Maniski wanted immediate vengeance against Namold, but Korol talked him into visiting the Culbrea instead, promising to help next year.
As the Varmandi rode through the former Greydog lands, they encountered the Penneth clan. Korol greeted chief Penneth, and Baranthos gave him a fine gift. Penneth gave them hospitality in his hall, where a tall but unattractive woman with a lovely voice took a liking to Volstang. Her name was *** and she was the daughter of a wealthy carl, Korang.
As they approached the Lorthing river, they spotted a troop of five dragonewts, three on huge flightless birds. One of them loosed an arrow at Vargast's wife Karendra, and she fell, wounded, from her horse. Another would have hit Theya, but she'd cast a Shimmer. The riders charged. Korol wounded one, but its bird disemboweled him before Maniski killed it. The one fighting Horselegs unfurled previously unseen wings and flew away. Volstang traded blows with another, then it dropped its klanth and he wounded it. Maniski killed another rider. The final dragonewt breathed fire on Horselegs, but Horselegs and Volstang killed it. Horselegs also slew the feathered mount he was up against.
Meanwhile, Korol saw Issaries the Pathfinder, who told him that it was not yet time to be led from the mortal wound, but said, "No man ever forgets his first step on the trip to Orlanth." Theya called on Ernalda's aid and healed Korol before he could converse further. He made this poem for her:
Snake's horse exposed my secret parts
To the wind-hall's lord.
Goldentongue poured me the mead of poetry,
But wouldn't guide my footsteps.
Daughter of two mothers gave me back life-mother's gift.
The wounded swam in the nymph's pool, and were soothed.
They were given full hospitality by King Culbrea. His tribe had done well, and had good relations with a new self-proclaimed king, Cinsina, who led a warrior brotherhood. Several people were demanding to settle their own lands, and Culbrea had given one group permission to settle Elkenvale, and another leave to settle near where the dragonewts attacked. The Culbrea had also founded a shrine to Humakt.
Korol gave the king 2 marks of silver, and Baranthos gave a horse, but was too blunt asking for help with Erland, and Culbrea refused to help. He did however gift Korol with a piece of a gold necklace and a horse, and recognized everyone who had given him gifts as his friends.
Korol helped Volstang order a set of ringmail, then rested.
Heorl asked Umatkoring to deliver the tests to become a priest, at the Hill of Orlanth. Heorl passed them, and was acclaimed as a Storm Voice. Volstang and Korol together composed a poem in Heorl's honor.
Bile Two-True was let out of the stocks, and commented on how the Varmandi were showing weakness by petitioning a king for legal help, but Korol silenced him, saying "He who is outside the law is not qualified to give advice about it."
Vargast and Karendra got Umatkoring to ask Gustrand to back the Varmandi case at Two Ridge Fort, and he agreed to show up.
As they returned by way of the nymph's pool, Korol recited another poem, which brought the nymph nearly to the surface. Both he and Vargast saw her there, the most beautiful woman they had ever seen.
The Varmandi had a good harvest. They then made a trip to Clearwine to trade.
Heorl asked Orlanth where to site a shrine, and was guided to a free-standing oak which had survived multiple lightning strikes. He consecrated it as Thunderer's Grove, and initiated Korol and one other to the Orlanth Thunderous subcult.
The frost was a week late, and the winter was generally mild.
They travelled to Two Ridge Fort, where they were met by Gustrand, who was accompanied by Frithorf, a doughty carl, and Orlkensor, the Culbrea lawspeaker, known for his legal acumen.
With Korol's advice, Heorl picked Orendal and Brabdig as jurors. Kestald and Rostandos were also appointed. The Varmandi gave 9 marks as gifts to the jurors, and a horse to the king. Heorl chose Orendal to make the formal claim, then presented the arguments (using a Cite Law spell), claiming that all the wounds and killings were offset or paid for, except one to Varmand, worth 20 cows.
Arlgarl spoke on behalf of Orlev, emphasizing that the context of the killings changed their price, and asking for 60 cattle. Heorl countered that all the wounds in Orlev's hall had been paid for, and reminded everyone that Orlev had attacked a herald.
Arlgarl responded with an impassioned speech, bringing up the heinous raid on the Goddess's Feast Day. He nearly swayed the jurors, but Heorl pointed out (using another Cite Law) that no injuries were suffered during that raid, and no compensation could be claimed.
Estavos announced the juror's consensus of what was lawful: all wounds balanced out, and no compensation was due. Erland said, "Nonetheless, what is just is that a king protects his own. I will protect my clans. I announce a new precedent," and proceeded to fine the Varmandi 20 cows for being a foreign clan who attacked the Malani. His lawspeaker backed him up. Erland did declare the killings legally null and void, which annoyed Orlev. The Varmandi paid on the spot, Baranthos contributing most of the payment (Korol had been a guarantor, and gave two cows).
Over the winter, four of Korol's children were deathly sick, and Ernaldess died. Varmand too was gravely ill, but Onelisin and Karendra tended him day and night until he recovered. It was said that his stead had incurred some curse.
Part 14 | Part 16
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