Back To The Altar

Berra — Back To The Altar

????, Dark Season, Disorder Week


Context

Dark Season, Disorder Week, Wildday Eve. Berra has determined to go to the Temple and ask if she can learn how to Sense Assassins, a mystical sense given by Humakt. However, she also has a sword that needs dedication, and so she is torn by decisions. [[[s02:session-19|Session 19]]]

Events

Leaving her companions behind, Berra goes up to the gate at a fast clip, and says, “I’d like to worship here, but I need to speak to someone with authority. I have a new Hero to speak of, and I’d like to use the altar tonight. And I have a Young sword. A lot to speak of and little time.” She holds out the silken shape, hidden from eyes that do not know Death.

There is a pause, then a nod and she is shown to the temple space. After a while an older man limps towards her. He is dressed is a dusty black robe. Entirely plain with a simple rope belt, from which hangs an unornamented sword in a plain leather scabbard.

Berra has left her shield propped against the wall, her symbol clearly visible. She manages to fall to her knees without tripping over Wind Tooth, the iron sword still held in two hands, and her bow is over it, protection mixed with respect. She waits to be addressed.

There is a cough, and the voice is parched like the desert winds, “You are the daughter of Jarang, follower of D’Val? I am Roneer, Chief Priest here.”

“I am Berra, Jarang’s Daughter, of the Boldhome Temple. Lord D’Val is my Sword, there.” She straightens her back to look up, eyes wide. “I beg the honour of passing over the altar, to learn the inner sense of protection.” It does not seem to occur to Berra she did not mention who she was, but has been heard of even out here.

A brow lifts. “That is most irregular. Custom dictates at initiation and passage to Sword.”

“Yes, Great Sword. I am told it can happen at other times, and I wish to do it to protect another. The Black Fang Brotherhood attacked her some hours ago.”

What shows on her face now is a shining determination to do the right thing.1Devotion Humakt. Special. She BELIEVES. The God would do the right thing!

He considers. “Your Orlanthi?” He may look like a cloistered scholar but he’s clearly been hearing things. Possibly ballads.

“She will be one day. She needs to grow more – but she is close. She needs more protection than most, for she is… she is of old blooded descent, and so she is a target. That part is for her to tell, but you may have… may have heard of it, Great Sword.” Emotions flit over Berra’s face, each on their way to execution at the hands of that desire to go forward, to keep fighting, to serve Humakt.

He pauses and nods. “The God may permit it. I shall not stop you if He does not.” There is a beat. “And the iron sword?”

Berra looks down at the bundle, and then unwraps it from the hilt. If she only knew it, her expression resembles her sister showing baby Haran off for the first time. “In the desert, I asked the God if it was appropriate to start a Hero Cult for Eril, Sword of Boldhome. The Blacksmith there had iron I had lodged at the Temple.” Her voice softens as she looks at her sword. “This is the sword I dream of. It does not have history yet, and has not been taught how to bring Death. This was the answer to my question, and the Iron Lord’s judgement of my worth.” There is no softness and no boast when she talks of the judgement. It is just a recitation of a fact, or of words she heard long ago.

He has an amazing Ur game face. There is barely a flicker. “Lord Eril is…. known…. to me. Tell me more of this divination.”

Berra takes a deep breath, considering how to speak, and closes her eyes. “It is much as I have said, Great Sword. In the desert, I purified myself and made a fire, and passed through katas of exhaustion and inquiry, in a place marked with Death, and with Truth many times. It was the understanding of Truth that brought me first to the god, and I wished to know what was true and right. As the fire died, two embers remained, that seemed like eyes. I was singing the battle song of the Regiment, the inner song.” Behind her eyelids, her eyes move as she seeks the right path of explanation. “The eyes nodded. There was a face there. The Blacksmith. I have never seen his eyes, save in this vision.”

The figure nods, “And then the sword was there?”

“First, he had to make it. Some time ago he had told me that I would have to wait until he judged me worthy of iron, although I had a bar of my own. I asked the question, I think many times. He made the sword. I… I did wonder if it was the one, but I did not know. That was closed to me. I gave it my own soul, or gave it to the vision. Then he gave me my sword, and I slept and woke, with an understanding of the God that was deeper, and guided by my knowledge of the Hero. Words once bound him, and I had learned how to cast an Oath, although I had not known I would. By asking that question, I gave and was given to. He is a Hero.”

Then, there is obvious pride on her features, and not for herself.2Passed Loyalty Temple. He’s a HERO!

He pauses then nods, “Very well. The interpretation of this vision is clear to me. An altar can be raised to him when you are worthy of Iron. He is clearly a Hero, but you are not yet a Sword. Where will you lodge this young one until you are worthy of it?”

“I will carry it with me. If I fail, that failure is mine, Great Sword.” Berra looks down, clearly uncomfortable with that notion. “So I must learn how to teach it.”

There is a lift of the brow. “I counsel against this course, but as you wish.” He gestures towards the altar.

Berra sighs slightly. “I could leave it in his Temple, but not elsewhere,” she says as she stands. “Thank you for your counsel. I value it.”3After 3 inconclusive rounds of Devotion (Humakt) vs Loyalty (Clan) Berra finally decides that she must make her sword more dangerous, teaching it how to know Death, rather than getting better at Sense Assassin. Berra is torn. Badly.

Flashback

Berra does this in a place out in the desert while someone else is on watch, in a sanctified area. A place where she cannot be observed. She builds a small fire for purity and eats a pinch of dust from the desert’s hard floor, and a fragment of a nut bought in Boldhome. She is in her armour, but might consider herself naked, because she has left behind the black feather that is the mark of D’Val’s respect.

She takes her chalk and charcoal and marks the rocks with black Death runes and many, many black and white Truth signs. Finally, she draws her own sign, the combination of the two, on each of her hands, and draws both of her swords, entering a meditational trance to push herself towards the god. She concentrates on the notions of the High Sword as she knew him, and the Wyter, and the Wyter Priest as he is now, and in a low mumble chants his name to be sure that she has the right person to ask about. Not loud enough to be overheard. This is secret. She concentrates on that question as she reaches out for the god and the truth that he bears. Her question is, “Is it appropriate to start a Hero Cult for Eril?”4Worship Humakt: boosted to 95%. Fail. Not a fumble, however. 99%.
Inspiration with Truth: successful. That plus an hour of ritual gets meditation to pass. 47% out of 27 35 20%.
Broadsword, pass. 27%.
Divination spell, that is also a pass.
CON 5 also a pass.

She starts the katas. She keeps going. Hour after hour. Movement after movement. She enters a fugue state.

Whilst she goes on, the fire burns low, until only two embers glow. Like eyes in a dark face.

Somewhere along the line, Berra has begun to sing. It is the song and the sound of the Wyter, a call to battle. ((Special on Sing.))

As she does so, the fire starts nodding along. A thoughtful look. An interested face. Dark with only those glowing eyes. The face looks familiar, now she thinks about it… The Iron Lord. But the eyes are open and glowing. They don’t normally do that.

They do. I just can’t normally see them.

Berra asks the question quietly, unsure if she has asked it already, and how many times. “Is it appropriate to start a Hero Cult for Eril.” She blinks as his name fits into the music.

The figure moves. Okay, there’s a figure there now. A body. Ash on lean almost naked form. Or ash on the wind? Hammering something. Making it.

Berra’s body continues to move, patrolling in a dance around the fire, keeping the place safe for the making to happen.

There is solid hammering. Thumping. Shaping. A thing starts to appear, from the ether, or the smoke, or the depths of her mind. Something tells her she should be able to recall it.

The shape tweaks at her memory, but she cannot quite make it out.5POW x 5 Fail Then it starts to form into a more familiar shape. A death rune. But echoes of the Wyter Sword

Berra asks herself the question again. “Is it appropriate to start a Hero Cult for Eril.” The answer might be being made before her, but she came to ask the question, not to get distracted.

The sword, for such it clearly is, is battered into form. A shape imposed upon shapelessness by sheer force of sweat and effort. A broadsword. Almost a replica of the Wyter sword.

Berra falls to her knees then, offering up her own magic.6Pass on Movement for wanting this thing, but critical on Loyalty (Temple), identical to Loyalty (Eril) to Berra.

The being turns to Berra. Nods. Hands it to her. He seems satisfied.

Berra kneels up, back upright, holding the thing in two hands, feeding it.

She falls asleep. On waking, she has a sword in her hand. It is the one she has often dreamed of. The iron sword, with the Truth Rune for a pommel.

[[=image truth_sword.png size=”medium”]]