Nala — Return To Greyrock Ii
????, Storm Season
Last week of Storm Season. Continues straight on from the last session. [[[s02:session-29|Session 29]]]
Contains spoilers for power level and events
Harvan does repeat, “This village has no call on Huljeem beyond what he has given us.”
Carasai repeats, “He has been generous and good.”
“Given you?” inquires Nala, politely
“He’s not our ancestor. He treats us well. That’s all.” Harvan looks ready to go another three rounds with Carasai.
Nala says, firmly, with one hand on one of her mastery runes, “I am willing to talk to Huljeem and the goddess in the cave. I have reason to think Huljeem at least will listen to me, and she will listen to him. But I will not go without the blessings of the village, because that ends badly. The spirits start out antsy that way.”
“Harvan’s just warning you,” Carasai says. “The village is happy for you to go.”
Nala smiles, putting her effort into an effort of Charisma. “Very well. I will set out in the morning, to spare Tiwr–well, to spare me the complaints if he doesn’t get a good night’s sleep.” She laughs, inviting them to join her in laughter
Carasai is happy to. Harvan just shrugs. Having had his say and given his warning, he does not try to intervene.
“Then, Harvan, having fed me thoroughly, may Tiwr and I retire?”
“Oh, please do. Let me walk you back home?” He rouses himself from his steady watching posture, to do just that.
She accepts, calls for Tiwr, and Zinat sniffs these men out now that they seem to be accepted.
Harvan has his own house, and there is a byre with a single cow and room for a unicorn, although Amanea prepares a bed for Nala which is not there. It’s a small house, though – Harvan has no family save his wife.
And, alas, he does not seem to be sharing details with her. Their pillow talk is about what would be expected from people newly married and wondering about the crops. Harvan talks a little about the man he has working on his land, and about finding him a helper or a wife. Amanea thinks he should wait to be asked.
Nala will rise just before dawn, as usual, and if they are down in firewood, she will find some for them, then rouse Tiwr and set out.
Harvan and his wife are up at the same time; she prepares enough food to see a guest fed for a day, wrapping it by putting it into a loaf of bread and then into a waxed wrapping. That is considerable expense right there. Her husband seems to approve, which makes her happy.
Harvan thanks Aria for the unexpected help, and offers to see her to the top of the rise.
She accepts, of course, preparing to be lectured, though not visibly.
Amanea get a wide smile and many thanks.
Harvan stays silent on the way up the slope, riding a little gelding with the confidence of someone who is merely alright at riding, but does not try anything difficult. Towards the top, he says, “Maybe I should have sent someone with you who knows these things more, but over the top, the animals don’t like to go any more.”
“Understood. I have spent some time training as a shaman, and will have Tiwr and Zinat protecting me. Which they are used to, and good at.” A slight omission in that she doesn’t say she will be going in without her body; she really doesn’t want it to be stabbed up whilst she’s gone.
“Good luck up there.” He draws to a halt, not taking the road over the ridge and along it to the right.
“Thank you. I will return to yours when I am finished, if that is acceptable”
“I hope you do.” He blinks, and then shrugs. “That may have sounded less hospitable and more worried. But please come back and honour our door again.”
Nala inclines her head and Tiwr sets off. Nala is looking for a place she can dance and go away with her body being somewhat concealed, but unicorn-enabled. When she finds one, she sits down, talks over her plan, so he knows. There is no cave in the spirit world, so she will walk straight to Huljeem’s place, having bowed and called respectfully to GoTaS, and before she goes in she will kill a rabbit and leave it at the mouth of the cave. And one for Zinat, because otherwise theft.1Nala passes Track and fails Scan.
The spring here used to run salty, and now it has animals coming to it… no, not animals. Wolves are drinking here. Nothing else.
Zinat gets excited and starts sniffing like crazy.
As Nala gets closer to the cave, there is utter silence around her, and the sun bakes down. The sky here is hot bronze-blue, and there is heat shimmer all around. The rainy days of Storm Season have been left behind.
It is not a problem to find somewhere to dance, but there are no rabbits here to kill, or at least, she cannot find any.
Nala will then find a piece of wood that could be made into an axe handle, or that will resemble a tooth. Rocks are ok, too. and she can pour out a little of the best spirit she has, which will be kumiss from Prax.2“Spirit whatever-Shield-is-fror-spirits 3, extending to a day for the discorporation. And charisma. I anticipate being slapped back to my body at some point. I will have the spiritual echoes of my shanic necklace, the tear, and Huljeem’s relics with me.”
After time has passed, Nala slips out of Time, and into a place where the world is a small campfire, with a rock shaped like a unicorn, and the spirit of a wolf faintly visible. She will have to leave the place she is in, to get to where she is going, of course.3Augmenting with dance is a special, and successful spirit travel.
She steps outside the campfire’s circle, and… things become scary. The soft breath of a predator moving towards her, with nostrils as tall as her, is a simple thing to recognise. That is what is happening.
There is soft green grass all around, and the sensation of Yelm’s rune distantly, but up close there is so much that is about to eat her, that everything else is lost.
Nala calls out in Spirit speech, “Revered goddess-daughter! Noble Hlujeem Hunrullhson!”, with volume. Addressing the spirits nearby then as a function of her daughter, she who is Ernalda.
Aaaand she is bitten.
CRUMP.418 MP of damage. Nala succeeds at Spirit Dance to disengage.
There is no safety here. There is only the jaws, and this IS the place she came to. Just… hunger and jaws.
Nala tries to shout out that she has come with an offering, but does not even manage to get the words into the spirit realm before…
CRUMP again…5Nala rolls a Special on Spirit Combat, and inflicts 24 damage. The goddess inspires herself, critically, with Death.
“LISTEN TO ME!” she tries to call.
She wakes later, to find she has been dragged down the slope. Bruises are all over her. Stones have found her and marked her like teeth. Tiwr is… nowhere to be seen. Nor Zinat. She has been baked in the sun. Her last memory is of a spirit that could not defend itself, and a goddess not even considering entering such a soft armourless weak prison, even though she could.
First word: “Ow.”
Teeth. There were teeth. She was a beast made of teeth and death and hunger and water and teeth.
Thank goodness for physical armour.
A rain cloud blesses Nala now, the sun occluded for a moment.
Spirit Lore: Nala does not know if she is safe to go into the cave physically.
Nala levers herself to her feet, and goes in search of Tiwr.6Passes Track.
Tiwr’s tracks lead from where Nala was – he dragged her away, hence some of the bruising – to back up to the track. Zinat is unconscious where she danced.7Special on Scan.
The area where Nala danced is dried and baked by the sun. Tiwr pulled her out to the edge of it, and Zinat, still but breathing, is still within it.
Nala begins carrying Zinat along the tracks that Tiwr has left, keeping an eye out for hyssop or arnica or something for both Zinat and her.
As Nala steps into the dried area, she feels the breeze change subtly. It is possible to lift the wolf and carry her away, but it is definitely the case that something is watching her, breathing on her.
Nala has a sudden bout of fury “You may not have my pack!” she growls, in spirit speech.8‘The temptation to bind her with The Strand occurs to me, but fails on a “but what would I bind her TO” level.’ – Nala
‘At that point, I would hand you over to the main GM, and show him the stats I was using. PC deaths should take place on camera.’ – GM
No answer comes from the cave. She trudges away. Tiwr comes gallopping along the ridge path, far too fast, as she walks. “AAAAAAAGH YOU ARE HEREEEEEE!” He looks exhausted.
“I’d put my arms around you, love, but they’re full of wolf. Can you heal her please?”
He is already dipping his horn to touch Nala, but he pauses. “It… ate my spirit. I don’t have much left. And you’re the one with cuts.”
“I’m fine. Heal our pack, please, love. Well not fine, but I’ll mend if we get out.”
“But she’s not cut,” he says, stubbornly. “And you are.”
“Tiwr, love, I can’t heal her right now.”
“BUT NEITHER CAN I!” He curvets, frustrated.
“Ah, well, then, I’ll get on your back, and I’ll carry her, and we can go back to the village, slowly.”
For that, he stands still. As they walk, cantering along at the pace of a rider who is trying his best but is not great at riding, Harvan comes.
Nala raises an arm “Hail, Harvan.”
“Nala of the Unicorns.” He sags in relief. “Still alive.”
“Indeed, my friend. Though not for want of trying.”
He turns his horse, awkwardly. “I’ll ride back with you.”
Nala strokes the horse to calm it. “Thank you!”
Zinat begins to stir as they get over the ridge. That might be coincidence. She whines in a low, bad dream.
Nala comforts Zinat, singing low and in Praxian, holding her close and addressing her by name.
Harvan has been pushing the pace as much as he can, but when they are over he stops and shudders, and gets off to rest his horse and walk.
“Yes,” Tiwr says. “But more.” He has blood on him, although it looks like he managed to heal himself, and he is bravely saying nothing of the mere wound.
“I’m hoping Zinat just needs time. If that’s not all she needs, we may be a bit for it.”
Zinat wakes, blearily, tail between legs. Tiwr is healed – he could do that for himself, at least. There is a smear of mud where the blood is, indicating he fell at least once, while all the action was going on.
Nala cuddles Zinat tells her how brave she is. Stops once out to find somefield mice, her favourite.
Harvan asks, “Do you need me?” when Nala stops. “I should go let my Chief know.”
“No, thank you. Go tell your wife that you are fine andhave not been eaten. I’ll be there as soon as I’ve fed up my pack.”
He sets off at speed. Or at least, the best speed he can manage.
Tiwr fills Nala in on what happened. As she started to make bad noises and then fell over, he took the decision to pull her away, downhill. Something attacked him too, and it felt terrible and ate his magic, but he got her to where the thing stopped attacking before he too passed out. He woke just inside the bad grass and rolled down the slope instead of standing and felt teeth clap shut just behind him. Nala had not woken up. He ran for help. On the way he fell but it only cut him a little, and he… the warrior healed him alright? But that doesn’t really count because he was being heroic. And anyhow, he did the last bit himself on the way to rescue her and is she alright? He was so worried!