Part 41: Day 95: Arrival at Sigrholm
You argue strongly for showing mercy an humanity. Some of the women in the caravan hesitantly agree to take in the dredge infant, while others are furious about bringing it along.
Not long afterwards, one of the women comes to you. "Its swaddling was being held by this," she says, giving you a hair pin that looks distinctly un-dredge-like. An inscription on the silver almost slips your notice: persevere. "From the goddess herself, if you ask me," the woman tells you.
For the record: This reduced morale, but we're already pretty much at zero there.
If we put it to a vote, the caravan leaves it here, but alive.
If we argue to leave it behind, some varl kill it.
If we don't get involved, a few women take it up of their own volition, but are isolated from the rest of the caravan.
Day 95. Morale is terrible.
The Brooch is a great item, reducing all Strength damage by 1. I give it to Krumr.
Uh oh. What now?
No, I'd rather be known for not dying.
Don't even know what you're worried about. I did this a hundred times in the great wars. Take some warriors, plough head first into the dredge. They follow you into the hills, get lost, now they're not following you.
When you did this "a hundred times", did they have Bellower leading them?
Have you never heard about the time I hit Bellower in the head with a throwing axe?
Careful, my friend. A lot of old history getting thrown around here.
The warriors were just noting that there's a damn good number of dredge on our asses.
Bellower puling up the rear. This one thinks he can just wander up there and throw them off our tracks.
How about some gratitude? Thought you'd be happy to finally be the oldest varl in the land, Ubin.
I'm never happy to lose more varl, Krumr.
Comments like that remind me, I've already wasted too much time doing nothing. In the old days, I'd already be halfway to the battlefield by now. Speaking of which... You coming, Yngvar? You could ask Bellower for your arm back.
Don't think so. Not exactly in the mood right now.
Alright, then. I'll tell Hadrborg you said hello.
Krumr and a good many varl warriors head out toward the growing army of dredge.
Is he going to come back?
He always has before.
But this time feels different, I fear.
Day 96. We're down to single-digit supply days again.
On the plus side, we're nearly there.
A healer joins you in inspecting the young girl's corpse. "An old infection," says the healer. "No punctures, no choking, no poison. She died of disease." You report the news to the caravan. The mother admits that she had always known her daughter was ill, and everyone moves on.
I wonder if we're going to hear from--
"Did the plan work?" asks Ubin. "Work?" responds Krumr. "Of course it worked. Same old dredge. Should be another day or two at least before they even find their own asses."
"And if you apologize, I'll tell you how I found these," Krumr says, tossing you a pair of leather gloves that look big enough for a varl. He leans in close, whispering so Ubin can't hear; "Had something to do with a raven's nest and a hair tie."
Good news! Loot! Renown! Morale went up a step!
Hilariously, the only person around who can wield the mighty ass-kicking gloves is Eyvind.
Most of the new Renown goes into Krumr again, increasing his Strength to murderous heights.
On the 96th day, morale immediately tanks again.
But hey! We're nearly there!
Well, I must admit, I've seen worse.
"No," says Eyvind, looking frantic. "Where is he?" He runs to the front of the caravan, looking out over the water. Juno isn't here, and you get the creeping feeling you're not welcome, either.
Going upriver looks out of the question. The beach is bare, aside from the occasional skeleton of a ruined fishing boat. You reluctantly set up camp in the sinking town.
While taking stock of the caravan, you've inadvertently walked into a debate between Oddleif and Eyvind.
As long as we need to.
And I think we need to get out of here. I don't feel good about this place.
Why? What's wrong?
Something doesn't feel right. The people here are staring at us like those vultures in the wastes.
I'm sorry, Eyvind. I think Oddleif is right. I saw a man... the whole time we were setting up he was just watching me. Uh... in a creepy way. And how long before the dredge find us here?
Juno will come. Just give it a little more time. Rook, listen to me, I need you to trust me on this.
Well, let's talk to him about that.
What? Oh, Juno. Worried doesn't begin to describe it. If she doesn't find us here, or... something has happened to her...
Are you sure what you saw was real? It could have been a dream, or, I don't know. You were pretty exhausted.
I... I don't know. To be honest, I'm not sure any more. Everything is a blur. Erm, don't tell the others I said that. I have to hope it wasn't just a dream.
Being a mender? I guess I never really thought about it like that. It's just part of me. They knew very young that I would join the order. Born into it, you could say. My mother and father, both menders. The guild is for lots of people now. Builders and healers.
Do they all pull lightning out of the sky?
No, no that's... not normal. It's one of the reasons I know Juno. She's one of the council. She helps me control things like this. So we don't end up scaring people...
Well, the hardest part is usually seeing the threads. Everything is part of the tapestry, it's made of threads woven together. If you can see the threads, you can manipulate them. I don't know how to explain it, really. It's like trying to play a harp with invisible strings. Look at my staff, for example. Some menders carve intricate patterns in the wood to help them remember the shapes of... er, like I said. Hard to explain.
I saw Grofheim as it burned.
Eyvind gets a far away look in his eyes.
The Sundr blew through it like a tempest, the varl fell in the thousands. Most of the Sundr left the city and headed south. Who knows where they are now. They might be destroying every town they come to, or heading toward Arberrang. Bellower stayed in Grofheim, just for the sport of it, I think. As we fled to Einartoft, I thought he must want to wipe the varl off the map completely. But then he came after us.
Maybe he knew Iver was the one who killed Raze.
Maybe, but I... let's just make sure he doesn't catch up.
I... I don't know what to think. I wish I could give you a better answer. Even if we escape the dredge, that serpent said a darkness was covering the world. I don't know how long that will take. Or what it means, even. I'm just trying to solve one problem at a time. The menders are in Arberrang. If we can find ships and make it to the capital, we might have a chance.
No, it's okay, Rook. I appreciate the talk. It's good to stay grounded. I spend all day worrying about serpents or Sundr. I think a lot of people are intimidated, or scared, maybe. Of me. Don't worry. It's nothing new. I'm used to it. Maybe some time we can talk about things that don't include the world ending.
Once again, I give up every item for more supplies. It nets us three days.
So. Juno might be coming, or she might not. Bellower draws nearer every day, and the locals don't seem too friendly, either.
Every night we stay here, we tempt death. If we leave, we may never meet our savior.
Do we stay or do we leave?