Kallyr's Flame

From: Stephen P Martin (ilium@juno.com)
Date: Mon 06 Jan 1997 - 08:13:21 EET


Howdy y'all!

As Joerg and I finally being to wind down our month-long discussion on
Argrath and King of Sartar, I thought I would post this story. I wrote it
with Heroes of the King in mind, though it was submitted after the fact.
And no, I have no new news to report on this, other than to quote the
official party line that it is being read. I can say that the future
Glorantha Fiction Line editors are reading it, but I know nothing
concrete beyond that. Thanks for everyone being so patient -- I am
confident that it will see light, eventually.

Anyways, the following story is obviously derivative of some previously
published sources. However, it relies upon my research into King of
Sartar as I was doing the initial editing for Heroes of the King. It will
undoubtedly change form, but the current version is done enough that I
submit it for comments.

Hope you enjoy it.

Steve

KALLYR'S FLAME

by Stephen P. Martin
(based on material by Ron Nance and Jim McCormick)

The dark procession passed through streets lined with the people of the
city. The only light came from an occasional torch that left details lost
in darkness. The normally bright stars were obscured by smoke from the
fires that still burned in the buildings and hearts of the city.

Kallyr came first, looking grim as she rode her horse. Her spear was in
her hand, and the star on her brow shone more brightly than any torch.
She was followed by a host of armed men. Argrath rode directly behind
her, and at first it was difficult to tell whether he followed her or
forced her forward. Sometimes she was cheered, and at those times it
appeared that a triumphant mood arose within her, but always it faltered.
I later realized that she must have been exhausted after the battle at
Sword Hill, followed so swiftly by another fight outside Jonstown, where
she had defeated the remnants of the Lunar garrison as they fled the
rebellion in that city. But I understood why she could not stop to rest.

Three times figures hurled themselves at Kallyr from the pressing crowd,
but each was stopped by outthrust spears and swords. Once Argrath's own
blade cut down an assassin who dropped from a dark rooftop. These attacks
only added to the confusion that sometimes made it impossible to see the
Queen, save for the glow from her brow and the flash of the White Bull's
sword.

The emotional blank left by the fierceness of battle and the silence of
the Council had been filled by the townsfolk's fear and awe, seeing in
their familiar streets the advent of either the darkest villain or the
greatest hero. Only time would tell. That night Kallyr's entry sparked
the city's most agonizing night. The people had known war and death. They
had never dared wish for a return of hope itself.

* * * * * * * *

I can see the entire scene in my mind, though I only heard later accounts
of it. I was cloistered within the Palace with the rest of the Council,
wondering whether we had bought damnation or salvation with our recent
actions in the city. Kallyr had gone to face the Lunar forces at Sword
Hill, and when word came to us of her rout we were gathered together by
Montague Goodcandle, the Royal Librarian. So uncertain were we of our
future that our alliance began to fray almost immediately, for we had not
yet received word of the devastating magical attack that had given Kallyr
time to regroup and utterly defeat the Lunar troops.

The menace of Pharandros of Tarsh, which should have overshadowed all
other discussion, had barely been addressed. Many showed their
frustration, especially Beti, whose anger was clearly visible each time
her silent pacing brought her past me. The Queen of the Colymar was still
new to the councils of Sartar, and not yet trusted by any of the members
besides Montague and myself. That she was intractably loyal to Kallyr did
not endear her to the others, that is certain.

Darrad presented the plan put forth by the captain of the Pavis Royal
Guard, and considerable thought was given to the audacious proposal.
Discussion raged for several days, but by the third evening, far into the
night, even Goram Whitefang was dismissing Darrad's plan as reckless
folly. Darrad in turn attacked Goram for being timid, and wondered aloud
if the abundant years had made all of the clans nothing more than
spinning parties of argumentative old women. He also questioned the
Telmori tribe's loyalty to Sartar by bringing up their support of the
Lunar puppet two years before. Still, neither side did more than snap at
each other and accuse in shrill voices -- we were all too tired to come
to blows.

Thus was the High Council divided against itself, each person suspicious
of the other, only too ready to dredge up old wrongs. I wondered that
dark, grim night if Kallyr would return to save us. Everyone knew she
would have no small task forging these tribes again into the Sword of
Sartar, but I felt the weariness of despair gnawing at the corners of my
mind. Where was the spirit which had joined us under her for the last two
years, the spirit of a united Sartar? Where was Argrath, the only one
besides Kallyr who could have kept order in the Council, through fear if
nothing else? (For I could not believe that he, at least, had not
survived). And why could I do nothing but sit and listen, I who helped
the Younger Storm Dragon unearth itself and Returned to tell of it? Such
were my thoughts that dark night in Boldhome. Such were the thoughts of
many, I think.

It was then, when Darrad, Annstad, and the other kings of the Kerofini
were about to leave the Council, that a thunder of hooves was heard from
outside. The arguing chieftains murmured among themselves, knowing that
the sound was too loud to be merely another messenger bearing news of the
battle. I was greatly relieved (no matter who the riders were), for I was
certain that Tarkalor, the last free King of the Aldachuri, would have
left with them. This would have angered the rest of the council beyond
reconciliation, for many were still unsure of his loyalties.

Beyond all hope, it was Kallyr who strode into the hall. Her fawn cape
billowed behind her, and her footfalls were light in her soft-soled boots
of silda skins; the star on her brow blazed fiercely. Argrath followed
sternly behind her, and would have commanded the room if not for her
presence. Starbrow stopped in the center of the assembly and turned
slowly, her eyes probing each face. The kings and cult leaders fell
silent before her gaze, Montague's pleas for quiet abruptly loud in the
room. The crackle of logs in the huge hearth beside me was the only sound
after his muffled apologies.

Then Kallyr spoke in a strong, calm voice, without greeting or
introduction. She called upon the Brother of the White Bull without
looking at him, her strong voice filling the hall as she spoke the
traditional chanted greeting. He answered immediately, his sword shining
as he drew it in salute to his Queen. Beti's mood had lifted instantly
upon seeing Kallyr, and she answered even before called on, her verse
echoing in our hearts and ears. Kallyr then called upon the gathered
lords and priests in turn, and each responded in the formal staves as the
Queen of the Kheldon sang the Song of Allegiance, first sung by Sartar
the Founder. With each recitation she petitioned their assurances of
fealty, for themselves, their tribes, and their cults.

The voices of the Sartari leaders grew in timbre and rang ever louder in
the hall, each trying to outdo the last. The confusion and hesitancy of a
few moments before were banished with the shattered silence. Each king
chanted his pledge, and the names of his sons who would follow the Queen
into battle. Then the assembly would rejoice in the chorus before the
next took up the chant. The song spread to the militia guards outside the
door, and soon the anthem echoed through the streets and pockets of the
city. All of Boldhome sang with one voice, and it was Kallyr's voice, no
one could doubt that. Then, as the last chorus followed the Ballad of the
Wind's Children, a strange and wonderful thing occurred.

The eastern gate of the Palace swung wide to admit Tyras the blind
wizard, brother of Argrath and the leader of the Pol Joni magicians. He
led the khans from the Barbarian Horde into the council chamber. His
voice rose above the clatter of horse and shield as he also sang the
sacred vows, pledging the Pol Joni in the service of Kallyr and Sartar.
At that moment the Queen touched the diadem on her brow, and the star
began to glow as though it were the Flame itself. The room filled with a
silvery light as the final chorus swelled into a terrible roar, as the
Sun burst above the Quivin peaks, striking the great shield of King
Tarkalor above the hearth in the great hall. I could not tell then which
it was that poured light on the shields and swords of the assembled
warriors, the strength of Kallyr or the Sun. But hearts were gladdened by
it, and the voice of every man and woman in the city, the voice of all
Sartar itself, swelled into the thunder of victory.

I do not know who started the next chant. I suspect it was Argrath,
though I am sure that Kallyr did not know he would; it might even have
been Beti, for she was the White Bull's principal rival for the Queen's
love. The phrase passed from person to person like wildfire. Soon the
words "Light the Flame" echoed from the surrounding peaks as loudly as
the silence of despair had, it seemed, only moments ago. Kallyr appeared
embarrassed for a moment, then began to shine with joy as she realized
that she was finally being given what she had sought since that first
Council meeting she and I attended, fourteen long years before.

Without a word, Kallyr turned to Elmalandti and Krogar, the highest
representatives of Orlanth in the land, and I knew that she sought the
blessing of the King of the Gods. The room quieted as the two conferred
briefly, then motioned for Perandal and Harmastor, the other storm
priests present, to join them. Together the four of them began the
invocation of the Thunder Brothers, the stormsons of Orlanth: xxx
Thunderous, Kargaard Windlord, Drolgar the Brave, and Vingkot the
Victorious. No one was particularly surprised when Tamara Threeslice
joined in, calling upon Orlanth's warrior daughter Vinga to give her
blessing as well, though it was not part of the tradition. Only Perandal
looked displeased, but he said nothing, a wise move considering Kallyr's
favoritism towards the Vingans.

As the five chanted, clouds began rolling in from north, west, and south,
and all took this for a favorable sign. Without a word, knowing beyond
any doubt that we would follow, Kallyr turned and left the council
chamber. Argrath and Beti were behind her, side by side, and the rest of
us rushed to be the first to follow. As we walked to the Court of the
Flame, the people of the city began gathering, sensing the currents of
destiny in the air.

Kallyr approached the Brazier, and the members of the Council gathered
around her a short distance away; the people of the city stopped below
the Court, for they knew their place in the ritual, even after so long
without a Prince. The Sun continued to shine as it rose and the clouds
gathered, and the priests were visible to all as they rose into the air
and flew to the top of Thunder Ridge. Their quiet chants served as a
counterpoint to Kallyr's suddenly raised voice.

"Hear me! Hear what I have to say," she shouted to us and, I thought, to
Orlanth himself. "I am Kallyr, Queen of the Kheldon. My mother was Enerin
Ironeye, Queen of the Kheldon before me. My father was Loricon, as
honorable and brave a warrior as ever there was among the Orlanthi. His
father was Rastoron, who died at Grizzly Peak with Tarkalor, the greatest
king of Sartar. Everyone present knows that he was the son of Jarolar."

"Jarolar was the son of Saronil Sartarsson, the first Prince of the land.
He was Prince himself after his father's death, and was famous for
fighting the Lunars. I have listened to the High Council of the land. I
have listened to the people of the city, who have known a generation of
war. I have listened to the Thunder Brothers, the storm sons of Orlanth.
I am here, in this place, at this time. Does anyone here question my
right to light the Flame of Sartar?"

The crowd was silent, and even the priests on the ridge had stopped
singing. After a moment, Kallyr continued. "Hear me, Orlanth! Hear what I
have to say! My people call upon me to serve them, and to lead them."

Kallyr turned to Beti, who moved forward and stood next to her as she
spoke again. "The tribes of the land have sworn loyalty to me, and call
upon me to serve them, and to lead them."

Finally, she turned to Argrath, and the nomads ranged behind him. "The
enemies of the Lunars have forsaken their ancient quarrels, and call upon
me to serve them, and to lead them. What say you -- shall I lead them, or
shall the forces of chaos take your land and your people, forever?"

The clouds had continued to gather as Kallyr spoke, and the day grew dark
as a hard wind began to blow like a cyclone. Argrath had moved next to
Kallyr when she faced him. The last gleam of the Sun struck his sword as
he drew it and held it aloft, for a moment matching the fire that blazed
from the gem she wore. No one moved as darkness flowed over us.

We waited for what seemed an eternity, though in reality it could not
have been more than a few moments. Kallyr, Beti, and Argrath looked into
the Brazier, searching for some spark. The priests on the Ridge searched
the sky for a sign from Orlanth. The crowd below watched the figures on
the dais, hoping for a miracle. But I looked at Kallyr alone, for I knew
that whatever was to come, it must come from within her.

A bolt of lightning lit the gloom as it struck from the clouds, blinding
everyone with its sudden brightness. Then we could see again. The Flame
of Sartar rose into the air like a tower, lighting even the faces of the
priests on the Ridge, two hundred feet above us. Everyone afterwards said
that they had heard Orlanth's voice proclaiming Kallyr, but I was looking
at her, and saw Argrath speaking at the same time. Even if the god had
not spoken, however, there could be no doubt that the lightning had come
from the Lord of the Storm, and no one could doubt Kallyr's
qualifications after that. After a generation of despair, hope had indeed
returned, for there was a Prince in Sartar again.

Stephen Martin
ilium@juno.com
- -----------------------------------------------
The Book of Drastic Resolutions
drastic@juno.com

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