A tryst had been called in Casr and the Goddess had blessed it. Now any boat or ship that carried a swordsman might find itself arriving at Casr.
The swordsmen disembarked and went in search of glory. The vessels would then be returned by Her Hand to their home waters, where the crews and passengers spread the word: A tryst had been called.
In the villages, the cities, and the palaces of the World, Her swordsmen heard the summons. They heard it in the steamy jungles of Aro and on the windy plains of Grin; among the orchards of Allia and the paddies of Az. They heard it in sandy Ib Man and under the glacier peaks of Zor.
Garrison swordsmen heard it in corridors or busy streets. Free swords heard it on hillsides or on shabby village jetties. They sharpened their blades, they oiled their boots and harnesses--and they headed down to the River.
Garrisons were in turmoil as excited juniors sought out their mentors, demanding to be led to Casr or released from their oaths. The seniors had then to decide--to stay with their comforts, their sinecures, and their families, or to heed the call of honor and the entreaties of their prot�g�s. Some chose honor and others contempt.
The wandering bands of free swords had no such problem, for they were on Her service at all times. In many cases they did not even discuss the matter--they merely rose to their feet and went.
Yet the Goddess could take but few of Her swordsmen, or She would have left Her world without law and without order. Many an eager company embarked, and sailed, and soon found the light changing, the weather altered, the scenery shifted, and Casr coming up ahead. Others no less eager, and apparently no less worthy, embarked and sailed and were disappointed--the River did not change for them. No true swordsman would believe that he was undeserving ... There was argument. Argument led to recrimination, recrimination to quarrel, quarrel to insult, insult to challenge, and challenge to bloodshed. The wounded went to the healers, the dead to the River. The survivors disembarked, reformed in other groupings, and tried again in other ships.
Not only swordsmen heard the call. Behind them came their wives, their slaves, their concubines, and often their children. Came, too, the heralds and the armorers, the minstrels and the healers, and also moneylenders and cobblers and hostlers and cooks and whores. The youth of the World followed the swordsmen onto the ships and waited to see where the great River would bear them. Not for centuries had the Goddess summoned Her swordsmen to a tryst. Such confusion and disruption of the social order were unknown in the memory of the People.
On reaching Casr every swordsman asked the same question: Why had this Tryst been called, who was the enemy?
And the answer to that was--sorcerers!