Building a Wall

1628, Fire Season, Fertility Week


Context

While spending some time at Dwarf Mine, Varanis and Berra talk to T’Dwarf about walling off Blue Tree. During Session 11 (Deeper Underground)

Events

Berra smells of clean, dry Humakti, when she comes to talk about fortifications with the Dwarf.  Her hair is soft and fluffy.

Varanis has apparently decided that Irillo is probably safe here and finally eased her relentless vigilance. It looks like she’s even taken the opportunity to clean up again and if there were crocodiles, no one says anything about it.

Berra eases up and down on the balls of her feet, twists her fingers together behind her back, stretches out her shoulders like she wants action but knows it is not coming.  She is as well-behaved as she can be, for someone currently under the control of the Rune of Movement.

Varanis grins at her friend. “You smell differently. I didn’t smell you before I came around the corner.”

“Just because I know how to clean up in the field and you don’t,” Berra smiles, “Doesn’t mean your nose is better than mine.  It’s just higher.”

“And sometimes that puts you directly under mine,” Varanis teases. She glances around. “This place is so strange, but somehow I don’t feel threatened by it. I must be mellowing. Or there’s something in the water,” she says. It’s probably a joke.

“It’s comforting knowing he could wipe us out and doesn’t want to,” Berra says, “And isn’t likely to change.”

“Do you suppose he’ll see us soon?” Varanis asks Berra.

The Dwarf does take a little while to be available, but when he does, he’s in a small…. study, perhaps? He has a mug of something hot and steaming in his hand, with a scent which is unfamiliar

Berra grins as they are allowed in.  “Still faster than I’m used to.”  She bows briefly to the Dwarf, smartly enough to show respect.

Varanis greets him with the courtesy of a noble to a foreign ruler. At least, that’s how it would be if they were in Nochet.

He greets you with a slurp. “Aye. What can I do for thee, lasses?”

Berra gives Varanis a glance, seeing if she is going to do the talking.

“Our village lies in a vulnerable area and my child’s presence there may draw unwanted attention,” Varanis says without dissembling. “There are earthworks, but I was hoping for something more substantial.” After a brief hesitation, she adds, “King Kallyr announced that the child was her heir. I’m not sure how things work in your kingdom, so I don’t know if there are direct comparisons. It marks the child as one who might be considered to rule Sartar one day, but she is too young to learn to protect herself.”

Berra manages not to say something.

“It’s different.” A beat. “So, you’re wanting what? Walls? Ravellins?  Tunnels?”

Berra asks, “Can I draw on your floor?  Or you got a map I can put things on?”

Varanis nods in Berra’s direction. “She knows the layout of the land remarkably well. The familiarity of both a local and a scout.”

Berra takes a pouch off her belt, and opens it, but waits for permission to create things.

He nods, and turns a desk, which is held at a slope with a large sheet of paper on it, and gleaming wood, bronze and steel rulers attached.

Berra looks at it for a moment and says, “Alright, the top’s north.  What’s this parchment?  An’ what’s a ravuhlin?”  She draws a charcoal representation of the landscape exactly as a scout should – quick, efficient, with all the detail needed.  The river, cliffs, village, road are all marked, with the Plant Rune for forests and the Earth Rune for farmlands.1Critical on Battle.  Berra’s come prepared for this, it seems.

Varanis gently touches the steel, marvelling at it. “Is that… iron?” she asks.

Berra gives the marvel no more than a glance – mapping now!

He quirks a faint smile. “Something of the sort, Lass.” And he slides it over, to let him free the paper, and starts drawing. Map style. Side on. A thing of mechanisms and gears scrolling over the worksurface. Not art, but art as made by a mechanic.

Berra stops what she is doing to watch.  “Alright, I never knew Stasis could make such sure Movement,” she says after a short time.  “But I would quite like to mark on some of the bits I haven’t done yet?”

It is clear that the little Humakti is fascinated.  Anyone who can read her will be able to pick up she really wants to watch the Dwarf and this is amazing, but she has a duty to get to.

While Varanis looks like she has more questions, she stays out of the way so Berra can do her work.

Berra hovers, her stick of charcoal moving in her fingers as she stands, exact opposite to the careful construction methods of the Dwarf.  She waits to be allowed her turn.

He pauses, moving a little away, “Aye. But if you can map in what y’were thinking of?”

“Sure.  You’ve got two main problems.  One’s small.  Up here, where you’d want a watch tower, is forbidden to people not of my clan, and you can’t overlook it.  The other is that it’s a Peace Clan.  If we muster for war, the harvest fails us, and some of the things you’d want to build, they’d be like mustering.  So it’s got to fit with a simple fyrd structure.”  Berra fills in the last few details then looks for a way to change the angle of the desk.  “Can we prop this up on something?  Normally I’d put counters on now, so we don’t make mess.  But if we build outworks in preparation, we’ll anger Ernalda.  Same if we disturb the Earth too much – if it looks like war, it probably is.”

“Angering Ernalda is not an option,” Varanis notes. “My people live on land that needs her blessings as much as possible.”

He rubs his chin. Sketches in walls behind the mounds. Then he draws the lateral side. From outside, they aren’t visible.

“S’good,” Berra says.  “I was thinking that you’d want to leave room for higher walls for when things kick off more in a few years.  Depth-strength.  But mostly the threat isn’t an army.  Yet.  It’s assassins.  I want her house to be built by you.”

Varanis bristles at the mention of assassins, but she takes a calming breath.

He rubs his chin, “I don’t have much time to spend on this. A stronghouse would be less work.”

“Well, doesn’t have to be you personally.  But yeah.  Stone walls are good but defending against the right thing is better.”  Berra puts in more charcoal marks.  “Her house is here, and a tunnel that leads into the well or out somewhere good, maybe?  Depends a bit what’s under there already.”

He grunts, “No it doesn’t.”

Berra thinks, but only briefly.  “Oh yeah, right.  Sorry.  But a plan for a wall, and a strong house that can protect her and the kid, that’s probably ideal.  And maybe in the next few years we’ll have to have more, but that’s tomorrow’s problem.”

“Aye, well, that won’t be done under t’same agreement.”

“Yeah, I got that.  But this agreement includes room for expansion.”  She runs her finger along the ground behind the earthworks, and behind the entrenched wall he has sketched in.

He nods, “Done.”

Varanis blinks. “That was surprisingly quick.”

“The details are agreed. What more to say?”

Varanis bows. “It is refreshing.”

He grunts again, and finishes the designs. “I’ll sort things. Might be up to a year.”

Berra nods.  “Price?”  She, like the Dwarf, apparently, moves with the times.

“Already covered.”

“Who by?”  Berra does not know how to use grammar.

“King Kallyr”

Berra nods, takes a moment to think through possible clients, possible reasons for delays, and possible ways of not showing what she is thinking so obviously, and gives Varanis a glance.  “Anything else?”

Varanis looks like she might say something, then shakes her head. “Thank you,” she says instead. With that, she takes her leave of the king.

Berra hangs around a moment more, gesturing Varanis out.  Then she says quietly, “Listen, we don’t know much about the Bat.  If you can put our Scribe in the way of information, that’d be good.  That I can pay cash for.  If you got it.”  A brief pause as she works out the possible insult.  “If it’s available.”