Horselegs went to see Maniski Firebreath of the Karandoli, and asked for his help against the Namolding. Maniski preferred to keep the peace with the Malani, and refused permission for a warband to cross his tula.
Vargast and Horselegs led a cattle raid against the Hiording. They managed to capture 25 cows.
During Fire season, one of Orlev's sons launched a cattle raid, but they were spotted. Ingard Korolsson sounded the alarm, and the Varmandi warriors gathered. Vargast, Heorl, and Horselegs summoned thunderbolts. Svar and Illig were inspired by their hatred of the Orlevings, and attacked savagely. But one of the Orlevings ran Heorl through. They saved one of the wounded Orlevings.
During the Ernalda rituals, Theya sacrificed the Orleving captive to the Sow Mother. A huge boar the size of a bull showed up -- Gouger, who was once tamed by Aram-ya-Udram. Theya promised it annual gifts if it protected against the Orleving.
The men were horrified at this, as were most of the women. Theya argued that it was a return to the old ways.
During Sea season, Lonisi backed by tribal housecarls crossed the Varmandi border stones. Horselegs challenged them, and Heortarl responded that he didn't recognize Varmandi claims to the land, and asked if Horselegs was going to stop him. Horselegs tried to challenge him to single combat, but Heortarl ignored this. He rode on to speak to Vargast. He brought a demand for tribute from the new king of the Hyalorings, Ermanoring. Vargast replied that the Varmandi never paid tribute. Jonrik, the Lonisi lawspeaker, recited a long list of grievances, but Heorl pointed out that the Hyalorings had no jurisdiction. Then Heorl reminded them that they had not given the Greeting when entering Varmandi lands. He also got them to concede that this was in fact the Varmandi tula. Vargast then gave him gifts, but Heortarl threw them on the ground. Vargast answered in a terrible voice, "You have entered my tula without giving the Greeting. I have extended you kindness, and you cast down my gifts. Get off my lands!" Before he left, Heortarl warned Vargast, "The wounded and limping clan should be wary of offending the folk of Hyalor. Live in dread, for you shall soon hear the sound of hooves."
During fire season, Ingard spotted raiders he couldn't identify, who stole 5 cows. He tried to follow, but one of them surprised him. The raider refused to identify himself, and threatened to kill Ingard so he couldn't grow up and face him on a battlefield. Ingard told him that would be a cowardly act. He agreed, called him a "bold boy," took Ingard's horn, and left.
Since the clan couldn't identify the raiders, they decided not to raid.
Karnstal the Trader came to trade. Onelisin bought a sword for Ingard, called Blood Serpent.
It was a good harvest.
Theya asked Horselegs to bring back a captive to sacrifice, but he replied that people weren't on his hunting list. Illig gave a rousing speech, concluding that Theya would appoint the person to find an Orleving to kill. Theya appointed Illig. Illig then inspired 15 volunteers to accompany him to take captives.
They decided to attack the stone fort, and snuck into Ormsthane Vale. Theya unloosed an earth elemental to knock down the walls. The defenders fought fiercely, and half the Varmandi were seriously wounded before they got inside and overwhelmed them. They turned out to be Malani tribal housecarls. Illig left Kastang alive to report the killings, saying he fought so poorly that he was no danger to leave alive.
Most of the women were not willing to accompany Theya for a human sacrifice. Svar led the Vengeful Women to the Pig Woods, where the boar was waiting, even bigger than a bull by now. It seemed to speak, recognizing Theya. Theya presented the captive, saying he was a gift from the people of Kero Fin. She sacrificed for Blast Earth.
Part 23 | Part 25
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