Between a Rock and a Heart Place

S01 — Session 15

1625, Storm Season


Season, Week, Day

Storm Season, Illusion Week, Waterday until
Storm Season, Illusion Week, Clayday, and some fallout


Dramatis Personae

GM: Rajar the Mercilessly Horrible
Co-GM: Berra the Laughing Slaughterer

PC

Nala of the Unicorn Ladies
Tiwr (played en-troupe)
Serala
Dormal
Irillo Jasilsson
Mellia

NPC (Boldhome)

An honourable and honest minister of Kallyr, Harel (in service to Tennebris)
An honest and forthright guard of the Prince’s Treasury, Rakelor – a storesman
Salid the Sniveller (Sid) – Trollkin Guardstrollkin

NPC (Greyrock Rise)

Rastip Stormborn, the Kinslayer
Kanarg Keerson, Priest of Barntar and Chieftain
Finmast Swordfinder, warrior and drunkard
Tostan the Dark, blind law-giver and precedent-reciter
Senyr Deeproot, witch
Senala Berrasdottir, Priestess of Ernalda
Onela Key-keeper, honest woman
Karlag Kanargsson, a ‘child’ of 17
Minstar Nomansson, a child of 14
Jenn Finmastdottir, a ‘child’ of 16

Events

This week the log is a single piece, work of a bard local to Wilmskirk.



[Welcome to our first Guest Lecture in the series, and I’m sure you’ll give a warm welcome to Professor Alleyn, whose works are known to everyone, and who needs no further introduction.]

“Thank you. The work we shall be studying today is a lesser-known recitation in Higher Wather form, relating to matters within a village in the Sambari tribe, half a day under Wilmskirk. It has survived thanks to being folded into a copy of The Accounts which have been previously so well explained by my learned host, and appears to give context for one of the longer entries. Without further ado then, we shall begin, firstly with the section of The Accounts, which the poem generally known as Greyrock Tale was found within, and then with the poem itself.”



1625-St-Il-Wa

Reditus
Approximately 250L of salt, salt fish, herbs, spices etc. from Prince. Cost 0L.
Pleasing The Prince and Her Counsellors. Unknown value.

Sumptus
1 amphora of Clearwine (small). Medicinal. Cost 5L
Exchange of above 250L of goods for approximately 225L of wool, leather, scrimshaw. NB: Good hagglers, and I was incomplete in my attention to my work. Write off 25L as expense to the God, as a cost of trade.
Danger. Perhaps.

I found a lack of harmony, and I made it better, I hope, by Issaries Grace. Fair Trade gives Understanding. Understanding gives Harmony. Never have I felt so close to confronting Chaos, not even when the scorpion men attacked. Gods bless and protect us.1 This is, by a considerable length, the longest speech in the first folio of 'The Accounts' which is left to us. It is a total contrast to the numerate fluency of the normal accounts, and the writing is in a poor hand, but with complex linguistic choices, characteristic of a high quality Tradetalk speaker, with some, but limited, literacy. The hand, and linguistic choices are both in keeping with the first half of the 17th century.



By the rock of grey by Wilmskirk
In the shadow of the slate-rise
Stout2 There is no evidence that Irillo was fat at this time, but the implication of this adjective is that he was dependable, but also foreshadowing financial success. See also Berra's Saga Irillo brought his mule-train
Brought companions to the village
Brought the band who changed the village
Nala great who burned with earth-fire
Mellia of white clothed mercy
Dormal tall who stood behind them
Serala who rode great horses
into Greyrock Rise together
Mellia who loved the children
Spoke with children of their worries
Listened to the speech of children
Gentle to the charms of infants
Heard the children should be adults
To the temple came broad3 Again, this is not a literal reference to Nala being fat, but instead denotes her Earth Rune, and draws thereby its qualities upon her (see Garin et al). Broad, meaning woman, was not current slang in Heortling at this period. Nala
Into earth-built stone-walled temple
Met with Serana Berdottir
Spoke with Serana of Earthwomb
In the temple of Ernalda
Fought the spirits of the redflower
Fought the great disease of Greyrock
Killed the spirits of the redflower
In the village of the Slate rise
Wrath was Rastip Born of Storm-time
Angry with his wife Jenninda
Killed her in a jealous anger
When she bore a son in season
Born to flowers of the fertile
Truth was told and lies heard Rastip
Slew his child and then Jenninda
Buried corpses in the dungheap4Lit., warm-waste pile - either dungheap or earth closet.
Spirits rose and fought with Nala
Rose and fought with Healing Mellia
Stout Irillo called the Moot in
Sent for Clansmen and Humakti
Cleansed the village of the Flowers


Tennebris had heard of excessive raiding by a normally peaceful village, and had one of his people ask Irillo to go take a message that the Prince really did not want to have to notice it. Tennebris also let Kalis know this was going to happen, in case she wanted to send anyone – Kalis reliably thought of and sent for Nala, while Irillo took Dormal, Salid, Mellia and… well, there was Nala too. Berra and Rajar were unavailable.

In Wilmskirk they did a little rumour-finding, through letting people talk to them, or losing gracefully at dice. The last Priestess, Kallanda, had been killed by Lunars. The village was generally thought of as peaceful. They went on there, the next day, and got to the village slightly before noon. The fields were poor, the cattle looked thin, and there were few sheep. Serala’s count of the horses found that the stable lad was miserable because several had been eaten. The harvest had failed almost completely, but from the state of the place it seemed there were other raiders – this place was not so good at having food.

Trading took up some time for Irillo. Dormal tried to get a drunk warrior drunk, and got out of him that he had loved his wife, who had died. He started to build up a rapport. Mellia was surrounded by children who wanted to talk to her, including three or four who looked far too old to be children. One of them, Jenn Farmastdottir, was willing and competent in helping. Mellia worked to find out what was wrong, and it seemed there was a disease within the village, causing general illness and red blotches. Meanwhile Nala was at the Earth Temple, where a sad Priestess who was very worried showed her a problem – the womb of the earth, the underground part, had filled up. At that point, Mellia came to find her, and they decided to take mushrooms and look into the spirit world. Immediately they saw a reddish, sallow mist that flowed into the temple from outside. They followed it out, to behind a longhouse.

Meantime, Irillo had called for a word with the Chieftain, Kanarg, and opened his precious Ice Wine. He began by telling the Chieftain he thought the village had been maligned, but the Chieftain admitted to trading and the blind law-giver piped up that they had been at the edge of the lack of rain over Whitewall, and the harvest had completely failed. The old earth-witch that Irillo knew had died, but there was an apprentice. There was a lot of sympathy, right up until people noticed the commotion outside and saw the troupe of women…

From the patch of red flowers behind the longhouse, a spirit rose up which attacked Nala, Mellia and the Priestess Senala. Nala batted it back, and Mellia, who recognised it as a thing akin to a disease spirit, called up a healing spirit to deal with it. Hurt by Nala, it was thrown back into the earth, and the healing spirit scattered bits of it like petals, laying it to rest rather than killing it. With that, the red flowers over the area wilted all at once.

In the more mundane, prosaic, physical world, Dormal saw the warrior Rastip half draw his sword behind Irillo, and coughed REALLY LOUDLY. Irillo turned, everyone saw the problem, Serala drew her bow back, and there was a very tense stand-off. When the flowers died, something broke inside Rastip, who walked over to stand by them, shouting that it was all his fault, and he had killed the child, and it was not his anyhow; he then charged at Irillo.

Before anyone else could move, Dormal created a jagged rock by Rastip’s feet, and the man went down on his own sword. Tiwr healed him, but although Rastip shouted out his hatred the fight had gone out of him, especially when Irillo reminded everyone that he had broken an oath of hospitality in attacking. A couple of people noticed that the village seemed relieved but not shocked. Serala sent up her hawk to go scouting, and found a few things; there was a valley very full of cattle with other people’s markings, another drift of red flowers, and a cave with smoke winding out of it, under the rise of slate that gave the village its name.

After giving Nala time to start discorporating, the heroic band set off for the red flowers, by a long route to avoid being spotted going straight there. Here, too there was a red spirit. Once more Nala damaged it, and Mellia called on another of her healing spirits. It took and embraced the damaged red mist, and for a brief moment it took on the appearance of something human and sad, and for a moment it did not hate everything, and so it could dissolve.

Then, they approached the cave. Irillo readied his shield and called for the mistress of the place, who came out. They spoke, and the young woman talked of having buried the old witch with her own hands, but then Nala took a closer look, and realised there were two spirits in there – the old witch was possessing the new one. The spirit was powerful, and filled with rage. It leapt at her, and they fought, and she was hurt but defeated it. When the spirit left the apprentice, she fainted, and Mellia went to help her, seeing red blotches suddenly clear on her hands, lips and eyes. Using techniques to cure Chaos, Mellia healed the wounds, and when that happened the red mists began to blow away.

Irillo sent Serala to Wilmskirk at all possible speed, to bring Clan Rules and a Humakti back to deal with the broken village. Meanwhile, more of the story came out at an impromptu moot. Rastip had killed a child that he thought was not his own, and later killed his own wife, and the village had believed his lies, or not cared to look into them. He was the leader of the warriors, so they had supported him and made it impossible for others to speak up, and slowly the village had all learned to live with the secret. However, the spirit of the child and the murdered mother had infected the ground under which they were buried. The old witch, mother of Jenninda the murdered woman, had made the flowers into fertiliity potions, the same as she had made for her own daughter, and given these to women of the village, who came under a curse that would not let fertility flow properly. After a couple of years the witch had been accused of causing bad harvests and driven out; she had died in the wilderness but had come back to possess her apprentice. The apprentice had then gone on making the potions, and the village was drowning in its own lies.

Finally, a harvest had failed completely. After hearing these details, and seeing how a mother of one of the nearly grown children accused the warriors of complicity and was not silenced, Irillo recommended that the village be dissolved. The young people who should have been adults begged to be initiated there, and as it was coming up to Sacred Time, it seemed that that would happen.

Mellia offered to take the young lady Jenn to initiate her to Chalana Arroy, which was met with a couple of loving looks at a young man, and a resounding yes.

Later, it would emerge that the apprentice witch had (rightly) accused the old woman of cursing the village. It would also become clear that the old Priestess had known something was up, and had not let certain women worship at the Ernaldan temple, thus keeping it clean, but without sending for help. Things had not been so bad during her time.


“He will be playing the infamous money-grubbing, no, I mean smooth-talking Irillo Goldentongue…” – GM

“You’re aware the pendulum is going to swing back…” – GM
“I’m just waiting for the sandal to drop, yes…” – Irillo

“Do you know any of these places?” – Harel
“Deny everything.” – Dormal

“Oh yes. Was that the place of the temple of Uleria?” – Irillo

“The good news is you have to take Berra.” – Dormal

“Well, cattle raiding’s traditional at this time of year, but they’ve perhaps been a touch over-zealous.” – Harel

“If it were to continue, we might have to notice, here in Boldhome. And then we might have to send someone. Someone sharp. And we wouldn’t want that.” – Harel
“You might have to quack down on them.” – Irillo

“Not typing ‘GM’ for the quotes is really, really hard.” – Co-GM

“I VOLUNTEER!!!” – Berra OOC

“Perhaps the Ernaldan could persuade them to be… a bit more cautious.” – Harel
( Giving. ) O o . Berra

“So I’ve been cooped up for ages and you want me to leave the city?” – Nala
“Where’s Tiwr?” *reaches for cloak* – Nala

“Possibly sending Rajar on this sort of delicate mission might not be perfect…” – GM
“What is best in life? Cattle raiding!” – Dormal

“There is a noticeable absence of things like spear heads in the trade goods.” – GM

“Who do I know that are dependable guards?” – Irillo
“SID!” – Co-GM

*runs up and down hills swearing at unnamed Humakti Swords* – Berra

“Rajar can’t come. He’s on the naughty step.” – Berra

“Does anybody want to do anything when they get to Wilmskirk?” – GM
“Yeeees.” – Irillo

“Do you just bleed magic into the magic matrix to fill it?” – Dormal
“You just bleed.” – GM
*perks up* – Berra

“It’s a pity we’re going through Wilmskirk without Berra.” – Nala

“I’m not a great conversationalist, but I’m good at starting people talking and then for some reason they want to impress me.” – Nala

“Kallanda? Very giving, if a bit old.” – Wilmskirkite
“Less mad than the other Earth Priestesses.” – Irillo

“Very loving… Well, the Lunars strung her up – crucified her as an example to others.” – GM

“Serala, are you up to anything in particular?” – GM
“She should be coming to – the TV program just ended.” – Nala

“Does Sid get any rolls on whether any of the other animals in the stable tell him anything overnight?” – Co-GM

“Why am I doing the late storm season rounds in Sartar rather than warm Esrolia…”
“Because the gods called and you were fortunate enough to be there to hear them!” – Co-GM

“So untrusting!” – Co-GM
“This feels like ambush country…” – Irillo
*pride* – Co-GM

“Trying to remain concealed…” – GM
*waves madly* – Irillo

“As you ride into town… ‘town’. The village…” – GM
“‘Town.'” – Irillo

“I am here!” – Mellia
“GM has to drop everything and love Mellia as much as Berra does.” – Co-GM
“So, are we doing flashback time?” – Irillo
*wiggly fingers flashback* – Irillo

“GM’s foaming at the mouth slightly. My work here is done.” – Serala

“Irillo’s fine.” – GM
“No, we have an opportunity to mock him. I’m taking that!” – Serala

“The Horse in this town died, didn’t it?” – Irillo
“Someone raided it.” – Co-GM

“Wool packs down nicely if you can get the sheep out of it first.” – Co-GM

“Missus Arroy! Can I show you my finger? My finger hurtst!” – child
“I got a ball! I got a ball and it floats if it falls into a puddle!” – other child
“Mistress, thank you for coming. We are vewwy gwateful.” – sticky child

“Grab a skin of something from the Mule Train.” – Dormal
“I want a receipt!” – Irillo

“That’s the most hideous, sour cider you’ve drunk in ages.” – GM
“That’s OK, because I’m only pretending to drink.” – Dormal

“How’s your Dark Season been?” – Dormal
“Shit.” – Farmast

“These prissy city types say you shouldn’t go raiding…” – Dormal
“Dormal, you are the DEFINITION of a prissy city type!” – Irillo

“Dormal, can you roll on subtle please?” – Co-GM
“Not trying to be subtle, that’s what the alcohol is for.” – Dormal

“It’s all gone a bit earth shaped.” – Dormal

“Nobody’s even throwing rocks.” – Co-GM
“Have the rocks been raided?” – Nala

“They aren’y very good at raiding.” – Various PCs

“Good eatin’ on a horse. For the nobs.” – Stable Lad

“Maybe we should do some raiding for them.” – Serala

“One of Tennebris’ people. The little Sartar rune embroidered on him, the air rune, the air of eating well and being smug.” – Co-GM

“I’ve been letting them off lightly.” – Irillo and his failed bargain roll

“If you botch a treat disease roll do you give the victim smallthrax?” – Dormal

“SENSE CHAOS!” – Irillo

“If the Prince wanted to get rid of us, why would she have kept Berra back?” – Dormal

“I ran a game recently in which THOSE TWO DID BADGERS. Well, one of those two. The other one is, amazingly innocent.” – Co-GM
“Would you care to rephrase from, ‘Did badgers’?” – Irillo
“…’did’… badgers?” – Serala
“No, that’s good enough for me.” – Co-GM
“Oh God, I’m on the same mental wavelength as Irillo.” – Serala

“CHAOS BADGER. Roll initiative.” – GM

“These people are not the correct amount of sick.” – Dormal
“We are EXACTLY the correct amount of sick.” – Co-GM

“dun Dun DUN” – Dormal
“DundunDUN – Co-GM
“Damnit. I am on Dormal’s wavelength.” – Co-GM

“You know the cave that is the sacred womb of Ernalda…. that’s not there so much right now.” – Co-GM
“We’re going to need a lot of explosives to fix this.” – Dormal

“Did the Earth Shake?” – Nala
“No.” – Ernaldan Priestess, for whom the earth did not move

“Sid is happy. Big pile of stuff to guard, in the dry, with food and alcohol.” – GM

“I hate that I’m about to do this… I will breach one of my bottles of ice-wine…” – Irillo

“I believe this village is done an injustice in Boldhome.” – Irillo
*SNORE* – Finmast

“We’re on the edge of the dry season of Whitewall.” – Tostan the Dark

“If only you’d brought Berra, but no…” – Berra
“Remember, we’re trying to make the situation better.” – Dormal

“Check Irillo for a “made in Nochet” label.” – Nala

“80/45. Melting dice.” – Irillo
“But not a fumble. ALAS.” – Co-GM

“‘She died of old age two seasons back.’ And that is a LIE.” – GM to Dormal

“The old blind dude looks right at you, and then down at his mug.” – GM
“Looks…” – Co-GM

“The gods don’t favour her.” – Tostan
“Oh, why is that?” – Irillo
“I’m sorry, I’m a trifle deaf.” – Tostan

“When did it become the temple of doom?” – Nala
“About two years ago…[when the old witch died]” Dormal

“MUSHROOMS!” – Co-GM

“You got the timing wrong. You want to set the precedents while the GM’s AFK…” – Serala

“There’s a little bit of chanting, which we can assume happens while people are committing sacrilege to Irillo’s wine collection.” – GM

“A red mist… And Berra is not there.” – Co-GM

“No Elder Ones here. GM wouldn’t let us.” – Co-GM

“One desecrated murder-grave site coming up.” – Dormal

“Wait they’re looking out in spirit sight? I need my lead sheet.” – Dormal

“If you go TOO far, you’ll leave behind the mushroom cloud, but you’ll be OK for a bit.” – Co-GM

“I will start out, then adjust my pace for people with shorter legs.” – Nala

“What happened to the blind guy?” – Dormal
“Stayed inside.” – GM
“Finishing the bottle, no doubt.” – Irillo

“Poppies! Poppies! Poppies!” – Mellia

“Euuuuuguhhhhhhhgh!” – Mellia
“I don’t know how that’s spelled, but I’m saying it too.” – Nala

“There’s what’s known as a Praxian Standoff about to happen there.” – GM

“Which is a special… which I think adds 30 to my roll.” – Irillo
“Which still fails.” – Irillo

“Well, there seems to be a new fact emerging…” – Dormal

“Do you really want to do that?” – Serala

“HE WAS NEVER MY CHILD!” – Rastip

“Ouch!” – Mellia
“Technical healer term.” – Irillo

“Mmmmm, mass human snackrifice.” – Dormal

“Serala. Your bird.” – Irllo
“Yes. I thought of that. But Dormal was having so much fun going for a walk.” – Serala

“The child should be exhumed and prepared for burial.” – Irillo
“I can do that.” – Nala
“No, it should be done by the oath-breaker.” – Irillo

“Unless we’re counting chaos folk as people. Are we now?” – Dormal
“‘NO!’ bellows Rajar from Boldhome.” – GM

“Well, there is a chart for spirit combat fumbles… I didn’t think I was going to need that…” – GM

“I buried her myself.” – Senya
“I made sure she was dead.” – Co-GM

“I am thinking a dose of Cure Chaos Wound may be called for. How do I diagnose that, other than casting Summon Rajar?” – Mellia

“Meanwhile, in the village, Sid has had to hold Farmast off Rastip.” – Co-GM
“<3 Sid” – Irillo

“The children would love you to bring competent adults HERE.” – Co-GM
“And trade them?” – Nala

“People are so down on secret murder.” – Dormal

“What’s happening to the warriors that are here?” – Dormal
“Well, the Humakti is looking at them funny.” – Co-GM