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In the early days of the exodus, when there was only one clan, Ostalar served as chieftain, because Hyalor wanted Riders to prepare for the day when he would die. At this time it was also the custom for gods and mortals to ride together. When gods were present, Ostalar and everyone else did as they said. But as the One Clan showed they could survive such enemies as Goldtalon the Wheel, Yenfar the Sorcerer, and Thengist the Ram, the gods left them more and more to their own devices.

The Riders who left the city had mostly been cavalrymen, who despite complaints from the charioteers had always enjoyed the status of nobles. They took their wives with them and a few servants. But to ride away you had to own a horse, and to own a horse you had to be a noble.

That's how the trouble started. Everyone wanted to be on the clan circle. No one wanted to do the work that servants performed back in Nivorah. Even those few who had been servants said that the rules of freedom that applied out on the trail meant they should be excused from lowly duties.

Soon no one would go anywhere or do anything, even if it meant they went hungry or cold. When raiders struck, matters became clearer. But as soon as the One Clan won a victory, squabbling would start again, over who would gain the spoils.

People went to Hyalor but he only held out his blank golden tablet yet again and said people must make their own rules. He was no help.

(A Hyalor priest might say different but it's not a Hyalor priest telling you this story, is it?)

So when Relandar next rode with the One Clan, it was up to him to sort everytyhing out. This made sense, for he had always been the god of nobles.

First of all, he sorted the One Clan into seven families, as that was a holy and sensible number. He showed this by splitting into seven parts. Each chose a family head who had distinguished himself in battle and exemplified a key virtue: shrewdness, courage, charm, wisdom, husbandry, holiness, or learning.

Then the Relandars sorted out the lines of kinship, determining who would join each noble's family. Mostly they followed the blood ties people knew, but when needed Relandar showed them connections they had not noticed before. Then he revealed the ritual for joining bloodlines through adoption.

The seven Relandars rode off to seven glades, each with one of the families.

Each of the seven Relandars split into three Relandars of different ages: a youth, a man, and an elder. He showed the people the duties each had: to learn, to act, and to teach.

Then the Relandars showed how a household would work, joined by blood and with an elder at the head of each. Other elders would advise the family head.These heads and their descendants would be nobles. THey would make war and fill their honor belts. Others would perform the tasks that used to belong to servants.

Those he designated to perform vital but less than glorious functions rose up indignantly. To show them where that nonsense would lead, Relandar split into two hundred Relandars. They did battle with each other until all lay dead. From their remains he reformed into one Relandar (that is, seven Relandars in total) and said, this is what will happen if no one leads and no one follows.

And he explained how an elder might or might not be a noble, and some nobles were not yet elders, and these were the doughty ones who would fight, using the gifts of Elmal.

And Osara appeared, weapons ablaze, to say that some nobles might be women, including the warriors.

Relandar had always admired his niece. Now he admired the clever way she had waited until he was tired from splitting from one into many to surprise him with this suggestion. So he said, yes, quite evidently, what Osara says is right.

The sevenRelandars rode with the seven families, joining them back together into one clan, and rejoining himself to become once more the one and only Relandar.

And the people were amazed that his wisdom had such power, and asked him if he had anything else to share with them before he and Osara went back to the sky together.

Yes, he said. My lesson is not just how you should all rank yourselves, but about splitting. The day will come when One Clan will have to become many. Perhaps not seven, but many.

And that day will be good, even if it seems to be bad. So when it comes ,call on me, and I will explain.

As I always have, and always will. Clearly, and in as many parts as necessary.

(Unlike Hyalor with his damn blank tablet.)