Heartland Games 1105 – Moving on, Moving back

By A. Robin Ashwine


I came to the Heartland Games this year with no real intention of taking part. Which turned out to be fortunate, as things got stupidly busy rather often – as they are wont to do, at the Heartland Games.

Lemming was a man on a mission – the Gathering Treaty idea that he’s been hammering out for the past year or so had finally come to fruition and he was ready to try and roll it out to the other factions and guilds. The copy I’d proposed to the Healers seemed popular enough with them, so I thought he was in with a chance. Basically, instead of just being “We won’t attack each other, honest” it was “We won’t attack each other because there’s this penalty if we do”. He and the PBs started their mission to get people interested.

I wandered down the Healer’s guild. As always, the Lifemasters were late, which I think is their way of avoiding desk duty. I signed in quite a number of new members, including more than a few physicians, which is encouraging. Met a really nice Caledonian girl whose name I have not got a prayer of spelling but who seemed convinced that Avalon was underground. Wish it was, it would be a lot easier to get back to. Even better was that many of these new members were keen to come back and spend time in the guild, which was great. It’s always nice to make new friends.

Eventually Treacle must have figured the queue would have died down, as she came along to the guild. So I immediately accosted her with a question – after Sister Bethanie healed me at the Lions Winter Parliament all those months ago she found my pattern was swirling slightly and seemed to be changing, which is why I’ve been under guard and not really allowed to leave Tamerus for months. Which, apart from being kind of worrying, was getting really incredibly frustrating. However, Treacle was able to explain it a bit better – it seems at some point, undoubtedly on Elvas, probably when Golgul started shouting curses at me in the ritual circle or at his (second) death, my pattern was assaulted.
I shook it off, which is what Sister Bethanie saw, but apparently now it’s “bruised” and will take a bit longer to recover. I’m to avoid getting cursed for the next six months. Which will put a real dampener on my plans. I wondered if I could get a note to that effect to show to horrible gribbly things, but as Lemming pointed out “It shouldn’t be a problem Robin, all the things you meet tend to just Fatal, Magebolt, Rend or thump you. It probably hasn’t occurred to them to shout nasty things instead”. Which was All Very Reassuring.

Back at the guild, Treacle asked me if I knew anyone capable of committing surgery. When I pointed out I was, she told me that was handy and promptly made me head of the college. Apparently she’d been planning on merging the colleges of physicians and of surgeons for a while now. I resolved never to admit to anything ever again (this resolve didn’t last long).
Katerina told me that meant I had to come and stay at the college of midwifery in case she needed help for C-Sections, but quite apart from anything else I think the college is in Teutonia which, from what Garvel tells me, means the Vipers would kill me if I went. Which is just frankly irritating, and even more so for Garvel, who was pretty much forced at knifepoint by some Vipers to join the Unicorns while he was on a scouting mission. He was pretty frustrated but the alternative involved said Unicorns risking their lives for him, so he acquiesced and joined the Ghostwalkers.

Obidask McTrew, head laird of the Bears, came down to the Healer’s guild being possessed. For a while we couldn’t figure out what to do about it so Lemming came up with a suggestion – as “something dark and shadowy” had leapt into him, the obvious solution was to make the host body as uncomfortable as possible for the possessing spirit and so he volunteered the PBs men to form an orderly queue to kick Obidask repeatedly in the nuts. Obidask apparently turned down this kind offer and the Incantors dismissed the possessing spirit instead. Lemming bewailed the lack of originality and spirit of experimentation in Erdreja.

Not a lot more happened for the next few hours so I went to the pub with Jutah, mainly because neither of us had any alcohol with us. We imbibed a few before meeting up with another group of Lions who had had the same idea. Discussed with Lance Corporal Cade the vacant position of Knight Captain in the PBs. He felt it was undoubtedly going to go to Lochlan Douglas, which meant Tartan Lance needed a new commanding officer. Which meant he might be promoted. He swore, loudly and often, to shoot Lemming if this was ever threatened. Apparently crosswinds can catch an arrow and make it fly unerringly at anyone trying to give an archer a job they don’t want.
Jutah muttered something vaguely in agreement, which made me wonder what’s going to happen with the Wild Geese. Still, I’m sure they’ll tell us when they want us to know.

I pointed out to Cade that it was by now pitch dark, which must greatly reduce the risk of crosswinds as no one can see to shoot anyway. Cade squeaked, gathered up his knives and ran off to the Lions’ camp, where we met a large number of PBs men around the campfire. Their tromp round the Games trying to interest people in a gathering treaty was going pretty well – all the guilds except the Mages seemed keen, and the Mages hadn’t actually said no, just expressed reservations. Which sounded hopeful.

Lemming got some admin out the way, appointing Rowan Calanegol as the new Lady Margravine (Margrave, but female) and trying to persuade Lochlan that he really wanted to be Knight Captain. Lochlan wasn’t convinced, and Cade explained how freak crosswinds could occasionally catch throwing knives as well. Lemming compromised (over Lochlan anyway) and made him Knight Sergeant, which has all the responsibilities of Knight Captain but…erm…sounds a bit different. I’m not sure how much of a compromise it was, really. Lochlan neatly avoided both freak crosswinds and arguments by appointing his brother Dalziel Douglas as Sergeant of Tartan Lance, which was unanimously decided as Dalziel wasn’t there at the time. Lemming also instated a standing order of “When in doubt, Blame Bishop Hatfield”. Lochlan approved heartily.

The Ringmaster’s annoying imp turned up and got in the way for a while, which rather put a damper on the evening. Basically he’s immune to everything we can do, being unaffected by all spells, weapons and logic, and Freezes anyone who tries to interact with him. Once we ran out of Shatter spells it got really irritating, but eventually it was got rid off. I don’t know who by but we were really grateful. Prince Bishop Hatfield was blamed loud and long.

Other Items of Note:
An Imperial Dragon Knight came into the Healer’s guild looking for Incantors – he’d been mugged and wanted someone to stabilise the muggers. Silly muggers. Jutah, Aldous and Lochlan chucked spells (Aldous & Lochlan) and throwing knives (Jutah only) around to knock each other out. A guy in the Harts called Percy Percy wants St Cuthbert’s bones returned to Albion. The PBs pointed out that since St Cuthbert’s spirit himself carried them away from Albion, they’d wait for St Cuthbert to carry them back. Dunno what Percy Percy made of this. The Armengarians had a meeting to which Cosaint wasn’t invited, at which some rather odd-sounding decisions were made. I hope it just sounds more draconian and threatening than it in fact is.
Devlin wishes it mentioned that the Palace of Glass teahouse in the Harts does amazing tea.


Lemming and the PBs were continuing with their Gathering treaty idea, heading off round the factions this time. I had work to do down the guilds, but I wished them luck. It was beginning to look like this treaty might actually come together.

Elani called all the Lifemasters and Guild Wardens into a private meeting in the Healers guild tent. As a result of the ritual Golgul had been trying to do on her being stopped halfway through, she’d lost her link to the plane of life. I apologised. She pointed out that, having heard a great deal more of the plans for that ritual than I had, if the ritual had been completed she would have been dead. I took back the apology.
Either way however, the events had left her physically scarred and emotionally drained and she didn’t want to be a Lifemaster any more, so she was stepping down. Tap and I tried to persuade her otherwise but sadly she was adamant. She was going to make the announcement public at the meeting at three, we had to keep it to ourselves until then. Poor Elani.

Sol and Treacle headed out to buy a present for Elani and put me in charge of the guild while they were out. I protested strongly but I was told to shut up and behave or they’d promote me. I promised to be good. And I was. I sat there and reminisced with other guild members until someone charged into the guild tent complaining that there were people being Beguiled in the Mages guild. I told him that Sol and Treacle were the ones who could help and they were off shopping, when he pointed out that actually no, they were sitting in the Mages guild being Beguiled. I wasn’t sure whether to find it amusing or frustrating. I settled for grabbing Glynis ( a new guild defender) and finding someone who could help instead.

On entering the Mages guild, it turned out that Sheyna had acquired an egg of some form that seemed to be Beguiling anyone who touched it. Sol had got distracted by trying to fix her and had somehow in the process touched the egg and persuaded Treacle to do the same. So they were sitting round worshipping it. They tried to get me to touch it but I told them I was allergic.

One quick trip to the Bard’s Guild later and we returned bearing a cuddly teddy that would hopefully free their minds. At least, that was the plan – the annoying imp from the night before showed up and Froze Cosaint so he (the imp) could steal the teddy. He then grabbed my wrist more strongly than I could hope to break free of and dragged both me and the teddy over to the Scout’s guild to give to some lady there. Glynis stomped over and sorted it out, I wasted the last of my spells unfreezing Cosaint, and we made it into the Mages guild to sort out our Lifemasters.

Treacle was happy to hold and hug the teddy and after a frustratingly slow ten minutes figured out what was happening, thrust the teddy at Sol and left to get a quick break down of what had happened. Sadly, after only about five minutes Sol decided the teddy didn’t suit him, and furthermore he was in the mood to be frustrating. I presume it must have been an effect of the egg that caused that.

“Sol, please would you hold the teddy?”
“No. It doesn’t suit me”
“Do you honestly think it matches this fur?”
“Not in the slightest. I honestly think you’re Beguiled.”
“I’m not Beguiled, you’re Beguiled.”
“I’m really not.”
“Yes you are. Go away and stop being Beguiled.”

There’s really no talking to him when he’s in that sort of mood. I went off and asked Lavernius to check if I was Beguiled. He talked to me briefly then told me to go away and stop being so stupid, so I figured I probably wasn’t. I went back and knocked Sol unconscious with a mace. It felt good. I then gave him the teddy so I was being helpful too. The annoying imp then turned up and Froze everybody. Master Dark Magebolted it but it was immune to the magic. Still, someone came by reasonably quickly and unfroze us so it wasn’t too bad. Treacle came in and we watched Sol slowly melt.

When he woke up, he was free of the egg’s influence and telling us about a strange dream he had where I had hit him with a hammer or something. I didn’t feel the urge to point out that his dream was strangely mirrored by reality – I figured he’d probably read it here anyway.

We all went back into the Healer’s guild, Sol rubbing his head a bit, when Aldous ran in to find me – Lemming had been killed.

We rushed up to camp, Carabas, Bethanie and a squad of PBs with us, to find out what had happened. Everything was in uproar. This girl with tattered wings – Archangel – was rushing about deeply upset. Rowan was trying to restore some kind of order. Lemming’s body was in the Soulsplitters tent and Ki’ana was down with a group of Lions arguing with Lord Ordos. Things looked like they were about to kick off in a big way so I went down and found Scavenger to find out what happened. All other things aside, I wanted to know.

Scavenger explained that some of the Vipers, himself included, had been possessed by the Conclave following a ritual at the CoG. As Lemming and the other PBs had been sitting with the Vipers discussing the Gathering treaty they had rushed in, accused the PBs of being Conclave agents, and attacked them. Lemming had been Magebolted and the Sanctuary upon him had been broken. Why it was broken is still a matter for debate but ultimately it doesn’t matter so much as that it happened at all.

The tension between the Lions and Vipers backed down into a show of strength on both sides and we focussed on trying to figure out what had gone on. It seems the Conclave had targeted Lemming because of his treaty – they’d rather the factions remained split, obviously – and so the possessed Vipers had forced Archangel and the Bear (who were both maintaining a Sanctuary on Lemming, dunno who the Bear was) to break the Sanctuary, or they would murder the other four PBs men as well. His life for his friends and comrades – in that situation, we know Lemming would have chosen as Archangel and the unknown Bear did. But it was so sad.

I went down to find Sheyna but she was already on her way, I don’t know who found her. Morven, Lemming’s wife, had been told but being a werewolf she was frenzying and couldn’t come and see him. Archangel had dedicated his pattern to Malar so he couldn’t be raised, but we knew there was nowhere he would rather be than home, so we found Gwion to arrange to have him sent to Avalon. Gwion agreed that, come nightfall, he would empower an incantor from Avalon – Aldous was chosen – to lay Lemming’s pattern to rest there. Or, if not to rest, at least to help with rebuilding our homeland. Either way, to send him to Avalon.

We – myself, Cade, Dalziel, Esmund Walker, John Ciall and someone else – carried Lemming shoulder high from the camp, though the market place and through the Transport circle to Gallathrix. Lochlan tried to stop me from being one of the pallbearers but I insisted. Though later on that evening, as the pain still didn’t lift from my shoulder, I felt compelled to agree he had a point. I couldn’t have stepped back through. Lemming, along with Gabriel and Benedict, were the only people who made me feel welcome when I first came back to the Lions (and in Benedict’s case, it was completely by accident). I’d always been able to rely on him and he on me. But then, I suppose a lot of people could say the same. I’ll miss him so much.

When I did make it down to the guild, it was long past three and I’d missed Elani stepping down as Lifemaster – also upsetting, I’d hoped to say goodbye. I hope she comes to visit at times, even if she doesn’t want to take up the offer of skin grafts to repair as much of the damage done to her as we can.

A confused, frightened bloke called Tom came into the guild, shivering and looking for help. I got him a seat and talked to him, which helped him to calm down a little. He was a farmer from a local island and his last memory was of overhearing some people plotting to kill someone from the Order of Erdreja, so he went to investigate and that was all he remembered. Carabas came and listened for a while then knocked him unconscious with a mace – Tom was possessed by the Conclave and it was easier to remove when the subject was unconscious. But halfway through removing the taint Tom exploded with a flash of magic that Magebolted Carabas. I found some herbs to fix that wound but while I did I ended up breathing in some of the poisonous fumes coming off. Which I guess meant Tom was already dead, but it didn’t do anything to lift my mood. We got out and checked everyone was ok while we waited for the fumes to dissipate.

Around ten o’clock that evening Gwion, who was sitting chatting to the Lifemasters, suddenly announced he had to go lay someone to rest. Having overheard I checked and it was Lemming, so I ran up to camp with him. Aldous had been attending Inquisitor Crane’s meeting and wasn’t going to leave camp until Gwion got there, so he was waiting. I felt very lucky that I’d happened to catch Gwion, as he didn’t have time to wait for people and we couldn’t get anyone who wasn’t in camp at the time. Which was sad, particularly for Morven and Colm Trowbridge, who’d both asked to be found for this. Gwion opened a direct rift through the Void – now I know how it feels to be a demon (very weird and rather scary, for the record, I can see why they want to leave) – and we walked to Lemming’s resting place on Gallathrix.

Gwion began the ceremony and Aldous didn’t falter as he took over and lead the proceedings. He called on all of us to speak of our memories of Lemming and one by one we did. Rowan spoke of how he had helped her feel at home in a new faction and a new unit. Lochlan told how Lemming made him feel valued and welcomed. Rua said how much she missed him, and Avalon. I spoke of the times we’d spent together and victories we’d had, as well as how much Avalon meant to him. In a way, I felt almost jealous that he was getting to go home. It won’t be easy there, but he can make a start. I felt sorry for everyone who wasn’t Avalonian. I hope they have somewhere similar they can go, too.

Gwion finished with a prayer and he and Aldous both agreed it had worked. We walked back through the Void (which, it cannot be stressed enough, is more dramatic than ritual transport but far less nice) and it was done. Goodbye, Lemming. I’ll no doubt see you later.

Sitting round the fire after Gwion had gone, we realised that once again we had run out of drink and therefore decamped to the bar. Once there, I realised I was an idiot, and had in fact left my money pouch in my bag sitting happily by the fire, where it was doing no one any good and certainly not helping me to buy a drink. So I headed up back to camp. Aldous insisted on coming with me, which was kind of him. I did of course protest that it wasn’t worth him getting cold as I’d never been mugged at a Games before.

Then we got mugged. I blame myself.

There was a group of people who we thought looked dodgy, so we gave them a wide berth. Then Aldous says he saw me fall over, then we both woke up leaning on a trader’s tent with bruises and cuts on the back of our heads, and all my remaining magic had been drained away. Since neither of us heard a spell it was either that weird psionic stuff, or a really sneaky ninja. Given my lack of magic, we suspect the latter – illithids are the only creatures I’ve seen who do that. I rather hope it was the group we were avoiding – I’d feel really silly if we’d walked into the real muggers by getting paranoid about other people.

Either way, since we were on our way to get my money, I didn’t even have a copper on me, and neither did Aldous. Luckily, we didn’t get mugged on the way back. The mugging was reaching epic proportions that Games, most people I know got either mugged or attempted at some point.

Other Items of Note:
The Hammer of Justice got stolen (the Militia one, not Oliver FitzOliver), a fire fae from Rysarius turned up to complain about us moving the ritual circle – they say any spell cast in Lantia now kills one of them but I can’t understand how that would happen. The Soulsplitters voted to quit the faction military. The Gardener is now planting his evil plants in people (presumably having learned from the Pod People of Lantia) so we’re having to cut them out a lot. Kieran, an ex-Demetian, got married to a lovely girl but what with Lemming’s death, I don’t think any Demetians made it along. The Bears and Wolves started trying to peacefully sort out the ownership of Orkneyjar. The Dragons made peace with the Empire.


Aldous and the PBs men rushed off bright and early to Gallathrix to Speak to Lemming’s spirit, since he hadn’t as expected left a message with Oliver to say who was to be the next Prince Bishop but had in fact, told no one. Except possibly the previous Margrave, who’s now missing. Either way, Aldous went and asked him and found out, and also found out that Lemming had lodged his will with the bank. So I caught up with them as they trooped off to the bank to find it.

You wouldn’t have thought it was that difficult. They searched under M for ‘McYokel, Lemming’ but no luck. Then they tried D for ‘Demetus, Lemming’. Nope. They tried L for Lemming, M for Marcin, G for God King Emperor, T A and S for Tanorin Anla Sequoia and were about to try H for ‘His Grace’ when someone finally found it under M for ‘McYokel, Marcin’.

Then the bank insisted that only the benefactor, the high sheriff of Lantia, could read out the will. So despite the fact we had Oliver, the Hammer of Justice, Aldous, the Deputy High Sheriff, Dalziel, a Sheriff and myself, occasional Acting Deputy Sheriff, since Ignatius wasn’t there they weren’t happy for us to read the will.

Eventually we persuaded them to let us.
Lemming didn’t mention his successor in it anyway.

Lochlan requested that the next one of us who went to Avalon kick Lemming in the head for him.

Since Aldous and I were the only Avalonians present, we agreed. Well, I agreed – Aldous decided he’d rather “check Lemming repeatedly for possession” (see Friday). Rowan agreed this would do.

On the way back up to camp we met and apologised to Morven regarding Lemming’s laying to rest the day before. She didn’t try to kill me so I guess she understood, but it can’t have been easy to accept. She was obviously pretty angry so we left.
Then we hit a snag. The person named in the will wasn’t present, so did they announce the nominated successor, or wait until he could be told? Eventually they announced it, but since he hasn’t been told I don’t figure I should mention it. I remember one person nominated angsting with me about whether or not to accept it and as he didn’t in the end, he was pleased to get the privacy regarding it. I figure it’s not my news to spread; I’ll change the report later if his (new) grace wants me to.

Then we got some other news. Someone – we originally heard it was the Empire, the Empire say it was Conclave agents dressed as the Empire – has been digging up the Nosta Kar gateway over in Aegyptus. Which has the advantage that if we can gain control of it and work out how to use it was can get back to Avalon, but the disadvantage that it’s far more likely the Nosta Kar will come through from one of the other demi-planes they’ve been on. There’s seven activation symbols on the gateway, one of which has now been lit. Not enough to let the NK start rifting through, but a definite bad start. Last time it took almost a year for the whole gateway to activate, but I don’t know how much we can rely on precedent.

A few of the Jackals started annoying us by being completely unable to understand that the Nosta Kar were potentially dangerous. Why they thought we performed a mass evacuation, left Avalon, cut our homeland adrift from the rest of Erdreja and accepted a life of exile rather than let the NK spread to the rest of Erdreja I’m not entirely sure. Some Lions took it as a jibe at our abilities, to say that the Jackals, despite their own problems, could easily beat off a NK invasion. Most took it as ignorance on the Jackals’ part. Rather than bicker, a number of Lions – Oliver, Bethanie, Hengist, Mog, Gustav, Jacob and someone else – managed to transfer some of their memories of the Nosta Kar war into the minds of three Jackals. It was agreed that the NK coming through would b a Bad Thing.

Sitting (briefly) in the sun with Jutah, Aldous and Midir, our reverie was broken by the dulcet tones of Lochlan bellowing “Stop thief!” across the field as he and a few other pounded after two men running from the guild area. So we carefully balanced our drinks so they wouldn’t spill and charged down to the rescue. I threw a spell at the lead bloke to knock him off his feet while Aldous and Midir laid into him, then managed to get hit myself by the other bloke while getting my sword out the scabbard. Jutah laid him out, Lochlan and the others took the thieves back to the Incantor’s guild – they’d been stealing a shard of the ancestors – and I got teased for being the only one who actually got hurt in the entire fracas.

Something really seemed to be stirring up between the Bears and the Wolves, we weren’t sure what. The Lions took a stance of neutrality, guarding the transport circle to try and make sure no one was taken outside the ritual of peace during the fight. However, on the way over to the circle Jutah got hauled over by some of the Archer’s guild to guard a spot of grass and I volunteered to help (in case it was really dangerous grass, and also cos it was in the sun and my feet were cold).

It turned out that Fleetfoot Starcraft had been murdered, in the middle of the marketplace, and the Archers and I think some scouts were examining the ground to see what they could find. This was what the Wolves/Bears fight was about – the Wolves believed the murderers to be Bears. The forensic team found traces of blood, which ruled out a few poison types, and could follow the trail of where the body had been taken, but not the tracks of the murderers who had scattered in all directions.

The forensic team went up to the Wolves to report their findings, with Jutah and I on guard. There I had a chance to examine Fleetfoot’s body (just occasionally it’s handy to have a title like “Guild Warden Robin Ashwine, Head of the College of Physicians and Surgeons” to flash around) and used my newly acquired anatomy lessons to see what I could find. From what had happened to him – his head was practically blown off, burnt and singed – it was a single Magebolt to the head, from the front. I couldn’t find any other wounds on him, which suggests he wasn’t knocked out or attacked in any other way. I passed this on to everyone in the Wolves who seemed interested or relevant to the discussions.

Willow Starcraft said it was the Faculty in the Vipers who did it, I don’t know how she knew. Speak With Dead spell, I’m guessing. Anyway, as there’s only one Faculty member capable of casting Magebolts, they could sort it out with the right person instead of going for a whole faction. The general shouting in the Wolves camp was that they’d rather not go for the Faculty anyway since they (the Faculty) must have been hired and thus they’d rather go for the organ grinders, not the monkeys.
Jutah opined that if there were fewer monkeys there would be fewer organ grinders, but in the end Floris Cullen apparently intervened and proved it wasn’t the Faculty who did it, so the Wolves were back to square one.

The Empire and the Lifemasters thrashed out a treaty (since we left the Convocation of Guilds we’ve got an individual treaty with each faction, so when the Empire asked for one too it seemed fair). It mainly consists of where Sol’s new house is going to be and how many vineyards they’ll give him. And a little bit about not hurting healers acting on guild duty in exchange for us not prolonging conflicts.

About this point Floris Cullen announced he was going to die and there was nothing he could do about it. Which wasn’t what we’d come to expect from Floris. Apparently Satuune was going to kill him and he couldn’t stop it, and he didn’t want anyone else to try. Which seemed really unfair. Frankly, if Satuune did turn up there’s enough people with private grudges that it didn’t seem fair to ask them not to have a go.

The Bards held their entertainment competition, with about twenty entrants. The Soulsplitters did one about an underwater ship, which was a little difficult to understand but most people seemed to find it funny anyway. Two Armengarians won with a performance on bhodran and whistle, and Dr John Tapper came second with a song he’d heard people singing about Queen Adelena. Lavenius and Cosaint complained later that the standard was so high it was really difficult to choose the winner, which is the best sort of complaint to be able to make, really.

Later, a whole hod of demons attacked through a rift gate. Not a Nosta Kar rift gate, as rumour went around, but a rift gate nonetheless. Talking with Esmund and a friend of his called Quinn (who I think is a McTaff, assuming I got the tartan right), the more magic they sucked out of people, the more powerful the next wave got. Not a good precedent.
I later heard that Floris wasn’t killed by Satuune, but was instead put in a box. This sounded strange until I got the whole story – apparently there’s this box they put immortal patterns in when they misbehave (I swear I’m not making this up), and by telling us what was going to happen, Floris broke the rules. So he got put in the box. Cullen was ok and is back with his wife, trying to figure out what happened for the past few years while he was possessed.

Which was pretty smart of Floris. What was less smart was that the box had previously contained the pattern of Existence (let’s not corrupt it. That would be bad), which now got released. Trouble is, Existence got put in the box because it refused to stick to some Accords that would limit what it could do and, for example, stop it using so much power it destroyed everything. Admittedly Existence destroying Existence would be ironic, but probably on the whole a bad thing.

From across the market place, Lochlan spotted Jutah charging headlong for the Archer’s guild, pursued by four people. So I went after Jutah while Lochlan and the PBs went after the four chasing him – we figured we could sort out things once we caught up with everyone involved.

I caught up with Jutah in the Archers, where someone was fixing his arm and he was complaining bitterly about two people towards whom he suddenly felt very friendly, but who had refused to come to Sandry’s wake and whose other mates had then hit him. I complained bitterly too – when Jutah had first started feeling friendly towards me he’d tried to stave my head in with a nearby surgical implement. It just didn’t seem fair.

We came across some militia who’d caught two of the muggers involved, but the other two bolted into the woods and we couldn’t find them. Ach well. As I said, mugging was getting to silly proportions.

As Jutah had been en route to the Archer’s guild for a wake for Sandry – and other guild members, such as Fillipe and Lucas – Aldous, Lochlan and myself felt it appropriate to join him. Besides, I am still technically a member of the Archers guild, since Lucas and Fillipe joined me up for a joke last year. We drank to Sandry’s memory and Jutah kindly plundered the barbeque for us.

Not many were making their remembrances public so we felt a bit awkward. Aldous and Lochlan had other things they needed to do, which made me feel more awkward until Harod came up and asked if we would be in the guild team for the last of the Games. So we ended up playing. I grabbed Devlin to join us and tried to grab Saracen on the grounds that he’s actually really good at that sort of thing, but sadly he was busy.

It was a load of quizzes, and we managed to score 100 points partly through skill, partly through fluke. I got rather annoyed with myself when I almost got one right through bad logic – one about the days of the week which ended with “what day is it today?”. We were ages trying to figure out what day fitted all the criteria, I almost said Sunday before the holes in my logic were pointed out, so we guessed Thursday. Of course, the day we were playing was Sunday, the rest of the question was irrelevant. The most annoying was that I think I’ve been asked that question before at a previous Games. Oh well. WE got better from then on, gambled all our points on the last question and ended up getting full marks. Yay for the person who figured it out (though I’m not sure who that was).

Aldous and I finally managed to track down Percival DeGales long enough to talk to him about Vale. I gave him Vale’s diary to pass on, given that it looks likely Percival will be the next one in the family to have kids so the next Torvale will be born there. It was very weird, we were talking about two different people. I guess Percival knew Torvale so well, it would be hard to see Vale as different. It was a very awkward conversation.

Aldous and I then headed down to the marketplace, where we met Lochlan, Midir, Crane and a bunch of other Lions having coffee, so we decided to join them. Someone else decided to join us – three ghouls came up to the fence. One leaned over, in a conversational way.

“The Darkendale sends his regards” it hissed menacingly.
“Which one?” Lochlan asked disarmingly
“Which Darkendale? There’s loads.”
“Was it Amber?” I asked helpfully. Not sure why she was the first to come to mind.
“Or Alyssa?”
“I knew a Sebastian Darkendale once”
“Bet it was Ivory. Was it Ivory?”

The ghoul looked confused.

“I’ll go and check” It hissed, with significantly less menace. We were laughing so hard the incantors among us were almost unable to form a wedge – perhaps that was its intention. Sadly, one of its mates recommended not coming back to us once it found out who sent it, so we had to go off and hunt down Benedict’s harbingers of doom ourselves. As we cut them down into bloody pulps on the floor, one turned round, smiling.

“It was Benedict Darkendale.” It informed us proudly. We thanked it. Then pounded it, as the story would have been a lot less funny if one of us had actually died.

We went up to camp to warn people in case there were any less-stupid ghouls around, and spent a happy evening singing camp songs. Jarvyn organised a brief anti-mugging squad but the only person we could see standing around in the dark looking menacing with a large sword turned out to be a dragon knight called Orkamediez. Who wasn’t a mugger. So we went back to singing by the fire, it was a lot easier.

Other Items Of Note:
Shenya married Anders, I’m not entirely sure why. I guess she’s finally decided that she dos like him after all. I met Garvel’s apprentice – a small child who charged out the darkness to help me fight off a ghoul, then protested that there was someone in danger when Garvel told him off for risking his life. I like the kid’s attitude – I just hope he grows up with the skill to match his courage. Dalziel wrote an obituary for Lemming for the Testaments. It was good. The Queen of the Gryphons was killed, I don’t know how. Nemesis Force Omega turned up again. The PBs had a picnic by Loch Tay, only to find the Archers guild on a mission in dire need of a shield wall. Life is handy that way, sometimes.


Monday I was determined to have breakfast at some point before seven in the evening (which was my average time that Games), so a few of us made a deliberate effort to go and get something around eleven am. A vast improvement.

However, no sooner had we been served but a cry went up from across the field – “Jutah’s prancing!”
This we had to see.
It turned out that Jutah had entered the Musical Chairs, for which prancing was a requirement. Also, being no idiot, he was engaged in what we termed “combat prancing”, carefully whirling and spinning so as to keep his weapons free and his back covered. He got pretty far, though lost the support of a lot of the audience for taking out girls in pretty dresses. I felt a few of them were rather playing on that in order to win, but I guess that saying so makes me bitchy. Can’t win against them either way, really.

Eventually Jutah went out through being Halted by one girl and hacked up. He walked off to a chorus of boos from the audience, which he seemed to be loving. The girl eventually lost to Harod following a brief conversation:

Harod: Let’s be honourable. I’ll only use a dagger, same as you, and you don’t use spells?
Her: Erm…By the power of the ancestors I command you – Halt!
Harod: Ha ha! Didn’t affect me anyway! *thump*

Apparently one of the bards had cast several Iron Will spells upon him earlier. Seemed like a fair win to me.

Carabas and Elthorn called me over and asked if I could think of any suitable guild defenders. I wasn’t entirely sure what he meant – I knew we were a bit short, Orren was always complaining about it, but I wasn’t sure what he wanted. I mentioned a few people who had joined the guild over the last few days who might be worth keeping an eye on, but it became clear we were talking at cross purposes.
Carabas explained that Orren had been executed the night before. Apparently some of his group had been working for the Conclave, Orren had been spying on the Conclave for the Order of Erdreja, but his faction had found out the first half and executed the whole group. What a waste.

I stomped around in the huff for a while.

Aldous and I got back to camp to see the Lions and Vipers lining up against each other. We found out that one of the Vipers had Magebolted Ki’ana and so we were having an honour fight between the Lions and the Vipers and the Mercenary Alliance (though knowing the MA, this may or may not have been at the Viper’s request). The Bears and Tarantulas were watching from the sides and pulling out and healing anyone downed, but keeping them out the fight.

I got accidentally woken by Kieran MacAylwin after stupidly forgetting to Counter a Sleep spell, but I figured that didn’t really count as being taken out so I got stuck back in until someone cut me up with a burning dagger. Then I sat out with Aldous (who I’d been trying to rescue at the time) until the end. The Vipers won, but given that they’d outnumbered us, we took quite a lot of them down on the way and according to our front line they’d looked pretty scared when we charged, it seemed pretty close to a draw, and it was a great release of tension after the weekend.

I wouldn’t mind fighting the Vipers if it was occasional charges to blow off steam. It was the announcement at the final muster that apparently Lord Ordos has put a standing order that Vipers should kill Lions if they get a chance that annoys me. It’ll annoy me if the announcement is true, and it’ll annoy me if someone’s just spread it as a rumour.

I hope it’s just a rumour, given that Lord Ordos seems sensible enough and was talking earlier about having to work together to defeat the Conclave, cos I think he’s right in that. I’ll be really miffed if we end up with the bullies winning because two of the most effective factions can’t drop a five year stale grudge.

Other Items Of Note:
In that fight, Lochlan got dragged off by the Wardens, which could be painful. A number of Lions dragged him back. He quit as Tribune in order to become ambassador to the Bears. The Ever-Lovely Queen Blodwyn (Midir assures me this is her official title) came second in the Circle of Treachery. When someone finally took her down, Rhodry hit them with a haddock. I’m not sure why. Dillon and Amos are still missing, hopefully not dead.