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Humakt and the raiders
by Reinier Dobbelmann

As told to Veoslin Oltorsson of the Voroni by Enent the Raven, Humakti spirit companion, S.T. 1621
One day in Fire Season when the sun was high and the blood ran hot in his veins, Finovan called together the clan. "We must raid our neighbors the Dilicuddi," he proclaimed, "for they have great fat juicy cows, and their haughty warriors need a beating. We will best their thanes and win much glory." All thought this was a fine idea, and roared their approval. Then Humakt said, "It is not a good time for raiding. Our neighbors are all waiting for a moment of weakness, and we have other, more deadly enemies now. We must prepare the tula for war." Finovan laughed at Humakt, "Grim uncle, you worry too much. Who can withstand our fine fierce warriors? After our daring raid, the neighboring clans will all bow to our glory." "Glory is not honor, and raiding is not war." Humakt replied, but Finovan did not listen to him and stormed off with his men and most of the fyrd. Even Orlanth rode off with Finovan, for what son of Umath would refuse the opportunity to raid?

But Humakt was no longer a son of Umath, and had learned how stay in one place. That night three different enemies invaded the tula. The first was a group of cattle-thieves from the Brown Horse clan, who were friendly rivals. Their warriors rambunctiously rode across the tula, whooping their war cries and looking for our thanes. Humakt sent his raven to warn them. Its wings blew the cold north wind; its eyes burned red with carrion-lust, and its voice croaked with the dirges of the House of Death: "Go back, go back! My master awaits you, and he will take no prisoners!" The Brown Horses were no cowards, but they were no fools either; they wheeled their horses around and galloped home. For they had come for cattle and glory, not war and death.

The second band of raiders was from the Red Berry clan. They were bad neighbors, swollen with greed and pride. They had heard of a great treasure on the tula, and were determined to win it. Humakt sent his wolf to greet them. As the bloody-fanged creature howled its war-cry, the bowels of the Red Berries convulsed with terror. Many of them fled, for they had come for glory and plunder, not war and death.

But some stayed, for their greed was great. "Humakt is fierce and deadly," they reasoned, "but his warriors are few while ours are many and strong. He cannot kill us all." Swiftly they sped across our fields and forests, but swifter still were Humakt's wolves as they harried the Red Berries. Their thick black fur could not be seen by enemy eye or pierced by enemy blade; they swept from the darkness and seize Red Berry stragglers. Our rivals felt the cold wind of the Vale of Death at their backs, and were afraid. Soon they had lost their way among the hills of Hart Fell.

There it was that the Red Berries met the third enemy. Zorak Zoran and his Blood Spiders had crept stealthily into the tula, hungry for human sinew and bent on havoc. Rigsdal had spotted them, and the screams of the Red Berries had lured them. The trolls did not fight for glory or honor, but hatred; in their bloodlust they did not know or care who they killed. Overwhelmed, the Red Berries fled for their lives, for they had come for greed and glory, not war and death.

Now the Blood Spiders had been culled and wearied, their trollkin routed, their zombies hacked apart, and their Death Lords wounded. But there were still enough left to wage war on our tula, so Humakt himself appeared before them. His twin blades flashed faster than Yavor's Lightning. His shining Torc of Honor shredded the twisted troll magic. His iron plate mail repelled their leaden maces. Zorak Zoran charged Humakt on Darja's Leap, but Humakt split the monster's gauntlet in mid-strike, and with his second sword cut through the mighty troll's knees. Their leader fallen and their champions gutted, the Blood Spiders were driven from the field of battle. For the trolls had come for war and death and knew no fear, but Humakt was master of war and death and knew no equal.

No more enemies raided that night, although Rigsdal kept watch, vigilant as ever. The next day, Orlanth saw the Red Berry and Blood Spider bodies, and knew he had once again underestimated his brother and his strange code of honor. "Humakt," he grumbled, "you were right to stay in the tula, and I was wrong to go raiding when you counseled against it. For this, and in reward for your valiant defense, you shall have the chieftan's share of the raiding spoils."

Then Finovan returned, bringing back much plunder and many tales of glorious contests with the Dilicuddi. The clan soon forgot about Humakt's defense of the tula; no fyrdmen had been called up and few knew what had happened. And so it was that during the feasting on the following night it was Finovan that received the finest beer and the proudest kennings from thane, carl, and cottar. His seat was highest, and his bed the warmest that night, while Humakt returned alone to his outlying lodge. For war is not raiding, and honor is not glory.
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