Brialla’s Journey, the 2011 Walk

The people of Great Lakes first re-traced the footsteps of Brialla of the Seven Tears on January 29, 2011. –Elizabella

Introduction
Guard Outpost 1: Jerry the Guard
Guard Outpost 2: Paule Steel
Guard Outpost 3: Robert McFarland
Campfire: Ceija the Gypsy
Guard Outpost 4: Holt Wilder
Guard Outpost 5: Winifred Wainwright
Minoc’s Barnacle: Djano the Gypsy

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Introduction

Brialla of the Seven Tears was the first to chart the mysterious north lands of Britannia. Brialla set out from Yew, in her humble brown monk’s robe and bare feet, to push back the dark corners of the map. Her journals are rich with illustrations and detailed descriptions of the terrain, its plants and animals, and the nomads she met along the way. She even found the mineral deposits in the mountains by what would become Minoc.

Every January, the people of Britannia celebrate Brialla’s journey by donning monks’ robes and walking barefoot from Yew to Minoc. There, they toast to her memory in the tavern. All are encouraged to tell whatever legends they’ve heard of Brialla’s journey or to describe their own adventures.

The Journeyers set off from Empath Abby, walking barefoot along the long road to Minoc. As they passed the cemetery, the ghost of Brialla of the Seven Tears floated alongside them for a few moments. She smiled gently and they caught a faint scent of lilacs. A feeling of calm and peace enveloped them all, and they felt a sense of loss when they reached the main road and she faded away.

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Guard Outpost 1: Jerry the Guard

The Journeyers reached the first guard outpost. Jerry, the guard, greeted them, “Brialla’s Journey? I read her journals a lot when I was a kid. I like the parts where the animals are killing each other. She doesn’t leave anything out! Bears, wolves, even leopards tearing stuff apart, intestines all over the place! The part with the stampeding horses is hilarious too.”

Jerry continued, “My favorite has to be the bees. Anyone remember that? She’d been guided towards what we’d now call the Vesper shoreline by two gypsies. Bryshen, who was quick as thunder and Baul, who was slow as a snail. Baul was so slow, he could take an hour to finish a sentence. One day, she and Bryshen were standing in the camp going over the maps. Baul had plodded ahead to fetch firewood. Well, Baul suddenly came running past them, faster than an ostard! Without even turning around, Brialla and Bryshen drop their maps and run after him. Turned out Baul was being chased by bees! The whole coastline was guarded by a wall of bees. So on her map for that part of the coast, it’s marked ‘Here Be Bees!’ The outpost guard laughed at the memory.

Jerry then continued more meditatively, “Yup, great woman, Brialla. Known for her gentleness and kindness too. Well, except towards that one gypsy she stabbed to death. Can’t really fault her for that. Not fond of them myself. Though I’d surely like to get my hands on a few pieces of that jewelry they’re hoarding.” He laughs again. The Journeyers hurriedly set off on the path again, happy to be away from him and disturbed by his words.

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Guard Outpost 2: Paule Steel

The next outpost was guarded by Paule Steel. “Hello! Always good to see the old traditions continued. Brialla’s maps were a tremendous advance for her time. The journals were interesting too.”

The helpful guard continued, “Sweet story. You know how surveyors mark out plots with nails or boards? Well, Brialla was doing that and there was a little gypsy boy following her around for a few days. She explained to him that the nails were very important. She finishes just before the rainy season. Next day, she comes back and the boy meets her, looking proud. He’s holding all the nails! Kid tells her he picked them all up, so they wouldn’t rust! She writes that his big dark eyes were looking up at her for approval and she had to smile. That was how Brialla met Kerey, of the Kandali tribe of gypsies.”

“The Kandali were nomadic gypsies who roamed the area around what is present-day Minoc. Kerey took her home to meet his father, Guaril, king of that tribe of gypsies, and mother, Zigena. They invited Brialla to share in their evening meal. The tribe was large and happy. The chief’s brother, Elek, was particularly pleased to meet Brialla. He’d made amateur maps himself and was eager to get advice on how to improve them.”

“The gypsy king, Guaril, seeing his brother so happy, invited Brialla to stay as long as she liked. The clan’s healer had died, so Brialla’s early training was particularly welcome. Brialla and Elek spent a good deal of time together. Weeks passed. She grew close to the entire tribe She wrote in her journal that she hoped Elek would come back to Yew with her or that she might even travel back to Yew to share her maps and then come back and become a gypsy with Elek.”

“Then the journals break off, and when she resumes writing she’s halfway back to Yew. She never spoke or wrote of the Kandali tribe again. She didn’t even edit that part of her journals. ‘Tis a mystery. Well, I should let you continue on your journey. Fair weather to you all!”

When the Journeyers asked Paule to elaborate on what Jerry had said about a stabbing, he looked uncomfortable and would only say, “ Two sides to every story. I don’t gossip.”

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Guard Outpost 3: Robert McFarland

At the next outpost, they’re greeted by a drunk guard and his collection of bottles. He seems happy to see them though, and discusses the holiday. “The journey, walked it myself on occasion. Decent woman, Brialla. She got along with everyone, gypsies, trappers, fur traders, hermits. I like… like how she wrote that everyone has something good about them, if you look.” He looks down into his glass, but only seems to find more questions. “Wonder what she would have thought of me.”

McFarland stares at their robes and dirty feet for a moment, then continues, “Those journals… read ‘em when I was a kid. Liked when the gypsies convinced her it was pride to just wear a robe in the freezing north. They made her furs and showed her how to wear them too. Some gypsy trick to make air cir-circul-go around. Heh, betcha she was just cold though. Makes it easy to be conv-convin-told. Betcha.”

“Funny to hear about her stabbing that guy though.” He makes a stabbing motion. “Yup, she stabbed him about a dozen times. Would have been more, but the dagger got stuck in his chest. Right above his heart. You know what they say about a woman scorned!” McFarland laughs until he has a coughing fit. This seems to make him defensive, “Are you thinking I’m a liar? Are ya? Well, I’m not! Not a liar. There was an eyewitness! She stabbed him right in front of a kid!”

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Campfire: Ceija the Gypsy

The Journeyers met an old woman, who was roasting a tasty chicken on a spit over her campfire.

“I can tell you a good bit about Brialla, from the gypsy point of view! What she did to the Kandali tribe…” Ceija shook her head bitterly.

“First I’ll tell you of the happiness of the Kandali tribe, so you can see the innocence that was lost. Their king Guaril, leader you would call him, was popular and just. Smaller gypsy groups joined with the Kandali to be lead by him. His speeches were a wonder. His azure eyes shone with energy, his voice boomed with strength. The tribe’s musician, an important role in a gypsy community, was his younger brother Elek. Elek was quiet and shy, his brother’s opposite in every way.”

“Guaril kidnapped his wife, Zigena, from her tribe, The Icy Ones. Some say they were called that because of their eerily colorless eyes and skin. Others say it was because of the Icy Ones’s animal slaughter rituals, which are utterly silent but would be considered cruel today. Zigena had a baby boy, Kerey. Zigena and Guaril both doted upon the boy. Ten years passed after Kerey’s birth and all was well.”

Ceija makes a sour face. “Then innocent little Kerey brought that Brialla home. Zigena was on her guard against Brialla from the start! She was powerless to stop her though. Brialla set her sights on Elek and none would hear a word of warning.”

The gypsy pokes at the chicken and some of its fat falls into the fire, which flares wildy. “Brialla killed Elek! The boy, Kerey, saw it with his own eyes! He ran screaming from the tent and brought the whole tribe back with him, but Brialla was already gone, though her foul dagger was still wedged in the corpse. By the time the tribe checked the tent she’d been staying in, she and her bits of paper had disappeared!”

“Just as the group realized what had happened, the leader, Guaril appeared, having come from the banks of the nearby bay. The one that is now aptly called “Lost Hope Bay”. Upon learning that his brother was dead, the great lion of a man was silent, his eyes brimming with tears. When the group said they should set out after Brialla, he shook his head and said that it was a tragedy that his brother had loved so unworthy a woman, but that Elek wouldn’t have wanted her hunted down like an animal.”

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Guard Outpost 4: Holt Wilder

This largest outpost along the path seems to be unguarded. They are greeted by Holt Wilder, a retired civil servant. He is sensibly dressed for travel, except for the gold watch that had been presented to him upon his departure from what his neighbors assume was a dull forty years in the Department of Agriculture.

“Hello. Ah, Brialla’s Journey. I learned a lot about human nature and morality by reading her descriptions of animals. Though the rumors could be a lesson in and of themselves. Personally, I’ve never put much stock in the gossip. You know what they say about a lie going around the world before the truth can get its boots on.”

“Started enough wild rumors myself –heck, heard enough wild rumors about myself!– that
I don’t put much stock in rumors that someone did something so contrary to his or her character.”

“I will tell you this that I know for a certainty about Brialla. She found a lot of bleached bones of former explorers on her journey and she stopped to bury each and every one of them. Even when she was starving or freezing. Not a lot of people would have done that. Heck, I wouldn’t have!”

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Guard Outpost 5: Winifred Wainwright

Winifred Wainwright, a merchant traveling from Minoc to Britain, chatted brightly with the Journeyers. “I never cared for Brialla’s journals myself. Too gritty. She certainly was honest though. For instance, how that stampede of horses caused her to dive into a prickle bush, which turned out to be a rudimentary flint mine that she ‘discovered’ by falling down it!” Winifred laughs. “Now, if I’d made an important discovery arse-first, I’d have changed it a bit in print. Not our fair monk though. On her map she even marked the spot differently. The surveyor notes go: ABC1, ABC2, ARS, ABC3.”

“Not that her honesty made Brialla the most popular person in Yew. She once naively told that the Yew town baker that his son looked more like the blacksmith.” Winifred raises an eyebrow. “You notice they don’t have a blacksmith in Yew anymore?”

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Minoc’s Barnacle: Djano the Gypsy

As they walked past Minoc’s gypsy camp, the Journeyers were joined by the tribe’s current leader, Djano. At the tavern, he told them the story, as it had been handed down to him through many generations.