The elders decided to start the initiation process.
Korol gave gifts to Gunnar, Baranthos, and Heorl, and raised the issue of becoming a godi of Orlanth Goodvoice. The religious members of Orlanth agreed to let him try, and he passed the tests. Varmand asked him to remain as a housecarl.
Varmand asked every member of the clan to help build up the palisade around his hall. If there were a full-fledged attack led by a king, the shepherds would flee to the hills with their sheep. Everyone else would gather at his hall with the cattle.
During Sea season, the news came that Baranwulf Kulbrastsson was given Malan's iron sword by Garangal the Wall, one of the housecarls. Baranwulf proclaimed himself king, and formed a ring, including Kogall the Thunderer, Garangal the Wall, and Iskalli Orlevsson, and a number of Namolding women.
A handful of envoys came from the Hyalorings arrived. Their thane insisted on being given protection and hospitality. He said King Gudvingkor demanded the return of the hostages in exchange for his friendship, and as a favor offered 12 marks. Varmand said this was an insult and a breach of hospitality, and ordered the housecarls to seize the emissaries. Varmand grabbed a hostage, and said his life was forfeit. His wife and daughter pleaded for his life, and Varmand dropped his sword and gave the hostage several mighty blows. Then he yelled at the thane that if any Hyalorings showed up without the 30 marks, the lives of the hostages was forfeit, and had him escorted off Varmandi lands. He then told the hostages that their king insulted them, and to pray that their king was not so rash to send men instead of money.
A large group of horsemen and footmen showed up, including Queen Lismelder and five housecarls, and 20 others. One of the housecarls was Indrodar Greydog, son of Lornar. He was at most 15 and beardless, but had the position of honor, and wore the tattoos of Humakt.
Lismelder gave Varmand a fine sword. Varmand extended full hospitality, and gave her four marks of silver from Arim. Lismelder told Varmand it was known he was no friend of Baranwulf, and had many grievances against the Malani.
When Vargast tried to take his seat as the clan Champion, Indrodar claimed it. After a tense moment, Vargast offered him the seat.
Baranthos learned that Lismelder wanted to collect her portion of her father's inheritance. Most of her followers seemed to hang on Indrodar. One of the Varmandi housecarls, Annast, told Indrodar that he should recite his deeds to his brother warriors; Indrodar said he considered no warrior in the hall his brothers.
The Lismelder tribe had set up a Humakti shrine, where many of the Humakti lived, almost as a clan of their own.
The next day, Varmand summoned his ring, and said he'd told Lismelder he wouldn't summon the fyrd just so she could make a bid at kingship of the Malani. But he and the ring decided to help her gain her rights. He took the majority of his thanes.
Led by Lismelder, they headed through Orleving lands to Two Ridge Fort. Baranwulf himself made the challenge, and Lismelder answered. She said she saw none of Malan's kin manning Malan's ramparts. She said she was there to see if Baranwulf was a just man, and would redress her legal grievances. Baranwulf replied that it was unjust and unlawful to come to a king's fort demanding hospitality through insults. Heorl pointed out that a king must hear any legitimate claim for redressing of wrongs. Baranwulf replied that it was not the correct day, but Heorl pointed out that Orlanth didn't wait to rule on the cases of Ragnaglar, Malia, and Thed. Baranwulf accepted, but insisted that the company enter unarmed. Indrodar then said he would challenge their champion over the issue of the swords. Garangal refused to recognize a child, but Indrodar said he would accompany his queen with his sword. Korol announced Indrodar's deeds and lineage. The Malani decided to admit the leaders and five warriors each.
Lismelder made comments about how the Malani had fallen to such levels. She interrupted Baranwulf, and said she was here for her share of her family's inheritance: 40 marks of silver, and Malan's iron sword. Kogall the Thunderer laid into Lismelder, calling her an insolent whelp, and reminding her that she severed her relationship with Malan, and was owed nothing. Heorl argued that the gods could not watch a noble line die, and that blood was stronger than legal technicalities. Baranwulf claimed that the sword was part of the tribal regalia, and that he would make his crown test to use it against whoever tried to take it from the Malani. Lismelder and Baranwulf argued for some time, then Lismelder turned away, saying, "You are a man without justice. You are a man an aggrieved party cannot obtain justice from." She demanded that the gates be opened, and started walking towards them. Baranwulf became even more enraged. "Treacherous bitch! You have violated all hospitality by asking that which I cannot give and insulting me in my own hall!" Heorl pointed out that he had never offered hospitality, and hadn't even heard all the arguments, let alone attempted to rule on the complaint. Indrodar then said he would open the gate. He ordered a thrall to unbar the gate. The company walked out.
Lismelder gave additional gifts to Varmand and Heorl. Varmand told her he didn't appreciate being used as a mercenary. He had entreated with her husband Frohdi, and fought where he didn't have to, to avenge Frohdi alongside the Colymar. In his opinion there were two without justice in Two Ridge Fort. The debt she owed him was great indeed.
Varmand's wife Eonislara said it might be possible to beseech her brother Baranwulf to let the Varmandi be. But the Ring felt this would not be successful.
Maniski asked, why not just raid the Malani? Theya spoke against it, but many agreed with Maniski, who argued that other clans no longer feared us. Eventually it was decided to ask the Culbrea for help. Varmand stated that when the winter crop was in, he wanted all his thanes in his lands. He gave his son Vargast 16 marks of silver to take to the Culbrea to recruit as many warriors as possible.
Part 19 | Part 21
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