Earth Season, 333
Haradangian named Rastalulf as Champion of the Heortlings, an immense honor.
Haradangian's successes made many in Ernandel wonder about the loyalty many of its leaders had sworn to Erilindia.
It was rumored that Furlam was soon to ask the Council to be declared Director of Dara-ni.
Ernandel was now considered the center of Dara-ni, and emissaries with gifts came from Thubana and other distant places. The high priestess of the Kanakorings, Vareshgata, was among the visitors. The high priestess of Kanak-Oria was traditionally the leader of this clan. Vareshgata ritually petitioned Furlam to help her clan. They had been having problems with the aldryami of Rist. Furlam said that he would send a trusted advisor to negotiate with them, or attack them if speaking failed.
Nallindia spoke with Vareshgata. The aldryami had begun to ignore the Kanakoring's marker stones. The Kanakorings included Kanak-Oria's daughter Aldrya in their rituals. But the aldryami still killed herders and grew the forest.
Saratin Seomale was the aldryami representative to the Council, and also Lightson of Rist. The High King Elf was Taris Sharpthorn. Nallindia knew that there were both green and brown elves in Rist, and their tula was located near a great tree. Some elves did trade in the human cities, or visited Voranel for worship. They were difficult for humans to understand, and nursed centuries-old grudges. But they were enthusiastic supporters of the Lightbringer missionaries.
Nallindia and Hrothgar assembled a group of about 30 warriors, and they headed downstream.
There were about 3500 Kanakorings divided into seven septs. Their lands were centered on a temple complex, which housed an impressive painted statue of Kanak-Oria. The edge of the elf woods could be seen from the temple, while a year ago it had been several miles further away. Vareshgata held a feast. The Kanakoring hunters complained that the aldryami frightened away the game. During Fire season, the Kanakorings had twice sent several expeditions into the woods but each time they lost the path and were attacked.
Nallindia performed a ritual in the forest, and three days later her old friend Oakneedle the Woodlord showed up. She asked him about the expansion of the forest, and he replied, "The forest will grow, for the sun is rising." But the aldryami bore no enmity to the meat people. "The people of the little goddess are not enemies of Rist, they can return to their ancient rites and live in peace. But those who interfere with the forest will be treated as enemies." Nallindia asked to learn the rites, and Oakneedle replied that they were human rituals. He said that when Rist kissed the Erinflarth, the people had performed the rites and lived in peace.
Vareshgata spoke with Oakneedle, and got much the same response.
Vareshgata said that in the Darkness, the Kanakorings survived because Kanaka showed them which roots and berries they could eat in the woods. The Great Bear showed them how to kill the other animals of the woods, and how to sleep through an entire winter.
She thought that the King of Rist sought to expand his land to the Erinflarth, and would only be satisfied if they returned to their ancient ways. Nallindia said that the aldryami didn't ask for a return to the ancient ways, but only a renewal of certain ancient rites, but no one knew exactly what those rites were. They returned to Ernandel.
During Dark season, Martog, with the support of her followers and Nallindia as Dronyesta Foxhair, interrupted Henemara when she invoked the blessings of Nealda-Oria on the children. They proved that their birthing magic was nearly as powerful as Nealda-Oria's, and deserved a place in the rituals.
Verdun managed to breed two of the fancy horses they had taken from Jillaro.
One rainy day in Storm season, a large reed boat arrived in Ernandel, bearing a Dara Happan aristocrat accompanied by three Alkothi warriors (Murhardavu knew them as Hell Warriors).
Furlam received them politely. The aristocrat was named Malorishkaram, and had been sent as the Voice of the Emperor. He gave gifts to Furlam, whom he called a "petty barbarian despot," and gave the Emperor's blessing, "for he knows you are loyal to the Truth." He said that Furlam harbored a terrible outlaw and a kin-murderer. As proof of his friendship, the Emperor asked him to turn over this murderer. He said that Murhardavu fled the Emperor after killing members of his own family and raising rebellion against the Emperor. Hrothgar said that Murhardavu was under his protection. Malorishkaram said that he realized the barbarians took time to make decisions, and gave Furlam three days to reply.
Murhardavu asked where Malorishkaram was from, and learned that he was one of the Pelandan captains who had risen in Mahzanelm's service. Murhardavu said that this man was not one of his people, but a foreign mercenary. He said that the Emperor had slain all his kin, that he was one of the few surviving kinsmen, and that Mahzanelm sought to finish his kinslaying.
Murhardavu then insulted Malorishkaram, saying that Mahzanelm had no loyal Dara Happans and had to resort to Pelandan servitors.
Malorishkaram told Murhardavu to do what was best for himself and his family, and surrender to the emperor's mercy.
The city council decided to tell Malorishkaram that Furlam would be happy to listen to the legal case of his brother-king of Dara Happa, provided he followed proper legal procedures, which Sorel spelled out in detail. Malorishkaram replied that they had showed themselves to be no friends of the emperor, and departed.
Part Nine | Part Eleven
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