The Brazier with the Hazia

S01 — Session 41

1626, Fire Season, Movement Week


Fire Season, Movement Week, Fireday to Wildday


Dramatis Personae

PC

Berra, when not NPCd
Dormal
Irillo
Mellia
Nala
Rajar

NPC

Xenofos
Varanis
Salid the Sniveller, Guardstrollkin
Tiwr the Magnificent
A troll trader
A trollkin who is not Salid
Twelve other trollkin who are also not Salid
Tarlyr, a passing passer by who was just passing
Jalnarion, a spearman
Falnin, a Storm Voice of Orlanth

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, Sonnets in Praise of Xenofos and The Sonnets to Mellia, Sweetest of Healers, White Lady of Esrolia. There will be reference to the Accounts of the Travels of Irillo Goldentongue. Editorial commentary will be recorded [thus]. The {“D”} voice appears.

[Good morning again, my adopted students. Professor Tomm sends his apologies, but his house has been picketed by Animal Rights protestors, following his response to previous attempts to arrive in time to teach you. Those of you who are wondering if I get paid for this may be relieved – I am here purely for pleasure but not ever for exposure. Again, Professor Tomm will be joining us by video link with his thoughts on the Accounts, Heroquesting, and Darkness.]

[We open in Wilmskirk, at the slave market, where Rajar is in a contemplative but profitable mood.]

When the winds of chance
Blow up the Creek-stream river
A sale is a sale
1Spurious Rajar:

Collared doves go coo
Collared slaves go ARGH a lot
Collard greens are nice

[But if that Praxian is taking the form of a thrall trader, where are our Praxian Thralls?]

Hatred seeps outward
A poison wind from my skin
Cloying the free Air

Had I only bone left
It would splinter itself now
Darts of hate can wound

{“A bribe, you say? Nonono, not in any way! We call it a tax.”}

[Here, let us pause and go to our Irillo expert for his reading of the Accounts, at a highly interesting point for our merchant. If you have time to ask him about the Beggar Prince Hypothesis, I advise you not to.]

[“Ah, thank you Professor Garin. Now, let us consider what the Accounts actually say about this.”}}

Net loss:

40 L to Rajar in Heroquest.
10L to Dark Troll ["Name is unfortunately illegible. Possibly 'Daystrider'? If so a boast-name."]
13 Thralls manumitted.

Net gains:
13 Thralls (trollkin). See above.
A suspicion that I am being taught a lesson. But what?

[“Now, this seems back to transactional, as of early Accounts, but there is that question at the end which clearly dates this, beyond even the merchants careful notation, to the later period of the Accounts. Was this part of his process from Merchant to Merchant-Hero? I leave that as an exercise for the reader…. and for, of course, your next essays. Back to you, Tanya.”]

[That’s Professor Garin to you. And, indeed, I’ll be looking at your essays on what lesson is being taught with some interest. In the mean time, we’ll take a look at the other thralls. Berra JarangsdottiHumaktisaga.]

Halter held heroine
Hand-tied in hate
Leather like lead
Laid on limits
Spitting struggled suddenly
Sandal sliced shin
Boot bruised buyer
Bloodied from bonds

{“I’m… really not sure who to cheer for. Genuinely torn.”}

[Obviously, parallels to the capture by Draznk Backbreaker there. leather like lead. But rather less obviously, while this is happening, there is another drama being played out. Xenofos has agreed to undertake a dangerous vision quest for Varanis, and to lead her through it in the hope of showing her how best to help her quest.]

Bold in knowledge and advice to give Varanis fair,
Wise Xenofos mixed Dreamroot with the element of Air,2Burning Dreamroot was said to be physically the safest but spiritually the most dangerous way of taking this volatile drug.
To lead Varanis from her body safely to a vision,
And bring her safely back again to help her in decision.

[Within the visions brought by Dreamroot smoke
The very soul within Varanis stirred and moved and woke.
Then straight she knew the path before her dipped below the sea,
And into that she must go bold for Light to rescued be.
]

[But oddly, The Sonnets to Mellia tell a different story. For once, a very different one, so much that this is sometimes considered out of the ordinary cycle.]

Seeing how the smoke of weakness overcame his mind,
Mellia spoke o’er Xenofos, with gentle words and kind.
Entreating him with powers by her goddess sent in care,
And purging of the poison sent by enemies of Air.

[Enemies of Air. The plot thickens. But now, as a special treat, back to Professor Tomm – for a salidstele. Professor, without invoking my name, are you there?]

,,Here Salid gathered his army. Bought and paid for. Freed by Irillo3 Transliterated as ‘Err-Ill-O’, or ‘Mistakes of sickness for none’ ,,

In Boldhome, Mellia had been working with Jaldis, who had kept her busy for a day, and then sent her off. Her friends had gone to Wilmskirk, so she set off after them. On the way she found several bandits hanging from trees, and realised that one of them was Rastip Stormborn, the kin-slayer from Greyrock Rise. Not knowing that the local custom was to leave bandits in the air as a warning to others, she built a pyre and burned them, meaning that she arrived late enough she stayed outside Wimskirk that night. She then had to go about looking for her friends.

In the morning of Freezeday, the Praxians went towards the market to be ready in case anything happened. Irillo found himself once more being pulled into a Heroquest, and so did everyone else. Rajar remembered to put the agreed-on dirt on his own face, and looked around at what he had. He recognised a war zebra as probably being Tiwr, and there was a tall warrior woman there as well, and some short stunty people. Dormal, in the shape of a Lunar patrolling soldier, looked in, and decided that this was a sting by one of the Lunars’ new allies4Fumbled Insight: Human. Eril bought them, and looked around for more, finding a small but vicious thrall who was tied up heavily. She fought as soon as he got close enough, inflicting damage on Irillo even though he was wearing armour in the Middle World, with a well aimed, powerful kick to the knee. She also wounded one of the Lunar soldiers after Eril had bought her, and he had to pay damages.

Rajar came out of the experience with a profit of 30L, after taxes. Irillo was down 40L, and had bought Nala, Tiwr, Berra, Salid, and an unidentified Trollkin. He searched around and found the owner, a Dark Troll within the pens, and bargained for several other Trollkin, on Dormal’s behalf. Mellia found the group, around this point. Irillo went to the Library with the Trollkin to have their manumission witnessed. Meanwhile, Salid tried to explain to them what freedom was, winding up with persuading them that Irillo was to be followed, and that nobody would eat them5With the possible exception of Rajar.. The group split up again, with the Trollkin following Rajar. As the inns were so close together they were able to put a plank over an alleyway between the compounds so the trollkin could scamper back and forth. Dormal returned what was left of his bolgs to the Temple of Argan Argar, to change it back into Lunars, paying the trollkin to act as porters, to their massive confusion.

Rajar bought food and drink for all of the trollkin, who ate some of the cutlery and made some into percussive instruments, to drum along with while they sang a surprisingly beautiful multi-part harmony about not being eaten, please.

Later that evening, those who were in private rooms in the inn heard a body falling above them. They ran upstairs to find Xenofos’ room full of smoke, with Varanis collapsed just inside. Irillo soaked his clothes in clearwine, which he was still carrying, to help make a purifying mixture of Water and Air, to help him breathe, and he pulled out Varanis. Dormal failed to haul Xenofos off his bed, but Berra arrived to help, and the two were carried downstairs and out into the courtyard to get Air into them. Rajar overheard and sent the Trollkins to check on who was around the place, and hauled in someone who was admiring the view, for questioning.

Varanis came round as water was poured on her to purify her, only to panic over the very concept of water and try to enlist everyone’s help to defeat it. Dormal attempted to convince her he was a sorceror, and had defeated water, only to be met with her not believing him, so instead he pretended he had been seen through and defeated. Not even Irillo or Berra would help Varanis plan to take on Magasta, but Nala volunteered to take Varanis to the Temple of Earth.

Nala and Rajar piled around to help out, and Mellia instructed everyone in how to treat the poison, which she had recognised as a mixture of Dreamroot and Hazia. Nala noticed someone who had been watching them now retreating, and went to intercept, stopping a spearman and demanding to know what they had been doing. He told her to get out of his way, as he was off to report the use of hazia. She refused, and also refused to fight him, so he went for her with his spear.

Rajar, who had followed when Nala slipped out, urged Billy to a charge, and almost killed the man, whom Tiwr then healed. Shortly thereafter a crowd gathered and a Storm Voice of Orlanth decreed that Xenofos had done an illegal thing, and there should be judgements over the attacks on each people within the town. Dormal, left alone with Xenofos, whispered nightmarish things about bad filing systems and ruined parchments. The group went to the Temple of Orlanth to sort out the cases against them. Rajar acted as a character witness for Nala, while Berra argued a case for Rajar. It was decreed that Nala had been in the wrong to get in the way of a free man of Sartar doing his duty, and she was to do a week’s service at a Temple of Air within the year. The man who had struck at her had not hit, so there had been no violence. Rajar was wrong to charge without warning, but right to strike to protect his friend, and he was charged 40 Lunars, but with a rebate because the healing by Tiwr had been instant, and so he only paid a tenth part of that. He considered not paying, but the man he had hit had shaken his hand, and it was very surprising to be able to apologise afterwards to someone he had hit, so he paid up.

Mellia took Xenofos to the hospital, telling Storm Voice Falnin that he would not leave, and in the morning took him on to Boldhome, with an escort of a couple of spearmen. Varanis woke and followed after the others to the CInder Fox Tula, after a quick conversation with Mellia before she left.

The stables are a peaceful place, with Tiwr wisely informing the Trollkin about how to select the best hay, and the Trollkin hunkering down in a small pile from which squeaks and grunts sometimes escape. At least two or three are awake at any time, usually the ones closest to the top. They are a surprisingly musical set, and one of them sings Zinat to sleep.

This whole village is about three giant clusters of houses, under thatch, and so the stables are under the same roof as most of the rest of the buildings, with the thrall house elsewhere. There is a big external door, but now there is a voice raised in song from through a small internal door, a foot shorter than Nala’s height.

It is a song of greeting, one she has heard here and there in Sartar, although she does not know the words. It is being sung flawlessly, by a man with a beautiful, rounded singing voice, and it sounds peaceful. The trollkin nudge and kick each other awake. One tries to join in with his gnawed drum, but he is quickly sat on by the others to silence him.

Nala sidles over to the small door, and bends to peer in

There is a corridor beyond, going left and right. Just bending to come through is the singer, a man of about her age with a big scar running over his right eye, puckering it almost closed. He has the brown henna tattoos of the nobility over his cheekbones, and his eyes are wide and startled to see someone so close. And, beyond mere coincidence, he looks like Eril. This could almost be the boy from the Heroquest. The hated face is there, the tall lean frame, the curled hair.

Nala sees the tattoos first, then she looks at the rest and sees a person. She jumps backwards in shock and clocks her head on the low ceiling. “OW!”

“Uh!” He did manage to keep up the song for a moment, but when Nala jumps the man does much the same, although he does not have the doorframe to contend with and comes off better.

“I’m sorry! Are you alright?” He comes into the stables just as Tiwr pushes forward to check, and his horn brushes against Nala and takes away the pain.

Tall and thin, unarmoured, scarred. The man stares at Nala, barely sparing a gaze for the Unicorn.

This is a human, not something sensible like a pack of hostile shadowcats. Nala has no skill in this. “Um. Yes. Sorry.”

“I didn’t mean to scare you. I was practicing.” He takes a slow breath to steady himself, for a moment looking like Eril. Without the worry on his features the resemblance is stronger. It fades after a moment as he adds, “Um, I heard wolves.”

Then he spots the trollkin and stares again, but this time at them.

Nala laughs a bit, gesturing at the thirteen trollkin, the unicorn, herself, the unicorn, the wolf. “The Enlo, except for Salid, are new. The rest of us are pack.” At the word “pack,” Zinat comes up to Nala mournfully, because first she will defend Nala and maybe this man will understood how MORTALLY WOUNDED AND OWIE Zinat is. Nala kneels swiftly to embrace the wolf. “No, Zinat. Enough getting in the way of strangers.

“I think you heard the Enlo singing.”

The Enlo, right on cue, hum the same note. The boy who is not Eril blinks. “Uh, you’re in the wrong key,” he tells them. “You want ha-sora-fra as your first notes. If you’re singing welcome.” The trollkin, on a word from Salid, troop out and stand in a huddled group.

Not-Eril continues to stare at them. “That is a lot of Enlo.”

“Salid is their leader and protector.” She repeats this in Darktongue, and then has no idea what to say.

Salid nods. “Freed at Wilmskirk,” he says. Not-Eril nods. “Welcome strangers to my home,” he says after a moment. “I am Venlar, son of Silor. You are under my father’s hospitality.” As confidence returns to him, he stands straighter, but his face shows a smile that would never appear on Eril’s features. There is no malice in it.

(Does not compute…) “Um. Zinat thinks I think that the new freed Enlo are her puppies. She has always been fond of Salid. So when the cats bit her I brought her here so she could have a fuss made.”

“I’ve never met a wolf before,” Venlar says in a quiet, even voice. It’s a perfect voice for not scaring animals or Enlo. “We’re an Alynx Tula. Have you everything you need here?” His diction and his noble accent are familiar, precise, made strange by having warmth in them.

Nala is bad enough with humans without her brain giving her mixed signals. She is coping by staring at Venlar’s left big toe. Having learned the Enlos’ names in Wilmskirk, she introduces them, then says awkwardly. “We’re used to the stables, thanks.”

“And I suppose if they are free, then they have no place in the Thrall House,” he replies, agreeably. “Then… I’ll stop disturbing you. Thank you for healing her, Unicorn. I would like to meet you all when there is not a feast to come.” He bows to everyone, even – after a moment of confusion – managing Salid and a gesture to the Enlo Huddle. They take it as some kind of signal and start on a version of the Song of Welcome, to Venlar’s obvious joy. His laugh is happy, spontaneous, and generous.

Nala stands awkwardly as a wallflower, limbs suddenly feeling much longer. She tries to huddle into a corner and not be obvious. Sadly for her, she’s six four, cha 40, and has a wolf and a unicorn.

Venlar gives Nala a nervous but genuine-looking smile, and heads for the door himself. This time, he fails to take into account his own height, and there is a thud, and an ‘ow!’. He leans against the wall on the other side of the far corridor, making the sounds of someone swearing under his breath.

Tiwr does not attempt to get to him to heal him.

Nala tries very hard not giggle. “imitation is the sincerest form, and all that. I thought I’d done that so you wouldn’t have to. Tiwr, my love, would you, please? It’s already turning blue. Um. The bruise. Not the air. I mean. Um.” She talks herself into awkwardness again.

Tiwr mutters, quietly for a unicorn, “I don’t like him,” but he steps forwards to look under the door. “Step forward? There…”

“Thank you,” says Venlar, prompt and polite. “But I was getting out of your way, so I’ll continue doing that.”

Tiwr backs up, and says, “He’s gone. I don’t like him.”

“It’s like someone pulled Berra’s high sword backwards and inside out through time. He’s very like what I saw in the quest. I don’t know what to think. My brain was shouting sixteen different things at once and I was trying to be polite and not fall over or vomit or anything.”

Nala’s voice is quiet as she can make it

“He looks like Eril. I’m waiting for him to act like it.” Tiwr head-shakes, and stamps a foot. “Any moment now.”

“I don’t think Eril’s ever laughed in his life. That was really weird.”

“Just ignore it. Eril was a colt some time too, I suppose. That one will stop laughing and start insulting people easily enough.”

“Nala switches to Praxian. “I saw him as a young man. That’s what I’m saying. I saw Eril young and old and all at once. He was still a shithead. Maybe all the shitheadedness in his family concentrated in him so the rest could be normal people. Maybe he’s the one we are going to have to fight in the swamp and lose to.. That would make a weird sort of sense.”

Tiwr nods in the way unicorns do – a shake of the head that is not a full head-shake. “I didn’t hear that part, but the sounds bounce strangely in here. I think it’s all one house inside. Which is why it’s dark, which must be why he banged his head.”

Nala leans on Tiwr and puts her head on his neck. She knows better than to try to get a last word.


“Check my chicken wagon.” – Rajar

“You wouldn’t call it a Great-Axe. It’s more of an okay axe.” – GM

“There are a lot of Lunars about.” – GM to Rajar
“Easy chewie…” – Dormal

“The Zebra mutters, ‘This is undignified,’ quietly.” – GM

“Rajar.” – Rajar
“I think you know my name.” – Irillo, trying to be discreet

“SO MUCH HAET” – Nala
“I shall look at the guard with hate. Equal opportunity haet here.” – Nala

“The guard has a couple of other guards behind him.” – GM
“And about 20,000 soldiers behind those.” – GM

“If I fell into a horse trough, would that soften the collar enough?” – Nala
“I assume my nails are already broken.” – Nala
“Lasted for generations that collar has, my father used it on my mother and granny on granpa.” – Rajar

“Sotto voce unicorn voice: I am worth twice that!” – GM
“Sotto voce: You are priceless, love, and you know it.” – Nala

“Mother, father, lovely little children. I’d hate to break up a family unit. Please ignore the different species.” – Rajar

“Eye the back of Erillo’s knee thoughtfully.” – Nala

“The warrior has just enough slack in the bonds to kick you. Roll Dodge, please?” – GM
“That’s a no.” – Irillo

“I’d better catch up with them before they get badly hurt.” – Mellia
“Hurry up so I can badly hurt Irillo! – Nala

“The Great Warrior of Issaries, Lord of War!” – Irillo

“Weevil biscuits! lawful weevil!” – Nala

“Eril and the Munchkins.” – Rajar
“Trollow the yellow brick road” – Nala

“Lots of trollkin aspire to be slaves. Rather than, you know, food.” – Rajar

“Rajar philosophy :- Buy lots of food and drink and make friends. Before you kill everyone by accident” – Rajar

“I don’t think Eril really groks ‘happy’.” – Rajar

“One of the Trollkin wants to know if you will kick him and give him more bolgs, instead of just giving him bolgs and not kicking him.” – GK

“The trollkins are eating the food… and the spoons. One is gnawing on his bowl.” – GM

“I’ll have a pint” – Irillo
“Of clearwine. You need it.” – GM
“Uhuh.” – Irillo

“Well, I didn’t sell your cousin. You can thank me later.” – Nala

“Wings of Dragon or wings of Bat. Neither is right. Should the relics see daylight. If I could make sure they would be hidden forever I would, but can we take risk they resurface in wrong hands? The wings. Erillo is silvery. Is that Moonglow or pyres of Bolddhome? Harsalter, separated. Andrin, separated. Jarang, separated. Farnan, separated. Saronil, separated….” – Xenofos
“Seriously, even when he has a trip, he’s boring!” – Dormal

“What’s got into them?” – Mellia
“Dreamroot, mostly.”- Dormal.

“Do you think it would be bad… no…” – Irillo
“Well you have to ask the question now.” – Dormal

“That’s a very disappointing 14 points of damage.” – Rajar

“Dormal soothing a hallucinating Xenophos: ‘ooOOOoooOOOoo badly written records… poorly kept ledgers…'” – Dormal

“Right now, he’s your patient. You could tell them you’re taking him to the Great Hospital in Nochet and there’s nothing they can do.” – GM
“I am tempted to send him to the Great Hospital in Nochet too…” – Mellia

“Why were you carrying a spear in town, then?” – Nala
“Because this is Sartar.” – many people

“Which gives me a 20 on Orate… which makes it 35…” – Rajar

“He’s been smoking Dreamroot, too.” – GM
“Is that illegal?” – Dormal
“No, it is just very very stupid.” – GM

“Poison and insight.” – Irillo
“Um… treat poison, obviously.” – Irillo

“Mellia – could you tell him [Xenofos] when he recovers – I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed.” – Dormal
“I, on the other hand, am both angry AND disappointed.” – Mellia

“That was new levels of Esrolian stupid.” – Nala

“I was just checking on my cousin and then the water was attacking me.” – Varanis

“We are already on a quest and a half and we need to start another quest and lose it?” – Dormal

“I want to be there!” – Varanis
“You’re not there, Varanis. Marshes have water, anyhow.” – GM