At this point, people were no longer in official council mode, but were wandering around, talking to people. Someone, possibly Stormlight, told Rushlight that the strange wounds Kasimir had when he was first brought to the village had been caused by Lucius. Rushlight told Stormlight to learn what she could, and then turned her attention to Anders. This meant that there were a lot of things going on that I never quite learned, as in any larp. It only felt odd here because of the growing sense of community the first two hours created, but I remember when I was a department manager of a small department in a large open space that one could miss a great deal indeed.
So, Anders loved the Nightshade, and she returned his love. This had both religious and political implications.
Nightshade had not been born Leyanti. The old chief and his wife had no children, and the old chief's other lovers were all men. But, they found a strange dark-skinned baby and adopted her as their own, intending that she should be the next chief. They had to fight many duels about that -- more on those later. But, the old shaman, Rushlight's teacher, had supported them, and the child had grown up learning the Leyanti ways, and became chief in turn. Even Redcrest seemed to have no objection to her as chief.
Redcrest: Not all strangers are like you, Nightshade.
But, Nightshade, the chief, who had been born a stranger, though she was beyond doubt Leyanti now, was in love with a man who was a stranger. Oh yeah, sexual politics maketh larp plot.
Nightshade was an intitate of to the Red Woman, the Leyanti warrior goddess. Indeed, if I recall correctly, she might have been a Great Cat of that goddess.
That is: The gods of the Leyanti had all lived among the Leyanti as people, although they were gods, and had died. They sometimes manifested through one with a very strong connection to them. Such a one was called a Great Cat. There were at least four such Great Cats. Four out of the seven gods. When Leyanti came of age, they usually chose a god to whom to dedicate themselves. If the shaman assented, they would go on a solitary vision quest, lasting at least three days -- at least five for a child of a chief -- in which they were expected to kill an elk. The symbol of their chosen god would be carved on an amulet, and the amulet was made from the shoulder bone of the elk they killed.
There were some exceptions. Some, like Rushlight's sister, Stormlight, never underwent initiation. Some, like Silence, or Patch, or Eagle changed gods for one reason or another. Patch and Eagle had good reasons for what they did, and their choices seemed right to Rushlight. Silence was another matter.
The gods were, in no particular order, the Sun, the Moon (Rushlight's chosen god), the Trickster, the Hunter, the Earth, the Red Woman, and the seventh, unnamed god, the Red Woman's Husband. This was the Leyanti death god.
Silence had followed that god since his wife, Melody, had been killed. Rushlight did not think that this was the right reason to choose that god, but Silence would not be dissuaded. However, she thought Anders might be able to bond well with this god, partly because of his connection with Nightshade, and partly because of the odd experiences he had undergone in the past. She knew little about them, only that there seemed to be some sort of curse.
Anders agreed that it was a curse. He had been taken by a warlike tribe who thought he worshipped the god whose symbol he wore around his neck. He had not, he told Rushlight, but nevertheless, they bound him to their bear god of death and sent him for to wreak vengeance on the followers of the god they thought he served. He left death in his wake, a thing he did not wish to do to the Leyanti.
Rushlight told him the story of the Leyanti warrior who tried to kill Death, the Red Woman's Husband, to protect his people. He would not be dissuaded by the Sun or the Moon or the Red Woman herself, even though all told him that without death, there could be no life. People, animals, and plants would get old and withered and corrupt, life choking on life. He believed none of this until he looked in Death's eyes and realized that Death was no enemy.
Rushlight said that Anders did not fear death, but himself, and Anders agreed. He told her a story about a woman who had been given a box that she was not to open. But, open it she did, and from that box came all the ills of the world, even though she closed it as soon as she realized her error. But, there was one thing left in the box, a white bird that told her to release it as well, and that white bird was Hope. For the first time, Anders believed he might see that white bird.
Rushlight, Anders, and Nightshade agreed that Rushlight would not send Anders out on a visionquest just yet, as there was no way he could manage to kill an elk. However, she would dedicate him to the seventh god. Normally, leaving the council circle is considered rude, but it was understood that the shaman might well need to do so, sometimes with others, to council them and to bring them on spiritual journeys.
Rushlight painted the sign of the seventh god on Anders' face with his quill (as there was no brush for the ink) and took him into her hut and burned herbs that put them both in a trance. They seemed to be looking down at Anders' body. A bear was sitting on it, as represented by one of the GMs. (I'm trying to remember whether she had a god mask on. I don't think she did, at this point.)
Rushlight tried to bargain with the bear god, asking if the Leyanti could have Anders. She explained that he did not worship the god whose symbol he had worn and whose followers had donw whatever they had done against the bear god's people. The bear god said that if that were so, then Anders had been telling a lie by wearing it.
Rushlight accepted that interpretation, but suggested that, given the bear god said that Anders had slain all who had committed atrocities against his people, the debt was paid. The bear god asked if any of Rushlight's gods were alive.
This was something of an awkward question, for gods came to the Leyanti village to live, and they lived until they died. Rushlight accepted this, but she thought that her sister, Stormlight, and her former apprentice had great difficulty with this concept. And, she did not wish to show weakness to the bear. I forget exactly what was said, but she definitely ducked the question, and asked again if they Leyanti could have Anders.
GM: Spirit combat!
Rushlight was quite good at spirit combat, but the bear was a god, after all, so the first R-P-S exchange left her shaken. Then, Anders helped. Somehow, the two managed to defeat the bear god, or, at least, convince him not to press the issue.
Then, the seventh god of the Leyanti, the Red Woman's husband, appeared and welcomed Anders. He blessed the man, and removed the curse of the bear god, replacing it with his own gift.
In mechanical terms, this meant that Anders would no longer go uncontrollably berserk when attacked. He could control his frenzy. Indeed, he could not achieve this frenzy unless Nightshade were present.
Mechanically speaking, the frenzy made him four times as powerful as normal, which meant his total starting score was 4. This is far more than the average person, but the Leyanti are not average people. This was to become important very soon.
By now, I needed to, ah, water the horses, yes. And, I'm sure that, even though it is considered Very Rude to leave a council circle, exceptions are made, even among the Leyanti, for this. On the way out, Redcrest and at least one other person said they needed to speak to Rushlight, and by the time I came back, at least four people needed her.