How Vinga Joined Orlanth's Household

by David Dunham

As he returned home after slaying the dragon Aroka, Orlanth the Storm King saw the nymph Ernalda, and was taken with her beauty. He approached her, and she offered him cheese and cool beer. He gave her a ring set with a blue-green drop of Aroka's blood. They sat and talked of the different places they had visited, how Orlanth had killed the dragon, and many other things. Before long, it was evening, and Ernalda invited him to stay the night.

The next morning, Orlanth continued on his journey. In due time, Ernalda gave birth to a baby girl she named Vinga. Ernalda read in the birth-signs that Vinga had inherited the Power of Motion, so she and her daughter wandered from place to place. Everywhere they went, Vinga learned from a different teacher, and she grew up skilled in all the arts, friendly with all people, and tall, strong, and beautiful.

When Vinga became a woman, she decided to join her father's household. Her mother cried and told her not to go, but Vinga cut her hair and washed it with lime like a warrior. Ernalda saw that Vinga's mind was made up, so she set the blue-green stone in the hilt of a sword and gave it to her. She gave her a bright-painted chariot so light it could leap over fallen trees, and two fleet, sturdy horses. And she painted her daughter with powerful designs to protect her from magic and arrows.

Vinga set out for Orlanth's hillfort. That was the one place her mother had never taken her, so she didn't know that Bansh Bonebiter lived along the path. Bansh heard Vinga's chariot, and rushed out to meet her. She greeted him politely, but he invited her to dinner. "Your limbs will be fine broiling over my fire."

"That is not to be," said Vinga, and she slung a stone at him. It bounced off Bansh's bronze breastplate, so she aimed the next one at his head, but he held up his arm and it bounced off his greaves. Then Bansh took a bow he'd made from the leg bones of his victims, and an arrow tipped with a tooth, and shot at Vinga. She dodged out of the way. She dodged the next arrow, but then Bansh shot two at once. One hit her, but it struck her mother's runes, and did no harm. She rushed forward, drew her sword and with the same motion cut off Bansh's arm. As he lay on the ground, he said, "I have never seen that blow before."

Vinga answered, "In truth, I learned it from no master. My mother and I had to move on before I could learn everything from my teacher, so I taught myself that stroke." Then she cut off his head. Since her sling stones had bounced off Bansh's armor, Vinga decided to take it, but she had to heat it in a fire and pound it with rocks until it fit her.

Vinga continued until she reached the hillfort. "I wish to join the Storm King's household," she told Orlanth's porter, and he brought her into the great hall. Everyone crowded in to see the visitor.

"My lord, I wish to join your household and serve faithfully among your companions."

"Many wish to join, but only those who are qualified may do so. What talent can you add to my household?"

Vinga said, "I have slain monsters." She took out Bansh's head. "That was Bansh Bonebiter," said Lankoring, Orlanth's Knowing Companion. "He has killed and eaten many who travelled along the Low Path." Everyone praised Vinga's valor and skill.

Humath said nothing, but smiled grimly and took out a giant head with four eyes. Lankoring said, "That was Kankstank Neversleep, who rests only half his eyes at once. He killed many people and rent their souls so we no longer know who they were. Bansh Bonebiter swore loyalty to him." The praise for Humath was even louder. Orlanth said, "Humath is my weapon."

"I can drive a chariot," said Vinga. Orlanth had a chariot prepared for his driver, Mastakos, and fixed a course. At Orlanth's signal, they both set out. Both jumped the log at the same time, and they sailed across the stream together. But Mastakos took the turn tighter, and was still ahead at the finish.

Vinga said, "I can speak many languages." Issaries, Orlanth's Speaking Companion, spoke to her in the language of each land she had visited in her youth. Vinga answered each time, until Issaries spoke a language she had never heard before. "That is the tongue of the Rock Dwellers, who hide underground and teach it to no one," explained Issaries.

Vinga showed Orlanth the armor she was wearing. "I can work metal." Orlanth showed her his great coat of mail, called Turnspear, made of iron links each inlaid with silver. "Gustbran is my smith."

"I can dance," said Vinga. Orlanth called for his musicians, and Drogarsi stepped forward to dance against Vinga. They danced the Sword Dance, the Papou, and the Thrush Walk. Finally Drogarsi called to the musicians to play their most difficult and fastest tunes. Vinga missed one step, and as the musicians sat gasping for breath, the judges pronounced Drogarsi the winner.

"I will be your faithful guard." Orlanth pointed to the wall of the hillfort, where one man remained while everyone else had gathered to watch Vinga's contests. "There is Elmal, my loyal hearthguard. He guards the fort in bad times and in good." Several warriors slunk shamefaced back to the wall.

Vinga asked, "Have you any one companion who slays monsters, drives chariots, speaks the tongues of distant lands, mends armor, dances, and will be your faithful and loyal guard?"

"In truth, I have not. You have proved yourself worthy to join my companions." Orlanth placed a gold torc around Vinga's neck. "You have shown yourself well, because every man you contested with is the best in all the world in that skill."

"Vinga has many talents. Perhaps there is one other thing she can do," said Orlanth's fool Eurmal. "She can warm her master's bed at night." Orlanth's wife Ralia gave Eurmal a cold stare.

"That is one thing I cannot do, for Orlanth is my father," and she showed the hilt of her sword.

Orlanth leaped from his seat and embraced her. "Why didn't you tell me you were my daughter? I would have given you a place of honor."

"Would it have been the same place I hold now?"

Orlanth laughed. "Probably not. But now you hold both places."

This story was adapted for Storm Tribe, and is also available in Finnish.

Last updated 25 Nov 95 drd

David Dunham Page East Ralios