A Leg Up

S01 — Session 9

1625, Earth Season

Season, Week, Day
Earth Season, Death Week, Claysday-Godday
Earth Season, Fertility Week, Freezeday


Dramatis Personae


Berra Daughter of Jarang
Nala of the Unicorn Ladies
Tiwr (played en-troupe)
Rajar son of Ranulph
Mellia (Briefly misused by GM)


Irillo Jasilsson- Initiate of Issaries Goldentongue, and Merchant Adventurer
Naril, Master of the Horses to the Prince of Sartar
D’Val the Sword
Yannioth- High Priestess of Y(Elmal)io in Boldhome
T’scha’lvarnilan’tiralis- Beaked Dragonnewt
2 Orlanthi guardsmen (unnamed)
3 Baboon guardsbaboons (unnamed)
5 Unfortunate Scorpion men

and re-introducing
Salid the Sniveller (Sid)- Trollkin Guardstrollkin

As before, the log will be recounted with extracts from Berra JarangsdottiHumaktisaga, from The Sonnets to Mellia, Sweetest of Healers, White Lady of Esrolia, The Lay of Serala, Lance of the Cold Sun , The Death of Rajar or The Sonnets to Vestra, Grey Lady of Wisdom, and NalaTiwrSaga. {insertions} will occur in another cynical or sarcastic voice, whose precise nature is unclear, but may prove identifiable with future work. Whilst some of the comments of the ‘D Voice’ may sound like the ‘Q Voice’, and indeed sometimes strikingly similar to the ‘T Voice’, the context indicates it is a separate interlocutor who has opted to step outside the heroic narrative. Also included are some extracts from ‘The Accounts of the travels of Irillo Goldentongue‘. They are brief, and terse, and some authors (Garin et al) have suggested they are written in a code, whose decypherment would clarify many points of this time.

[We begin with a segment of the Lay of Serala, as our heroes gather themselves together in Boldhome. In this section, which was later set to music by von Wargner, in his sadly neglected opera, “die weibliche Kriegerin” in what is perhaps the most well known aria of that work, “Der Gott hat mich besucht und war ein Fremder“, the Heroine reflects on her Divine experience.]

The Lance beset by awe of Gods, and rising to the higher plane
Did wonder if she to strange Elmal should as votivess herself en-name
And thus it was, unto his sleeping place did stride
For she from mental strife was not the one to hide

But instead did face it as if it were a foe she struck at with a lance
And there she spake of what she glimps’d of Elmal in her trance.
Seeing she was by Elmal Horse Lord a chosen tool
Wise Yannioth did not preach, nor try on duties needs to school

But welcom’d Serala as Her God’s true child and spear
Whom all his foes, she’d teach the Cold Sun’s ire to fear!
And thus, relieved the Lance of Cold Sun, her friends led forth as knights
To save the weak, to guard, to save the preyed on victim from their plights!1 It is a consistent part of the Lay of Serala that she is always depicted as the leader of the group. Whilst this is probably no more than heroic hyperbole, it gains interesting aspects when one recalls the interplay between Yelm and the Sky/Fire Gods (including Yelmalio) and Orlanth and the Air Gods.

[Let us now switch to Berra JarangsdottiHumaktisaga, which unsurprisingly has a somewhat different emphasis. ]

Going to Goldentongued God follower
Gaily Gelt-giver Berra
Protector of Priests and Pilgrims
Pure and Pride of Blue Tree2The Blue Tree Clan were famed for the herding of horses, the wild river within their flood plains, and their tenacious approach to life best exemplified by the horse-herders who held riding their animals would be an insult to the ultimate owner, and therefore ran alongside.

To Irillo tallier of talents3 The talent was at this time a lesser known currency, used in Esrolia, and thus appropriate to an Esrolian merchant. The other meaning of talents, as skills or qualities, was also current. This reinforces the suggestion that the author of Berra JarangsdottiHumaktisaga was Esrolian- the same pun does not work in Heortling.
Told True Berra of Trollkin traitors
Lightly laughed Lightbringer
Loyal named he leal lance-troll

Clever Irillo saw Chattelry cheating
By Salid’s Claws clasped
Metal made manumission4 Interestingly, ‘Metal Manumission’ was later a named, famous iron sword, dedicated to mobility as one ‘cannot be slave and mobile’. The connection with this poem is unknown.
Matured by Men’s Swords!

Berra heard truth begotten
Bade Troll, Man and Baboon follow her5 The gathering of allies, both likely and unlikely is one of the elements of the Hero that the poet appears to be drawing out here.
To guard and guide
Going to Gods!

[The travel seems to have been largely uneventful. The terse Praxian texts record it in a couple of lines. The Lay of Serala takes roughly 15 pages. Only The Accounts of the Travels of Irillo Goldentongue have anything to say in regard to their trip through Jonstown.]

Jonstown 1625-Ea-De-Fi6Garin (Altn 17.3) takes the apparently plain scratchings of Irillo as more than the mere work of a merchant of the time, citing major differences in outlook between these and any Esrolian or Sartarite. A comparison of the prices within Nochet and the locales through which so-called Irillo travelled reveals that the goods to which he refers were all associated with the Janil merchant house, which is no surprise. However, they had ritual significance within the house, a sub-house of Saiciae. (Altn 17.4-17.7) The sale of these goods can thus be read as a wide-scale protectionist ritual for the House of Saiciae, explaining the careful detail of the Rec’d and Spent notes. No indication of Rune magic appears in this part, and indeed Runic Ritual would be surprising at such scale. Garin considers that this would be a spiritual magic, or Runes operated within Esrolia.

Gift from King, 5 hides, 3 of deer, 1 of fox, 1 of black bear, local value approx 20L, Nochet value approximately 50L
Sale of Silk threads similar to those given to King, cost 10L in Nochet: 50L

Bribery, 10L, 5c
Gift to King, Silk threads, 10L in Nochet. Local value approx 40L
Guards, 5L

[Heading north uneventfully, and starting to turn West, towards Alda-Chur, they once more encountered draconic magics. The Sonnets to Vestra tell this most clearly.]

Along the Pavis road wise Vestra rode
Dragonnewts within an em’rald path strode
Sage Vestra most wisely learning guiding
But foolish danger in their midst was hiding!

Whilst Berra stood still in wonder frozen
Serala then a diff’rent path chosen
Lifting Ernalda’s gift from earth soft breast
She threw a stone, the glitt’ring path to test!

{“Who thought that was a good idea? Why am I even with you? Who are you? I’ve never seen you before!!”}

And thus it was that Vestra first beheld
The Dragonkin of which the sages told
Rubbing bruiséd head the Klanth7 The obsidian edged wooden sword of the Dragonnewt warrior bearer spoke
-Tongue so old it held man a childish joke

Yet Vestra stooped and ‘pon the kindly Earth
She spake an answer in his tongue of birth!8 This echoes the solution as coming from the same root as the problem- the circularity of the pains caused and gifts given by the Earth is remarked on by Wiermonken, in an otherwise tedious article- “On the Element of Earth.”
A coup of scholarship of such a breadth9 The choice of ‘coup’ as a semi-military term may be deliberate here, showing the warrior aspects of the sage, in fighting with the pen, rather than the sword.
It saved her comrades from the touch of death!

{“Seriously? What sort of a plan is, ‘Let’s see what happens?!?!?”]

[Death by lightly concussed dragonnewt warrior averted, our heroes continued on towards Alda-Chur, camping up once more for the night at a place they deemed suitable. Our story picks up again with Berra JarangsdottiHumaktisaga.]

Darkness draped down
Dread D’Val-follower10The compound word D’Val-follower is a hint that the so-called Deus Ex Quackina achieved hero status, some time after this poem, much as the capitalisation of the word ‘Sword’ shows Berra’s ultimate fate. Studies of Devevalsaga indicate nothing of the sort among the few extant fragments. Garin (Altn 14.10-14-11) argues that D’Val-follower refers to the Duck Point journey only, and ‘D’Val-Devotee’ would be the obvious alliteration, with D’Val-Dagger also hard to ignore. The Sage Llewun has Berra visiting Duck Point as a cynical voyeur of human-duck nature, in ‘A Treatise on What is Best In Life’. Dauntless11 This helps remind the audience that at this stage, Berra had not fully progressed from follower to leader.
Seeing shadows shift
Suspicious of something sinister!

Salid12 It is remarkable in writings of this era that in all of these linked tales that non-humans are often sympathetically dealt with, even named. This is most remarkable for those races which are often the subject of derision in contemporary writings- the Duck and the Trollkin. This has led authors (eg Derzinksy, Fox) to speculate that the author is one of these races- Fox suggests Duck, and Derzinksy opts for Trollkin. This author feels that these options are unlikely, as the Trollkin population of Esrolia was low (although admittedly not zero due to the proximity of the Shadow Plateau), and none of the writings have the linguistic characteristics of Ducks. It is more probable the author is simply more interested in challenging societal assumptions. This is in keeping with a proposed Eurmali authorship. softly spake
Saying seven13 The records of the writings of the Sage Vestra Saiciae suggest the number was somewhat smaller. Naturally claims of warriors who slew them tend to increase the figures! somethings he saw!
Brave Berra bespoke
Bidding him bring others to Battle!

[Alas, this suggestion does not seem to have gone entirely to plan. Despite the best efforts of the trollkin, the Uroxi seems to have been hard to wake, as is documented in ‘The Death of Rajar’.]

Uz-danger looming
A great-troll berself distant?
Trollkin, not far away

If you slay two foes
Strike one friend, are you ahead?
Axeing for a friend

[It would seem that Tiwr intervened in this point, for NalaTiwrSaga tells us]

Trollkin blood spurting
Seal’d swift with a loving horn
A first for both there.
14 Interestingly, this suggests that Tiwr’s intervention was the first time he had healed a Trollkin, or perhaps any non-human, non-unicorn. This would be considered a vital stage of the growth of this hero.

[Naturally, the Lay of Serala has the Yelmalian as the heroine of the process, saying]

And thus the scorpeen15 Sic folk did rush
From their concealment in the bush
And under Yelm’s son’s light she slew16 An attack in the daytime seems unlikely. It appears more probable that she had called upon the blessings of the Cold Sun, as appeared in earlier verses.
Arrow following each, anew.

Before her lay a pile of slain
Each writhing in a bed of pain
Serala saved the lesser kin
Her arrows striking with a din

Which seemed to stun the chaoskind
She slew them as the meaty hind
Which in times gone by she hunted oft’
With bow and arrow, spear aloft

But now she slew a monstr’us band
Her bow like ’twere in Yelm’s own hand
And as each one on one lay down to die,
The piles of corses reached the Sky!17 Realistically, one suspects a certain degree of artistic license has taken place here.

[Berra JarangsdottiHumaktisaga naturally tells it somewhat differently!]

Brave Berra bade Baboons
And Bondsmen bide by her side
Standing stalwart as a sword
Striking Scorpion-folk and smiting swift!

{“And does anyone look behind them when fighting? They do not.!”}

[More realistically, given reliable historical accounts of Uroxi in a fight against Chaos, The Death of Rajar says:]

Scorpion man slain
A dozen more lie dying
Urox is cheated!

As Yelm’s journey ends,
Large man falls prone at her feet.
White lady gives sleep.
18 This appears to be a reference to another work, which survives only in title, ‘The Avengers of the Death of the Son of Coul.’

[Thus ‘The Death of Rajar’ is unable to give more details of the clean up, and it is the ‘Sonnets to Vestra’ which gives us more details of the investigation of the Scorpionmen camp.]

And so they found the chaos lair of death
Where nothing living gave a single breath
With skin of Wind-folk to pale parchment made
With fire the shades of darkness there were laid!

[And so to Alda-Chur, our heroes came….]

Serala headed to the temple of Elmal, in order to see if she needed to Initiate to him, having had a vision of Elmal guarding the stead last session. Whilst there was a certain difference to the approach, the followers of Elmal were prepared to accept Yelmalio as the same basic thing. Thus reassured she returned to the others. Tiwr and Nala went to get the blessings of Orlanth for their quest, and were given a cursory (non-mechanistically beneficial) blessing. Berra and Vestra went off to meet the merchant, whom Dormal had volunteered them as guards to, without mentioning payment. Vestra recognised Irillo as a member of her Clan, and therefore a ‘good sort’ ™. It was agreed that they would indeed accompany him, requiring only food for the privilege. On meeting up, the found he had some guards already- Dormal, a couple of Orlanthi, three Baboon spearmen, and a Trollkin with a pike. Berra recognised the Trollkin as one of the band of trollkin who had accompanied the Dark Troll who had ambushed them back in session 4, and gave warning of this. Irillo revealed he had already discovered this, but Saeid the (now Free) Trollkin had turned over a new leaf given his (party induced) manumission. Not trusting him in the slightest, the party set out. Much continued to not happen- they were singularly not attacked on their way north, and they barely paused in Jonstown, just long enough for Irillo to give a gift to the Tribal King, and make a tidy profit on some bits and bobs. They paused a little longer at Dangerford, before crossing The Creek, and Serala found herself some company, and Berra found herself un-hit on (news clearly travels fast). The river crossing was also unremarkable, and they made good, unambushed time.

Just after Herongreen, another Dragon-road/Wyrmhole crossed the road, and Serala chose to indulge in experimental cultural anthromancy, by throwing a rock into it, to “see what happened.” What happened was a Beaked Dragonnewt warrior suddenly appeared, as the road winked out, and rubbed his head where he’d been hit by the rock. Whilst Old Wyrmish is a closed book to most of our heroes, Vestra was able to explain that it was a tragic accident in written Old Wyrmish (not having had the requisite surgery to speak it), and the Dragonnewt stalked off, stood on a separate inscribed rock, and vanished in a streak of green. Vestra took careful copies of the runic and Old Wyrmish inscriptions, which seemed to her to be gobbledigook, presumably as some sort of magic.

Continuing on, towards Alda-Chur, Berra set up watches, and she and Saeid were on second. She felt something wrong in the air, but Sid’s darksense was able to identify five approaching. Berra sent him to wake up the others, and some Scorpion men burst into the open. Whilst the rest of the team woke easily, Rajar kept snoring away, dreaming illicit dreams… Unfortunately, when Sid went to wake Rajar, in his semi-somnolent confusion, the Storm Bull was dreaming of Great Trolls, and swung immediately with his battleaxe. Sid fell over, sans leg, but Rajar was up and fighting. Dormal slid into the darkness to start flanking, Irillo cast Warding to protect the caravan, Berra prepared the guards to defend, and Serala started laying down fire. As the Scorpions came towards them, two dropped to Serala’s arrows. Tiwr launched himself heroically to heal Sid, and Rajar was ballistically deployed to the others, in a frothing Berserk Storm Bull Chaos killing frenzy. Two Scorpion men died to the Storm Bull’s Frenzy, whilst the last was killed by Irillo’s ward, Berra, and Dormal (the other guards getting a stern look).

Then the Berserker turned upon his former companions, and charging up towards the warding, was soothed to sleep by Mellia.

The bodies and camp of the chaos creatures being burned, in the morning, and the remains of other travellers found in the camp more respectfully laid to rest, the party left for Alda-Chur, arriving unmolested.

Then they started trying to work out what they’d do when they reached the Mountain.

“The earlier call was a brief bit of duck-shouting. Like duck whispering but less Robert Redford and more getting apple juice sprayed on me.” – Berra

“I should also point out that means the unicorn folk should be killing and eating unicorns.” – Rajar
“Try me, fatty.” – Tiwr, per Berra
“I mean they’re self healing, how do you know they don’t?” – Dormal

“Regrow Flank Steak (1 point, Beast, Healing, Fertility)” – Berra
“Don’t use rune magic for that. Use Spirit magic.” – GM

“Is it 8pm yet?” – Berra
“19:35” – Timestamp

“And you know I contest the RQC rules that say Siz cannot be gained except by magical means. As compared to Str and Dex. I mean. Seriously. Look at my 20 something pics and now. I definitely got more Siz and paid good money for that beer.” – Rajar

“Sure Sure. But I say Rajar could work really hard on the beer and pies and get to Siz 20. It’s dirty work sure.” – Rajar

“He looks round, sees you, and goes *sigh*” – GM

“The Prologue….” – everyone who has ever seen Up Pompeii.

“The spear appears to be made of Gold. So either it’s enchanted, or it’s pants as a weapon.” – GM

“No, you don’t get reputation for the heroquest, because you broke it.” – GM
“Reputation doesn’t have to be good! I’d get reputation as a kinslayer.” – Berra
“Yes, but that implies you are good at kinslaying.” – GM

“This is all very exciting. I’m stuck in a tunnel, so I may lose the connection.” – Nala
“Don’t go into the light!” – GM


<<Berra sighs. “I… have no idea what we are doing, to tell the truth.”
Serala lifts her eyebrows, then looks almost relieved. “True? I thought it was only me.”>>

“Ere, you can’t leave that lyin’ there.” – GM
*GM’s line goes sadly unanswered*
“I can’t believe nobody took my straight line.” – GM
“I’m not a lion, I’m a unicorn.” – Tiwr per Dormal
*sigh* Just for you. “Or Unicornin’.” – Berra

“You got about a 10% bonus as finders fee, Dormal. And he’s going to provide food.” – GM
“Even for Rajar?” – Berra
*rubs hands. And belly* – Rajar

“And you thought /my/ heroquests were a shambles.” – GM
“That’s because they were.” – GM’s GM in other game

“Get up early, bellow good morning to billy, have my breakfast beer and so on.” – Rajar

“Three baboons…” – GM
“Well, I learned my lesson underestimating ducks, but still.” – Berra

“Is the Trollkin Salid?” – ???
“No…. you know, in fact… he does have a scar on his foot…” – GM
*shoulders lance with Trollkin head attached to it* – Rajar

“Have I fallen out?” – Nala
“I should be so lucky.” – GM

“They seem to have chosen between the Humakti and the Storm Bull, the Humakti’s plan is less likely to comprise entirely of running at the enemy shouting, ‘chaaaaarge’.” – GM
“It’s a time honoured tactic of my people.” – Rajar
“It’s the only tactic of my people to be fair…” – Rajar

“I look down at him from my six foot four body.” – Nala
“By a curious coincidence, he is also looking down your six foot tall body.” – GM
“Well, I’m mounted.” – Nala
“That’s what he’s imagining.” – Berra

“Does Storm Bull have a stud fee? Asking for a friend…” – Berra
“Actually it is Serala that gets hit on this time.” – GM

(About Trollkin) “His spear is longer than you remember.” -GM
“Is he excited?” – Nala

“I do ‘ride that bison’ a lot.” – Berra
*breaks slightly* – GM

*give Serala a look, and then glance at the horse and the water* – Berra
*grin…* – Serala

“Get my crappling hook and rope ready just in case.” – Rajar
“Please tell me that’s a grappling hook.” – GM

“Are we now crossing the creek?” – Berra
“Ooh, Berra’s trying to get us back on track.” – Serala

“Hello Cat” – Everyone
goes mushy – GM

“It [Nochet] has great parks.” – Vestra
“And great fences.” – Dormal
“They’re great to live next to, Dormal…?” – GM
“Yeah. They make great neighbours.” – Dormal
screen fistbump – both

“It’s not hostile tribal territory.” – Berra
“It’s just been given away.” – Berra

“ZZzzzzzzzzzZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzZZZZZ…..no…Berra…its…wrong…ZZZZzzzzzz”- Rajar (on botching his ‘wake up’ roll)

“There’s a Great Troll leering down at you, kicking you with its taloned feet.”- GM

“Grab my great axe, leap up and hit it. Great Troll you say? Beserk!!!!”- Rajar (botching his response)

“Have I recognised that I have just cut Sid’s leg off?” – Rajar
“Yes.” – GM
“Oh, sorry?” – Rajar

“Nudge his leg back towards his body – and run off!” – Rajar

“I think I have their attention.” – Rajar

“Well he doesn’t have a shield any more.” – GM
“OK.”- Rajar
“Or an arm.” – GM

“OK, trollkins must clean under their loincloths. New rule.” – Tiwr, per Berra

“Shooting into Melee! Hey darling. It’s OK, the guest bed is made up!” – Serala

“I hope there is a second wave, I really do, for all of you” – Rajar
“Berra can have you…
Err, maybe I should rephrase.” – Serala

“RawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwrRRRRR!” – Rajar
“Hey big guy, the sun’s getting real low, now…” – Mellia (per GM)
“ZZZzZzzzzzzzzzzZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz” – Rajar

“It gets daylight.” – GM
“Oh, Sid, I’m so sorry!” – Rajar

“Serala, tick anything you have successfully used.” – GM
“I can tick Rajar.. Err.. that should have been my inside voice… – Serala

“I need money! Give money!” – Serala
“Hand over a couple of lunars.” – Dormal
“It worked!” – Berra

“So, if you see any mallards on the road…”- Berra
“Then duck.”- Serala,

Related Logs

[[[berra:kicked-in-the-head-by-storm-bull|Kicked in the Head by Storm Bull]]] – Serala and Berra discuss Berra’s interesting bruise