Berra — Blue Tree Clan Tattoo 03
Berra comes to ask Varanis about geases or problems with getting the Clan Tattoo. [[[s01:session-27|Session 27]]]
It’s evening in the village now, and a lot of people who did not know what perry was are snoring. Berra has been here and there, talking, chattering, embracing people, being talked at and embraced. Now, however, someone very like her is walking around. It looks like Berra, but it can’t be. She has taken off her armour, and is in the sorts of clothes that you wear when you bought good clothes a few years ago and have looked after them well. They are more creased than worn, in either sense of the word.
From somewhere, she has borrowed a sling and a small child to put in it, and the little baby, tied to her front, is taking up most of her attention as she walks towards Varanis through the cool evening. She has surrendered her finger to his gummy embrace, and is telling him how handsome he will be when he grows up, as she approaches.
Berra’s changeable features, often set to a hard stare, have softened completely into gooey aunt-ship. But still, there is the shaggy hair, and there is the Truth Rune, burning blue.
Varanis stares at the apparition that might be Berra in amazement as she approaches. “This is an unexpected sight,” she comments, but her voice is gently teasing. She too has stripped away her armour, and is wearing the fine, if understated woollens she bought in Boldhome.
“What? Where?” Berra looks around. “Haran? Is he not the best thing? He has such a grip. He’s going to be a swordsman!” Her smile is wide enough to rival Humakt the Wolf.
Haran abandons Berra’s knuckle briefly, forgets about it, and then discovers a hand to gum, as Berra helps him by putting her finger back in his mouth. There is a lot of saliva involved.
Varanis smiles at the two of them. She can’t see much of the baby, beyond tufts of dark hair, sticking up in odd directions, the infant’s hair a softer version of his aunt’s. “I was thinking more of the Humakti who looks touched by Ernalda, rather than the adorableness of baby you have acquired. But yes, I’m sure he will grow up to be a fine warrior.”
“Well, if he is to grow up a warrior, he needs to hang around them.” Berra lifts Haran out of the sling with the care and skill of someone who knows how to handle small children. “Look. He is just like his mother!” An infant almost identical to any other of the same age hangs, confused, in her hands. He looks small.
“He looks like his aunt too,” Varanis comments tolerantly. “He’s small, but he has time to grow, and I’ve learned in recent weeks that small can be very… effective on the field of battle.” A wry smile turns up the corners of her lips.
“I can get into places other people can’t. Do you have any taboos or geases about tattoos? The Wyter will want to welcome you.” Yes, that is a Berra change of subject. Instant, with the last one abandoned.
Varanis shakes her head, though her eyes widen briefly, as her gaze flicks from the baby to Berra. “No,” she says softly. “No taboos or geases.”
Little Haran, with all his clumpy hair and blue eyes and drool, gets carefully helped back into his sling, which takes Berra a while. “Do you have space over your navel? That’s best, but the tattoo is Clan-sized, so it needs a big area. It shows our tree. Can you just unwrap his leg? He can’t really move it yet.”
Varanis gently assists with the baby, not yet answering the question. As Haran settles, she gently tousles his hair, before saying “yes, I have no tattoos on my belly, as yet.” There’s an odd note to her voice, perhaps regret or resignation? But she smiles at Berra nonetheless and the smiles almost makes it to her eyes.
Haran is set, and Berra has apparently failed to notice the sadness. “We should talk to the tattooist, but he’s out at the Wyter, explaining our arrival. He’s the Spirit-Priest.” Haran’s hair slowly unwraps from the caress into the same clumps as before. He might well have Berra’s hairline when all of his hair has grown in. He almost certainly will have the same shape of brows, currently sketched delicately but likely to be flat and straight and strong. He doesn’t have the scar through the left one yet. Maybe those are not inherited from aunts.
Varanis nods. “I will want to spend some time in meditation,” she states. “There’s a shrine, or a small temple to Vinga, is there not? Perhaps I can spend the night there.”
“That sounds like a good idea. I’m probably going to be spending some of the night looking for a ghost. Nala’s going to be … well, I’d say helping me, but she’ll be looking for the ghost and I’ll be hanging around. But there might not be one, or it might be some kind of spirit that isn’t a ghost.” Haran has her right hand wrapped around his skull, protectively. He makes a dangerous, baby-burping noise, and Berra looks resigned.
Varanis looks up from the baby at the mention of a ghost. “This is for that land that you offered to take?” she asks. “Be careful, Berra. Let me know if I can help you.”
Berra nods. “I mostly offered to lay the ghost, to be honest,” she says. “But if I can’t, that should be down to me, so I’ll probably end up with it one way or another. Hauntings are not what I’m really good at, though. They’re mostly spirit things and Nala’s much stronger than I am with spirits. Mellia, too, but they might be slightly different sorts. I’ve only fought one. It’s how I got my sword.” She manages to get a layer of the wrapping she is using to hold Haran into the way, just as he soaks it with pre-loved milk. “Oh, is that better, is it?” she asks him. “Are we going to learn from this? No we are not!” Back to besotted aunt.
Varanis’ nose wrinkles slightly. It is beginning to seem like she’s not been up close to babies too often, in spite of her Esrolian upbringing. She nods absently, while staring at the baby and his doting aunt.
Berra is just using the body language of ‘I should leave’ when a new idea clearly passes over her features. “Oh. While I remember. The empty place that got burned out by the Lunars. The man who lived there might still be alive. He hasn’t been back in a year, but he’s probably not an outlaw any more. There might be a case over it.”
Haran helpfully supplies more milk. Generous. A gift-giver.
Varanis nods. “I’ll need as much information as I can get on the history of the case. And I need a better understanding of Sartarite laws and customs,” she says thoughtfully. “For instance, what role does the chief play in these kinds of cases? I don’t want him to feel usurped.”
Berra tries to look severe at Haran and fails after a moment too short to have a name. “You should talk to our Law-giver, then. The Lunars taxed him and then apparently lost the records, because they came around to tax him again, and he refused to pay. They declared him outlaw after he fled, and salted his fields, or blighted them. They’ve long-since recovered, but he… well, with the Lunars gone there’s a case that he owns the land, but the Prince of Sartar gave it away, so there’s a very good case he doesn’t. He hasn’t been back this year. But in this case, he and the owner would hie to the Chief together, and Dogva would ask Gis – that’s the law-rememberer – about precedents and the situation, and he’d ask the Clan Ring, and then he’d make a decision, and that would be binding. Breaking it would be case for a family feud.”
Haran has stopped pouring out milk, and is now spluttering.
Varanis nods. “Which hide is it?”
“Out of the palisade to the East, over the saddle, find the cluster of rocks that looks like Yinkin, and follow the way he’s facing. Through the copse and then you are at the edge of it.” Berra stares down at Haran, who is making little noises like he is about to start crying.
Varanis looks thoughtful. “We will need to keep that in mind when distributing the land. Thank you for that information.”
“No, little one. You can’t be hungry. Your problem is that you have eaten too much. You will make your mother thin, and then your father will not love her. Would you want that?” Berra got distracted. “I should help you burp, but you’re covered in milk already, and Yehna will want you back if she hears you, so maybe we should go hide and I will clean you and then try to get some more milk out of you, and then you will scream more, and then she can … I see. You have out-witted me. You’ll only drink more milk, won’t you? Hungry little thing…” Berra has found his nose and is rubbing it softly. Haran is surprised enough by this to stop crying. He has a nose!
“That will only keep him busy for a while,” Varanis observes. “And if he has leaked from the top end, he is likely to have leaked from the bottom one as well.”
“No, he hasn’t started squirming yet. He’ll go red, and I’ll have time to get him out of this and into the grass.” Berra smiles, and it’s not even her usual grin. It’s a full-bore assault on Happy Castle. “But I could go give him back to his mother, I suppose. She’ll let me see him again. I just don’t want to give him up. He has such tiny fingernails!”
Varanis peers at one of the flailing little hands. “Yes, he does,” she agrees with the seriousness of one humouring a person who may not be fully there.