Three Ty Kora Tek women came for Theya, and initiated her as a Gyda.
Vigdis nearly died in childbirth, but Theya saved her.
Korol's sister-in-law Ortentha was caught sleeping with Oddi Wheelfoot.
The clan decided that their situation was dire, and they had to do something different. They finally decided to undertake a pilgrimage to Wintertop, to reenact Orlanth's visit to his mother Kero Fin.
Korol, Baranthos, Heorl, Illig, and Theya were chosen to make the trip. The clan performed a simple reenactment of Golanth Heortsson's quest, which featured a meeting with each of the five elements, and gave each of them a portion of the clan's magic. Korol wore the Shield, Baranthos carried a cattle-blessing salt lick, Heorl had a leather bag holding a sylph, Illig wore a heron feather, and Theya carried a bag of healing herbs and woolen bandages.
The first night they camped in Stael's Hills. Korol spotted the approach of Olog Kargsson, a troll who called himself "King of Old Top," with a group of trolls. Illig took down one troll, but Olog struck down Korol. This enraged his foster-brother Baranthos, who dealt Olog a savage blow. Olog called on his father Karg and leaped back into the fight. Meanwhile, Theya had healed Korol, and he and Baranthos took down Olog for good. Illig was disheartened that the first part of the pilgrimage had gone awry, though the clan had won a major victory over darkness. Korol broke Olog's legs and took from him a dark rock which moaned and howled.
They came to a large river, and a water demon was attracted to Korol's poetry. Heorl released the clan's sylph to protect Korol as he fought. Illig jumped in to help, but started drowning. Eventually Korol killed the water demon, and a great rainstorm fell. Heorl crowed about Orlanth's victory. Shortly afterward, they met a duck-man with a boat. Korol offered him a sword, but he refused to ferry the horses across until Heorl awed him with numerous weighty legal precedents.
A small group of horse-riding savages tried to extract a payment, refusing Theya's offer of bread and cheese. They were easily scared off.
The group climbed the skirts of Kero Fin, but sighted an avalanche and heard the howling of dogs. Illig used the clan's Flight magic to carry everyone out of the path of the avalanche, and Orlanth carried them up the rest of the way, past the unruly air spirits which swarmed about.
Kero Fin's hall was not in good repair -- it had been visited by the Bad Dogs, and her son Yinkin was hung from the wall. Kero Fin complained about chaos, fire, worms, and foreigners camping atop her. They presented their gifts to Kero Fin, including the clan's healing magic and cow blessing, and freed Yinkin from the wall. Everyone sacrificed some of their personal power to Kero Fin, and Korol also sacrificed to Yinkin.
Kero Fin accepted their worship, and accepted their descendents as residents of Kerofinela. However, she foretold that they would be the slayers of kings and destroyers of peace. She addressed Korol as "Killer," called Baranthos "King's Kin-slayer," named Heorl "Truce Breaker," called Illig "Stead Burner," but told Theya that she would have great-grandchildren. Korol said, "This is not the weapon I wanted to return with." Theya accepted all this as from the Great Mother of the Orendanae.
The return did not go smoothly. Illig lost the way, and Korol got frostbite. They were hosted by savages, who were ruled by women, had tattooed faces, and took heads as trophies. They spoke an archaic language, and worshipped Orlanth of the Four Faces, Kero Fin, Maran Gor, and Sorana. Korol spent time with Beneena, who ministered to his wounds.
They departed at the beginning of Sacred Time, hoping to return home by the end. They had to skirt a larger and more warlike group of horsemen, and ran out of food. They were eventually confronted by another group of riders. Baranthos laughed at their challenge, and they attacked. The leader wounded Korol with a fiery lance, but Illig killed his horse. He then gave wounds to both Illig and Korol. Baranthos Befuddled an archer, but after Illig killed the second horse, he attacked. Theya killed him with a well-placed axe blow. They healed the leader, but took his horse, god's-blood crystal, magic spear, and bone armor. The other horses they butchered.
The group continued to the swamp, where they camped on an island which had a large clearing used for cremation. The next morning, Heorl fell in the swamp and nearly drowned until Illig pulled him out.
They spotted a large circle of standing stones, attended by dragonewts. Back at the river, they helped the ducks in their recreation of Orlanth's battle against the river, traded with them for down, and were ferried across.
Spirits of the EWF tried to lure them into some old ruins, promising the secret of Vistikos One-Eye, but Korol remembered how his ancestors would have nothing to do with dragons.
Without further incident, they returned to Ormsthane Vale, where the clan was performing the Sacred Time rituals. They were emotionally greeted, and noticed that the flowers were already in bloom.
Part 5 | Part 7
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