1628, Earth Season, Fertility Week, Fireday
The group is travelling across the plains toward Grizzly Peak. Session S3SA.04.
Berra takes a bit of time to walk, going on foot like a Vendref, or an infanteer, and then a bit later flumps over Followed for a bit. Then she is back to her horse, and then she is veering in towards Varanis, after spending a little time on watch, annoying the outriders.
Varanis has been giving the Humakti space, but she doesn’t flee when approached.
Berra says straight out, “Please don’t …” and then sighs. “I can’t cope with a lot of things right now.”
Normally she manages to get at least one sentence into the conversation before changing the subject.
“I didn’t say anything, Berra,” Varanis points out, her voice calm and polite. “You made your feelings clear, or at least, clear enough for me to understand that you needed me to leave you alone. So, I have been.”
Berra nods, and rides quietly for a few minutes. Finally, signalling it with another sigh, she asks, “So what do you think happened there?”
The Humakti is wound up tight, like a ball of twine that has too much around one end, and could distort and spill at any time.1Varanis passes Insight (Human).
“I don’t know,” Varanis admits. “Maybe it was the leftover bear in you, growling about my laughter. Maybe you were feeling prudish. Or protective. You lashed out when I teased Maalira, so protective might be more the thing.” Everything about her is neutral, giving nothing away.
“Protective.” Berra shudders a bit. “Remember yesterday, I was trying to tell you how much everything’s gone from me? It’s not the bear. It’s me.”
There’s a sigh and some of Varanis’ rigidity eases. “I don’t know what to make of that. Why would it make you grow angry about something so small?”
“Because it might have hurt Maalira, and I don’t have anything else to do. And… she loves me, and you were sort of… I thought it would be rubbing it in that I said no.”
“Wait… what? You said no? To what?” This time the confusion is so plain that even Rajar would recognise it.
“She said she liked me. That talk you have, where someone says they value the other one as a friend. We had that.” Berra seems calmer now, if a little sad.
Varanis chews her lip and stares straight ahead for a long moment. “I… I have to ask you a thing. It might embarrass you or it might make you angry. If your emotions rise, can you try to remember that I’m not seeking to harm?”
“Yeah, sure.” Berra just looks ahead.
“Do you remember much of what you said and did when you were drunk?”
“Uh, I think Harrek threw a cup at me? I might still have been sober then. And I tried to ask him where he was going – people would want to know that. And I didn’t ask him about Gunda, because he’s smart enough to know we didn’t really get along.”
“So… no. Not really. There was a point when you were… well, you were flirting with Maalira. You touched her knee and called her pretty.”
Berra thinks about that for a moment. It seems to puzzle her.
The Vingan continues, “That’s what I’d been teasing about. Or trying to. And then I realised that I have no idea whether or not Maalira has any interest in bed partners of any sort and I asked about it. I had no knowledge of anything private between you and no intention to hurt either. I thought it was a light-hearted joke about silliness between friends.” She sags a little. “I stepped in the dung again without even knowing it.”
There are no words of comfort from Berra. “I tried to change the subject, and when that didn’t work, I didn’t have anything left. I can’t remember… I used to do it and not get angry – it used to feel easy, I think.”
“I wonder if apologising to Maalira will just make things worse,” Varanis muses. “I’m so much more practiced at apologies these days.” She tries for wry, but fails.
“It wasn’t you. It was Finarvi. He tried to help, but he was the one riding through the conversation. Trying to be kind.”
“But I think I do need your help. You said you’d try to deflect my anger, if it came to it? Put off my timing?” Berra gives Varanis a scowl of thoughtful hope.
“I can try. Certainly, I’ll put myself between you and any of the others, if need be. Do you have other ideas?”
“No, I want you to do the hard bit, and not be a hero,” Berra says flatly. “I want you to help me change the subject if I need to.”
This gets Berra a hard stare. “Not be…” Varanis takes a breath, biting back whatever she was about to say. Finally, she exhales. “Do you think you can manage a signal? At least until I get the hang of it? You aren’t the only…” She stops herself, thinks, then tries again. “I want to help and will do my best. If we can come up with a signal between us, it will likely help us both.”
“If I say change the subject, just do. Or help me to.” Berra shrugs. “I’m not going to be subtle about it. You… you remember the same as me, right? That people could come at me and I’d fend them off and send them away?”
“I tried that on Jar-eel.” Berra laughs, in a fragile kind of way.
“Berra?” Varanis asks, tentatively.
Berra gives Varanis a look that is calm again.
“Are we going to be ok? I miss our friendship.”
Berra gives an awkward shrug. “I don’t know. Not until I am, I think. It’ll take a while. But I think it’ll happen. I’m… I’m working on it. Because I’m not going to give them any victory they don’t work for.”
Varanis nods and attempts a smile. “Just so you know, if I die before we mend things properly, I may decide to haunt you.”
Berra nods. “You can hang around and ruffle the duck feather, and maybe walk through me when I’m concentrating.” It’s the same sort of attempt at humour. She is looking better already.2Because Varanis fumbled an Insight roll.
The Vingan’s grin becomes a little more solid. “Wear a cloak and I’ll make it flap for you, so you look extra heroic.”
- 1Varanis passes Insight (Human).
- 2Because Varanis fumbled an Insight roll.