VS 158 Can you make peace?

Varanis — 1626 0862 Peace

????, Earth Season, Stasis Week


Context

Earth Season, Stasis Week, Godday [[[s02:session-14|Session 14]]]
Unconscious on the beach, Varanis has a vision or dream of Orlanth.

Cast

Starring Garin as Magasta
And co-starring:

Elanka as the Earth God Lodril
Dormal as Vadrus
Berra as Humakt
Rajar as Urox
The vague memory of Lenta as the Other One
A commanded snake as a Commanding Snake
Silor as a baboon centaur
Tightbeak as a feathered Strange God
The voice of a troll as the voice of a troll

Events

There is yet more pain, but this is not in the ribs. Something inside her head has started to hurt. The borrowed helmet is open at the front… water is rushing in. If only she had her helm.

She tries to breathe. She needs air before she goes under again.1POW x 5, please… 57. She passed!

Air. Air is good. An Orlanthi should have it. Air is life, and power too, and the Storm. And she takes a deep breath, in control. Her head hurts. Her vision swims – and she swims too, but she is buoyed up by her own efforts.

She casts about, trying to work out where she is.

Water, and air. Nothing else. Waves move. The sky above is clear, but this is not the drowning mists, with the troll. This is a different salt sea, where Magasta’s power is not touched by Ernalda’s mercy. Air caresses her. Water holds her. And there is no sound but the thudding of her heartbeat in her aching head, and the rise and fall of waves that whisper past her.

She calls out. “Mellia? Xenofos? Berra? Is anyone there? Am I dreaming?”

Sound falls into nothing but her pounding heartbeat like drums behind her eyes, and the passing of waves that murmur through her armour.

She searches the horizon for any sign of land. Her breathing is slow and steady as she seeks to stay calm.2POW x 5 again, then…? 44, still ok.

… There is a time that is not quite Time, and then Land rises. A big cube, floating beneath her, a strange place at the centre that she cannot see. Time and size have little meaning. Direction itself holds little. ‘Up’ is the direction of the sky above the sea, the Middle Air squeezing inside. Umath above her fights everything, his first thought violence. Always an option.

She considers. There are always other options.

Such a thought, such an Ernaldan thought, causes the Earth to quake beneath her, and the fighting above becomes more than mere tumult. Pits open. Options. “Hello, young lads,” says a charming voice. Garin. Well, Magasta. The smile is right.3Lore, Vinga, please? At a 40. 29

This is – of course – the Initiation of Orlanth. There are uncles, and there is a promise, and tests, and her brothers are with her. Urox with his fat belly laugh and his easy rage and his horned helm. Vadrus, tall and thin, weasel-minded and apt to slip through cracks. Humakt, his ice-white hair and bright blue eyes identifying him clearly. Dimly, there is another one, something she should seek or help, but the name… slips her mind again. All five of them, youths. Children. Ready to grow.

She (he?) laughs in delight. Family is good. Together, family can face anything.

“Here to grow?” asks Dehore. “I have made places,” says Lodril. “To test you, and then afterwards we will feast.”4Insight: Own Species? 32
Lodril is pale-haired, for all she is the earth. Her features promise no good, but then again, it must be hard to smile when you weigh that much. Earth is a receiver, and a giver. There are pits deep in the ground, where strange terrors lie. Magasta nods approvingly.

“We can win our own way,” Vadrus says. Immediately Humakt counters, “We can triumph honestly,” but because he is kin, he says it proudly to the uncles, as if he is not arguing with Vadrus at all.

“Raaaarrrr,” Urox murmurs behind Orlanth. It’s an in-joke.

“We will win honourably.” It is agreement and encouragement both. “We are ready.”

“Into the trap,” Garin says. Or rather, Magasta says, “Into the pit. Everyone gets one. Lent… the boy in the… with the name… him…. He is already into a pit that seems to pulsate with life, and Kalt is putting a lid onto it, nonchalantly. He and Genert the giant are in black armour. Genert’s huge club, made from an entire tree that he grew himself, could break even a god’s ribs, and maybe his armour too.

Humakt gives a chill chuckle, and checks his spear and his sword and his axe, all weapons he can use to make his enemies lie down in pieces until he has gone away. On his cheek, faintly, a tattoo of Air in blue hovers, frozen there.

“RAHHHHH!” Urox says, and jumps into his, perplexing Magasta. Vadrus sidles over towards a prepared pit. “Are we sure? REEEEally?”

She gives Vadrus a grin then leaps into a pit, laughter trailing behind.5 03 on Movement

She falls, and falls, until she remembers to be standing on the ground. Around him stand or sit or STARE strange things. Short feathery things with wings, or big hummocky things with huge muscles, gods with horns where their hands should be, baboon-faced centaurs. Some creep towards him, some away.6And again, Vingan Lore, at 40. 82 – that’s a fail.

There are bits of memory here. A pit. Orlanth. The uncles. But it is not quite her myth, and here she finds herself seeking something she is not QUITE made for. Adulthood.7GM: Muauaua. And POW x 5, I think. You’ve had a good run so far.
V: 17. Ha.
GM: Damn You.
V: I could fail anyway, just for fun. Doesn’t fail.

She shrugs, takes a deep breath, and watches carefully. Her hand is near her hilt, but she does not draw the blade yet.

The centaurs circle her, the feathered things creep closer, but – at least for the moment – nothing attacks.

Then, in the distance… Was that a snake?

She tries to scan for it, while not losing sight of those who surround her.871 – that’ll be a fail on the scan.

No need, after a moment. It comes for her with a hammer-blow from the side, scattering feather-things and hide-things and skin-things, bashing her sideways with its force.

“Saicaie!” she calls out, even as she tries to roll with the blow. “Ernalda?” she calls again.

The words echo, meaningless in the Pit of Strange Gods. Ernalda is just a set of sounds, Saiciae a thing that will belong in a different place, when gods… not even a thing that she could truly name, here. But there is a far better thing she could cry out. She was born knowing it. Her first thought. They are trying to make Orlanth do something he does not want to!

She rolls to her feet and growls, “No. You cannot make me.”

The snake snaps, butting again, but her feet are solid beneath her, and the scales begin to split on her opponent’s head, and it butts again, and the skin splits and the half-naked lizard inside crawls out and flees. The little feathery things are closer now, despite the danger, staring at her, and at the thousand-mile storm that is his anger.

“No!” She roars at them all. “Flee! I will not break.”

There is a scream for all of them and they run, wings flapping uselessly. The centaurs go, the dozen-legged crab claws itself away. They press themselves to the edge of the pit, leaving room where Orlanth wants it.

She looks upwards, seeking the surface.

Far, far above her, there is a deeper darkness, where the top of the pit has been closed. “Well?” asks one of the centaur-baboons, armed with nothing but its own horn-set fists. It… is not a challenge, but a question.

“Well?” she replies.

“Best to be free then?” His voice is old, his mane shaggy and reddish brown, touched with grey. “You can be wild. Can you make peace too?”

She knows this question. Why do people keep asking her this? She doesn’t seek out the fight. She wants peace for her people. But for there to be peace, sometimes there must first be violence.

Broad-shouldered and huge, the hoof-hide-animal-baboon beast waits for an answer.

“Are you ready for peace?” she counters.

“Always, and always for war. If you would seek either, have friends.” He looks around, like an old warrior, or an ancient god, eyes taking in the eternal scene.

“I have more than friends, I have kin,” she tells him solemnly. “Do we escape? Is that the challenge?”

“Challenge?” He looks confused. For a moment the pounding in her head is back, so hard it hurts.9POW x 5? It was bound to run out eventually- 88

There is a moment of pain. The baboon that looked so much like Silor begins to dissolve. Once more she has failed to make an alliance.

She takes a deep breath, trying to move past the pain. “Wait…” She calls out desperately to his fading form. “I meant together. Will we help each other?”

“Too late,” says another voice, older and colder. “If you cannot deal with those armoured against war, deal with those who hate …” And she finds herself in the body of a Vingan, folding her awesome might and majesty into a single frail frame, ribs still aching in the instant that the magic heals them, and her head hurting most of all in her borrowed helmet, sand beneath her.

A single tear escapes as she takes a sharp, aching breath. So much failure.

Waking, of course, brings knowledge of the world. Now that Vinga no longer fills her being, the memory of the story is there. ‘And Orlanth fought those who came against him, but made peace with the others, and together they made a plan and got out of the pit.’

She fights off the tears that threaten to drown her. Another stupid mistake. I have to be better than this, she tells herself silently. Then the pain in her head threatens to swallow her again and her focus narrows to the air that comes in and out of her body. One breath at a time.

And she’s awake once more. Some time, of course, must have passed.