His hand slowly descended and halted short of the neck. With three upturned fingers, Tonunda cupped his chin and gently raised him to his feet. Sodnammoc gave a puzzled stare, becoming even more confused when Tonunda smiled warmly and embraced him.
The heat of the old man’s tears warmed Tonunda’s shoulder. Sodnammoc was forgiven… they all were. When they concluded their embrace, Tonunda pulled their foreheads together, then kissed the top of his head.
“How can we repent of the wrongs we have done?” asked Velhaf.
Tonunda’s hearing detected dragging and soft yelps of human pain moments before Mannis appeared around the corner of the nearest house.
“Look who I found,” said Mannis.
He pulled his hand away from the neck line of a mail shirt. It’s wearer, a Vindavian with a single red braid nursed his blackened, swollen thigh, obviously broken.
“This is the envoy who came that day to threaten us!He might even be the one who killed my father,” Mannis said, drawing his axe.
Tonunda barked. Wait!
The Dog tribe waited with inquiring stares as Tonunda took a few steps closer. He looked coldly into the Vindavian’s defiant stare.
“Your days are numbered, Savage,” the soldier hissed. “Do you think this is at an end once you kill me? You slew 200 today, but we are so much more. It is a mere slither out of Natas’ forces. When he hears of this battle, his army will cover the plains. We are a nation, while you are yet but a scattering of tribes.”
Tonunda nodded grimly. Zarnog!
Please relate my words to the man pack.
Seconds elapsed before she spoke.
“I speak for Tonunda! You say you want to make amends? Then make me your king.”
The envoy laughed. “That savage?”
Mannis kicked his swollen leg, forcing to the envoy to writhe on the ground. He grunted softly, but refused to cry out.
“Aye,” said Mannis, raising his axe. “Long live Tonunda the Savage!”
Velhaf drew his axe and held it aloft.
“Long live Tonunda the Savage!”
The rest of the men drew their axes and shouted in unison. As the shouts abated, Tonunda leaned over, levelling his gaze at the Vindavian.
“Tell Natas,” said Zarnog. “He has merely bruised my heel…”
Tonunda growled, showing all of his teeth.
“But I will crush his head. By the time he comes, I will have combined all of the tribes into a nation.”
He turned his head with a bark.
Zarnog sneered. “Put him on a horse.”
Togullen scratched more words with his quill on the parchment…
And thus, the first tale of Nusalle’s first king is told. I have a Bible which a friend gave to me. Only now do I realise that God Himself has given me the book, and why? It now gives me more clarity, no purpose, for the lives the heroes of Nusalle have lived. Tonunda’s tale reminds me of the love he had for a people who cast him aside. Did I not do this once too?
Like Jesus, Tonunda was the stone builders rejected, (Matthew 21:42) but they made him king and decided to follow him. I have come to know of the sacrifices Jesus made for me, even unto death. It is for this reason, that I too have made him my king. And it is my most fervent prayer, that others too might understand the lesson of Tonunda’s life.
Sunlight caressed his cheek. Togullen looked up to see the sun within the frame of the great hall’s dome. A new day had dawned, and moments from now, the first of the visiting public would come through the doors. He smiled, knowing he would have another day to do what he loved most, to recount Tales from the Hall of Heroes.