Black Duck Down

S02 — Session 17

1626, Earth Season, Movement Week, around Fire Day to Illusion Week, around Freeze Day

Dramatis Personae




Lord Kesten Hulta
Many other Humakti
A Duck


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.

“Ah, good afternoon. As you can see, I have returned, despite any attempts of forces of Gods, man and Nature to the contrary!

I have been reading your essays, and I can say it is none too soon! Let us get started forthwith, with the The Sonnets to Mellia, Sweetest of Healers, White Lady of Esrolia. “

All conspired to thwart her true love’s dream
Both Pirate iron and <two words lost here, presumably 4 syllables> Scheme
Harrek’s kin1 There is no textual evidence that Harrek was a Duck elsewhere, so it must be presumed the kinship is adopted, rather than we should radically re-evaluate our understanding of the Berserker. and obsid’ian blade of down
Preventing nuptual band from reaching town.

With ransom note, sweet Mell’ia felt bereft
For White Priests2 This is clearly for poetic benefit, as Mellia does not appear to have been a priest at this time. gift, with nothing selfish left
To Gen’rous kin, she straightways then appealed
To give their aid, for all the ills she’d healed.

“Does this suggest a White Lady appealed for the application of extreme violence? This seems outside our understanding of both the social mores of the time, and our previous experience of Mellia. What other explanation do we have? A question for your next essays, perhaps? It would appear that her next visit was to the House of Humakt.”

White Woman Walks
Within Warriors hall
D’Vals Dagger dilligent
Dung dispatching

Humble handiwork for Humakt’s
Hardworking Handmaid.
Seeing Sweet Salvor3 Suggesting one who makes ointments, or metaphorically one who ‘smooths things’.
Speaking softly

“Brave Berra, bandits
Bind my bridefolk
Help their hazards and heal
Harm to my Hopes!”

“Now, obviously, here we are seeing what? Yes! That is correct! An inversion in the normal pattern. Mellia suggesting harm and appealing to Berra to heal. This is a trope which is often invoked when the Duck figure is appearing, so at this point could be seen as a prefiguration. A thousand words on the Duck as a precursor to ‘Mystero Buffo’, perhaps? Now, we might also constructively divert a bit at some point on the subject of the Duck, and whether it is meant literally, as a metaphor for a particular type of person, or some figure now lost to our ken.”

“Continuing, after what appears to be a slight gap in the manuscript, we find this discussion in the Lay of Xenofos, a lesser known work, which is often felt to be apocryphal.”

Before the lofty hall of Humakt tiled
With baked clay tablets such that any child
Could walk upon them with @@[[sic]]@@ harm to feet
And look about the Gods most lofty seat

And see the carvings in the antique kind
Which bring’s the works of <text lost> to the mind
And the statues with the gold…

“Actually, I’m going to skip a bit more about the architecture here.”

And thus without hot ire and manner mild
Lord Kesten faced the Sartar swift sword child
Their combat was the sort which tales are told
And those who watch’d recalled when they were old

That never thus was combat fought twixt foe
Who viewed the thought of victory with woe.
And Berra struck the blow that won the day
And thus for angers words did Kesten Pay.

Dormal had a quick talk with Grandmother, who sympathised with his capture and asked how he was. Dormal said he was fine, but Grandmother suggested that he take his friends to Rhigos and try to find a certain little gem.

House Saiciae received an invitation to send a select group of representatives to Lord Rillo Hulta’s funeral. At this point in time, it remains unclear as to how Grandmother replied. That is her business after all.

Xenofos visited the Great Library, carrying the message from Jaldis to the Chief Priest. Although a functionary attempted to prevent his visit, Xenofos decided that his message would wait no longer. He entered the Chief Priest’s sanctum unannounced and caught an eyeful. There was a lovely young woman with a silky beard sitting in the Priest’s lap. She beat a hasty retreat and Xenofos delivered the message despite the ire of the man he had interrupted. He also made certain to explain why the message had been delayed.

Someone brought Mellia a ransom note. Venlar read it to her. It said that the Blue Tree delegation was delayed and would be released for the measly sum of ‘3000 Lunars. Muahahahahaha.’ It was signed with the mark of the Black Feather.’ Mellia had no money, and went to find her Clan kinsfolk.

Mellia went to Berra first, at the temple, and told her this. Berra was scrubbing latrines with a tiny brush, and seemed oddly cheerful. Berra took the news surprisingly well, and told Mellia to go let Rajar know. She then went to look for Kesten, who was in the Temple, and told him she had heard from the Black Feather. He told her what he knew of the Black Feather, which was that he was a pirate with a galley of 2 tiers of oars. He asked her to bring Xenofos along that evening. Berra went to ask that, and Xenofos was at the house.

Mellia came back to House Saiciae and spoke to Varanis. They agreed that she would also seek out Rajar and Dormal, while Varanis would speak to Xenofos, Irillo, and Nala. Xenofos was easy enough to find, Irillo was at the Great Hospital and generally unavailable. Nala was discoverable and agreed to help, after discussing with Berra about when they were leaving for Prax and when they were going to do that thing.

Mellia found Dormal who asked immediately if it was definitely the case that the party had been taken, and suggested sending off for proof of it, while waiting.

Dormal arranged a series of watches on the Temple of Dormal. Varanis proved entirely ineffective and very highly polished in watching, but during Dormal’s turn, he observed a rather un-nautical-looking sailor in full bronze armour leave the temple. Dormal tracked him to a boat and sent a message back to House Saiciae.

Nala went to the docks to locate Tightbeak and attempt to arrange passage via the reed boats again. While he initially seemed pleased to see her again, he beat a rapid retreat when she mentioned needing his help to go looking for Black Feather. Tiwr rather beautifully intercepted his escape by jumping over him and landing in front, but it was painfully obvious that Tightbeak would not be of assistance this time. He did let Nala know where the Black Feathered one’s island was, and it matched with the place chosen for the ransom demand.

As rescue plans were being formulated, Dormal let Grandmother know what was going on. Grandmother informed him that she would cover the costs of the ransoms. She implied that it might be less costly in the long run than having our party handle the rescue, and gave him a draft on the Issarians for the sum.

At the Temple of Humakt, Agri met Xenofos and Berra at the entrance, and said there had been a change of plan, suggesting a first blood duel, about now-ish, in the practice yard. Berra was happy to agree with this, and managed to only talk over the negotiation once or twice, then went off to fight Kesten. He already had the area staked out, and there was an audience of very knowledgeable warriors there. Xenofos put forward the rules; to first blood or submission, no magic cast by or from anyone outside the circle – and they stepped in to fight. Kesten used Disruption, presumably in the hope of sparking a nosebleed or a fall that would draw blood. Berra was hurt but no blood flowed. At the same time, Berra cast Protection… on Kesten. It bounced off his spirit, as she did not have the power to enforce it. Berra managed to heal herself most of the way, while they were fighting.

After a few back and forth blows were traded, Berra cut Kesten on his left hand, and he stopped his sword mid-strike and owned himself beaten. They went for a drink.

Kesten said he had not had latrine duty, but that Lord Rillo had died, and this time it was not suspicious. Berra opined it was fine as long as it was quick, and Kesten agreed with that, saying he was sure there was little pain, only to run into Berra making a comment about needing a very good executioner. He entirely deadpanned the next few moments, and changed the subject, saying he had some idea of what had happened to Rillo the first time, and they should deal with their current matter then come back and talk to him at the House, or hear his Testament at the Temple. They bade him farewell and went back to the house.

Our heroes took Grandmother’s change of plans in stride and shifted from rescue mode to ransom mode. There was a little discussion of whether to change up the tablet from Grandmother into cash, but Dormal realised it was insurance of a sort, as it could be cancelled if the ransom party did not return. It was pretty obvious to Varanis, and a few others, that it would give Grandmother a serious lever to use in negotiations. In reply to Xenofos’ worry that the pirates might not trust this, Dormal pointed out that the House of Saiciae had to keep its word. Berra noted that it would probably be given in trade to an honest trader, who would cause a lot of trouble if the thing were cancelled.

Xenofos wrote a response to the ransom demand, using firm strokes with his stiff Esrolian stylus, and nearly getting into a linguist’s war with Venlar. Varanis and her shiny armour returned to watching the Temple of Dormal, and this time she looked up from contemplating a possible smudge on her armour in time to see the priest (or Initiate?) of Dormal before he was directly under her nose. The priest led her into the Temple to hand off a note and a small bag that was the reply to Xenofos’ request for proof of life.

Returning to House Saiciae, Varanis showed the tablet to Xenofos and the gathered party. The satchel contained a signet and a finger, confirming that Black Feather did indeed have possession of the Blue Tree clansfolk. They sent off to agree to demands and say there was a draft on the Issarian Bank to be used. A reply soon came back, and this time Varanis was well hidden, so the Dormalite had to look for her to hand over the reply.

Back at Saiciae there was a brief debate as Xenofos and Venlar compared their respective styli, reading techniques, and the firmness of their tablets, etc, and ultimately it was decided that Venlar’s interpretation of the letter was the accurate one – the Duck had replied to say the terms of the exchange were agreed upon.

It took a bit of persuading, but Irillo left Serzeen’s bedside long enough to arrange a ship for them. This may have been a relief for Serzeen, as Irillo’s manly hovering and fussing at her bedside had been going on for some days. Arranging the ship took a little time, so it was a couple of days later that they set out.

The ship carried our heroes to a small island south of the one where Lenta had been held. While Varanis and Nala kept watch on board the ship, Mellia, accompanied by the others, went ashore to complete the ransom exchange. Despite his best efforts, Rajar did not smell any Chaos and thus the exchange was bloodless. The Black Feather, a Muscovy Duck, told Berra that Harrek said hello. She sent a message back to him, saying ‘still no’, and made sure that Rajar checked Mellia was alright on the way back.

Those who were watching carefully could see as the pirate ship turned on the tide that there was an area of newly repaired wood, and several oars were new.

Three members of the Blue Tula Clan Ring, a guard, and a couple of servants were saved from their ordeal and transported to the hired ship. Berra was oddly quiet and thoughtful on the way. Nala asked if she should hit Xenofos, who was talking about civilisation being Esrolian. Berra explained that while she thought Nala might be justified, Xenofos was just a poor man trying to cope with his fear and lack of control. Nala said that Xenofos had sent her a letter because she could not read. They consulted with Rajar over what he would do when he had a letter from a friend, and Rajar said he would assume it was something very complicated he did not trust to a messenger, and would get someone to read it.

The ship got back to port safely, and the Clan arrived at the House of Saiciae.

“What is the meaning of this intrusion?” – Chief Priest, his lap still warm
“I have a letter from the High Healer of Wilmskirk.” – Xenofos
“He cracks the seal.” – GM

“I think you’ll find further information with regard to this in the library in Pavis.” – Chief Priest
“Oh dear.” – Xenofos

“Who hid my d6?” – Varanis
… The game passes
“Someone put my D6 in my percentile shaker.” – Varanis

“Muahahahaha.” – Ransom demand
“Are you sure it doesn’t have a duck accent?” – Varanis

“A lot of the things that Dormal is going to suggest, I can’t do or I’m going to refuse.” – Berra
“I’m perfectly willing to construct a short pier for you.” – Dormal

“Well Humakt is a god of Death, not hairdressers.” – Mellia

“They’ve been kidnapped.” – Mellia
“Well, that would explain their tardiness.” – Varanis

“Rajar can you, in fact, track?” – Nala
“Ummmm.” – Rajar

“Is there in fact any PROOF that your Kinsmen have been taken for ransom?” – Dormal

“You’re being scammed.” – Dormal

“Varanis is super inconspicuous in her gleaming cuirass.” – Varanis

“He may have been one of Harrek’s henchducks.” – Kesten
“‘Henchducks…’ everyone but Berra and Tom flinch.” – Varanis
“I saw the pain ripple round the vid chat.” – Rajar

“Black duck of the family…” – Xenofos

“Muahahahahahahahaaa.” – GM
“@@^@@ Not a balanced mind.” – Berra

“Why for is Rajar dancing?” – Varanis
“He can dance if he wants to.” – Dormal

“I want chocolate. I need chocolate. Who has hidden my chocolate?” – Varanis
“I cannot tell a lie.” – Dormal
“It was Berra.” – Dormal

“Whatcha doin’?” – GM
“Sulking.” – Xenofos

“I’m a disco ball of shiny bronze. I have a boring helmet, but the rest is still beautiful.” – Varanis
“As opposed to my glorious great helm WITH HORNS.” – Rajar

“It was written in trade-talk.” – GM
“Well, they will get written back to in a civilised language.” – Xenofos

“Do not attempt to plumb Dormal’s mind. He and I have been in free fall for quite a long time.” – Berra
“Which one of you would be the balrog?” – Varanis
“That would be an ecumenical matter.” – Dormal

<<edits Humakt to Harrek>> – Berra
“We have always been at war with Eurasia.” – Berra

“Do we know if Dormal actually sailed? Or was it just a lot of illusion?” – Dormal
“Yep, totally circumnavigated the cube.” – Dormal

“What the actual? … this is weird. I can’t read it.” – Xenofos

“Oh pants!” – Berra swears
“pants? weird barbarian thing…” – Xenofos

“Kesten is luring Berra into his lair.” – Varanis
“Or Xenofos.” – Berra

“I know what Mellia’s going to be up to when she hears about that duel with no healer present.” – Mellia
“There were PLENTY of people there who were experts in injuries.” – Berra

“There are plenty of people who understand fires at arsonists’ conventions.” – Rajar
“We have conven… they have conventions?” – GM

“Grandmother might consider the risk to your family to be too high for a… how shall I put this, a rescue attempt in our usual idiom.” – Dormal

“Tightbeak runs under Tiwr….” – Berra
“Survivors know when to Duck.” – Berra

“They say he roasts humans with orange sauce.” – Tightbeak re Blackfeather

“That is your Lunar’s-worth.” – GM
“Lunars. Plural.” – Nala
“Your Lunarssss’-worth.” – GM
“Lunarthththththth.” – Berra

“Muahhahahhaaha.” – Xenofos
^^^ Unbalanced mind again.” – Berra

<<scribe-off>> – Venlar and Xenofos

“I’ve heard the pen is mightier than the sword and I want to find out how that works!” – Berra
“There’s no space between those words, Berra…” – GM
“Yes, but I don’t make a habit of touching pens.” – Berra
“In fact, Xenofos’ is the only pen I’ve ever handled.” – Berra, brightly
<<drops camera link>> – Varanis

“Nala… don’t … he’s about to be proved wrong. Or he’ll be right and then you can deck him.” – Berra
“Alright.” – Nala

“Brief break.” – Berra
*thing Berra must deal with* – GM
“… Damnit.” – Berra

“Honesty Time. Do any of you, going ashore, have any intention of violence?” – GM

“Rajar never premeditates anything.” – Rajar

“You here to treat?” – Guard
( Not here to buy you a drink… ) o . Berra

“Absolutely jet black duck, apart from the red wattles and the white tracing around the eyes.” – GM
“Berra does look slightly disappointed.” – Berra

“Harrek says… hello.” – Blackfeather
“He remembered! … Tell him from me the answer is still no – and I still drink red. While wincing.” – Berra
“I’m sure that, like all of his friends, he’ll kill you last.” – Blackfeather
“Not if I have anything to do with it.” – Berra

“You can MAKE a sense chaos roll if you like…” – GM
“Uhoh. Uh…oh.” – Rajar

  • 1
    There is no textual evidence that Harrek was a Duck elsewhere, so it must be presumed the kinship is adopted, rather than we should radically re-evaluate our understanding of the Berserker.
  • 2
    This is clearly for poetic benefit, as Mellia does not appear to have been a priest at this time.
  • 3
    Suggesting one who makes ointments, or metaphorically one who ‘smooths things’.