Berra — Air Flow
????, Earth Season, Stasis Week
Earth Season, Stasis Week, Fireday Morning. [[[s02:session-11|Session 11]]]
Fireday morning, Xenofos has been on the training ground. After sleepy start he has done reasonably well.1fail, success, success on rapier.
Berra and Silor had a grudge match, in which honours were approximately even, with both showing considerable skill with sword and shield.2https://random.org provides columnar-layout random numbers for sword vs shield or sword vs sword. Silor’s habit is then to eat with his children, so it is Berra alone who comes into the upper hall having scraped clean and dressed in polite clothes. She has remembered not to bring her armour to the meal, although she has both swords.
Xenofos greets her. There is both warmth and worry in the greeting.
Berra gives him a wide smile, as well as a hello, and drops lightly onto a bench. “Hungry?”
“Unlikely as it is for this hour, yes.”
“You’ve been working hard.” She herself tears off half a loaf of bread, puts it onto a wooden plate, and stares at it thoughtfully.
“For quite some time, it was not my morning habit.” Xenofos nods. “I kind of thought I had learned enough in my youth.”
“Welcome to the Truth.” Berra’s smile widens. “Yesterday, Lord Silor surprised me. Today I failed to surprise him, but at least we both knew that. You have a reason to learn now.”
“Oh, on studies I have long known that the bigger island of my knowledge the larger the coastline of ignorance. But for sword it was long enough for me to just know that pointy end goes to the enemy. Well still is, now it is just more details on which path it will travel before.”
“It’s useful to know that if you both fail, you’re both allowed another try.” Berra tears off bread from her hunk, looks at it, and eats it as if curious what this strange thing is.
Shrug. “It is success or failure when one or both quit fighting. Might count it a success if you walk away from it.”
“Sometimes, yes. Any fight you walk away from is one that hasn’t killed you.”3If Xenofos meant anything other than physical fights, Berra did not seem to notice, or ignored it. Berra reaches for a beer jug and pours a modest amount, checking if Xenofos needs a refill.
It is a morning of watered wine, olives and bread for Xenofos so he covers his cup, thanking for the offer.
“I did spend some time in the library and checked the basics of our judicial process.”
Berra puts down the jug and takes a sip. “Oh? Thank you. What cost?”
“Cost?” scholars brow furrows.
“I don’t want it said that anyone else should be blamed. So if…” Berra looks at Xenofos, and says, “If you want to do it for free, it will be more trouble. So I should pay you.” For a moment she looks serious.
“I don’t work for coin.” Xenofos shakes his head. “Not for others, and most definetively not for you.”
Berra bows her head. “Thank you. It’s good of you to do this.” She takes a big bite of rolled-up bread.
“So basically any free Esrolian woman can go to the Matron’s hall – it is the big building on east side of Whippost market – and state her accusation to the proper clerk at start of the Truth week, for it is auspicious time to find out the Truth.”
“Well, screw that then.” Berra grins. “What penalties will I take for doing it wrong?”
“Well false accusation will cause the accuser to suffer same punishment that original accusation would have resulted. But not automatically – only if residing matrons deem that accusation was done malignanly. ” Xenofos looks at Berra. “Which possibility I would not rule out in this case.”
“Oh, I do believe it. But that’s fine. That’s probably only a few hundred Lunars, if they try to shut me up like that. But accusing them of killing is… well, I want to wait a day or two first, still. Be sure.”
“Waiting would be prudent no doubt. Gathering basics of the case. But it is couple of weeks before the proper time anyway. And I am not quite sure if they hear accusations from foreigners – or men for that matter.”
“Right. So anyhow, no. Not weeks. You shouldn’t do what they’ve done.” Berra says that quite breezily.
In her hands, the bread is becoming a crust, and it looks like she plans to fill it with all sorts of stuff again. Much of the softer part of the loaf is piled up on her plate.
“Well that would be the way to get heard in court of law. If the clerks there deem accusation worth hearing that is – as I understand they discuss the matters with the plaintiffs before letting them state them in the hall.”
“Again, I think this is not going to be happening like that. I mean, what kind of place makes you wait for this? But it’s fine. I’ll find a way to shout it. I have an idea.” Berra does indeed start filling up the crust, a little smile deepening the corner of her mouth, while her eyes promise gleeful enjoyment to come.
“I dread to ask but what are you planning to shout? That a slave whose name or owner you don’t know went into Hulta palazzo and you have not been shown him since? That does not sound very convincing, does it?” Xenofos looks concerned “Nor of requiring answer. So what do you think it would accomplish?”
“No. But if I tell you, then you’ll know, and then you might have to tell people you know. You’re not thinking clearly – you have Truth, but not Separation.” The Humakti starts loading in a layer of dried, salted peppers to the bread, strong fingers working almost without her looking, for she has turned the happiest, brightest smile on Xenofos.
“I work to gain the understanding of the Truth. And when anyone is too certain that they have it I am afraid for them. I do hope you don’t find your truth lacking Berra.”
Sweet sauce, soft bread innards, figs, garum… Berra puts everything into the crust, and then pokes it a bit with her knife. “I don’t mind dying for it, and I don’t mind blackening my name, even. I know that what I’m saying is true – except for the part of whether he’s stolen, or dead. But that would be for a court to decide anyhow. If I could get a court that wouldn’t make me wait.”
A brief moment, and then she corrects, “If I can get one, I mean.”
“Except the part? So parts you admit you do not know. Maybe you should question yourself of the other parts too. For if you shout them out loud others will. And it would not be worthy of you to be remembered as a liar.”
“Not what I’m saying. I’ll find out within the next couple of days if he’s alive. Then I’ll know what accusation to bring.” Berra now starts eating, apparently attending to that completely.
“But outside court it is not accusation. It is just slander unless you prove it.”
“That’s fine. I’m not worried,” says Berra after swallowing, and placidly she goes on eating.
There is a silence. Xenofos seems to have forgotten eating. “I am. I am worried you shame yourself in this or suffer for it.”
Berra does not leave Xenofos hanging4Failed Darkness roll.. Something he has said makes her pause in eating. She pours beer as she replies. “I won’t lie. I’ll say what I believe. And I don’t mind the suffering. If I get hurt, I walked into this knowing they might send someone like Kesten, or someone far rougher. If they’re sensible they should send him, but huh.” She shrugs. “I decided to do this. As for the rest, I know what my own spirit urges, and it’s not to be cowardly, just because there’s a thing that could destroy my name here. I know who I am, and what, and that’s enough.”
“Lots of people believe things that are not Truth. They are not less convinced than you are.”
Berra gives Xenofos another bright smile. I’m sure we both do, too. But you’re either scared I’m wrong, or you’re scared I’m right. If I’m wrong you’re not going to convince me, and if I’m right, I should be doing it no matter what.” She takes a long chug of beer, holding up her hand to indicate she has more to say, but not actually saying it yet.
Xenofos’ Insight: Just like before, everything that Xenofos says seems to be making Berra more determined. Like a ball just out of his grasp, a fingertip brush pushes instead of pulling. She is not being nasty, or arguing, but she is not being persuaded of anything but the rightness of her actions by what he says.
Xenofos nods with resignation. “I don’t really believe I can convince you, but I care for you so I try despite the fact.”
“It’s good of you. But you’re allowed to rejoice with me instead, you know? I’m doing what I believe is right. If I did not, if I stayed silent and let people tell me what to do, and did not rebel or move or change… I would be shamed then. Inside, not by others. So this is better, so you’re allowed to be happy, even if you can’t understand.” And casually, Berra returns to eating.
“Doing what is right is important and good. But this is illusion, I cannot but grieve this.” Xenofos stands up.
“I’ll try to ransom you afterwards…”
“Preferably with your tongue still in your mouth…”
Berra chews and swallows. “My ransom’ll be in my stuff. I brought it with me just in case. And, I guess, enough to heal me if Mellia can’t. If I manage to go through all of my money – or if they manage to steal it from me, I guess, which would be interesting – then… I guess you should ask if the Boldhome Temple will redeem any debt.”
Xenofos is not quite listening to Berra’s explanation, as he is heading for the door quite hastily.