Defences, how to use them.

Freezeday, Illusion week, Fire season - evening

"Don't worry, by the time he's back with us, your Siggyr will have everything in hand."

Ernaldestra turns to Graylor. "So, let's go and make sure of that."

He steps over to Siggyr and helps him to at least get to the ground without injuring himself. Ernaldestra is on his other side giving him energy to offset the tiredness that is threatening his control.

Then she steps in front of him, cupping his face in both hands. "Siggyr, come back. Look at me. Come on, eye open. Stop listening to them, come back to this side for a moment." Her voice is gentle, but there's a strength of command there that one doesn't normally expect from a healer.
He looks up at her, and at Graylor, dazed. "That was... how the hell does anyone make any sense of that? There's so many of them." Control has returned, and with it the normal gruff cynicism. "Another of those things she'd say is simple and easy, right?"

"No." That simple statement silences him, and she goes on. "She wouldn't try it at all - well, not by choice, and not with any serious hope of success." She sighs, glancing back at Kallyr, who is now slumped into the protective circle of Insterid's arms. "That isn't the way. That network was set up with focuses, and they're there for a reason. Don't try to listen to all of them at once - delegate. You listen to the focal points, the main guardians, let them handle the details. Oh, it's useful be able to pick out one or two to look at more carefully, but all of them at once? Can't be done, not for more than a few seconds, and you'll never make sense of it. No, that way lies madness. I've heard good things about Benlan Whitehands as a healer of minds, but you'd need him."

"Hmm. Makes sense. Scouts report through the chain of command, makes no difference if they're spells instead of people. You'l maybe talk to one direct, but no more." The analogy to matters he's familiar with has apparently helped, but Ernaldesta still looks concerned.

"True as far as it goes, but they're not people, and you're doing more than talking to them, or can be. Before you go back in, listen to me. It's too easy to ride their senses instead of yours, to get sucked in. You let that go too deep, and for too long, you can forget to come back, forget who you are, and that is dangerous, and not something that can be healed."

Yodi stands as if lost in thought, remembering. "With beezzz done it I have! With beezzz do it no one can, and it have I done! Endzzz up with mind flying in all different directionzzz you do! To do it with beezzz be good you must!"

Ernaldesta stares at him in amazement. "You must be. You won't have any trouble with this, then." She shakes her head incredulously "Bees... well, that's ducks for you. And I suppose trolls... but ducks... hmm."

She returns her attention to Siggyr, releasing him. "One thing at a time, then. Your own magic, I'll assume you know how to use, and when you listen, it makes sense. You need to be able to make sense of the rest, too."

"I'm going to show you how to handle the Jalmari powers you have. Just like I would teach one of my apprentices." Graylor doesn't wait for a reply but starts the training ritual immediately. Soon he an Siggyr are connected to the otherworld and Graylor can see the complexity of the web of inputs that Siggyr is linked to. Graylor helps Siggyr to catalogue the Jalmari spells and shows him how to mentally tune down the input. Just like being in a crowded bar with lots of people talking and being able to pick out when your name is mentioned.

Eventually they come back to the mundane again, Siggyr looking very thoughtful. "Subtle, that, and useful. I had an idea Jalmar was something to take seriously. So if I want to have the overview, not the details, I'd need to talk to the guardian directly - to Jalmar, effectively. Or Risteed, but... Jalmar himself, hmm."
He rubs at the empty eye-socket. "Could you make the introductions?"

"Naturally, I would be delighed to. But, I think that politically it would be good for you to ask General Vur to do the introductions." But on seeing the darkening of Siggyr's face, Graylor hastily adds. "It's your decision of course warleader. Do you want to do it now while Vur is happily asleep?"

"I think that would be a good idea. Then I can get Seledd to show me the Rigsdal side of the defences. Looks like Kallyr will be out of it for a while."
Siggyr waves away Ernadestra's protestations. "I'm not going to be doing anything strenuous and my mind is more or less stable now that I can at least shut out the unwanted signals. Anyway Graylor knows what to look for if I do take a turn for the worse and he'll come and get you."

Graylor also reassures Ernaldestra before leading Siggyr slowly back to the temple. At the entrance he suddenly retraces his steps and gives Ernaldestra the Chain of Sartar. "Before I forget!" and picks up Risteed's dagger from where General Vur let it fall. Then Graylor dashes back to the temple, gathering a chair from the library for Siggyr. In the main temple he starts the ceremony that opens the link to the otherworld home of Jalmar. There is no obvious change in the temple, but there is a sense of a presence in the temple. It takes Siggyr a moment to realise that the statue of Jalmar is subtly different. There is now a glint inside the hood, the hint of deathlight reflected from an eye and not just stone.

"Lord Jalmar." Graylor greats the presence of his god. "I have been asked by Siggyr, my commander and defender of this temple, if he could be introduced to you. He has, just now, been shown the efficacy of your magic and is much impressed."

"I see that he is robust of body, but his mind is somewhat fragile," Jalmar comments.

Siggyr bristles a little at the words. "Lord Jalmar, the magical defences of this temple have just been renewed and strengthened with much magic that is unfamiliar to me. It is taking a little bit to getting used to."

Jalmar looks up. "Ah, yes. The defences feel sound to me. I see that there are many layers of different magic in them. I even detect the magic of my brother Hereward. I am most pleased that our magic once again blends together."

"I see that you are devoted to my brother, Siggyr, and now you know me. Call on me if you need assistance with defending the temple. Risteed knows how. I will leave you now, but we will talk again when the time is right."

The statue returns to its original state and the presence diminishes. After a few moments, Graylor and Siggyr return to the surface world.

"You know he's not a bad sort that Jalmar." Siggyr admits to Graylor. "Obviously not as blatant as Hereward, but OK."

"I like him, and he's not so different from Hereward. They only really fell out because of the different ways they handled Arkat's betrayal. Jalmar decided that fighting chaos and the insidious temptations of illumination were most important. Hereward decided that living with honour and only following good, honest leaders was the way to go. It's something that makes the legion stronger than it looks. Something, I think, General Vur could do with learning."

As they step back into the evening gloom they see that torches have been lit and Ernaldestra is tending to Kallyr. The latter, if not leaping to her feet, at least gets to her feet unaided as soon as she sees Siggyr return.

"Are you.." she starts to ask, but Siggyr cuts her off mid query.

"Yes. Yes. Of course I'm fine. Though I would like to know how to interpret what all this damned Rigsdali magic is doing for me!" Siggyr complains. "But first, Graylor make sure Seledd and Landros are here for the explanations.

Insterid and Ernaldesta exchange glances. "She's not going to like that, is she?" Insterid comments. Offir says nothing, but moves to a position between Kallyr and where Seledd had last been seen.

Kallyr may not be fully recovered, but enough for the start of a mischievous grin to appear. "That could be quite fun in itself," she says happily.

Siggyr frowns. "She doesn't have to like it. She just has to do it." Whatever lack of confidence he may have had in his new position seems to have vanished when faced with this challenge. "We're professionals here, not children, or squabbling Orlanthi, and I expect her to act like it. Graylor, since the lady isn't in my direct chain of command, this is an invitation, not an order. The difference between the two is adding the word "please". Now hop to it."

"Yes, war leader." Graylor salutes smartly and runs off. As expected Seledd, having been told to watch what was going on, is close by.

"Siggyr would like your assistance with defences. And would like you to please come at your earliest convenience." Graylor asks the warrior.

"Well, finally!" She snorts. "What, has that woman finally overexerted herself with her sloppy technique?" Seledd asks in a quieter tone.

Graylor keeps his face neutral and refrains from answering.

"No doubt, you wouldn't know if it was right or wrong anyway. It is only a moment to get there and find out the problem for myself!" She turns from Graylor and strides away. "Landros, we are needed, come quickly!" she calls over her shoulder.

By the time they get there, Kallyr is already linked back into the magical defences, alongside Siggyr. She gives both Seledd and Landros what appears to be a perfectly genuine smile of welcome. "Ah, good. I'm assuming neither of you will need the hands-on introduction I'll give Siggyr, but you'll understand the theory behind this faster than he will, and can go over it again with him afterwards. If there's anything you don't follow, though, just ask."

She turns back to Siggyr. "The first point is what you've got here. Rigsdal worship is complicated by the number of ways he can be approached - as a servant of Orlanth who stays at the centre of the warband and keeps it in order, as a servant of Elmal who wields part of the Cold Sun, as a servant of Humakt - he gives slightly different magic each way. What's even more complicated is that sometimes that's Sky magic, and sometimes it's Star magic, and the daemons available can be either. In this case, you've got Sky rather than Star - it seemed likely to be more use to you, and at noon in Prax in Fire season, a lot easier to do."

In the background, Graylor can hear Seledd elaborating on this to Landros. Her conclusion seems to be that this choice had been lazy, sloppy, and incompetent, and that if she herself had been doing it, she would have... used Sky daemons.

Kallyr is apparently ignoring this, though the slight smile suggests that she's finding something amusing.

Irnar sniggers in the background. "And what is Rigsdal to Vinga? What possible use could a feisty goddess find for a god who can stand to attention all night!" His accompanying arm gesture and wicked grin leaves nobody in any doubt as to the way his mind is working. "What wouldn't I give for that sort of prowess! Pity it's wasted on a stiff-necked sky god."

Seledd's discourse is cut short by a gasp of outrage. "You will be silent, you lewd-minded, blasphemous..."

"Why?" Kallyr asks curiously, and with an absolutely straight face. "It's a fair question."
She turns to Irnar, still apparently completely serious. "Vinga is Orlanth's loyal daughter, and so Rigsdal provides magic to her in the same way as he does to her father. They are fellow defenders of Orlanth's stead in his absence in the Darkness, they agree that the javelin is a good weapon for dealing with foes at a distance, they agree that trolls are dangerous enemies to be taken seriously, and generally, they work well together as battle comrades."

Seledd is starting to regain her temper on hearing this almost academic exposition, but then Kallyr adds, with a grin that matches Irnar's: "And it isn't his neck that's stiff."

Irnar's grin widens. "Why you sly, wanton, delightful girl. You did a god! I must find myself a goddess sometime. Perhaps I can persuade Yelorna to get off her unicorn."

Kallyr grins back. "Maybe. There's easier and probably more fun targets, but maybe. Nothing's impossible.

She carries on explaining to Siggyr. "The magic they can use for you is also from a range of aspects. There's their natural senses, which are pretty good - mostly sight-related, as you might expect. Seeing a long way, not being dazzled by the sun - for humans, those are feats we have to learn, for them it's just a natural ability. They never sleep, of course, and they don't generally get distracted, not being human. That's an important thing to remember, all the time, they're not human. There's a whole range of feats humans use that I haven't put in here, because it wouldn't help you. Resisting temptation - it would help you and your warband resist the sorts of things that are temptation to a daemon of light, and while I know Humakti can be strange, I doubt if any of you are that strange."

Siggyr snorts. "I can think of a few... but never mind. So all these different Rigsdals - you use the Orlanth magic, right?"

She smiles. "Most easily, yes, but I use all of them. There's no specific feats from the Orlanth aspect here, what I've given you is the core Vigilance magic, and some of the Humakti aspect. You'll already be familar with both of those - seeing through illusions, hearing any sound. What you won't have had is the Nightwatchman's ability to detect any approaching enemy. I'd have given you his Awakening Shout as well, but you said you'd rather not have anything that unsubtle. There's a whole range of combat magic you could have had, too, that you won't have seen before, but again, you wanted to handle that yourselves, and have the defences as pure detection. I still wonder if being able to illuminate the battlefield might not have been a bad idea, but up to you."

"Not up to me now, is it? If the feats aren't in there, it's too late now."

"Not necessarily. Any Rigsdali here, if there's any feat they know and want the defences using, they can link to the daemons and ask them to do it - they're talking the same language, effectively, so they'll understand and cooperate. How many are staying, anyway? I'll take them through that, if you like."

Siggyr pauses before answering. "None. There's none staying here."

"Oh?" She looks at him, head cocked slightly. "Illig's up to something, isn't he?"

Graylor avoids answering the question by asking one of his own. "Would that be restricted to only Rigdali? We have a Yemalian in camp, could they communicate easily with the daemons?"

"A Yelmalian? That's.... come to think of it, that's a good question. They should be able to communicate with a Light daemon, and a Sky one in particular, yes, but whether they could use Rigsdal's magic... they'd have to approach him as Yelmalio would, and I don't know..."
Seledd's smile of triumph suddenly vanishes as Kallyr concludes: "So I'll ask him."
Her star gem hasn't been glowing since she finished setting up the defences, but it flares brightly now. Her eyes unfocus slightly, looking beyond the obelisks, or possibly through them. Her lips move silently, but if that's a language, it isn't one anyone present knows. After what can only be a minute or so, but seems longer, the light drops back to normal, and she smiles at Graylor. "Yes, you're right, he could, but it may not be all that useful. If you want all your troops lined up in nice neat lines, that's what they'll do if Yelmalio requests it. What's rather more interesting is what Illig could get them to do, but since he won't be here, that doesn't help."

"It might still be useful to teach them anyway, we will be returning and it shouldn't be a skill that we miss out on just because you aren't around."

"You have a point there Graylor. We shouldn't let any knowledge escape." Siggyr interrupts himself with a snort. "I've been round you Jalmari too long, I'm starting to think like you!"

She nods. "Fine, if we have time afterwards, I'll do that. But for now, Siggyr needs to learn how to handle this, and the best way is by practice. Pick a target, and see what you can see - you could try your own scouts, to start with. Try starting with the Truewind, since you're already familiar with using it, then maybe the overall picture through the guardians, or pick one of the other senses instead."

"Right." Siggyr concentrates, and the wind starts to blow around him. For once, he's set up the sounds it brings it to be generally audible, not just going to his own ears, and every one can hear a quack, followed by "five athes? who dealt thith hand?"

"Ah. " Kallyr is clearly trying not to laugh. "That sounds like time to switch to the other senses - sight, perhaps? Try just the daemon closest to them, then you're only looking through one set of eyes."

This isn't as easy to make generally visible, so it's useful that Siggyr is giving a running commentary on what he sees - or doesn't. "So I'm looking from the viewpoint of the obelisk... they're over there, or should be... direction doesn't tie in with what I hear, it's from a a different angle... and it's taller... all right, over there. There's their usual spot, there's the wall, there's... yes, feathers visible. How do I see beyond the wall?"

"You don't, not from that angle. Line of sight is still line of sight. See if any of the others give you a better view."

He concentrates again. "A side view, but they're too far away. Ah, but the daemons can see a long way, right? So if I concentrate on that, will it...? yes, it will." He pauses, then snorts. "Yes, five aces is right. That duck!"

He shakes his head, comes back to his own vision. "So what if they'd been completely behind that wall?"

"Then sight won't help you, and you go on to the other options. Or try working through the guardians, let them see what's what. Or, send out your scouts." She smiles. "Possibly not in this case, though."

Graylor asks hesitantly. "I remember my grandpa telling a tale of a Rigsdali who was blinded in a fight, but was able to sense the body heat of his enemies as they left im for dead. Using this he was able to shoot them with his bow. Was this just a fancyful tale or could these daemons do the same?"

Landros, standing in his trademark white cloak at Seledd's side has been following the proceedings intently. He had little to add to the ritual, other than his support but he hoped to learn from what the queen was doing here. A Yelmalion by upbringing. then a reluctant Humakti and finally a devotee of Rigsdal his idea of magic tended towards rote and ritual, not the ad-hoc impovisation the Legion seemed to excel at. Yet, here was one of the most powerful Rigsdali combining aspects of both.

He turned and smiled softly at Seledd and said quietly "Whatever her faults, the queen is powerful in the God."

In the background they can hear Irnar snigger. "I thought we had already established that it was the other way round!"

The words seem unnaturally loud coming as they did in the silent pause in all conversations. Graylor's sharp retort of "Irnar behave!" restarts the conversations.

"Stolen power," she replies equally softly, "and that's the only way she gets away with such sloppy technique. Not an example to follow."

"Perhaps.", he says musingly, thinking that the new legion's wyter may be considered to use stolen power as well. Sensing he had irritated her, he changed subject slightly.

"Will you talk to my ten tonight, ma'am, about Rigsdal from your perspective? They would benefit from your experience. As would I.", he was refering to his weekly lessons about and prayers to Rigsdal he had started as soon as he was promoted. Anyone was welcome to attend, those in his own ten who followed the Night Watchman were expected to.

"I certainly will," Seledd agrees. "We do not want to risk any of them falling into the error of misusing His powers out of simple expediency."

Meanwhile Kallyr is considering Graylor's question. "I suppose it could be true," she says doubtfully. "I'd never thought of trying to see heat, when it seems so much easier to just look at their magic and see them by that. Maybe someone who approaches Rigsdal as part of the full Sun, not the Cold Sun might do it? I suppose that wouldn't work on undead, but then they don't show as hot either, do they? Or do they? You're the experts on that.

"That's the obvious next option as far as I'm concerned, take a look at the other side, since it comes so naturally to the daemons anyway. It does take a bit of getting used to, though, seeing both sides at once. Trying to work out distances and direction is even harder than swapping to the senses of something that isn't in the same position as you are. You can still be blocked by rock or iron, but not a little wall like that, and you don't get to see much detail, but it can help."

"Simplest of all, though, is just to let the focuses - the guardians, for you - handle the details. See what they've got to tell you - they'll alert you if there's a problem anyway. Go on, give it a go now. Just a geenral scan, see what you can see, get used to what 'normal' looks like."

Siggyr nods, and closes his eye again. "Our own scouts.... yes, they show as living things on the other side. A few plants, small animals... that's Chaos? Where? - oh, so small and so far away it hardly matters. Rubble runner, most likely." He opens his eye again. "We only get the alert if it's a danger?"

"Yes. Approaching enemy, to be precise, though you'll need to check with Caspian just what his detection does. Hidden chaos, I think - Graylor?"

"Yes Detect Chaos and also Know Chaos to help identify the source. We tend to weave those two together most of the time so we hardly think of them as separate." Graylor replies. "You know, it's a pity that we can't have an overhead view of this place. There are no roofs on any of the buildings, so there would be an uninterrupted view and no place for enemies to hide."

"Oh, you can. That's what Illig does - it's not an aspect of Rigsdal many people know about, but that's the way the Yelm-worshippers tend to use him. I rather like it myself, it's as good as if I was still flying, but most people find it really disconcerting. If you're not used to seeing things from above, the first reaction is usually to think you're falling."

She glances across to Siggyr. "We could try that next if you like, or you might find listening easier to get used to. See what range you've got, too, it's probably quite a bit further than you'd get unaided."

He nods. "Through the focuses again, then. Let them do the pushing."

Again, he's set things up so that the Truewind brings the sounds in for all to hear, though it isn't clear to the audience which part of his extended range he's listening to at any one time. At first it's just the natural sounds of the Rubble at night, in any case.

"Let them guide you to something worth examining more closely," Kallyr suggests. "Anything alive will be almost glowing on the other side,"

"Right. Wonder if I can see as far as the Real City?"

"Easily, I'd expect, but don't try to spy on the Pavis Temple there, they won't like it."

"True. I'll work my way along the road, that gives an idea of distance."

There's a pause, then a grunt of surprise. "Too easy. There's the junction, and I wasn't even trying."

"No line of sight needed, that's always the limitation I hit myself, using sight only.Going left or right?"

"Left. Back towards the New City, it's the route we know best."

"Try it at speed, then - as fast as the wind, as they say. You can always pull back for a second look - listen, rather."

The sound now is almost entirely the rushing, icy wind - and then a terrible howling assaults them for a moment, and Insterid instinctively steps between Kallyr and the direction of the sound, shield up. "What the hell is that? It sounds like that's where it's coming from."

Siggyr is in no doubt, and nor are any of the other Herewardi present. "Doomwind. Yes, the wind from Hell. That's one of us, in trouble, but where,...? pull back a bit, you said?" He concentrates, the the howling reappears, overlaid with singing. There had been a lot of people watching and listening before, now more have come running. Seledd is giving rapid orders to her cohort, and a defensive line is forming, inside the circle of the new magic.

Kallyr's listening intently. "That song - two voices. Is that what I think it is? Death song?"

"One of them, yes, but where are they? Somewhere along the road, but how far, and are they moving?"

"Check your focuses. Got an approaching enemy?"


"So whatever they're fighting is stationary, or moving away."

"Whatever... all I can hear is the Doomwind! There's something there, something alive, and a lot of them, but I can't see what!"

"May I take a look?" So far Kallyr has been advising only, barely touching the magic herself, and even now, she's careful to defer to Siggyr.

Dori's outside now, listening too on her own wind."I can't make out any more, but... trolls?" Her sword is starting to glow gently.

Siggyr looks from one to the other, frustrated. "Go on - alongside, and show me what I should be doing."

"It's just practice," Kallyr says softly. "Just practice... and that's coming from most of the way along that road, but off to one side. About half a mile. Let's see - ah. Dori's right, trolls, and a lot of them. Rigsdal has magic for trolls, it's not set up here, but the sensitivity's still there. Now, what're they fighting? There's a small group moving away from them, towards us. Not much power there, nothing recognisable. Middle... yes, there's your group. Lots of Humakti magic. Look, you look at it like this.. you haven't practised with your second sight much, have you? Take a look, see if you recognise anyone you've studied before, everyone's magic has their own pattern, so..."
Siggyr's sharp bark interrupts her. "That's Egil!"
He drops the magic, turning towards his own quarters. "Wyredd, my gear, and fast! Shrev, Hrodar, Aelf, on me, we're doing a rescue."

Kallyr grabs his arm. "No you're not. You're the warlord. You're staying right here." She flashes a grin of sympathy at him. "Boring, isn't it?"

"It's fu.... all right." Sense prevails fast. "Graylor, your scouting ten, get out there, fast! We'll back you up, but find out what we're facing, get them out of it! Someone rouse the cavalry, too."

"Yes Sir!" Graylor immediately turns and starts calling orders. Irnar is dispatched to the stables to get horses and Elgan is sent to collect the rest of the ten. Graylor is about to head off with them when he hesitates and turns back.

"I have three requests. Warleader, keep listening, that way I can keep you informad. Seledd, Landros can you generate some real light on top of those trolls. It will serve two functions, one to give the trolls pause and two to let the men out there know that someone is coming. Dori, can you talk to Santhis to let him know that help is on the way and that he is should look for a choke point that we can use to restrict the movements of the trolls."

He turns to depart and as he does so Siggyr reconnects with the defences and clearly a third voice has joined the singing, a soprano voice that Graylor instantly recognises as Yenda's and singing the song that no Humakti wants to hear a comrade singing. He pauses a moment and his fists clench tightly, his face darkens and he sets of at a run.

Kallyr's back in the magic, studying it again. "That's Abul, too." Dori, still listening, nods. "I can hear at this range, just, but that's about it. They're not going to be in time, not even riding. Damn, maybe we should have put some attack magic into the defences."

ChronP56Rescue - threads merge

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