Up and Out

1628, Earth Season, Possibly still Fertility Week, Godday


After an unexpected Heroquest, the group climb up out of hell. All are more or less present, but some are present enough to talk. Session SA3.06.


After the dust that Giland Fal blew into their eyes, the group finds themselves in a corridor, with an old, sealed door behind them, corroded shut by age, and before them, a narrow way to climb and clamber. Berra looks longingly at the door, but then looks towards the way upwards and possibly out instead.

There is dim, faint light all around, greyish with no apparent source.

Varanis is staring around, confused. “Where are we? And where does that door lead?”

“Eh, the past,” Berra says. “You don’t want to go there. That’s before-now times.” She seems oddly certain.

The Vingan’s eyes light with curiosity. “Before-now?”

“Times when I couldn’t let you into.” Berra starts trying to make a proper light. “This is the outside of a hall that you don’t want to go into. I mean, you do. But you shouldn’t.”

“Cult secrets?” Varanis asks, conceding reluctantly. “Anything you can tell me about as we walk?”

“Yea, um… I can, but let’s not while we’re here.” Berra makes annoyed sounds. “Darnit. I think we can’t steal fire. My sparks aren’t falling at all. We’ll have to just go by not understanding what darkness means.”

Varanis steps closer to it, but then sighs and deliberately turns her back to start walking toward the route out. “Fine. Let’s aim for out.”

There’s a slithery, narrow way to get up. Berra, for once, is at an advantage. It’s a rock chimney and she’s tiny.

Varanis stares thoughtfully up the rocks. “Going to be tricky, and I might need to polish some scratches out of the armour later, but I can do it.” Then she looks back at the rest of the party. “Maalira?”

Berra looks at the faint shapes around them. A Yelmalian, a merchant… “She stayed awake. Maybe she’ll sleep soon?” Two of the shapes are definitely human. The others might be just tricks of the light and rounding errors.

In the dimness, Berra looks odd, somehow. She goes to take hold of the wall and start hauling herself upward.1INTx5 shows she is wearing armour all over – despite being geased against it in one location. This is a Heroic representation of her.

Finarvi waits for Berra to make her ascent, or fall, and when it looks like she isn’t going to do the latter he eyes Varanis.

“You next, Finarvi,” Varanis orders. “Then Serala. I’ll go last.”

Berra does indeed not fall – she wriggles up, sword-hand free when she can, as cautious as a scout climbing a rock chimney can be.

Finarvi looks doubtfully at the climb, but scrambles up after Berra, somehow managing to look slightly less graceful than a horse attempting the same feat.

At a distance above where they were, Berra pauses where the chimney flattens out into a cave for a bit. “Down there is… it’s something I don’t know. I’m just guessing. But I felt really hard that back that way, I understood Air. I mean, I walked away and maybe I sealed that door.” The metal of her armour gleams dully, but she looks like herself, not the grim god.

Varanis slips into the cave with ease despite her armour. She sits with her feet dangling back into the chimney. “You sealed the door? It would have been interesting to see what was beyond it!”

“Me. But before. And before there was a before.” Berra shudders a bit. “I can’t really explain it.”

Finarvi looks uncomfortable. “Can we get out of here? I don’t like caves.”

Varanis chews her lip, then sighs. “Can’t be helped. We need to keep going, I suppose. Do you want to continue on point with me in rear guard, Berra? Also… where are we? And,” she trails off and stares into the hole beneath her feet. “Did we give Daka Fal a bunch of spirits to judge?”

Berra nods. “Yes, let’s. We’re leaving the Underworld. I think I should go first. Finarvi, you’re a Lightbringer. You’ll be fine.” She pushes herself away from the cave wall she was leaning on, Eril-in-court casual. “Yeah, we did, Varanis. Thank you. I couldn’t… probably… have got them moving.”

“It’s a little fuzzy in my head. I’d really like to come out of a HeroQuest remembering what happened. I always feel like everyone else knows what’s going on and I’m persistently confused.” Varanis thumps the floor beside her with a closed fist.

“You were awe-inpiring,” Finarvi tells her, and sounds like he means it. Though the fervour might be tension at the unknowable mass of stone hanging over his head.

“I feel like I had too much to drink,” she grumbles by way of reply.

“We might have managed to deal with the Grizzly Peak ghost problem,” Berra says. “But… yeah, we probably did. And without having to run into any vampires this time.” She sets herself to climbing again. “Which is good.”

“Wait… stop climbing a moment!” Varanis calls after Berra urgently.

Berra pauses. “Yuh?”

“What do you mean we dealt with the ghosts? All of them?”

Berra says, “I said we had to deal with them. So when I asked, you persuaded them to follow. Thank you.”

Varanis, who had risen to her feet moments before, sits down hard. “My grandmother too?”

“I guess?” Berra seems surprised to be asked.

“But… I need to talk to her again! How will I find her? We didn’t place a cenotaph for her at the necropolis…”

“Erh, ask a shaman?” Berra shrugs. “It’s going to take a bit, but spirits are spirits, right?” She might be a little distracted.

“I forgot to ask if she’s actually my grandmother, Berra! This is important!” For a moment, Varanis looks like she might be thinking about heading back the way they came.

Berra stops for a moment. “If you can’t get a shaman… Uh. Alright. Give me a moment to think about this?”

The Vingan waits, worried and impatient, but for once, not leaping in.

“Alright. She’s a Hero. So you can set her up an altar.” Then Berra turns to keep going like that is solved now.

Varanis immediately brightens at the idea. “Yes! Maybe on one of the peaks near Boldhome. Or at Grizzly Peak, I suppose, but I’d like to be able to visit her more often.” As they start climbing again, Varanis is happily talking to herself about plans.

Berra slithers and clambers and from time to time curses. Her armour strikes sparks off the rock here and there, the one time she nearly falls. “Watch that bit! It’s slippery.”

“Do you remember what happens in HeroQuests?” Varanis calls up the line of climbers. “All of it?”

Berra pauses to look at the slippery bit. “Oh, just avoid this bit. Climb to the right… not always, Varanis. But usually, yes. I mean, I’ve been there. But sometimes it’s hard.”

“When I become Vinga or Orlanth, there’s not a lot of Varanis left.” From the sound of her voice, Varanis might as well be on a gentle stroll down a city street. The climb is easy for her.

There’s silence for a few moments, and then a sigh drifts down. “I need to get … I need to be my own god more. I can’t. Can’t do it so well.”

“I suppose it depends on why you’re doing the quest,” Varanis muses. “If it’s just to repeat what the gods have done before, my way is good. But sometimes, I want to change things. And then I can’t because I’m not there anymore.”

More silence, and then, “Change is hard…” Berra might be going to say more, but then suddenly starts to move faster. “I think I see light ahead!”

Varanis patiently waits for the others to keep moving, offering encouragement and praise for their climbing.

Berra stops where the light is, where there is a fragment of corridor that looks chewed out from the rock. A torch is stuck into the wall. It is a glowing flame. That much is clear.

POWx5: It has a Runic arc around it, the Light Rune acting as a halo.
Special: The Flame and the Rune of Fire are one and the same, both there, both identical. They just seem to look different.

When Varanis pulls herself up to where the others wait, she stares at the torch. “Why are the runes for Fire and Sky the same?” she asks. “It’s strange to see the Sky underground.” Then she gazes down the corridor and the philosophical moment passes. “Oh! What’s down there? Is it open? Can we go that way?”

“Because the sky used to glow,” Berra says. “Before the seas invaded it. The sky dome was all light.”

Then she sighs. “No. Let’s get out. Up. Past. Keep climbing.”

“But…” Varanis protests. “Do you know what’s there?”

“I know that out is the way right now.” Berra points up the chimney. “It’s … Don’t you feel it?”

“I… no.” Varanis shrugs. “I want the sky, but at the same time, I just feel this need to explore. I can’t explain it, but…” She shrugs again and gets to her feet, glancing at where the two Grazelanders are talking. “I trust your judgement and besides, Finarvi looks like he needs out of here as soon as possible. Lead on.”

“I want to explore a lot of these things, but I know this one. I can’t… I can’t detour. I need to keep going. And you shouldn’t go away.” She looks up. “I think after here there are steps. Or something like it.”

“I promise, Berra. Rear guard is my task here and I’ll stay with it. No wandering off.”

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    INTx5 shows she is wearing armour all over – despite being geased against it in one location. This is a Heroic representation of her.