329, Sea season
Selznor the Poet settled in Lakrene after having offended Orlmast, High King of the Heortlings. Kuleneth decided to sponsor a contest of poetry, and proposed to invite Selznor.
Nallindia took a group down the Erinflarth in her boat, Snapper. They continued on horseback to Selznor's stead, where they were given hospitality. Selznor would not repeat the scurrilous verse that had gotten him exiled. He said that Orlmast was a great man, but petty, and that Erilindia of Durleel played him for a fool.
They escorted Selznor to Voranel, where the contest was held a few days later. Everyone thought that Tuttel Plowsman, Furlam, and Selznor made fine verses. Kuleneth preferred Furlam's poem about the river, and gave him a silver arm ring.
A few days later, Kuleneth and his weaponthanes headed south to Relain, traditional seat of the Warlord. He left Faltham in charge of Voranel.
Unusually, no merchants came from Thubana, the trade site for goods from the Empire, Dorastor, and Sylila. Faltham consulted the river priestesses, who said that the Great Mother was constrained. He decided to send two boats downstream to determine the problem.
Several days later, they beached their boats outside Ernandel, and were met by a larger group of riders and bowmen, led by Lord Ketisum, chieftain of Ernandel. Ketisum said nobody could pass without paying him tribute of 20 pounds of silver, and that he had a rope across the river to enforce this. He said that his ancestors had once mastered the Erinflarth and received tribute from the river-folk.
When Jangi taunted him as "lord of a pile of fish," Ketisum ordered his Alkothi to attack. The Alkothi advanced, pounding drums, singing fearsome songs, and shaking their blood-matted hair. Furlam composed a stirring poem, which raised everyone's morale.
Verdun and Feolam quickly fell before the assault. Kothar felled an Alkothi with his white-hot blade. Jangi stabbed one in the eye, and took out several more. Nallindia gave two serious wounds. Sekinmor felled two as well. The Alkothi wouldn't retreat, and finally all eleven had fallen, as well as seven Odrangings. Jangi stabbed one of the fallen Alkothi several more times. While Ketisum sputtered with rage, the Odrangings returned to their boats, and rowed out of range of arrows.
They pulled up on the other side of the river, and decided to send Sekinmor to Voranel to inform the Odrangings. During the ritual, the Bad Dogs attacked Sekinmor and tore his tendons. Nallindia was also chased by hounds as she tried to run back to Ernandel to scout. Jangi joined the fight, but the dogs defeated both of them, broke Nallindia's legs, and mauled Jangi.
They decided to head on to Thubana on foot.
As they passed near Ernandel, Jangi crept close to look at the defenses, but was hit by an arrow from the palisade. Furlam summoned a sylph to carry him back to the woods. A detachment of archers came from the palisade, but were ambushed at the edge of the woods. All but one were quickly defeated. They took four prisoners before retreating back into the forest.
Martog and Furlam interrogated the prisoners. Last year, Hestenus ruler of Thubana installed Ketisum as chieftain of Ernandel, with 11 Alkothi and 100 mercenaries. Their job was to turn back travel from the south, so they installed a human hair rope from Alkoth.
The Odrangings continued north, but spotted a boat full of Dara-ni heading to Thubana. Furlam quickly led a storm ritual which swamped the boat.
They arrived at Thubana without futher incident and headed for the ferry. They were greeted by a mounted group composed of suspicious War Zone mercenaries, led by Vestenaros. Furlam and Sekinmor persuaded them to let them into the city.
Thubana was surrounded by a stone wall, and contained buildings of many different types, of about the same number as Voranel. It was built on the ancient site of Gornadran, also known as Ganagan, which was holy to many gods, and the aldryami of Rist.
Hestenus wore a long robe in the Dara Happan style, and was accompanied by eleven Alkothi, and a green-haired priestess of Ganagan-Oria. Vestenaros presented Furlam and his companions. Hestenus introduced himself as "tyrant of Thubana." Furlam brought up the issue of trade, but Hestenus argued that Voranel needed trade more than he did, and said that he would only open the river for tribute.
The merchants in the bazaar were unhappy that the warlord of Lakrene wouldn't pay tribute to open the river, but were pleased that they had access to goods from many lands. They credited Erilindia, the Director of Terarir, with bringing much of the prosperity. They said that she had recently made a large endowment to the temple of Ganagan-Oria. The merchants said that Hestenus was a harsh man and not always fair.
Hestenus had been a mercenary leader in Dara-ni. He led a Pelorian war band, and worked for several city-states, including Thubana. Four years ago he quarrelled with the leader of Thubana, forced him out, and had him killed. He installed himself as Tyrant of Thubana. A year ago, he had one of his lieutenants, Ketisum, made Tyrant of Ernandel. He was known to have about 200 mercenaries under his control, and 22 Alkothi bodyguards.
There was a temple to the Erinflarth in her Mother aspect. The priestesses weren't happy with Hestenus.
The Gornadren temple was outside town, in a large sacred field. A magnificent temple was under construction, dedicated to Erilindia of Fandara. The high priestess of Ganagan-Oria, Sedessa, greeted them herself. Nallindia felt uncomfortable, though the men were all impressed by the statue of the goddess, which was modelled after Erilindia.
The group returned to their boats, and rowed back to Voranel. They gave Faltham the news.
Hrothgar tried to raise the warriors of Voranel to attack Ernandel, but Faltham refused to let them go. Then he summoned a sky bull, and with the help of Faltham and Nallindia, he sprang onto its back and flew off to find Kuleneth.
[Hrothgar wasn't very convincing to Kuleneth]
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