Along on toward evening, when the shadows grew long,
The seaward watchers came, with archers and spear men.
Set to guard against foes, pirates making landing,
Now they came at great need to defend Kembirel
And end the kawntradd fight. The combatants withdrew
Before these fresh soldiers, and all the men went home.
Wellan took his men up, back to his hill-bound house,
And closed all his borders. He flung down the armring
Kembirel had given, left it there in the grass
Of the hill of kawntradd where it glittered snake-like
Beautiful and deadly: kinship and friendship spurned.
Though it was purest gold, no man would touch the thing,
But they drew back from it, fearing its corruption,
The damage it might do to name and dignity
If they should dare possess the ring of such a man.
Avren would have gone, too, back to Wellan’s household,
But Pramil seized him then, bore him to his own house.
“you have much work to do, and this feud is not yours.
Wellan would like your help; for all that, so would I.
But we need you neutral, to help restore the peace,
And that need is desperate. Thus you must come with me,
Abandon the mountain, at least for the moment,
And give your attention to the folk of the shore.”
Avren hesitated, protested this strange plan.
“Wellan has been my host for many long months now.
Should I abandon him, now in his darkest time,
Who gave me clothes and food, and a roof for my head,
In a land of strangers, among people not mine?
You must think me coward, or else soft in the head,
That I would leave him thus and not repay my debt.”
But Pramil shook his head, taking Avren in hand
And leading him away. “Your best service to him
Is not as warrior guarding his house and hall,
At least not at this time. You have other duties
Set for you long ago, in the days when this isle
Was still barely settled and we all lived in fear.
A man from oversea, or so the white shawls said,
Would come here to Alba in a boat of leather.
He would kill gaverae, and pass the Crimson tests,
Proving his sailor’s skills, and bring Alba justice.
I have a little task for you to accomplish.
Across the water, there, is happy Pendaran,
Thirty-two leagues by sea, beyond the horizon.
Assemble your vessel, and I will free your crew.
The eight of you will go across to Pendaran.”
“I do not understand,” said Avren to Pramil,
“and you are hiding things. But if it will help him,
Wellan of the mountains, then I will do this thing.”
Pramil nodded at this. “Therefore Wellan chose you,
And choosing you, chose well. I can build boats like yours;
I came from oversea; I meet the conditions
For the white shawl women, or I can with some work.
But I am not a king, Avren from Tarvenis,
though I love power much. I do not hear men well,
finding small truths in lies and judging between goods,
to arbitrate disputes. You are a better man,
and much better suited to the role Wellan thinks
you will perform ably. But don’t get too cocky;
you have no crown as yet, and may never get one.
Now come away with me, and assemble your ship.”