Berra — A Sorry Apology
????, Fire Season, Stasis Week
1626, Fire Season, Stasis Week, Fireday [[[s01:session-36|Session 36]]]
Follows on from [http:journeyoftheheroes.wikidot.com/finarvi:a-spar-adrift A Spar Adrift] and continues in [http:journeyoftheheroes.wikidot.com/berra:pupilled-gaze Pupilled Gaze] and [http://journeyoftheheroes.wikidot.com/finarvi:apologies-accepted Apologies Accepted].
The morning wears on and preparations are being made for the trip to Boldhome, by way of Wilmskirk. Varanis, fully armoured, hair freshly plaited, and face cleaned of the evidence of the early morning exertions, comes looking for Berra.
Berra is in a patch of sunlight, eyes closed, left hand in a position that indicates meditation. Her right hand rests on her knee. She looks relaxed, but she opens her eyes as Varanis approaches, expression too sharp and sudden before she covers it by slouching a little and giving a smile. All bodily expression is gone, over-ridden by the casual look.
Varanis finds a patch of clear earth near to Berra and gracefully lowers herself to the ground. She’s positioned more to Berra’s side rather than in front, so as not to force the Humakti to look directly at her. She doesn’t say anything at first.
The Humakti deals with that by moving a little, keeping Varanis more in her central vision. She sighs, making a noise, and follows that up with speech. “Good morning. Have the Clan Ring managed to get together yet?” She indicates willingness to get up by shifting her weight as if to do it, but does not commit any real effort.
Varanis shakes her head. “No. They have some kind of farewell they want to do and Xenofos assures me that it’s rude to leave before giving them the chance.” The Vingan looks at Berra consideringly. “I’m sorry. I wasn’t a very good student this morning.”
Berra starts to say something, and then stops, and hold up her hand for silence. It takes her a little while to consider what to say.
Finally she says, “I saw nothing that I needed to address. … Well, one thing, but that was Finarvi, not you. By saying you were not a good student, when I am not telling you so, what are you telling me about my teaching?”
Varanis looks taken aback. “I meant my poor manners. I allowed myself to get angry and I attacked in anger. I wasn’t angry at Finarvi, but at myself. And yet, if I had landed that lunge, it could have hurt him.” Varanis looks down, then raises her gaze to Berra’s. “I lacked the control to pull that blow once I launched it.”
“I said, I saw nothing I needed to address. You knew what you had done. You dealt with it yourself. Do you think I didn’t see it happen?” Now, Berra looks severe. Her expression has lost softness, and her posture drifts out of its casual lounge so that she sits up almost as high as the Vingan can without trying.
Varanis snaps at Berra, “You might not need to address it, but I do. Making mistakes is normal. Fine. I understand. I’ve made a lot of damned mistakes in my life and have not had to atone for them. Now I’m trying to find ways to do it and you growl at me.” She glares angrily, nostrils flaring.
Berra keeps exactly the same expression. “This is not one that needs atonement. It is one that needs you to recognise it in yourself.” The expression shifts, showing acknowledgement. “And you have. I knew you would, so I did not tell you about it.” She might have more to say, but she pauses at least long enough for thought.
Varanis pushes a wisp of hair out of her face and stares at Berra in frustration. “I’m trying to be a better leader.” She sighs. “This isn’t what I came here for anyway. I wanted to offer you a mount for the ride back. My horses have become somewhat more manageable with Serala and Finarvi’s help, though neither is as steady as Road. And I wanted to loan you this, if you think it could help.” She holds out a crystal, which looks to be the one she generally keeps on her person. “In case you need extra resources as you heal.”
Berra grins. “Thank you,” she says. “I’ll think about it. But really, listen to the thing I’m saying, not the way I’m saying it. You did fine. You dealt with your own weakness. Your words are good, but they are good because they are coming from you, having changed, and are being said for the right reason. You’re not apologising because you want to be forgiven. You’re already doing the right thing. Why change you?” She leans forward to look at the crystal, obviously tempted. “It would be helpful,” she admits. “But should I rely on it?”
Damned swift subject change Humakti. Not a moment to get a word in edgeways until she had said all that.
“Is it any different from relying on a bandage to slow bleeding until something can heal?”
“Maybe. Probably not, but it’s yours…” Berra is still staring. “Did you know we each made a mistake this morning?”
Varanis raises an eyebrow. “What was yours?”
“I had been watching for too long. I gave you a signal that you couldn’t read, to stop. It would have stopped the lay members from sparring, but you went on, and I decided to let you. I knew you were tired and it seemed like a good idea. That was because I couldn’t think clearly around what I was doing. And then because I was tired, I couldn’t work out how to stop you without signalling, for a little, because I had expected that to work. So I was stepping back, not really thinking, when you lunged. And I was thinking left-handed. Then I moved right-handed. I should have got a bracer into the way and I was standing completely wrong. And it was a bracer because I didn’t have anything else ready. So as a guard for both of you, I was lucky.”
As Varanis listens she also reaches out and puts the crystal in Berra’s left hand.
Berra wraps her hand around the crystal. “You’re right. You offered it. You did that part of the thinking.” She holds it in three fingers while she fishes for the wolf-tooth necklace. “I should not refuse it because of thinking of you. But could you tie it on here for me, so it hangs next to my skin?”
Varanis smiles to see the necklace, and then deftly ties the crystal next to the pendant, making sure the knot is secure. Before she lets it drop back against the Humakti’s chest she looks at it a moment longer. “I’m glad you like the pendant,” she says, shyness and pride intermingling in her eyes.
Berra tucks it back in, hiding the secret. “It’s… it means a lot to me. That was a hard quest. I’m glad that the High Sword didn’t have to do it. It reminds me that I can go on.”
“You can, Berra. You are one of the strongest people I’ve ever met. I know you can do this thing.” Varanis speaks with complete conviction.
Berra smiles a tiny bit. “It needs a lot of help from a lot of people for me to be like this,” she says. It is too bold to be an admission of weakness, but it is a statement of requirement. “A blacksmith, even. He told me a secret of iron that I can’t tell you, but he helped me to stop feeling that things that were wrong in me must be denied. I don’t …” There is a tremor in her lip, and she looks away, considering. “I don’t fight against myself so much now,” is the conclusion as she explains it.
Varanis smiles wryly. “That sounds like a good trick to learn.”
“You haven’t said if you wanted to borrow the horse,” she adds, changing the subject. “I’ll even let you choose which one.” She grins.
“No. I’ll walk, or ride behind Billy, but thank you. I’d hate to have to get onto and off a horse one-handed, especially in a hurry. I don’t think you’ve ever seen the full Berra Dismount, but the Shield spell is helpful.” The Humakti looks down at her right arm, and frowns. “Being able to use enough magic to make my left hand good will be useful. Thank you.”
Varanis nods and rises to her feet, stretching her full length. “I should go check on preparations. Do you need anything? Are you drinking enough water?”
“I need to think about a lot of things I have rushing around inside my heart.” Berra stands too, and does not stretch, although she steps back so she can keep eye contact. “I’m probably not drinking enough water. I’ve just been watching the waterfall. It keeps moving. I like that. But I’m not moving much, and I’m not thirsty. Finarvi is patching up my body armour, so I’m not even too hot.” Then something occurs to her. “Oh! Did you get the fruit for D’Val? I mean, Sword D’Val?”
“Oh! Right! I did. Back in a moment.” Before Berra has even finished correcting herself, Varanis is off. She’s back before long with a rather large bundle. “I picked out some for you too,” she says, as she sits back beside her kinswoman and opens up the bundle.
Berra fiddles with her necklace briefly, and then takes a drink while waiting, and then takes another with an expression of resignation. “Nothing with vegetables in, yes? Or eggs or fowl, but that would be less likely. Ginger’s a vegetable. I asked.”
Varanis separates them into piles, telling Berra which ones are for D’Val and which are for her. There are some with ginger and they go into Berra’s pile.
“There’s quite a lot there,” Berra says after a brief moment of thought. Her lips don’t even move. “How much was it?”
“Mhm.” Berra manages not to look amused, at all. “Thank you.” Not amused. In any way. Definitely. “I suppose we should find him. He’s likely … waait, he arrived after you. What happened?”
“The merchants like me in that part of town. I tend to do well there.” She reaches for one of the gingery ones with a mischievous grin.
“He went to check the Temple and we went to check the roads. When we saw the blood…” Varanis’ expression clouds over. “We kept looking and forgot to tell D’Val. He found us on his own.”
Berra looks faintly confused, and then shrugs, and picks up a stick of something hard and sweet, and starts gnawing at it experimentally. Then she sneezes. Cutely. ‘ashoo’. “Oh. Hot. Right. Yes. I had wondered.”