Although Heorl was unsure of the strength of the claim, they decided to send a delegation to the king of the Hyalorings, to request Vargast's inheritance. Tanara was the daughter of Mistorang, of the Lonisi clan, and a relative and thane of Gudvingkor Firebrand, former king of the Hyalorings. Varmand had kidnapped Tanara and married her. Her brothers eventually stole her back. Tanara never remarried.
At the boundary stream, Illig acted as herald. They were met by Heortarl the chief, his housecarls, and Elmalandti the priest, who was brother-in-law of king Ermanoring. Heortarl said "I don't know what trick you're up to, Vargast, summoning me here, but beyond this stream is land you're not welcome to, herald or not." Vargast said he was here on a legal matter, to claim the only son's portion of his mother's inheritance. Elmalandti said, "As a Varmandi, you have no legal claim to that which is the Lonisi's." Heorl answered that it was a matter of kin, not clan. Heortarl said, "I don't recognize your authority to make claims over anyone of this clan. I care not what your claim is." Heorl reminded him of an ancient precedent, when Harmast Barefoot crossed an unfriendly tula to reach Arrowmound.
Heortarl told Vargast, "Your lawspeaker has a fine grasp of precedents. I can think of no way to deny your unjust demand without offending the gods, but the gods do not smile upon folk who misuse the words of the law to seize what is not theirs. You are practicing Lokamayadonism!" After a brief discussion with Elmalandti, he continued "I prophesy that this unjust demand of yours for Tanara's wealth will not sit well with King Ermanoring." He then turned, and escorted the Varmandi to Runegate.
Runegate was an ancient hillfort (like Two-Ridge) with a massive rune-carved gate probably dating from the Unity Council, though the more modern walls weren't as impressive.
Ermanoring was a tall man with a black beard, who wore fine clothes. After Vargast presented himself, Ermanoring said, "You are better-spoken than your father, but Varmand incurred impressive debts to my folk, and I am reluctant to offer any rights to the son of a murderer."
"My father was known for many things, especially bravery in combat, but he was was too proud to kill anyone in secret."
Ermanoring asked Vargast his business. Vargast answered that he'd come for the son's portion of his mother's property. Heorl reminded everyone of the relevance of a thousand-year old inheritance case (from the "Immolation Song"), gave the Justice Oath, and summarized the case. Ermanoring told him to bring four more jurors trusted by him, and he would hear the case at the moot in Earth season.
The Varmandi weren't given hall-rights, but were guested in the hall of Borulf of the Narri clan, who was an initiate of Issaries. He and his wife Ilarandra maintained a guest-hall on behalf of the king. Heorl asked Borulf to arrange a meeting with Elmalandti.
The next day, Elmalandti, Heortarl the chief of the Lonisi, and four thanes came to Borulf's hall. Elmalandti insulted Vargast's parentage. Vargast responsed by reciting his lineage. Elmalandti replied that as a Hyaloring, Tanara could only take a husband from the Enhyli clan, thus Vargast could not be her child. Heorl reminded them that in the God's Age, the storm gods fathered children without regard to the tribe of the mother. They offered to cede the rights to the inheritance in exchange for recognition. Elmalandti repeated that Tanara had no son, and said that a wild dog could not demand recognition as kin, and brought up a case where a young chief won a case solely by right of arms, but that he knew the magic of the Thunder, and was not afraid to fight. He then left.
The Varmandi returned home, and began planning a raid against the Orleving.
Vargast took 30 men to Ormsthane Vale. They found Penorri, a wealthy carl's, herd of 15 cows, and made off with them while the tenders were asleep.
Vargast and Heorl began finding jurors. They gave Maniski Firebreath, chief of the Karandoli clan, 6 horses. Maniski gave them the best bull from his herd, some clearwine, and 2 marks of silver, and he and Vargast pledged friendship. At the feast, the chief's wife, Jerernalda, told Heorl that she was willing to support marriage alliances between the two clans. Vargast got Maniski to agree to be a juror in his case.
Ingard grumbled about Vargast's raid, so Illig worked him hard. He still managed to sneak out occasionally and spend time with Lindelya.
There was talk about building new steads, since the clan was beginning to outgrow their original defensive cluster.
The clan sent a herd of horses and cattle to Clearwine. Brenna went to become initiated. Ingard was among those who went. They spotted a group of dragonewts near a plinth. Three dragonewts riding walking birds and five smaller dragonewts came running towards them. Heorl tried to greet them. One hissed what sounded like a response. Heorl offered them a cow. The speaker said, "Master Sticky-Skin demands the three orbs that were stolen by the thieving thinker before the fall." Heorl denied having any orbs, and the entire group of dragonewts returned to the plinth, then disappeared into it.
They arrived in Konthasos lands, and Illig gave gifts to the chief, Mordaskal, who said that the Varmandi were no friends of the Konthasos. Illig reminded him that traders were under the king's protection. Heorl and Theya both gave him a gift of horses, and Mordaskal gave them hospitality. Mordaskal was not of Barngradus's family, who were known for being warriors or priests, but was a master of the vine. At the feast, they were given clearwine. Dunorl was smitten with Jenestala Leikansdaughter, the most beautiful woman at the feast, who talked to him most of the evening. Illig traded for cuttings from the grape vines.
At Clearwine, they had a brief audience with Korlmar, who was in his third five-year sacred kingship.
The Orendanae asked Theya to deal with many of the non-social aspects of the Earth Mother, such as holding the ceremonies for Kero Fin, and recognized her as the Dark Priestess of not only the Varmandi but the Colymar. The Orendanae explained that, in their view, part of the success of the clearwine fields was due to the blood sacrifices the Varmandi brought to the land. Theya sponsored Brenna as an initiate of the Orendanae. She also traded for priestess garb.
Ingard and Heorl asked his uncle Endaros to be a juror for Vargast's case, and he agreed.
Kangharl Baranthosson was apprenticed to Jarolar the smith. Enderos Baranthosson began wooing an Ernaldori girl.
Theya investigated marriage prospects. She found Alsa, daughter of Aslandars, an Ernaldori thane, for her son Gunnar. For Jaran Illigsson she found a Zethnoring woman. For Utag Illigsson she found the daughter of a Black Spear warrior. Arangorn Svarsson she matched with an Ernaldori woman. For Leika Svarsdaughter, she found Hird, who was willing to be an underhusband if he could have his own stead. Theya figured she had potentially contributed to creating five new steads.
Before they left, Heorl also managed to recruit a housecarl, a Colymar man who had killed someone and had to leave.
Enderos asked Illig to petition Vargast to start his own stead.
Vargast appointed Theya as a juror, and brought Horselegs as champion and twenty guards. Endaros and three thanes, and Maniski and ten supporters showed up, and Vargast feasted them. Vargast left Illig as hearthguard, and they departed for Runegate.
The Lonisi hearthguard escorted them to the fort, where the quarterly moot had assembled.
The group was given guest-rights, but Borulf was embarassed that he couldn't provide hospitality for such a large group. Vargast asked to be in his debt, and tried to explain why he should be a juror. However, Borulf felt his reasons were selfish, and refused.
Heorl suggested asking Heortarl, and Vargast gifted him two marks. Heortarl said that of all the lawspeakers, Heorl had the reputation for being the most devious. He agreed and said, "I don't see how this will help you, for I will testify against your case."
Heorl presented the case with all pomp and ceremony. King Ermanoring asked for the jurors, and Vargast named them. Ermanoring was surprised at Heortarl's inclusion. Heorl then eloquently stated the case, a simple case of blood relationship and sole inheritance. Vargast said that he was indeed Tanara's son. Elmalandti reiterated the laws of the triarchy, that children are only recognized if they're the offspring of a marriage between the right clans, and said there was also a counter-claim against many of the Varmandi present. Heorl countered that he would have to properly formulate the case. Ermanoring refused to hear from the foreign jurors, since they were unfamiliar with tribal law, but Theya argued that nothing was stronger than motherhood, and that the goddess would be angered if such a tie was ignored. Heortarl said it would be an affront to the tribal founders to recognize Vargast. Heorl said it would be a greater insult to Hyalor and Kuschile to dishonor their gods, and that Orlanth's displeasure would be even greater. Ermanoring consulted with his own lawspeakers, and announced a verdict: that the Lonisi clan was to give over one third of Tanara's personal wealth to the unnamed stranger who beseeches the court. The Lonisi piled three marks of silver at Vargast's feet, without looking at him. Vargast was furious at not being recognized.
Uma dyed her hair, and announced she was a Vingan. Vargast appointed her as a hall-thane.
Part 25 | Part 27
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