Fragment 16 – Eril Scouts

Diaries The Saga Of Berra — Fragment 16


Hailing the Heroes of Sacred-Time Questing
Berra stepped into the crowd with proud Eril
Marched with the brothers of Humakt in concert
Saw Kallyr Starbringer starting the Light Quest

There in the man-press was Rajar the Mighty
Slighted by Eurmal in guise as a sneak-thief
Rage made him strike with his hand opened shieldwise
Flat to the chest of the robber who used him

Eril Humakti was swift to the scene then
Sword of all Swords and as stiff as their sword-blades
Ever unyielding and strong in the line-fight
Model of Humakt the Eager for Battle

Berra stood by at the shoulder of Eril1Another heroic interpretation, rather unlikely given the rank of the junior initiate within the temple, and their known tempestuous relationship
Watching with awe as he sought truth from Rajar
Seeing the Y-rune was burning within him
Inward swore Berra to learn of his wisdom

Walking and eating a while with the Bison
Berra’s sharp eyes spotted Nala in turmoil
Followed with Rajar to Ernalda’s temple
Heard of the vision that Nala was fearing2We can say with some degree of certainty that Berra was not in the meeting in which Kalis interpreted the vision of Nala; given the happenings over Sacred Time there was an unusually deep investigation conducted in Boldhome, and this conversation is recorded as having only Kalis, Nala, and ‘a horse, un-named’ presumed to be Tiwr the Unicorn

Swift were her feet as she ran to fetch Eril
Sword-Lord of Sword-Lords and Head of the Fyrdfolk3Often ‘fyrdmen’ but a neutral, plural noun
Speaking plain words in which fear never featured
Berra caused Eril to turn to greet Nala

Orders were given for scouting from Northgate
Berra was trusted to lead a contingent
Calling her friends to the head of the ramp-road
Berra had Tiwr4Some early manuscripts have ‘Nala’, but there is surprising consistency in Tiwr standing in for Nala here, across the surviving corpus and Serala and Rajar

Out on the Road Berra rode with her scout-group
Eyes of the hawk matched with eyes of the Dagger
Unicorn eyes and the eyes of the bison
Seeing the crush of the grass by the roadside

There stood the ghost of the murdered man Vengulf
Cottar of honour with wounds from sharp arrows
Berra protected his ghost from destruction
Had Nala lay him to sleep with due honour

Then cunning Berra sent back to the city
Sent back the galloping horse of Serala
Rider with warning of scouts on the roadway
Lunars in number too small for invasion

Lesser in number and creeping in darkness
Berra led onward on foot in the roadway
Showing by hand and by feel of the footing
Places for others to follow the foot-sword5We would use ‘Infanteer’, but of note is the training regime of the Nochet Humakti Battalion, famed for asking every officer how they would get their swords to where they were needed, before any other questions were asked of a battle. The correct answer, of course, considers whether swords are needed, and the movement of large numbers of troops.

Up where the mountains held tight a small valley
Lunars had taken the house of a freeman
Slaughtered his family laughing to do so
Leaving their bodies trod into the pig-muck6A particularly brutal way of denying death rites to a body, while rendering animals taboo and useless for the Sartarites of the area

Few were the warriors facing the Lunars
Fewer when Berra sent Nala to Boldhome
Sending her spirit to soar on the air-wind
Leaving an axe and a sword to the road-dust

Berra spoke then to sweet Mellia White-Robe
Now we may die and the Lunars are many
You who are weaponless must fall if we do
We stand together and thus I release you

Mellia spoke in reply to the Sword-child
You will be warring with many and need me
How can I leave those I know will be wounded
Ask not this thing for my heart breaks in pity

Wide was the smile of the daughter of Jarang
Death is my lot but your hand may save many
Go then with Nala and keep watch with honour
We who are warriors face death unflinching

Then in the night-cloud stout Rajar she ordered
Building redoubts for defence in the roadway
Bloodied were hands by the effort of building
Fitting their offering ere there was slaughter

Battle was joined before others could muster
Swift on the wings of the warning to Boldhome
Arrows rained down on the dry rock around them
Rajar was bloodied and Berra crouched with him

Now in the darkness Serala had ridden
Cantered to Boldhome down paths lit by Yelm-light7This is probably a Yelmalio rather then Yelm Light, likely the Catseye runespell
There she found waiting and cloaked in the darkness
Sword-Lord Humakti D’Val of the duck-folk

Swift to the battle to save his proud daughter8Sword-daughter, or battle-maiden, was a common epithet of the time, but not often applied to a personal relationship
Sword lept to saddle9A riding Duck is as unusual as it sounds, and this line has caused some perplexity. D’Val, who may have been an amalgam of several heroes, in this case might have been a human with duckist sympathies. However, a D’Val is attested in the rolls of Humakt, and so we must, as we have done previously, treat him as a single entitiy. and rode on the night-road
Deep in the darkness Serala behind him
Galloped above Boldhome sleeping below them

Wounded and bloody the Bison of Boldhome
Lay behind rocks as he waited with patience10The compelling personality of Berra Jarang’s Daughter is clear here. Persuading a Storm Bull not to charge at Lunars is strong evidence that she was born to leadership.
Schooled by Humakti to pause before slaughter
Letting the Lunars be gathered together

Into the corral of Billy and Road-horse11“Why Road? They get you there faster, but the infantry always complain about them, and they never go quite where you want to be.”
Riding with speed came D’Val and Serala
Evening numbers to four stout defenders
Bringing the news that the message reached Boldhome

Burning the wall of the stockade before them
Piercing with arrows of fire and of flame-tongue
Berra drew out the attackers of Vengulf
Counting two handsworth the four stood to battle

Smiting with arrows the slayers of children
Berra kept Rajar in spirits and waiting
Letting the enemy close their position
Under the Yelm-Light12This probably was the light of Yelm Serala was gifted

Back at the longhouse a master of evil
Trained in the ways of the Priests of the Lunars
Summoned the light of the Red Moon upon them
Untouched by arrows that came from Serala

Seeing how bone-heads had broken upon him
Berra took power from anger within her
Struck at his shield with the rigor of Humakt
Clove it in twain with the Truth of her soul-strength

Then from her quiver she drew a sharp arrow
Flint she had knapped from the land of Esrola
Drew back her bow in the way of the Southland
Sped on its way a death-splinter to eye-hithe13eye-haven: the arrow struck him in the eye, and lodged there, probably through his brain.

Smiling to see how the caster dropped slaughtered
Berra released Rajar’s rage to the battle
Calling his charge as the ranks of the lunars
Thinned out by Nala were reaching the rockworks

Deep in the fury held sacred to Urox
Rajar rode out with his heels striking steed-blood
Screaming defiance to scions of Chaos
Axes he held and his eyes promised murder

Bloodied and wounded he charged through their arrows
Smiting with axe-blow and head-strike14Contextually, mighty blows that take off a head or smash a skull. Also, colloquially, head-butting. Given the situation this could be both. before him
Rajar was wounded so blood wet the rock-ground
Still he lashed out in the fury of Storm-Bull

After came Berra and Sword-Lord Humakti
Slaying the horses and riders before them
Keeping the life of the Bison before them
Keeping his flanks as he carved through the foe-men

Sacred Time started in Boldhome, and the Prince of Sartar began the Stationary Lightbringers’ Quest. Rajar caused a minor fuss by backhanding a pickpocket so hard the man broke, which drew the attention of Eril, and the Wyter-sword of Humakt. Nala elected to meditate and received a vision, showing a red moon to the North and to the South, and the earth drying as red rain came down. She went to tell Kalis, who sent to tell Eril as head of the Fyrd – Berra caught his attention, and was therefore nearby as the message was delivered.

He told her to gather those she trusted and scout to the North, while he called for others; she went off to do his bidding, gathering Mellia, Serala and Rajar as well as Nala, and entirely ignoring Dormal. Rajar brought Billy, and beer, and they all rode out of North Fort and up the narrow North Road.

Towards the end of the day, they found an area of crushed grass, and a body, plus accompanying ghost. The evidence was that the man, a Sartarite peasant, had been killed by multiple arrows. This was complicated by Rajar deciding a Walktapus had done it, and attacking the body with an axe. Spirit combat ensued, which Rajar was probably winning when Berra managed to throw him over her shoulder, using her feet; spirit combat stopped.

Nala talked with the ghost, getting the details of its death from it. Between five and ten mounted men had come along the road. He ran for Boldhome but they killed him with arrows and threw his body into the brush, returning down the road. They laid him to rest, and Berra sent Serala back with a report to Boldhome, and elected to continue in the dark, slowly, to try to find out more. She and Rajar quickly came to the conclusion that they would likely die, but that this would be fine as Nala could escape with further word of numbers and positions. They shared beer, to toast their approaching possible-deaths.

Serala got back to the North Gate, and was allowed in, and found that D’Val the Sword was waiting there; he took the message, wrote a copy of it for Eril, and had a runner take the same message by mouth and ear to Koraki, down by the Lightbringers’ Quest. Then D’Val had Serala help him mount up on her horse, and they returned to help her friends.

Meanwhile, the heroes had found that the road opened out, and there was a longhouse near to where alpine meadow began. Nala could identify the spirits of at least two people on watch, and a couple more inside the house’s rough stockade. Berra sent her back with Mellia, so that Nala could discorporate and send a message back fast, with details of what had been found. Nala did this, but was chased by a red power of some kind, which worried the Priestess she talked to in Boldhome, so that they called for Kalis.

Then Nala snapped back to her body, around the time that Serala arrived at the redoubt. By now, Rajar had been hit by and arrow and the pair of warriors were both in cover. Berra had persuaded Rajar to hold back on berserk fury for the moment, until he had a better set of targets. D’Val had some words for Berra about tactics and handing over command, but attempts to put Serala in charge of the troop failed miserably, and D’Val did not seem to feel the need to command himself.

With Serala (and her cats-eye Runespell and archery) present, they were in a better position. Serala loosed a couple of fire arrows at the stockade, and when they failed to light it, threw a Light spell, making daylight and providing targets for those with bows. The Lunars rushed out, and several were wounded before arriving. Berra broke the shield spell of a magic user and killed him with a single arrow, and she and Serala shot at human targets for the moment. Nala took down horse targets instead, until the Lunars were close enough that Rajar could charge them. He did so with Protection, Shield, and Berserk all active; this was very fortunate as all of the archers that were free concentrated on him, and he was badly wounded by the time they closed. He continued forward, with the Humakti using him as a shield and trying to kill anything that could attack him from the sides.

In short order, the Lunars were dead or had fled, and Rajar had been put to sleep and healed by Mellia. Berra ordered the bodies laid to rest, and the position repaired against the risk of further attacks.

“Your nice local co-GM will help you.” – GM
“Too hung over to care.” – Co-GM Berra

During the Heroquest:
“Rajar goes to intervene and then remembers this isn’t the done thing.” – Rajar
‘”No. She’s more competent than I am.’ But quietly, from under my breath in the Humakti ranks.” – Berra

“Look around for someone selling something on a stick” – Rajar
“And show the nice Eurmali where you keep your money.” – Berra

“I will go find my friends for the first time in a while. ‘Hail. Hello. Hi.'” – Berra

“Then you feel a sword on your shoulder, resting there gently.” – GM
“I trust you have a simply splendid explanation, which I shall be delighted to hear.” – Eril
“I was on the way over there, and now I’m wincing. But watching.” – Berra

“One of my companions is of your order.” – Rajar
“I am aware of your involvement with Berra Jarangsdottir.” – Eril

“Any day you’re not crapping your guts out is a good day.” – Rajar
“That is a low bar to squat over.” – Berra

“So. You have been picnicking at me, Rajar.”
“I have. Hands across another rat on a stick” – Rajar
“It was hilarious. Thank you. No…” – Berra

“Berra’s looking hungrily at the rat on a stick, and looks thinner.” – Berra

“Wander about the Holidaying town sensing chaos and eating and drinking and enjoying it all. Freely offer Berra food and drink” – Rajar

“Oh, I’ll eat in the city, but I’m trying not to keep eating without doing all of the running. Apparently it’s important to eat right. But I have missed Billy.”
“Berra looks faintly guilty. ‘Missing things is probably not Humakti.'” – Berra

“She says to get Scouts and go out, and you’re in charge of the Fyrd.” – Nala
“I am aware of that fact. Thank you, earth lady.” – Eril
“Wow. I just managed to keep my mouth shut.” – Berra

“Jarangsdottirrrr. I believe you know the Ramp.” – Eril
“Yes, my Lord.” – Berra

“Take a group you trust, scout along the North Road.” – Eril
“… People I trust is the PCs minus Dormal.” – Berra

“Don’t mind me, you head out, I’ll take care of the city.” – Dormal
“All the loose change in it?” – Berra

“Is he talking about the duck?” – PC
“Eril’s not a duck.” – Dormal

“So, the order was to Scout – which means not engaging. We’re going to want you to spot things, and we’re going to need to get information back.” – Berra

“He appears to be polishing his hand.” – GM
“Is that a -” – Serala
“Is that a euphemism for Ernalda’s bounty?” – Berra
“I’m in Berra’s head and I don’t like it whimper” – Nala

“Rajar. You’re no longer in spirit combat, and you’re on the ground by the road.” – GM
“Stand, say, ‘STAY, RAJAR!'” – Berra

“Eril put Berra in charge of scouting.” – Berra

“Here is where we stand.” – Rajar
“3 warriors.” – Rajar
“Serala’s gone back to town.” – Berra

“And I will kill many to act as my servants in the afterlife.” – Rajar
“Berserk is… well, that means I might die. If that is the best course, we should, but that means you have to pile in first, and I’ll come in after.” – Berra

“Berra, I am torn. You will need me. On the other hand, I might be the difference between Nala getting that message back and dying on the way.” – Mellia
“Berra looks at Mellia, and bows. ‘I am a servant of Humakt. Death, to me, is the next step in protecting the world. I fear failure, but not death.'” – Berra
“Then I will aid Nala. May the gods smile on you both.” – Mellia

“You! Duck! Berra trusts you!” – Serala

“Nala, take the message.” – Berra
“Nala repeats, slowly, ‘In the physical world, or the spirit? Either works.'” – Nala
“If it’s faster to go physically, then that.” – Berra

“I could pick him up, while I’m in the city.” – Serala
“Dormal is not a casual pick-up.” – Nala

“I have principles!” – Dormal
“If you don’t like them I have others” – Dormal

D’Val pauses. Reaches up to his helmet. Removes a feather. Scribbles on vellum that he suspiciously has available. ‘Thiss to the High Priestd. And relay the sthame messsage to Koraki in the Sacred Space.’ – GM

“I’m coming with you.” – D’Val
“On one condition. We never speak of this again.” – Serala
“Agreedt.” – D’Val

“D’Val holds on grimly….” GM
“Like death.” – Nala

“Can you make a scan roll, Serala? I suppose I should make one for the duck as well.” – GM

“Eyeballs…. MmmmMMMMmmmm.” – Serala

“If the Lunars were the ones who made that hole in Whitewall. If they could do that here, they could do a lot of damage. There’s no temple here to destroy, but still…” – Berra

“Arrows!” – Berra
“Cover!” – Rajar

“3-rune Shield, with 2 points of extension. I’m settling in for the day.” – Berra
“And hoping they don’t hit me with a dispel Magic, because I’m going to be unhappy one way or another, and this might as well be it.” – Berra

“Scan roll at -50 please, Berra.” – GM
“13/24.” – Berra

“Hmm. Rajar. That hollow…. oh, that shouldn’t be bleeding. He’s in a hollow that way. I’ll keep an eye out for if he moves.” – Berra

“There are Lunars over there right?” – Rajar
“Yes, and our task is to hold them up.” – Berra
“We going to them or they coming to us?” – Rajar

“He has 90 in swim.” – GM
“That’s not doing him much good, is it?” – Serala

“If they can do the thing that was done in the Humakti temple, then it doesn’t matter how many are here now.” – Berra

“Does D’Val want to be in charge? I’m happy to hand over to him.” – Berra
“If you put the duck in charge, Serala will shoot him… 0_0” – Serala

“The Bolg drops.” – Berra

“THESE people, yes.” – Berra
“The ones in the city right now?” – Berra

“Eurmali the Murderer is a thing…” – Berra

“Be prepared to inconvenience him.” – Koraki
“Okay.” – Dormal
“It’ll either be when they make a move, or when I do.” – Koraki

“One of usz can ssee in the dark at the momentd, and it’s notd me.” – D’Val

“Can I see movement?” – Berra
“No, it’s a Rune.” – Nala

“Not yet, Rajar. We can kill more if we wait.” – Berra
“So, I trust my companions. We’re going to kill them all.” – Rajar
( Phew ) O o . Berra

“He’s bleeding.” – D’Val
“Have you ever tried to stop a Storm Bull from charging?” – Berra
*points to Rajar’s wound* “Yes. That’s how you do it.” – D’Val

“8 4 1 1 2 = 16 to left leg.” – Berra
“That’s technically severed, but it’s an arrow so…” – GM

“Stay back. I want to see them before we go in, if we have to.” – Berra

“Dormal needs to have more of his face visible.” – Serala
“All I can see is the top half of his head…” – Serala
“Best part of him.” – Berra

“Ok cast. Shield and Beserk and go for it” – Rajar
“At least we have a Mellia.” – Berra
“GO FOR IT” – Rajar

“Dispel Magic, with eight magic points.” – Berra
“You feel something crumble.” – GM
“14. Hit!” – Berra
“6 1 2=9 to 19.” – Berra
“Serala, you’ll want to change targets for your last arrow.” – GM
“Out the back of the helmet!” – Berra
“Helmet?” – GM

“Look to Mellia. ‘Bring Rajar down if we need it.’ And then D’Val, as Billy goes past. ‘Into the gap he makes.'” – Berra

“Did he just decapitate a horse?” – Berra
“Yep.” – GM
“Hmmm…” – Serala
“Well, he can’t reach the riders.” – GM