. o ( … crap. )
. o ( I’ve failed. )
. o ( To convince them. I’ve failed to convince them. )
. o ( Even the ones who could see me were afraid to stop. )
. o ( Except Dormal… heh. But he knows I never lied to him. )
. o ( So much I could not tell him. Them. Not where she could hear. )
. o ( Not where anyone can hear some of this. )
. o ( But I can’t hear the harp. )
. o ( So now I can heal it and there’s no … why am I worried she will mess with my spirit? )
. o ( Because she already has. )
. o ( Well, she mostly showed me things that mess with it. )
. o ( With me. )
. o ( But if she can read my thoughts we’re all doomed anyhow. )
. o ( More doomed. )
. o ( I don’t know where I am. But that passage is upwards. )
. o ( And upwards seems like it would break things. )
. o ( My friends are down there. )
. o ( Going up might hurt them. )
. o ( I was willing to. )
. o ( When I thought they might try too. )
. o ( And then when I thought she might let us out. )
. o ( To stop me annoying her. )
. o ( But what I damage will hurt them. )
. o ( But I didn’t ask to be in this position. )
. o ( She said my passions held me back. )
. o ( From freedom. )
. o ( But I am free to choose them even though I know what’s going on. )
. o ( And those are my friends down there. )
. o ( Even Varanis. )
. o ( Even if she made this choice. )
. o ( I needed to stop them before the giant turtle bit. )
. o ( Or before they went into Hell. )
. o ( And downwards is easier to walk. )
. o ( So this way. )
. o ( My love for people doesn’t hold me back. )
. o ( It holds me up. )
. o ( How long… maybe until the next Lhankor Mhy bit. And he’s following… he knows a thing. But Issaries guides them first. )
. o ( There must be ceremonial parts here. If I see them I can try to mess with them. )
. o ( But my friends… )
. o ( Sartar. )
. o ( It’s my duty to interfere if I can. )
. o ( To try to make it my quest, not Onjur’s. )
. o ( It would have been helpful if my Lord had added instructions on dealing with Jar-eel. )
. o ( Although D’Val’s is pretty good here. Try not to die. )
. o ( I should visit Tathia soon, and tell her that. )
. o ( Odd. Dead end. That’s the first I’ve seen in a while. I could stay here. Rest. )
. o ( Not that I’m going to, but I could. )
. o ( Harrek. She pulled in bloody Harrek. )
. o ( And Cragspider. )
. o ( I’ve met Cragspider. Talked to her. Exchanged gifts and food. )
. o ( I’m exhausted. )
. o ( But she still doesn’t understand I Fought We Won. )
. o ( You keep on going for as along as you’ve got. )
. o ( Even if it’s an eternity. )
. o ( I lost the ham beetle. )
. o ( But it’s only down a leg and a bit. )
. o ( Maybe it’ll make it. )
. o ( Good luck little beetle. )
. o ( And if Cragspider eats you there are worse places to go. )
. o ( I should have sacrificed that golden thing to her. )
. o ( Or Harrek. )
. o ( But he wasn’t Chaotic. Only he was. )
. o ( It made sense. Chaotic, so I don’t have to take his ransom. )
. o ( Not Chaotic, so I can sacrifice it to Orlanth. Well, Kallyr. )
. o ( But why doesn’t it make sense now? It did before! )
Berra keeps wandering, in the general direction of down.
Berra rubs at her forehead with her fingertips, feeling the bone there, and then does the same with her left cheek. Then she wipes the cheek like she is trying to get rid of something, smearing the blue paint but making little difference to the underlying skin, dyed blue where she has painted the Truth on herself for years. She sighs, puts her right hand on the hilt of Eril’s sword, and goes onwards, relaxed and ready to draw, but with her swords away.
“I could talk out loud here and nobody would hear me.”
“Except the goddess and the wyter.”
“But we’re probably a long way from anything, here. And probably as far West as we can get in the Temple.”
. o ( But my voice echoes and it’s weird. )
. o ( And echoes give things away. )
. o ( Scout. )
. o ( In shiny bronze armour. )
. o ( Lucky Wakboth didn’t strike for the arm. )
. o ( This is a Temple of Death, and Earth, and Disorder. So the rock will split in places. I c… should look for those as I go. )
Berra is looking for places to climb or hide in the Temple, or for evidence of the ritual.
And walking faster, trying to get to somewhere.
A faintly sulphurous smell tickles at her nostrils.
That’s the way to go, then. That sounds hellish. Smells hellish. Seems hell-like.((Fumbles CONx5, fails POWx5))
. o ( Smells like Hell. )
. o ( Like some bits anyhow. )
. o ( Not the bits where I was. )
. o ( But it’s different, and that means something. )
. o ( So I should find out what. )
. o ( If I find the centre of the ritual, what do I… wow, strong Air here. )
. o ( I… hgnanh huhhhhh… )
Snatches of music.
A harp, played by dexterous, stubby fingers.
The echo of Berra’s own voice, in a stone room. “-should tell her…”
A Duck Point accent, the words distorted by memory and Hell’s Air. They sound oddly threatening. “Try not to die early.”
Fading thumps like drums or hoofbeats.
A man’s voice, aristocratic, precise. “…do not let me down.”
“… let me down…”
“…”(( Loyalty (Duck) pass. Loyalty (Eril) fail. Pass CONx5. ))
Her eyes flicker open. The shape of a duck lingers for a moment in the sulphurous clouds, and then vanishes.
Berra blinks, remembers her Walktapus problem, and stays low on the ground, holding her breath to, as it were, catch her breath. She tries to see thinner parts of the cloud now, to stay low lest it take her again.
She can get clear of the unbreathable bits
Berra does that, still trying to crawl forward, with a murmured quack of thanks.
A natural scout, she can stay low and silent in leather armour. In metal armour, not so much. She sticks to crawling where she has to, rather than dragging herself across the ground. No grass here, or tree cover.
. o ( All downhill from here. )
. o ( This has all gone to Hell. )
. o ( Pull yourself together. )
. o ( Like a sandal. )
. o ( Bad gas. )
. o ( Did Hell eat beans? )
. o The Earth needs…
I said that out loud.