Tribe 8 – RPG/TRPG Session
Run by Chris (alcoholandaphorism)
Me – Lady Quinn (Quinn of the Bone path)
Jason (jymmijamz) – Brhyannon (Brhyannon Wagg Trav’on of Eva)
Will – Aulderush (Aulderush Lunerkin Lanig’on of the tribe of Baba Yaga)
Dealing with customers
It has been several years now since Aulderush experienced the Singing Bone Graveyard. He has learnt many things since then, mainly the power of plants and herbalism. At this time, Larket is accompanying him to a small village, nothing more than an out-cropping. There is a hard frost on the ground that is making the going all the more tiresome. It is said that there is a swamp at the destination, where it is said that one of the Z’bri had died there during the war. It is said that the ground recoiled as the thing seeped in to the earth, turning and bubbling up in response to the sickness. Larket explains this tale to Aulderush as they travel to the village.
Larket asks Aulderush what he thinks of the tale and the swamp. He shrugs his shoulders and states that he expects it was here before the Z’bri had died, saying that a great many of them had died at many places. She tuts at his answer, her eyes rolling up in to her head. “You do like to take the spirit out of everything don’t you.” More of a statement than a question, she asks him again why he so likes to do that, but again he shrugs and informs her that there are plenty of spirits without them having to patronise it. “So, what is it that you find so hard to believe?”
“What you think it didn’t happen?”
“I believe the River of Dreams has nothing to do with these ‘stories’.” Again she rolls her eyes and carries on walking. As they walk Larket is busy filling at her teeth again, trying to make them as sharp and pointy as she can. Her tongue runs across the new shape, testing the effect so she can get an idea of how it looks. Her tongue comes away bloodied and she winces slightly and then swallows the liquid. “Hmm, just about right.” More to herself than to Aulderush.
They soon become aware of their nearness to the village as the air becomes musty, and then Larket pulls out a dark black cloth from her satchel and ties it around her mouth. Their feet begin to bound hard against the now black ground. During a summer visit here the ground more or less melts and is useless as a pathway, sharp jagged protrusions jut out and cut and your feet and shoes. Aulderush asks Larket to remind him what they are doing her, and she informs him that there are a few people down ill, and one old one is dead. “There may be something of use here.” She states to him with a glint to her eye as she pats the blades by her side. “Lets not worry about the dead but instead worry about the living.” Aulderush tells her.
“I can tell you have never been trained as a Flesher. Trust me you will want to get there as soon as possible, otherwise it makes it very difficult to remove if left too long. Any longer than a couple of days and the tearing risk goes up and it becomes too brittle.”
“I didn’t know that. I bow to your experience.” He gives her a little bow. She ignores the bow, “I tell you if your not quick people will flinch the fingers bones and use them for good luck, but I can think of much better things to do with them.”
Soon they arrive, passing a large rusty metal hulk that legend say was used as transport, but they have such small metal wheels, it could not have been a clever or practical invention. Larket pauses at the hulk and peers in, she tells Aulderush to take a look, showing him some woodlouse that have not settled in for the winter but are still moving about. She picks one up and places it in her mouth. After chewing it several time sin her mouth she spits it back out and states that they are not as good as the ones around their way. She then pulls a flask out, takes a swing and washes it around her mouth and spits again. Aulderush goes over and pick out another bug from the gathered swarm of woodlouse. He then gently places it in to his mouth, feelings the many tiny legs of the thing moving in waves across his tongue. He bits down on the soft shell, the juices squirting across his tongue to the back of his mouth. It tastes almost like rotted meat, bitter and salty. Aulderush sees Larket looking at him with a wicked grin. “I didn’t think I could get you to bite in to it. Sucker!”
They pass ruined buildings with quarter walls remaining. Leather stretched over wooden frames and tarpaulin across walls. The larger walls still have gaping holes, most of which have wooden planks fixed across, but some are left open. Beyond this area is where the swamp begins. Several people are walking about, pale and wrapped up in simple greys. There is a weariness to their eyes as they look at the new visitors. Aware of them being of Baba Yaga, and their eyes flicker from one to the other. There is also a tension in the air, aware of the meaning of seeing a Yagan. A man walks up to them, he has a scales insignia on one of his arms, and on both are flame tattoos coming up from his wrists. He is wearing simple grey robes, with a heavy metal and wood helm that has a piece which runs half way down his spin. His tired eyes look upon them, “Greetings. The head of the tribe cannot be her at this time, she is out on the outskirts of the swamp investigation some disturbances. A wounded animal has moved in, but she has asked me to greet you when you arrived.”
“We are here for the illness.” Aulderush informs him.
“Well you were.” Larket adds looking at Aulderush, “What?” is her immediate response to his look.
“My colleague her is a Flesher. She looks for preserving the history.”
“Is that entirely necessary? We were hoping to bury them in the swamp later today.” Aulderush looks at Larket again hearing this, and she tells him. “See I told you we had to hurry. We are here just in time.” Aulderush just looks at her without responding. She then asks him to tell her if any of the sick will need fleshing and then heads off.
Once Larket has gone Aulderush introduces himself formally to the guy who was sent to greet them. The guy introduces himself as Moloth of the Terasheban. Aulderush recalls these to be the tribe of judges. Moloth once finished with the introductions leads Aulderush out and through the tarpaulins. The wind has picked up, blowing a sharp chill wind. A thick aroma from the swamp is mixed within, as that of decaying meat. He leads him to two people who are shivering and huddled up. It looks as if they could be gangrenous. Looking through his satchel, Aulderush luckily has just the correct herbs with him that should be able to help with this. So with that he sets to work, placing his satchel down on a makeshift table and removing the contents he requires. He brews up a bubbly concoction, that has a thick sediment. This he forces down each of the stricken throat. They gag instantly at this, and he warns them that they will probably be vacating from both ends for the next couple of days.
Looking around, Aulderush can see that not many people actually look that healthy. This place is known for not being a favourable place to hold a position. People do not come out of choice. His two patients thank him for his assistance, even though they are struggling to stomach the ‘medicine’ forced down them. He suddenly hears a female voice shouting from nearby. “I don’t care what you’re saying. You’re not sticking that in to my husband’s flesh. Do you understand me?” Aulderush quickly excuses himself from Moloth, saying that his colleague may need some advise. And with that he hurries off.
Aulderush comes across a stiff body that looks like it is becoming a little manky around the edges. Larket is there with her earthenware jar fizzing and bubbling violently with something she had placed within. Her blades clean and placed on a cloth beside. The stiff body is turned on to it’s front revealing markings on it’s back. The markings look very old and faded. Also here is an old woman, probably in her forties. She is holding out a long blade with a very sharp red edge. A bright jewel in the hilt, probably the brightest thing to be seen here. She is also wearing a well worn but sturdy leather studded armour, which seems to cover everywhere that is needed. This old woman is holding the long, slightly curved blade towards Larket who is stood there holding her arms up in the air. Larket is trying to explain to the woman that she is not trying to cause any trouble or offence. She gestures towards the man’s back, informing the woman that it is an absolute treasure, and asking if she can actually read it. “It refers to the coming of Mary. And I have never come across anything that mentions her. Never.” Aulderush moves over to the man’s back hearing this and begins to take a closer look when the blade shift to him. “And that goes for you too.”
Aulderush reads briefly about the approach and coming of the Fatima Mary, but there is not much mention of the name Mary. Aulderush is aware that Mary had fallen and who was the mother of Agnes. Seeing the blade over by Aulderush now, Larket says, “Oh good. Does that mean I can get on with it now.” But she is quickly cut off as the blade swings back towards her. “I’ll take that as a no then.” Larket looks pleadingly over at Aulderush, asking him to talk some sense in to the woman, telling him that they really must do this one.
Aulderush holds his hands up and open towards the woman, introducing himself to her. But the woman is having none of it, saying that if this is a friends thing, she feels that they will not be so. And before Aulderush can say more she reiterates that they will not be friends, and they will not stop her from putting her husband in the ground. Aulderush assures her that they will treat her husband with utmost respect, reminding her that it is their duty and not something out of kindness. But again the woman will not budge, not wishing for her husband to be skinned and taken away. He thanks her for the duty she and her husband has done out there, and tells her that her husband was not tattooed with this knowledge so that it can be lost. But still the woman’s aggression doesn’t abate, “So you’re a mind reader are you? What makes you think you know what it is to do with? I happen to have a lot of tattoos, and they are nothing to do with remembering.” She moves the sword back towards Aulderush, tapping the side against his face. “So are you telling me that you knew my husband better than I did?” He tells her that the tattoo is about Mary, but the woman shakes her head. “Mary is dead. She is no more. People do not talk of her or remember, so what is the importance.”
“Because that is our link to the River of Dreams.”
“You can do that with the Fatimas that are still living.”
“Yes but that is why you are hear. For the prophesised return of a fallen Z’bri.” And with that comment the woman informs Aulderush to speak fast. Aulderush tries to explain as best he can about what he knows or lack of, of Mary the Fallen, and how maybe she was killed by many Z’bri. He tells her that they need to preserve every little piece of information they can on Mary, so they can learn more. The woman slowly lowers and puts away her sword. “If I find out that you have been lying to me. I will come to the mortuary and open every open until I found where you sleep, and then I will use this blade to cut your throat. Understand?” She taps her sword by her side. Death comes to us all.” Answers Aulderush, which doesn’t help. The woman asks if he would like that now. He informs her that he has not told her any lies. Before turning she tells them to get on with it and to not expect her to watch. And with that she hurries out. Larket smiles at Aulderush and thanks him. Picking up her blades she goes over to Aulderush and whispers. “Do you think while I am at it that they may miss…” But Aulderush cuts her off simply saying “Yes.” He doesn’t budge even with her arguments.
Larket begins to dowse the skin with the bubbling liquid. The skin begins to bubble and lift at the edges. Larket gently glides the edge of her blade across the skin, carefully lifting a flap and testing the skin. She then stops and asks if he would like to stay and watch as he has never seen the operation before. Aulderush tells her that he is bothered by the disease her, and he is soon lost in deep thought. Larket soon goes back to the job at hand, letting him think on his thoughts. He chews on the ideas of how there must be some deep evil seeded in the land her about, and because of the weather, it keeps freezing and thawing. This is probably not helping as it could be fortifying the problem. But he is unsure and mulls over the thoughts some more. Mean while Larket is pouring more of the liquid on, bubbling away the fat and careful removing the skin with her blades. Soon she has the whole piece of skin with the tattoos upon removed and hung up between two trees to dry. The removed flesh is carefully and respectfully placed in neat piles. And once she has finished she crosses her blades and mutters thanks and a pray to Baba Yaga as she bows. She then mutters the same over the items she places in special cloth she pulls from her satchel. Tying it up and placing a sigil of Baba Yaga upon it. She then finally cleans her blades and puts them away. Aulderush comes around as Larket states that she has finished. He looks to see the husband now wrapped in a cloth and everything been attended to respectfully.
Aulderush goes off to find the woman again. He is concerned about the cursed land here and wants to try and help if he can. Larket was not happy about the idea and wanted to leave straight away, but off he went anyway, on his own. He finds her busy tending to a bear with an arrow in it. She is skinning and salting the meat. She turns seeing him standing there and asks if they have finished. He informs her that they have and that he wishes to talk to her more about the problem there. Her eyes narrow at him distrustfully. “Okay talk.” He explains to her what he believes to be the problem there with the land. She listens and thinks as he talks. “That is understandable. It is pretty much a curse to live here anyway.” He assures her that he cannot help with the curse of living there or the duty, but he can share the herbs that will be useful for the next time. “But wouldn’t that interfere with our time to die?”
“I am sure Baba Yaga is capable at choosing the correct time for you to die.” Reluctantly she agrees to listen, and so Aulderush explains the herbs and how best to prepare and administer them. At the end the woman looks surprised with this share of knowledge. “Not bad for a Yagan. Between you and the Flesher, you are both the exact opposite of what I expected you to be.”
Soon Larket bangs against the wall where Aulderush is, calling out that they need to make a move as they need to get back in time for him to meet up with his family. Something that was important, and it is still a long walk back. Aulderush reminded of his duty pays the head woman before him the proper respect and leaves.
The journey back is a lot easier than going, as the bad weather is now behind them. But after four long hours they come to the mortuaries of the Great Hill. The stone around it chilled, and around the fires the frost is kept back. They travel deeper in to the Great Hill to where Aulderush’s family is waiting.
The home has a solitary candle illuminating the room. In the dark dancing shadows from the flickering candle, at the back of the room, can be seen Aulderush’s mother, Elina Lunerkin of Baba Yaga. This woman has long been know as a Mordrid or what is called the Witchkin, one of the more feared of the Yagans. Even in this darkness, the markings around the mother’s eyes and lips. Little puncture marks and thread. These are from when she was just a mere baby in the camps. The Z’bri and sown her eyes and mouth shut, and then they punctured her eardrums, leaving her there to die. But over the many years her eye sight has returned, but she still barely speaks. She holds the hand of her husband, Aulderush’s father, Mordakai Lunerkini Lanig’on of Baba Yaga. The father is rake thin and covered in tattoos. Some of these tattoos are so deep that they must have scrapped the bone. These deep tattoos where done at the wedding ceremony, and done so deep that his wife could still read them even when her sight failed her. He is known to often be in dreams, but here he is not. Here he is the interpreter for his wife as their hands touch, and they communicate with a language only they know.
As Aulderush walks in, his father speaks to him, but not his words but his wives, Aulderush’s mother’s. “Welcome back my son. How was your journey?”
“Thank you mother. Thank you father.” He then tells them that the journey was not easy going, and that the village was cursed, but he was easily able to help them and none was havig to meet Baba Yaga that day. The mother and father flicker their hands together once more before the father speaks again. “Very well, even though they are so far fallen from Baba Yaga’s grace. Perhaps it would have been better for them to have while you were there. So you could administer them to the other side.” Aulderush nods in agreement and then informs them of some wonderful news, sharing that his colleague, the Flesher Larket, was able to remove ink that talked of Mary. His parents look at each other and then there fingers flicker together once more. “We are glad that you could take Larket with you. Before Julius was going to join the Dahlian caravan, he was hoping to look at her. He has suspicions that the demons seek her. The child is wise, but he manner is ill chosen. We had hoped you would be a good influence on her.”
“She has a lot to learn, but serves the tribes well.” The father now pulls his hand away for a moment and speaks to his son as himself. “Son, we have heard that you have been disagreeing with your tutors. If you have a challenge of tradition, both your mother and I would prefer you to speak to us first. Rather than air this in public where it would cause embarrassment for the family. If you have questions then please, speak them now.” Aulderush explains that he wishes not to be an embarrassment for the family or for people to talk less of the family. His father explains that his mother is a well respected Mordrid, and highly thought of with Baba Yaga and the traditions. “When you question the elders and the little crones, it can only look badly upon us.”
“The elders to not seem to speak clearly. Well not to me.” His father goes to open his mouth to say something but then pauses as his mother’s fingers flicker upon his hands. After a moments pause he speaks again for the mother. “If the elder’s words do not seem clear, it is because you have not learned who to hear.” His mother’s fingers play around her ears as his father continues. “Many of the words are not learned by hearing but by the heart and the life you have lived. You have to live this world, and walk its ways. If you are arguing with them instead of living them, then I am afraid you are already on the wrong path.”
“I only ever spoken what I thought was true. If arguing is done then it is done by the elders.” His father’s face flushes upon hearing this, and it looks like he was about to speak when the fingers do their little dance together with his mothers. His father bites his lip and then speaks. “We are both in agreement. We believe you should take some time alone amongst the fallen. To think upon their lives.”
“Amongst those who have died. Spend some time. There are those who are died from the time before who are sick of spirit. Make sure you understand them and do not follow their ways. Until you have done this, for three days do not speak a word. Do you understand?” Aulderush nods and his parents smile at him, pleased with his response.
A final mission
It has been many, many moths since Lady Quinn had been given her first proper mission by her mentor Troika. He has given her several other differing quest since, and often he has been perturbed by her approach and outcome. He has constantly encouraged her to walk the path of subtly and deniability, with the hope of a less of a body count. However today the Bone path caravan is heading back towards the Bazaar, and Troika has requested that she come to his side once again. He wraps his coat around him and thanks her for coming. “How long has it been since we last talked of important things? It seems like we have had mere trivial matters that occupy our minds. I wish to talk more of the subtleties.”
“Yes, the play of life does keep us busy.”
“And of life it should always be.” He then tells her that they have another one of ‘those’ issues, and minor one he adds. “Maybe a casting problems shall we say. If you understand?” Upon her positive response he continues. He informs her of the Hunting Grounds, making sure she does know where they are. He tells her of two who have decided to enter the play, and some poor casting fool has decided to let them. “That land is sacred, very sacred to us. We do not allow Surfs, Squats, or The Fallen upon it. Ever! But I hear that there are two travelling it, two Fallen. I am not sure why, but it would be interesting to find out. And to ensure their return to Hom.” He tells her that if the Joanites find them, then they will most likely be tried and executed and nothing will be known. He suggests that she go and retrieve some more supplies from the Hunting Ground for the caravan. She agrees with this task, informing him that it could be most joyous. He warns her to take care as there could be several Joanites in the area. “I would rather they did not notice any Dahlians at play.” Quinn double checks the information she has, and whether there is anymore that she needs. Troika tells her all which has been said, is all that had been hurriedly shared within the time frame. He also reminds her that the Fallen are easy to spot as they bare the scars of where the Fatimas withdrew their love.
As the Dahlian Bone path caravan draws close to the Hunting Grounds, Lady Quinn makes her move and slips away from the caravan to traverse the sacred Hunting Grounds. She believes she has managed to slip away unseen and makes it out of sight, but then by some sheer misfortune or some such similar stubbornness, Seb happens to be stood before her path. He is wearing the large Goat skull over his head, and he looks down to her saying hello with a large grin across his face. This she can hear echo through the cavity of the skull. She asks him what he is doing there, telling him that he is not suppose to be following her. He states that he is not following her, but is in fact busy trying to see what the most interesting things he can find that day. “I spun around and trusted to Agnes and then went in that direction, and low here you are. What are the chances of that?” He bends slightly and places his large hands upon her shoulders. He then lifts her up, again saying hello. “Hello Seb.” She replies with a weary tone, and before she can say anymore he suggests that it would be good for them to take a journey together for once. “Oh I suppose so. If I must.” She then shoves him away from her. He stumbles backwards and trips over, banging his head. But she doesn’t stop to watch, so she turns and begins to walk off.
Quinn allows him to accompany her at the moment. And as they travel Seb suggests that if they could find somewhere private he could show her his boxes, but only if it is private. “Now, now Seb, we have been here before.”
“But it is okay now. You can touch my boxes if you like.” Quinn ignores his remarks and carries on walking. Eventually they make it to the Hunting Paths. There is not much left of the world before here. There are still some remains of metal messing of some kind. But the land has reclaimed it, using it to grow up. Lots of ripe plumb berries hanging heavy on the vine. Both Quinn and Seb push their way through the thick canopy of vegetation, breaking out in to a very large and open land, where the sun is shining down like a spotlight on the various greens. A large deer is standing nearby and looks up upon hearing their approach. However it does not move, un-spooked by their presence. It looks at them, his nostrils and ears twitching several times before he goes back to gnawing at the grass. Seb grabs a handful of berries off a nearby bush, lifts his Goats skull and shoves them into his mouth. The fresh juice squirting and running down his chin.
Lady Quinn suggests to Seb that they could play a game while they are there. Perhaps they could see if they could find a Fallen or two. But Seb is not happy with it, telling her that he doesn’t like the Fallen, “They are not fun. They don’t play right. They annoy Agnes.”
“Well then, if we find any then it would be good to stop them desecrating our sacred land.”
“I don’t want to go looking for the Fallen. I want to spend time with my friend.” He kicks at the ground. “Yeah, but you’re playing a game with me, your friend. I am your friend aren’t I?”
“Seb!” She exclaims in mock shock, shoving him to the ground once again. “That’s not fair, Ican’t push you back.”
“And so you shouldn’t. I’m a Lady you know.” Seb just shrugs at this and then after a moments pause for thought. “Yes and you still don’t have any children. When are you going to get around to that?” Quinn ignores his remark, turning and carries on walking. “You make Agnes sad.” Seb calls after her as he climbs to his feet.
After awhile Seb turns to Lady Quinn and informs her that there are several Joanites there. He tells her that he said hello to them, and that they said hello to him. They told him that they are hunting some people that are also there. Quinn turns to Seb, a look of puzzlement to her face, asking him when he had seen them, as she hadn’t even spotted them yet. “Well no, I was hunting for Fallen. Well I played along you see.” He puffs out his chest. “But you have been with me all this time.”
“No you thought I was.”
“Oh. We are going to be like that then are we?”
“No, you said we were playing a game. I was playing.”
“Oh, okay.” And with that Lady Quinn give him another hard shove knocking Seb to the ground. “Don’t you do that to me!” He shouts at her as he gets a mouthful of dirt. But by the time he is stood again she is nowhere to be seen. “Quinn! Quinn! Where have you gone.”
As Seb was hitting the ground, Quinn began to chant a mantra to enhance herself using the dream, giving her the ability to move with great speed. She was able to move roughly seven paces within one. After about one hundred metres away she slows, hearing Seb in the distance calling, a sadness in his shouts. She then becomes aware of a fog fading from her mind, and only now realises that Seb must have used the dream also on her, to distract her mind with foolish thoughts and to slip away. Now with her mind clear she begins her mission proper. Just herself the huntress looking for the two hunted.
It probably takes about half a day of hunting, to avoid running in to the Joanites and to track down the two Fallen. And as she sees them in the near distance she instantly knows what Troika was referring to when he told her that they would be noticeable as Fallen. There seems to be a huddled nature to how they hold themselves. They are ever so thin, with their leathers hanging loose upon them. And a burning pain within their eyes as Quinn sneaks closer to them, seeing also the angered tattoos on their skin. One of them has bright red hair standing up with the sides shaved. They both have a bright red burn marks on the inside of their arms. They are in the middle of a cornfield, a fallen deer at their feet, and a blade in its side. One of the Fallen, a man with the red hair, bends over the still breathing deer and tears a chuck of meat from it, thrusting the piece in to its mouth and chewing upon it raw. The hot blood running down the hand and arm, and covering their mouth. The other Fallen, a woman with matted clay coloured hair, jumps on to the deer’s head, pulling his knife across its throat, blood spraying everywhere. The Fallen holds on to the head until it stops thrashing and lays still.
Lady Quinn calls upon the dreams once again, and everything seems to slow around her. She hears a faint laughter within her head. She seems to almost walk down to the Fallen, stepping amongst the corn without moving them. To her eyes it looks like the world around has stopped. She reaches the woman and steps behind her, pulling her own blades and cutting across the hamstrings. By the time Quinn has made it back through the corn she can start to hear the beginnings of the scream from the woman. Once she makes it back to her hiding place, she sees the blood from the woman hit the ground and the scream is in full effect. Now out of the dream Quinn observes what the Fallen do with this turn of events. The man stands with his knife held in his hands ready, looking all around for the assailant. “What the fuck was that. Shit. Shit. Fuck.” He then turns and looks at his partner, asking if she can bandage herself up. He looks around some more, trying to see what had happened. More expletives come from his foul lips. He instructs his partner to get what she can from the creature once she has finished bandaging herself, so that they can quickly get back to Hom. He carefully keeps an eye out, looking all around as the woman sees to herself and then makes a start on the creature. The man keeps toying with the knife in his hands, tossing it back and forth between them. While the woman puts a splint to her leg from an old branch, and uses some old cloth for bandages.
“Whoever’s out there? It doesn’t have ta go down like this. We’re just gonna take what we have here. We got plenty. We’re gonna leave. We’re not gonna cause anymore problems. But if ya come in then things’re gonna get bloody.” As the woman cuts and wraps the meat, the man keeps telling her to hurry. Lady Quinn keeps herself hidden, watching the two Fallen in a ready to fight crouch, her blades in her hands. She readies her dream and waits for the right moment to strike again. The female Fallen backs the bag and shoulders one as she hands the other to the man. The man then helps her up, helping her to walk with his shoulder under hers. Bag in one hand and the knife in the other. And as they begin to struggle off, Quinn takes this opportunity to strike again. She rushes in at a blinding speed, hamstringing the man this time and both the Fallen collapse, but not before the man manages to catch Quinn in the leg with his own knife. She manages to get away again, and her leg is feeling very numb from the cut. The male Fallen scream in pain, but the woman tries to drag him along, telling him that they need to keep on moving. The woman looks back seeing Quinn just standing at a distance watching them. “It’s a Dahlian!”
Quinn stands holding her bad leg to the rear, concealing it away from their eyes. She stands and watches them trying to keep moving as they look back at her. The man gathers some reserve strength and pulls another knife, the woman already having picked up the one he had used on Quinn. The man shouts to the Dahlian, telling her that they are going to leave the land now and do not want any more trouble. Quinn calmly tells him that she could make it easier for them as it will not be otherwise. The man question the trust. “I could have killed you but I didn’t.” Again he question her, saying he can’t trust someone who drew a blade across his legs. Quinn reminds him that he has taken what is not rightfully theirs to take. “FUCK YOU!”
“No thank you. But I could let the Joanites come along and take you. Probably kill you both after torturing you.”
“Look we’re gonna go the opposite way ta ya. We’re gonna leave. But if ya coma at us., we gonna have ta kill ya. We’re just doing what it takes ta live.”
“Look I just trying to help the situation, and purely suggesting that you may want to go in a different direction.” He tells her to go in a different direction and then he and the woman trying to hold each other up and hobble away from there.
Quinn readies herself and then makes a move again, using the dream to speed herself up once again. But due to the pain in her leg it is not so fast. The man throws the blade in his hand at her missing but causing her to veer off. The female Fallen tells him to hand her the blade, as he is always useless with them. She tosses it a few times in her hand and then runs the blade across something in her hip pouch. “Goddess aid me. Goddess save me. Goddess help me take their throat and leave so it speaks no more. Goddess make me take their life if they take another step towards us.” The woman mutters as she performs these actions, and Quinn feels something strange. To her they always looked so broken, but now there seems to be an inner fire to the woman. Quinn stays on the side of caution at this time, deciding to watch and follow them like a hunting wolf follows a wounded and weak victim. Giving her leg a chance to get some life back.
She follows the two Fallen for almost an hour now, as they seem to be lasting a lot longer than what would normally be. Eventually they collapse to the ground, the fatigue getting the better of their malnutritioned bodies. Once on the ground they try to pull themselves along with their hands and knees, not wishing to stop for one moment. The Sky Realms are now in sight and this gives them some hope as they draw near to the edge of the Hunting Grounds. On the journey following the Fallen, Quinn has managed to bandage her own leg and it feels functional again. Finally the two Fallen stop moving, their hands holding each other. The man unconscious and the woman turns around to face Quinn. “Whatever ya gonna do, just do it.” She spits in Quinn’s direction, a rather feeble and dry attempt, but there is some blood in with it where she tried to hack it up. “I’m not gonna die doing what ya want.” Quinn rushes in and cuts at the woman strong favoured arm, making her drop the knife as her hand goes limp from the deep cut to the bone. Quinn carefully retrieves the fallen blade, being careful to pick it up by the handle, and then places it in a separate compartment of her satchel. She then goes back over to the woman and gives her a swift kick to the face knocking her out cold with the cracking of a bone.
Lady Quinn find a hidden location nearby where she hides the male body of the Fallen. She then shoulders the woman and makes a move back to her caravan. It is a long painfully journey back, but she eventually makes it after several hours, making sure not to be spotted by anyone. The last several hundred yards Quinn drags the woman to where Troika is sat. She tosses the woman to his feet. He blinks at her several times before asking what she is doing. “As requested here is your trade.”
“Damn we can’t have a Fallen here. I asked you to find out what they were doing, and to fearfully send them back to Hom. Shit!”
“Well here is the woman who is the strongest of the two.” Quinn kicks at the woman and then carefully pulls out the knife from her satchel, “And here is the blade that she wiped in something from her pouch, and muttered some words that gave them strength. I thought you would like to see this item and question her yourself.” Troika asks her what she had done to the other Fallen, and Quinn informs him that she had left him hidden on the outskirts near the Bazaar. Troika thinks for a moment, muttering to himself, something about she having seen them now, and it si probably too late. He then turns back to Quinn and tells her that she needs to get the two Fallen back to Hom immediately. “Because if they start talking, then everything will start fallen apart.” Quinn asks if there is anything he wishes to learn from the woman before she takes her back. But Troika insists that he has no time. “Well here is her blade anyway.” And she drops the blade carefully at his feet. “Okay but they must get back to Hom. If you can find anything out from them on the way back then that will be good. But they must get back to Hom.
Before leaving, Lady Quinn asks Troika if there is anything he can do with her leg as it is slowing her down. He looks and begins to work on it. Again he tells her to try and find out why the Fallen was there in the Hunting Grounds, reminding her that it is vitally import that they get back to Hom. Quinn remembers and tells him what she heard from the Fallen about being at the Hunting Grounds. How they had fallen and carving up a deer, wishing to take the meat and go. Troika thanks her for the information and then tells her to hurry has he finishes her legs. He expects that the Joanites will be either near or on the man by now. And as Lady Quinn leaves Troika mutters to himself with a sigh of relief. “May we live in interesting times. Dahlia is playing a trick on all of us.”
Lady Quinn carries the woman back to the Hunting Grounds, back towards where the man is hidden. During the journey the woman fades in and out of consciousness. During this time Quinn puts on a caring voice and plays the part of a rescuer, a fellow traveller, trying to help the poor woman back to where she came from. Quinn asks her where she is from and what she was doing. The woman easily falls for the game and thanks Quinn for the help, telling her that she will guide her to one of her friends who is injured in the Hunting Grounds. During the journey Quinn keeps gently probing for information. She learns that the two Fallen were so very hungry, starving and wishing to get enough food to try and tied them over the long winter. Soon they draw near to the location where Quinn had hidden the injured man. She gets this strange feeling as if someone had stepped in to her grave. When she looks closely she notices that the man is not there, something is wrong. Quinn puts the woman down and asks her where. The woman drags herself to and just past where the man was hidden. She stops looking up and pointing as she puts her hand to her mouth. As Quinn steps close and looks she sees the red spikes haired man’s head impaled upon a stick, the body nowhere to be seen. Quinn asks if that is the woman’s friend, and asks what had happened to him. “I think we had better get out of here. Where is it that you need to go?” A voice from the distance, a male commanding voice states. “You lot need to not go anywhere.” Then three figures in lacquered wooden armour step from the shadows of the trees. Two male warriors with swords and a female warrior with a poleaxe, all draw and ready to fight. “I think you had better talk. Your boyfriend there didn’t talk, and look where that got him.”
Knowing that this is a lost cause, and not wishing for the Joanites to know anymore. Quinn mutters her mantra to the dream. And with a blinding speed bends down and draws her blade across the female Fallen’s throat near decapitating her head. All within a blink of an eye, and before another blink she is gone. She barely hears the curses coming from the warriors she left behind. Quinn keeps the dream running through her as she keeps up at a blistering speed back to the caravans. As she passes by everything at this speed she can see the slow wing beats of a fly as it hovers over a fresh interesting pile. Or the slow bending of the grass as it gives way to the wind. And before she knows it she is back at the caravan, her mission completed to a certain degree. Quinn finds Troika fast asleep in his caravan, his bone fragment wig beside him. She leaves him to sleep and decides to get some rest herself. She sits herself down nearby meditating and sleeps.
Quinn soon hears a voice behind her and a hand rest upon her shoulder. “How did it go my lady?” She explains to him that the Joanites had already got to the man before she could, but he hadn’t talked so they cut his head off. The woman was going to lead her to the man and then on to her place in Hom. Sharing that the woman had said they needed the food as they were starving and in need of food. Quinn explains that she had to cut the woman’s throat and get out of there quick, as she could not take the risk. “I did say that we needed them to get to Hom.” He shakes his head. “They saw you.”
“They saw someone.”
“They saw you. The Orgas have been cast. The orders are being given right now. I have done what protection I can, but there are limits.” He then runs his fingers through her hair, tying and plying something within her long strands. He is delicate as he applies jewellery to her hair, jewellery that conceals blades. Sadness is in his voice as he speaks now. “If you fight it will be worse. I cannot protect you anymore. I have done everything I can over the years, but I can’t protect you anymore. Please promise me you wont fight them.”
“But what if they fight me. Am I supposed to let them?”
“It will keep you alive. They are not trying to kill you but to just take you.”
“But no one takes me, I am my own woman.”
“Lady Quinn, if you fight them you WILL die. And I can’t do a thing like that. If you are captures there is still a chance. There may be something I can do. But if you fight you will die.”
“Is it that dire? Are my options that low?” Troika explains to her that there has been mutterings and talk of her for a while now, and that is why he has been trying to keep her ‘quiet’. “The Joanites have been questioning about me?”
“They have been questioning about what you have done. How it has been too noisy. Too much blood. Too much suffering. Some felt it in their dreams. Some saw it in the remains. They have been talking of you for a while, and I have tried to keep you hidden but I can’t anymore. And the wolf is at our door now.”
“So what are you telling me?”
“That I can’t protect you. But if you go with them I may be able to one day speak with you again. But I can’t protect you. So I will asks again, will you fight them?” By this time he has finished weaving the bladed jewellery in her hair. He gently rubs down her hair and instructs her that they are not for now, but it is so she will never be defenceless where ever she may be held. Quinn question whether the Joanites will torture her as he has spoken of. But he assures her that they will not this time, as this is not normal. “Okay I will bow down to your wisdom as I always do. But I will not allow them to ruin my body. I will protect myself.”
“Okay very well. In that case those that are listening, I told you I could talk her down.”
Troika steps away from Lady Quinn, and he whispers to her, “They did not hear about the weapons. Do not reveal them now.” The door opens and in enters two figures. She gives Quinn a dirty betrayed look. “It is for the best my Lady.” One of the figures that enter is a warrior, a Joanite. The other is a woman with the mark of scales upon her, a Terasheban. The Joanite walks over to Quinn and binds her hands. She tries to keep her hands slightly apart to make the bindings loose, but the Terasheban comes over and pulls on the bindings several times to make sure it is secure, causing the bindings to tighten. The bindings are no longer loose, but neither are they biting in to her wrists. And with that they drag her away.
A mournful encounter
It is the tie for the funeral. When Brhyannon’s mother is put along side her father in the ground. After a long suffering by her mother, when there was a time where she could not see due to the severe sores on her eyes. And the moment she could no longer move, but mere whimper as she lay in bed, her teeth dropping from her bloody gums. Everyone is silent as a Yagan is administering over the ceremony. The weather is dark and brooding with the odd thunderclap in the distance.
Brhyannon is feeling sad and remorseful, but also angry, angry that not only could they not help her father but now her mother too. After the ceremony she quick goes to find Chloe, who is with Davey. Davey is still wearing the scar from his encounter with the Dahlian so long ago now. And Chloe is fully wrapped as she tends to do no matter what the weather. As soon as Chloe spots Brhyannon she asks her how she is doing. Brhyannon doesn’t say anything but mutters a postivie response with a slight nod and a shrug of the shoulders. Davey pats her on the shoulder and gives her a smile. Chloe assures her that they had all done what they could, and perhaps it is better now as they Yagan say, as her mother will not have to suffer any longer. But Brhyannon simple states that her mother shouldn’t have suffered anyway. Chloe pleads with her, telling her that they did everything they could, even raiding the Yagan caravan and then being unable to read anything there. She points at Davey’s face and reminds Brhyannon that he has a scar to bare witness to that day. But Brhyannon just shakes her head saying that they could have gone to the other tribes, and that maybe someone there could have done something. “What is the point of us being healers if we can’t learn from others or help others.” Chloe feels small and responds as carefully as she can. “Yes we are healers and we could do nothing. What would the others have been able to do? Dance? Laugh? Act like a child and throw a tantrum? We are the one who have to do everything and we could not do it.” Again Brhyannon just keeps on with what could have been, not letting go of the argument. Davey speaks up, “Sometimes people just die. I am sorry. I just happens. But we are still alive. You, me, Chloe. And we can make that mean something. One day they can look back and be proud of your family. What do you say, we can do that. Right?” He puts his arms around her. But Brhyannon shrugs him off and storms away shouting that they do not understand, none of them do. Davey opens his mouth to say more, but Chloe puts her hand on his shoulder and tells him ‘not now’.
It has been a few hours now and Brhyannon can be found in her little secret place. Her pain just doesn’t seem to abate. She looks out and notices four figures approaching, four people she has not seen before. The woman at the front is small with very tightly knit muscles. She wears a machete against one leg, a dagger on her arm, and a split poleaxe on her back. Her head is completely shaved, and she wears metal plates strapped on her knees and elbows. Beside this woman is a large ruddy man, who looks like he is almost built like a large barrel. He has differing pots and pans hanging from him, causing anyone to hear him long before they see him. His face gives the impression of a happy, cheery fellow, but right now he has a serious, respectful expression. The person right at the back is wearing a long rust red jacket that seems to encumbrance everything. She has these strange goggles she looks through over her face, and a strange pouch at her hip. Any glimpse of what lays under the jacket is just simply black, and not revealing anything. The last person is a man dressed completely in bones, reminiscence of the Yagan she had seen earlier. The bone is threaded through his leather armour, and he has piercings through his lips and eyebrows. Spittle dribbling down his chin. Once near Brhyannon, the muscled woman at the front kneels before her and apologises for disturbing her time of mourning, but assures her that they wouldn’t have unless it was vitally important. She asks Brhyannon for permission to talk with her. “Why not, everyone else seems to want to speak with me.” Replies Brhyannon with a hint of anger still.
The four newcomers explain that they have had a word with Brhyannon’s friends, and discovered that she had found an item in the soil some years back. And they ask if they would be allowed to see it. “What is it to you?”
“Possibly something, or possibly nothing. We do not know until we see it. We are the Circle of the Crescent Chasers. The sickness that hit your parents we have seen before, it has been foretold that this happens when a star falls from the sky. But what is odd is that we have been watching the sky for many a cycle, and we have not seen any fall from the sky here. We have seen no omens or foreboding, it just seems to have come from nowhere. Some of us believe it is related to our holy task, where others believe it to be simple a coincidence. But we don’t know.” Brhyannon thinks on these words and slowly reaches in to her satchel, pulling out the piece of metal she found so long ago it seems now. The muscled woman looks at it and then passes it back to the woman in the long jacket, which pushes her goggles from her eyes to take a look. She turns it over as she looks at it. “Broke….Bent….Fire damaged. Marco, Marco Tan.” She hands the barrel shaped man the piece of metal. “Do me a favour, bend it around would you. It has been warped.”
“Yes warped. I need it bent around in a circle.” The ruddy barrelled man flecks his muscles and bends the metal in to a cylinder type of shape. Once done the woman in the long jacket takes it back from him and examines it again. “Still damaged, but have seen it before. Keepers. It is a pretty important symbol to them but do not know why.” She then looks over at the muscled woman and tells her that they will need to take the piece. “We need to show it to some Keepers and see what they know.”
At this point Brhyannon pipes in, asking them how much they will give her for it. The armoured woman turns back around to face Brhyannon. “Seriously?”
“We are doing the work of the Goddess. We are doing the work of the Fatimas. Taking this we could probably save tens of lives. And you’re trying to barter for it!”
“Why not? It is mine.”
“Humph.” The goggled woman exclaims. “It’s mine now.” And with that she slips it in to her jacket. Brhyannon quickly jumps to her feet and demands to know what they are doing with her treasure. The muscled woman turns to the goggled woman, “Missa’vi Maddon, can you grow a piece of respectful or ounce of empathy in your body.” She turns back to Brhyannon. “I am really sorry about this. Our resident Magdalite doesn’t show the social etiquette you would normally expect of her. We understand this is yours, but this is vitally important. We do not want others to suffer and go through what you have had to do. Now we do not have anything to trade, we only have what is on our bodies, and we need that to travel. But this is some sort of sign, it mean something. Missa has seen it before and that means it is important. We know you are in pain, but we are on a task set by the Fatimas themselves, in an order to try and preserve the tribes” Missa just shrugs her shoulders, making her long jacket shake up and back down, sending a cloud of rusty dust billow from her coat. “So what do you say? It all sounds a bit more helpful than to just keep it to yourself don’t you think. Give it to us and you can help families. Help people that would otherwise die.” The muscled woman attempts a grin. “Well what do you say?” Marco rolls his eyes slightly at this. But like a dog with a bone, Brhyannon doesn’t give in. “What about you swap it for that spear.” She points to the split poleaxe. The muscled woman sighs and explains that the weapons they care are important to their quest. They have to travel far and face things that she would never have seen before, and it is because of the weapons that they are still alive now. But Brhyannon still doesn’t let go, and states that she will trade for the ‘spear’. The muscled woman shrugs. “Listen, this is how it will go.” Begins Missa. “Kodo here is the polite one of the group, where as I on the other hand is the fucker. We need this. It is ours now, by rights that we are doing the Fatimas work. If you have a problem then feel free to take it up with them.” The man with the bone armour and dribble down his chin, looks with his lazy eye and suddenly mutters. “Nothing to do with these ones. They’re not linked. The stars from the heavens falling. There are so many still up there. If this wasn’t a star then what was it. Where did it come from if it wasn’t a star. Why can I…” He pauses before continuing. “What killed them. What killed Joan. What Killed Wagon Mayfield.” He puts his hands to his head. “Why can I feel it there still. Why?” Missa exclaims and turns to the man in bones. “Stop being a mental bastard.” She grabs him by the shoulders. “Come on. I know your in the strange place again, but start talking straight.”
Now that Missa is pre-occupied, Kodo turns back to Brhyannon and assures her that they really need the piece of metal. She tells her that she understands what Brhyannon has gone through, but tells her that it is nothing compared to what they have seen. She also informs her that there is a shackled Z’bri or two still going around, and asked if she had ever seen one. Brhyannon just shakes her head, and Kodo assures her that she will never want to. Telling her that there used to be five in their group but now there are only four. “The only thing that kept me alive was range and distance, so I am not giving up this weapon for anything. Do you understand?” Brhyannon asks Kodo, if not the weapon they what as she to trade. Again Kodo remind her that they do not have a thing to trade. They only have enough food to make it through, and enough clothes to stay warm. They have sacrificed their friends and family for this quest and have nothing left. So Brhyannon tries to ask if the Circle of the Crescent Chasers have any knowledge of the illness or how to treat it. But Kodo assures her that they don’t have anything that would help her. “Its too late.”
“But it might help others.”
“And that is why we need this piece of metal. Whenever we see a falling star, we get everyone away as far and as fast as we can. That is all we do, we chase a falling star.” With a sigh she explains that they need to get away that night as they had to go out of their way to get there as it was. Telling her that there is a prophecy of a falling star and they need to get there quick. She takes a hold of Brhyannon’s hand. “Look we really are sorry for your loss, but we really need to take the metal and go.” She lets Brhyannon’s hand slip from hers and turns and walks away slowly. Brhyannon just stands there with her head bowed, feeling like that is the last of her world going with them.
Brhyannon finds herself alone once more, but then hears a voice beside her. “Fuckers. Want some tobacco, it will make you feel better.” Brhyannon refuses and Chloe walks out. She shares her thoughts of the event that just happened to Brhyannon, telling her that she can’t believe they just took it, and that they must know more than they are letting on. “I think they know something. They have one of those mad touched ones with them, and they see things.” Chloe carries on saying that they must have something and they need to find out. “Did you see the size of them, and the weapons they are carrying?”
“And have you seen the scar on my brother’s eye from the last time you took us on one of your errands? It didn’t seem to bother you before.”
“Yeah you’re probably right. Get the guys together and then we will wait until dark and see what happens.”
Night falls and Brhyannon, Chloe and Davey are grouped together again with four others. They are older but not much wiser. They have clubs and sharpened hoes and other farming tools in hands. Davey touches his scarred eye and tells Brhyannon that he wasn’t sure about coming, as he has only one good eye left that does twitch with pain in the cold weather. He tells her that she is the Matron of the group and would like to know what they are going to do. She tells him that they are going to go after the Crescent Chaser and see what they are keeping from them. Chloe adds that the Chasers are camped on the outskirts, and only one of them is ever on guard. “So Davey do you think you can take him out.” Brhyannon asks. “W..w..w…What you want me to…k…k…Kill him?”
“Well incapacitate him at the very least.”
“Oh shit, you really think we should do that?” Brhyannon stays silent so Davey adds that he could take the shot and try. Hearing that Brhyannon explains her plan, telling Davey to do it quietly and quickly. To keep the guard quiet while Brhyannon and the others come from the other direction and will take care of the rest. “W..w…what are you talking about killing all of them?” Davey questions her again. “Well no, not until we find out what we can first.”
“Listen this is some pretty serious stuff your asking. Chloe explained that they had done some nasty stuff, but what exactly did they do?” Brhyannon explains the Crescent Chasers had took her metal and given nothing in exchange. She then adds that they seem to know more than they are letting on about the illness with her parents. Davey checks if she is saying that the four strangers are involved and responsible. “Well they seem to know something.”
“So they killed your parents?” Davey thinks for a moment. “Okay I got your back on this one.”
As they draw closer to the Circle of the Crescent Chasers’ camp, they see that it is Marco, the ruddy faced barrelled man who has the watch. He has a flask of win beside him as he from time to time take a walk of the perimeter. A piece of metal with broken glass can been seen over his fingers on his hands. The other three are sleeping huddled together. Brhyannon and the others sneak up to the sleepers while Davey takes his shot. Brhyannon sees the woman with the rusty jacket, Missa, who had took the metal lying asleep before her, so she slowly and bends down to place her knife at her throat. However as she does this she gets a strange feeling as if she is slipping in to a dream like state, and the world seems to wash out around her. She then hears a very calm female voice behind her. “I really wouldn’t do that if I was you. Not when I have had time to dream.” Brhyannon’s vision comes back seeing her crew looking at her and behind her. Stood behind her is the muscled woman, she is not wearing the armour, and her hands are open, standing there with serenity to her. The River of Dreams can be seen flowing behind her eyes. An arrow flies and just drops at her feet. A curse is heard from a distance. She looks in to Brhyannon’s eyes. “Put the blade down. NOW!” And seeing no reaction from Brhyannon she adds. “I am Kodo of Joan. Put the blade down.” The rest of Brhyannon’s crew look at her wondering what to do next. The ruddy man Marco addresses Kodo. “If you have finished playing with those, there is still one with a bow up there. I am going to go get him and spank him.” And with that off he walks. “Look we really are sorry we had to take your treasure, but if you take another step towards me friend there, then I will have to break your arm at the shoulder.” Brhyannon just stands there not moving, looking down at the sleeping woman and back at her crew. In the distance they can hear a tangle, and Davey get hit over the head and dragged off by a leg. “And if you move again I am going to stomp on your nuts.” As he come back to the group he states, “Not very good with a bow this one.” He then turns to Brhyannon. “Have you still got a hold of that blade? Look, if you don’t let it go then Kodo here will break you.”
“Come on, we out number them. What can they do? Come on.” Chloe chimes in. Now fully distracted, Missa has taken the opportunity to move, and stand placing a metal tube thing under Brhyannon’s chin. Missa yawns, a deep long yawn. “I was sleeping. Why am I awake now?” She then notices Brhyannon before her. “Oh fuck me it you.” She sighs. Missa then pushes Brhyannon’s knife away and then puts her metal tube away. “For a moment there I thought it was someone worth caring about, but it is only you.” Kodo once again asks for Brhyannon to put the blade away, assuring her that if she doesn’t then she will have to by force, which will not be pretty.
Brhyannon tightens her grip on the blade in her hand and makes a lunge. The blade catches Kodo under her side and drawing blood. However Kodo had side stepped the main blow, bringing herself in a position to ram her hand down on to Brhyannon’s shoulder, and with her other hand bring Brhyannon’s arm up and snapping the arm at the shoulder. Taking their cue, Brhyannon’s crew all make a dash to the big guy Marco, pilings on him but he just throws them away, knocking one hard in the jaw sending it sideways with a loud crack. But they rush back on him battering him with their bloody clubs. Missa joins the fray, helping Marco with the horde. There is a sudden loud bang in the air, and one of Brhyannon’s crew has his head explode in a shower of blood. Brhyannon feels a sharp crash to the side of her head, and before everything fades to black she hears a voice. “Best get the tribes involved. She’s going to have to be expelled.”