THE SPEAR GOES SOUTH.

The only relief Eomund found in Fothmorn were the free times his father would suffer him to ride Lithos out into the Retta.  He did not feel so free as those days in the Ridderwold when he might go exploring the whole of the country; but it was a balm nonetheless.  His father forbade him to journey into the Ridderwold, and neither would Eomund venture north toward Murkfell, needing no warning about that dark place.  So it was that Eomund would ride away south to the banks of the Veeterloude where it joined with the Rending Sea, and looked out over the wide waters and the rolling Granfell spilling into the coast.  At other times, he would ride to the borders of the Ridderwold and survey that empty country, brooding and lost in thought.

Now, it happened upon a time that Eomund was riding afield, when he came upon two men beating their horse which lay exhausted upon the ground. The horse had fallen by the way in weariness for reason of the heavy weight laden upon it and the cruel driving malice of its masters. Eomund was brought to wrath at the cruelty of these men toward their beast. And he chastened them openly, rebuking them to leave the animal be, that it might in time recover. But they scorned him and  began to mock him.  And this bruised him the more and his heart burnt hot with anger at their words.

Then one of the men moved to seize Eomund, intending to cast him down to the ground. But Eomund was no craven, and seized his adversary in kind. So it was that he bested the man and cast him down in his turn.  But Eomund had not yet come into full mastery of his strength and was not fully aware of his own prowess.  Eomund was over strong in the wresting, for the man rose not again when he settled upon the turf.  And the other, who had until this time beheld the scuffle, straightway fled in fear of Eomund.  Hastening to his home, he told all of how Eomund had slain his companion upon the road.

Eomund turned and tended to the horse, which still lay upon the turf.  The horse was even as Eomund had said and after a time, it rose and was able to go on again, Eomund sat for a long time, brooding and unable to cast his gaze to the body of the slain man.  

After a while, Eomund arose and mounting Lithos, took the reins of the other horse and fled home by way of the northern gate in hopes of avoiding spying eyes.  Coming to the gate Aesa met him there.

“Oh, deary,” she exclaimed, “where’ve you come upon this horse?  That looks like one Jorvy keeps.”

“Aye, you might be right at that.  And how I came upon it is a tale not meant to be shared.”

“Lo, child.  Don’t tell me ye stole it!”

“Nay,” said he, who until now had not met the old woman’s gaze, but casting his eyes upon her suddenly, it halted her and it was if a shadow passed between them, and he said, “It is far, far worse than that, dear lady.”  And with that, he fled into the inn and told his father of all that had befallen.  

For a long space Beomund said naught, but sat in silence.  Eomund was not certain if the silence was born of anger, or if Beomund weighed some great decision within his mind.  At last, Beomund stirred from his seat and turning to Eomund spoke thus, “The boy you slew was Ruk.  His parents are long dead, but he is in the keeping of Jorvy, as is the horse, who most likely will seek weregild in some form.  We have little to offer him in terms of gold.”

The slaying of another man in that country demanded weregild be paid.  Eomund might offer coin or an object of value; or he might flee.  The wronged were within right to seek his life, but could not seek retribution from his family.  The man-slayer alone was fair game.

Thus it was that soon the kin of the slain man descended upon the Water Horse, demanding weregild even as Beomund had said.  But Beomund was no longer a wealthy lord as he had once been.  All that was left to him now was Gramgeir.  This he was willing to offer to save the life of his son.  

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