Although this chapter is missing, a copy of Korol's report to Varmand the Strong has survived. Apparently this trip took place shortly after the Culbrea arrived in Dragon Pass.
As you know, we intended to set out three Windsdays ago, but Illig's first sacrifice was inauspicious, and we waited a week. The first day we climbed to Larnste's Table, and camped just out of sight of a dragonewt plinth. On the third watch, we were awakened by odd music, which turned out to be four small, mottled, tailless dragonewts and one much larger with a long tail. The smaller dragonewts were clashing small cymbals attached to their claws. The larger was beating two bone-shaped pieces of bronze together, and threw one right at Jarstakos Gunnarsson, missing him by a finger's breadth. With that, they all continued on their way. Luckily, none of the animals took fright.
We headed along the ridge, avoiding contact with the Pant clan, and crossed the Boranni river and on into Lorthing Valley. Heorl found a well-defended, peaceful spot along the river which would be perfect for a stead. In Sunshine Pool below the waterfall lived a nymph, but she didn't show herself, even when I recited a poem.
The next day we met some of Culbrea's cowherds, and were brought to the settlement. They have burned all the Aranwyth steads, and most of them live under canvas while they build new ones. They have little grain under cultivation, though the Lorthing Valley appeared fertile, with good land for fields and pastures. It is about as large as Ormsthane Vale, although the opening is somewhat narrower, and the hills are a bit steeper. The Lorthing River flows through the valley, down a series of falls, and into Dragon Creek after joining with the Boranni River.
Their king is Culbrea, son of Fankorl who died fighting the Hendriki,son of Bardern, son of Torgal who battled the Bay. Each of the steads -- Gulik's, Gunnar's, and Theya herself -- gave him their gifts, then I presented the horses and goods you had sent. I could tell that Culbrea was surprised and pleased to receive such noble treatment in the frontier.
Culbrea explained how they had fled the Hendriki. When the Torkani king forced them (by using sinister darkness magic) to pay a huge tribute, they took it from the Balmyr. Then they drove the Aranwyth out by their strength at arms. The Aranwyth fled to the east, and will no doubt die in Prax. Culbrea then sent out his alynx, which found a fox's lair, and that is where he built his stead, Fox Hollow, on the south side of the river.
Culbrea leads a war tribe (although they are but the size of a large clan, he is a king by Alakoring's rites, and has a ring of thirteen men), which worships Jandan Adventerous and Humakt. There are few women and children, though some of them are quite attractive.
I arranged a marriage between Baranthos Gulikson and Uma Dronyansdaughter, to be held next Sea Season.
Culbrea sent back two fine horses, each with a saddle and a fine sword. He also gave generous gifts to the stead leaders. He wishes us to return and trade -- they need our cattle and tools. Illig and I will tell you more of this later.
I believe no other clan has extended Culbrea's tribe the hand of welcome, and we have made a friend. Unfortunately, they are three days distant, and the path travels between our enemies.
Part 4 | Part 6
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