S02 — Session 6
1626, Earth Season, Death Week
Earth Season, Death Week, Clay Day; a Holy Day of Humakt
Solaska the Apothecary
Many people from House Thisera
Some guards from various houses
Venlar, in the form of Orlanth
Venlar, in the arms of Mellia
Some palanquin bearers who got paid twice
Some guards who did not get paid
As before, the log will be recounted with extracts from the private poetry collection of Dr Tomm.
My love is a wellspring of love
Each smile that blossoms is strength to me.
Life, and the source of life.
Love, and the reason to love.
I hold her in turn, patient and strong,
A storm that hovers by her at her will.
Venlar, II-23, Trans Garin
[‘As you will no doubt be aware – and if you are not you may ask Dr Tomm about extra reading – the translation of this work is a difficult one. This translation – by me, as yet undated because unpublished – keeps the underlying conceit; a poem based on the name of Venlar’s lover. However, I have never yet risen to the challenge of translating it from the syllabic Theyalan to a modern syllabic poem. Mellia’s name is usually consistent throughout the work of Venlar, spelled in what I would think of as a Sartarite style, but there is also an Esrolian pronunciation that emphasises the feminine ending, which the Venlar poet uses from time to time. I have side-stepped all of that by spelling her name as we read and write it.’]
What Really Happened
Eranda, the Humakti guard, took Mellia to see the apothecary Solaska, a small frail slave, about dosages of poppy. Solaska refused to say she had done anything wrong in giving Xenofos a dosage of five grains, and she was rather offended, reminding Mellia she had treated her with a mush of wine and poppy for her teething problems and she was not any worse for it. Aranda then took Mellia to see Xenofos, while the Humakti truth spell she had on her was still in operation. Xenofos was able to reply truthfully that he was not taking much poppy at all, and had never increased his dose. Mellia congratulated him on breaking the habit.
It was a holy day of Humakt, meaning that many Humakti would be in the Temple of Battalion, and there was a risk of a Zorak Zorani raid on the place, which might expand to any amount of damage anywhere. Thus, the party that Mellia and Xenofos were going to was intended to last until Yelm came back into the sky. Kirse called in Dormal to send him to the party in the guise of a servant, to help increase Mellia’s value. She told him to keep his ears open as there was something1A plot that the adventurers did not happen across because other things happened instead. happening and she was not entirely sure what. Xenofos took his sword, having lived under barbarian influence for some time, although of course he had a servant carry it. Mellia took her medicine bag with her, by habit and in the hope that the Humakti Temple would summon her and release her from the party. Dormal failed to scout out any gossip that the servants were hearing, although he did notice that many of the guards on the roof of the building were magic users. The other two did not find anything out either, although they were not trying so hard.
There was dancing, where the noble pair did not distinguish themselves, and some singing which Xenofos did not recognise, but was a setting of his Lightbringer song. Dormal heard this, and so did most of the servants, who edged away from him. Then Xenofos walked around the place with Mellia for a while, until Dormal noticed and called Mellia away so that there would be room for people to talk to both individually. Xenofos was approached by several young men who wanted to make acquaintance with him for their sisters, and then by another wave who wanted to talk about Varanis.2This would be deemed very forward, and the young men were probably not to be taken as serious contenders for anyone’s hand. One of them, Lord Hofhrai Deleaos, invited Xenofos for a group ride. A tragic misunderstanding resulted in Xenofos thinking that Varanis was being invited to an orgy, and taking offence, and Hofhrai taking further offence and shouting about it. The preliminary steps of deciding on whether to have a duel were agreed on, and people arrived to scoot both young hotheads off to cool down separately.
Xenofos went back to dancing, and after a while Mellia pulled him off the dance floor because he was looking tired, and fluttered over him to avoid further dull talk. While this was happening, she heard, distantly, the sound of drums. Dormal heard not only drums, but the guards on the roof stamping around. He went to tell Mellia and Xenofos, and they sent Dormal for her medical kit. A moment later, Xenofos sent a guard for his sword.
Then there was a disturbance at the door as Venlar, heroquesting Orlanth, arrived to steal Ernalda. He was dressed in heroically romantic torn clothing and the natural blue colour of his skin, and his Runes were glowing with power. Mellia was entirely in favour of his plan of ‘rescuing’ her. Xenofos instantly decided to help as part of the Heroquest, by opposing Orlanth just hard enough to save face, and Dormal attempted to stop him for real, rather than see Grandmother’s plans damaged. Orlanth barged his way through a line of Saiciae guards without anyone drawing a weapon, to find that Xenofos had grabbed Mellia (politely and carefully) and was lifting her away. Dormal cast an ice puddle where he thought Venlar would be going, but Venlar simply dodged around it, inspired by Orlanth. Venlar nearly managed to fall over when trying to grapple with Xenofos, who expertly put him in an arm lock, but after some time could not hold onto the slippery, flailing Storm God. As soon as Venlar was free he ran, but he had now cast Flight on Mellia, who rose up after him, and they fled into the night. The Saiciae guards followed, with the sword and medicine bag. Orlanth stopped in the wilderness – the street outside – to let everyone know how much he loved Ernalda, and that he promised to keep her safe and fertile.
Dormal, attempting to keep them safe, put himself into the persona of Eurmal to lead them to a safe place – the nearby market of the jewellers. Either they would be safe from any trolls there, or Orlanth would try violence, and neatly solve a lot of problems. However, as soon as he told Orlanth they were safe, Venlar appeared, and he and Mellia kissed. Everyone tried to work out if they were now married, with Dormal giving a certain-sounding ‘no’ that seemed to carry the day. Dormal sent off guards as messengers to Kirse and Grandmother to say what had happened, and Xenofos found a wine bar. Venlar and Mellia walked around lovingly for a while until the exertions caught up with him and they had to sit down and eat.
The messengers came back for Dormal – Kirse had sworn a lot and Grandmother would make time for them all just after dawn. Xenofos arranged palanquins for Mellia and Venlar, and on seeing them, Dormal paid them. They went back to the house where the palanquin bearers did some quick mental maths and asked to be paid, saying Xenofos had told them they would be. Meanwhile, the four who had been at the party were called in to see Grandmother individually. She was wearing the Skull Face of Ty Kora Tek, and cut off any attempt to talk about anything that was not the Heroquest. They each gave their stories. Grandmother put Dormal in a room to her left, where there was bread and water, which he ate and drank some of. Mellia was put in a room to her right, where she was too excited and tired to eat the bread and water. Grandmother addressed Xenofos as ‘Grey Sage’ and he noted he was merely a scholar, but her expression was literally unreadable to him. Xenofos gave his story and then was told to stay and write down what happened next, with Grandmother using his correct title. Then Venlar was summoned, and he gave a noble, rousing justification of his actions.3Passed Orate. Over the course of the evening Venlar had critical successes on Devotion Orlanth and Orate, and Special successes on Air as an inspiration, Orate, and Knockback.
Grandmother gestured and the doors to either side of her opened, providing Dormal, who had eaten, with a moment in which his soul felt cleansed before rebirth from a warm place. Mellia felt only that she was reborn to a place of many people.4Dormal: Pass on Death and special on Fertility. Mellia, fail on Death and pass on Fertility. She announced she would judge on the matter and speak with Silor, and they were dismissed. All went to bed for at least a few hours, save Venlar, who went to collect Yamia from the Temple of Humakt after telling Mellia his sister was much better.
After time for a nap for each of them, Dormal was called in to see Kirse, who told him, essentially, that shit happened and she did not hold him responsible. Better luck for the house next time. Kirse then called on Mellia, who came from a bed where an exhausted Venlar was sleeping. Yamia was at Venlar’s door, waiting to thank her and ask if Venlar was well. After that, Yamia went off to thank Dormal for his help, offering him a return favour as long as it did not involve lying to him about how bad the world was. He thanked her for thanking him and got some more sleep.
Mellia managed to persuade her mother that Venlar would make a wonderful Husband-Protector. Kirse decided that Venlar was only ever wild in honour of her, and this was appropriate. She told her daughter to go wake Venlar, reasoning that if he would not wake for her, he was not worthy, and it was time to start training him to obey his wife. Mellia went to kiss him for a bit, decided he definitely would wake up for her, and let him sleep on. When he did wake, she noticed he was recovering quickly from his odd exhaustion, which he attributed to having been Orlanth.
Xenofos was woken a couple of times. First, Serzeen arrived to say that there were a lot of gifts for him, and an invitation to a duel. Unusually, she offered him a little time to deal with that matter by going back to the door to send his answer5Rapiers, first blood unless there should be no apology, Clayday Afternoon, at a popular duelling spot. Arrive with one friend. herself. Xenofos said that Berra had agreed to act as a friend in such matters already, and went back to sleep. Then Silor arrived to thank him for helping Venlar, and offer to be there for his duel if Xenofos wished. He warned the Scholar that Xenofos had enemies, or there would not have been so many people talking to him about marriage, and suggested finding out who it was. Xenofos elected not to be angry at a barbarian pushing into Esrolian customs. Still later, Berra arrived at the door to say she would be happy to be Xenofos’ friend, having heard about the duel. Early afternoon was upon them before anyone else stirred properly.
…Rajar went off to Temple, and there was a Heroquest there for Yamia. At short notice they changed it from Humakt Finds Death to something about Humakt deciding on Separation. Rajar remembers being Urox, and Humakt asking him when violence was good. Then Vadrus pitched up so they both fought him, because he was being a DICK. Then Orlanth came and he had a BOR-RRRRIIING talk with Humakt. Then Orlanth said to him, “Hey, brother! I am sad because my love Ernalda is not with me, and I would go rescue her from Yelm’s house now I have killed him. Will you let me ride your wild wind?”
Then later apparently the Humakti had lost Venlar, but that was OK, because Urox still got beer. However, his hooves hurt.
In the morning, Yamia is quiet but hopeful, and hardly has any threat to her, but she no longer looks terrified most of the time. Venlar comes back to admit that he might be married now, and he’s not sure, but he did kidnap Ernalda from Yelm’s palace and take her to a safe place.
Rajar smiles. He offers anyone who wants it beer and checks for huge occult wounds he failed to notice earlier. Such things are important.
There are no grand occult wounds. Most of the Humakti do not want beer, but Yamia tries some and drinks it politely, and Venlar chugs back a mug of it. Berra appears to point out that she too would like beer and worship is over. Then it’s time to walk back across the city. Venlar wants to know if kidnapping Ernalda counts as marriage in Prax.
“Possibly…often in fact,” Rajar tells him.
“If we went to Prax, but it had happened here?” Venlar might be thinking crazy thoughts.
“Hmmmmm. If you moved there. It would be totally legitimate.”
“I do not think I could keep her there. She… well, if we moved to Sartar then it would be different. But we’d be stealing her politically as well as physically then. I made it all very awkward, but she did look lovely flying over the guards. Thank you for your help. You were a good brother to Orlanth.” Venlar looks proud.
“You make things too complicated,” Rajar says then. “If you love each other do you as you will. Kill anyone who argues.”
“But if we’re married properly in a way that keeps her house happy, it makes my people stronger. And she’s a White Lady. She doesn’t kill people. And I don’t want her to be the cause of deaths. But we won’t marry anyone else, and if they try to make me, I won’t, and I don’t think she would, so I think we get to be married.”
“Anyone tried to make you marry anyone else ask them to have a chat with me!” thus, does Rajar proclaim friendship.
Venlar smiles, and sighs happily, and looks back to where Berra and Yamia are discussing technique with naked swords, as they make their way out of the Temple. “Before or after I do something foolish?”
“Good to know. But anyway, you got your beer. And the Market with the jewellers here might be Orlanth’s Stead for a while. It made sense to go there. There were trolls about in the Lesser Darkness.”
“Trolls can be fun.”
“I had a lady to protect, and a Stead to return to. I would have taken them all on for her, of course.”
“Of course.” Rajar obviously thinks this natural. “Family is why we fight.”
“You understand. Of course. And you are my brother now. I like that.”
“Excellent. Beer. Have you seen my really really big axe? It’s not as pretty as my second big axe. But it’s very…long.”
“No, I haven’t. I would love to see it, although I have not yet greeted my wife… I suppose I am returning with my war band now, and my Champion. Is it longer than a greatsword? Yamia wanted one, but she never grew into it, so she studied the Broadsword instead.”
“My great axes are the same length as a great sword. My dagger axe is much longer. And yes! let’s go greet them.”
Berra walks them across the city, as she knows the route, and at the house of Saiciae Venlar pauses only briefly. “I even carried off her loom,” he says happily. “And wrestled with a sacred serpent that protected her. I think that was Lord Xenofos.” Then he nods to the gate guard, and suggests to Rajar, “Shall I see you later? And your dagger-axe?” He looks tired now, as if the night is catching up with him.
“Of course,” Rajar says generously. “I’ll be in the temple or drunk or both.”
“Xenofos – not in a beard – is the apothecary.” – GM
“INT x 5, please?” – GM
“100.” – Xenofos
“Ahahahah fumbled!!! 99” – Varanis
“Those who have fumbled: it is a good night for a walk.” – GM
“Just because of barbarian influence I let one of the guards bring my sword.” – Xenofos
“Not carrying it m’self of course.” – Xenofos
“They are singing what will later turn out to be Xenofos’ setting of the Lightbringers’ Quest. They’re destroying it – but the words are clear. It names you all. Dormal, the people who were talking to you edge away.” – GM
“Dance rolls, please.” – GM
“Cruel GM.” – Xenofos
“Xenofos has been left alone!” – GM
“Irillo, how many people can I kill?” – GM
“PCs or NPCs?” – Irillo
“Is there a difference in melee?” – GM
“Exactly.” – Irillo
“Good, good.” – GM
“Would I really throw a Zorak Zoran march at you all?” – GM
“Yes!” – Mellia
“WHERE IS MY LOVE?” – Orlanth
“He is the perfect Orlanth, blue and glowing with runes of power. But he seems to have been fighting already. There’s a scar over his right eye.” – GM
“(Venlar, no shit)” – Xenofos
@@*loving sigh*@@ – Mellia
“And then Orlanth and Ernalda are out of the door and gone.” – GM
“The barbarian! The insolence!” – Xenofos
“Hey, marriage is a contract, right?” – Irillo
“Right, but who has authority to make it? Surely not bride and groom.” – Xenofos
“Do you Venlar, enter into a mutally assured partnership of indefinite duration with this lady. To share equity,….” – Irillo
“Does this bear on the Heroquest and the matter I will judge?” – Grandmother
“Aaah, the Heroquest. Yes.” – Xenofos
“Scholar. You may close your book on these lives.” – Grandmother
“Not proper tame husband material.” – Xenofos
“Venlar is surprisingly well recovered.” – GM
“Power of love!!” – Xenofos
“Drugs.” – Dormal
“Oh. Some results from the Heroquest. Dormal, add 1% to either Harmony or Disorder, and a tick on the other. You were using chaos to bring about a result that was harmonious. Mellia, add 1% to Love (Venlar) and your medical kit will, until the next High Holy Day of Chalana Arroy (week 2 of Sacred Time) shrink down to fit in the palm of your hand if you whisper, “Hide, little loom,” to it. It will also get lighter, and this effect will last until the end of your next journey. Xenofos, add 1% to Honour or Loyalty Clan, as you prefer.” – GM
“Honour. Always Honour.” – Xenofos
“<3” – Berra
- 1A plot that the adventurers did not happen across because other things happened instead.
- 2This would be deemed very forward, and the young men were probably not to be taken as serious contenders for anyone’s hand.
- 3Passed Orate. Over the course of the evening Venlar had critical successes on Devotion Orlanth and Orate, and Special successes on Air as an inspiration, Orate, and Knockback.
- 4Dormal: Pass on Death and special on Fertility. Mellia, fail on Death and pass on Fertility.
- 5Rapiers, first blood unless there should be no apology, Clayday Afternoon, at a popular duelling spot. Arrive with one friend.