Rollin’ down the River

S01 — Session 18

1626, Sea Season

Season, Week, Day

1626, Sea Season, Disorder week into Harmony week Waterday

Dramatis Personae




Artr Fonzirellisson
Tennebris’ flunky Harel
A Humakti Duck Captain
A Human Boat Captain
A selection of townsducks
and Devolin the Deadly1Duck Hero of Great Reknown, handsome, anatile, and rich. Also intelligent and well-regarded by his community. No ransom request goeth unconthidered.

As before, the log will be recounted with extracts from Berra JarangsdottiHumaktisaga, from The Sonnets to Mellia, Sweetest of Healers, White Lady of Esrolia, The Lay of Serala, Lance of the Cold Sun , The Sonnets to Vestra, Grey Lady of Esrolia, The Death of Rajar, and NalaTiwrSaga. Editorial commentary will be recorded [thus]. Both the D and T voice appear in this selection of extracts.

[Good day, and welcome to this, our eighteenth lecture on this cycle, and it occurs to me, we have not really asked ourselves, ‘What do we really know about these individuals, and what did the poet, or poets, wish us to know? How are these different, and how does it have relevance to this history of the Dragon Pass region in this timeframe?’. Obviously, this is a literature lecture series, and not a history one, but the two cannot be entirely divorced in this context, so I am interested in your opinions. Or rather, I shall assume an appearance of interest, and let you tell me your thoughts. I shall be delighted to hear from those of you who have made the tragic tactical error of sitting in the front five rows of the lecture theatre.]


Spotty kid in the 2nd row: Weirmonken identifies the D voice with Dormal, but given we already have a Buffo member mentioned, how do we know this isn’t Devolin speaking? Wouldn’t it more more usual with an outer narrative voice to create a comedic or clown character as their signature?

[An excellent question. Simply because Devolin is listed as appearing from time to time, and the D voice appears when Devolin has not. Furthermore the interactions between our Heroes and Devolin do not appear in favour of him quietly tagging along. Next?]

Girl with more plaits than clothes: What does the corpus tell us about travel difficulties of the time? We always hear of this group travelling, so they spent time together?

[Very little, actually. There’s usually extensive descriptions of travelling, but rarely do they offer more than colour text- presumably because overcoming a muddy road isn’t viewed as sufficiently heroic to be worth remarking on in verse!]

Alarmed guy who was sleepy: Wait, is this not Archaeology of the … oh. Um, excuse me, professor!

Young woman with black hair: Given the primitive boats of the time, how did they get the mules, and moreover the unicorn and the buffalo, to Nochet? Studies show that heavy weights such as a bison stepping onto one side of the boats of the time could easily flip them, so both loading and the trip would have been difficult. I don’t see the Praxians hobbling their mounts. Or do you subscribe to the theory that the unicorn is a manifest metaphor? Thank you.

[Neither, actually. I refer you to the excellent work of Dr Finkel of the British Museum and in particular his work, ‘The Ark before Noah’, which gives an excellent example of the carrying capacity of Bronze Age vessels. Given the rope nature of the boat he constructed, we can expect little by way of archaeological evidence. Similarly, of course, we’re all familiar with Thor Heyerdahl’s voyages. Next?]

Young woman who always asks precisely one question and spends the rest of the time doodling: Given the anti-bandit, pro-belligerence history of this group, is it really believable they left the bandit behind to accumulate power and harass the countryside? They usually go out of their way to gank bandits, and this one was local enough it wouldn’t have slowed them down much.

[Ah, the competing effects of duty and desire. Do we all not suffer them?]

Young man, scribbling: What’s the difference between a buffalo and a bison again?

[ poker faced You can’t wash your hands in a buffalo.]

Other young man: why has no one punched the Humakti high priest on the face yet? Or was this covered last week? I wasn’t here last week.

[A universal question, often asked. Why on earth hasn’t anyone punched the politically and spiritually powerful swordmaster?]

Older woman with short hair: What do we know of the relationship status of the adventurers? Were any married or committed at this time?

[Very little in this section, I’m afraid. But do hold on for more information.]

Same short-haired woman: What were Billy’s thoughts?


Chunky guy with rings on every finger: Is Irillo more than a manifest extrusion of the merchant prototype into this tale? Of all the sources, his is easiest to mistake for a hero’s path when in fact he is not. What if he’s just a happenstance character? Why study Irillo alongside the others?
Thin guy, also with many rings: Surely he’s vital context, though?
Chunky guy: Yeah, but then I would expect to see him raised as such. Maybe we do have to make our minds up here, but I’d appreciate knowing what I am taking on beforehand.

[Irillo is an interesting case. It has been suggested that he is the ‘everyman’ in this group, who only reluctantly answers the call to be a Hero. Others suggest his is the greatest spiritual growth. The evidence is sparse.]

[Now that we have got the tedious ‘student involvement’ portion that the Dean has insisted on out of the way, it is time to proceed on with the portion of the text known as the ‘Flight to Nochet’, ‘The Journey to Esrolia’, or once, by one of my colleagues whose identity I shall mercifully shroud in secrecy, as ‘That Dam Duck’.2Given that you can be bothered to pick up the lecture notes, I here reveal it was Garin (end of term party under Prof Egg). We will begin our tale this time with the The Lay of Serala, Lance of the Cold Sun, and contrast how it presents matters with those of other sources.]

Long did the warriors linger in sorrow and weeping
But Serala knew what they’d need to be seeking!
She strode to the Palace of Kallyr the Starbrow
And spake of what steps were she’d be taking enow!

[As always there is something of a difference between how things are portrayed in the Lay, versus other, more Orlanthi orientated narratives. For example, Berra JarangsdottiHumaktisaga]

Woeful were warriors
Waxing their weeping
Berra band3This is likely to be her friendship group given the context. Under other interpretations, and in other places, it would be her Humakti temple. We infer from other sources that the Humakti were as shocked as anyone over the events of Sacred Time, but the purpose of this kenning is to establish later action. bravely
Bearing burdens of blame4The Chester Marginalia around this point say ‘Except Eril’. There may be drift of up to 5 stanzas between a known text and the margin drawings.

Wise Wordwarrior5In the absence of other evidence it is believed this is Irillo, but it could also be Dormal, D’Val, or the Q or D voices.
Went with Weaponfinder
Healed he with Heortling
Helped he the handless6Details being lost, we must assume a trip to the Temple of Chalana Arroy

Gifted gold gladly
Giving good to grief.
Warning words went
With him to Wordhall!

Tennebris telling then
To bring To7Alleyn on this capitalisation: ‘hpmh’ him Thanes!
Sadly spoke of sleeping
Starbrow; for her seeking solace

Boldy Berra bade
Bring her to boats! Brightly
From Sea Seasoned Sartar
Sailing to Seek salve!

Bison Khan bringing,
Brave Dormal, Bright Blade
Serala, Sweetest Wound Sealer,
Soft Handed Swiftongue8The infamous ‘soft-palmed…’ insult not having yet been coined.

Near-Troll, Naive New Healer
Noble Nala near also
Wilmskirk waited when
Weaponwoman gave words wise


Peace Berra preached9That P and B are viewed as alliterative gives useful information about how Heortling was pronounced at this period. It is also notable that it could be read ‘breached’, forming a pun unusual for the likely Esrolian writing.
Prayed for pardon for past
Rode they the royal roads
Reaching the Ringeye’s Range

Boat boarding briskly
Began bearing boldly
Sweet the Sound of the Sea-road
Singing in south steads

[In contrast to this long lyrical speech of journeying, The Death of Rajar typically cuts to the chase when they encounter a block to their river journey.]

Why stop the river?
Who and how should they blame?
Serala says “damn!”

[The answer is given for now with NalaTiwrSaga]

Sweeping ducks10Students of the Comedia Buffo may find the duck-broom image familiar. before
Nala drives them from her wrath
River free like Prax

“Seriously, who even TRIES to extort by building a DAM?”

[And Nochet is clearly reached relatively uneventfully, and we see two different responses to the huge city.]

When Praxians reach
The greatest city’s long wharf
Who’s the Barbarian?

Soul traveller came
To Nochet’s empty markets
She wanted her home.

With Boldhome still reeling from the failed Heroquest (although opinions were varied as to why and how it had failed in the city), our Heroes found themselves temporarily at a loss, aside from such small tasks as buying a new fancy axe, repairing –looted– salvaged lunar equipment, meditating (that’s what the kids are calling it these days), and in Berra’s case, failing to meditate.

This moment of peace was spoiled firstly for Irillo by Finmast Swordfinder attending, minus both hands, to warn Irillo (to whom he seemed to feel some sort of debt) that Rastip Kinslayer had escaped custody in Greycliff Rise/Cave, possibly with some help, murdering a couple of guards, and gone outlaw and bandit. This done, Finmast seemed to intend to drink and neglect himself to death, but Irillo managed to talk him into seeing the Priestesses of Chalana Arroy, and indeed donated a significant amount to the temple in gratitude. Irillo (and Jenn) headed up to the palace whilst the Priestesses did their work, to mention to flunkies this issue, and ensure Outlawry was in place. Whilst there, the flunky du jour mentioned that Tennebris had requested the pleasure of seeing Irillo and his companions, and would he like to go and get them?

Astutely realising this wasn’t really a question, Irillo went and got the band back together, and brought them up to see Tennebris, who received them in his personal chapel to Orlanth. Dormal and Irillo noticed that Tennebris was under a great deal of stress, terrified, and trying hard to hold it all together, and got some idea of his motivations. Rajar noticed his new axe. Tennebris revealed that the Prince had not yet woken from her sleep after the Quest, and that the local Chalana Arroy High Priestess was without ideas, but suggested seeking the counsel of the Great Hospital. Tennebris noted that the better to avoid ‘accidents’, the band might care to leave Sartar for a little trip, and offered to pay, so they could help each other.

Nala headed to Kalis for further information, and to ask whether Shamans had been involved. Kalis informed Nala that she had at least some training in that direction, and feared the Prince was lost in the Halls of the Gods, unless someone could retrieve her, but that the Hospital may have some ideas about how. Rudimentary hairstyling of Nala into something more Esrolian ensued.

The party rode out, through Wilmskirk, where Berra terrorised Artr Fonzirellison by tracking him down, and apologising at him. They made good time to Duck Point, despite Irillo’s obvious wish to head to Clearwine to refresh his stocks for trade in the big city. Then they got on a boat, to the obvious distrust of Nala and Billy.

Things were generally smooth on the trip down river, right up to the point where they had an unexpected lake. This surprised them all, including the Captain, who hadn’t noticed it on his way upriver before Holy Season. Drawing closer, the band were –surprised– –delighted– resigned to it being another extortion attempt by the ‘Tollkeeper for the Printh’, Devolin. Berra pointed out which five of the thirty or so ducks accompanying him were real, whereupon Nala put an arrow into the Illusion Devolin had up on the dam. The Ducks chickened out, and our heroes, after some debate about whether to follow the ducks into the lake to kill them off as bandits, and whether to trash the dam, causing a flood (and whether their ship should be above or below the dam at the time), they finally settled on using the lock, and leaving the thing alone.

The rest of their trip was uneventful, past Beast Valley, and the Building Wall, and Shadow Plateau, and into Esrolia proper, before arriving in Nochet for a major Culture Shock attack on those of the group (the Praxians and Jenn, who had accompanied them, at Mellia’s suggestion) who hadn’t seen a real city before.

“Meep!” – Serala

“This session is brought to you by Barry White, and Halls’ Soothers.” – GM

*talk* – group
“I think someone is stalling, because no plot.” – Dormal

“In general, Serala still needs to take the core of The Herd to the Grazelands.” – Serala
“The herd is a little bigger than it used to be. 6 more horses from the Lunars.” – Berra

“You are smirking, Berra” – Nala
“That’s because I’m GMing.” – Berra

“Okay perhaps I should have kept some cash back for living expenses … but really no.” – Rajar
“I spent my money on Ale and Whores………..” – Rajar

“Go on Irillo, offer to pay for it <<Evil>>” – Rajar
“(I was hoping he would… but he knows how this goes.)” – Berra

“Village name… I can look it up.” – Berra
“Iycanlookitup” – GM
“Next to Ruislip” – Nala

“Did you get Glue so you can get Gluewine?” – Nala

“Jenn has mastered walking in white robes, like a proper Chalana Arroy initiate… Maybe it’s done with little tenacles so they can float properly.” – Berra
“She is a penguin!” – Nala

“Where are you, Rajar?” – GM
“I’ve got a new axe! Look at my axe! It’s wonderful!” – Rajar

“Can I dual wield Great Axes….I’m sure I can!” – Rajar

“This is my big axe, and this is my other big axe, and this is my slightly smaller axe, and this is my other slightly smaller axe, and these are my little axes, aren’t they cute?” – Rajar

“You shouldn’t stroke your weapon in public. – Nala

“Set fire to something.” – Rajar

“OOC Trolls use insects as beasts of burden and food. To be fair they use most things as food, including rocks sometimes.” – Rajar
“That really kind of bugs me” – Nala

“I’ve finally managed to settle down to meditate.” – Berra
“How long will you be doing that?” – Irillo
“All week, I was hoping…” – Berra

“Mount up and ride, then wait.” – Nala

“I shall run out of chat quickly and resort to talking about Tiwr proudly” – Nala
“Tiwr will also talk about Tiwr proudly.” – Berra

“She [Uleria Gatekeeper] flutters eyelashes and looks FASCINATED” – GM

“I’ll nod to whoever else is here, as long as it’s not Berra.” – Dormal

“Tiwr will snuffle her enquiringly” – Nala
“Yuk. She smells of sex WITH MALES.” – Berra channels Tiwr
“Also of sex with Females” – GM
“And possibly Inanimate objects” – GM

“No nibbling.” – Nala
“Believe me, I wouldn’t.” – Tiwr

“Here’s my new Axe. Its LOVEERLY. I love it so much. And I took up axe juggling. Look I can bounce it off Sid and round the corner and….oh…welll…that didn’t work so well.” – Rajar

“How much will it cost me to save your life?” – Irillo
“From what?” – Dormal
“You opening your mouth and Berra putting her sword in it.” – Irillo

“Kallyr has still not woken.” – Tennebris
“So who do I hit to get her back?” – Rajar

“Those who made Insight: Tennebris is clearly very well controlled. Also clearly terrified. When he says, ‘Her Highness,’ his tone softens just a little, eyes mist just a touch.” – GM
“Aaah, that’s adorable, but I’ll save that bit of information for later.” – Dormal
“This is my axe” – Rajar
“I’ll look around to see if anyone else has picked that up.” – Dormal
“Berra is, oddly enough, looking soft around the eyes.” – Berra
“I just can’t believe, based on my standing prejudices, that she could have empathy with anyone.” – Dormal
“It’s a lovely Axe. It’s got Storm Bull engraved on it.” – Rajar

“There is what you can do for Me – for Sartar…” – Tennebris
“The same thing, surely?” – Dormal
“No, the Prince is Sartar.” – Tennebris
*rolls eyes at Dormal* – Berra

“And there is what I can do for you.” – Tennebris
“We need no payment to serve Sartar!” – Berra
*glares from many people*

“Some of you have made a powerful enemy here.” – Tennebris
“Look at Rajar, look at my own feet, look at Tennebris. Grin.” – Berra

“It’s a long ride.” *<<High fives nala and serala>>* – Rajar
*smiles a bit* – Nala

“Nochet is not the closest city.” – Tennebris
“And you’re sending us away for the sake of our health. It’s warm down there.” – Berra
“I have heard the sea has healing properties.” – Tennebris

“If you wish, I can write a note to the boatman, of you can pay your way for fewer questions.” – Tennebris
“Fewer questions.” – Berra
“Questions are good.” – Nala?

“What the bearer has done has been at my orders, and for the good of the State…” – GM [Channelling Cardinal Richelieu/Charlton Heston]
“We should get one of those notes.” – Mellia

“Will you want a receipt for this?” – Berra
“No. I’m doing this out of my own pocket for the sake of Sartar.” – Tennebris

“Up to the temple to see the Duck.” – Berra
“I have to tell him I’m sorry, I can’t meditate.” – Berra

“Go buy some jerky.” – Rajar

“I move we get out of here as fast as possible” – Mellia
“That’s pretty much the motto of the whole campaign.”- GM

“Go tell Harmast that I’m off south to fight Chaos somewhere else for a bit. it’s complex. Leave my ransom here.” – Rajar

“Sid? We are traveling again. Do you want to come?” – Nala

“It’s polite to ask.” – Nala
*puzzled look* – Sid
“Scuse Lady Nala… What is polite?” – Sid
( Um, how do I explain this? ) O o . – Nala
( Because I am not sure I know ) O o . – Nala

“This is not my fault!” – Mellia
“It’s not the fault of anyone here.” – Berra
“Well, it is the fault of some people here, for pissing him off and causing an massive internal vendetta.” – Dormal
“Venwhatnow?” – Rajar

“Oh, a thing! Her father just came into the hospital, today, for some serious treatment. You don’t currently know what.” – Berra(as Co-GM)
“It’ll only sting for a bit.” – Rajar

“Would you like me to look at your father?” – Mellia
“He is in the hands of Tiryn – she was much affected by Irillo’s persuasion. But I should tell you this too… Rastip escaped. My father was hurt, and there may be bandits that wish to hurt your friends.” – Jenn

“Right, now let’s start with the hair.” – Kalis to Nala
“My braids stay.” – Nala
“… … … I can work with that.” – Kalis

“Another Humakti Failure!” – Rajar
“As opposed to a Storm Bull failure, which is the same but much messier.” – Berra
“Storm Bull doesn’t fail, we just win differently.” – Rajar

“Is that a euphemism for…” – Serala

“Berra and Dormal up in a tree….” – Nala
“K.I.L.L.I.N.G.” – Berra

“…boat?” – Nala

“Sometimes his eyes go very large and he falls over.” – Nala
“The grass is sometimes slippery, OK?” – Rajar
“Like a fainting goat, but better.” – Berra

“We didn’t insult all the Humakti, we only insulted one.” – Berra
“But we started at the top.” – Nala

“You’re foreign barbarians.” – Dormal
“No, we’re foreign nomads.” – Nala
“That’s what I said.” – Dormal

“There are no Lunar bodies to loot on the way? This road is really going downhill.” – Nala
“That’s because we’re up a mountain.” – Berra
“We’re going down to the river, so yes.” – Dormal

“I’m going to get up and follow him! – Berra
“Good avoidance! – Nala

“Can I have a tick on honour for doing the right thing?” – Berra
“Because that hurt a bit.” – Berra
“No.” – GM

“They’re planning to build some more upper stories on several buildings in Wilmskirk so they can find sufficient stairs for Rastip to fall down on the way to the gallows.” – GM

“Snitches get suppurating wounds” – Rajar

“I still think we should get a kickstand for Billy.” – Nala

“Irillo looks crestfallen.” – GM
“Cheer up. Tell you what – to make up for not going there, I’ll give you a free caravan. Me, as a guard, for nothing, for a journey.” – Berra
“That seems to cheer him up.” – GM

“Ooooh, buffalo sirens.” – Nala
“Buffalo gals, won’t you come out tonight, come out tonight…?” – Nala

“Billy will need roll bars on the boat.” – Berra

“We’re going to need a bigger boat” – Nala

“Coming down the road are the… infan-twee.” – GM

“Ready my lance” – Rajar

“Look slightly disapointed.” – Rajar
“No, Rajar. They’re not enemies. They’re just short.” – Berra

“Rajar, you are indeed approached by a bejewelled, blue-cloaked duck, who offers you Quackie Quackie.” – GM
“Politely decline. Mostly because … a third of my size…” – Rajar
“Sellotape!” – Nala

“How tall is Sid?” – Nala
“Roughly Duck sized” – GM

“So it’s a wheely big bag.” – Nala
“You’ve been waiting for that.” – Berra
“ALL NIGHT.” – Nala

“There’th been more… turnover lately.” – Humaktiduck
“… More bodies.” – Berra
“More Lunars. And then more bodies.” – Humaktiduck


“Berra watches the banks like a dog sticking its head out of the window. Just fascinated.” – Berra

“Sid, that’s the Shadow Plateau.” – Berra
“I know.” – Sid
“Come from Castle of Lead. Old master took me to Shadow Plateau. Found Argan Argar at Shadow Plateau.” – Sid

“Are you a Priest, Sid?” – Nala
“Initiate. Trollkin not be Priests.” – Sid
“Why not?” – Nala
“Trollkin have weak link to Gods… And mothers ashamed.” – Sid
*awkward silence* – everyone
“Awkward silence…” – Berra
“Very awkward silence.” – GM

“Fetch my Axe” – Rajar

“Fence. Keeping the waterway for the Prince.” – Nala

*sudden ecstatic look at the duck ambush* – Berra

“I’m doubting that someone could build a structure that big without help from the village.” – Dormal”
“You haven’t met Devolin before. He’s an artist.” – Berra

“I am so happy that Devolin turned up.” – Berra

“Hot, hot, hot….” – Nala

“Big, isn’t it?” – Berra
“Lots of people all together. Smells funny.” – Rajar
“It…isn’t RIGHT” – Nala

“I know where the Uroxi temples are.” – Berra
“Huzzzah.” – Rajar
“Uroxi templars?” – Dormal

“I…quietly want to go home.” – Nala

“And the Humakti battalion. I can show you. And you can find the beer.” – Berra
“Excellllllent.” – Rajar

*whispers to Rajar* “It would have gone better with Argrath, the whole thing.” – Nala

“I need blood in my hair!” – Tiwr
“We’ll get some beads or something, love.” – Nala

“So, throwing my router out the window is a thing, right?” – Nala

“I’m not having Tiwr do my hair!” – Nala
“He’s got Ignite!” – Dormal

“What Kalis did as a quick fumble, as it were…” – GM

“I’m going to ask Mellia what sort of contribution would be appropriate for the Temple.” – Berra

“We’re not going to do the whole Pygmalion thing in one day.” – Dormal
“The rain in Prax falls mainly on the Axe.” – Berra
“…The blood in Prax falls mainly from the Axe.” – Dormal
“By George, I think he’s got it!” – GM

“Trusssst me I’m Esrolian.” – Dormal
“….” – GM

Related Logs