Ancient Aid

1629, Sea Season, Death Week, Fireday


Do Not Ask has been freed of both the trollish monsters and the disease spirits that have been troubling her. While others have returned to sleep, Varanis sits with the spirit of the ancient Tusk Rider, who has offered to help her bind the alynx kitten who will become her allied spirit. After Session 4.12 (Spirited Events). Continues on in Preparing to pounce.


Urdar ya-Mugrin Aram-dra’s name does not even sound like it is Tarshian.  It does not seem to be Esrolian, or Praxian, or New Pelorian.  It trips off the tongue with completely different rhythms.

The Tusk Rider – or rather, his spirit – releases Dezar the kitten through Varanis and into her sword, and settles back down by his ghostly fire.  He looks no more and no less tired than he was, and is still spectacularly ugly.

Varanis watches him, staring in a way that is likely bordering on discourtesy. Finally, she says, “How does a Tusk Rider end up as a Priest of Orlanth?”

He looks at her in puzzlement.  “A… Priest?  The usual way.”  His shrug is big, Orlanthi, dismissive of the entire question.

“But…” She chews her lip, before blurting, “I thought your people all worshipped other gods and spirits. You know, like the Bloody Tusk. You’re… you’re not what I thought Tusk Riders were like.”

Urdar looks at her in puzzlement.  “There is a sect that worships the Tusk and the Jawbone, but certainly not all of us.  My ancestor was the human on the Unity Council.  We are a proud people but we do our part.  He tamed the boars.” The Unity Council?  A mythical thing.  He is claiming direct descent from someone alive at the Dawn.

The Vingan’s eyes widen, then narrow with suspicion. “Wait… you said he was the human… but, Tusk Riders are different from humans. Aren’t they closer to the Beast Men?”

There is another long look, and then he feels with his right hand at his face.  “There was a marriage to trolls,” he says.  “But no.  That would be like saying that Humans are… akin to Aldrya’s children.”

“Oh…” She considers again. “When were you alive? Who was Prince in Sartar?”

“That is not a Princedom I know,” he admits with a grimace.  “It seems I have come far.”

Her jaw drops and she looks staggered. Her fingers stroke the hilt of her sword, as if seeking comfort from soft fur of the alynx kitten within. “Um. I see.” She considers again. “Is it possible… had humans returned to Dragon Pass yet?”

“With the Dawn, yes.  The Council… this was a long time before I was alive, however.  A thousand years, perhaps, or more.”

Dezar prrips, and bats at the hand.

Varanis considers this, then shakes her head, looking still more amazed. “I meant, after the fall of the Empire of the Wyrm Friends. But it sounds like it was even earlier. Did you live during the Empire?”

“I … I see.”  Urdar looks very thoughtful.  “So, it failed?”

Varanis nods. “Spectacularly. It sort of turned on itself. The Dragonewts dealt the death blow. That was about six centuries ago.”

Urdar is silent for a long time.  “Then … I died in battle at the age of a hundred or so, protecting the Ivory Plinth.  A holy place, that keeps wild boars from ranging through forests.  Does it still stand?”

Varanis pales. “The Ivory Plinth. I… don’t know if it can be the same… I mean, there’s probably been other things called that over the centuries…”

“Tell me,” he commands, and it’s the command of a priest to a worshipper, a King to a noble.

“I might be wrong,” she warns him. “Your descendants killed my father and I’ve not exactly been open to seeing even a glimmer of good in them. You are quite literally the first Tusk Rider I have spoken to beyond calling out a challenge.” Nervously, she continues to pet her sword’s hilt, watching the spirit.

Dezar imagines nipping the fingers, and is a great hunter, and can show you by killing these snakes!

“I … see.”  His voice, already half hollow, becomes flat as well.  “So my people are not as I would know.”


“The Ivory Plinth is said to be their temple. It’s where they torture prisoners to death and the blood feeds their god,” Varanis tells him quietly. “I’ve even heard that they sacrifice their own children, if the baby isn’t deemed strong enough or if a child fails to make their first kill. And that females… Tusk Rider women,” she corrects herself, “who don’t bear boy children in their first litter are sacrificed too.” The outrage and horror are causing her voice to gain intensity. Where she was nervous before, she is now becoming angry as she recounts the stories she’s been told. “People say the Plinth is stained brown by all the blood that crusts it now. And that it will never be enough for the Cult of the Bloody Tusk.”

Urdar’s snarl deepens on his face as he hears that.  Thunderous, he says nothing for some time.

OOOH, HE LOOKS LIKE HE’S ABOUT TO BITE Dezar notes. He’s right. Urdar looks almost savage.

Varanis waits out the storm. Shhhh little one, she tells Dezar. He is learning something that has cut him deeply. And I am learning something I needed to learn, I think. There are things about his people I didn’t know and while they may still be my enemies, I think he is not.


Urdar takes some time to calm down before he says, “I thank you for the truth you bring.  I have never harmed a messenger who stood before me, nor did my fathers, though many tempted us.”

“Please… were you a king amongst your people?”

Urdar hesitates.  “The word is difficult.  Satrap, for my father’s father?  His father’s father was the tamer of the Great Boar, dead a thousand years before I lived.”  Maybe, to him, ‘thousand’ just means a very long time.  He could be a century or two out, and he does not seem to care.

“What title should I use for you? You are due more courtesy than I have offered and I wish to make amends.” She’s slipped from her earlier antagonism and blatant curiosity into respect. It’s as if she’s finally accepted that he is something beyond her understanding.

“ya-Mugrim,” he replies.  “Ruler with authority over the twelfth part of the Kingdom.  Urdar ya-Mugrim is name and title.”  It would be hard to have more pride in his voice, but he manages it when he adds, “Aram-dra is my line of descent.”

She nods. “Urdar ya-Mugrim,” she says, testing the syllables on her tongue. “Please know that what I have told you are the stories I have heard from people who hate and fear your descendants. They are things said to be true, but I cannot be certain that they are Truth.” Her voices cracks a little when she adds, “The only piece that I can say with absolute certainty is that my father died on a Tusk Rider’s spear and that I have carried hatred in my heart ever since. I was ready to challenge you because of that and would have had you not used the Lightbringers’ summons.”

“You would have died, or I would have died again,” he says with a shrug.  “And either is a waste.  Stay still, child of air.  Learn your new friend.  I am done with speech now.  I tire.”

She nods, then adds, “I will leave you to your rest, ya-Mugrim. But, should you wish it, before you depart this plane, I will learn what you choose to share of the story of your life and death and carry word of it to the Sages to preserve for you.”

“Urdar ya-Mugrim,” he corrects her.  “Leave me to my thoughts.  Stay at my fire if you wish, until it fades.”

She stays, communing with the alynx spirit in her sword for a long time. It is not yet Yelmrise when she finally unfolds herself to go looking for Berra.

Eventually the fire fades away, as the magic runs out.