The Varmandi decided to remain a war clan, and Heorl replaced Illig on the clan ring. The clan's holy women were given many gifts in exchange for fertility magic. Vargast asked for the clan's help performing the Orlanth and Aroka ritual, and received it, though most of their attention was paid towards Malan.
Onelisin gave birth to Korol's daughter Elgane.
Varmand sent gifts to Barngradus, pledging support and asking him to help end the feud between himself and Orlev. Barngradus promised his sword to back Varmand's claim.
Barngradus and Malan both summoned their tribal fyrds. Barngradus marched to the edge of Varmandi lands, accompanied by a contingent from the Karandoli clan. The Lismelder burned their fields and joined them.
Korol argued passionately that his lord Varmand should have the position of honor against his old foes, and Barngradus agreed. Then he summoned the Black Spear.
The next morning, the two hosts faced off east of Ura's Mound, as a summer storm thundered overhead. The Lismelder Humakti were eerily silent while everyone else yelled their war cries. Malan brandished his sword Foebreaker, while Barngradus rode his Grazer war-horse and held aloft the Black Spear.
The Orleving clan lined up across from the Varmandi. Malan gave the Hyalorings the position of honor on his right flank; with these allies, his forces were about the same size as the Colymar's, nearly 500 warriors on each side.
Vartalor called out Baranthos to a challenge. Baranthos charged him, wearing his fine chainmail and carrying his double-bladed axe and shield. Vartalor hurled his throwing-spear into Baranthos's leg, then knocked him down with a sword blow. Baranthos got back up, but Vartalor shattered his axe, and struck him unconscious. At this, the Varmandi archers drove Vartalor off, and Horselegs used much magic to heal Baranthos, and rearmed him.
Vargast led the charge against Orlev, who carried the Eye Spear. Vargast struck down Orlev, then gave Vartalor a mortal wound. Seeing this, the Orleving Storm Voice Argarl the Elder cast a Thunderbolt at Vargast, but could not kill him, for Orlanth was on the side of the Varmandi.
Orlrik charged Korol, and gave him a tremendous blow, but Onelisin had painted the runes of Arran on Korol's shield, and it held. Then Korol wounded Orlrik in the side, and gave him another wound in the leg before the two were separated in the press.
Hendest the Bald, one of Orlev's hall-warriors, nearly killed Heorl.
Orlev had been dragged to the rear and healed. Despite having lost an eye, he snuck back into the front lines and struck Varmand unconscious from behind.
Malan broke through Barngradus's shield wall and attacked him. Bangradus thrust the Black Spear through Malan's chest and another arm's-length beyond, and Malan fell, dead. The Malani withdrew in good order, and the Colymar forces pulled back as well.
Illig composed this poem:
The scream of swords,
The clash of shields,
These are true words
Man sees his death,
Frozen in dreams.
Storm's center was two kings,
Masters of score warrior thanes,
Takers of life and givers of rings,
Both won undying fame
On that red-trailed day.
With their hammered god-bones,
Malan's boon companions
Clove Colymar heir's shield-wall.
They sang Humakt's death song,
Which brings fear to gods and men all.
As edges swing,
Blades cut men down,
Barngradus and Malan,
Earned their renown.
Break not the spell
But silent be:
To you I'll tell
At the clash of kings
The Black Spear swings
At blue-stained shield.
When swords annoint
What man is saved?
Who gets this point
Soul deep engraved:
Like thunder loosened
From Orlanth's hand
Now only one king
Part 11 | Part 13
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