Nala — Return To Greyrock
????, Storm Season
Last week of Storm Season. [[[s02:session-29|Session 29]]]
For once, Nala’s face doesn’t fall into misery crossing into Sartar. She is going to see Huljeem, whom she thought she would never see again. As a result, she approaches Greyrock blazing with full charisma.
There are strange, unfamiliar sights and sounds here. Odd bluffs and weathered twists of stone that could mean she is in the wrong place. A forbidding landscape, with the weather changing constantly, and a Unicorn who dislikes mud almost as he likes complaining about mud. And then landscape which is at least familiar, if not known. The right sort of hills. The right sort of grass. A long, long ridge that has fragments of slate in it, rising slowly out of hills that have otherwise little slate at all. That ridge is the one she wants, and it points one way to Prax and the other to Sartar. She has arrived in Greyrock, and is by the rise.
Nala reminds herself sternly that she must do her duties by the head of the clan, and not just thunder up to the cave. she reminds herself several times as she approaches
To go to the left will lead her to the village of Greyrock Fall. To go to the right will take her to the cave.
The clan chief does not live in Greyrock Fall itself, but there is certainly Chief Carasai to be met, and he is the person who should, almost certainly, have duty done by him.
Nale does that thing. Excitedly.1Special Scan.
Even as she approaches, she can see that the salt pans are not in use; the roofs on them are in good repair, but the fires beneath are off.
The gate is open, and warriors patrol the walls as normal; they look alert, rather than bored, so perhaps not entirely normal.
Nala and Tiwr approach at a trot, Nala raising her hand
Tiwr says casually, “Not much to hunt around here.”
The warriors greet her, the gate is officially opened, which means someone moves it a tad shut so they can swing it back to the open position, and Harvan the weaponthane comes to meet Nala, shrugging on a fine cloak over his working clothes. “Hail!”
Tiwr looks around proudly, of course. “Hail!”
“I have completed the task set me by the FirstAncestor,” Nala says.2Passes Insight (Human) to boot.
There is a moment where the expression that Harvan has changes. It is the moment that Nala finishes speaking. It goes through realisation and horror and resignation to action and determination, all in the space of a moment. He walks closer, casually, until he can speak a little lower than he was. “Oh, yes. Right. You’d be wanting Minstar… he’s gone for help.” His face remains cheery, after the initial shock, but it is now a mask for other people. His voice is worried.
“Help?” Enquires Nala. “Are you expecting attack?”
“No. The thing in the cave… He is scared of it. He’s told us not to use her tears right now, and he’s gone to look for a shaman who knows more than him.” Harvan steps away. “Come share my house and my food. You have travelled far.” That is for other people to hear, as well as Nala.
“Thank you for your hospitality.” Then, sotto voce, “I know what has happened. Can you send for Minstar?”
Harvan walks her across towards his house, and then pauses a little outside it. “It’s been a week since he left. I think he was going to the North. Daka Fal priest there. If he can’t find someone in Boldhome, he was going to look to the Colymar at Oakton. The Valmandi have one. But it depends on what he does. I can send people after him.”
Tiwr foot-stamps, when fetch and carry is mentioned. He has a bag of rocks on his back, too, to continue his strength training.
“I wasn’t aware that there was a Daka Fel priest in Boldhome! I spent Dark season being trained by one…. Zinat!” Zinat is casually wandering towards the gate, and presumably the cave, where the wolves were, last time. “She thinks the wolves are at the cave. I’m sorry.”
“There’s everything in Boldhome,” Harvan says. “But if there is not, there’s a man in the Varmandi, or was last we knew. If he has to go somewhere else, he will.” That gets a small shrug. “He thinks it’s not a big problem yet.” Then the man opens his door, and calls inside, “We have a guest, love! Prepare food, bring honour on us.”
“Hm. Minstar is the correct person to ask to see Huljeem Hunrullhsom. I probably shouldn’t go see him without permission.” Now she does look completely crestfallen, almost crying. “Thing in the cave—the troll isn’t back, is it?”
“I am prepared to give you honour if you have some grain…” says Tiwr, seeing if he can fit carefully through the door
Nala unhooks the travois, so he doesn’t drag it into the house
“You shouldn’t go up to the cave,” Harvan says. “Not without protection.” He’s quiet again, as the bustle of someone cooking begins, and he steps into his own house. “And no, not a troll. We could deal with that. But… well…” He holds the door aside for Tiwr, carefully. “We do, but it’s in the byre. My wife will get some if you want it.”
His wife, a woman rather younger than Harvan, gives her husband a smile and sweeps a bow to the guests. “Welcome to my house.” Her voice is low and throaty.
“Thank you. Gods’ blessing upon you.”
“Yes, please, it takes a lot to maintain this level of magnificence “
“This is Amanea.” Harvan smiles at her. “Amanea, this is Nala, and Tiwr.”
Amanea tells Tiwr, “I had heard of a unicorn. Never did I think to see one.”
Tiwr beams and puts his head down so she can see the horn. “You have chosen a splendiferous one to be acquainted with.”
“I am of the unicorn tribe,” explains Nala She strokes the lowered nose. “We are life partners.”
Harvan says, “Food for them, and drink,” and when his wife goes off his eyes follow her fondly for a moment. Then he turns to Nala. “The hunters tell it better than I do. They say they feel a great predator is there. No animals go near it now. And Minstar came out some days ago and said he needed to go get help. That something was there, and we should not go in. To honour the ancestors at home, until he returned.”
Nala nods. “The Goddess of Teeth and Salt has awoken, then.” <<That would make sense with what Huljeem asked me.>> Her hands play with her necklace. Which has several teeth on it, including Huljeem’s. “I’m sorry, that was in Praxian. First Ancestor. He came here to find the goddess, and died protecting her.”
“Her tears have stopped. The salt spring dried a few days ago, after running weaker for some time. Minstar says we don’t need to leave.” He looks worried, but then his wife comes back with a measure of grain for Tiwr, which she puts onto the table after a glance at her husband. Then she gets on with putting out bread and cheese and a vegetable stew.
“Ah. I’d have thought she would be more generous, but perhaps she is uncommonly glad to be about again. But then I’m Ernaldan.”
Harvan shrugs. “I’m not going to say what is there, but if a goddess wakes and finds out that she’s somewhere that people are living next to…. well, I just hope Minstar gets back soon. If he had said to leave I’d have packed a week gone.” That, despite Minstar being barely more than a child.
“I would be happy to try to talk to her and to Huljeem, if your chief gives me permission to do so without Minstar.”
“To First Ancestor, I mean.”
“He’s out in the fields, but he’s been sent for. Eat now?” With his wife around, Harvan is faintly distracted. “We can talk later.”
Nala, Praxian to the bone, eats sparigly but does not leave herself hungry. Tiwr seems to have set his sights on proving how dainty he can be.
Amanea is doing her best to feed guests, and she and Harvan seem to be newly married, from the way they are remembering suddenly how delightful the other one is. It is a meal without pressure, although Amanea looks like she is trying to soothe her husband’s worries, and her husband looks like he wants to share them but does not.
Carasai calls out from the door just as Amanea is telling Tiwr about the grain they grow, as he has finished eating. “The emmer’s good on the south slope, I heard. I wasn’t here for the last harvest…” She is a little shy around him, but doing her best.
Tiwr listens wisely, granting his wisdom to Amanea.
“Where is your village, Amanea? Here now, but where are you from?” Nala smiles at the role he is finding for himself , excuses herself, and goes to greeet the chief
“I’m from the Cinder Foxes,” she says with hardly a blush. “We met at the market in Wilmkirk.” She is from Silor’s clan, with its one big central village. Small world.
Carasai’s voice outside breaks Harvan’s distant look just as Nala gets up. “Come in, oh my chief!”
Carasai is better dressed than Harvan, having had more time to spare. “Nala of the Unicorns,” he says. “Tiwr. Welcome.” He looks less worried, too.
“Blessings upon you and yours,” says Nala, formally, but grinning.
“Will you walk with me?” asks Nala, and walking out, she mounts up and they walk, with Nala explaining everything she said to Harvan, congratulating him on his descent from the goddess’ first and most cherished adherent.
“Of course,” Carasai says. “And Harvan, would you give us an honour guard?” And he walks out, with Harvan grabbing a spear and shield and following politely after, where he can hear but pretend not to.
Carasai walks them towards the waterfall, which is of fresh water, not salt, and there he sits down. “Well. I would say we need to keep alert, based on that,” Carasai says.”
“I’d say we need to send the women from the village,” Harvan says. “Until we find out just how this is going to affect us. Get the children safely to somewhere that isn’t here.”
“Would you not, as your ancestor did, come to serve her?”
“He’s not our ancestor,” says Harvan, at the same time as Carasai says, “We’ll need to approach her carefully.”
They glare at each other.
Nala says politely. “I’m sorry?” And waits for the next cue from either
They are obviously old friends, and thus Carasai defers to his warrior. “Priest Huljeem died long before Dragonkill,” Harvan says. “Minstar treats him with great respect, and as far as we can tell he likes Minstar, and us, and our ancestors, but we have no blood call on him.”
I am confused as to why, then, he was introduced as First Ancestor, for your many generations sit with him. She explains about Minstar’s grandmother, how she did the translation.
“They know him, but we arrived long after he died,” Harvan says. He gives Carasai a significant look.
Carasai replies, as much to Harvan as to Nala, “The spirits like him. My ancestors treat him as the honoured first among them.”
If I am to go talk with Huljeem, and ask him to relay to her, as I do to Ernalda,” she says, for the first time referring to her rank, “I need not to have conflicting information.”
Nala gives a look that in Varanis or Berra would be arch, but on Nala is serious.
“It’s a tricky matter,” Carasai says. “And you are my guest here. I would not send you into such a thing…”
“She shouldn’t go,” Harvan says. “Let Minstar come back. Let him explain who Huljeem is.”3Nala passes Orate to persuade Harvan to lend him her blessing.
After a little wrangling between Harvan and Carasai, the chief wins out. They must be close to be wrangling rather than arguing or simply having Carasai decide, but there is definitely the impression that while the chief was in charge, Harvan could have put his foot down, and maybe made the decision the other way.
- 1Special Scan.
- 2Passes Insight (Human) to boot.
- 3Nala passes Orate to persuade Harvan to lend him her blessing.