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I gotta roll, can't stand still, got a flame in my heart, can't get my fill.
Eyes that shine burning red, dreams of you all through my head.

Wilma speaks of Earth Season.

"Once our miserable harvest was in, we had to attend to our friends at Ginunga’s Gap." With a weighty pause, she eyes Vurth up and scratches at the rolls on the back of her neck, plainly made uncomfortable by his presence. "Little food had we to give them, but we did spare a scrawny ewe or two. As you know, I go to see the boys at the Gap every Earth Season, for Horn Day." She looks significantly at Angor and the other children and waits while their parents stop their ears.

"The skies went back all colourful, but by now Heler’s sheep had returned and they did give us a little respite, but it was all a bit late. It was good to gather some of the womenfolk and hear talk of children and hearths instead of all this talk of raids and bloodshed, who offended who and who was a mighty warrior. We were keen, but wary, to hear what news the Ginunga Bulls might have in those strange times. Some of the girls, especially those from the Tresdarnii, were particularly keen to see the boys, seemed they’d got a taste for it." Here she smiles at Vizz. "The menfolk were none too happy, but rather a Bull than a Broo, that’s what I always say. Besides, since my Hurborl went, well, a woman has needs, doesn’t she?"

"We got up a song or two as we traveled and when we got to the Gap we were in quite a good mood. The boys were good, they’d had one of these Warriors manifest in amongst their herd as well. They were certain it was some Chaos-beast but it’s always hard to get behind the blather and the boasting. They said they’d driven it off, but then they’ve not much in the way of crops down there, except what they use for brewing, so it might just have been hungry."

"Anyway, the rites went as expected, and they killed an old cow for us so we feasted well. We bedded down in the hall, reckoning they’d had done with us. Seems they’d not though, for at dawn, rather than moans and groans of sore heads as we’d expected, they used us again, but this time was different. We could see the effects of the booze all right, in their bloodshot eyes, but each and every one of them was more than bloodshot, their eyes were practically glowing, and not just their eyes either. They didn’t ask as they should, just took what they could, with not a word, even from those as was representing Voria."

"And that was it, there was nothing we could do. We tried to beat them off, but just got black eyes and bloody noses for our troubles. The girls were screaming, and that was terrible to hear, for I’d told them it’d all be fine beforehand. When they’d finished, they just slumped down and went back to sleep. Some argued that we should get our revenge then and there, but we’d just seen what happens when revenge is sought for every offence. Besides, we’d seen enough to know this wasn’t them, but something had been driving them, and that was the bigger worry."

"When we got home, of course the men weren’t interested. They just said that was what we should expect. In a way, that was best as well. We were fearful too of bringing the Urox blessing to the clan, as we didn’t know what that might do. Hest and Berrance of course weren’t interested, they’d always argued against the Bulls anyway, and so the whole thing just died away, except for the fighting round the fires."


Silverquill munches on the the last piece of his soggy bread and then moves to light another cigar, but the glares and coughs of the assembly quickly discourage him. A young woman, accidentally mistaking him for a small child in the darkness of the lean-to, tries to stop his ears and he quacks in annoyance. "Kwak! Away with you, woman! I'm no child to be guarded 'gainst indecency, but a fully-gwown dwake. Listen 'till I tell you... I was not here for Earth Season, but I heard of the stwange behaviour of Skullcleaver's twibe. He was with me, explowing the gors, and he says that it sounds like most uncommon behaviour. Angwy he was, aye - and most upset."

Silverquill glances out through the opening of the lean-to, listening for the faint sounds of cursing and wood-chopping.

"Did you tell you the stowy of how I got my Globe of Lightning, by the way? We wan into this gweat giant in the gors, lost on his way to to the Shade Table. Skullcleaver was all for chopping off the bwute's big toe, but I managed to calm him. Never one to shirk fwom danger, I opened a convewsation with the giant, whose name was Skade. To my dismay, he said he was going to squish us unless we paid him gold. Being somewhat short of money at that time,..." the small duck stops for a moment and waits for the sniggers to subside, "...I instead offered to play a game of dice with him. If he won, he could eat us both, but if I won, we could go on our way - and he would give me that bauble I noticed hanging from his ear. Skade agweed to this. Using my gweat skill at dice, I of couwse won, and the giant handed me his tweasure. Skullcleaver and I had gone just a short few paces when the giant let out a woar... he thought he had been swindled. We managed to hide fwom him until he left, but he swore wevenge on me and my family for stealing his 'pwetty toy'."

Silverquill fishes out the globe and eerie flickers of lightning dance around in the strange ball. "I've been meaning to ask you, Master Stormlight... what do you make of it? The giant said it was a dwop of blood fwom Lightning Boy." Silverquill gingerly hands the globe to Aren for inspection.


Aren confidently grasp's the globe easily resisting the shock it gives him.

"Ah.. one of these" Aren strokes the globe attracting the flickering sparks within to his finger tips then they spread up his arm. "Yes the old priest told me a little of the crafting of these globes in the otherworld. I take it you know not to rub it when it is dry ?" He looks seriously at Silverquill all over.

"No you don't have the mark so you must be lucky. No the Giant did not exactly lie but was probably ignorant this little bauble origin with Yavor. If you manage to attune, it would put a bright spark in you hand. Of course I could have a small use for it as well but I see from your face that it has too strong a hold on you already." Aren then laughs and throws it back to Silverquill.

Stormlight's face then take on a more serious look. "The matter of the Bull men was serious, though you should always expect violence from them, this was unlike them. I could easily of stoked my wrath over that but [Glances over at Garnatha but does not hold her gaze for long] if Vinga can hold her spear back then who am I to rabble rouse in her place."


"Wilma was right", Garnatha says quietly. "When I find out who was really responsible for that, then I'll take my revenge. But not on the Bulls of the Gap. They were as much victims as anyone there."

For once, Garnatha is serious. Too serious, and too controlled. "I've always enjoyed the trip down to the Gap", she says. "Someone has to go to protect them all on the way, and doing my job while travelling, and all those interesting people to meet at the end of the journey - well, what could be better?"

"Except this time.... Well, what can I say? This was an enemy I *could* fight - except we'd known them as our friends, and I wasn't even armed. Yes, they got a bit more than black eyes from me. Vinga had helped me get to my feet before they had me pinned down, couldn't reach my spear, but I got as far as that big axe they keep in the middle of the shrine. Bit hard to use one-handed though, my sword arm wasn't working too well by then, and I don't know axes in the first place. It felt... odd. Too light, too fast, axes aren't supposed to be like that. Very awkward, and far too easy, both at the same time. And I knew my arm, and the ribs, ought to be hurting, but they weren't... Well, anyway, there were still too many of them. I did what I could, at least three didn't hurt anyone else that night, and a good half dozen more got delayed, but fighting those odds is too much for anyone. I remember the axe getting stuck in something so I lost it, and then it all started hurting again, and they got me on the ground, and... Well, you know what followed.

"Yes, once I came round, I'd have gone for revenge all right, except Wilma wouldn't let Kareena put my sword arm back together, or the leg, or the ribs, until I swore to leave them be. And when Wilma decides you're not getting up, all the arguing in the world won't help."

She does not look at Vurth.


"Yes, things get very dreary when the women are away, the place just doesn't seem like home anymore." Entislar sighs, "This time however it was worse when they got back. And we weren't allowed to go and smash the filthy swine. Not their fault, something came over them, Ah Bah! Excuses, feeble excuses."

Entislar looks at Garnatha and opens a bag he has hanging from his belt and removes a bronze bracer, "And you, injured in the defence of our ladies, unarmed, refused healing until forced to swear not to take revenge," he pauses for a few seconds, "please accept this from me, I . it's my way of saying thanks for trying."

Entislar steps towards Garantha and offers her a decorative forearm bracer of bronze decorated with a few semi-precious stones and inlayed with a swirling tracery of gold and silver. Closer inspection reveals it to be made of weapon grade bronze and that the semi-precious stones are set on a lockable slide that causes a three and a half inch silvered blade to slide out and a bar to swing across the inside of the bracer and lock into a slot on the other side forming a solid punch dagger cum hand and wrist guard.

She examines the workmanship with awe. "This is absolutely beautiful. Its worth goes far beyond the little I managed to achieve, try as I might. Just look at the accuracy on that slider, and the inlay... Gorgeous!" She tries it on, admires the smooth working of the blade.

"Now, if I'd had that with me..." She stops. "Then, come to think of it, it would have made no difference at all. I wouldn't have been wearing it. If I'm guarded by friends who I trust, sharing blankets with a friend who I trust, I don't wear armour or weapons. And that isn't going to change. If we let whoever did this to us destroy our trust in each other, they've won."

"Thank you, Entislar", she says gravely. "Not just for this beautiful bracer, but for making me think."


At Garnatha's mention of sharing blankets, Wilma, who seems in good humour considering, happily chuckles and nudges Entislar in the ribs, causing him to fall into one of the supporting struts of the lean to which, incredibly, holds.

Entislar does his best to look innocent and bewildered then runs a hand up the support verifying that it's undamaged. He then looks at Wilma and raises an eybrow maintaining a straight face throughout.


Vizz steps up and speaks, "Verily, it seems we must verify the virtues of the vicious Warriors of Urox. If such verification does indeed give proof of verminous action by the very guardians who shield us from the vast hordes of chaos then I see no other path but to vote for the very vitriolic vengeance of virtuous Vinga to visit them until their veal provides victuals to vultures. If not, then action needs be taken to find the true source of the red-eye frenzy."


Vurth, seated on a stump to one side, shakes his head to clear it and give up the attempt to determine whether he has been insulted by Vizz. He then gives an odd look to those around him as he recounts what he recalls of Earth Season.

"I wuz there as you all know ... same as always. Came up with the invitation to the women to join in our sacred rites and escorted them back, alongside Garnatha there. Nothing special ... the usual talk 'That's a nice spear you've got there Garnatha but I've a better!' ... I was thinking that everyone was lookin forward to the party ... I mean sacred rites."

"Things was pretty much as Wilma described though the cow weren't all that old. We ate, we drank, we ... ahh celebrated our sacred rites (sidelong glance at Garnatha). And then we went to sleep."

Vurth pauses and closes his eyes.

"But sometimes you know, .. people say things ... do things .... think things ... that they shouldn't ought to say .. do .. or think."

There's a gasp from the audience as Vurth begins to carve into his leg .. long sweeping cuts. A voice in the back mutters 'think it's Mastakos' sign this time' but Vurth seems unaware of all this and continues.

"The next thing I know, I got women wailing and screaming around me, men yelling and whacking about and ... well you heard what Wilma said. She said we done some right bad things and Wilma don't lie, not bout that anyway. No one was happy that's for sure."

"Karli, he said we had to make it up .. so that's why we all agreed to do whatever Wilma said until next Earth Season."

Vurth pauses, looks up and then down, adds a final slash to his leg, and mutters "It warnt supposed to be this way."


As the others speak about Earth Season and the events at Ginunga’s Gap, Gyffun plucks absently at the strings of his harp, cradling it in his arms like an infant. Frowning slightly and biting at his lower lip, he turns his face towards each speaker, but does not seem look at them, his eyes half-closed and focused on the air.

In the uncomfortable silence that follows Vurth's contribution, the apparently tuneless murmuring of the harp strings is oddly soothing. Some indeterminate number of moments pass, the mesmerizing quality of the skald's effortless music-making seeming to draw the time out. At some point Gyffun stills his hands and the harp's softly whispering voice dies slowly away. The strange trance is not broken until he finally speaks, and several of those present are seen to start slightly and shake themselves, as if waking from an inadvertent doze.

"I too, remember the aftermath of Horn Day," he begins. "At the time, I was only aware that something terrible had happened, but no-one wanted to tell me what it was, and I did not feel able to ask. I felt the barely-suppressed rage radiating from Garnatha, and saw the hurt in the eyes of the other womenfolk, and easily guessed at the nature of the offense, but did not understand how it came about, nor why none sought to right this apparent wrong."

"I became aware of some of the details through snatches of overheard conversation, and initially - and, it seems mistakenly - concluded that this was further evidence of the seething frustration that I had witnessed in Fire Season. I gradually came to realise, however, that there was a more sinister and mysterious aspect to these unspeakable events, and your words now confirm this to me."

"Clearly, this is a wound that has not yet begun to heal. Given all of the other hurts we have suffered since then, this is not surprising. Perhaps today, though, by speaking openly of it at last, we can begin that process."