Back to Myths

Humakt forges the War Ring
by Guy Jobbins

Humakt was Orlanth’s War Leader, and when the Fire Tribe came, or the Stinging Green Folk, or the Hopping Wraith Shadows, Humakt would lead Orlanth’s thanes into the fray. Orlanth made many enemies, and Humakt had much work to do.

Orlanth made enemies so quickly that Humakt had barely seen off one lot when the next would arrive. Soon he was dripping with blood and his warriors were sorely hurt. He did not know how many more assaults his warriors could withstand without aid.

Many of these enemies pillaged neighbouring clans on their way to attack Orlanth. These neighbours sent heralds to Orlanth, asking him to stop causing so much trouble because it was making trouble for them too. Humakt remembered how he had united the many pieces of Death, making one strong Death instead of many weak ones, and he set off to visit the neighbouring clans.

First he visited the stead of his former brother Yinkin, who was chief of the Arrows-from-Shadows clan. He said, “our clan is badly pressed by the Plant Tribe, which fights us for our hunting grounds”. Humakt said, “your foes are my foes, so we should fight together.” They went into the Wild Woods together, and whilst Humakt fought chest-to-chest against the Haunting Vines and the Green Blade, Yinkin showered them with missiles. Afterwards Yinkin admitted that the fight had been easier, and said that would come to Humakt’s aid so long as Humakt did the same for him, and there was plenty of mead and meat at the victory feast.

So Humakt searched for supplies of mead and meat and found the Trading God. The Trading God’s Travelling Clan was having trouble making an agreement with the Hoarding Woman. Humakt showed them how to trust one another. The Trading God agreed to send information from his travels, warriors and provide meat for victory feasts, so long as Humakt arranged for a decent supply of cows.

Humakt visited all the neighbouring clans. The Wise Clan agreed to send warriors to advise Humakt on enemy strategies. The Cow Clan agreed to send warriors so long as Urox was there to protect them. The Storm Bull clan agreed to come and fight so long as the Wise Clan weren’t there, because they gave them headaches from all their talking.

Soon Humakt got word from the Travelling Clan that the Fire Tribe were advancing, laying waste to all before them. He summoned all the clans together at the Standing Stone and prepared to face the enemy. Things went badly from the start. Each clan had their own way of fighting, and none listened to any of the others. The Arrows-from-Shadows Clan went to ambush the Fire Tribe but caught sight of some deer and went chasing after them. Urox refused to co-ordinate his warriors with Humakt’s, and led a doomed charge straight into the enemy spears. The Wise Clan kept wandering off to examine mushrooms.

Humakt watched dispassionately as the Fire Tribe scattered the defenders. Only the stalwart defence of Humakt’s warriors stopped the tula from being completely overrun. When the Fire Tribe had left, Humakt summoned all the clans together again.

They said, “why have you brought us together again? Fighting together is a bad idea, it was better the way things were before.” Humakt replied, “fighting together is a good idea, but we did not fight together. When a warrior fights he has one sword, one shield, one spear. Today we had ten swords, no shields, and seven and twelvety spears. When we fight together I will be the warrior. You shall be my weapons and do my bidding.”

The clans were angry at his words, but Humakt spoke over their muttering. “I am the warrior, and so I will stand at the centre. The Wise Clan can stand with me to offer their advice. The Storm Bull Clan shall stand at my right and be my Javelin, unleashed to assault the foe. The Black Rain Clan will stand before me and be my Shield, defending. The Arrows-from-Shadows Clan will be my Spear, harrying the attackers.” Humakt spoke on and on, naming the positions and assigning them to the different clans. To each clan he gave a symbol of their responsibility.

The clans were still angry, and argued over who should do what. One said, “no one can make you do anything. Why should we obey you?” Humakt replied, “do not confuse War with normal times.”

Then the Night Tribe attacked, savage and frenzied. Humakt gave orders, and all the clans found their places. They fought hard and fought well, because Humakt had been clever enough to assign them their correct places. United, the clans beat the Night Tribe and saw this was something they could not have done on their own. The Trading God brought mead and meat, and all the clans joined together in a victory feast. They gave tokens to one another, and Humakt forged a War Ring from their oaths.

After that all their enemies knew they were stronger together, and fewer foes attacked the clans of Humakt’s War Ring.
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