The Chronicles of Hastur: Part 6
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 left the cacophony of the initiation ceremony behind and made their way deeper into the main camp. To say the rest of the camp was quiet was incorrect but compared to the noise of the ceremony it was a haven of peace and tranquillity. Sverdoff walked ahead of Hastur and he could not help but admire the lithe grace with which she walked. She was indeed a killer; she was deadly but with a beauty that took Hastur’s breath away.
“Where are you taking me my lady?” Hastur asked. Sverdoff stopped dead still in her tracks.
“What did you call me?” She had her back to Hastur but he could hear the snarl in her voice. “I am not your lady.” She replied. He could see her entire body had stiffened instantly.
“No, you are not” He said, ignoring the tone of her voice, “But I am beginning very much to wish you were.”
He saw her the tension in her shoulders go as she started to walk again.
“We shall see Hastur, we shall see!” Her voice sounded much lighter, he could tell that she was now smiling as she threaded her way through the tents and yurts of the encampment. “I am taking you to Belaadry, she will know what we need to do now.”
“So it is definitely we then is it now?” Hastur asked, pleased with her response, and trying to keep that emotion out of his voice.
“You know it Hastur, don’t hunt for compliments or praise from me.” She said, “This is right for our people. I have seen the villages and towns of the outsiders, they grow in number and they need feeding. Their “lands” were once ours. We have been complacent for far too long. For every raid we have committed over the years, they have planted more fields, cut down more trees and expanded their walls and palisades. We have done nothing to halt their slow march across our ancestral home. We need to take back what was given to us by the Gods Hastur.” She had stopped as she spoke, she was now facing him, hands defiantly on her hips.
“By the Gods you are magnificent Sverdoff! Take me to this wise woman of yours then and we shall she what she says.” Hastur almost pushed her on her way he was so eager now to see where this force of nature was leading him.
He realised she was leading them towards the edge of the camp, the tents and yurts got smaller and shabbier as you got to the outskirts, Hastur realised that there was still a class system within the tribes, the lower the standing of your tribe, the more to the outside of the encampment you were forced to pitch your own camp. This was something that deeply irked Hastur.
“Why is this Belaadry so far out of the camp?” Hastur asked.
“She is of the Hill Goat clan; they are not well thought of.” Sverdoff said, in an offhand manner that also irked Hastur.
“This is something about our people that bothers me. We are all brothers and sister of axe and sword, there should be no clan that is not “well thought of” amongst the tribes.I will address this intolerance and ignorance.” Hastur said.
“You are an idealist, I guess that’s why you are proving popular amongst the tribe especially the younger folks, but be warned Hastur, a lot of these old alliances and feelings amongst the clans go back for generations. Concentrate on the outsiders before you take on the troubles inside the tribes.” She replied.
“I wish I was I could.” He paused “But I see us as a single tribe and for us to fight and be effective as a single tribe, we need to start thinking and acting as a single tribe, not one mass of squabbling children.”
“There may be something in that Hastur but I have a feeling you will find a lot of shields pushing you back if you try to tackle the issue of castes and clans head on.” She replied. “Anyway, we are here now.”
They had reached what was the very edge of the encampment, the tents were little more than badly cured skins and scraps of felted fur over very old frames and poles that had seen better days. The clothes the people wore were shabby and also had the look of being at the end of their useful life. Everything just looked run down, even the people seemed dull and tired. They all stood and stared when Hastur walked into the camp. There were murmurs and Hastur could see them whispering to each other as he walked past.
Sverdoff strode up to what was easily the roughest looking shelter of them all, barely a tent, more a collection of scraps pulled over some bent sticks. The smell coming out of it was rank and even Hastur wrinkled his nose and pulled a face.
“She’s in there?” He asked “It smells like she’s dead.”
“She does have a certain odour that is for sure, but I have never known her to be wrong with her predictions and visions.” Sverdoff replied. “Belaadry, it’s Sverdoff, I have a friend with me, we have come to listen to your wisdom.”
She waited for a moment, Hastur could hear people laughing behind them and he turned to see a few of the watchers sniggering into their hands.
“Belaadry!” Sverdoff almost shouted now. She shook the tent. Hastur was sure it would fall down if she shook it harder.
“What… What is it?” An old and broken voice sounded from inside the tent.
“It’s Sverdoff Belaadry, I have a friend here who needs your wisdom.” Sverdoff replied.
“You have Hastur with you, the Bloodthirster.” The voice said.
“I see your powers have not left you old woman.” Sverdoff said.
“Did you bring me the usual fee?” The voice asked. Sverdoff shrugged something off her shoulder and Hastur saw now that Sverdoff had been carrying a small waxed leather bottle with a wooden stopper in it slung over her shoulder off a leather thong.
“Yes Belaadry, I would never forget to bring your favourite drink with me.” Sverdoff gently shook the bottle and it sounded full, she turned to Hastur and said. “She has a fondness for mead, and not just any old mead. It has to be made from mountain bee honey.”
A head poked out from the tent, Hastur nearly fell over with the shock. It was an elderly woman with a shock of white hair that was matted into long strands. In the strands of matted hair were bones and beads and sticks of all shapes sizes and colours that rattled as she moved. Her face was covered with a ix of dirt and what looked like coloured clays that had been daubed thickly over it with broad finger strokes. He did not want to acknowledge the ruin that was her mouth, there were a few brown and rotten teeth still there and the smell from it was overpowering even from a few feet away.
“It’s the bees.” She said, “They feed on the heather on the high mountain slopes, they produce the finest honey you can find. Mind you, you have to fight the mountain ogres and bears for the honey!”
“Here!” Said Sverdoff and she thrust the leather bottle at Belaadry’s outstretched hand.
She took the stopper off and sniffed the contents suspiciously, then she placed the mouth of the bottle to her cracked lips and took a sip, her eyes brightened.
“This,” She said with a smile. “is worth more than any ransom or blood-fee. I will take this drink from the gods over the finest spring water. Not even the gods piss anything as sweet as this.” She cackled and went back into her tent.
“Well,” Belaadry called, “Are you coming in to speak to me or not?”
Sverdoff looked at Hastur. “You will be ok, just try breath through your mouth, believe me, she has never been wrong, her words are worth enduring her charms for. Sverdoff grinned and pulled the flap of the tent aside.
“After you.” She said with a grin. “My good man.”
Hastur threw Sverdoff a grimace and with that he bent and entered the old lady’s tent.