During Sea season, word came that High King Haradangian was organizing an army. Nallindia had sworn an oath to Haradangian, and Hrothgar wanted to see his champion, Rastalulf. Furlam decided it would be politically astute to help, and sent a reasonably large contingent from Ernandel.
It was decided to take boats downriver to Henjarl, then travel up the Oslir. Hrothgar gathered men from the neighboring clans. There were over 200 men in what was known as the Army of Dara-ni.
They took ten boats down the Erinflarth. They were given hospitality by Lord Wolenath in Thubana. They arrived in Laradana the next day. Its lord had heard rumors that the Alkothi were staying out of the war between the emperors. They began passing Dara Happan settlements, many of which had been sacked recently. When they got out of the hills, they began seeing rice paddies. When they stopped, they sought out the local lord. He was named Erenordesh, a Dara Happan magistrate whose family was in Alkoth. He commanded 50 warriors. Murhardavu parleyed with him. Erenordesh warned him off, but Murhardavu overawed him, and convinced him to feed the group. He explained they were out to defeat Erilindia, who was the Hind of Pelanda. Erenordesh explained he manned a collection point for Alkoth, which also served as a warning station. They discussed the war to the north. Erenordesh said that the Khordavu dynasty was dead, and that Henjarl should proclaim itself the empire again. He was afraid that Mahzanelm would win the war, although he would not be a just emperor. The two conversed in Dara Happan for some time.
Nallindia guided the boats through the marshy lowlands of Henjarl until they reached the Oslir. They continued upriver until they left the plains, and saw the hillfort of Koladen. Verdun spotted five boats heading from the city, so they landed on the far bank. The boaters gave greetings from Koladen. Their leader, Captain Rigtenos, asked if they were there to trade or would pay the passage. Nallindia ranted at him until he relented, and they slipped past the city.
They came to a high hill topped by stone buildings. It was agreed that the lack of a wall made it a good target for a raid, so they beached the boats. As they scouted, they found a small walled city at the base of the hill. A herd of horses grazed on the hill, and were brought up to the top of the hill as soon as the raiders were spotted.
Hrothgar detached Oswind, Verdun, and Murhardavu to deal with the horses. They found 20 horsemen, who told them they were on sacred ground, and should flee or be cursed by Elmal. Verdun said that he was Elmal, and had come for his horses. The leader replied that place was sacred to Elmal's wife, Reladiva. He announced himself as Yorandaros, tracing his genealogy to Hyalor. But Verdun identified Elmal as the light of Kero Fin, confusing him. Oswind tried to get Yorandros to defend the city, but he answered that the herd was his people, and that anyone who profaned the sacred ground would suffer a horrible curse.
The rest approached the city, where Martog terrified them into opening the gates in exchange for a promise of safe conduct. They learned that the city was called Jillaro. Nallindia stayed to keep order among the looters, while Hrothgar headed up the hill, and asked Yorandros for his horse-gift, Elmal's due to Orlanth. Yorandros replied that he tended Elmal's sacred herd, given to him as part of the marriage with Orlanth's horse-loving daughter. Hrothgar tried to prove that he was Orlanth, master of combat. Yorandros invoked his god. After a fierce magical duel, Yorandros slumped in his saddle, seriously wounded. He said he couldn't stop Hrothgar, but anyone who took horses from Grassy Bator would suffer the wrath of the gods. Hrothgar let the riders keep their mounts, and took the other horses. He sacrificed five to Orlanth and five to Elmal, and kept forty.
They learned that at the beginning of the darkness, the god of the place went to find justice and was ambushed and killed by Vadrus. At the Dawn the temple complex was sacked and the priests killed by the Alkothi. They don't even remember the name of the god. They say that Hyalor is the son of the dead god, and this was his birthplace.
The ruins of the temple still had gifts of gold that the group took. While staying within Jillaro Hrothgar let the army loot the ruined temple but not defecate on it. There was a good amount of good looted, twenty pounds in all. Murhardavu checked to see any had religious significance and collected a few items, including Vuranostum's Bridle.
After spending two days resting and getting drunk on the local wine, the army crossed the smaller river and began travelling down the river to Blue Rock. A few hours south was another small walled town. They stopped and Martog tried extort horses and food, but the guards at the walls warned that they were under the protection of a local tribe and didn't fear her. Oswind made the deal for five horses that the army wouldn't burn the fields, and they moved south.
They made camp at a large stead five miles from Blue Rock. Oswind, Verdun, Bad Breath, and Martog went out that night to scout out the town. Blue Rock had twenty-feet high bluish walls. Bad Breath tried to chew through the gates but couldn't. It had a rampart and very impressive gates.
50-75 men manned the walls, with about half with armor that were recognized as Humatki. Martog demanded they open the gates. Jarstalor the Grim was a Humakt and feared nothing. Martog couldn't scare a worshipper of Death. Jarstalor had sworn to his queen to defend the city, and refused Hrothgar's challenge of personal combat.
They spent the day building ladders while the leaders developed a simple plan. Hrothgar would lead twenty flyers over the walls, and the rest would charge the front gate. The attack would take place at dawn.
The attack went poorly. Oswind had trouble charging the walls, and it took until the fourth attempt to cross over the walls, and only after the flyers [???]
Meanwhile, on the rear side of the walls, Hrothgar and the Lakreni thanes flew up onto the walls to be met by the Humakti. With a mighty bolt of lightning, Hrothgar killed the Humakti leader, and they managed to kill all the Humakti on the walls.
By midafternoon the city was taken, but at a heavy cost in lives and wounded. Seven of the flyers were injured and two killed. Of the 180 attacking the walls, 12 died and another 60 were injured. Six of Ernandel's Humakti mercenaries were among the dead.
The army pillaged the city. About 45 more horses were taken and a great deal of wealth. Murhardavu stayed outside to kill anyone fleeing. Oswind and Verdun led very successful looting parties, while Martog healed the injured. Hrothgar commanded, and refused the entreaties of the high priestess who offered her life for her people.
The warriors took a thrall each. Tolebras Two-spears claimed the most beautiful woman, and Henstal Hendsson claimed her as well and they fought over it. Hrothgar wanted to return through Sylila and most of the council agreed. Nallindia wanted to head south to link up with the High King, but most of the warriors just wanted to return home with all their booty.
The city of 400 was reduced to 320, with many others beaten and raped. The army licked its wounds and prepared to leave.
On the morning of the third day, five longboats showed up. They sent riders to the camp. Hygleaf of Durleel the herald spoke for Queen Erilindia. He offered a gift of gold and wanted Hrothgar to meet with the queen. He agreed to come back the next day to get Hrothgar's answer.
A giant loon-headed reed boat and another large boat arrived. Erilindia was here!
The council was worried, as the queen's terrible reputation of manipulating men was feared by all of them. They decided to leave at night, and set a small group to clear out the pickets. The attempt failed. Bad Breath was injured by one of the warriors, and Murhardavu's bow broke. Martog summoned a spirit of darkness to kill one, but it was obvious that they couldn't get out without a big fight after the surviving guards sounded the alarm.
On the next morning they could see 200-500 men around the walls. Nallindia was sent to find the High King with her Vinga magic to see if he could come to the army's aid. After all, the Heortling king shouldn't have any troubles with Erilindia busy here.
The messenger returned and after some discussion the council agreed to accept a feast with the Queen. They would not accept Martog as Hrothgar's representative, so Martog said that the ring spoke as a council. With Nallindia gone the council thought they would have a better chance of negotiating something. A few of the group thought that Erilindia could make a powerful ally.
Part Seven | Part Nine
David Dunham Page | Glorantha Page | Dawn Age