Chariots and Fire

S02 — Session 35

1627, Sea Season, Death Week, Fireday to Wildday

Dramatis Personae




Kallyr and her cronies


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 Xenefos and The Sonnets to Mellia, Sweetest of Healers, White Lady of Esrolia. There will be reference to the Deeds of Suraaki the Mighty and Valseenastale. Editorial commentary will be recorded [thus].

“Greetings, students. What a semester we have before you. I do apologise that due to what we can confidently explain as Disease Spirits, this session will be by using modern technology in the form of scrying crystals, or whatever the technical types refer to them as. I believe I will hear no Discord, if I were to Zoom to a point where we as Teams can regard them as sufficiently advanced magic.

Now, I realise that last semester was gravely disrupted by the same matter, and so let us recap. We are here to examine Late Bronze Age Gloranthan Heroic literature, but also to see if a SYNTHESIS can be made between these noble, heroic, exaggerated accounts, and the more rational and balanced evidence available through archaeological digs, and ethnographic studies of modern but remote tribes to give an insight into the lives and loves and struggles of these distant figures.

Now, a wee pop quiz, before we start.

Firstly, do we believe the tales are fundamentally true, partially true, or entirely a story, and WHY do you hold this belief?

Secondly, if you were to be a figure in one of the works we have studied, who would you be, and WHY?

Lastly, do we think the Heroes, if they did exist, had access to magic in the ways described, and WHY?

Pipe up! Yes, you, miss!”

“Isn’t it pretty clear by now that these are cautionary tales, Doctor Tom? I mean, who would REALLY do all those stupid things, even in a heroic age?”

“Ah, you appeal to reason? Tell me… under the current circumstances do you see a lack of people doing stupid things? That said, it is possible these are cautionary tales, but consider, think of the times a hero ALMOST dies but survives…. I think especially of drowning. Does that give a caution, or a reassurance that doing foolish things around water will merely result in a close call?”

“I reckon it’s about how you SHOULD behave. If you’re an idiotic hero.”

“I think it is a collation of some true stories, some mythical tales and quite suspicious amount of sarcastic wit. It would appear some rather cynical writer is responsible for some of these collections. And reading them all together does feel a bit risky hypothesis, we probably have only a fraction of sources that once existed, so trying to force them all into same narrative is conforming into bias by survival of material. MAGIC, well world is full of things unexplainable by Bronze age wisdom, so magic is as good explanation as any.”

It was the aliens…

Daryl, you’re such a nob.

”Dr Tomm? Will this be on the exam?” The student asking this question chews her pencil nervously as she waits for a reply.

Nala, God Talker and Assistant Shaman, asked bountiful Ernalda where the Feathered Horse Queen could be found. The Goddess told her to look “‘twixt Cannibal Daughter and Fort of Bagnis.”

After some discussion, the party agreed to make for Bagnot first and then work their way down toward the Shaker Temple. Rajar and Valseena remained at the caves to sit vigil until Rurik returned with aid.

The first day was mostly quiet, although Suuraki had a close encounter of a crocodilian nature when they were watering their animals. This led to some speculation about the spread of crocodiles in the region of Dragon Pass and the potential involvement of Varanis and Nala.

Their journey continued and soon they came to a small Tarshite village. Given the village had a newly constructed stone inn and it was late afternoon, they decided to stay for the night. As they settled in for some food, beer, and surprisingly good wine, the innkeeper told Nala of the village’s woes and asked for aid. Suuraki complimented the man by saying that if he led a raid, Jorgrim would die last.

In recent weeks, villagers had been attacked and brutally murdered. Their bodies looked as if they’d been tossed about by giants, or beaten with heavy chains. The village was at a loss and in need of help. Berra blurted out that she volunteered, which had been obvious from the way she sat up like a hunting alynx hearing mice. Suuraki asked which week it was, and the innkeeper, Jorgrim, supplied that it was always Wildday Eve – which they were just coming up to.

The Praxians, Suuraki and Nala, investigated the locations where attacks had occurred, but given the passage of time and the activities of the village, there was little to learn. Suuraki noticed the hoofprints of some very fine horses, in among the pig and human and cow and sheep prints. Berra and Varanis examined the area, in hopes of developing a plan, and at least in Berra’s case to know the area for fighting in. They both came to the conclusion it was hopelessly indefensible from most angles, and other than the stone inn, the buildings were too lightweight to hold against a possible Air elemental with cursed chains, let alone a giant.

Xenofos sat down in the inn with his kithara and attempted to tune it. After some time, he was joined briefly by a young woman who offered to sell him new strings. As he followed her to her smithy, he observed that she wore a kopis, which caused him some concern. He called out a greeting to Varanis in Esrolian, hoping to attract her attention. Berra misunderstood and thought he called for help. Berra joined him at very high speed, eagerly, and Varanis followed, though it did not take long to clear up the miscommunication.

In the smithy, Xenofos purchased new kithara strings, while the others surreptitiously investigated. Varanis and Berra noticed the young woman had severe burn scars on her face, mostly hidden behind her hair. Berra asked about getting her1Eril’s sword repaired, but despite knowing how badly damaged it was, decided she did not have the time to do it, as it needed recasting entirely. Finding nothing else out of order, and unsure of what else to do, they left.

As night fell, they set their plan into motion. Berra waited outside as bait for whatever monster they faced, while the others waited inside the stone walls of the inn. Some time well into the night, their patience was finally rewarded (sort of), when Suuraki heard sounds approaching. He whistled to warn Berra, who cast Protection and made sure she was ready to run. Then a scream rang out across the village. Berra took off at a run, followed in short order by Xenofos and Varanis. Suuraki and Nala more sensibly collected their mounts and quickly caught up to the others.

At about the same point, they all reached a collapsed cottage, or scene of death. Suuraki spotted something in the darkness, but Berra’s keen eyes could make out what it was – a red-glowing chariot that seemed to have skeletons in, and no horses. It was already departing, but she ran after it. Nala had been looking at the scene of death, and seen a sad ghost just realising she was dead. She and Suuraki both shot at the chariot, both hitting it.

Suuraki caught Berra up onto his high llama so they could move more quickly. Nala and Tiwr followed, leaving the Esrolians cursing and retreating to find their horses. Suuraki lent Berra his bow, but even though he managed to keep the llama going in the dark, they could not go fast. Tiwr overtook them, and Berra could not keep her seat. Suuraki was forced to sacrifice speed to keep her from falling. Nala’s last shot at the chariot missed. Berra wanted to go back immediately and see about the curved sword, but as they were already close to the collapsed house, they went to look at that instead. In examining the dead woman, Berra picked out something that glinted oddly – a little sprig of a plant that Nala identified as water weed.

As Varanis desperately tried to mount up, Fish lashed out and the Vingan collapsed with a horseshoe-sized dent in her helmet. Xenofos came to the rescue, healing his cousin as best he could. The redsmith arrived on the scene and, taking in the trouble, she pried the badly damaged helmet from the Vingan’s head. This allowed Xenofos to complete the healing, leaving Varanis with a bloody hoofprint and an impression of the edge of her helmet on her face.

Nala stayed to put the ghost to rest, and find out its story – she had been asleep, then she was dead. Berra stamped back to the village. She demanded of the Redsmith, Viborna, that she tell them about the curved sword, because there was a Lunar Chariot that was the monster. What could be seen of Viborna went white. Enough people were awake that Jorgrim, the Innkeeper, was there, and he explained.

A Lunar Rune Lord and his charioteer had arrived in town and abused them, but he got drunk, so they killed him. He had half-deafened Jorgrim, burned Viborna, and lamed a man named Orvald. The group considered this in light of the Rune Lord’s abuse of hospitality and decided that while it was an ambush, the people who had done it were not warriors, and they were not bound to keep hospitality that had already been flouted.

They had weighted the chariot down with chains and pushed it into a nearby lake, without the horses, and that had been eight years ago. The group decided to set off in the morning to deal with it.

“We have always been at war with session 36.” – Berra

“It was a tool.” – GM, about his crotch
“..and thus, the tone was set” – Nala
“Same old, same old.” – Berra

“Would you like to make me a dodge roll at twice your normal skill?” – GM
“I very much would, I believe.” – Suuraki

“I just thought – the Lunars tamed the Oslir by killing everything untame within it.” – Berra

“Varanis is going to start avoiding rivers as much as possible. Not out of fear, but to reduce the risk of adding crocodiles.” – Varanis

“Special on Knowledge (Architecture).” – Xenofos

“Berra does some looking around in the hope someone will challenge her.” – Berra

“She’s only a minor tribe.” – GM
“No, that’s the Mostali.” – Suuraki

“The stew was acceptable. If I raid here, you will die last.” – Suuraki

“So we need to bait and set our trap away from the village.” – Varanis

“But it doesn’t go through the buildings, so they are safe spaces” – Nala
“They could fall easily. They’re not safe if we’re fighting.” – Berra

“You know that smithy-type structures are usually on the fringes of villages, so as not to burn the village down when it catches fire. Putting it in the centre is poor planning!” – Varanis

“Damn. One of my gitar strings is broken.” – Xenofos, during a scan roll

“He’s going to have a woman in every village….” – Varanis
“Peasant fancies the noble…” – Berra

“I’m not going to dig him out of the cat litter for you. I have some standards.” – GM

“landscape…” – Xenofos makes a scan roll

“Fumbled Speak Esrolian!” – Berra

“… failed Scan.” – Berra
“He said hello. It’s like help, but different.” – Varanis

“Berra is looking for a curved sword, having eaten the memo.” – Berra

“You might consider this is a bit… long for you.” – Redsmith
“Xenofos, why didn’t you tell me I was short?!” – Berra

“Passed play kithara!” – Xenofos on stake-out

“And then there is a scream.” – GM
“I run that way!” – Berra

“It’s not a hundred!” – Varanis attempts to ride
“OK Varanis, let’s ride. Varanis. Varanis?” – Xenofos

“How many fingers?” – Xenofos
“Eight.” – Varanis
“Chaos!” – Varanis

“You know what’s holding this together? Magic, and hope.” – Redsmith

“If in Esrolia a man came into your palazzo, attacked the head of family, and then got drunk, allowing you to kill him, that would be called—” GM
“Political discussion.” — Nala
“Improving the breeding stock.” – GM

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