Theya organized a special ritual to make sure Ura's Mound was properly consecrated. Ura answered, but claimed she had been abandoned while the Varmandi were a war clan. Theya promised not to forget her.
Meanwhile, the men faced off against the Orlevings. Iskalli Orlevsson came out of the Orleving lines and cast a spear over the Varmandi, proclaiming he would avenge the Orlevings. But cool heads prevailed, and the confrontation ended in a standoff.
From the south came the news that King Korlmar of the Colymar had returned from Tarsh with many gifts. (Maniski remained in the north.) And Old Hiord had died.
Varmand sent a gift of four horses to Erland, with instructions that any agreement not tie his hands. A delegation took the side trail to Two-Ridge Fort, where Erland was annoyed on Orlev's behalf. But Korol smoothly presented the gifts, and they were guested in Erland's hall. Korol recited a poem about Arim's allies, which Erland applauded, announcing that he would again lead his men to the north. "If the old man is still strong enough, then I will consider arbitrating your dispute." The Orlevings present, as well as many of his thanes, were displeased at this. It turned out that Baranwolf Kulbrastsson, Erland's porter, was very popular, and had an agenda somewhat at odds with Erland's.
Varmand sent Illig, Baranthos, and Heorl to give funeral gifts to the Hiording. Old Hiord had married a swan maid, Sofeela. In the seven years of their marriage, they had seven sons, all of whom were now full-grown, and headed their own bloodlines. The Varmandi were met by Danbmar Hiordsson, who took them to his brother Angarorl, the chief. Heorl presented Varmand's gifts, but Angarorl received them coldly. "What do you demand as the counter-gift?" Theya calmed him down, but Illig said, "accepting our gifts is better than us taking your cattle."
The seven brothers were named Jarnolf (the priest), Fritholf (the lawspeaker), Angarorl (the chief), Jorasor, Aslandar, Dangmar, and Penterest. Many of the Hiording women were very beautiful. Iskalli Orlevsson had been sowing bad feelings against the Varmandi among the Hyalorings and the Hiordings.
The delegation went on to the Karandol, and were guested by Maniski Firebreath. Theya inquired after marriage prospects for Fistivos. The priestess suggested a girl with the best voice in Quiviniland. Baranthos learned of another girl, daughter of a wealthy carl, Marlesta.
The carls were starting to point out that Varmand was getting old.
Tensions were high at the Orleving border. One day Iskalli and a group showed up. Horselegs almost provoked a fight, but Vargast and Korol kept anything from happening.
Earth season was tense, with the housecarls guarding the harvest. Old Orleving women in mourning tried to disrupt the harvest ceremony at Ura's Mound. Varmand lost his temper, and ordered the old hags to begone. Despite this, it was an excellent harvest.
Horselegs returned as an initiate of Odayla.
The clan decided not to send men to aid Arim, for fear that the Orlevings would attack.
Several Varmandi went to Clearwine to trade, but were ambushed. They drove them off easily; Horselegs killed an uninitiated boy. Theya recognized one as an Ernaldori -- Gorolf, head of a bloodline.
In Clearwine, they sought King Korlmar, who said it was unfortunate that the Angry Young Men were raiding. He announced that the stranger traders were under his protection.
Theya learned of more war in the north. The Orendanae said more people were turning to the sword for a living. Young men among the Colymar were envious of the wealth their king and his housecarls had gained up north. There was also a rumor that Korlmar was going to stamp his own coins.
Baranthos took Fistivos to the Karandoli, and insisted on an immediate marriage. After he returned, he distributed 13 cattle among differnent steads.
During Storm season, a huge hailstone broke through the roof and hit Korol. He asked Heorl for a divination, and was told that the sons of Vadrus walked the sky. He was reassured that he hadn't been singled out.
Baranthos became a Godi of Orlanth the Thunderer.
Korol escorted Eonislara to Two Ridge Fort to see her father Kulbrast. The two argued.
Maniski Varmandsson was still missing. His wife and children were concerned, but many thought he was Arim's right-hand man.
Five out of nine of Theya's horses died over the winter. Illig was convinced it was Orleving witchcraft, and wanted to file a suit. Theya preferred to find a shaman.
Part 17 | Part 19
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