The Clan that Ate Cows

It was back when Arim the Pauper came to our lands. Our king Hendroste Goldheart befriended him and his horseless people, and let them settle near the Sacred Mountain.

Arim's people brought cows with them, beasts about the size of a horse but with a horn growing through their brain and out both sides, making them stupid. Arim's priestesses could get much milk from these beasts, and his priests killed them for great feasts. A chief named Yanastorl asked Arim for a gift of some cows. Arim agreed of course, and Yanastorl had his wives learn to milk the beasts. He tried to drink the milk, but it made him windy, and his Laughing Companion said that this must be how Arim's people worshipped their god Wingkoalad the Cloud Lord. Then Yanastorl had his wives make it into koumiss, but instead it turned into a thick, curdy mess, and he couldn't drink it. So he ordered a cow slain, and held a feast. All of his warriors enjoyed the flesh of the cow, and so they agreed to keep herds of cows alongside the horses.

The women of the clan now had to care for two kinds of animals, and babies were often given cow's milk because their mothers were too busy to feed them properly. When these children grew up, they refused to drink koumiss.

But Yanastorl was still chief, because he gave many feasts of cow-flesh for his warriors, and was on good terms with Arim.

One night, Kanvak sent his trolls against Yanastorl's herds. The cows, being stupid, scattered in all directions, and the young Riders who were tending them chased after them into the night and were never seen again.

Yanastorl ordered his men to chop down many trees, and built fences like those he'd seen at Arim's fort, to keep the cows from running away. His warriors resented this duty, and Yanastorl had to give half of all his treasure to keep them happy.

Kanvak again sent his trolls against the herds. The pregnant mares couldn't jump over the fences, so the trolls caught and ate them. So Yanastorl had to separate the herds, and post twice as many guards at night. He gave out the rest of his treasure to quiet the grumbling of his warriors.

Because the women had to divide their ceremonies between two kinds of animals, the horses didn't reproduce very fast, and Yanastorl was hard-pressed to select the gifts for Hendroste Goldheart.

After their first two successes, a vast horde of trolls decided to try their luck with Yanastorl's herds. Yanastorl had split his guards, and they were overwhelmed by the trolls, which then chased the cows into a corner and ate them. Yanastorl gathered his warriors and fought the trolls, but Yu-kargzant didn't answer him, and he was killed in the battle. He had to be lain out with no wealth, and so today he is remembered only for his folly.

After Yanastorl's funeral, his clan decided they must move, or be set upon by more troll attacks. But they had almost no spare mounts, and travelling with the cows slowed them down even further, and the trolls caught up with them and killed them all.

So much for the clan that ate cows.

This story appeared in issue 17 of Tales of the Reaching Moon.

Copyright ©1998 David Dunham. Last updated 9 Feb 01.

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