Among the Horselords
Dexter fumed at the treachery of the Rangers of Arden,
but he knew that he could not simply renounce his
duty to them. He had agreed long ago to guide
them through the centuries and he would not stop now.
The fury of the Steward threatened to betray that trust.
There was an ancient pact of honor and faith that
tied the Steward to Arden, one that bore no connection
to the vulgarities of Amber or to her petty politics.
Dexter realized that he would need to get away from
Arden and headed to Kharev to blow off some steam.
Dexter had been to Kharev in his youth. He had
rode alongside his father back when Martin was first earning
the loyalty of Kharev. Those rides had never led to
raiding, but Dexter knew of the Horselords and their ways
and was looking forward to the release of his frustrations.
The Horselords of Kharev are a proud people not known
for their gullibility. The arrival of Dexter, who introduced himself
as a demi-god, was met with little respect and less
belief. After Dexter defeated the three most powerful warriors of
the Conniptin tribe, the tide of belief began to turn.
The Horselords gave Dexter three challenges to prove his divinity.
Dexter graciously agreed to the challenges and promised not to
hold the Horselords' lack of faith against them in the
future. The Horselords agreed that this was most generous of
Dexter. The first challenge was begun after the appropriate feast.
Dexter was stripped naked and painted according to tradition and
led to the boar pit. Dexter allowed himself to be
shot three times by a Conniptin archer and then pushed
into the pit. In a dazzling display, Dexter wrestled all
six wild boars, killing only the one marked for dinner.
Dexter relaxed in a private tent. There he was met
by a Conniptin girl named Meliqua, nearly four hundred and
fifty years his junior. She tended to his wounds that
night, and beneath the stars of Kharev's night sky, whispering
promises never intended to be kept, he tended to her.
The tribe traveled to the edge of the Samaria Gorge,
a deep scar in the land inhabited by goat-men and
strange beasts known only as kri-kri. There, Dexter was bound
and gagged and toppled over the edge. A corpse was
expected to wash up by Sunday, Dexter arrived by noon.
On the ride back from Samaria, Theiore, chief of the
Conniptin, met with Dexter. They spoke in private of the
ways that a demi-god might disrupt the influence of a
chief. Theiore was a powerful man well versed in the
arts of war and managed to cut Dexter's arm once.
Leaderless, the Conniptin tribe focused on the third challenge. The
tribe's warriors rode to within view of a rival tribe
and waited. There they discussed the loss of the chief
and watched the village burn. Turning a deaf ear to
the lamentations in his wake, they welcomed their new chief.