Fragment 6 – The Heroquest of Whitewall

Diaries The Saga Of Berra — Fragment 6

1625


Come the next morning when Berra saw sunrise
Hot in her heart was a seed sleep had planted
Fast then she hied to the Chief Priest Tennebris1It is telling that, with ‘Eril’ in the town of Whitewall, a Humakti chose to go to the then Chief Priest Tennebris. The use of the name Tennebris in this longer fragment does indicate that ‘Eril’ is indeed the High Sword of Humakt, assuming that this fragment truly belongs to the Berra Cycle
Hoping to find a stout ally in Orlanth

Berra spoke swiftly and sure as her truth rune
Words flowed like water along the Creek River
Spoke of the story of Humakt the Champion
Layer of undead and cleanser of tulas

Tennebris wrestled with Berra’s out-speaking
Taught her of things that were outward of Whitewall
Sartar lay riven and tribes fought with tribesmen
Clan with clan feuded and Chiefs were mistrusted

Long was their talk as Lord Yelm rose in glory
Berra persuaded and Tennebris swayed her
One way the argument went then another
Both could see reason in words of the other

Yelm reached the station where nobles would breakfast
Berra went into the house of High Eril
Spoke of the Runequest and of her departure
Eril smiled on her and called for her service2This is a rather extreme case case of a Rune Sword method of teaching in which young Humakti are pushed into situations that force them to rise to the occasion.

Berra was stout though her youth was within her
Truth in her spirit was swift to her lips then
So she told Eril she knew of her weakness
Fast was her sword-arm but dull was her magic

Hard was the heart of the High Sword of Humakt
Deaf to the thought of disaster his ears were
His was the voice that then called Congregation
Pushed Berra forward to war with the Storm God

Eril smiled not as he said her protector
D’Val the Durulz had been given a missive
Using his words as sharp sling-stones upon her
Telling the truth while he said to her nothing

Berra burst forth to say words had no meaning
Found that the High Priest had finished with talking
Bowed to his station and scowled to his person
Swift and stiff-footed she strode from his dwelling

Up she ran swift to the temple of Humakt
Leaving behind the lord Yelm as he laboured
Up to the temple to see the Durulz there
Only to find Eril’s meaning before her

There in the space in the temple of Humakt
Where she expected D’Val meditating
Only a child sat to keep steady vigil
Berra knew Eril had sent the Duck from there

Up rose the child who knew Berra Humakti
Famous by sight as a hero of Whitewall
Gave her a parchment of scratches in bone-black
Told her a message in words of her hero

He was sent forth on a quest to his kinfolk
Knowing he left a Humakti behind him
Thus was his message committed to parchment
Berra was ordered to burn it on reading

Walking with fleet foot made faster by fury
Berra descended again to the city
Seeking the help of the Grey Lady Vestra
Wrighter of Marks and the Reader of Letters

Smiling to help one who needed her Virtues
Vestra took time to explain D’Val’s message
Hail to the Sage who is generous thusly
High stand their temples and long stand their pillars

Sent to Duck Point on a mission for Eril3The letter segment contains words rare to the rest of the Berra Cycle, which some have taken to mean that D’Val was highly literate, or that Vestra was skilled in explaining words, such that they could later be remembered. The opposite position, that this ‘letter’ stretch is a latter addition, is generally taken as the most likely situation. The style is reminiscent of many Morality Sagas
Any could see it had dubious value
Thus wrote D’Val to warn Berra of danger
Lurking with honour and death in the temple

Vestra read on as the words of the Durulz
Leapt from the page in a soldier’s sharp order
Safe she should stay ran the message to Berra
Eril and he had a personal matter

Berra smiled then as she looked up at Vestra
Nothing in dubious covered the meaning
Eril had sent him to be far from Whitewall
Berra told Vestra that she too was certain

Wisely D’Val had said nothing of Eril
Only encouragment to the Humakti
Let her remember his words from the temple
Finishing then with a word for the future

Berra he hoped would make meeting in Boldhome
That was the letter as Grey Vestra read it
Then for her honour in holding his word-lines
Berra the parchment to open flame offered

Thus she could say that she followed instruction
Letting D’Val guide her motions a moment
Then she explained to the Sage Lady Vestra
What had been planned by the High Priest of Humakt

Vestra soon offered to stand at the Questing
Making her marks in the way of the Sages
Honour in Questing was offered to Berra
Both knew the honour was birthed by a serpent

Yelm stood above them but not on the hilltop
Berra and Vestra ascended the hillfort
Finding the temple and pacing the ground there
Berra began the Humakt Meditation

Fast flew the feet of an Orlanthi Fyrdman
Bringing the healer of Chalana Aroy
Mellia gentle who loved all the people
Came with the man to find Berra in silence

Out burst his story of Eril the Sword Lord
Choosing an Orlanth from out of the thane-men
Berra was wrath but her wrath turned to laughter
Moved by the words of of the sweetest of ladies

Mellia walked to the Wind-Lord Koraki
High in the temple and temporal ruler
He with a laugh was delighted to serve her
He offered service and gave up his helmet

Berra returned to her death meditation
Finding that Eril had drawn out the threshold
Thane-men were chosen and weapons were readied
Rajar the Stout stood beside his friend Berra4The tradition of Humakt standing alone within his temple was clearly established at this point, and it must be supposed that Rajar was with Berra in spirit only

Quiet were words then and Eril stood forward
Sliced at the ground with the Sword of the Temple
Started the ritual and sealed all the death in
Berra began the pure dance of the Ending

First she went swordless as young beardless Humakt
Then she saw Eurmal and taunted him thusly
He was a coward and she was a fighter
When he attacked her she thus gained the sword-death

Orlanth approached and he bellowed a challenge
Humakt replied that Death owed no Dominion
Smote all the thanes that the Storm sent against him
Bloodily struck so they fell down before him

Rajar the Stout was the first and the foremost
Sword holding high and shield to the forefront
Dozens she slew in the mock of the combat
Dozens did Tiwr heal with Mellia aiding

Orlanth then charged and they fought in Yelm’s noon-light
Blow matched to blow with the grace of the Death god
Till he sank down on a knee before Humakt
Humakt sank down as the sun-god descended

Then in the ritual circle a wind came
Straight from the deadlands in shape of a woman
Cold and undeathly she formed before Berra
Hot was the heart of the unflagging maiden

Berra presented the death-sword of Humakt
Held by the hilt and the crossguard together
Held off the woman of death as strength gathered
Then to her feet she leapt howling to Humakt

Wild with the fury of Death seeing undeath
Berra cut down the Pale Haunter of Whitewall
Turned to the Orlanthi windlord in triumph
Fell down before him as Humakt in honour

Wild was the cheering and all then made merry
Rajar the first and the foremost to toast her
Berra the Hero had laid down the ghostly
Sending the dead to the Court of the Silence

Berra, who had only had part of the briefing about the potential trip to Kero Fin, went to Tennebris to try to persuade him they should perform Humakt the Champion. He thought that was too local a problem, and would not risk himself or his reputation, but he did persuade Berra that he had Sartar’s best interests at heart. She then went to see Eril, to tell him she wished to tithe to this temple, but mentioned the Hero Quest and was told she should do it, and sent to fetch a congregation. Apparently D’Val had told Eril she had impressed him, and despite Berra’s demurs she was going to be tested where she was weakest, her spirit. He told her that D’Val had an important missive to a bastion of the war against Delecti – Berra understood none of that.

Berra appealed to her companions for help, at first getting no further than Rajar, who was a very impressive amount of help. He intimidated a lot of people into being the congregation, and turned up with his axe.

Meanwhile, Berra went to find D’Val, and worked out what a missive was – he had been sent away. He had left a message for her; a child sitting in his place told her that he had been sent to his kin, and gave her a message to burn after reading. That, she took to Vestra, who read it for her: I am sent to Duck Point on a mission of dubious value. I suspect that this is a personal matter. Try to stay safe. I would encourage you to bear in mind my former advice. I shall hope to see you in Boldhome – D’Val

Mellia was met by a worried Fyrdsman who told her that Eril had just cast him as Orlanth in a heroquest, and he was gong to have to fight Berra. Between them, and with Berra in tow, they found the Orlanthi wind-lord who had come to take charge temporarily, and to the White Lady Mellia he promised aid. He put aside his magnificent plumed helmet, and added a glove over his metal hand.

Rajar tried to take part on Berra’s side and had to be ushered to the other side of the ritual space to be one of Orlanth’s carls and thegns. Berra took the sword from Eurmal by taunting him, and then Orlanth stepped forward to demand the sword and send his carls to get it. Rajar charged first, and was badly hurt, but then Berra managed to pull most of her blows afterwards, and outside the circle, everyone was healed quickly. The ritual was just about within Berra’s limits, although she was exhausted at the end of a two hour fight against Orlanth.

Then, as they both sank down, a Pale Lady appeared, and Berra found she could not rise. She could lift her sword to use as a holy symbol, but her spirit failed her, and the Pale Lady came forward to kill her. Then Rajar cast Berserk on her. She hacked the undead thing to pieces and turned to find any other enemies. Somehow, Berra managed to throw off the berserk rage with an INTx1 roll of 005, meaning she did not attack the Orlanthi, and the Wind Lord had the presense of mind to finish off the ritual when she collapsed because the berserk state had ended. Nala (probably Nala) looked into the spirit world and found that most of the dead were leaving through a door, and it felt like each had just taken the Peaceful Cut and been returned home.

#TeamDuck 1 -v- 0 Eril

Rajar tried to take Berra, still unconscious, to a bar, but Mellia spotted him and made him take her to hospital. He then went drinking and made sure all of the Orlanthi had something. Most people joined him at one point or another. Those who had an interest in the spiritual sanctity of the plateau found it was cleaner now. Vestra wrote down everything she had seen, including notes on how a single Humakti might be able to do the ritual.

Berra came round, to be given beer by Rajar, and make her way haltingly to the bar where the Orlanthi wind-lord was now drinking. He waved away her thanks, but added a word of advice – there were wheels within wheels and the politics could crush people.

Meanwhile, Nala and Tiwr had gone out for a ride, and found three neatly decapitated bodies. The elegance of the single cuts, and the upward angle of them, indicated that D’Val was responsible. They laid the dead to rest, then searched around and found the campsite, and took back the curved, Lunar weapons the dead had worn. Vestra called up a Cult Spirit to see what was written on the weapons.

The group in general agreed it would be a good move to get going on their quest as soon as possible, despite a hint from Kalis to Mellia??? that they would not necessarily be sent directly, as the Whitewall situation had now changed.


Quotes

“Pleathe burn after reading.” – D’Val

There are undead to be laid” – Berra
*snrch* – Nala

“Now the interesting thing is, as a Humakti, why you bring this to me…” – Tennebris
“Well, you’re the only high-ranking Orlanthi, so you’d have the clout to persuade people. And D’Val and Eril don’t get on very well.” – Berra
“There’s a little twitch at the side of his face as he tries not to have an expression.”- GM

“Would you think of yourself as worthy to be a Rune Lord?” – Eril
“No, my Lord. I am physically strong, but spiritually not so.” – Berra
“And surely it is the duty of the Rune Lords to test the initiates in all ways.” – Eril

“Aaah, intrigue. The skill at which I have a negative score.” – Berra

“Sooooooooooooo i think I should perform the Drunken Storm bull in a china ship ritual.” – Rajar

“D’Val has a missive to the foremost bast…. ion…. of the fight… against Delecti.” – Eril
“I don’t even understand all those words, sir.” – Berra

“Dear D’Val. So…. it’s nice here in the Court of Silence…” – Berra

“I want other people to worship Orlanth and Humakt,” – Berra
“Hmm. Fetch my axe.” – Rajar
“Go round some people up. Intimidate roll….” – Rajar

“Woooooooooooooooooot Death. er . Wait.” – Rajar
“YES.” – Berra
“Wooooooooooooooot. Screw waiting.” – Rajar

“I wave my axe, tell them they should come along, and it’s all completely voluntary. Gesture wildly with the axe.” – Rajar
“You have managed to persuade much of the fyrd. The village. Some passers-by…” – GM

“It’s something to do with Humakt. And you see, well, I don’t fancy trying to fight Berra.” – Orlanthi Fyrdman

“Go meditate on the nature of…….ah feckit go drink and wind m’self up into a real rage frenzy.” – Rajar

“I think I have to fight everyone alone.” – Berra
“For mouthing off to Eril while he wasn’t even there.” – Berra

“First time I cast berserk and I cast it on someone else.” – Rajar

“And then there’s the down side.” – Rajar
“Ah, ground.” – Tiwr

“Awwww. Who is a GOOD Storm Bull? Is it you? Issit oo?” – Nala
“Huzzzah!!!!! I didnt fuck it up. Huzzah. Beer.” – Rajar

“She belongs in a bed with blankets.” – Mellia
“Oh no no no no no – the Storm Bulls have a ritual for this and it involves a bar.” – Rajar

“Is anyone causing any kind of havoc?” – GM
“Uhhhh, sorry, I don’t know what you mean by not-havoc.” – Rajar

“So I wake to a snoring storm bull, with his head on my thigh so my leg’s gone numb.” – Berra
“If you’re very lucky, a trickle of vomit!” – Rajar

“At about 3am, a drunken storm bull comes into the tent.” – GM
“And what are you doing here?” – Mellia
“I come to wait for her to wake from the Blessed Trance of Fight” – Rajar

“Any dead? What result? Where is my sword?” – Berra
*thrusts a cup of beer at the warrior* “You live, well done.” *beer* – Rajar

“Why does my head hurt /before/ the drinking?” – Berra

“Want to lay them to rest, want to kill the duck… no that’s Berra.” – Nala

“The black pudding’s fine, but I think I never want to eat eggs again.” – Berra

“I think that Rajar’s the sort of person who will put a full fried breakfast down in front of you.” – GM
“Yes!” – Rajar

“Word of advice. All sorts of wheels within wheels going on. Don’t care for it much, but I’m going up to Tarsh at some point. It doesn’t matter to me to piss off the locals.” – Windlord

“I am recalling all the steps of the fight yesterday, trying to improve and to learn. I could have died, or killed someone because of my weakness. People should not die because of the weakness of a Death Cultist.” – Berra
“I should have drunk more and used an axe.” – Rajar

“Where’s Mellia? I need someone sensible to convince me not to go thank Eril for giving me that chance.” – Berra