Pavis back

Reporting back, pre-ritual


It’s the afternoon of Wildday (Statis Week, Fire Season) when Ilig calls them all together again for a final briefing and to compare notes.

Dori - ritual items


Dori is first to report. “No new versions of the myth, but some more practical items. Santhis and I went back to Cavos’ place, and took a look through for anything he remembered as having been used in rituals. Mostly it seems they used quite ordinary objects, so there was never anything obviously incriminating to hand.”

She produces a very plain, simple, bronze dagger. “This was used to symbolise Humakt in their rituals, when they couldn’t get a real Humakti.” A short black cotton hooded cloak follows. “That was worn by whoever was being Oilamley, when they weren’t in a position to use the full regalia. Interesting symbol. I thought in our case it could be used to give a scent for the trail Wolf might be following.” Finally she pulls out a small mirror. “Santhis wasn’t sure what this represented, but it was used to reflect sunlight. Sorry, I have no idea how we can use it: but it does remind me that they disliked anything concerned with true daylight, as one might expect from a vampire, and that I have a spirit of Light in my sword. If I were to come along.....”

“No.” Illig is quite definite on that, and Dori looks surprised. “No. You might well able to add an extra element to our precautions, but no, you are not coming.” He looks almost amused at her puzzlement. “You really must start thinking strategically as well as tactically, Dorinda. This may be regarded as a high-risk project. If we fail, the Legion will need a new Warlord and a new Raven, and we are somewhat short of candidates for either postion.”

Dori looks somewhat stunned at this new way of looking at things, but he continues as if nothing out of the ordinary had been suggested. “Was there anything else? Were you interrupted at all in your investigations? I still wonder if perhaps some of that group might have escaped.”

“No, nothing.” Dori’s confidence is back now she’s on practical matters – but then she hesitates. “Unless.... no, it won’t have been connected.”

“What?”

“Just someone I saw – I thought I knew her, but I couldn’t place her. It was only for a moment – a Sundomer woman, full veil, heading up Rich Hill. Probably nothing to do with it, it’ll be a chance resemblance to someone I knew years ago, I just had this feeling that I ought to recognise her.”


Egil - a Horn from the Wastes

A while later Egil arrives back, carrying a large bag made of bison skin.

"I couldn't think of what I needed so I had a chat with Gerras and Mauvin about Oilamley. Gerras told me something about an evil spirit that has come to Prax in recent times. It is tricky, it can hide in the black stripe of a zebra, it can draw out the heat and light of Oakfed's flames. Everything it touches it alters or perverts. Even the chaos sense of the Bull is not immune but his iron hooves are, the only thing this thing could turn where those dreadful feet. The followers of the bull once thought they'd caught it and pounded it but it hid in a cloak of darkness and they could not find it but sounding the Bellow of the Bull drove it away. We call it the Shadow Cloak and as it fears the Bull we sound his voice each day when Yelm drops through the western gate. It is usually enough to keep us safe until Yelm returns again."

Egil opens the bag and draws out an enormous bull horn. "This is the Bellow of the Bull, Gerras says when it is winded it puts the terror of the Bull's hooves into Shadow Cloak. He persuaded the elders to lend it to us so we may kill the bad spirit away for them."


Graylor - previous interruptions


Yenda and Vindana have been searching through the temple library at Graylor's request. Eventually they find an old document from 1233 reporting on the devotional quest of a Jalmari Knight called Gedrik.

Graylor quotes the relevant passages.

"..Unusually after forging the unbreakable blade Gedrik reported that he met with Vivamort and not the hell hound he expected. Never the less he fought Vivamort and succeeded in driving him off, cutting away his cloak in the process. Gedrik walked away and after he had gone a few steps remembered a myth where Humakt used Vivamort's cloak to hide from some of the other denizens of hell. Turning back Gedrik saw a figure running off with the cloak, just as he gives chase the figure puts on the cloak, leaps into the air and flies off, leaving nothing apart from the stench of undeath."
A side note also added at an unknown date states:
"I have made enquiries of the local temples and for a period of 2 seasons all quests involving Humakt meeting Vivamort ended in the same way. Thereafter quests returned to their normal patterns. Gedrik."

 

"Looks like other vampires have tried to rescue Vivamort's cloak." Graylor states. "But since Hereward probably retrieved the cloak in the First Age. All other successful attempts must have given the questor some of the cloaks powers, but not the cloak itself. I wonder if the Temple of Truth and Light would have records of other occurrences. Not that it matters for this endeavour."

Egil, unusually thoughtful, mulls this over "This is going to happen here then, I think Raven needs to be ready to follow or stop the fleeing figure. What to use to stop it though? I could try the horn and see if it works."

"Aye, and death doesn't always reside in a blade as Aelf would say. An arrow charged with Jalmar's hatred of chaos can be equally effective." Graylor pats his bow as he speaks. "And if we are close enough Kogoeshinu will freeze any undeath it strikes."

Yenda appears outside the meeting and on being given permission to enter she reveals another document. Holding her nervousness tightly in check she starts to speak.

"I have just found this new fragment. It is another description of a thief in the quest for the unbreakable blade. However this one has interesting wording, instead of the words given by Gedrik, where the thief 'puts on the cloak, leaps into the air and flies off, leaving nothing apart from the stench of undeath.' This version has this to say."

"The thief puts on the cloak, leaps into the air and is swallowed by darkness."

 

"I think there is more to this than simple literary artifact. If it was it would be 'swallowed by the darkness.' Given where we are and the depiction of Kaarg in the temple. I thought that this may be a reference to Uz involvement in capturing and eating the thief." She stops abruptly and adds as she turns to leave. "Thought that it may be useful in your deliberations."

Abul - Carmanian weirdness

Much later, a quite apathetic Abul came back to the Legion. His head was buzzing with strange new notions, he heard from both Lady Jakkanna and Daine the Hum'Akti. Nobody asked anything to him, so he waited that everyone had told something and just before dismissal made a step forward.

"I still wonder if what I may tell has any value, but I was instructed to tell it so..." began an embarrassed Abul. "I was told by Carmanian experts in the Death Rune, that when the Good Lord Idovanus created the World, he first created his tool : the separator Hum'Akt. Hum'Akt sliced the unshaped creation and defined Light from Darkness. He then sliced both Light and Darkness and divided Male from Female... He sliced again and again and again, and after many strokes, the world was made as we know it. But there was still a small unshaped form which escaped the Hum'Akt's slices. This form was jealous from what the Good Lord had created and he felt dispossessed from the other sliced parts of the Universe that he was claiming to belong to him before. Idovanus named the Unknown by the name of Ganesatarus knowing that the Unknown will fight to take over His Creation."

Abul looked at the puzzled faces around him : most of the southern barbarians were trying to grasp the analogies between this weird cosmogony and their own. Abul added some comments with an apologetic tone: "That's a typical Hum'Akti variation of the Great Beginning, other cults may have different versions... but the following is more interesting... Ganesatarus the Enemy launched various attacks over the Creation, first he invented Lie but Idovanus answered by putting Truth in the Hum'Akt, then Enemy send various armies against the Creation, but Idovanus gave Death to the Hum'Akt to defeat them. So Ganesatarus copied the Hum'Akt and from Darkness raised a Death sometime called Horror by the spolite witches or Rage by the trolls but the Hum'Akt defeated it, Then Ganasetarus perverted Light and created a Death called Terror by the Dara Happans but Hum'Akt defeated it too... So Ganesatarus concentrated His Malignity in Himself, and from His own dark filth, He created a typical tool of His own. It wasn't alive but wasn't dead. It could stand the Light but was living in the Darkness. It could steal any magic but hadn't magic of his own. It never had a quality or its opposite and no true nature too. Ganasetarus wanted something shapeless like Himself that couldn't be sliced or divided by the Hum'Akt. The Enemy called it Aberration and launched his new toy on the Creation but Hum'Akt called Absurdity at his side. Absurdity was an earlier creation of the Enemy that Hum'Akt was keeping in custody. Absurdity showed by inadvertence the lies left Aberration and so Hum'Akt vanquished again. Ganasetarus was very disappointed and angry so He beat Aberration hard and commanded it to fight the Hum'Akt back, but this time he gave him a cover called Paradox that could hide in plain light or reveal in full darkness. So the puppet could hide itself and ambush the Hum'Akt or reveal the Hum'Akt if its foe was hiding..."

The young man paused trying to remember words he was still not understanding fully. "But the Hum'Akt never hides, cheats or lies so Paradox was useless against him and when the puppet ambushed the Hum'Akt, the Hum'Akt just turned the cover to use its revealing side, found Aberration and simply sent it back to his master into small shrieking pieces..."

Abul cleared his throat, looked around once again and concluded: "I know it sounds weird, most Carmanian mythology sounds weird to other people..."

Egil's mind is awash with confusion, Carmanian doctrine and the names of the entities within it make his head spin but he tries to find a way through it. "So, this Aberration is Oilamley or Oilamley found one of the small shrieking pieces and made it part of himself. How then can he hope to defeat Humakt who is not deceived by such things? He couldn't even steal any of His powers, somehow he got mine though and they were gifted me by Hu."

Abul scratched his head with a perplexed expression similar to Egil's. "That's what I have said to them: carmanian doctrine isn't as understandable than orlanthi mythologic lessons for the common people. They both answered that Errors and Lies were the way of the Enemy to lose the good carmanian. Symbolic concepts were used to enlighten the faithful soul and that why the common people needed the good vizirs... "

The normally impassive young man seemed for once impressed and hesitating: "I must confess, they put fear in me. I'm wondering what I must trust. Everybody makes mistakes, but I don't want to let my soul fall into the wrong path..."

Obviously some internal battle was conducted behind Abul's eyes and his voice wasn't fully firm when he added: "I was warned about making too many analogies with your quest but perhaps what they call Absurdity is what you call Eurmal the Trickster? Then Aberration could be Vivamort and Paradox a kind of strange power I can't understand but which remind me somehow about Oilamley... When the Hum'Akt, which isn't exactly like your Death God but much more like an Idovanius' extension, is said to have 'turned the cover', I don't know why, but I imagined a windy squall lifting a blanket... I warned you that my new tutor's teachnings were real headaches!"

Illig nods thoughtfully, clearly not sharing everyone else's confusion. "That sounds like the power that Fedarkor used to make himself more than just a vampire, and to break free of his master. I doubt if the identification is as clear-cut as all that, since Oilamley has some characteristics of both your Aberration and Paradox, but the Cloak is clear in your tale. Graylor and Yenda, too - we can see how our quest may be interfered with from that. Trolls... I wonder...? but no. Our only reliable troll ally, who some of you have quested with before, is not a match for Oilamley.

"Which reminds me" - his voice turns stern rather than thoughtful - "Graylor, no matter how much you may think your swords capable of achieving against a vampire, you will keep to your own role as Raven, and not attempt any such attack. I would have thought you had seen clearly enough what can happen when someone jumps into a role for which they are unprepared, against a foe for which they are no match. Once was quite enough: let us correct this mistake rather than repeating it. Your role is Raven: to watch for ambushes, changes in the path, and hidden foes. Use your abilities to seek out chaos, but do not attempt to fight it alone. Egil, I hope you have learnt your lesson by now: Wolf sniffs out the foe and tracks it, he again does not attack alone. Have you watched how a wolf will fight? In and out, hamstring your opponent and get out of reach. Raven, too, may blind an enemy, but will not attempt a killing blow.

Rather shocked Graylor looks at Illig. Then thinks properly his relationship with Hereward doesn't allow any self deception. So he rapidly realises that he was thinking exactly that. He bows his head in shame. "It will be as you say."

"We will begin in a few hours time, at dusk. Rest now, pray, and make any other preparations you see fit."

Silent went back as everybody was going to his own affairs... Abul stayed there trying to guess whas was about to happen : He will soon participate to a secret ceremony leading to a dangerous Heroquest... but more disturbing was the statement that he had no clear idea on what would be expected from him.

He put away his fears, calmed down and went to Dorinda. There he composed his quiet unmoved mask and asked:
- "Hmmm... Mistress Dorinda, I'm sorry to disturb you in your activities, but if I understood correctly I will be part of your next expedition on the heroplane and perhaps further away... Could you explain me what I should prepare, what I should be prepared to do during the ritual and if there is anything that I must or must not do? To be frank, being not initiate to these things, I do not wish to miss my part...."

"By the end of it you will be an initiate, that's rather the point, but yes, let's go over the myth again, your part in it, and what variations you might meet. As I told Graylor when he went through his initiation, one of the main principles of Hereward is that there is no one single path to the Truth, all may be valid, so I mustn't try to mislead you by biasing you towards my version of it."

"You'll start with the Arming of Humakt. Illig as Humakt will put on his equipment, in order, and name his main followers. Towards the end, he will address you as Hereward, and give you the North Wind, the Truewind, to carry for him. It'll look like a bag, knotted closed. Make sure you'll be able to undo the knot when the time comes, but don't release it until you mean it.

"To start with, you just follow and observe: Wolf and Raven are supposed to track Vivamort. Once they lose him, but you all know he's in the general area, it's your turn. Humakt may ask you to use the Wind, or you can offer, and wait for him to agree. What you do, how you use it, is up to you: think of anything the Herw'Ard Hornblower you know could have done with the Truewind, and try to do that. The Wind will obey you when you release it, because Humakt told it to. Personally I use it to listen to truth on the wind a lot - only Truth, mind, it won't show you anything else. I doubt if you'll be able to send messages on the wind, only listen. I use it to clear the air of smoke, or arrows, too, and as a cutting wind that attacks people - it can kill. Then there's the Howling Doomwind, that strikes terror into your enemies, and the simple fact that it's cold - I've killed with the cold of that wind, once. Wind, truth, sharpness, cold - there's many sides to it. "Cleave deceit" is a phrase Jamal likes, using it to divide truth from lies. "Occam's wind", that blows away overcomplication, too."

"If you can, you might like to use it to aid an ability you already have. So if your hearing is already good, you use the Wind to make it better. If you can already tell truth from lies, use this to help."

"Somehow, you have to find Vivamort, blow his cloak aside so he can be seen by others, and cut it from him. It may not be a literal cloak, though, something else can be a symbol for that. Pick it up and take it if you can, but that isn't essential: in fact, if someone else is trying to rescue it, I'd suggest you stay well out of that, it'll probably involve a foe too tough for you. Graylor will be looking out for that sort of interference, do what he asks you. If you see anything he doesn't, tell him, don't act on it yourself."

"Does that help?"

Abul listened very carefully and kept thinking about what he was told, then he asked

"The first spell I have learned in my life was an old pelandan prayer called Idovanian Blessing. At this time it was made to chase away the shadows that tormented me at night. I have heard that Light cults as Yelmalio and Elmal had perhaps an edge on Oilamey. Do you think I may use it even if it's not appropriate for Humakt? It sounds appropriate to reveal something in the Vivamort's den..."

Not telling and even trying not to express it, Abul was in fact quite anguished to jump so easily in the mythic prime darkness.

"It may not be appropriate for Humakt, but you're not being Humakt here, that's Illig. You're being Hereward, or rather, Herw'Ard Hornblower, so using a Pelandan prayer sounds fine to me. The Cloak might well count as a shadow, so adding that to the Truewind to remove the Cloak might well work."

Graylor makes for his billet but on the way is struck by a thought and detours to Dori's space in the temple. He waits patiently while Abul is talking to her and warmly greets him as he leaves and observing his pale face and puzzled expression guesses what they have been talking about.

"You know Dori's words may sound cursed unhelpful right now. However, all will become clear, the important thing is that you find your own path to the truth. It's not Illig's or Dori's or mine or even Hereward's it is your own truth. It's very personal worshiping Hereward."

Graylor enters Dori's den. "Do you mind if I ask you somewhat?"

"As usual Iliig was right to the point just now. I was on the point of acting beyond my abilities. But it has finally forced me to think clearly about my roll as raven. I am to be Humakt's eyes, but I am destined to fail in finding Oilamley, but there are more things to find than the obvious. When I was with Egil recovering his sword I could see some of the mythical possibilities. Can you teach me how to see those all the time?"

"I wish I could," Dori says ruefully. "I'm not that good at it myself, and I've always just done it, almost by instinct, rather than understanding what I'm seeing or how. It seems to be a Hereward trick, like Illig said when we were severing Santhis, but there's more to it than that. You have to sort of stand back, mentally, not let yourself get too immersed in the role, but at the same time, be totally immersed. Like when you're seeing with the wind, and seeing with your eyes, both at the same time. Part of your mind is being the role, and the other part is standing back watching them. The part that stands back can think, recognise where the story doesn't quite match, but does match some other story, or parallel it. Illig's good at that, of course, but here he'll have to concentrate totally on being Humakt: taking on a God is going to be tough, even for him. Raven's an easy role, and for a lot of the story he doesn't have to do anything much, so you can put most of your mind to watching out for variations and ambushes. Jalmari are good at that, right? Hidden surprises and enemies."

"That sounds like my Jalmari philosophy teacher. He would challenge us with mental contortions that were impossible until you viewed them from the correct perspective or with the correct logic. I will meditate on it until it is time for the ceremony. Thanks for your advice Dori." He gives a cheerful salute as he leaves.

Graylor gathers his friends and asks for their support in his role as raven. Irnar offers Alusar's perception, the others just offer their unconditional support. Santhis however pulls Graylor to one side.

"Is there nothing more active I can do?" He asks. "I feel responsible for all this. Without my weakness you and the other Herwardi would not have to put themselves in danger."

"Actually, we would have to, though not at this precise moment. There is a connection between the Legion and Oilamley that means that this would have to happen at some time. So don't worry yourself about that. In fact you and Egil have forced us to make connections that we wouldn't have otherwise made." Graylor reassures Santhis.

At this point Uljar Breaknose approaches them - the Standard-bearer of the Legion, and head of Illig's bodyguard.
"Santhis - just the man. Illig asks if you would take a small part in the Arming ritual at least, and possibly as a follower in the deeper quest. We need a representative of the Light, and since it seems your connection to Yelmalio still exists, you are closer than anyone else here."

He turns to Graylor. "You remember the part of the Arming ritual where Humakt rejects unsuitable weapons, and orders those offering them to hold them for him and use them as he commands? When we wish one of these to be the North Wind, we have one weapon offered from each of the elemental tribes. The extent to which Humakt will later order them into combat will vary: I will be wielding the mace of the Darkness Tribe, for instance, and Yodi the Water Sword, but Kristen, with the Axe of Earth, will stay very much in reserve, like young Abul until the moment he is needed. If Santhis joins us, he, too, will not be asked to fight. If you wanted to add his eyes to yours, you would be free to do so."

Graylor slaps Santhis on the back. "There you go, be careful of what you wish for. It may well come true! But truely it will be good to have another pair of eyes looking for Oilamely's trickery."

Santhis is at first very pleased that he has been given a chance. He is delighted to be able to strike back at the cult that had trapped him, a chance at self redemption. Then out of the blue it hit him. The responsibility, the magnitude of the situation, he would be involved in a god killing quest! He could die! Funnily enough that last thought calmed him down. He could die, but what of it? Everyone round him had all stared death in the face and then called him Lord and given their lives into his keeping. When he initiated he would do the same. What matters is how you live your life and how you face your ultimate end. He certainly would no longer live in fear of death as the Oilamley followers did. "I am going to be a Humakti and death is my friend and lord." He thought to himself. Straightening his shoulders and standing tall he follows Graylor asking him what is planned.

Egil seems somewhat sullen, even a bit huffy. He stands muttering, loudly enough for those nearby to hear, "Wolves don't need swords, they 'specially shouldn't need to beg for them. Lucky I'm not allowed to fight."
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