Monday, May 23, 2011

The Plains of Llyrian (Part 3)

Unnr's sons grew in the proper course of time. Agni the Black and Barnadr the Fair shared everything. Where Agni was quiet like his mother, Barnadr was bombastic like his father. Both were skilled in the arts of war and peace. Agni could coax music from any instrument given to him as Barnadr could carve elaborate items of great beauty from even the slenderest twig. They were often found together, Agni with his favorite harp and Barnadr at his carving.

Women found great favor with the sons of Llyrian but neither of them sought a bride. Unnr soon grew troubled by this. She turned to her bold husband and besought him to take them upon a trading journey. It was her great hope that each handsome young man would find some willing bride to beget heirs to his good name. So it happened that in the fifteenth summer of their lives, Agni the Black and Barnadr the Fair went with their father into the far eastern edge of the world.

There among the Horse Lords, the joy of Unnr were received as kings. Llyrian and his sons spent a month and a day among the Horse Lords. While many a willing maiden came forward, neither of Llyrian's twins chose a bride. The greatest of the Horse Lords was a man known for his ferocity and largess. He thought that Llyrian's sons would make him a fine son of his own, for the bonds of matrimony were also the bonds of kinship.

He brought forward his three daughters. The eldest daughter was as fair as the sun. Agni and Barandr greeted her courteously but returned to their idle pleasures. The middle daughter was as lovely as the rich fields of harvest. Again, the sons of Llyrian greeted the Horse Lord's daughter fairly but returned to their own pursuits.

The youngest of the daughters came forward veiled and demure. She spoke with a voice that was as the songs of all the birds. Agni, elder of the pair, knelt at her feet and offered her his song as homage. The maiden reached out her white hand, so pure and soft, and Barandr clasped it in both of his. He pledged to give to the maiden all the treasures of the earth if she would but be his. The maid looked between the pair and said to Barandr, "What use have I for treasures? My father gives me all."

Agni played upon his harp a sweet tune. This made the maiden smile even as Barandr offered her jewels carved as the flowers of the field. Agni sang an ancient love song, older then the Kordid or the Horse Lords. The maiden sat at his side, enraptured. As Barandr offered her his own golden horn, the maid paid him no mind. Barandr turned aside, his heart breaking for want of the youngest daughter of the Horse Lord.

As she turned to her father, Barandr looked to his brother. The maid spoke sweetly of the rapture of love and her wish to be wed to Agni. Barandr's heart turned black with jealousy. He struck Agni a mighty blow, pouring his heart's blood upon the hearth. He turned his rage upon the youngest daughter of the Horse Lord, striking her as well. The lily maid fell to the floor, cold as the stone that received her.

The Horse Lord gave a great cry of wrath. Llyrian fled in terror as Barandr fell to a thousand swords. As the Howling Horde followed upon Llyrian's heels, great evil swept through the Kordid.