The Harts’ Spring Parliment 1103 – No Lion Bleeds To Death Alone
By A. Robin Ashwine
It was a slightly smaller band of Lions who went to the Hart’s parliment this year. With no mists of Avalon to tempt us, and with rising troubles back home, fewer of us could spare the time. Still, myself, Xavin, Quinn and Jutah from House D went along, with Aldous and Footnote keeping up the honour of the Celestial Knights. No show from the Prince Bishops this time though.
We transported in to the area then wandered around the woods till we found a clearing where numerous people had pitched their tents. It seemed a lovely place to have a parliment, though Catholicon wasn’t convinced – he thought he could see shapes moving in the forest, and as time went on Xavin and Quinn likewise started to feel edgy. To be fair, Quinn feeling edgy is one of the basic facts of life, but as Xavin and Cawd backed him up, we thought there might be something to his paranoia this time.
Aisla invited us to join her and her friends and so we had a happy half hour or so sitting around talking before someone shouted over that the meeting was going to start. Most of the Harts wandered off, most of the Lions stayed sitting. After all, we could hear well enough from where we were and we were here to chill and toast the memories of the fallen from Camlan, not to listen to speeches. Besides, we have a reputation to keep up.
A tall lady with imposing hair announced to us “Are you not coming?”. When we smiled and said no, she announced that all Harts’ guests had been commanded to attend the meeting. We considered having a discussion about the nature of hospitality but Quinn shook his walking stick at her instead and she went away. Not the best start to the weekend really.
Anyway. The announcements were that the Matriarch, the head of the elves who had invited us to Ivar, would be coming, please be nice to her, and also that they were looking for people to go into the dream of Albion and search out some treasure they were looking for. Being as I am far more connected with the Dream of Avalon, I thought it might not be the best thing to volunteer for, and there were many, many people who were interested in going anyway.
So the dream heroes marched off and a number of the local elves came round to visit, and I taught Footnote a few songs on the guitar. One of the elves, their keeper of knowledge, got quite interested in the guitar, and then in Avalon. He didn’t understand how a dream could be anything but a terrible place to live, and so I ended up explaining in some depth about Dark Day.
He told us about their totally alien way of life and how I could never understand it. It sounded very similar to a certain group of Elven Avalonians.
“We are deeply connected to this forest – we are more a part of it than you could ever understand”
“So you might say you were its soul?”
“Well, yes, that’s pretty apt actually. But also the People of this forest have ancient and mystical knowledge which allows us to become absorbed into one tree and depart from another”
“We call it treewalking”
“Err…a good name. But to you, all trees are the same, while we know the varience between them all”
“You mean Oak are different from Ash and Sequioa? Makes sense”
“What’s a Sequioa?”
“Oh, it’s just a kind of tree. It’s not important”
“We don’t like outsiders”
“Feth’ taVeg wee buggers, aren’t we?”
Still, we parted friends. Soon afterwards we got to meet some of the treewalkers firsthand. Some of the Ents and tree spirits had been corrupted by something dark and dodgy in the woods, and had come to attack us. They had enough sense not to come into the clearing though, and amazingly we also had enough sense not to venture too far out of it, so the main danger was from archers. However, there was a shout from Marcus Charenton (the man with the lantern) as he found Catholicon face down and bleeding just behind a bramble patch. I found the bramble patch, but I managed to get Catholicon back on his feet.
The Matriarch explained that there was a great big demon buried under the forest who was working its way loose and that we needed four keystones, which would release it fully so that it could be dealt with – if it wasn’t released it would just break the locks, so we needed to let it go so we could destroy it. All sounded a bit like when Maladius was freed, but at least this time we weren’t relying on one spell scroll. So we had to collect four keystones, though as she had one on her that made things a bit easier.
Later on we met the root walkers, who could transport right into the clearing, and who were likewise diseased and ‘orrible. Quinn had a lucky escape, as the first healer to check him didn’t notice he was Decayed, but fortunately Xavin caught it in time.
Other Events of Note
I dropped a bottle on Footnote’s guitar – I owe him three new strings. Aldous has a good singing voice. Torquil announced Aisla was going to lay an egg, Aisla explained that we called it “having a baby”, and it wasn’t going to be for a while. An ancestor called the Feral Lady turned up, the Matriarch didn’t like her.
The people who’d been questing into the dream of Albion returned in the morning. The mission had been successful, but Adam Polliver was killed by Grolloch demons in the return. Apparently Grollochs are watching the circles now so you’ve got to be prepared when you transport in or out. Should make for an interesting Gathering.
We noticed someone sitting on a log near to where a number of the corrupted Ents had been attacking out of, which didn’t seem particularly safe. On closer inspection (though not that close, it must be said), he only had half a face, and the other half was a somewhat offputting skull. Still, all ickiness aside, I went up to see if I could help. I offered him a drink of water, which he declined on the reasonable grounds that he was etherial and so couldn’t drink it. He explained that he’d been exiled from the elves for some crime he couldn’t remember and was now a ghost, his name was Laucian and that he was trying to get to sleep. So I took the hint and left him to it.
The Matriarch told us she couldn’t see Laucian. I said he seemed nice and she snapped back that no he wasn’t, he was an evil villian. Oh well. He still seemed nice.
We then held the actual parliment bit of the weekend, which while still being a parliment and thus not particularly interesting, was not too dull. Marcus got made faction cartographer, and Aisla, Ripper and someone else got exceptional thanks for their actions on the overnight adventure. More dull stuff ensued then Kassius from the Empire turned up and told us the Dragons had attacked them first so please don’t get involved in the war. It seems at moot 1 the Conclave invaded Erin, pretending to be the Empire, so some Dragons attacked some of the Empire in revenge. Of course, since the Empire hadn’t actually invaded, it was the Conclave, that meant the Dragons had attacked first. So the Empire then invaded Erin and Cumbria.
Kassius confirmed that if anyone took the field to help the Dragons without wearing their faction (or presumably house or group) colours, they’d be treated as an individual, not a representative of the faction (or house or group) so he promised there wouldn’t be any retribution against a faction (or presumably house or group) for the actions of individuals.
Then some of the Wytchwood family turned up and asked us not to open the white tower on Lundy.
Then the Dragons asked us all for help. The Empire have now destroyed one and a half of the Dragon’s armies and are sweeping across Cumbria. The Dragons are going to stand at the Gathering in a pre-arranged battle, and are begging for help both in that battle and in the ongoing fight to keep their homeland. As someone who’s lost a homeland, I could see in their faces exactly how they felt.
We explained about the situation on Holy Isle, how Bethanie was exchanging herself as hostage for the children on the island. Some of the Harts volunteered help to provide temporary foster homes for any children who were lost, which was kind.
The parliment over, the ents attacked again – the matriarch had placed a spell called Hospitality over the area so nothing could attack while the parliment was going on. Edward James got taken down just beside one of the trees but wouldn’t let us drag him back to safety while Catholicon was healing him, so we all got gribbled horribly. I don’t think Edward had realised quite how impossible it was to protect people from treewalkers while standing in the woods. He had a go at me later over it, I put the whole experience down to ‘one of those things’.
V’Ar came and asked for help – apparently they’d found that the second of the stones we needed was being held by a reclusive woman out in the woods, so they were looking for a band of bored people to come and help persuade her to give it to us. Myself, Aldous, Jutah and Footnote volunteered. It was lucky we did really, because we encounted a lot of dangers in the forest – both the Decay causing root walkers that we did expect, and some strange white faced things that were immune to normal blades and projectiles. Which we weren’t expecting.
We found the woman, we persuaded her we were the good guys, we started to head back, we got ambushed by the strange white things. Still, we made it eventually.
By this point it was getting a bit dark, we couldn’t see too far out into the woods. Which was unfortunate – a group of Vipers turned up from their training weekend to plant a flag on Albion, and walked straight into some of the Ents, and apparently some Grollochs too. They wreen’t expecting anything like that – of course, when they’d asked the Harts were expecting a quiet, social weekend – and so most hadn’t brought any weapons. Two people, Gwynnith and one of the Stoneburghers, died in the attack before reinforcememtns could get to them.
Most of the Vipers didn’t seem too phased – apparently it was one from each of the two teams, so that made things fair. They sketched a few iconographs of themselves and then headed off back to Teutonia.
An image of a tall elf in a huge cape appeared and explained that when the elves had bound away the demon, they’d always known it would break free (sounds like pretty bad planning to me). Anyway, they wanted to make sure we weren’t demon cultists, which seemed reasonable, and so they’d set up a number of mystical and ingenious methods to examine us and test our moral fibre and dedication to the cause of good, righteousness and smiting the demon good and proper.
At least, that’s what they said. What actually happened was they attacked us all night long.
We got stuck into defending ourselves but even though Lasha had turned up for the evening, we were running very low on healing and spells. Laucian wanted to know how he could help, I showed him how to “spot” in a fight – look for the people who are going to need healing and/or rescuing, keep an eye on how long they’ve been down for, remember any spells you heard cast at them and keep the rest of us aware so we could help them. It’s actually brilliant having an etherial Spotter, they can get in everywhere without being hurt.
We (the Lions) held out as long as we could but we were out of healing and almost out of spells and it’d been a long few weeks and we were getting to the stage where we could barely keep our eyes open with or without Sleep spells being cast at us. I was also wanting to talk to Thalla about the corruption in the woods, it struck me that as a Soul Elf she might know something that could be done about it, so we headed off back to Archon. We were going to lend Aisla my sword since it seems to have gone a bit magical recently, but as Edward James pointed out to Quinn, we’d feel a bit silly if we’d been jumped, given what happened to the Vipers, so on that very sound advice we kept it with us.
Sadly Thalla was off playing with the Kraken, or whatever it is she does when she’s not on Archon, so we spent the remainder of the evening down at the Plucky Lass tavern.
The night passsed almost without incident – I say almost, because at one point Jutah suddenly jumped up, grabbed Local Anasthetic out of Xavin’s belt loop, then thumped Xavin around the head with it. As Xavin slumped into unconsciousness Jutah did the same to Footnote and Aldous and then lunged for me. He hit me a glancing blow and I managed to parry his second attack with my arm (which hurt). Wondering what the feth was going on, I scrambled to my feet as Jutah likewise clubbed Quinn unconscious and then turned to me again.
Seeing that I was standing he backed off. I used my last reserves of magic to cast a Fumble spell at him and as he bent to pick up the weapon, I jumped on his back. He started battering my leg as I wrestled Local Anasthetic out of his hands and knocked him out with it. It seemed the safest way.
As one by one the Lions recovered and my leg slowly regained some feeling, I explained what had happened. Thus it was that Jutah came round with us gathered about him, wondering if he was possessed by one of the numerous possessing beasties that seem to swarm over Erdreja. Not so however – as he explained, “I am havink a bet with myself zat I can knock out all peoples without gettink caught. And I would have been gettink away with if it hadn’t been for that plucky lass.”
Quinn put him on punishment detail for striking a superior officer, and we decided we’d all had enough and it was time for bed.
Other Events of Note:
The Tome of Air got stolen in the dream realm, and was found to be missing in the real world too. General concensus was it can look after itself, though Celadore was worried. Jutah lost his spiky stick, we reckon one of the white things stole it. We met Lennard Morghun, one of Lemming’s many adoptive family members. Someone lost Excalibur and when I asked him to describe what it looked like, managed “Its a sword”. No wonder they never find it.
As we returned to Ivar, a mission team went out just after breakfast and then we had all four of the keystones we needed to release the demon, so we set out through the woods to the places where we had to put them.
We met a lot more of the white things, announcing that only death lay beyond them. We argued that that wasn’t true, we could distinctly see some trees, but they weren’t particularly interested in logic and so a fight broke out. They were pretty calculating evilthings too – one of them Froze Jutah and began systematically hacking him apart before we could pull him back. Still, we defeated them in the end.
Like just about every healer in Ivar, Laucian started hearing the forest call to him and wandered off, Confused. I tried to pull him back to safety but of course my arm went straight through him, which made things a bit trickier. The Harts were advancing down the right hand side of a T junction, the white things were avancing down the left, and Laucian (and I) was quickly getting cut off. I felt a strong arm round my waist lifting me off my feet and pulling me back
“Robin, there’s no time! We have to go!”
I wasn’t aware that Xavin was actually strong enough to lift me like that, but when we just managed to slip in round the side of the white things before getting cut off, I was glad he was. I hadn’t realised how far back I had been. I was still a bit worried about Laucian though – I know he was etherial but he still seemed vulnerable.
We got the four stones placed with minimum of fuss and returned to the clearing we’d come from to wait for the demon to come to us. Which it duly did.
Things got a bit hectic at that point. The big demon and his henchdemon were immune to weaponry that wasn’t magical, so a lot of us were just picking off the others or parrying like mad things. Mat Luhan healed me more than once, I recall.
Quinn was doing pretty well with his shield until a demon got in behind him and swung a polearm in an impressive arc that connected beautifully with the back of Quinn’s dodgy knee. When he was thrown forward by that, the demon then battered him into the ground. The demons then swung round so that Quinn had fallen behind their line.
Footnote saw this and so rushed in to rescue him, but he was also taken down. Branwen tried to rescue both and likewise got knocked unconsious. So Aldous boldly dashed into the fray and tried to rescue everyone but the demon he was facing was immune to Aldous’ weaponry and so despite a very heroic effort Aldous was eventually beaten down. Then I saw what was going on and jumped in at the last second, again using my arm to block the next blow about to land on Aldous. Sadly there were two demons with two weapons each, and only one of me. The result was a bit inevitable – still, no Lion bleeds to death alone, as the saying was never intended to go.
I awoke what felt like a very long time later, very sore, with Xavin standing over me. We had all survived, though by the skin of our teeth, and the Harts hadn’t been so lucky. Martin Goodman and a man called Frederick had both been killed in the fight. The fight was still going on and the wounded were piling up.
Suddenly, Xavin started charging off against the demons, for no readily apparent reason. I tried to pull him back but he kept insisting that someone called Kadra had told him to kill the demons. I pointed out he was a healer and people were dying but it was as though he didn’t hear me, so he charged into the demons and got hacked down. The henchdemon came to stand over Xavin’s bleeding body and I faced off against him.
“He’s mine” I told it. It grinned, and fight commenced.
I must have scared him off, because he turned and fled. Which was gratifying, though I was more concerned with healing Xavin. When we returned to the clearing we discovered that the Harts had figured out what was going on – a Strong One canned Kadra (possessing beastie, see last year’s Harts report) had possessed the Matriarch and had got us to release the demon so it could eat the demon’s heart – presumably its a delicacy of some kind. Still, the harts took down the Matriarch and Sagamor killed the Strong One and we arranged to do a ritual to send the demon back to its own plane, so all turned out ok in the end.
Glycell led the ritual to send the demon, its henchdemon and the demon minions back to their own plane, which went off with only the minimum of attacks from the demons, who hadn’t figured out that trying to take down a ritualist and contributers from inside a sealed circle is generally considered A Bad Idea.
So all’s well that ends well, anyway. Tristan Hroc thanked us, we told him we’d be back to keep them sorted again next year, and we returned to Lantia with a feeling of a job well done. I like Harts parliments. They’re short, and don’t get in the way of the weekend.
Other Events of Note:
Edward James pointed out that Archers wear guild sashes, which was random but I guess useful to know. They’re green and white btw, though as Gabriel never did I expect that only some of them do. The Harts found Excalibur again, no sign of the Tome of Air though. We heard a rumour that the Empire had offered the Lions Albion in exchange for staying out the fight with the Dragons, we quashed it.