Sha-MEN!

S02 — Session 30

1627, Sea Season


Sacred Time into Sea Season 1627.


Dramatis Personae

PC

Berra
Irillo
Nala
Rajar
Suuraki
Valseena
Varanis
Xenofos

NPC
Kallyr and her cronies
Tennebris
Eril
Minstar

Events

As before, the log will be accompanied by extracts of poetry from the private collection of Dr Tomm.

I fall to earth
it welcomes me
air lord and thunderbolt

tonight I sleep in the sky alone
tomorrow, I shall fall to earth
let me be welcome, oh love

Venlar V.4-ii, ‘Waiting Lament’, Trans Goldman

Back in Nochet…. Dormal noticed something odd with a Saiciae palanquin, its servants, and the perky Humakti, Eranda. The passenger of the palanquin was missing and Eranda was very displeased. Dormal worked out that the missing person was Varanis’ older sister, Mirava, a noble of House Saiciae and an Ernaldan priestess. (There was something to do with some lead in the palanquin?) Eranda sent him to speak to Grandmother, while she backtracked to the Temple of Ernalda to see if she could pick up the trail.

In Boldhome, Valseena and Surraki spent some time being tourists in the big city. Valseena, having experienced the market with Varanis earlier, offered to help her fellow Praxian arrange to have his crocodile hide turned into armour. She managed to get Suuraki a good deal – armour at only 150% the usual cost!

Later, at the start of Sea Season, Nala confided all to Rajar, Suuraki, and Valseena – this is spoilery so is left for Tom to fill in.

Rajar came to find the non-Praxians, and told them confidently that Raus had to die. However, with Berra pointing out that Argrath probably had a reason not to do that, they talked more. Rajar reveals lots of stories that he has heard. They seemed designed to drive people apart – much like Onjur was doing. They reckoned they should probably tell Venna about Raus being Chaos-loving, though. Rajar was totally sure that Venna would not serve a Chaos-lover, and would not hold off killing Raus if he was one. However, Berra asked if they had to tell her in person. Varanis wondered if they would come into Tarsh and if they could tell her there. In the end, they went to Tennebris with it, leaving Suuraki and Valseena behind.

It took a couple of hours to get to see Tennebris, in the Temple of Air. Rajar misbehaved loudly to be Storm Bullish.

Tennebris listened as Rajar talked about being drunk and therefore nothing that he was saying necessarily being true, but that he would say it all anyhow. The Uroxi described the conflicting accounts of Argrath, spoke ot the Lunar, Raus, and then suggested it was all very Onjurish. When he was done, he sat down and had more to drink. Tennebris had wine.

Tennebris had a letter from Grandmother Aranda, for Varanis, and was rather annoyed by being a postal service.

Dear Priest of Orlanth-Husband and Boldhome in the land of the Sartar
Please hold until my granddaughter lady Varanis Saiciae Royal Lady1An archaic phrase meaning ‘first alternative to the throne’ of Sartar &c,
Dearest Varanis
I write with sad tales. Your sister Mirava is missing, and we fear the worst.2”She’s run off with Argrath!” – Rajar If your duty prevents you returning to Esrolia I understand entirely. Please believe that I have my best people looking into the matter.3”Hey, how you doing?” – Dormal
With my sisterly regards to Prince Kallyr and to the Feathered Horse Queen
Yours, lovingly, Grandmother.

Xenofos at least understood that Grandmother feels politically secure enough to show off her power on a clay tablet.

Varanis asked Tennebris what Sartar wants her to do, and he sent her to deliver a message to the Feathered Horse Queen, from Kallyr.4Varanis failed a Love (Family) roll, but passed a loyalty (Sartar) one.

Rajar went back to the White Grape with Nala, and they sought out the Praxians there. Rajar ordered a feast and called for wine and mead and beer and kumiss, and told the Praxians the good news; that they would be going to the Grazelands. They went off to look for a Daka Fal shaman.

Berra went, with this information, to let Eril know so he could be smug at the next meeting, and also to inform him that the only spirit worthy of binding into a sword that served him was him. The Demon of Darkness that was torn from him by Ikadz. He asked if she was up to the task and she said not – he told her to get ready. He warned her to be careful about what she said and to whom. Berra left her iron sword at the Humakti Temple. Eril offered his old bronze sword to her, as she did not have a second. When she asked about transferring the blessing, he did that for her. Almost casually.

Varanis took Xenofos with her to visit the Palace. At the base of the stairs, they spotted Salid, the free trollkin and exchanged words with him. According to Salid, Irillo was up at the Palace, “spreading the oily beetle on the hands of the powerful.” At the top of the stairs, they found the right flunky to get shown into a room to meet with Kallyr. Various gifts for the FHQ were waiting, and the Prince gave Varanis a small painting and a lock of hair to present to the Queen as part of the courting gifts. She suggested that the FHQ might not be interested in a Vingan Husband Protector and raised the possibility of proxies. She wondered aloud if Varanis would consider asking Vinga to make some rather fundamental changes to her body, but Varanis politely declined. She mentioned her brothers, though admitted they were already married, last she’d heard. Kallyr sent her to make her preparations to head to the Grazelands.

The Praxians found the Daka Fal temple, or at least, shack. One of the two people there was Minstar. Nala explained the problem. The shaman was excoriating about her, Praxians, Sartarites, Erhehta, and her. Unfortunately, Nala had taken the humble shit from Grandfather Erhehta too long to take uppityness from a short foreign man, and was good enough at tradetalk to argue in it. She explained her attempts to speak with the goddess, to someone who did not believe she had done it competently. He questioned why she should use an animal to guard her body, and said up front that he didn’t think the goddess had eaten all the animals nearby but they had just run away… then said she had thought about trying to bind the goddess in a stone, which made him get *really* rude and compare her – unfavourably – to Storm Bull. Imprisoning a goddess under a thousand meters of Truestone would indeed be possible, if she could do it.5She has about eight loyalties that meant not punching the Daka Fal shaman in the face was a HEROIC effort of will. However, in the end, no one got nailed to anything. Yet. Minstar thanked Nala for the offer of an escort to see the Next Shaman, but said he thought the one he was with might yet come up with answers.

Berra returns to the White Grape with a new sword, and not the iron one.

Varanis has Irillo with her and has set up in the Common Room for the time being. It seems Rajar has ordered a feast.

Berra nods to Varanis to say things are done, drags a low stool over to her corner, and nurses a beer.

When Nala eventually returns, she sees the trollkin and her face lights up. She reminds Salid what a hug is, then gives him the BIGGEST one. She says something in Darktongue.6Basically, it is I have missed you lots, but it probably translates as “I’ve had no one to boss about. Where the hell have you been?” or something similar in Trolltongue.

Xenofos sits quietly in the corner, writing something.

Nala has recovered a lot from her temper, but she still asks Rondrik for some uncooked meat, which she shares with Zinat. The earth, however, does not split open. SO MANY PEOPLE ARE FULL OF SMELLS! ZINAT IS CONFUSED! ZINAT CHASES HER TAIL!

Rajar look at Berra and her sword. He looks at the ground and walls. He doesnt see blood. He offers beer and meat and bread and salt.

Berra grins, and eats and drinks, and offers to arm-wrestle Rajar but if he uses magic he has to heal her afterwards.

“Tonight there will be feasting and beer and mead and drinking and fights,” he tells her.

“Yeah. Put me down for any that crop up.”

“Excellent. Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeer!”

Rajar seeks out Xenofos and buys him wine and praises his singing in the teeth of danger. And Of Salt and Teeth. And Berra. “We come to the close of the start of things now. The Hero Wars. I feel their teeth about our necks.” He makes sure there is raw meat for Zinat and anyone else who prefers it

Nala hastens to reassure Salid that trollkin is not on the menu.

Xenofos thanks the Stormbull for the wine and tunes his cithara. He picks the first notes of Lightbringer ballad. Looking at Varanis he seems to change his mind and sings a ballad of Flowers in the desert instead.

Nala comments to Rajar, “I know she isn’t in time, but more visits from Ma wouldn’t go amiss.” She lowers her voice and asks Rajar, “Is Xenofos taking the piss?” Nala has a small glass of wine, and carefully pours exactly the same amount from the same bottle and goes outside. There is a slight pause, and he follows her in saying plaintively, “tasty food?”

Berra does not offer to arm-wrestle Tiwr. Nala offers no arm-wrestling, and moves the tables so that Tiwr can have a corner where no one trips on him.

Rajar expounds, “We come to the end of things. Many things look complex but will be in hindsight be simple. Drink. Eat. Fight.”

“Fight harder. Win.” Berra is in a maudlinly happy mood.

Nala addresses again. “You know about the stuff we were talking about, I actually physically saw positive evidence, right? It wasn’t all report?”

“Exactly so,” Rajar replies. “But that means nothing. Or everything. Seeing things is not proof in a time of physical illusions. It may be so. Or not. “

“If it were nothing, Venna wouldn’t have threatened me,” says Nala, wryly. She fetches some leafy things from the food tables and feeds her partner. “And she killed one of the personnel who tried it on with me, so she is not best pleased with that scenario.”

Berra listens in nearby, but beyond looking puzzled, says nothing.

Nala explains to Berra, “thrown axe in the centre of the back.”

“I do not say its nothing,” Rajar tells her. “I say it is off that Argrath as a lunar patsy and Kallyr as an Argrath rival happens at the prefect time for Onjur. They may have corrupted one, both, all or none.”

Berra says, “I was mostly wondering about the general situation, not the Death, but thank you.”

Suuraki, in Praxian, says, «This is beyond my wisdom. You should speak to the high priest of Waha.»

Berra asks, “Sorry, Praxian lost me. Anything important?”

“Is there a Waha priest in the Eiritha temple, Suuraki?” Nala looks thoughtful.

“Not mine to tell, Berra,” says Suuraki in careful Tradetalk. To Nala, he says, «There is a Priest at the Paps»

“Gnhah.” Berra accepts that with a roll of the eyes, probably at the situation, and a shrug, then a nod to Suuraki.

«And one at Pavis,» the Praxian adds.

Nala considers. <<Varanis will not, I think, go back when she has been told to go on.>> To Berra, she says, “No details in the city. I will have to hunt tomorrow evening.”

Suuraki shrugs. «She does not know. And you cannot choose her way for her.»

<<I am assigned to her because of words I did not understand and cuffs I did.>> Nala looks frustrated.7I can’t work out what cuffs is meant to be.

«She follows White Bull. She should know what she follows. I find this secrecy… foreign,» Suuraki states.

<<Rhinos aren’t foreign, and now I’ve spoken, there is one with my name on the bottom of its feet.>> Nala looks unhappy. <<I had hoped Toras was there to determine whether I had told you all, and tell me that I should if I hadnt. But she sent nothing, and I am in a cult of secrets. But better the dishonour mine alone than on the Paps.>>

«Bah. This skulking about in stone yurts and whispering secrets is Not The Way.»

Berra tops up her own beer and offers the jug around.

Nala tells him, <<This is why I took us hunting. As far as I am aware, your name is not on any rhino’s feet.>> As Berra offers her beer, she says, “No, thank you. I’ve drunk more than I should today, and I don’t want a hangover.” She has, at least, stopped absently eating raw meat. Zinat has not and is groaning with food coma by the fire

Varanis has settled near to Xenofos and is nursing a cup of wine. She joins in the singing quietly, when he gets to the familiar parts of the song. She has a pleasant singing voice.

A messenger arrives with a note for Rajar, of all people, and asks if he should give it to Xenofos to be read. Rajar nods. And pours another round. The man bows to Xenofos and holds out the letter.

Nala is trying to give Suuraki a Look, but keeps getting embarrassed.

Xenofos reads the scroll quietly and comes over to Rajar. “Venlar sent his greetings, Rajar son of Ranulf, killer of Chaos. He sends his greetings and apologies. He wanted to come but was required at the tula. If you forgive him, he drinks to your health and pledges hospitality of meat to next bison warrior he will meet.”8Those who paid attention to Xenofos, either when playing or reading the scroll may have noted that there were new runes tattoeed on his left hand in red. Infinity on back of the hand and fertility on palm. They complement the black earth rune pierced by fertility on his wrist.

Rajar looks vaguely confused while he recalls who Venlar is…. But then smiles and agrees. Venlar’s letter also has a section from Mellia. She wishes everyone a happy Sacred Time and hopes you are doing well. Rajar cheers and buys the house a round to cheer the White Lady’s name.

Nala and her pack decide to retreat to the stable for some peace and quiet. Varanis slips out the door with them. She returns a short time later, with a couple of Grazelanders in tow. It seems that she discovered Serala and Finarvi DragonTickler in Boldhome and has dragged them to the inn. They don’t even appear to be kicking and screaming!

Serala slopes in at the side of Varanis and Finarvi. The lean Grazelander looks around at the old stomping ground, then at the people in the room and breaks out into a rare, bright, smile. “Friends.” she notes. “And, more importantly… someone said Rajar was providing free beer?”

There are familiar faces – Rajar, Irillo and Salid, Berra, Xenofos… but also some unfamiliar ones. Varanis introduces a couple of Praxians by the name of Valseena and Suuraki. She seems to be watching their reactions to the Grazelanders carefully.

Serala hugs anyone who doesn’t avoid her greetings. Anyone she already knows, that is. She is positively polite to the Praxians, welcoming them with an inclination of her head and enquiring as to what brings them to Boldhome. And then… then The Beering begins…

Irillo is looking tired. Of course, Sacred Time is very busy for Issarians.

Rajar waves beer around and bellows that we are all foes of the Lunar Scum and Chaos and that he has fought beside you all and beer will flow and please pass him that dead hellspaw….er…chicken.

Varanis and Serala sit side by side, shoulders almost touching. There’s an easy familiarity between them and a lot of undercurrents. Neither of them bothers to explain anything.

Irillo gets hugged. Rajar gets hugged. Varanis, even, gets hugged. With a look of peculiar innocence on Serala’s face for the last. “So. Rajar. How many chaotic trees have you slain? And Irillo, how much coin did you earn for the logs?”

Rajar points at Serala’s face. “You have mighty scars and tales to tell!”

“A dragon tried to bite my head off. Damn near succeeded,” Serala notes laconically. “And you, you too have scars. And…” She tilts her head, studying the bison rider. “And tattoos. And presumably tales to tell. Don’t think I’m going to let you get out of it.”

Rajar look grim. “And lost comrades to drink to”

Finarvi looks grim at this. Not all the familiar faces he expected to see are here. He glances to Varanis, but holds his silence.

Serala downs a gulp of beer, inclining her head. “Always.” she agrees, but following Finarvi’s lead, she holds her silence, patient enough to let someone else fill it, if they will.

“But first to Victories!!! And happy things.” Rajar raises his cup in a toast, before adding, “Oh. I got married.”

Irillo notes, “I’ve just come up from Esrolia. Before Serzeen got sick of me.”

“I’m so glad she’s hale enough to get sick of you!” Varanis adds with a smile. “You should get Rajar to help you pick out a nice axe as a gift for her.”

Rajar smiles broadly. “I know a man who makes excellent axes, just down the street. He did the engravings for free.”

“Marriage is a good thing.” Serala notes. “Not with you, I take it? Or at least not a fan of good beer?” Ah yes, beer. Serala drinks some more. “And yes, Irillo. I’m told absence makes the heart grow fonder. But don’t pretend you didn’t come for the trade as much as for the happiness of the lady. We know you better than that.”

He chuckles, “I’m a Goldentongue, not a Silvertongue. I can’t stay in one place and trade. It…. feels wrong.”

“Mellia is getting married too. Eventually. The negotiations are taking a surprising amount of time,” Varanis says.

“I could hit a few people. That speeds it up,” the big Storm Bull offers.

Finarvi takes a long drink of beer. He seems very engrossed in it.9Finarvi has noticed that Varanis very carefully doesn’t look at Serala when she talks about marriage plans and long delays.

Serala glances sidewards to Finarvi. “You two should really get your heads together. Fine trade opportunities opening up in the Apple Lane area, I’m given to understand.” The Grazelander smiles widely at the news of Mellia; she always had a soft spot for the White Lady. “Well, I’m sure her friends could forcibly drag the groom to the priest if needed.” There is an almost imperceptible flick of her eyes to Varanis, “I’m told that these things can have… unexpected requirements to meet.”

Finarvi takes this opportunity to go sit next to Irillo and explain the opportunities that have opened up.

Berra, blushed with alcohol, embraces both Serala and Finarvi, looking delighted to see them.

Serala is clearly overjoyed to see Berra and pulls her down at a table with her, plying her with questions. “How are the Blue Tree? Have you heard from them? Is that a new scar? How about this one? What have you been doing? How is Road, or have you given up on riding completely?” So many questions for her Humakti friend, such a short space of time to get them all answered.

Rajar looks delighted to see everyone and goes to the bar and orders more food to be prepared and more drink fetched.

Varanis slips from the table to sweet talk Rondrik into supplying them with the last of his best wine, for a price, of course. She helps his daughter carry over cups and pours the wine herself. She is generous in her portions. Distributing the cups, she calls out a toast. “My friends, there is a long and dark road ahead and battles yet to fight, but, in this moment, we have each other. Here’s to a new year! May it bring us joyful encounters with those dearest to our hearts!”

Irillo raises his cup, then turns his head back to Finarvi, to chat about opportunities.

Finarvi joins the toast enthusiastically, somehow managing to spill as much as he drinks. He is possibly already a little drunk, or else very excited about salt.

Berra considers things, and then says, “The Blue Tree are basically out of money. They had to pay a big ransom, and the harvest was bad, but it wasn’t terrible. Nobody up there’s starved to death yet.” That seems to be the good news. “But yeah…” She runs her hand up over her forehead where brown, smoothed skin indicates new scarring just where Serala has hers. “I found a bit of a dragon too. But only the bone bites. Bad day. Billy had died not long before.” She takes a slurp of wine for the toast. “Most of the scars got patched up by magic, but I’m getting new ones. And a bison. I’m better on a bison than a horse. Road’s up with the clan.” She rattles off answers happily enough.

Serala bites her lower lip slightly. “Apple Lane may be in a position to help.” she murmurs softly. “I may… technically… be Thane of Apple Lane. And we may just have survived a battle in the Grazelands that yielded ransom. I… have little coin of my own, I took my spoils in kind. But… The Blue Tree are my family too.” The news about Billy is what hits her hardest though, looking towards Rajar, knowing how she would feel if she lost Pag. Having, indeed, come perilously close in the past. “Horseturds.” she breathes softly.

“What Rajar isn’t saying is that we nearly lost him at the same time,” Varanis adds. “And Suuraki.” A nod at the Praxian. “We would have lost Suuraki without Valseena.”

Rajar is happy enough at the moment buying food and beer and so on for his friends. But the new ink is fresh and in the form of the Beast and Earth runes merged. Billy.

“Yeah, well. He’s got another, and we feasted on bravery.” Berra at least is sanguine about that. “But I think he’s pretty pissed off, rather than upset. If you ever meet a Storm Khan called Rushes to Battle, we have a grudge against him.

Serala nods to that, clearly mentally working out how many arrows can pincushion a single Storm Khan. “If I hear of his trespass in the Grazelands, he will not leave.” she says quietly. Seriously. Not bothering to beat her breast, but making a promise that she is clearly going to hold true to. She smiles to Suuraki and Valseena, “I suspect most of us owe our lives to our companions, one way or another.” A pause. “Possibly not Arim. Or at least, if we saved his life, he would probably have to save ours twice before he could ever settle again.”

This gets a curious look from Varanis. “Who’s Arim?”

“Guy from the Temple? Humakti? Really loves his big sword too much?” Berra may have heard of him.

Valseena almost chokes on her drink… Berra looks to Valseena. “Seriously. If it’s the man I’m thinking of, he’s… single-minded. And double-handed.”

The Vingan laughs. “Likes to keep both hands on his sword? How does he get anything done?”

Again Valseena appears to have some of her drink go down the wrong way.

Serala laughs. “Arim is a Humakti. Very… very.. dedicated. And very full of himself. I think he genuinely believes he won the Battle of the Queens singlehanded.” Her grey eyes flick to Valeena for a moment and she notes seriously, “It is a very fine sword indeed.”

“He doesn’t.” Berra tells Varanis. “He’s… a bit single-minded about his personal relationship with his sword. With learning Death and being it – but he’s good in the line. Gets through a suspicious number of polishing cloths, though.”

Valseena chuckles then glances surreptiously at Suuraki and smiles a secret smile like she knows something but isn’t sharing.

Berra looks at her wine again, and reaches over to grab some salt to sprinkle into it. The barbarian.

Varanis looks at Berra as if scandalised. “What did you just…? No. Nevermind. I will do my best to unsee that.”

“It’s really sweet otherwise,” Berra says. “Maybe pretend you didn’t hear that too.”

It’s not much better when Irillo pulls the poking bronze out of the fire, and puts it in his wine, with a satisfying hiss.

Suuraki looks down at his beer. “Should we be putting salt in this? Or is that a religious rite?”

“Don’t put salt in your beer,” Serala replies to Suuraki, slightly scandalised. “What have this lot been trying to teach you!?”

“Irillo!” Varanis glances desperately at Suuraki. “Um. No, you have beer. Do what you want with it. But Irillo! That’s good Clearwine. What are you doing!?”

“Nah, I just don’t like ice wine much,” Berra says. “Not unless it tastes of something that isn’t just sweetness.”

“None of it tastes like Kumiss,” says Rajar, drinking his beer quickly.

Varanis throws her hands up in the air. “Barbarians! The lot of you!” In her moment of overly-dramatic despair, she fails to note that other than her cousins, a year ago they all were barbarians as far as she was concerned.

Suuraki gestures at Berra. “I was just wondering, because she put salt in hers.”

“Well, yeah.” Berra leans back with a grin. “But I like Esrolian wine if it helps?” She leans over to offer Suuraki her wine bowl.

Serala rolls her eyes, and picks up her own beer to drink. Lots of it. She reaches out to trace Berra’s scars thoughtfully, unless the smaller woman objects. “I hope you killed whatever did that to you.” She shakes her head to Suuraki, “Don’t copy Berra when it comes to wine, indeed. Beer, she has a good grasp on. But you should, in general, appreciate whatever you’re drinking without feeling the need to add… condiments.” This from someone who probably cooks over a fire made from dried horse turds. She probably has no sense of taste.

“Screw that. If it tastes wrong, make it taste …” Berra blinks but lets Serala touch her scars. They feel seamless, but the pale brown colour of the jagged lines indicates their history. On her northern Sartarite skin, they stick out.

Suuraki tries a sip of the wine. “Amazing. What is this made of?”

“If it tastes wrong, drunk.. err.. drink something else,” is Serala’s sage advice. You have to travel a long way to get advice like that.

“When I was given it for a toast? No.” Berra is grinning though. “It’s made of grapes. I don’t think you’ve seen them. A sort of fruit. Gets you very drunk quickly unless you put enough water in it.”

“Grapes, it’s made of Grapes,” says Rajar, not having heard the Humakti. “They are berries that they grow outside the walls of Clearwine Fort. Bit sour to eat but make nice drink.”

“They’re sweet in the late harvest, but they go off fast when they’re sweet. Leave them until after they freeze and they make the best wine.” Yes, Berra is indeed a Colymar. She sits straighter just talking about it.

Valseena sips her drink and silently wonders when they’re going to stop talking about wine…

Berra gestures for Suuraki to keep drinking if he wants.

Xenofos, in his corner, sighs. Wine unmixed.

Irillo explains, “I got the cheap red. And it’s COLD out there. I’ve been in Esrolia. And the north is COLD.”

“It tastes….better than most things,” says Rajar. “But if you drink a lot of it you all fall over. Not me. Or the pointy….four legs….but it hurts next day. Then there is Beer With Teeth. That’s fun too. I like Sartar they have lots of things to drink and Lunars to fight.”

Suuraki gestures to the innkeep and has more wine brought over. He offers Valseena another bowl.

Serala says, “You’d better come up to Apple Lane. Plenty of wine from Clearwine there. And did I mention I’m a Thane there.” She sticks her tongue out in Finarvi’s general direction. And doesn’t quite lick Varanis’ ear while doing so. Oops. “And we can get a steward there. I’m not settling.” She looks back to Berra. “You need to visit me. I’m almost as much Colymar as Grazelands now.”

Berra grins. “You did, yeah. D’Val mentioned a dragon – your one?”

Not quite noticing Serala’s gesture, Varanis gets up drifts over to where Valseena is sitting. “Have you kissed him yet?” she asks quietly. “You should go for it. No one around to tell you no but him.” There’s a wistfulness to her words, but she masks it with a lascivious wink.

Valseena accepts the bowl from Suuraki with a smile and a head tilt. She turns to Varanis and whispers ‘we have certainly kissed and perhaps a few things besides…’

Serala is left alone. Bereft. Ah well, new friends to make. She follows Varanis over, with no ulterior motives, and nudges her, none too gently, in the ribs. “Proper introductions, Vingan-creature!” she demands. Oh dear. Someone hasn’t been drinking enough beer to have a decent tolerance lately.

Berra gets up to go stretch her legs, and maybe get some fresh air. Rajar says to her, “This is more of a party than I expected. Might be worth sending to the sword temple for guards. I’ll pay”

Xenofos follows the Humakti, but this time only with his gaze.

Berra says to Rajar, “Do you think you’re going to start a riot? I can. I mean… I can get them. Not start a riot.”

Rajar stares at Xenofos for a little and watches his glance. Then goes off to buy more drink.

Varanis introduces Serala to Valseena. Again. The Grazelander is amusingly tipsy. “Valseena saved our skins a time or two! Remember that walktapus I told you about? Berra and I were choking on its poison…” The Vingan seems to have forgotten that she only just met up with the Serala tonight and couldn’t have told her about the walktapus. The wine must be going to her head.

Irillo leans back, sipping his now warm wine. “Walktapus? Do they really exist?”

Suuraki replies, “They do. A hard fight, but we slew the abomination. And then we had to slay it more to make sure it stayed dead.”

Valseena looks at Suuraki proudly.

Varanis shudders. It could be the walktapus or it could be the idea of warm wine.

“Well, Berra did, at the end,” Suuraki clarifies. “If you meet one, slay it with arrows or hold your breath and slay it fast.”

Serala wrinkles her nose, “No, Varanis.” she replies patiently, “You didn’t tell me. We only met up earlier today, remember. You haven’t had time to tell me anything…” She looks to the group and nods, “It sounds like the correct action to take. Chaotic creatures should indeed be stomped into the ground. I am unsure if too much slaying is possible.”

Rajar nods. “The creature came upon us as the camp slept. Luckily, I was on guard and smelt its stench. I called on much power of Storm Bull, otherwise without armour it might have slain me. Its gasses were indeed foul for those short enough to be in their ….misasma I think Xenophos called it. He fought well and true alongside me that day.” Rajar fetches the smaller warrior a bowl of wine and a jug of water

Refocusing on Valseena and Suuraki, Varanis gives them a speculative look. Then she winks at Valseena and offers a private toast to the other woman. “Serala, Valseena is Rajar’s wife’s sister.” Varanis smiles broadly. “This is her first time in Sartar.”

“I am showing her a good time!” bellows Rajar.

“Ah!” Serala looks towards the huge bison rider, then back to Valseena. “I… trust your sister is happy. Tell me… what do you ride? And can I meet it?”
ValseenaToday at 14:29
‘I trust she is.’ Valseena smiles. ‘A bison and yes of course.’ Her smile is broader now.

Rajar bustles over. “Now. Serala is of… a different people. And they live on the far side of Sartar. Although once they lived in Prax. But this is not Prax and the covenant is not in action here. Sister of my wife’s blood….be aware they ride…different…mounts to us.”

“Another bison!” Serala smiles broadly, the expression fades a little as she glances towards Rajar, then brightens again. “Billy was a good bison.” she notes. “I would like to meet another. Also… Berra now rides a bison. A bison party. It must be a sight to see as you ride together.”

Valseena arches an eyebrow at that last part of Rajar’s but says nothing. She looks sad and a little beaten at the mention of Billy.

“You must meet Vengance. And Calamity is with Calf!!” The big Storm Bull beams.

Varanis begins to look… impatient. She watches Serala speaking with the Praxians. Finarvi throws her a friendly and speculative look. He is attending very carefully to the conversation with the Praxians.

“Finarvi made my great helm. The one with the huge horns. See Fin’ if you want a huge horn or two.” Rajar winks.

Serala actually giggles a little at Rajar. “Warrior-friend… you are just jealous of Pag. And wait until we get Cav back to Apple Lane and garb him in the iron that I have waiting for him. He will be a sight to behold.” She does get up, and ‘wraps’ Rajar in a hug, as much as she is able, given the size differential. “Congratulations to Calamity. And yes, I would love to meet Vengeance. A strong name.”

“You have Iron armour, for your, horse?” Rajar asks in surprise.

The Vingan drains her wine and refills it. She drains it again.

Serala’s innocent gaze meets Rajar. “Well, it is better than me having it,” she points out, as though such a thing was self evident. “Chest piece and legs. We took them from a centaur.” As you do…

Rajar looks at the small horse rider10Everyone is small and…pauses…..”BEERRRRR!”

“Taken from a centaur commander of an army we defeated,” Finarvi says modestly, with a mischievous little grin.

“Whose Army?” asks Rajar

The redsmith says, “The remains of a Lunar company. Something to do with manticores. And yes, they had manticores.”

“Company of the Manticore, led by Koros, son of Ironhoof,” his cousin clarifies. “It was an interesting battle, in many ways.”

“You didn’t tell me…” Varanis looks startled, her gaze moving between the Grazelanders.

“You were telling me your adventures.” Serala says, with an open wink to Varanis. “This is how I teach you, dear friend.” Oh, so utterly innocent, openly trying to wrap Varanis around her little finger as she often did in the past.

“It’s alright, we had Arim to fight them.” Finarvi might be joking. “It was less frightening than facing a dragon.”

Finally a dam bursts. Varanis mutters an oath in Pure Horse Tongue, foul enough to make Finarvi proud. She has remembered her language lessons. She grabs Serala’s hand and pulls her in for a searing kiss and then attempts to carry the other woman up the stairs. In the end, she settles for pulling her along by the hand, being defeated by the combination of wine and narrow staircase. “Good night!” she calls down to the others, utterly unrepentant.

Serala just laughs and laughs as she is dragged away. “I bed.. err.. bid… you all goodnight!” she calls out cheerfully, half stumbling her way behind Varanis.

Finarvi chuckles and rests his head on the table, looking happy and content.

“Have fun you two,” shouts Rajar. “So there I was, naked as the day I was born but for my helmet and my second best axe…and a Walktapus walking into camp. At first I thought it was a man with an odd helmet on….”

Valseena squeezes Suuraki’s hand. Perhaps contemplating a similar manoeuvre.

Irillo takes another sip of wine, and observes dryly, “That was both quick and took incredibly long.”

Rajar shrugs. “I think they like to talk before they mate like two rampant morokanth. So this walktapus….”

Valseena whispers something to Suuraki which makes him splutter on his beer. She then heads up the stairs to the rooms. Suuraki follows.

Later, a group of Humakti does indeed take up guard. Just in case, perhaps.


“Dormal, you were getting the old gang together.” – GM
“I’m hoping for a new gang. I didn’t like the old gang.” – Dormal
“would you buy used armour from this honest feller?” – Xenofos

“is that bard still around, alive and making songs…?” – Xenofos
“He didn’t fall over 15 times on his own sword.” – GM
“It would only need once. Don’t malign Eril.” – Berra
“It depends which bit he’s aiming for.” – GM

“Orders a round of beers. And one for them too.” – Rajar

“There’s no point discussing this with the High Priest of Storm Bull here in Boldhome. The man’s an idiot.” – Rajar
“Does that not rule out lots of Storm Bulls?” – Xenofos

“You might as well give me a library roll.” – GM
“It’s a mess. They have a terrible indexing system.” – Xenofos

“Sounds like they need fertility rolls too now.” – Varanis
“No, I think they already did that in special time. In Sacred Time.” – GM

“Suuraki: downloads the soap opera to his god” – Nala

“So, you tromp all the way up the thousand steps?” – GM
“Can we check he’s up there first?” – Berra

“Pass listen… what?” – Xenofos
“You get to hear the Varanis/Nala chat” – GM
“I am just flabbergasted at X hearing something…” – Xenofos

“The dishonour is all mine.” – Nala
“It’s interesting that you’ve been sent to be my spiritual guide.” – Varanis

“Varanis gives Tennebris an apologetic look.” – Varanis

“Dear Priest of Orlanth-Husband and Boldhome in the land of the Sartar” – Berra
Please hold until my granddaughter lady Varanis Saiciae Royal Lady* of Sartar &c,
Dearest Varanis
I write with sad tales. Your sister Mirava is missing, and we fear the worst.** If your duty prevents you returning to Esrolia I understand entirely. Please believe that I have my best people looking into the matter. (Hey, how you doing?)
With my sisterly regards to Prince Kallyr and to the Feathered Horse Queen
Yours, lovingly, Grandmother.
*archaic as ‘first alternative to the throne’

“I fumbled Intrigue so we can talk about what I know later.” – Berra

“We may have trouble persuading the Praxians that are not here to go to the place of horses that ride on grass.” – Rajar
“If only they had Praxians that they respect.” – Berra, just a little too dead-pan.

“Blessed be the money-makers.” – Irillo

“He has traded all Sacred Time.” – GM
“What did he trade it for?” – Irillo?

“He is up spreading the oily beetle on the hands of the powerful.” – Salid
… – Varanis
“He’s greasing palms.” – Berra
“Or buttering people up, depending on the translation of the Darktongue idiom.” – GM

“”Give my regards to the Demonmaker.” – Nala
“Sure!” – Berra

“MY BROTHER INSULTED RUSHESINTOBATTLE!!! EEEE” – Nala

“There may need to be arrangements made… because I am Vingan.” – Kallyr
“It is possible the Queen will not accept a woman as a lover, let alone a Husband-protector.” – Kallyr
“Therefore be prepared to negotiate prossible proxies.” – Kallyr
“Do you have any in mind?” – Varanis
“The lists are limited by bloodline… I don’t suppose you’ve considered asking Vinga to change your gender?” – Kallyr

“Rondrik scrambles.” – Varanis
“He wants to keep the Uroxi happy.” – Varanis
“Rondrik is used to having Rajar around.” – Berra
“It means less repair to the inn.” – Varanis

“Rondrik sets mead and beer in front of them. He’s very apologetic. He doesn’t have any kumiss on tap.” – Varanis
“It’s on udder, not on tap.” – Berra

“It helps that the Palace has made it clear in the past that they like to keep Varanis at Rondrik’s when she’s in town.” – Varanis
“And not in the palace, thank you very much.” – Xenofos

“And yes Xenofos Rajar will bring some chicken. And a axe.” – Rajar
“I was more thinking hyssop and amaranth and myrrh” – Nala
“DEATH TO FOWL” – Rajar
“Oh dear god. Who is letting Rajar bring chicken?” – GM
“Rajar is.” – Berra

“It was Affada who did the training.” – Nala
“It may have looked like that.” – GM

“Why are all shamans so sarky?” – Nala
“Because they know people.” – Berra

“I have a REALLY wonderful thought, Rajar, which I have been thinking about.” – Berra
“Truestone holds Magic.” – Berra
“What happens when the Block is full?” – Berra
“…… welll” – Rajar
“Thats why we stop people chipping bits off it” – Rajar

“…Nala has lost all semblance of tolerance for this little man.” – Nala

“Nala looses her temper as soon as they are out of earshot.” – Nala
“There is a torrent of Praxian rapid-fire, generally addressed against men” – Nala
“Rajar nods and then mentions there is a feast to attend” – Rajar