In the Darkness Blind Them

S02 — Session 43

1627, Fire Season, Fertility Week, Fireday, onwards for some time

Dramatis Personae




A hockey sock full of trolls, including:
Salid the Snivler
Karrk, Karg’s son
Mistress Race Troll
Unknown number of guards
Wounded troll
Troll healer
Xiola Umbar High Priestess
20 trollkin
Plenty of beetles
Devolin (who isn’t a troll)


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 Accounts of the Travels of Irillo Goldentongue. Editorial commentary will be recorded [thus]. The {“D”} voice appears.

In Boldhome, Nala was trying to learn about the Goddess of Salt and Teeth. She ended up at the Earth Temple, meeting with High Priestess, Kalis, who was lounging lushly. Or lushly lounging. It’s all the same with Kalis. Nala told her about having to make some kind of accord between Maran Gor and the Goddess of Teeth and Salt. They discussed possible sources of information about the Goddess. Towards the end of their conversation, Kalis mentioned that the Luminous Stallion King was in town and thus Tiwr’s position as the most luminous stallion in the city had some competition.

Irillo’s caravan, with added wagons and mules, finally hit the road for Boldhome late in Fertility week. Irillo was complaining a lot about the speed of the mules, and the bulk of the goods he was carrying. Berra was complaining a lot about Irillo complaining. In fact, everyone was complaining. However, there were no disasters, and they reached the road that skirted the Shadow Plateau without incident. There, as they camped for the night, Salid woke Berra and told her that he needed someone for a parlay. As it turned out, there was a dark troll outside the camp, being watched carefully. He had a couple of trollkin with him. Berra threw him her last pouch of spices, and he handed it to his trollkin without even trying it, thus proving himself a strange troll indeed.

In rather terrible tradetalk, the troll asked about a goddess of teeth, who had been dead and was alive again. After a bit of consideration, and mistranslation of Xiola Umbar as a peaceful goddess, and some more thought, Berra told the troll that she had one with her caravan who was touched by the Goddess of Teeth, the biting one reborn. While Salid was waking Varanis, Berra swapped names with the troll, finding out he was Karrk, Son of Karg. When Varanis came, the troll made certain that the goddess was the one he wanted, and then invited them to come to the Shadow Plateau to talk. Berra was not keen to lose time, but Varanis wanted to go, and so they woke Mellia, Venlar, and Xenofos, and went through the darkness, with Xenofos finding himself as a very reluctant infanteer. There were beetles to help those who were faint from walking; Berra squeeeeeeed until she was allowed to have a ride on one.

Nala visited the Temple of Humakt, so that she could meet with the Iron Lord, as he is a Shaman of Death. Their conversation went as many shamanic discussions do – confusing, confounding, and confuddling. He informed Nala that she should find out what the Goddess wanted and needed, as she only knew one of the stories. He was fundamentally uninterested in learning about the stories of someone who had escaped the halls of his master. After Nala was told that she should also speak to the High Sword and she learned that it was Eril once more, she called him a foul name and was nipped by the Temple’s wyter. She left and made for the Temple of Lhankor Mhy.

In the cave in the shadow plateau, the troll welcomed the puny soft weak ones in the name of his mother, and Karg’s mother. Varanis at least understood this was probably Kyger Litor, and he was probably a Rune Lord. There was a little posturing from Berra, but hospitality was accepted. He created light – cold light – on a rough ball of rock that he chucked to Varanis. She was able to catch it, and Karrk led them through the dim place. They reached a great cavern, where Karrk roared a challenge – or a warning – to other trolls or to the rest of the group. Karrk explained they could not see the Great Mother, because no light was permitted in her presence. Varanis offered to be led in the dark, and so the whole group was. Berra and Mellia near to the back had to scurry a bit, as the troll was very very tall, but they kept up. Venlar held on to Mellia’s hand.

They finally stopped and a voice in the darkness spoke to Varanis, asking her if the Bitey Goddess had returned. They exchanged information, the Mistress troll telling Varanis about how Kygor Litor wrestled Teeth and Salt in the dark time, beating her and stealing some of her teeth. Varanis explained about the various places where crocodiles seemed to return to the rivers and mentioned that the Red Goddess had killed some of Teeth and Salt’s offspring. The Mistress Troll informed her that she should discuss this with the Xiola Umbar priestess, who would want to know that the Bitey Goddess who returns from eggs has returned yet again. Before they parted ways, the Mistress troll also raised the issue of humans going hungry. She was concerned that the weak children were starving, which was a waste when they couldn’t be food for stronger folks. She offered to send food with Varanis, as a show of friendship to House Saiciae. The Vingan accepted the offer..

Back in Boldhome, the scribe at the Lhankor Mhy Temple initially suggested that Nala look to Uleria as one of the oldest goddesses. But, when Nala explained more about Teeth and Salt (that she likely died in the Lesser Darkness), the scribe agreed to take on the task. At the end of two days, she had found only a couple of stories. The first was that Storm Bull had killed the Goddess, while the second was that Odayla had done so. The scribe posited that Teeth and Salt was a goddess of rebirth and may have been a half-sister to Yinkin. Having delivered her evidence and conclusions, she charged Nala 30 Lunars.

In the caverns, the group went through the darkness once more, until they could pick up the light rock again. Then Karrk led them on until Berra smelled blood and asked if they were coming closer to a hospital, or a morgue, or a larder. Then she explained that a hospital was where people were made better, a Temple of Healing. This did indeed prove to be the case, and they went to such. Mellia saw a troll who was injured, and that she could help better than others. Venlar winced with almost his whole body when she went to help, but did not interfere, keeping to his determination not to get into her way as a Hero. Berra, however, strutted in front of the healer, as a protective (or ablative) screen, and told the troll to damned well stay down, when it growled. Karrk also stood ready with his mace, and one or the other of those things made the troll lie back. Mellia healed it with magic, and it was absolutely amazed. The troll nurse hugged her exuberantly, and even licked the top of her head in thanks.

They went through to see a priestess – she had a different sort of head to a dark troll, and was rather larger, and had trollkin playing around her. The priestess talked to Mellia about midwifery – or, as she put it, midwomanary. Mellia was invited to visit the trolls and learn from them.

For her part, Varanis repeated what she knew of the Goddess of Teeth and Salt, again mentioning the Red Goddess’ destruction of the juveniles. The priestess explained that this was part of the circle of life and death and that the Red Goddess plays a role in that. According to the priestess, the Red Goddess might be to humans what humans were to cows. Varanis tried to argue, by bringing up the Crimson Bat and she was told that the bat was torn from the underworld, whereas the Goddess was born. The bat, therefore, does not have a place.

When the group came out of the caverns once more there were beetles outside, laden down with what was mostly beetle body parts, as extra food. These were taken through the daylight by a grumpy, miserable Karrk, along with some whiny trollkin, who were not designated as food. The group caught up with the wagons and loaded the beetle parts on. They travelled onwards, going up east of the river that runs from Whitewall to Karse, along the road there.

There was only one incident along the road; a wheel fell off a mostly-empty wagon, and the caravan stopped. Berra ordered guards out. Soon, the group agreed with the general understanding that they should leave it there and go on. Berra called the guards in again. Only Varanis resisted this; everyone else seemed to her to have suddenly lost their minds, and she slapped Irillo and Xenofos to restore some sense to them. Berra immediately told her to back down – Irillo was under her protection. Varanis replied by trying to slap Berra too, but she blocked that. Varanis insisted there was something wrong, and casting around managed to see a duck’s head in the water. Unfortunately she gestured to it to point out what was happening, and the duck managed to vanish. Berra and most of the others, faced with reality, worked out they had been subject to Illusory magic and Lies. Irillo, who had been deeply affected, took a little longer. It helped that the wagon was now obviously filled once more, and had all its wheels on.

Nala had failed to find useful information in Wilmskirk and was going along the road towards Whitewall when the main group, coming the other way, met her. They went into Whitewall together – it was rather more ragged and the shanty town at the bottom was falling apart, but the top part of the hill fort was in good repair, and the walls had been patched up to some degree. They settled in there.

“There is theological uncertainty, and this is an unacceptable state of affairs.” – GM
“So you’re going to see Kalis, as the expert on affairs.” – Berra

“Please, lie down. Pull up a masseuse.” – Kalis

“His High Priest lives with her. And he is dead.” – Nala

“I’m sure you would get on like a hall on fire.” – Kalis
“I can ignite him, if that’s what you want.” – Nala

“I would naturally frown on anyone making a bet on anything so sacred as marriage.” – Kalis
“So who’s running the book then?” – Nala
“I think it’s the temple of Eurmal…” – Kalis

“Kygor Litor wrestled her in the dark time, beat her, stole some of her teeth. Took. Trolls mighty.” – Karrk
“And what’s that to me now?” – Berra
“Kind goddess helps bitey goddess who returns from eggs. Has returned again? Kind goddess will want to know.” – Karrk
“Berra sends for Varanis.” – Berra

“I’m Vingan, and you know what Vinga does to trolls.” – Varanis
“Loses to them, in our story.” – Karrk

“Outside, then.” – Blacksmith
“I will wait.” – Nala
“Step out of the land of illusions.” – Blacksmith
“Oh… he wants me to discorporate.” – Nala

“It’s moving slowly, by jerks.” – GM
“(One jerk is Eril though. Elsewhere.)” – Berra

“He’s the blind one?” – Nala
“Well, his eyes are closed.” – GM

“Death has an interest in everyone.” – Blacksmith

“Send her to the best Heroquester in the Temple!” – Berra
“Eril?” – Varanis
“Natch.” – Berra

“You’ll want to know what she wants. You’ll want to know what she needs.” – Blacksmith
“Those are not the same.” – Nala
“I know. That’s why I said it twice.” – Blacksmith

“She was a dead goddess for a very good reason.” – Xenofos
“Storm Bull is not a very good reason.” – Berra
“Maybe reason is not the word.” – Xenofos

“Oh yes, the High Sword has taken up his duties again.” – Humakti
“Oh, fuck, I’ll go see the Lhankor Mhy.” – Nala

“He’s a fuckwit!” – Nala
disrupt – Probably the Wyter or something

“I have long legs. Maybe not as long as his…” – Varanis
“Hold up. Mellia and I are quite short at the back here.” – Berra

“Cannot let weak children starve when cannot be food for stronger.” – Great Mistress
“If they send us a plague of locusts as a gift, that’s bad, isn’t it?” – Berra

“Hospital. Or morgue, or larder. Are those the same here?” – Berra

“Pass architecture.” – Xenofos rolls Scan

“You get the full-body hug. You also get a lick on the top of your head.” – GM
“Varanis is looking slightly worried at first. But, when Mellia isn’t eaten she relaxes.” – Varanis

“Greetings, sister.” – Mistress Troll
“Greetings, sister.” – Mellia

“Kvan, daughter of Salah, daughter of Kygor Lytor.” – Kvan

“There has been a birth, I think, without my mistress’s normal aid.” – Kvan
“Would you like me to look at the mother?” – Mellia
“The mother is dead herself. The birth brings death to the above space. Xiola Umbar helps the birth from darkness? darkmen?” – Kvan

“All children are blessing. Even those that others like me call cursed.” – Kvan
“I had hoped that the goddess of salt and teeth children are a blessing in their own way.” – Varanis

“Bat tore out of hell.” – GM
“But it’ll be gone when the morning comes.” – Nala

“Sister, may I be of further aid?” – Mellia
“Not yet, but come back. We teach you midwomanary.” – Kvan

“Berra waves to the trollkin.” – Berra
“No, they hide from you, Berra.” – GM
“Everyone knows the wicked Humakti eat baby trollkin.” – GM
“And you did say you didn’t eat vegetables.” – Varanis

“And were in fact going to try to find a helpful sage.” – GM
“Good luck with that.” – Berra

“I’m here to ask about a very old goddess.” – Nala
“Would it not be easier to go to the Temple of Uleria?” – Scribe
“I was sent here by the iron lord.” – Nala
“Very well, but a member of the Celestial Court…” – Scribe

“Storm Bull killed her.” – Nala
“Maybe he thought he was a tree.” – Nala

“Now, that will be 30 Lunars please!” – Scribe with beard that does not fit
“May your beard wax ever greater.” – Nala

“I’m just going to go chew everything over with Kalis.” – Nala
flat looks – much of the party

“Silly question, Irillo. Where is the next Temple of Chalana Arroy on our route?” – Mellia
“Probably Whitewall.” – GM
“Oh no…” – Mellia

“It could have been worse. She could have hit me.” – Mellia
“No.” – everyone