Berra — Ashes

????, Earth Season, Season/Illusion Week


Earth Season/Illusion Week/Water Day, The cold time just before dawn. [[[s02:session-17|Session 17]]]


((Outer courtyard of Saiciae-palazzo Earths season, Illusion week, waterday the miserable cold moment before the dawn with just a hint of light. ))

There is a little warm huddle at the far corner of the courtyard from the main house. Berra and her bison are visible as a darkish shape, a deeper shadow than others. The light from an opening door might pick them out, or someone with a lantern might possibly bring an island of that glow outwards. The bronze gleam of a helmet and snore of a large ungulate are the best guides, if light is not an option.

Outlined by the lights inside is the lanky form of the scribe rolling his shoulders and trying to adjust to the dim light outside.

After a few moments there is a low whistle from where the bison is. Warning? Greeting? It’s followed by a, “Hello,” in a quiet tone, as if the Humakti is trying not to wake the entire household.

Xenofos nods and walks over the courtyard. “You are early again. But you said you would be.”

Berra looks up, and grins. She is eating what looks like it might be cold, thick porridge. “Hey there.” Her voice is pleased, and verging on gentle. “If you’re hungry, come eat with me. I’m sure I can find something I haven’t just poured peppers and almonds all over.”

“Thanks for the offer, I was thinking of training and will break my fast after that.” He chuckles. “It is not like being on a campaign when you always eat if you have a chance. for you never know when is the next time…”

Berra might be shrugging. “Is for me. Always ALWAYS eat if you think you’re about to be hungry. But if you’re not, hello. I’ll be done soon.”

That might be a nod.

Comfortable silence falls to the yard.

Berra, true to her word, does not take long. When she is done cleaning her bowl with a bread crust, she packs it away and stands. “Right. Done.” Nothing more from her. She looks like she is waiting.

“So you are leaving now?”

Question is followed by a short quiet discussion.

Semi OOC Discussion

Berra then asks, “Are you coming? I think he asked for both of us, but…”

There is a shrug. “Sure.”

Berra looks up at the sky. “I’m planning to be there at dawn. He’ll probably be awake by then. Is that rudely early?”

((Succeed customs esrolia, succeed truth.))

“It might be a tad unconventional. But if we are there before everyone has heard that song the call might be less ackward.”

“It depends on how long it’s been going on. I heard it. I think that was accident. But that might mean it’s all over the place. I haven’t been back to the barracks. So they might all have heard it. And we have to tell him anyhow.” Berra gives a one-shouldered shrug. “Getting there before dawn would be too much. Unless he’s just coming back, and lying in wait for him is… well, funny but wrong.”

There is a grunt that acknowledges the need to tell and indicates it is no pleasure.

“Meeting him outside the palazzo might be more tactful, under the circumstances.”

“I was going to ask him if he wanted a drink. He met me in a place once to tell me about some Battalion trouble. But it’s his choice. We can offer. Tactful means it looks like we are hiding. And if we are out together someone will make something of it.”

“Hmmm. There is truth in that. No really good choices. And even though I thought meeting somewhere else might be more considerate to Serenalda, it could be taken as attempt at hiding.” Xenofos ponders.

“Serenelda?” Berra pauses in flexing her hands and shoulders to look at Xenofos for understanding.

“Only one who could have legitimate cause to disapprove the allegations in the song.” Xenofos starts casually, pauses for a split second, looks at Berra and then away adding flatly. “His wife.”

“Oh. I didn’t know he was married. I bet that’s annoyed her…. wait, he and I do as well, right?”

“Apart from you two. It is nobody else’s business but you three.” Again a pause. “Though with Kesten tracking a killer whose motivation is suspected to be marital infidelity that song may be more than lewd entertainment for the plebs.”

“I know. That’s one of the things he needs to know to tell him. That’s one of the reasons that the bit about Lord Rillo falling on his sword is important.” Berra shrugs. “But s’fine. He’ll know as soon as we tell him, if he hasn’t heard that version already.” From her voice, none of this seems to be news to her.

“Nevertheless, she has the right, if not the wish, to question the veracity of the claims. A discussion apt to be unpleasant. But you are probably right, avoiding her might not ease her burden.”

“And we shouldn’t. But, um, there’s a thing you probably don’t know that just occurred to me.” Berra makes the sound of someone thinking very hard while sucking air slowly in through their teeth.

Xenofos waits with raised eyebrow.

The sun hardly has time to creep closer to living again before Berra says, “If he’s married, he’s not a killer. I mean, he probably doesn’t understand Death. Not like I do. So getting him to duel with me like someone did was… well, people don’t like facing me. And he carries a Broadsword, and he’s good, but if he follows a Truth Hero then his magic might not be like mine. For fighting.”

“You may be right, though I would not as hastily draw such conclusions from him being less afraid of Life. But you mean intended target of that severe duel was him, not you?”

“We don’t know. He didn’t know either, but we didn’t have enough time in the warehouse. Still… it would have depended who the god was with, and if he’s… it’s not about a fear of life. It’s about being able to call on Death. The Sword Trance… If he knows it, but he’s distracted by living when he calls on Humakt, it just might not work. Or he might never have learned, although he’s older than me, so he’s had time. But you can’t call on that with anything but a pure understanding of what the Sword means.”

A shrug.

In the dark, that does little good, although the whisper of it may travel.

“I am no stranger to Death, but do not claim to understand it, nor embrace it.”

“Yeah. I’m no stranger to Life, but you know how it goes.” Berra’s features might be a little clearer now, picked out more by the rising light. Her helmet is hooked onto her saddle, and she seems to be wearing two swords.

“No, actually I don’t know. Just my own path.”

“It’s the sort of thing that I don’t study, is all I mean.” Berra turns to get her helmet. “There’s a lot more I should be able to say, I think, but I don’t know the words for it.”

“The eternal quandary what to do when words seem to fail convey truth but silence does not tell it either…”

Xenofos is armored, carrying shield on his back and helmet in his left hand.

“Shout more?” Berra gestures with her hands, frustrated. “That’s sort of why I was going to fight Kesten. We didn’t talk about the same problem, I think.”

“Shouting louder does not make things more true. Alas.”

“No, but it sometimes means that people listen.” Berra reaches for her waterskin. “Can we tell two feathers apart yet?” That is, is it close enough for dawn that light is spreading. Still not quite, but close enough to ask that question.

“When they don’t just raise their own voice…”

“If you’re going to tell me how to…” Berra stops and takes a deep breath. “Look. I’ve been trying to stay calm for days now, stuck in a city I hate more and more with every one of those days. Can you not tell me how to behave right now?”

Xenofos nods. “Hmmm. No sign of Varanis yet, I will need to leave word for her.”

“Thank you,” Berra says after a moment. It seems to be about the silence, for she adds, “You could follow along?”

“You asked. I would.”

“I’ve got a few minutes. But… can I ask you something?” Berra’s Y-Rune is still a dark shape on her cheek, but the edges of it are clear now.


“Don’t let me ask you for things and just have them. Not just because it’s me asking. Please.”

Xenofos thinks for a moment. “I said before I would. After that decision is made and, for me, that is it. But I will weigh what you ask against what I have said before and what is right. Or at least try.”

There’s a nod, serious and measured, from Berra, almost invisible in the darkness. “Thank you. I know it’s hard not to, but …” Again she has run out of words, and she trails off to look down.

Shrug. “I would not have love make a liar of me. I don’t remember having told a lie, ever and I try to hold fast to that.”

“I wouldn’t have it make someone selfish of me. To have things I haven’t earned…” Berra finds interest in the very faint light of the sky.

Xenofos listens in silence and looks at her profile.

She is puzzled for words, or at odd with herself somehow. Uncomfortable.

“Gifts are never earned. That is their nature. Are you afraid that they would bind?”

“No.” Berra frowns in thought, nose wrinkling. “You wouldn’t do that to me. Or I think to anyone.”

Xenofos nods at the comment.

“I don’t think it would make you happy. Or me.”

“Well, I’d let you know if I thought you’d made me unhappy. Don’t worry.” Berra gives Xenofos a grin which lives in shadow. So far, Yelm is only lighting the sky, and not much.

“I trust you would. Not something I wish to hear.” scholar is looking at the lightening sky.

“There might be shouting,” Berra admits. “Depends how I was thinking. Not quite time to go yet, and we can leave a message at the gate. Do you want a horse?”

“We are going to Hulta palazzo and temple of Humakt? Both inside the city and close. With no special need to look martial. Easier and quicker to just walk.”

“I don’t know I need to get to the Temple. If he’s dead, it won’t be announced until they’re sure. Depends a bit. But yeah, you’re right about the horse either way.” Berra, of course, makes no mention of her own placid riding beast.