew a band of wild scout dragonewts. We rode on through Ciaran's Ford and ritually defaced the Orm's Plinth that stood there. Then we came to Victory Plinth where Alakoring slew the Inhuman King and saw that his bones lay there still. There, drawn by the power of the ritual, the dragonewts attacked.

The scouts hurled stones from the tree line. We replied with javelins and crushing noise. Lothar stood tall and called on Humath, "I call for your blessings, Humath, Lord of Endings. End this creature's time on this plane." With that one of the scouts, high in a tree, fell over dead and his soul sped on its way to thralldon in Humath's hall [2]. With what sounded like a cry of outrage, a horde of warriors burst from the trees. They swarmed over Beagan the Karian and crashed into our shield wall - most seemed intent on reaching Lothar.

It was amazing.

The Sword of Lankst spun and danced with his blades flashing about him. With every swipe of his swords another warrior fell dead. Gudny's swordthane, Vedda the Killer thrust her spear straight through another warrior. Korbin Gudnysson floated into the air and lashed the swarming ranks with furious hail. Larkin Wide-Eye, frothing at the lips, clove his berserk way through the orms. Gudny struck out with his thunderbolt and slew seven warriors.

Then a noble-orm strode from the trees. He heroically leapt over the battling warriors and struck at Lothar with his lightning reflexes - he struck at Lothar's soul. Lothar turned his death face on the noble and so startled it that it missed its strike. That was when I saw the very best display of swordwork I every hope to see. Lothar struck so fast that I thought he was carrying seven swords. That noble came apart so fast and into so many pieces that I would not have believed it had I not seen it.

That was when the ruler dragonewt flew into the grove and dove at Gudny. The Stormchaser hurled a silver coin at the orm and leapt into the sky when it flinched. He struck the distracted ruler with crushing noise and crashing hail. The orm tried to deflect the energy and reflect the magic but with little success. Gudny blinded it with storm darkness and struck it again and again. We all stopped to watch the maelstrom of magic over our heads: flashing lighting, billowing fire, rolling thunder, terrible cries and - periodically - falling silver coins.

Well, in time, Gudny struck the orm down. We cheered ourselves hoarse while the warriors and scouts fled into the trees. Gudny took up the klanth from the fallen ruler and claimed as his by right of victory.

It was Borne Gudnyssman who asked our lord why he hurled coins at the orm. "Orvanshagar shared the dragonewt's weakness with me. He believed that silver would poison his soul and would do anything to avoid it. It distracted him quite nicely." We all cheered him at this and then set about healing the wounded and counting the dead.

We rode back to Dunrigh with the skins from 15 scout and warrior dragonewts, the noble dragonewt and the ruler - we had burned the rest along with their foul weapons in offering to Alakoring and Orvanshagar. Gudny greeted King Kocholang well when we returned and proudly displayed his great klanth. We also carried a boar and a great stag caught along the way. Well, the king called for another feast to congratulate us on our feats. Garundyar composed a stirring poem to Lothar's deadliness and Gudny's valour. Gudny presented half of the skins to the king as a gift.

In the morning Lord Lothar bid us all farewell and rode to the east. He took with him a handful of humathi champions that had sworn to see the Poison Moon brought down. Before he left, Lothar said that he was riding for Halikiv where he had more followers, Darkmen, waiting for him. Once there he planned on crossing the Rockwood Mountains through Uz-paths and making his way back to his king in Bagnot.

Soon thereafter Gudny also announced his intention to return over the mountains. "As Alakoring did," Gudny said to the king. "I know that the Empire will continue to plague the Orlanthi until it is destroyed entirely. I must carry my war to them."

King Kocholang made sure that we all had food enough for our journey, some two weeks worth we estimated, and warm cloaks to help us fare over the mountains. Our losses from the dragonewts had been more than made up for with more warriors coming in from the surrounding clans and tribes. They had all heard of the Alakoringson, Gudny.

It was nearing the end of Ernalda's time when I last saw Dunrigh, the gleaming hall of King Kocholang. There were nearly a hundred of us that followed Brunjarl and his rider out of the valley - accompanied by a band of Lightning Knights who would return with our abandoned horses.

We rode from Vesmonstran and passed into the wild lands of Vustria. We had a small encounter with a band of broo - with a long hundred of riders any encounter is small - and then rode into Delela.

In Delela we stopped at each town that we came to and Gudny named himself Alakoring. He defeated their champions in ritual combat and accepted tokens of their submission to the Dragonbreaker. In each town he spoke of the Evil Empire and his quest - Alakoring's quest - to free the world of its curse. In each town our warband grew until there were over 150 of us following the Stormchaser.

It was Clayday when we reached the stone hill called King's Last Stop. Windsday began when Elmal retreated from the sky and our ritual began. We painted the blue woad of the Mover on ourselves and burnt a chariot in sacrifice. We continued the ritual through the night and when Elmal returned to his place in the sky we flew to join him.

When night fell again we were deep into the mountains. We stopped in a barren and windswept valley on the shoulder of Soren Mountain. As we huddled in our cloaks Gudny threw off all of his clothes and pranced in the winds maintaining the ritual. We had a brief encounter with ice demons but drove them off without loss and without Gudny losing his concentration.

In the morning we took to the air again came out of the mountains over Aggar near Drenth. We landed at King's Rest, the site where Alakoring had landed, in the temple that crowned the hilltop. I don't think that the priests there, to Alakoring Rex, knew what to think of us all.

That is, I don't think that they knew what to think until Gudny recited the ritual words:

"Greetings Northron. I am Alakoring, Telmor-victor, Ormsbane and Champion of Delela. I defeated the Empire in my lands and have brought my host to help you loose the bonds that they hold you with."

That set them running about in a tizzy shouting like women. "He's come!" "It's Alakoring" "Where're my pants?"

Gudny spent the rest of that day and the next speaking with the priests and godyr of the temple. I was not party to the discussions but I later learned that he was trying to convince them that he was a hero of Alakoring and to support his call to arms in Aggar. We made camp as Alakoring did and Gudny's priests continued the ritual that had brought us here.

On Godsday, Fate took a hand and the argument ended. Those Sons of the Chaos Moon, the Lunars, attacked our encampment and the temple.

Our scouts, led by Gudny's companion Shadowstalker had watched the column approach through Wildday. There were horsemen from the Chiton Lancers and a warband - Gudny called it a vexilla - of Lunar infantry from some noble's private army. There were about 350 of them in total.

My suspicion is that this band had come in pursuit of a group of refugees or guerrillas. I don't think that they were expecting over a hundred battle-hardened veterans that were empowered to fight them by the ongoing ritual.

When the lunars charged the temple their archers shot down those few priests that tried to fly. Gudny roared in hatred and charged strait into their ranks. I would swear that he was utterly fearless of death and didn't seem to care if he lived or not.

We hurled long prepared javelins into the teeth of the charging chaos spawn and formed Bemurok's Bullshead wedge. Larkin Wide-Eye and Tharn Raindancer - both of them mighty champions who have stood in the front for more years that I remember - led our charge into the midst of the lunars. The local Aggari took up spears and warded the temple from the lunar horsemen.

Gudny broke through the lunar line with his bodythane Borne and his swordthane Vedda on his heels. He hewed the enemy's banner, slew their captain with crushing noise and then turned his thunderbolt onto the milling cavalry.

In 10 minutes of furious combat the lunars were surrounded and their chaotic attack was destroyed.

As we tended to our wounded Gudny passed among the men praising a deed there, congratulating a survivor there.

Gudny spent a few more days speaking with the priests and finally convinced them to support him if he could finish the Tasks of Alakoring. I think that the argument that finally convinced them was that he knew the Fourth Task, one that was a secret of the Alakoring cult.

While we waited for all of that to be settled we spoke with the Aggari attending the temple. One of the interesting things that I heard was a tale of Lothar.

I was speaking to Dreng Hillstalker who came from Billiz. Dreng told me that Lothar had come down out of the mountains with a large band of trolls and Ralians and was guesting at Dreng's village before passing on into Ormsgone.

Lothar told of his journey from Dunrigh. He and his half-dozen men rode through Vustria without trouble. They travelled through Delela and ignored the warnings of the locals not to ride in the East Wilds on account of the Galanani curse. "If somebody has a problem with me riding a horse they can take it up with me personally," retorted Lothar.

Well, to the east of Istakax a band of Galanani did take it up with Lothar. After he slew a score of them the rest retreated and shot arrows at him and his band. In return, the Deathson dismembered one of his pack horses and told the nomads that he would do more of them if they didn't stop bothering him. He vowed to track them across the land and through the forests if they continued to harass him. The power of his outrage and the strength of his magic caused all of the grass in a 20 yard circle to wither and die. Three wounded nomads screamed in pain and passed onto their afterlife on the spot. Faced with this intimidating vow the Galanani withdrew and Lothar had no further trouble with them.

In Corolaland Lothar was set upon by a trollish ambush. Thirty trollkin and twenty dark trolls attacked the seven humathi. The attackers were led by two Zorak Zoran beserkyr with several zombies. Lothar sent the trollkin fleeing with a great shout of fear. He summoned the blessings of Humath and enacted his zombie score feat to slay all of the zombies in one furious attack. Then he leapt at the beserkyr. The first one died instantly with his head cut right off of his shoulders. The second raged at him attacking furiously with his lead mace. Lothar casually slaughtered several dark trolls that came in reach while he battled the berserkyr and finally cut the troll in two through the torso.

Lothar's band continued onto the Castle of Lead having tied two of their wounded on their horses and carrying before them both berserkyr heads on spears. Once they passed into Halikiv Lothar was greeted as Gudradsbane and accorded great honour by the trolls there. The very imminence of the Deathsson kept all trollkin far from him. Trollish healers quickly helped with his wounded. Lothar learned that the two berserkyrs had heard of his approach from hunters and gone to slay him for having defeated Gudrad on his previous visit.

Lothar was not allowed to enter the Castle for he was not a troll. He was invited to become one and remain there as Champion but declined. "That would be as Arkat had done and Arkat was a traitor to my god."

By this time news of his arrival had spread through the lands and the band of trolls that had sworn to wait for him came out to greet him. Following them was a hulking warrior named Torthug Two-span - for his arms were twice the length of any other trolls.

Torthug looked at Lothar and said, "These warriors are guardians for their Mothers. They will not leave with you." Lothar stared back and replied, "They have chosen Humath and my god will not be denied. Neither you nor your Mother want to come between the Severer and those devoted to him." Torthug replied that he was bound to fight a ritual duel for the Mother's sake but Lothar said that none of his fights were ritual. "If you can best me Deathsman I will serve you and worship your god."

Well, before the troll could do much more than heft his mace, Lothar had cut the lead weapon into three pieces, hacked his shield into splinters and carved Humath's rune into the troll's breastplate. With Severance pressing between his legs and Deathbringer kissing his neck Torthug agreed that Lothar was a formidable warrior and worthy of his loyalty.

It took Lothar another day to find a troll that knew the trollish ways through the Rockwood Mountains. In that time his new followers gathered what moveable property that they had and then followed their new leader north.

On their first night in the mountains mutual distrust and disdain flared into fighting within the camp between the Lanksti and the Halikivi. Lothar moved among them stopping the fighting and arranging honour duels between them. He taught the trolls the code of the Humathi and once the duels were done all had agreed that the others were formidable fighters in their own ways.

On their fourth night under the mountains they discovered a nest of chaos living in the tunnel. Able to see by the Humath-light of their blades and through their darksenses, the band handily purged the infestation.

After that they passed uneventfully into Billiz a few days before we arrived at the temple.

With the approval - if not outright support - of the priests, Gudny set out to complete the Four Tasks.

We rode south and east through the foothills. Gudny spoke with every clan that we met and told them of his quest. We learned that all of the highlands seethed with discontent and were nearing rebellion. Chief's told us that the High King's tax collectors were travelling with large warbands to guarantee their safety and to intimidate the highlanders into paying. Gudny promised that the King's days were numbered.

We crossed the Soren River at Wuffas Ford where we fell upon a garrison of the Lunar King's army and put them to the sword. We found a chest with the collected tolls from the bridge and Gudny gave half of it to the nearby clans.

At Tall Cedar Village we met up with Lothar again and Gudny enacted another ritual, that of Alakoring Tames the Wolfmen. We turned into the mountains and passed into the Wolf Wilds. Answering the summons of the ritual, the Telmori elders awaited us at the Great Rock. Gudny spoke with them for 3 days and in the end proved that he was Alakoring. Gudny gifted them well and promised more if they would supply a warband to fight for him in the liberation of Aggar. Lothar, in the roll of Sword of Alakoring, defeated several Telmori champions and so the Elders agreed to leave Aggar in peace and provide the ritual tribute to Gudny. They further agreed to consider his request for warriors.

From there Gudny led his band down the south side of Soren River. Most people were happy to speak with him and vengeance was taken on many lunar sympathisers while we were there. Lothar stood in judgement on many and detected any and all lies told in his presence. Gudny smiled as this was also as Alakoring had done.

We passed into the hills around Angry Lake and came to the hall of King Leikan of the Vandaros Tribe some 10 weeks after Gudny had last been here. Gudny greeted King Leikan well and the King greeted Gudny with great honour.

Gudny spoke with the king of the evils of the lunars and how the highlands could throw them off. He spoke of the wars in Tarsh, the freeing of Sartar and the disruption of the Provinces. He spoke of the new Rinliddi kingdom and the new Carmanian kingdom. "Now is the right time to rise up and free Orlanth from this tyranny! Let those that teach these foul ways be cast into the lake and those that have held to the true ways step forth!" King Leikan agreed to support Gudny in secret and said that if Gudny could gain the support of the other kings then he would rise up in the name of Alakoring and do everything that he could to throw off the hated empire. Then two of them discussed the politics of the region and Gudny learned much that was useful.

Andraste Mile-Thrower caught a traitor sneaking out of the king's hall that night, going to tell of the happenings at the high table no-doubt. The traitor was the King's Knowingman, Gwarthur Gortsson. King Leikan threw him into the lake with a necklace of stones.

And so Gudny rode around the lake meeting with each of the Tarkaling kings that surrounded it. Most replied as King Leikan had, they hated the empire and the High King. They longed for the freedom from oppression and just awaited the proper moment and the proper leader to rise in rebellion. Those said that they would follow Gudny if he could complete the Tasks.

The only trouble came at Korenston, where the King Harald the Red had his seat. Harald was the king of the Jonrys Tribe and a devoted convert to the Lunar Way. Lothar made short work of the King's hearth troops and Gudny struck the king down as Alakoring had to Bad-King Vurgas. Speaking with several of the clan chiefs in the Jonrys, Gudny left it to them to find a new king. Three of the clan chiefs fled their halls rather than meet with Gudny Alakoringsson.

When Gudny returned to King Leikan's hall three weeks after leaving it he had tokens from seven tribes.

Now Gudny took a boat onto Angry Lake and went to Aerela's Island. He prayed at the shrine there, enacting the Alakoring Meets Aerela ritual and then walked into the lake alone.

Gudny told me later what happened there.

Gudny climbed down a set of stairs carved in the side of the island. Below the frothing waves of the lake he entered a tranquil area and watched fish swim by. He continued down the stairs and entered Aerelanir, Aerela's Hall - Aerela being the goddess of the lake. In the hall Gudny was greeted by the Aerelings. His weapons were taken and stacked by the door. His armour hung on a rack in the corner and warm towels brought to refresh him. Aerela sat before her high seat lost in misery.

Gudny greeted her well and said, "Kind Aerela, Goddess of the Lake, I know the cause of your pain and why your lake is forever churned by angry currents. You loved Alakoring and though he could not stay with you his life meant much to you."

Aerela looked at him coldly, "You have great courage coming into my lake and speaking to me of this. What gives you the right?"

Gudny replied, "You loved Dead-Alakoring. I am Alakoring-Come. I am here to buoy your heart once again and calm the waters of the lake." Then he showed her the tokens from Lankst and Telmoriland; Ormsland and Delela; the Wolf Wilds and the Tarkaling Kings and gave her the gift that Alakoring had used to win her heart and her bed - and he won her heart and her bed.

In return, Aerela gave him the Water Torque, the symbol of the Alakoring Kings of Aggar.

When Gudny came out of the lake the waters were calm and churned no more.

As soon as Gudny returned from Aerelanir he began his preparations for the fourth Task - the secret task. It turned out that Alakoring had gone to the City of 10,000 Magicians and slain their Explorer Dragon-Soul leaving them with naught but their Introspection Dragon-Soul. With their interest in the outside world dead, the magicians there were no longer a threat to him and he went on with his war against the EWF.

So Gudny prepared to embark on Alakoring's second dragonbreaking quest. He spent a week in preparations and then walked off on his own, sky-clad carrying naught but a comb and a broken klanth. He flew over the lake and passed into Forantin Land. In the Laughing Glade he repeated the ritual words and slew two Scholar-Priests from the city and their guards. Before Weeping Grotto he slew another. Before the gates of the city the Explorer Dragon manifested itself as a wizard named Khorossham the Seeker.

Gudny knew that Khorossham was an innovative magician and was encouraging the magicians in the city to cast their eyes beyond the city's walls, for that was where he felt that new knowledge was to be found and that was where he felt the ancient dragon magics stirring. As such, Khorossham embodied the Explorer Dragon reborn and was drawn into Gudny's ritual.

Khorossham cast his dragon spells at Gudny, manifesting as the Dragon's breath, but Gudny caught them and wrapped them in the tines of his comb. Khorossham cast his fire spells at Gudny, manifesting as a flaming claw, but Gudny quenched it with his storms. Then Gudny leapt at the Explorer Dragon and struck it with the broken klanth. He struck once, twice and finally thrice killing Khorossham before the gates of his city.

With the death of their Explorer-Soul, the magicians in the city turned once more from the world around them and resumed their centuries-long introspection.

Gudny returned to King Leikan's hall with the Explorer's token. Then he gathered 20 of us and rode hard for the Autumn Mountains. He passed into a high mountain pass and then walked into a hidden valley, a short world where a great treasure, the horde of Harangot, was kept. He selected some items from the horde and then rode back to King Leikan's hall.

From the King's hall Gudny summoned the priests of Alakoring and invited the Tarkaling kings to meet with him on Aerela's island.

When the kings and priests had gathered Gudny showed them all the tokens he had collected and recited the deeds he had done. He made the priests acknowledge him as Alakoring. He richly gifted each king with powerful Thunder Spears, marks of defiance against the Empire. He called on them to withhold their tribute from the Bad-King Rassius and to hold themselves ready for rebellion - for the time was soon.

The kings all agreed to ready themselves and to spread the word of the coming of Alakoring.

Gudny spent a few more days in Aggar speaking with this king and that champion. Then, just before he left, he sent a bag of wind to each of the local Sun Dome temples that he had learned were loyal to Sota Lamplighter. With each bag was a message that Gudny wished to speak with Sota and that opening the bag would release an umbroli ready to carry a message to Gudny from Sota.

With that Gudny led his band through Ormsgone and journeyed back to Tarsh to rejoin his King.

 

[1] King Kocholang's clan has the ability to breathe fire. [David Dunham's website]
[2] A dragonewt's soul reincarnates in its egg after death so being severed from that cycle of birth and rebirth by the magic of Humath is a terrible thing to do to one.

 


 


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October 5, 2002

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