S02 — Session 31

1627, Sea Season, Disorder Week to Harmony Week (ending around Waterday)

Dramatis Personae




Devolin in the bushes with a decoy
Garth in the haystack with a crossbow
A troll in the trees with a club
Onjur in the distance with trouble


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.

The party left Boldhome, heading in the direction of Alda Chur, going with Irillo’s caravan, and taking the gifts for the Feathered Horse Queen. As always, Berra put herself in charge of the security of the caravan.

A little beyond Dangerford, they ran into an ambush, which they did not see in time. Rajar, Berra and Varanis were wounded, and a voice shouted, “Go home to Prax.” Berra took the initiative with an enquiry about the state of the area,1”DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM, BOLLOCKS?” thus establishing that she at least was local and a big threat. The ambushers left in a hurry, and the caravan huddled up to make a decision. Valseena healed Varanis, and managed to get to Berra before the Humakti closed up her own wound entirely, thus making it easier on her. Rajar was healed by Tiwr.

Irillo sold Varanis some dye2with hair softener for her zebra, which therefore looked like a blackish horse. Xenofos elected not to dye his mount. As there was no immediate threat, Berra hustled along up front on foot, with the caravan trailing slowly behind. After not very long, she smelled a campfire, and turned towards that. To her delight, there was a fake person in a tree – Devolin was in the area! Nevertheless, on finding him, she could not actually find him. He pointed out that throwing a javelin at him was rude, even though it went through him and hit his tent – his appearance was an illusion. He did also say that the peasants around the area had gone mad, but she was not prepared to listen to him as a source of information, and so after poking around for a bit, she left. As he was only one bandit, she advised the caravan to move on. Nala looked for him with spiritual vision as he passed, but could not see him.

As they moved on, they started to smell burning… something. Probably vegetation. Berra stopped the caravan and asked Irillo how much he fancied being in a war zone. She called for cavalry scouts, and Xenofos and others got ready to go. Varanis was sure3Fumbled Scan that she had seen a dragon, so Berra tried to call Xenofos back, but he was already armoured up and moving out. She thought he had ignored her, and got very angry, but meanwhile turned the caravan around so that it could make a quick getaway if necessary.

The cavalry went over the next hill, where they saw burned crops and a destroyed village. Xenofos and Varanis wanted to investigate, but Rajar decided they would report back to Berra first. Irillo and his caravan headed towards safety once the others reported in. They did see the tracks of horse4or zebra hooves in the area.

There was a fair bit of debate about whether or not to check the village for survivors. Xenofos and Varanis were both very determined that it was necessary and when the argument looked like it might go on too long, Varanis announced that they were going back. She looked to Berra to sort out the approach and was curtly informed that she was now in command.5”Before we do, I want to know who’s in charge of this shitshow. Is it me? Is it you?” The Humakti was apparently done with Esrolian cavalrymen who ignored direct orders.

With Varanis at least nominally in command, they returned to the village, and spiraled in towards it. They found no survivors, and Berra for one was certain that three of the six bodies had been stabbed at least once ‘to make sure’.

Nala asked Xenofos to look more closely at a javelin in one of the bodies. He scouted it by going up to see it, rather than by using magic. Berra followed – they did not talk to each other much. Xenofos did not recognise the javelin, other than to note it looked Praxian. Suuraki took a closer look and determined that it was a cobbled together piece, likely made by someone trying to make something Praxian, but having no real understanding of tribal and clan variations.

As they searched the area, they came under threat from a haystack. Nala, thankfully, did not set fire to the haystack, as it turned out to contain a young boy with a crossbow. The child was distraught and terrified of Xenofos. Varanis managed to calm him and learn that his village had been attacked by zebra riders and his mother had sent him to hide in the hay, thereby saving him. She learned that the attackers were pale-skinned, but riding zebras and possibly dressed to look like Praxians. The Vingan tried to keep the child calm and introduce him to the sort of scary people. He really did not like Xenofos, the zebra rider. Eventually, Nala carried him on Tiwr to get him back to Irillo, where he’d be out of harm’s way.

Berra suggested that this might be the work of someone like Onjur, whom they had met before. This seemed like the Lunar way of causing trouble, although it was so very like it that she did not want to assume. They followed the tracks away.

Nala caught up with Irillo, and handed over the small child. The merchant was very polite and hospitable to him. Nala and Tiwr accompanied the caravan down to Dangerford and then back.

Suuraki led the way along the trail after the zebra riders, and they rode for about a day, until he lost them by a stream. As they cast around for the trail, an arrow landed among them. Berra yelled out in Heortling again, and after some persuasion got one of the ambushers to talk. Just about everyone around here was peasants, and they were all blaming the Praxians for slaughter. Argrath had apparently moved into Alone, and his people had pushed the natives out as they looked for food and camping.

Trading on her reputation and her local accent, Berra was able to persuade the man that at least the latest slaughter had been the fault of the Lunars, whom they were now chasing, and who did not look like they were heading for Alone. The groups parted.

Xenofos worked wonders getting onto the trail and staying there despite the rocky ground. The party rode until Yelm’s disappearance made it impossible to keep following the tracks. They camped for the night, intending to follow at first light, but their night’s sleep was interrupted by a troll and his Enlo.

The troll turned out to be a rather friendly sort, as far as trolls go, especially once he had found out the group was not easy targets. For a barrel of Rajar’s beer, a pouch of Berra’s dried chilli, and various other exotic foods, he shared the information that they were at least a half-day behind a group of riders, one of whom was wearing iron. He drew out the breastplate for them, and everyone who knew Onjur swore – it was his. He also agreed (on generous payment) to pass word that Berra would pay a troll’s weight plus the weight of Onjur’s armour in bolgs, for delivery of the armour or Onjur’s head. Varanis insisted on paying the advertising.

Knowing they could not take on the group of Lunars, the adventurers turned around and rode back towards the caravan, meeting up with Nala along the way.

On the road, Berra makes sure different pairs of guards are together, and everyone gets a chance to know everyone else and be awake at different times. Varanis either gets a late watch so she can salute the Dawn, or a wake-up prod with a toe. Even those who do not usually watch get put on the roster at least once, and get walked around the camp by her. She is making sure to mix the cavaran group and the adventuring guards.

On the way back towards Dangerford, Berra actively seeks out the locals and the peasantry of the woods, although she tries to keep the Praxians and Xenofos back when doing it. As that is most of the party, she’s on a hiding to nothing.

Rajar is attempting to look inconspicuous. He’s failing.

Xenofos is muttering opinions on honesty of dyeing equines…

Varanis attempts to reason with him. “Xenofos, look at it this way… it reduces the chances of me taking another arrow to the gut. That could have gone very badly the other day. You aren’t lying by making your zebra look more horselike. You are taking necessary precautions to protect the people around you.”

“You just do not mess with the colouring of your horse, errr… mount. It is just not done. Apart from clearly ceremonial decoration.”

“So, you’d prefer to continue presenting a target? And putting others at risk?” Varanis growls at her cousin.

He shrugs. “I would not cover the Serpent on my shield, I will not disguise the nature of my mount…”

Varanis twists to glare at him. “Ok. You can pull the next arrow out of me then.”

“Hmmm, that is a point. I should probably ride point then, to minimize that risk?”

Berra rides up. “We get you a horse in Dangerford. If we have time.”

“Or a damn big Saiciae pennon…” Xenofos muses.

“I … sort of suddenly wonder if the word ‘scout’ is one that means a different thing in Esrolian. Do you never try not to be seen?” Berra looks confused yet amused.

Rajar is busy tapping his helmet. Must be a fly.

Varanis rolls her eyes. “Cavalry.”

“That’s very heavy cavalry thinking,” Berra muses.

“It is thinking different than those Lunars pretending to be Praxians…” the Scholar mutters.

“Yeah. You mind getting shot up by your own allies?” But Berra shrugs, not pushing it.

“The presumed allies seemed equally happy to put arrows in anything on bisonback. Are you planning to change Followed for a horse?” Xenofos asks.

“I was thinking about it, but no. And the zebra’s what Onjur was riding. So they’re not equally happy.” Berra gives Xenofos a stern look.

“They shot me quite a lot….” Rajar grumbles loudly.

Xenofos just looks at Berra’s left arm and nods when hearing Rajar.

Berra looks down at her arm and back up at Xenofos. “Still not a zebra rider,” she says. “But I was already trying to leave it. You stick your feet in and don’t move. I got that.”

He is quiet for a while. “Yes… I am stubborn at times. And trust the discerning abilities of xenophobic Sartarite plebs way less than you do. So one guy on a zebra is not really an increased risk, but one more target instead of Varanis. Or you.”

“Yeaaaaaah. We don’t know whether we’re going to get shot at as a group more if you’re on the zebra though. Where’s my cavalry scout if I can’t use you?” Berra looks down at Followed, and then at Stripey II. “You’re narrowing the decisions I can make.”

He looks at Followed, shrugs and replies, “I can still ride point, no problem.”

“No. I’m not going to order that if you’re on a zebra. Maybe you didn’t follow all the talk in the woods. You don’t get to be the reason they attack us. I’m not putting you out front on that.” Apparently Berra can also be Static.

“What is the symbol of Sartar?” asks Rajar. “Point man flies the banner?”

Berra shakes her head like she has thought of that. “No, because we probably want to avoid being seen. Because if there is trouble in the area looking for people of Sartar, it’ll be us they are looking for.”

“If we wish to avoid being seen then not riding down these roads like a victory procession is probably the key,” the big StormBull points out reasonably.

Berra nods. “Yeah, got that bit. Depending on what information we can get it’s either Runegate or along the Creek.”

The scribe argues, “Along the roads is quicker. Albeit visible. And sneaking on poacher’s paths would seem suspicious too…”

“Heavy cavalry thinking again. Even Rajar gets that you don’t ride straight into it.” Berra straightens on Followed, like she is prepared to move on.

“Tradeoff. Speed and visibility versus caution and tarrying.” Xenofos shrugs and grins. “And it is the way of light cavalry to ride swiftly to trouble and as swiftly around it…”

“Yehuh. How many really good riders do you see here? How many people do you want to leave behind when you do?” Berra raises a brow, and is maybe trying to hide the rest of the expression.

“You are right. Four good riders and I would not have the stomach to leave either of the remaining two behind.” He looks around. “And would not like to make that decision for any of the good riders either…”

“Perhaps we should look bigger than we are not smaller,” Rajar suggests. “Bang the Drum, sound the Horn, We are coming little people and we are legion. Get out of our way.”

“It’s a thought.” Berra gives Rajar a glance. “But what if the news of us has spread. We know there’s an iron-bearing bastard in the area. That worries me.” She looks more miffed than worried.

Rajar grunts. “Then better he fight us than villagers. Soft rural people who do not keep their spears to hand….”

“We’ve got a job to do, and … he’d go through us.” Berra admits, ruefully. “He’s off, and he won’t be back while there’s investigation unless he’s after a particular target. Us. But one thing we have to do is let everyone we can know who did this. That’s why I want to find people on the way back.”

“I do wonder if rumours of Argrath are true, or just echoes of this diversion,” Xenofos ponders.

“Doesn’t matter to us, but I think it’s true. It sounded like it but I didn’t really hear that bit right. That guy’s accent was really Northern.” Berra too can do unconscious irony. She adds, “They said they got thrown off the land, and I think that was about the bisons and White Bulls.”

“He fumbled his Sense Chaos roll and went to war against the trees.” – Suuraki
“It took a while.” – Rajar

“Tighten up the caravan. Everyone in close.” – Berra
“Varanis, they appear to be peasantry.” – GM
“Right, it’s the riff-raff.” – Varanis

“Your zebra will be very soft and moist afterwards” – GM, to Varanis

“That mule is a cut and shut! Look, it’s half horse, half donkey!” – Berra

“89 – there could be architecture, but there is not” – Xenofos

( Onjur? ) o . – Berra

“Xenofos, can you see what that is?” – Nala
“Varanis, hold my zebra.” –Xenofos
“I meant more of a farsee thing” – Nala

“Protect me from the stripey horse riders!” – Grath

“Track rolls please.” – GM
“A week later, in Prax….” – Xenofos

“Why don’t we all just shout at each other like civilsed people?” – Nala

“Special on Track.” – Xenofos
“Berra looks very grudgingly impressed.” – Berra

“I know what peasants are like. I’ve been a peasant.” – Berra
“You still are.” – GM

“It’s all these weird plants getting in the way of the dirt…” – Suuraki

“You get to rub your cousin’s nose in it.” – GM
“Who cares about cousins?” – Xenofos

“And what happens after Pride…?” – Xenofos and his Ride Roll.

“Was that unduly harsh? I was aiming for more accurate.” – Valseena

“The best bit was that the PCs were entirely at fault.” – Berra

  • 1
  • 2
    with hair softener
  • 3
    Fumbled Scan
  • 4
    or zebra
  • 5
    ”Before we do, I want to know who’s in charge of this shitshow. Is it me? Is it you?”