Armed For Battle

Berra — Armed For Battle

1627, Earth Season, Death Week


Context

Earth Season, Death Week, Clayday. After the fall of Alda Chur. [[[s02:session-54|Session 54]]]

Events

The city has been taken and some of the Esrolians, like the Praxians, are spreading out to make sure the transition of power is smooth. As is customary, they appear to be accumulating a certain amount of wealth in the process.

Varanis, accompanied by her Babeester Gor bodyguards, has set out to monitor her troops. She is whole, thanks to Maalira’s aid, but pale. There is still far too much blood on the outside of her, staining her padding beneath her armour.

Berra, who spent some time making sure the army did not get carried away, then disappeared into the city at the head of a squad. Now she comes into view, alone, the magic of Humakt still on her – she could hardly look tall, but she looks imposing, the shimmer of her Shield still holding.

When she recognises the axe women and their leader, she relaxes a little.

“Berra,” the Vingan calls out. “Any trouble?”

Berra approaches, broad-shouldered, confident in her gait. She looks like a killer until she gets up close, and says, “Not as much as I’d feared. A bit here and there.” She gives a very ungodly shrug.1Varanis fails Scan, does not notice the lack of sword.

“Same. You must have put the fear into our troops with your talk earlier. They are being honourable and well-mannered with the city folk. Mind you, I expected they would. They are good people, this little army of ours. I’m proud of them.” There’s a pleased smile to accompany those words.

Berra bows slightly. “Thank you.” She turns to fall in step. “Gallem’s alive. I haven’t seen him yet, but I’ve seen him.” She waves a hand to explain what she means.

“You held your own against him, it seems.”

Berra considers that. “For a bit, yeah. The cannon helped.” She looks down to her abdomen, where a bloodstained rent in her padding can be seen through her armour. “But I got him first, so I’m… sort of happy about it, I guess?” She looks up at Varanis, and down to the Vingan’s right arm, expression turning to thoughtfulness.

Following Berra’s gaze, Varanis grimaces. “I didn’t see what happened to my opponent. We were evenly matched for a bit and then…” Her voice trails off. “I’m not entirely clear on what happened after,” she admits quietly.

“You were…” Berra trails off, and glances at the bodyguards, then says lower, “You lost your arm. A clean stroke. I could feel it happen from where I was, I think, although I didn’t know at the time. The god knows a good strike. But it’s nothing I can really consider – just that there’s swords and they are working. So I didn’t know who it was, but…” this time she trails off with one of her quick shrugs, having run out of things to say.

“There was a Humakti. One of those with Gallem.” Varanis shrugs, an attempt at nonchalance. “Well, he either lived or he died. Humakt will know his own, I suppose. I was fortunate that Maalira was nearby.”

Berra nods. “We’re both breathing, and so’s everyone else from … well, what people call your band.” She gives Varanis a quick look. “I’m glad.” No more, then she looks back where they are going.

(Scan Roll: Varanis flinched when Berra mentioned that everyone had lived.)

The Humakti adds, “We did about as well as we could have. They made their choices, and it was over fast. The battle, I mean.” It might be an attempt at comfort.

“Sorala…” Varanis takes a deep breath. “Sorala has gone to Vinga’s hall. I know that for certain.”

Berra, who ate and drank with Sorala, and presumably liked her, just takes it in with a simple, “She should do well there.”

Varanis steps closer to her friend, then asks very quietly, “What happened to me? Why is there this much blood? Why is my sleeve detached from the rest of my padding?” Sure enough, her right shoulder shows bare and her sleeve appears to be held in place by her armour. “Maalira was too busy to ask. But… how bad a cut was that?”

“You were pretty lucky the arm landed close by,” Berra replies. “Maalira had to use magic. You were unconscious for a while.” Beat-pause. “Her goddess’s magic, I mean.”

Varanis blanches at that, her right hand reflexively curling into a fist. “Oh. That explains the… right. It also tells me why they are staying so close, I guess.” She glances back at the grim-faced axe maidens.

“Yeah. You landed right in the middle. I don’t know if you were trying for a jump as he hit, or what.” Again, a shrug from the Humakti. Words are hard.

“I don’t really remember. I think I was… I think I was attempting magic.” Varanis shakes her head. “It’s fuzzy in my head.” A group of Praxians strut past and Varanis watches them go.

“I got some things I need to work out for myself,” Berra says. “It was… different, facing him. But that’s not what to think about now. Eyes up and around, and then tomorrow we can sleep easy. Tonight most people’ll be awake unless they drop.”

“Did you see Xenofos? I caught glimpses of him during the fighting. I’ve heard that he was magnificent.”

“I’ve seen he’s upright. That’s all I need to know right now. Separation – what is important?” So Humakti.

Varanis gives her a curious look. “What do you mean?”

“I mean I don’t yet count the losses. Or I shouldn’t.” Berra looks up at Varanis. “The people I cared about are all able to walk around. I shouldn’t be rejoicing. I should be understanding. But it’s hard not to hope.”

“I see. I’m not sure I will ever understand Humakt and his separation. Me? I want to rejoice and I need to grieve. Good people have died. People who were in my care. But they also made their own choices.” Varanis falls silent for a time. Finally, she says simply, “I need to walk more and talk less just now.”

Berra drifts away a little, over the next few steps. “I’m going to peel off and go check close to the market.” She does not, quite, do that yet.

“Go. Be safe.”

Then, she does. Berra’s shoulders square and her walk gains something between confidence and the threat of divine retribution, and she turns aside and heads away, alone.

====
Berra and Varanis talk about having fought, and a bit about the survivors