Berra — Calming Influence
1627, Earth Season
Earth Season, towards the end of the first week. The assassination of a prisoner has caused a lot of anger. [[[s02:session-47|Session 47]]]
Spoilery for Xenofos.
“We need to go where no one will hear me yell,” Varanis says without preamble.
“Mhm.” Berra points along the road. “If you need that, you’re going to have to fly. We can go somewhere nobody can hear you talk.” Her voice is a little slow, too deep, a touch too determined.
“I’ll not waste magic that I might need later.” Varanis stalks down the road, her pace such that the shorter-limbed Humakti might need to jog to keep up.
Berra does indeed, breaking into an armoured run that she keeps up for a while before saying, “Slow. I need to guard you. And breathe.” That has broken the facade – beneath she is a little out of breath, and has emotions again.
Immediately, the Esrolian slows. “I’m sorry. I didn’t think.”
Berra takes a moment and then says, “I’m fucking angry too. But camps are loud. They probably can’t hear us out here and … And I don’t give a damn about the pickets right now.”
“She laid hands on you. And Xenofos.”
“Yeah. And some bastard walked into my camp and messed with the prisoners.” Berra’s stare out at the road is dark-eyed, glowering, pitiless.
“I thought he was going to hit you too and then I was going to have to kill him.” The rage has not abated, but Varanis is more coherent than she was a few minutes ago.
“He did hit me. It bounced off, but he went through me.” Berra might have meant to say more, but then she stops with the enormity of having admitted that to Varanis, and adds weakly, “He wasn’t after killing me.”
“He what?! I missed that!” The Vingan looks ready to go hunting for the Uroxi.
Berra says, “I could tell what was about to happen. So I stepped up. Because they were prisoners I’d … they were in the middle, so there were no guards around, and I didn’t have anyone who could get there in time.” She seems mostly angry about it too, pale-faced. “I’m gonna live with that for a while.”
“Stormbulls lack honour,” Varanis says, spitting on the ground. Suddenly, she remembers, “That son of a goat spit on you too!”
“I nearly punched him, but I needed to keep respect in the army and it would have come down to me stabbing him and I’m really pissed off but I’ll live.” A quiver runs through her, a shudder of hatred or anger or despair. Her jaw works for a moment, as she is unable to get the emotionless mask back on.
“And then Venna… she called me to task! Like I am a fucking foot soldier under her commander.”
She makes a garbled sound of rage.
“Maybe Xenofos has the right idea…” Berra takes a deep, ragged breath. “But we’ve got a thing to do. We gotta stay calm.”
“I still don’t understand why Xenofos called the charge in the first place. We were there to negotiate. Still… the guy was a Lunar and Chaos-tainted, so…” As she walks and growls and gesticulates angrily, Varanis has begun to speed up again. She notices and slows down.
“Fuck knows. He’s been really aggressive in the field lately. Pushy. Oh. He gets that way when he’s afraid.” Berra might just have managed to get back to business. At least, she has managed to supply a salient fact.
“Rajar almost died. And now he’s a child. And Venna accused me of breaking her Storm Bull. Argh! He’s mine. He’s mine and he’s not broken and I didn’t fucking do it.”
“Everyone got angry,” Berra says. “That’s why we need space. Time. Walking. We’ve got a … we’ve got a bit. We can calm down.”
“It’s too flat around here!”
“Yeah. Maybe after we can go visit Grizzly Peak.” Berra sounds tired, and then shakes her head. “I so fuckin’ wanna kill someone. But you know I went into her place to trigger that, right?”
Varanis sighs, deflating somewhat. “I wanted to.”
“I wanted to punch her so badly just then.”
Berra rolls out her shoulders, cracks her knuckles against each other. “We’ve got a job to do. A thing that’s important.”
“You’re right. And you were right to go in first. But I don’t have to like it.”
“Yeah. No. Also, I think I fucked up.” Berra swears more when under stress, and here she is, casually lower class.
“Xenofos gets aggressive when he’s scared. I think I pushed command on him too much. Too hard an’ fast. He can’t take it.”
Varanis chews her lip as she considers. “Maybe. But I think that fight was inevitable. If Xenofos hadn’t kicked it off, Rajar would have, as soon as he got close enough to get a sniff. At least this way, they had the element of surprise.”
Berra nods. “Yeah. But I …” She takes a slow breath, once more fails to get her emotions back under the mask, and lets it all out in a sigh. “Now I think I know he shouldn’t do that. I need to check with him if that’s what happened. But it could be. I think it is.” The pale look and the glower stay on her face.
“I see.” There’s a scowl. “He’s drinking too much.”
“That’s just lately. And I’m… I don’t know. Enough about him being aggressive, although I think he has more. He’s stopped having his fear keep him in. I… I think it might send him forwards and that would be bad. So we need to have him kept back, but without it …” Berra stops, and walks to the side of the road, and sits down there, staring towards Sartar. “Without it being obviously a punishment.” Tired again.
“We have time while he sobers up. Morale is going to be shaken. I shouldn’t have left them. I need to go back and make sure everyone is ok. Get them singing about the fight or some such thing.”
Varanis doesn’t much look like she wants to do that, but she has that expression of determined responsibility on her face again.
Berra stays where she is, obviously thinking. “Yeah. They’ll… I guess angry? Wouldn’t you be angry if you were a Vingan in that lot, and someone came in and killed a prisoner?”
There’s a snort, half laughter, half anger. “I am a Vingan in that lot. I am the Vingan in that lot and I’m enraged.”
Berra nods just a little. “Yeah. So that’s a thing to deal with as well. The Babeester Gor worshippers not so much, that’ll more be about how … how they related to honour themselves. Lot’f Orlanthi too. They’re going to be pissed off about the way people treat honour here.”
“We’re going to need to keep them in camp tonight. It’ll be too easy for people to pick fights.”
“Yeah. Find something for them to do. That isn’t going to bring other people around to pick fights either. Songs and stories. Or just stories. Quiet. Try to make them proud. And maybe we can get that bard to … no, sorry. Terrible idea.”
“We should head back. I’m far less likely to strike someone now and I want to reassure them. And reassure myself that they are safe, to be honest. Venna and her people would crush our little force with barely a blink.”
Berra stands up, and says, “Sure. But I’m going to be…” She searches for the word and comes up with, “Fighty. For a bit. I was going to go get into an argument with the supply chain here and maybe bring Rajar, and now neither of us should go. Rajar’s… well, Xenofos is drunk. Can you do that after we see the camp? I should not be around people I don’t know right now.” She seems fine, outwardly.
“What do we need?”
“They’re trying to give us less than a day’s food every day. We’re down to about three days if they don’t give us anything, but really, whatever we can get from them.” Berra sounds all business, but she has forgotten to start walking.
“Right. Ok.” Varanis hesitates, then asks, “Should I be keeping a guard with me when I’m out of our camp?”
Berra says, “If you’re going to keep people in, then don’t leave the… oh, that camp. Right. Take sensible people. Or take Rajar – he might be helpful as a Praxian that you’re looking after.” She frowns a bit. “I don’t think people will make trouble? So… will it help you?” The Humakti is still facing away from the road, although now she is looking down more than towards home.
“Fine. That will work. Or I can take Valseena or Suuraki, if they ever come up for air.” She turns her feet back to camp. “C’mon. Unless there’s anything else you want to discuss out here?”
Berra thinks for a bit. “Nah. Let’s go back.” She gets her feet in motion, walking back towards the White Bull’s lines.
Berra helps to calm Varanis down, but at the cost of keeping her own anger stoked