Those Fearless Vampire Hunters

S01 — Session 39

1626, Fire Season, Movement Week


Fire Season, Movement Week, Freezeday to Clayday

Dramatis Personae

PC

Berra, when not NPCd
Dormal
Finarvi
Irillo
Mellia
Nala
Rajar
Serala
Varanis
Xenofos

NPC

Berra Jarang’s Daughter (not Jarangsdottir) when not being a PC
Rondrik, innkeeper at the White Grape
Tiwr
A crate of chickens worthy of Storm Bull’s soup
Jaldis

NPC (but in the past)

Almost certainly Eril
Some other chickens
An initiate of Chalana Arroy, exhausted by healing, who bears a curious resemblence to Jaldis

Events

As before, the log will be recounted with extracts from Berra JarangsdottiHumaktisaga, NalaTiwrSaga and The Lay of Serala, Lance of the Cold Sun, the Lays of Finarvi, and The Death of Rajar. As with last time there will be extracts from the 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.

[Dr Tomm will be joining us once more by video link, as it appears rubber car tyres are not immune to the outbreak of Palmetanised Ants which were in the area, nor indeed was any other non-ferrous part of his car.]

[We will start with Nala-Tiwr, and the strangeness within meditation.]

The earth moves, quakes not
Blood runs as water, feeds her
Patience lies beneath

So dark and so cold
And so patient and patient
Waiting forever

Coldness is cruelty
Darkness below the water
Darkness in Boldhome

[No record of the Unicorn’s reaction seems to have come down to us. But we do have another odd non-reaction. Berra would be expected to react to vampires, as indeed would Varanis, given the urge of the Humakti to fight such things, and of the Orlanthi to protect their flock.]

Veered Vareena Valiant
From vampire hunt
D’Val Dagger dismissed
Death-dregs devising
Brave belief-balm
Belying blood-breather

[It seems, although little else mentions it, that there was a rumour of a vampire, ignored or tested and found wanting. But meanwhile, someone not found wanting, when the call comes. The Lay of Serala, Lance of the Cold Sun.]

She stay’d in Boldhome as a guard and guide,
To keep Irillo on the course that he did ride,
Advising him that he could find the Ladies’ outpost high,
Its place unlocked by order of Yelmalio of the Sky.
And then as equals came a servant of the Feathered Queen
To bow low to Serala who saw him with eyes hawk-keen,
And showed respect as any do who know the Feathered Horse.
T’was then arranged the meeting that would alter history’s course!

[Those of you who have read ahead, know. As for the rest, I don’t care about spoilers. Read ahead. Now, moving onward as swiftly as the hooves of a grazelander escaping a city…]

{“On a stolen horse.”}

[The companion of Serala, Finarvi. This time, not a Lunar.]

Red Smith within the tale they tell of Eril Sambar's woe
He found the wagon that would bear the Cross of Death1Literally two Death Runes together, in the original below
And bore the weight of Lunar hate as soldiers found his den
And begged release and felt the peace of Death come on him then.

[Which is, oddly enough, not mentioned in the Accounts… at least not at that point. There are certain hints of what could be murder, regret over deaths caused, or cold-blooded killing of allies – but on the death of the Redsmith who helped him, Eril and Irillo have no comment.]

[We have little from The Death of Rajar, although our not-yet-dead hero will most certainly star in the near future, for Eril’s journey is not without violence, and where there is violence, we will find Rajar. But, let us not forget we also find him where there is peace.]

White Lady Temple
Foundations are strong, set deep
Holds patience2The patients/patience pun works in the original. The use of ‘patience’ would indicate some importance is given to Darkness here, perhaps mercy holding cruelty in check. tightly
3Spurious Rajar has it:

It was the one time.
So why is my eke-name now
Small Chicken-choker?

[This week lacks any significant Sonnets to Varanis but I draw your attention to the Vareena of Sartar instead – look it up. It’s not on the syllabus and if you don’t know it, you’re missing out.4Here is a sample verse:

Blade-bearer’s face dripped – bright battle sweat.
Hardened Hand of Humakt – into hidden healer’s hall,
Seeking sweet solace. –
Sanguine Vareena,
Ring rich noble, – rested red rapier.
Wise in the ways – of wound binding,
Offered all aid – as healer’s assistant.



What we do have is Xenofos and Mellia in two very different parts. Mellia continues to be a healer in any guise, reference to her strength of character.]

Within the lofty hall5Probably a literal loft-hall. of Boldhome’s troubled past
Sweet Mellia found herself as healer first and ever last,
As swift to find those needing help as e’er the Goddess be;
As slow to them abandon as the Storm Bull is to flee.
In bravery unbidden save by love within her heart
In Heroquest and Middle World sweet Mellia plied her art.

Wise Xenofos came from the Temple of the Written Word
To tell to stout6Here, ‘brave-hearted’ as well as the usual overtones of the successful merchant. Irillo what was read and had been heard; How Eril was a Sambar, who in Wilmskirk made his name,
Initiate of Humakt before threat of Lunars came.

[And over to the video link for our Accounts.]

(Tommy, are you there?)

[“I am, thank you. Now, as we know, Irillo is drawn from his usual financial focus in this element, and we find him in thoughtful mood.”]

"Lost Chalana Arroy Hospital. Does the service hallow the place? Does the same for trading outside a Market? Where does Jaldis fit into this past?"

[“Later, we find him thinking more.”]

Sacrifices for expedience. A poor reward for aid.
At the gate, Truth gives way to Harmony.

[“These have been greatly debated. Perhaps people might suggest interpretations. Now we find him asking the question here, which others must have on their minds. “]

What profits him, in these things being lost?


Nala had been meditating in the Earth Temple, and could feel something strange and dark around and especially beneath her, as Clayday began. Looking for it within the city, she found Berra, and they talked a little about the Darkness Rune.

Irillo and Rajar were joined by many others as they looked for the old site of a Chalana Arroy outpost, set up to heal Sartarites because the Lunars were hogging the main Temple. Irillo finally found it by walking around enough, and people fell into the Heroquest. Rajar found himself on guard, while Varanis and Xenofos followed Irillo into the loft hospital. Serala, on guard outside, found herself tapped on the shoulder by a Grazelander who called himself a representative of the emissary of the Feathered Horse Queen, and arranged a meeting with her the next day.

Irillo, as Eril, was healed after some time, as he needed magic to ensure he had no scars after scraping off his distinctive Clan tattoos. It helped that his companions applied first aid and healing magic to the rest of the patients. Shortly after that he walked, still in a heroquest, to the market to find a merchant who could help him out of town, and when he woke – still up by the old hospital site – he knew what the relics were that Eril had taken with him.

Mellia had a curious dream in which she was in a hospital, in a loft, healing someone who looked like Eril…

And then people returned to the White Grape, rounding up those who had not been there. Xenofos and Berra revealed that Eril had been initiated at Wilmskirk, and was probably a high-ranking Sambari nobleman, but they had not found out his Clan. It was decided that Mellia was heroquesting in her apparent dream state, and she went with Varanis and Rajar to the Temple of Chalana Arroy to ask about the healer known as Red-robes after the state of her white clothing. This went pretty well for Rajar, who found people happy to talk to a Storm Bull who was not causing trouble and could help hold down patients for difficult operations. It went very badly for Varanis, who recognised Jaldis as the younger initiate from the loft, while Jaldis was asking Mellia pointed questions about the difference between hiding in cowardice, and being safe to be able to help others. Varanis accused Jaldis of lying, and was asked to leave, with Rajar escorting her to the door. Jaldis mentioned to Mellia that the woman who had created the illegal outpost was now dead.

Jaldis talked to Mellia over the midnight shift, underlining her own thinking about staying safe and helping many. Also overnight, Irillo was plagued by fragmentary dreams, about disguise, escape, and how to stop people from being captured. He talked them over with Dormal and they agreed to go to the gates after Dawn and see what if any Quest happened there. With most of the others, they attended, and found that Eril had been there too…

Irillo was pulled into the Heroquest once more, with some slightly jumbled memories of having talked to a young entertainer. The entertainer, Roka, was played by Dormal. She was good at disguise and had helped him look less obviously like a young noble. Others played guards. Berra was carried away by events and found herself drawn to the wagon that one of Eril’s hirelings was using to drive the wooden cross of the Household of Death out of the city. Mellia, also in attendance, found herself reacting to the wagon far more strongly than she ever did even to the Temple of Humakt.

Xenofos and Nala managed to persuade Berra not to search the wagon too hard, and it got out of Boldhome, to meet Eril, who started to allow himself to think about the next steps. Irillo could therefore begin to remember them. Everyone went back to the White Grape.

Serala, meanwhile, went to meet the emissary of the Feathered Horse Queen, along with Finarvi and Varanis, as escorts.

Roka comes bustling along to the alleyway and brings a ladder with her, a few minutes after Dormal gets there. She props it where it would be hard to push over for the delicate task of pulling herself up it.

Dormal climbs up to the roof, pulls the ladder up.

“Good news and bad news,” she says. “Maybe the same news.”

It looks like the same ladder as before, presumably hidden somewhere nearby.

“Did you get what you needed?” asks Dormal.

Roka replies, “I got what you got. A stone thrown into a crow-roost. My best source says the spy is not one of his people, but something about Sambari tattoos. Did you get what you wanted?”

“Not as much as I’d hoped. And since rat-face gave the secret of the quest to the thane, she let the Humakti in, which is going to cause problems when she talks to her temple… Still haven’t tracked down the goods. That’s going to be tricky, the thane’s men are all over it. I’ll try and get you word before they get to it if I can, but…”

“Rat-face got that much? Damn. I wonder if the letters got intercepted. My ally and I don’t meet. But yes, you do that. Goods, and money.” Roka squints thoughtfully at her hands. “How can we stop a Humakti from blabbing?”

“Pretty hard really. If she thought there were Lunars in the town she might be distracted for a bit. Short of that… got a spare Zorak Zorani deathlord stashed way somewhere?”

“No… but would it endanger her friends if she told people? Maybe for their sake she should keep quiet until she knows more.” Roka frowns again. “I don’t think I could arrange a Death Lord.”

“She doesn’t give a counterfeit bolg about endangering her friends, and she’d probably try to pin it all on me anyway, and she definitely doesn’t worry about that.”

“Tricky then,” Roka agrees.

“So if you’re going to make a move… do it before he gets back and make yourself extra scarce when he does. Although… only one Lhankor initiate knows about the falsified record in the temple. If they found out that had happened… I don’t know that it would be enough, but it might cause some havoc.”

Roka grins, crookedly. “He’ll be back when the others are. As a hero again, I’m sure. I need to be ready when he does. Falsified records is good. I’ll add it to the list. I should make a list.”

“Do you know how much time he had between the fall of the temple and finding you? He’d either hidden the goods already, or that’s the last time he can have done it, right?”

“Well, as much time as I had. About a week. But he came back. It’s complicated and I think he was lying to me. Or this young girl he found to help him. A dancer, she was, as I recall.”

“Remember anything else about her? Also, rat face. Was he one of yours? Is he still?”

Roka gives Dormal an odd look. “She got swept away. And there was a war just finishing. We all had to do hard things to survive.” But then she shrugs. “I have an idea about rat-face. I don’t meet my ally. We got runners that meet. If he’s been reading – if he can read – that would explain a lot. So I’ll keep him on running for a bit, but maybe high on some rooftops where it’s windy in case I need an accident.”

“Either he can read, badly, or he knows someone who can and he’s got a good memory.”

“Eh?”

“Slip him a bit of fake info in the next message. Something juicy. See if he goes for it.”

“Yes, I know. Don’t worry about that – unless you got suggestions. I’ll think of something.” Roka smirks.

“In fact, rush back now all excited like and send a message to your ally saying you found the treasure, and give some unlikely and hard-to-get-to location. But include some hint to your ally so they know it’s fake. Maybe mention a conversation, face to face, that you never had. That should flush out rat-face and anyone running him.”

Roka’s eyes narrow as she thinks that out. “Yeaaaah. Time to get moving, I think. Any face in the other face? Your death-cult girl?” She seems to be looking for suggestions of who she might have been talking to. And the way she talks is sometimes genuinely weird. Her mind makes odd connections, or she just thinks she’s making sense.

“No, best not to touch that one. You don’t want her any more drawn in than she already is.”

Roka looks like she is turning things over in her mind, head tilted to one side.

“Just mention your meeting with your ally someplace neither of you have ever been, but which is plausible. Hmm… there’s an Aldrya shrine South of Wilmskirk. Say you talked there. Everyone and their dog already uses that place as a dead letter drop anyway.”

“I can do this, oh breaker of bonds,” Roka replies. “Just thinking through the other nuts to put under the hammer.”



(Later, Dormal finds himself briefly playing Roka (or someone like her, with the same name) in the very Heroquest that Eril is in. Eril is a perfect gentleman and he pays Roka to help disguise him to get him out of the city. Amusingly, she tricks him by laying an illusion on someone she knows to be Truthful, although he would probably not find that funny.)

++++ Notable Moments and Quotes


“Enchanted Lunar circular biting Chicken of DOOOOM” – Rajar

“Yes let’s be stealthy. Let me fetch the smaller marching band.” – Rajar

“first aid 15… not offering first aid, maybe water to thirsty people with stomach wounds.” – Xenofos

“That’s quite a lot of awesome horse.” – GM
“Can I steal it?” – Serala

“Haladeen – from the Feathered Horse Queen.” – GM

“For a second, I thought you said ‘Royal paddles'” – Varanis
“Is that a Euphemism?” – Irillo

“You’re going to make them be up at dawn?” – Varanis

“Wait Irillo has a moon rune?” – Dormal
“Yeah… apparently.” – Varanis
“Does anyone here not have a Moon Rune?” – Dormal
@@*@@frantic waving@@*@@ – Varanis

“You are at the market. There are many fine merchants. Some of them seem to be selling axes and chickens.” – GM
“Do the chickens wield axes?” – Finarvi
“MURDER CHICKENS I TELL YOU. ALL AXES ARE FOR MURDERING CHICKEN!” – Rajar

“(( if there are Duck Swords why not chicken axes… ))” – Xenofos

@@*@@fails Acting roll and does Dick van Dyke accent@@*@@ – Irillo
“Make me an omelette with a dozen eggs.” – GM

“You’ve come to a red smith stall for some wheels? When did you hit the wine this morning?” – Finarvi

“Rajar grabs his axe! And then looks at Dormal.” – Rajar

“Are you sure we didn’t do it? Sometimes I wake up covered in blood.” – Rajar

“I drained him of blood… And left the body for someone to find.” – Dormal
“Rajar, he’s being sarcastic.” – Irillo

“If someone is guiding the quest, could they be using blood to do it?” – Finarvi
“Yes.” – Dormal

“Is it possible for you to NOT call on your holy rage?” – Dormal
“Oh yes.” – Rajar
“Good, because, how shall I put this…. we want to kill fewer people than the vampires would have.” – Dormal

“I can walk. Or run.” – Berra
“Can you reach the inn faster than us?” – Finarvi
“In the dark? In these streets? Depends how fast you take those cobblestones… Let’s walk.” – Berra

“mutter mutter interbred Esrolians mutter” – Serala

“((The night they burned old boldhome down…))” – Xenofos
“((And all the bells were ringing))” – Nala

“Rajar’s drinking beer and somehow whistling too.” – Rajar
“He looks amazingly nonchalant.” – GM

“We’re really focused on this, but there’s also a vampire. And hunting down the vampire is the honourable thing to do.” – Varanis
“We think there’s a vampire. Finding out the truth is the first thing to do. Then we worry about hunting it down.” – Serala
“Alleged vampire.” – Dormal

“If there is a vampire here we shall find them or they shall find us. we are heroes. These things are drawn to heroes like flies to shit.” – Rajar

“How did people determine the body was drained of blood, anyway?” – Finarvi
“They held a glass under the wound and waited a bit to see if it filled? :smiley:” – Serala
“((Trying to make black pudding))” – Irillo

“Varanis, we’d discussed acting before thinking before…” – Serala

“Rajar drinks. If they want to fight us there will be a scream soon. <listens>” – Rajar

“He was a very bad member of the Household of Death, then, as he didn’t die with them.” – Nala
“No, they cast me out… they cast HIM out.” – Irillo
“Berra looks sad.” – GM

“I’ll let D’Val know.” – Berra
“((Heroically resists temptation to say, ‘You just Duck out and tell him’))” – Irillo

“I shall be investigate Rondrick’s wine cellar” – Irillo
“Cellar? Back room. And small bonded warehouse.” – GM

“I felt a great disturbance in the force.” – Dormal
“As if someone went on a diplomatic mission. And then Made Friends.” – Dormal
“And Influenced People….” – Serala

“Personal honor code? LIke mutable truth…” @@*@mutter@@*@@ – Xenofos

“Honour is a feather, an axe to the head is heavy.” – Rajar

“My current working theory – and it’s a bit of a reach – it’s that my god thinks I have something to learn from him.” – Irillo

“I can’t see much of his plan. He won’t let himself think far ahead.” – Irillo
“Perhaps his mind shattered under the strain.” – Dormal
“No, I think he knows that Lhankor Mhy could see inside minds.” – Irillo

“(casual strolling armoured to the gates… not looking suspicious at all)” – Xenofos