Lightning Strikes Twice

S01 — Session 40

1626, Fire Season, Movement Week


Fire Season, Movement Week, Clayday Dawn to Fireday Night


Dramatis Personae
PC

Berra, when not NPCd
Dormal
Irillo
Nala
Rajar
Xenofos
Varanis

NPC

Berra Jarang’s Daughter (not Jarangsdottir) when not being a PC
Salid the Sniveller, Guardstrollkin (and a pile of 20,000 bolgs)
Tiwr the Magnificent
A crate containing not nearly enough chickens
A dead man known to Irillo
Some other dead men, also known to Irillo, but less important

NPC (but in the past)

Almost certainly Eril
Maybe an innocent merchant
Definitely some guilty Lunars
A dead man known to Eril
Some other dead people, not known to Eril

Events

As before, the log will be recounted with extracts from Berra JarangsdottiHumaktisaga, NalaTiwrSaga and The Death of Rajar. As with last time there will be extracts from the Sonnets to Varanis, and Sonnets in Praise of Xenofos. There will be reference to the Accounts of the Travels of Irillo Goldentongue. Editorial commentary will be recorded [thus]. The {“D”} and {T} voices appear.

[Good day, estudentia i esperantia. Today finds us still following the so-called Heroquest of Eril, although there is much discussion whether this particular segment should be counted as part of the narrative, an interjection, or a a later addition or mis-filing. Dr Tomm will be calling in, as before; his attempt to make his way here by public transport was stymied by escaped baboons, I’m told.]

[We will start with the single native-born Sartarite, in this most Sartarish of incidents – an ambush performed for grudge. Famed as a warrior, Berra’s secondary sources often have her described as a scout. Berra JarangsdottiHumaktisaga.]

Sharp-sighted soldier slayer
Saw spears road-slipping
Cried caution call
Clarion loudly clear
Battle-bold brave
Brought ambush bane
Laid leapers low
Line’s last rest

Hired as protection
Called on for danger money
Time for me to charge!

Calamity stays
Disaster is upon us
Billy fails to turn

[But it is in NalaTiwrSaga that we find our moral today – if we have one at all, of course. Five hundred words on the duality reflected in the unicorn-rider pairing, on my desk by the usual time.]

If she should strike first
My heart swells with pride for her
The weapon of Prax

[Be sure to cover how often we get Nala, Tiwr, or both in NalaTiwrSaga – you may come to an interesting conclusion. We’ll move on to Xenofos – almost entirely the opposite here. Assume a javelin weighs a kilogram, and is bulky enough to grip easily. Why might he be carrying a dozen, when they have never been mentioned before? Why is Rastop not called by name? Was Xenofos really there?]

Down from his horse he sprang in haste to aid
The merchant stout, and ’bout him flew his blade
As he had killed a dozen striking with a javelin each
Declaring ’twas the time for action, not the time for speech!

{“Action. Funny way to say ‘falling off your horse and hurting your head.”}

{Nala did not fall off me.}

[And Varanis, hardly struggling at all.]

She strove to catch the bandit ere he melted into Air
To bring him back for justice under doughty Humakt’s care.
And by the power of Orlanth she could call the lightning flash
And turned his tree – his hiding place – to charcoal and to ash!
Then o’er before Irillo she did throw him to the ground,
The life of man gave to him without another sound.1Varanis, famous for her oratory, is here oddly silent. An indication perhaps of how little she felt a single warrior could be a challenge to her.

{“Credit to them for not actively trying to burn down the forest. Just by accident.”}

[Before we go to Professor Tomm for the Accounts, I’ll give you this, as a piece of written evidence, including spellings. Translations on the right are cited in your handbooks.]

Yr Magnificence,
_
We find ourselves in a HeroQuest embodying yr actions at the tyme of the Fall of Boldhome. We had been guided back into it by the Yrn Lord, when it began without warning, and went awry. Are heading to Wylmskirk. Would welcome yr guidance and advice.

_
In Service,
_
Irillo Saiciae. Landholder in Colimar, Blue Tree Clan

[Five hundred words; did Irillo write that? And now, Professor, do we have you?]

[“Ah, yes, you do. Or rather, as the texts indicate, ‘We are all Us’. Now, this week’s entry from ‘The Accounts‘ is sufficiently simple that even the most dedicated Berra specialist can make it perfectly clear. So, let us look at what he says.”]

Death a sacrifice to a mission?
Order, but not necessarily Harmony.
Perhaps a touch of Darkness.
Willing to sacrifice all, including self.
Dangerous, because he cannot compromise.
Powerful, because he will not.
My weakness is my strength.
Compromise, my Art.

[“Naturally, I do not think this needs elucidation. We see the elements of Eril and Irillo mixing. Erillo, as has been coined by some ‘wag’, as it were. It has been remarked, by I think von Sydow, that together they make one really admirable man. I note that none of you…. none have yet completed the five hundred words set by Professor Garin, so perhaps we might have some class discussion on the topic of ‘Is the difference of the characters supposed to indicate something on a wider basis?'”]

A flashback as long as blinking: One does not find an Issarian in public, of course. Finding out where he lives, visiting in the evening, when there are people on the streets. This is sensible. ( What sort of man looks for a merchant in a temple of merchandise, anyhow? That would indicate he does not already know what he is getting. ) Aroth. A man with wagons but no mules. His funds are mostly outside the city. He needs money to buy more animals.

Gold will suffice for his silence. It makes some loquacious. Gold, for the wagon and driver, and Eril will promise to guard his premises overnight. They both know that means smuggling, but Aroth needs the money.

The texture of an adobe wall under fingers calloused by the sword. Enough gold to pay a bribe hidden under where armour should be. Hatred of the murderers put away for long enough to speak.

Later…

A sound catches Irillo’s ears, and a colour catches Eril’s sight. There are Lunars in the area. He is safe within the roof of this place, the thatch repaired over the way he pulled himself up, and chinks in the darkness letting him see out. It is a big enough space to sit up and even to lie down if he wants to stretch. The cache of money there is enough to buy the entire street.

Aroth has handed over the wagon. A driver is arranged. Enough goods to make it look like he is leaving the city are piled onto it. The dancer will help to disguise Eril himself. It’s going well. And best of all, a yinkin has joined him from time to time. It might be the one from the hospital. The striated marks are similiar, but who is to ask shadowcats what shadows they bear on them? The yinkin is nowhere to be seen right now, but it’s a good omen.

And outside, there is a group of Lunar soldiers patrolling the area. That is unexpected.

Lie still. Lie quiet. Patience is the mark of the warrior.

They pass by close, and do not see him, but they do see someone else. They are homing in on a poor unfortunate… Issarian, apparently, from their calls to harmony and riches. Looking for bribes.

Thus it is. Thus it ever has been. Nothing is to be gained by interfering.

It goes exactly as he would imagine, for the first few seconds, until the bonhomie stops, and their leader asks, “Why so nervous, friend?”

And Aroth answers, “Nervous? I’m not nervous.”

There’s a slight, sad sigh. But no movement. The man is disposable, as the cart has been moved. He will talk his way out with the Goldentongue, or he will not.

A little voice inside asks, ‘what if he describes the cart?’ But surely he would not.

The voice is stilled. The cart is being remodelled. That’s right. A smart man does such things. Makes it impossible to be betrayed.

They drag Aroth away, after a while, and he’s crying out for help. They’ve shaken him down for his gold. They know he’s a smuggler. There is a mercy you could offer him. Plenty of time as he’s taken across that square.

A bow? A Javelin? Whatever is to hand. Guided by the God

It is given to Humakt to sever the spirit. A spell. Sent by the God.

Pure, painless. Precise. Death is always sharp.

Ah. Yes. He reaches out.


Irillo had a vision, which happened at the same time as Berra and Salid had their Darkness Runes literally freeze. This made both of them collapse, as Irillo woke. Tiwr trotted from the stables to the inn, when Nala asked him to, found Berra also collapsed, healed her, and then remembered he should have healed Salid and went off to do that.

Irillo revealed that he had seen Eril kill a merchant, cold-bloodedly. He also mentioned that the adding of the Royal Treasury to the Humakti relics had been an afterthought.

Berra explained that the Darkness Rune she had was part of her, and it had not appeared spontaneously. However, the effect was very worrying. The group agreed to go to Wilmskirk, the next place where they were likely to find information on Eril, as fast as possible.

After some discussion about how to proceed, they decided it was best to travel as a group, with the Praxians and Berra at the front, Irillo in the middle, with his mules and Manasa carrying a load of wood, the rest of the party following behind. They had a pretty uneventful trip, right up until they were a few hours out of Wilmskirk.

Bandits ambushed them, led by Rastip Stormborn, who still had a grudge against Irillo. With the Leap Rune Spell, the bandits managed to dodge most of the charges from people on animal-back, and with successful Dodge rolls, most of the rest. One met Berra, Rastip met Nala and didn’t even have to meet Rajar, and two others were killed. After a chase through the forest and Varanis blasting a tree with lightning while trying to blast a person, they managed to take one of the bandits alive. The resulting fire did not spread. Varanis’ honour slipped rather and she told Dormal to extract the information they needed in any way he deemed appropriate while she went for a walk. Irillo offered the man his life in exchange for talk, and the bandit revealed their rather unexciting camp in exchange for being let free.

They sent the Praxians on ahead so that Irillo could later meet them as Eril. They headed into Wilmskirk despite the late hour, after Nala sweet-talked the gate guards. Rajar, Nala, Tiwr, and Zinat camped out at the market, where a few interested folks tried to purchase Nala and Tiwr. Much later in the night, the rest arrived and camped outside the gates until dawn.

When Yelm rose, Irillo led the others into Wilmskirk. They went in a few different directions after picking an inn. Berra and Xenofos went to the Temple of Humakt, where they learned that Eril came from the Cinder Fox Clan (aka Grey Fox Clan). They went from there to the library, where Xenofos was able to find out about Eril of the Cinder Foxes. He was the second son of the then-chief, Tamain Cracks-Rock, and also a lay member of the Temple of Lhankor Mhy. His work was the go-to reference for everything on the rights and responsibilities of thralls and thrall-holders.

Dormal, Irillo, and Salid went to negotiate a money exchange, in order to facilitate the purchase of a number of trollkin. They had successful business dealings and changed up a ridiculous quantity of bolgs for their shopping pleasure. Meanwhile, Nala and Rajar found a watering hole that welcomed Storm Bulls. Nala entertained them with some stories and dancing. The clumsy bison story was particularly popular, with the Storm Bulls learning the dance so they could fall over onto each other.

The party found rooms at various inns and temples, with the Praxians staying slightly closer to the market, where there was a place with stables that could hold large animals properly.

++++ Notable Moments and Quotes


“Berra looks at Irillo, says, ‘What the f-‘, and falls over.” – GM
“Rajar stands up, grips his axe in his left hand and cautiously sips his beer while peering at Irillo and Berra.” – Rajar

“Berra is frozen!” – Varanis
“<more beer>” – Rajar

“The cold-hearted bastard!” – Irillo
“I’m not so bad!” – Tiwr

“If you’ve ever taken a bath with Berra, it might come up…” – GM

“Fair enough, not new and therefore not suspect.” – Rajar
“Other than having been frozen.” – Varanis

“Salid? are you ok?” – Nala
“OW…. yes but my heart!” – GM

“OK. Tell me if it starts again.” – Nala
“‘Will fall over,’ he says in tones of agreement.” – GM

“How many pieces can we split the party into?” – Varanis
“LOTS.” – Rajar
“MANY. But I get to punish you all if you do.” – GM
“7 and than some? with an axe.” – Xenofos

“Are you mounted Berra?” – Xenofos
“Yes, I’ll be mounted.” – Berra
@@*@@looks at Berra as she says that, but says nothing@@*@@ – Nala

“The King’s Road.” – GM
“Almost the same thing as the wilderness.” – Xenofos

“We could take you to the Bad Place?” – Rajar

“Berra’s happened to that guy there…” – Berra
“You’ll leave him without a leg to stand on.” – Nala
“Legless? At this time of night?” – Nala

“Does Billy wheel too?” – Varanis
“Billy cannot wheel.” – Nala

“Timehonored light cav tactics – do I see someone’s back – preferably the enemy?” – Xenofos

“I was charging at him when he leapt away.” – Varanis
“Me too.” – Nala
“THE BASTARD. It’s like he’s thought about this already.” – GM

“His right arm is not a happy place right now. I’ll go out on a limb and say that.” – GM

“Ride 00” – Xenofos
“ouch” – Dormal
“ouch” – Xenofos

“That guy’s not getting up anymore. He’s laminated.” – GM

“Just pick up my sword, my shield, my dignity, and see if anyone is in range.” – Xenofos

“Your bow?” – Irillo
“Dormal, I’m pretty sure that someone just ordered you to shoot into a melee with Berra in it. I know that’s going to be hard for you.” – GM

“KILLL THE TREEES!” – Rajar

“I rolled 88” – Varanis
“So, no.” – Varanis

“Burn the forest, only way to be sure.” – Xenofos

“Bet you a lunar they manage a friendy kill with no enemies around.” – Dormal
“Not taking it.” – Irillo

“Oh look they’re calling lightning into a forest in fire season.” – Dormal
“YEP.” – GM

“Bet you a lunar that forest fire gets out of control?” – Dormal
“I’ll take that.” – Irillo

“Thank you for not shooting me, Dormal.” – Varanis

“Unless you want to do prepare corpse for the living guy….” – Varanis
“Doing it for the living one might work as a nonsubtle threat.” – Xenofos

“JUST make the last one. So one fail.” – Nala
“Which was Rastip.” – GM

“Will let Berra string them up” – Nala
“Berra will do that, although she’ll ask Rajar to do the lifting.” – GM

“Bandits are scum. And they are dead already. Makes it easier for the crows and vultures” – Rajar

“How long do we have to wait until the market? Clearly going to need an inn. Is there some place with a bath?” – Varanis
“…No.” – GM

“Wave my—oh, Did I remember to put thehead back on the body?” – Rajar

“Are you going to do this, or are you going to practice your famed Esrolian charm?” – GM

“So apart from being a murder cultist, he’s also a lawyer.” – Xenofos

“The troll is pretending to be a table.” – GM
“If he thinks he’s a table, well, he should know. In our meetings, after all, we always have a chair. It’s probably cultural.” – Dormal
“No, you don’t have a bureaucracy skill.” – GM

“20,000 slingshot bullets!” – Irillo

“The sound of a Trollkin sitting on 20,000 bolgs and giggling is the cutest thing.” – GM

“This is a lot of bolgs.” – Dormal
“How does anyone ever buy a lot of things at once in the dark market?” – Dormal
“They’re mostly Trolls.” – Irillo

“I’d prefer to stay somewhere with hot tubs. But this place will have to do.” – Varanis
“That’d be Esrolia.” – Dormal