The Chronicles of Hastur: Part 8

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 chewed his lip deep in thought as he and Sverdoff walked back into the main body of the camp. The smells and noise from his recent experience in the tent of the mad old crone still affecting him. The weight of what she had said was pressing him down. Planning for war and conquest was one thing, fulfilling the prophecies of an old lady were another.

“Just how do you expect them to go for this Sverdoff?” He asked.

“It may have escaped your notice Hastur” She replied, “but the people of the clans are a superstitious lot, don’t worry about the elders. Leave it to me.”

And with that she gently took his hand and led him deeper into the camp, at first he was shocked at the open display of friendship. It was not unusual for the people of the clans to hold each other’s hands, it was a sign of friendship and trust, you would often see men deep in conversation with their fellows, hand in hand. It was normal, but for members of the opposite sex to do so was considered a sign of a deeper friendship and a public display of that friendship had much deeper meaning.

“Are we a couple now?” Hastur asked.

“Are we not?” Sverdoff countered.

“I would like us to be. I think you can tell that. We have been with each other lass than the passing of one day and yet I feel there is something more there.” He stated, “Don’t you?”

“Yes, I feel there is something more there, I feel like we were supposed to meet last night. I have spent a lot of time with Belaadry in the past and I have learned from her to trust my instincts. And my instincts are to stick with you now. Besides,” She paused and looked at him almost bashfully “you are not unattractive and you are quite attentive, even when you have been in your cups.”

Hastur felt himself blush, this was something he was not used to or expecting.

“Ah, yes… I am not sure how to reply to you Sverdoff. It is true I do like you and feel very comfortable with you, your words however have, um, shocked me somewhat. You are certainly not like other women. I am not sure what to say now! He said.

“This is obviously confusing for your meathead brain!” She laughed. “Look, I like you, just leave it at that shall we.” With that she giggled and started to jog, Hastur had no choice but to follow her despite his fragility after the night before and the events in the tent of Belaadry.

***

It was late afternoon by the time they got to the centre of camp where the tents were gathered in a large circle, this was where the elders from all the clans met. At the centre of the circle was a single wooden post with a horn fashioned from a mountain Ogre’s horn suspended from rawhide, Hastur took this up and gave it a mighty blow, the sound coming out of it was loud enough to be heard over all the camp and would summon the elders to the circle. It was a simple but effective method of gathering the clan chiefs and elders to conclave.

 It took a matter of minutes for the first of the elders to turn up, they quietly took their place, in the circle and started talking to the few others that gathered. They asked no questions of Hastur and Sverdoff who remained in the centre of the circle. The procedure was to wait until the entire conclave was filled, to the observer this would seem impossible without a register being called, but there were people present who were selected for their incredible memories who knew by sight the faces of the chieftains or their representatives. At the nod from these select few the meeting would begin, but not before.

It took over an hour for that nod to come, it was starting to get dark and all around the camp, the sounds of the daily activity gave way to the sounds that took over in the night, singing, shouting, drumming. The camp truly came to life at night Hastur thought.

It wasn’t Hastur that spoke though, it was Sverdoff who faced the gathered faces of the chieftains and elders.

“Mothers and Fathers of the tribes.” She started, Hastur noticed her voice did not tremble with nerves and she looked utterly at ease doing this. “We have had to call you here this night, although I am sure some of you will still be feeling the effects of last night.”

There were more than a few nods and groans in agreement with her statement.

“You decided last night that the words of this man stood in front of you” She motioned towards Hastur, “Should bring the tribes together and fight our common enemy outside our realm and stop them encroaching any further into our ancestral lands.”

There were nods and shouts of agreement now, the gathered faces looking eager at her words.

“But as you will know, we are a people bound by tradition, bound by honour and bound by duty to our past and to our elders.” She paused to acknowledge again their nods and consent. “It was with this in mind that I took Hastur to see one of our eldest, the wise woman Belaadry from my own clan. Hastur was keen to get started on battle plans and campaigning, getting our logistics organised and appointing generals!”

She paused again, Hastur felt now she was being theatrical, but he would be the first to admit, the people of the clans loved a bit of theatre and show, they would be appreciating this, it would form part of the stories they would go and report back to their own tribes as soon as the conclave broke.

“But I persuaded him, I said Hastur, this is no time for hot-headedness, this is a time for council and for listening to the spirits, he was not convinced, but I took him anyway!” The gathered elders laughed at this. Hastur was beginning to appreciate what she was doing, she was painting him as keen and eager to serve the tribes, but also as someone who would listen to council and if necessary be guided to do something for the good of the tribes. She was a fine woman and his heart was beginning to fill with admiration for her.

“Those of you who know Belaadry will know that she has always been here for the tribe and that she is to be taken seriously when the spirits call to her. I have known her all my life and my mother before her knew her from when she was a child and she has never been wrong, although she has also never been clean!” That last statement raised laughter and more than a few of the elders gathered there wafted hands in front of their faces to indicate they knew what Sverdoff was talking about.

“We went to see her just hours ago and she said that Hastur would be successful, but that he needed to meet with Skrannol Firehelm of the mountain Dwarves before anything else could be settled.” There were some murmurs now in the crowd, people looked at each other trying to figure out what this information told them.

“We don’t tell you this because we need permission, we will go regardless. But we do need you to understand, the fire in your bellies at the thought of war is burning bright at the moment and we want you to understand that we do this because we have to, we need your understanding.”

Hastur spoke then, understanding why Sverdoff had said she would talk to them first.

“Sverdoff although young is the wisest person I have met, she understands the ways of the tribes better than I do. She knows that I needed to go but if I just went, you would perhaps feel I was just playing at leading you to war and that perhaps I wasn’t serious. Believe me, I am serious about war, it is what we were born for! But I know we need to do what Belaadry said and to hold the fire of war in our bellies until I have been to the dwarves. I need you to understand I am not running away from what I asked so fervently of you last night.” Hastur now paused as the elders were silent. “I want to fight, but I also want to do what is right, and I believe that this is the right thing to do, before the war comes.”

An elderly lady stood to speak from amongst the gathered elders.

“Hastur and Sverdoff, you have shown, to me at least that you are taking this seriously. We have time enough for war and Sverdoff is right, the spirits and the elders need to be heeded at this time, more than any other time. I don’t speak for us all here, but you certainly have my understanding and blessing to go seek what Belaadry says you must!” The elder sat down, stiffly but with dignity Hastur thought, only for another to take her place, a man, younger, not much older than Hastur himself.

“Hastur you have shown more leadership in coming to us to seek council than just charging like an Ogre into the task of war. We respect you more for this, you have the blessing of my tribe.” He sat, for his place to be taken by yet another who voiced similar feelings as those preceding him. This was repeated by many others until Hastur raised his hand for silence.

“My brothers and sisters of the tribes, have I your understanding and consent to go and see the mountain Dwarves as foretold by Belaadry?” A great shout came from the gathered elders. “So be it then, I will be getting a party together to travel as soon as possible, as I am impatient for war, my axes thirst for blood, but I will respect the tribes and more importantly the spirits of the tribes. Svarya, our blessed god of war will have to wait, for now. We thank you for your time, brothers and sister, this means more to me than you can possibly imagine.”

With those words the elders stood and slowly started to make their way from the conclave in twos and threes, all talking and as far as Hastur could tell, all looking pleased. One figure remained though, the small figure of a Dwarf, one of the clan dwarves of the tribes, he started to make his way over to where Hastur and Sverdoff stood.

“I am Beskadur of the Stone Wolves, I think I may be able to help you with your quest to meet my brothers and sisters of the mountains.” The Dwarf said.

***

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