The Saga of Korol Sure-Strike

Chapter 5: War (1350)

Hrut Argornsson was a grape grower from the Konthasos clan. Several years of good harvests gave him enough wealth to build a stead and marry Arene, the daughter of Mord Baltabosson of the Ernaldori clan. People considered Arene attractive but proud. Hrut's household soon fell on hard times, and he had to trade much of Arene's dowry. When the Colymar tribe had bad harvests near the end of Kagradus Colymarsson's reign, he was unable to replenish her herd. After several quarrels, she divorced him.

The Varmandi clan had also had poor harvests and a harsh winter. Varmand himself went with the clan's annual cattle drive to Clearwine Fort that year, to form an alliance with Borngold Ring-Giver, son of Kagradus the King. Accompanying him were Korol and Heorl, whom he had recently appointed to the clan ring as his Lawspeaker. Mord had heard of Heorl, and asked him to take over Arene's claim against Hrut for the return of her dowry of ten cows. Heorl agreed, and he and Korol made sure that Borngold would support the case. Borngold was by then on very good terms with Varmand, and agreed to help. Korol tried to negotiate with Hrut, but his second wife Metha refused to let him consider a settlement, and he and Heorl had to content themselves with giving Hrut legal notice of the proceedings.

Heorl and Korol found appropriate jurors from the Colymar tribe. Korol also managed the cattle exchange for his foster-father Gulik. He recited his love poem to Vigdis Guliksdaughter in the great hall, and found an appreciative audience.

Meanwhile, Hrut had obtained the backing of Barngradus, son of Farnan, the son of Gardrostan, the son of Garneneva, who fought hand-to-hand against Belintar the Stranger. Barngradus had formerly been the king's Champion, and was Borngold's rival as the next king. At that time, he was chief of the Konthasos clan. Hrut and his brother Hoskuld were both clients of Barngradus.

When King Kagradus held the seasonal moot, Heorl announced his suit against Hrut. Endanorl, known as a wily lawyer among the Colymar, argued on Hrut's behalf, and Barngradus brought to the moot many armed warriors. Maniski the Thunderer, a Storm Voice and Chieftain of the Orlmath Clan supported Barngradus. Heorl cited numerous precedents concerning the return of a wife's dowry, and skillfully rebutted all of Endanorl's arguments. By this point, Heorl's jurors had managed to round up a number of Ernaldori warriors, and could match Barngradus's followers. Sensing that the mood of the court was against him, and that an attack was unlikely to succeed, Hrut called for his right of trial by combat, and appointed his brother Hoskuld as his champion. Since Korol was involved in the case, he agreed to be Heorl's champion.

Hoskuld was a skilled warrior, and had fought against Orgul Tadasson. He struck such a ferocious first blow that Korol was knocked down, despite blocking it with his shield. Korol fought his way back to his feet, then swung his sword underneath Hoskuld's shield and cut deeply into his chest. As the Varmandi present began yelling "Killer-Korol," Kagradus raised the justice staff and announced that Orlanth had spoken in favor of Heorl's case, and that Arene could choose the cows to be returned. Since Heorl had taken over the case, he was awarded the ten cows. He gave two to Korol, and offered the rest to Arene as bride-price, which she accepted.

Varmand had agreed to back Borngold in exchange for protection against the superior numbers Mad-Blood Malan could bring to battle. When Borngold announced that his Crown Test would be to collect the Orlkar Tribute from Malan, Varmand appointed a War Ring. He gave Korol the Goodvoice position. Now that the Varmandi were a war clan, many young men joined the Orlanth the Warrior cult.

The Varmandi suffered another bitterly cold winter, and Korol's horse died. During the year-end ceremonies, a dragon flew overhead, and a dragonewt plinth was discovered on the hill with Odayla's shrine. A rain the temperature of blood melted all the snow. No one could read these omens.

Borngold challenged his father for the kingship of the Colymar tribe, and won. The Orendanae crowned him as sacred king, and he mustered his warriors and came to Ormsthane Vale, where he joined up with Varmand's forces. Bangradus and the Konthasos clan stayed home, still smarting from their defeat in the trial. Borngold and Varmand marched to Orlev's vale, where they were met by about the same number of Malani. The Orendanae priestesses performed their rituals on behalf of Borngold. Borngold proved no battle leader, and lined up his forces at the bottom of a slope. Varmand made sure the left wing engaged properly, then he and his housecarls flew over the ranks to attack Orlev's forces. Although Orlev escaped, Varmand killed many Orlevings, and captured their banner. Finally, Malan retreated to his hillfort. Both sides had suffered many losses, and Borngold returned to Ormsthane Vale for his men to heal. Korol had acquitted himself well in the fight, and Varmand gave him a horse.

Upon hearing that Borngold had failed to extract the tribute, Barngradus declared him a usurper, since had not completed his Crown Test, and had himself crowned with Alakoring's rites. Although many of Borngold's followers deserted him, the Varmandi wouldn't forswear their oath of friendship. Korol and the rest of Varmand's ring proposed bold action, and the Varmandi sent their best warriors to help Borngold defend his crown, even though they were concerned about a Malani raid. Borngold appointed Varmand as his champion.

The two Colymar kings met in Nymie Vale. Borngold's supporters were disheartened to see that Borngold carried the Black Spear, part of the regalia of the Colymar. Varmand led Borngold's forces well, but the Konthasos clan fought fiercely, and Barngradus cut down Borngold. At this, most of Borngold's men fled, but the Varmandi retreated in good order. Korol went to receive Barngradus's terms, which Varmand was forced to accept: a payment of tribute in the spring, and rejection of the Varmandi clan's bid for joining the Colymar.

Knowing they could not afford the tribute, especially with the clan in war status, they decided to raid the Orleving clan right after the harvest festival. Varmand encouraged his men, saying "This will be like going shopping." The Varmandi caught the Orleving unaware. Orlev himself was never found. Some men say that Varmand defiled Orlev's bedchamber, but Heorl burned the stead down, and the truth will never be known. The raiders returned with loot worth 20 marks of silver.

Part 2 | Part 4

Theya Two Mothers and Varmand the Strong tell much the same story.

Copyright ©1996 David Dunham. Last updated 14 Aug 96.

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