Prince Koltar discovers Volusia and his children are alive
Rindar felt a lump in is throat. The effect of seeing over a thousand Wardarian horsemen pulled up on the rise was a fearsome spectacle. They paused, overlooking the Buffalo Tribe encampment. The palisade made of twisted briar and posts driven into the ground was not a formidable obstacle, even though the pits, dug to the front and covered from view would prove disconcerting to a charge of warhorses. Huddled behind the barrier were about a hundred Buffalo Warriors with stone point and flint weapons. Opposing them on horseback were seasoned cavalrymen. They were armed with steel edged blades, protected by leather armor, helms and shields, and three hundred of the multitudes were archers. It was but a token of the force that had followed Prince Koltar into a dozen battles
Rindar mopped his brow and prepared for the inevitable outcome. He gave thanks to the gods that the women and children had been moved to safety but with all the men dead, what chance they had… For the warriors death would come quickly but for the camp followers and children it would be a drawn out and agonizing process.
Prince Koltar dismounted and walked casually towards the encampment. He halted just out of bow range and swept his foot revealing the pits covered with camouflage, hiding sharpened stakes at the bottom. He shook his head in amazement.
Rindar watched anticipating his next move… He’ll have them dismount and walk his men at arms, under the cover of the archers.
The Prince made a gesture and several soldiers came forward carrying two logs and the parts to a pavilion. They positioned the logs and set the stakes. A covering was placed over a fabric covered canopy and the framework staked down and tied off with ropes. When they finished Lord Koltar took a seat on the log facing the encampment, flanked by two body guards.
He conversed briefly with a lithe young man who turned and walked officiously towards the encampment, picking his way along a discernible winding path that meandered through the camouflaged barrier of pits and snares. Reaching the fence he addressed no one in particular… speaking in the high plains dialect.
“Your Sovereign, Prince Koltar, desires words with the Chief.” With that he turned about and retraced his path through the barrier and back up the hill to the pavilion.
“Come Rindar,” commanded Rathome, “the Great Lord seeks an audience. What do you suppose he wishes to discuss.”
“A ripple of nervous almost hysterical laughter chortled along the line of tribesmen leaning forward on their spears…”
“It could be a trick to lure you out…” offered Obowi, suspiciously.
“This isn’t even a contest…replied the Chief. “A snap of his fingers and we would all be dead.”
“Then we have nothing to lose, by taking a walk.” Rindar offered.
The chief glanced at Obowi his war leader. “Take charge while Rindar and I see what he wants.”
Gathering his dignity, Rathome, straightened his headdress, and swept his buffalo robe about his shoulders. Together they followed the path of the herald to the high ground and on to the pavilion.
As they approached the two men at arms took a protective stance. Prince Koltar waved them back. Standing, he gestured for the two tribesmen take a seat on the log facing him. Servants handed them cups and filled them with water.
“Well Chief Rathome,” began the Prince, “How long has it been?”
“...Four years my Prince.”
Koltar leaned forward… ““Perhaps you can explain the coolness of my reception…. I was not expecting to be greeted at Spear Point.
I was not expecting you my Prince…,
Another then? Someone with hostile intentions no doubt…? And whoever could that be?”
“Lord Marcutti… He’s intent on destroying our village and putting us all to the sword.”
“I see…and if such were my intention… if it were my pleasure to do so, to scourge the sands of this encampment….would it not be within my rights to do so..?”
“Within your rights my Lord… but I’ll not stand by and watch my people slaughtered.”
“I suppose not…. Actually your reception comes as no surprise. Your assessment of Lord Marcutti's intentions are not far from the mark, However, his are not mine… so have your men relax while we discuss how to repair this sad state of affairs.”
Rathome turned... “Go Rindar, and tell Obowi to stand down the men.”
“Margoles go and do the same,” The prince told his herald… “Have the Squadron make bivouac.”
Koltar watched intently as the one called Rindar moved back towards the encampment to do the chief’s bidding.
“This Warrior, the one who serves you, is he the one who makes so much mischief?”
“The one who has killed ten of my subjects…”
“He did as a man must…we are warriors my Prince, not sheep.”
“How does one Warrior manage to kill so many of my men?”
“I have never seen his match…”
“I see,” said the Prince….stroking his jaw…
“Tell me,” Koltar continued, changing the subject…”Have you seen a young woman…, She would be in her late twenties accompanied by a boy of about twelve years and a maid of about ten…? They would have that distinctive Wardarian look; you know the blue eyes and fair complexion….Their presence on the rim would have made their origins, unmistakable…”
“Yes, my Lord, I think I know the ones you refer to…”
Koltar’s heart beat faster. “Tell me what you know.”
“Two years past, while Rindar was still a renegade, he happened upon them. They were close to death. He took them to his encampment and nursed them to health. The woman he took beneath his arm and her children to rear as his own.”
“This woman had a name?”
“Volusia… A medicine totem, of great skill and power.”
Excitement gripped the Prince and there was no concealing his emotions…
“Is she in yonder village,” he asked pointing towards the palisades?”
“We expected an attack… The woman and children were sent to safety.”
“A prudent measure…”
“May I ask what your interest is… in this woman?”
“SHE’S MY WOMAN!” Koltar all but screamed. “That’s what my interest is…, and her children are my heirs….”
“How could we have known?” stammered the chief in dismay… surprised by the violence of the outburst… He was worried now… there were racial implications and a history of bad blood between their people. This development did not bode well…Just when matters were looking up…
“Make no apologies,” said Koltar, struggling with the words. The thought of Volusia laying with a Buffalo warrior, did not rest well with his sentiments. still he reasoned, taking a deep breath, without that intervention she would be dead and the children too…
“FETCH HER TO ME…and my son... and daughter too… Your news chills me as my heart overflows with gratitude… Come and sit closer, that all may see we are conversing as friends.”
The chief moved next to Lord Koltar, hardly believing the honor.
“In saving their lives, you place me forever in your debt."
There followed a long silence. Chief Rathole chose his words carefully. “This is not as easy as it appears… Volusia has touched our spirits and your children are adopted as our own. Your expectations will stir strong emotions.”
Koltar raised an eyebrow. ““Don’t make me insist upon my rights."
“I brook no challenge my lord…only point out the matter is contentious.”
“You fear Rindar will be opposed to returning her?”
“Would that were the extent of it….no, the problem is not Rindar…He'll be conflicted, but the crisis that looms is that she has become our Medicine Woman."
"A Wardarian girl?"
"She communes with the Spirits... The power of her magic is beyond dispute."
“Her return is not a matter to be negotiated.”
“Then let’s hope the dawn finds her agreeable to the course your heart is set on.
Let the matter rest, spoke a voice from within. “Until tomorrow then,” replied Koltar, heartened by the unexpected developements, “ and discovery of what the new day brings.”