Bitter About It

1628, Earth Season, Stasis Week, Freezeday and Waterday


The group came back to Sartar via Six Stones, where Maalira has spotted people who need her help. Session SA3.07.


The longed-for owners of the Temple actually arrive – and as they approach she can see that at least one is bearing a major wound, and there is a lot of blood about.

Maalira hurries towards the group, digging bandages out of her scrip with one hand.

As she does, the details get clearer. Berra, who has been practicing what to say with Varanis, lets the healer steal her thunder. Maalira can see half a dozen warriors, all wounded, one missing his right hand. Their leader bears iron. He wastes no words. “Magic will not help him – the weapon was cursed. Do what you can.”

Maalira swears under her breath. “Right, ok, let’s see what can be done.” She ties a bandage tightly above the injury, then sets about applying salve to bandages and wrapping them tightly across the wound.

The man howls once, as she ties the bandage, then mercifully passes out.1Pass First Aid.

It’s the right thing to do, not just in terms of healing him, but also triage. Everyone else is walking wounded. This man is falling down.

There is a tourniquet on him already, or he would be dead, but it is sludgy with marsh water, and… there will be infection about if these people are not lucky. Everyone has walked wounds through foetid water.

Maalira looks around, taking in the state of the group, and grabs a couple more clay pots out of her scrip. “Here.” She holds them out for anyone who can reach to take. “Smear some of this on any open wounds you have, especially if they have got wet. It will help stop them going bad.”

While the Sword of Humakt talks to Berra, the warriors do just that, and then the one-handed man wakes up, and takes a deep breath, and says some very rude words. Another man asks Maalira, “Can you keep us on our feet a little longer? We need to guard this place.”

Maalira thinks, then nods, rummaging in her scrip until a small leather bag appears. “Have everyone drink a large cup of clean water with a pinch of this dissolved in it. You will feel stronger and more alert.”

“Will it last until the army gets back?” The question from the Sword seems to be serious.

“Not that little pouch, but I can mix more once the worst of this is over.” Maalira gestures at the general bloodiness of everything to qualify ‘this’.

“Lady, can you stay a little?” The man in iron steps over. “The worst is … unlikely to come until nightfall, even if it comes at all, but we are all wounded, and some of these are not healing to magic.”

“Yes, of course. I’ll see it through.” She glances around, looking for someone not otherwise occupied. “I’ll need as much clean water as can be fetched, for drinking as well as for healing.”

“Rastoris, you’re taking these people to Six Stones. Bring back lay membership if you can. Enareen, you’re on serving the lady. I’m going to check what changed in the Temple, and then everyone who’s left – all one of you, Henstin, get to guard your comrade. We think it’s over, we just need to hunker down inside and see if that was the only…” He trails off, and glances at Maalira, and changes his mind about talking. “Thing.”

The woman named as Enareen nods to Maalira and goes to collect water bottles. This open, standing-stone Temple is pretty low on storage facilities.

Maalira arches an eyebrow at the man in iron, but says nothing.

The group puts together its plan quickly enough – they will go to Boldhome where they have clothes and other such things, and then on to Jonstown to research. They will leave word in those places in case plans change. Then, on foot because nobody has mounts right now, they depart. Maalira is alone in a Temple of Death.

The group walks off. The road leads through the marsh but this does not seem to worry Rastoris, who just leads them on. The next few hours have an interesting thing happen. Apparently autumn comes very very fast in the area, for the foliage begins to fall in the marsh, blackish leaves twisting and falling and drying.2Passed Scan.

There is a single room here, which is a strange one. A turf bothy, with well-made furniture and horn windows, which is not what the other local places have looked like. None of the Humakti use it, but Enareen says, “You can sleep there if you like.”

Maalira gestures at the most injured man. “Perhaps he would be more comfortable in there?”

“It’s for the Earth Priestess here, when we have one,” Enareen says. “And her husband, but that’s not Venarg. There has to be a Priestess, for some of the rituals.”

“Ah. In that case, yes, I would be happy to sleep in there if it will not interfere with anything.”

“Not at all. White Ladies are welcome anywhere. We’ve got pack-tents, and I think the Marsh is dying back anyhow. Sword Kaniath killed the tree that bound it here.”

The little grass-built room sits against one of the stones, and none of the turf seems to have died.

Maalira settles herself in the little room and starts emptying out her scrip onto the flattest surface, humming quietly to herself and hunting for the raw ingredients needed to make more of the sustaining powder.

The fevers start to come an hour after nightfall. Enareen is too hot, but the evening is pleasantly cool. That, and the colour of her eyes, indicate a case of Swamp Blindness, which is an ugly way for a warrior to end their fighting career. Maalira has almost all of what is needed to make the best medicine, but she is missing graro root – you just cannot get it out of Prax. She needs something else that is bitter. Otherwise, it will be less than perfect, still better than nothing.3Passed Treat Disease.

“What’s the bitterest herb that grows around here?” Maalira asks everyone who is still awake.

“Love,” says Henstin, and gets a foul look from the Sword there. “Alright, sorry. But we’re… not so good on herbs. And the Priestess isn’t here.”

Maalira throws an appeasing smile at the Sword, then nods at Henstin. “That’s fair enough. Is there a torch to spare? I may need to go and see what is growing nearby.”

Enareen rouses herself. “I’ll carry one.” There are plenty of those; they came well stocked for nights spent outside, for all they are not lighting a fire.4Passed Plant Lore.

It takes a while, but there’s a three-leafed stem with tiny spikes on it, a plant called hate-it-here, which notably grows better for a year the first time it is transplanted. It is good for very little, but the bitterness is … in the name, and the spikes, and the attitude.

Maalira picks as much of it as she can find, directing Enareen to hold the torch this way and that. It’s just enough, but it’s enough.

Everyone who has eye problems – which is everyone – gets to apply some. Kaniath thanks Maalira, and bows, and asks, “Should we send someone for Rastoris?” The man who left with the group.

“Yes, he will need this too or his eyesight may go dim,” Maalira says firmly.5Fail Insight Human: Maalira does not realise just how worried the Sword is, or how determined to do the right thing.

It takes him a moment, but he asks, “Would you like someone to accompany you? We cannot spare someone unless we are sure Rastoris will be helped, and that means you.”

Maalira bites her lip, but lifts her chin. “No, I will be able to go alone. Thank you, though.”

“The path should be clear,” the Sword says. “But Enareen can see you through what remains of the Marsh, so that nobody will say I sent you there alone.”

“Now, Lord?” Enareen asks, despite it being dark and her eyes being bound up in a bandage for the moment.

  • 1
    Pass First Aid.
  • 2
    Passed Scan.
  • 3
    Passed Treat Disease.
  • 4
    Passed Plant Lore.
  • 5
    Fail Insight Human: Maalira does not realise just how worried the Sword is, or how determined to do the right thing.