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Vizz journeys with Hahlgrim and the Ochre Fallow fyrd to meet their chief, returning with a tale and more besides...

It takes a day or so of hard travel for Vizz and his brother to reach one of the outlying steads of the Ochre Fallow where they stay the night. The Ochre Fallow much enjoy the stories of the strange pair, although some of them do get quite grumpy as the litter bearing Hahlgrim is much heavier than it should be, so they unfortunately drop it quite a few times, once as they are fording a stream. The following day, Vizz and Volle receive a frosty welcome from Umathkar Chief. They soon get down to business, however, and Vizz realizes that he has quite a bit of leeway in negotiations with the chief, Umathkar seeming keen for them to add their new stead to the Clan...


"What ho!" comes a voice from the gathering darkness beneath the trees as the sun sets.

"Mother!" cries a boy "a stranger approaches!"

"Nay, no stranger I, 'tis but Vizz. Who thought you I was?"

And indeed, it is the tall swarthy figure of Vizz, stooping but with a wide grin. His companions follow behind, who also seem gladdened by the signs of a warm hearth fire.

"But you look strange. Somewhat different and where is your noble mule?"

"Yes Vizz Vollesbrother, what befell?"

"Ah, now beseems I must find myself a comfy notch and spin you the tale of our bold expedition, with as little circumcursation as I can. Now fetch up a stool and we shall gather about some cheery hearth.."

So Vizz sat and told his tale and the darkness surrounded those listening:


...And so it was that we reached the Hall Great of Umathkar Chief. Indeed, such was the peculiar way of speaking that those Ochre Fallow fellows that soon we all spake a little queer. But speak we did, and for the most part they seemed fine lads, although I am canny enough to have noticed that none was to keen on Hahlgrim Thane, and that Umathkar Chief was none too keen on us. Yet, I could see that avarice - a quality he had as well developed as his rancour - could overcome his lust for obesience. Like an eel through a thicket of pond lilies I tried to worm my way past his hostile demeanour, but it was clear I had little in the way of golds or cows, less than what might be appropriate for the assault on his nephew. He flew into a rage and threatened me with dire dooms, seeking gifts as part of an accord; an agreement between parties in controversy, by which satisfaction for an injury is stipulated, and which, when executed, bars a suit. I was in a fix: "Sumptuous gifts I have none" said I and that were a prize understatement but I went boldly on, "Save this...," offering him my fine cloak of gold silk. Umathkar Chief was pleased indeed and proclaimed what fine friends we were, and I quote his words: "I proclaim this band to be fine friends of Umathkar Chief. Let there be no ambiguity, except when, you know..."

Some around the fire suck the air between their teeth, for the gold cloak has long been in the Vizz line and holds family magic. Unpeturbed, Vizz continues.

Then I bethought me of my duties to my clan and proceeded with my plan to negotiate with the trader of the Ochre Fallow. I was prepared for the normal rites of my merchant brethren: One makes an offer. T'other says ridiculous! and sets his price. The one says 'tis absurd, but raises his offer by a fingernail paring and so on. By means of this tedious iteration, by means of this dullness to vex the senses; to pester and annoy until one hopes to overcome the other. In a cheery mood now that I had befriended the Chief and gained a meeting with the clan merchant I called out "Bring more beer, this bids fair to be a lengthy chaffer".

Yet, then the trader appeared and for a time I was too mazed to do more than gaup. It was none other than my darling from Alda Chur!

"Vizz Vollesbrother," she said, not giving away our mutual undertsanding, "I have a suspicion that we may need lengthy negotiations to come to an an agreement, as persons representing our kin; to reconcile matters of debt and price; to settle disagreements, adjust, harmonize our positions, get the measure of one another and see what happy accord we can reach. Now, I suggest your companions do not need to guard you from me, and perhaps we should negotiate in a quiet place"

"Forsooth," I said "your proposal is not too far from my own."

Our initial negotiations went well, we quickly got down to the basics terms to be agreed upon and the main items to be traded, assessing their quality with close perusal. Some back and forth but soon the deal was done and I could ask how it was that the women I thought an unfortunate victim of feuds, wars and imperial invasion was, all of a sudden, the trader for this clan. She replied: "The world is wide, my sweetheart, and folk forget old grudges with the years. I had been exiled for some misdeed and took to the roads whilst young, and so I wandered until I wearied of the wandering life, living without kin, ever one step ahead of vengeful rivals and cheating creditors, and I sought me a magre place to live in Alda Chur, where I met a tall man with a noble mule and a canny tongue. When you returned to your kin I sought out mine own and, since I had brought with me some of your gifts and gewgaws, baubles indeed most of them dear Vizz that would only trick an avaricious chief such as Umathkar, but they impressed upon him and his ring that I was a canny trader, and a boon to the clan, and I shall carry out my duties for I cannot say I am without scruples."

I advised her then to forget her duty for an instant, and we re-negotiated a small clause for some more time, with much back and forth, and those who overheard the finer points of our debate must have thought us hard bargainers.

There is more to this tale, which I will tell when I have quaffed some ale...


That's better, Ochre Fallow ale crap like tastes.

After our deal was concluded, my sweetheart Oshala, lit up a durulz cigar that she took from a small ironwood box. I was suprised and asked her how she hads taken up the habit.

"Why my dear Vizz, you know very well that you had an entire consignment from far Esrolia stored in my abode in Alda Chur for two months while the goods, shall we say, cooled down. Well, I know you have a small market in the Far Place, from the occasional durulz and such like, but I thought while my own living space was cramped and crowded with the wretched things, to try the efficiacy of the aromatic smoke in removing woes. Well, it does little to abate sadness, but in truth, although I cannot put a finger on why, it seemed there was a curious temptation to have another, and so on until I suffered it to be a habit. Now I must pursue this vice, amongst others, in private, for Umatchkar Chief declares 'No Smoking, dat's durulz!'"

It was at this point that there was something of a disruption outside of our quiet nook. Skullcleaver burst in upon us, rage was a rumble in his thickly thewed throat. When he saw us he was something of agog, and uttered something akin to "What is this undignified altercation?" but far more direct and in the blunt language his type are famous for.

"God's truth" I said, uttering a Sartarite oath almost as vulgar as Skulcleavers own proclaimations, that I had learned at the library of Jonstown, "Calm yourself Bullthrash else you'll wake the fyrd from the neighbouring tula. What ails thee?".

More befuddled than normal, the poor Skullcleaver explained that he had thought, from the smell of the stogie, that a duck assassin had infiltrated the Ochre Fallow and was perhaps going to murther either me or Oshala, or both, as we chaffered a far deal. Hearing sounds of what he thought were a struggle he had took it upon himself to burst in an rescue us. I congratulated Bullthrash, he was lusty, hot blooded, masterful, unafraid of things real and unreal.I said unto him: "I like you. You remind me of when I was young and stupid.You have the makings of a first class underling."

"Can thou abolish this danger, friend?" I asked, waving toward Oshala and her smouldering stogie. "Minish your employment, fine fellow, and get some sleep for we return to our kin on the morrow and have some fine gifts from the Ochre Fallow."

Grey dawn saw us preparing to depart from Umathkar chief and men kins, his thanes weapon and his wives stead. Indeed, we had traded for some fine treasures for Oshala had access to some ancient relics which Hahlgrm and Umathkar seemed to care little for...


All were eager to see these mighty gifts and crowded around Vizz in anticipation.


"Let us see?"

Vizz pulled forth a box and opened it carefully. Inside, laid on a soft bed, was a tattered, brown wrinkled thing, seemingly made of leather. It seemed to deflate just a little and those who had ears to hear heard a quiet voice: "Ho Voormisssss..."

Around him jaws gaped in bemusement at this leathery old piece of tat.

Vizz's eyes gleamed with delight. "Tis an egg!"