Excerpt from ‘The History of Vanagard – The Reuniting of the Tribes of Hastur’ by Professor Albert Lynath
The Chronicles of Hastur, taken from verbal story telling’s and combined into one written form.
Hastur and Sverdoff approached the circle of tents and the sound of drumming got louder and louder, the chants and shouts also rose in volume until the noise felt like a wall of sound, a physical barrier that was as real as any palisade.
The circle of tents was almost totally unbroken apart from one small gap between two of them, this small passageway between the felt walls of the tents was guarded by two burly clan members who stopped the two as they approached.
“What business do you have this day?” One asked.
“We come to witness the coming of age of Sabarax and to pay homage to the elders of his tribe.” Sverdoff replied, with a stern formality
“Enter then but leave the fear in your hearts here so as not to pass it to Sabarax as he suffers.” The guard said, they both stood aside allowing Hastur and Sverdoff to pass between the tents and into the crowded enclosure beyond.
The smell and the noise hit Hastur like a blow, the air was thick with the smell of herbs being burnt and blood, the noise was incredible for such a small area, it rebounded around the tents and made it impossible to tell who was saying, or shouting what. There were drums, chants and even screams as the ceremony was now evidently well under way.
Hastur as politely as he could, forcefully pushed his way forward so he and Sverdoff could get a better view of the proceedings, and when he got there the memories of his own ceremony all came flooding back.
In the centre of the circle, suspended on raw-hide ropes was a young man, the sharpened horns of a mountain Ogre pushed into the flesh over his shoulder-blades which was pulled taught and bloody. The look of pain on his face was evident. His hands were bound to his sides and he hung there as still as he possibly could to avoid the flesh tearing. The floor was cleared around him and apart from flies buzzing around the drops of his blood on the floor, nothing around him moved.
Hastur knew how much pain he would be going through, but he also knew how much pride the boy, soon to be a man would experience when the ordeal was over. All he had to do was endure the pain and extreme discomfort from sunrise to sun-set and he would be considered a full member of the tribe and able to ride into battle alongside his brothers and sisters of the axe and sword.
All around the circle however was movement, there was dancing and chanting and people eating and drinking. Someone tried to push a horn full of frothing ale into Hastur’s hand but he waved it away, his head was still feeling fuzzy after the excesses of the night before.
Just then the young adult on suspended on the leather thongs in the centre of the circle looked up and locked eyes with Hastur, his face etched with pain and concentration. Hastur looked back, smiled at the boy and nodded, trying to give the boy some of his strength as he hung there in incredible pain.
The boy’s face broke into a smile and he tipped his head back and shouted “Hastur!” and started laughing, the laughing set his body swinging slightly, the agony this must have caused must have been immense, but the laughter did not stop.
All around the circle, the noise just stopped, the drumming ceased and everyone turned to stare both at Sabarax and at Hastur. Beside him he felt Sverdoff stiffen as she felt the tension in the gathered clans-folk build.
Hastur stepped forward and went to where the boy hung, laughing and gently swaying, the blood flowing faster from his back as the horns moved underneath the stretched taught flesh of his shoulders.
“Sabarax!” Hastur snapped at him, the boys head snapped forward and he glared at Hastur with a look of ferocity that stunned Hastur.
Through gritted teeth the by replied. “Yes, that is my name.”
“You laugh at me? Because if you do, as soon as you come down from the horns, you will meet me in battle.” Hastur said, calmly.
“Not you my lord.” Sabarax smiled. “I laugh at the pain! Because it is nothing. Nothing compared to the glory I will feel when I ride at your side into battle.” He paused as he gasped air into his lungs. “For the glory of our tribes I do this, and for the glory of my family I do this.”
Hastur nodded and smiled up at the boy, his body dripping with sweat and blood, glistening in the sunlight.
“Aye lad, you will ride by my side, I will make sure of it. Never have I seen one such as you on the horns!” Hastur turned to the gathered people, stood in silence watching the strange exchange.
“This day Sabarax became a man! The hours have not yet passed, but they will and I Hastur declare this boy becomes a member of my tribe.” Hastur pounded a clenched fist into his chest. “Let any of you gainsay me and you will perish now in this circle.”
There was silence.
“Who among you are his parents?” Hastur asked.
A well-built man stepped forward, he had the same dirty blonde hair as his son but his scarred face was mostly covered with a fine beard, combed and full of bone and copper beads.
“He is my son; I have raised him on my own since his mother died giving birth to his sister.” He motioned a young girl who stood, hiding behind her father, her hands clutching his leather leggings. The girl also had the same look of fierce pride that her brother had, Hastur knew they were a strong family.
“Your son is a warrior born, that is clear to everyone here.” Hastur said. “I as of you to release him from your tribe so I can take him to mine and train him to fight alongside me, never have I seen such strength and courage.”
The man paused, obviously torn with emotions yet the obvious pride shone in his eyes. He turned also to face the crowds and raised his voice.
“I Habarax declare that from this day forward, my son Sabarax, belongs to the Bloodthirsters under Hastur.” He reached for his large bladed knife on his belt and with one swift motion slashed a cut on his palm and held his hand up, now dripping with blood.
Hastur replicated the action with his own knife and held his own bloodied palm up for all to see, both men then clasped hands to seal the family bond that now existed between them.
“We are now brothers Habarax, I will look after your son and teach him all I know about the ways of war.” Hastur said, he turned to face Sabarax who was silent now, but if anything was glowing with pride as he hung there, the sweat dripping from his long blonde hair.
“Sabarax, you will be a fine warrior… Now just keep your damn mouth shut and see the night fall, tonight when you are off the horns I will come for you and we will start your new life together, the Bloodthirster’s Shaman will set the scars to healing.” Hastur motioned up at the horns stabbed bloodily through Sabarax’s flesh. Hastur turned and walked away, clapping his bloody hand to the shoulder of Habarax as he walked past. As he neared Sverdoff he took her arm gently and said “Come Sverdoff, we have work to do this day.”
And together they walked into the greater camp as behind him the sound of drumming and shouting reached a peak that Hastur had not thought possible started again.
To be continued…