A New Home

Berra has moved from room to room in the house, leaning against the walls with her hands, sniffing the air, dropping her woven ear warmer and examining it on the floor and picking it back up again, and finally choosing a room and telling Yehna which one it is. Then she seeks out Varanis, by standing on the tiny upper landing and plaintively making a noise like a Humakti clapping at different doors because she does not know where her friend is yet.

Varanis emerges from behind one of the doors. She’s in an older tunic, which now fits snuggly over her bump. She has a distracted air. “Oh! Berra. You’re here. I thought D’Val would never set you free after last time.” ((No, I don’t know what happened last time. But it was epic.))

“Um, yeah. I’m not going to do that again. I promised.” Berra looks half panicked, half guilty, half determined, a mix only possible because of how quickly expressions can move on her face. “I chose a room. A while back. It’s the one with my things in it.” She jerks a thumb that way. “And do you want me to use any magic on any staff you hire?”

“I know which room you chose,” Varanis says. “Your family moved into it. All of them.”

Berra grins. “I don’t need a bed yet, anyhow. We can build a bigger one but I think Yehna might end up testing it. That Mehrim guy’s been hanging around again. But the staff thing.”

“Instead of standing here, come in?” Without waiting for a reply, Varanis vanishes into her room.

Berra does that, looking round with a pleased smile. “I’ve got a house. We have. You’ve got land with a house on.” She stills herself then to pay attention to the answer.

The room is a little eclectic. The bed is a thick pallet on the floor, piled with sleeping furs. In front of one of the windows, there’s a low table, with cushions for sitting, rather than stools. The walls have hangings, some of which look worn and faded, but they add insulation. The cloths hung over the windows have been tied back to allow some light through the skins. There are two lamps on the table and an array of jewellery making tools.

Berra seems to like it.

Varanis drops inelegantly to one of the cushions. “I’m trying to make something for Yehna, but it’s not going well. And yes, you and I share property. It’s a good thing. I’m pleased.”

Berra leans over to look at the table, before lounging into a complicated position on a cushion. “These are a good idea.”

“Textiles have been easier to get than proper furnishings this season,” Varanis says. “I am hiring temporary staff. After Sacred Time, I want to see if anyone from Blue Tree wants to come to Boldhome to stay. And if more are needed, maybe there will be some from our temporary staff who can stay on.”

“Let me know if you need me to call on the God’s gifts,” Berra says. “Wow, it’s warmer in here. My family are out. The room got cold.” She pauses, and then adds, “I wanted to look at the view, so I was at the window for a while.”

“It might be wise. Can you interview them all at once?”

“If we have all the questions we need to ask, yes. I can make sure they are speaking the truth. If I have to I can even put them under an oath, although that would be a bit weird.”

“No oaths needed. But yes, I think it would be useful. I don’t want any Lunars or anyone willing to be bribed.” Varanis stares at the bronze sheet in front of her, her attention not fully on the conversation.

“What’s not going well with the thing you’re making?” Berra changes the subject to the one that might be on Varanis’ mind.

“I put this fertility rune in the wrong spot and now I can’t decide how to balance it. It will be a bracelet. But, now it’s off centre.”

“Maybe it doesn’t need to be central?” Berra suggests hopefully.