Berra — Cannon Detachment
1627, Earth Season
Late in Earth Season. Berra returns to her Temple after a successful campaign. [[[s02:session-54|Session 54]]]
Berra Jarang’s Daughter: Berra rides in, carefully deals with her bison, checks if the High Sword is in and sends a message to tell him she is back, pauses to consider if he already knows, then pads off to deal with the duck. She has a very important thing to say.
“I SAW THE CANNON FIRE!”
And then questions. Badly held in. Blurted out.
“Can different people have the same dream?”
“If I dream of a sword but I die before it’s made for me, was the dream a lie?”
“Can you be married and still understand Separation?”
“What does it mean when a High Sword’s wearing a plain robe?”
1) Not without assithtenss from an outside influenth.
2) No. But Humaktd doesz not know Time.
3) Yeth, but it’ss harder. I couldn’t do it.
4) It meanss he’sz telling you that he doesn’t need armour.
Did you know there’s a cat in the Temple?
1) Our temple? I think I’ve sseen one. Don’t know if it’ts the same. But Humaktd likes Cats.
“It’s long-haired and sort of pretty. So I guess you don’t know WHY there’s a cat in the Temple?”
… “Have you ever had anyone you wanted to marry?”
“There wasn’t much food up North, but this is some chilli jerky from Venna. Is it true that Ducks don’t get burned by it?”
3) No. But thanks.
“Um, was that no but thanks to the chilli thing because otherwise this got weird.”
1) Yesz. Thankzs for bringing it. It still burns usz. But nicely!
A nodnodnod from Berra. “It’s great. Do you know why Sword Graria moved my things to the Senior Initiates Barracks?” Beatpause. “Um, not that she moved them herself. Probably. But they got moved.”
There’s an amused look. 1) You don’t consider yourself ssenior?
“Um…” Pause. “I didn’t. But I like moving around the other barracks. I get different people to talk to.”
1) Good. Remember, you’re not JUSZT my dagger, but alsso the High Swordth favourite alynxpaw. And you’ve led a regiment to victory. And stood up to fight a High Sword.
“Uh, you heard about that already? … wait, the High Sword has a favourite anything? That’s hard to think about.”
1) Or to be fair, the one people know about.
“Oh, that’s better. Am I still allowed to move around in that room? I wasn’t told not to, so I guess so.”
1) Asz long as you do not dithturb other Initiates.
“Um, is that the same rule as if I don’t move? Because some people don’t like being talked to.”
“How do you manage being in a room on your own? How do you manage being in the SAME room by yourself? You’ve got more than one room. Does that help?”
1) I listen to mysself.
Consideration. “What do you say?”
1) A variety of thingth.
“… Do you think the Household of Death still exists?”
He shakes his head. 1) No. But….
“I called on it when I was in the Sword Trance. It was… you know how it is when you… I don’t think I could have done it if it didn’t make sense.”
He whistles. Or at least as close as his beak can manage.
“So anyhow, I think I probably need to tell the High Sword that. And some other things. Did he go to the Palace this morning, do you know?”
The Duck nods.
Berra stares for a moment. “Have you ever seen the cannon fire?”
He nods, once again, 1) Yesz. Ontce. It’s awessome. Like the Crater Makerrs.
Berra grins. “Yes. The dwarf wouldn’t let me touch it. And I heard a sound so loud that my feet went deaf.” Beat-pause. “The crater-makers?”
He nods solemnly. 1) Lunar magicianth. They call lumps of rock to fall down from the Red Moon.
“I heard of them. You’ve seen them?” Berra can do very wide eyes, and now she turns awe up to 11.
He nods, 1) They had them at Whitewall.
Berra looks down, thoughtfully. “Yeah. I missed you.”
There is an impish air. 1) You need to work on detachment, then!
He reaches up to pat her shoulder.
“One day I won’t, but hopefully that won’t be because I’m dead.” Berra allows herself to be patted. “I should go. If I don’t get a bed that I want in the barracks, I want to have time to sling a hammock. There are some good rafters there1Later, Berra is discovered asleep 4m in the air..”
1) Off you go
The duck sounds indulgent.
Berra sleeps for much of her first evening back, and then takes time to greet people, smooth the kitchen staff into feeding her, and settles down to wait for Eril to be pleased to see her, or at least to want her gone from his corridor. As always she has the spear shaft with her, so he can poke her from a distance, although she is also wearing the snake bracelet, and thus likely to wake simply to his approach.
His step comes quietly, but briskly.
Berra looks up, shifting as if ready to stand, but not committing to it. Either this is because she is still mostly asleep, or she wants to make no sudden movements near the High Sword.
“You return.” The tone is dry.
“I’d hate to disappoint you by dying,” Berra replies. It sounds like she really means it – if it’s sarcasm, she has achieved a high level before breakfast.
“Good. I am not done with you yet.”
“You want the battle report or the rest?” Berra asks, attempting a full-on flip to her feet, tangling herself in her hide, and face-planting. “OOaaaw…. s’cuse me.”2Berra does a lot of acrobatic moves, for which I roll DEX and sometimes STR. Fumbled DEX in front of the High Sword.
He merely nods, as if expecting no less. “Both, naturally, once you have finished showing your dedication to Eurmal.”
There is a brief pause during which Berra manages to not speak, at what might be some cost to herself, and then she stands and bows briefly, and waits for him to lead on.
He leads into his study, and pours a little small ale, and after a pause another for Berra, which he offers. “Report then, oh Dagger of D’Val.”
Berra takes a polite sip, and launches into the battle report first, including the initial briefing, up to the point where the greenery flag was waved. Despite her earlier flirtation with the god of disorder, she does this with the precision of a leader, keeping to the point.3Special on Battle. At the end she asks, “Any questions, Lord?”4Transcript of Report: [[[eril:0240-transcript-of-battle-report-by-initiate-berra|Transcript of Report]]]
He ponders, noting, “They presumably had a different ruse, for if yours failed.”
“Yeah. So, now personal notes on that. Khan Venna has no damned tact. She made sure my troops knew right in the middle of then coming to grips with being alive what it was they’d been. I…” Berra casts for the words. “Mentioned my displeasure.”
He…. smiles? Or at least, lifts the corners of his mouth and displays teeth. “Yes. I understand there was a dispute with Thane Vareena. These barbarians cannot hold their emotions in check.” It is unclear whether he refers to Varanis, or more likely, Venna.
“Yeah, well. Everyone’s still breathing and Tarsh isn’t on fire, but I’m going to recommend keeping them apart. Those two alynxes in one sack would be murder pretty soon. Although… that leads to the first thing that I’ve got to apologise for. I let a man under my protection be assassinated. I couldn’t work out what to do, in a way that would stop a Storm Bull, and not lead to the whole camp getting massacred.”
“Go on? Let me hear the circumstances, and then I shall rule.”
Berra takes a breath, and then says, “The Esrolian encampment was embedded in the White Bull’s army. Rajar and cavalry scouts under Xenofos had taken captives. Rajar was unconscious – magic of some kind. Lunar, probably, but nobody really put that together. And they brought in their prisoners to the camp. I was not far away when the god told me an assassination was attempted, and a moment later I saw a Storm Bull who didn’t belong in the camp. I got in his way, but I didn’t want to kill him – it was generally low tension, but he was a White Bull. So I didn’t draw. And he killed one of the prisoners and walked away. I… I looked to Varanis for permission to follow, instead of following.”
The brow lifts, thinly, waiting.
“I was so angry I couldn’t actually think – like, I couldn’t believe he had done that and didn’t react because I was trying not to just lose it right then. But he did kill someone. And afterwards King Argrath said I’d be allowed to fight him, and stuff, but that’s not the important bit. By then, I’d already not fought him.”
Berra shrugs. “So, I did tell him that if he didn’t let me fight the man properly I’d just use the fixed-up kind-o- duel he wanted to find out who it was. But then I asked around after the taking of the city and he didn’t live through that.” She seems to think that is enough to judge her.
“A feud then? These barbarians feel those intensely. Or some other motive?”
“Oh, right… yeah. Storm Bull. The Lunar was Chaotic.” Berra looks down, halfway to blushing with embarrassment. Red-eared.
“Ah, I see, Berra Jarangsdottir, valiant protector of Chaos?” His hands steeple, “Not a use name I should have anticipated.”
“Humakt told me it was assassination,” Berra says, moving from embarrassment to determination without effort. “And I’ll listen to him, and to you, more than anyone else who isn’t in the cult.”
“Very well, so you tell me you have conflicting duties between Cults. Yours to keep your word, and that of the Urox to slay Chaos. What then, was the mistake here?”
“That I didn’t kill him. I didn’t know why – I should have protected my prisoner.” She stands easier now, still holding her ale, and remembers to take another sip.
He lifts one pale, long fingered hand. “Ah… that was a mistake. Although the practical element of not then being killed by Argraths people might have been fraught. No, no, what was the mistake?”
Berra thinks for a few moments. “I made it possible for that to happen. He should have been an impossible target.” There’s a brief pause. “I could have handed him over at the edge of camp – that would have avoided it completely. But I did bring about the way it went down.”
“You did. You gave quarter to Chaos.” His lips twitch slightly, “A salutary lesson. Oaths to Chaos MAY be kept, if you wish, but they are not absolutely binding, because Chaos does not keep its oaths in return, and in any case they should not be given.”
Berra bows her head. “Thank you, Lord. I am sorry. The fault was mine.”
“A fault, certainly. THE fault, no. Do not claim too much on yourself, as you should not absolve yourself entirely either. You are neither the centre of the world, nor unimportant.”
That gets Berra thinking about her drink, for a moment, as far as most people would be able to tell. “Right. So. Does the Household of Death still exist?” On to the next subject then…
Berra nods. “In that case, Lord Gallem now knows it does. When I was in the holy trance, fighting him, I called on him to surrender in its name. I’d been wondering if it did, and when I was closer to Humakt it felt right.”
“Or suspects. But I believe he already did. Yes. He has some insights.”
“Yeah. So I think he wants to be one of your people. When the wall broke, he fell and I didn’t. So as he was getting up there was a moment to tell him again to surrender, and he told me… ‘you surrender, and tell Lord Eril how brave I am’.” Berra nods slightly, like that makes more sense now.
There is a very dry chuckle. “Ah, I see. Perhaps next year I will have you carry a message to him.”
Berra bows her head. “I guess I can’t be a member of the Household – I… am I? Or was I speaking for you? Did I join when I found out what you were?” Beat-pause. “Are.”
“You are not. Yet.”
“Right. So a question about that. Harsaltar. Was he a werewolf?” His parentage made him part of the Telmori, as well as the Sartar Royal House, but it does not seem like that is all of Berra’s question.
“That is not for me to say.”
That gets him a long, searching look. There’s some judging going on behind Berra’s eyes too, but she does not push it.5Harsaltar may have been touched by Chaos, and Berra is unsure about how Eril would take that if she asked. “In that case, nothing more about the battle, or you. Just that it was Venna who broke the news to me and Varanis – and Koraki – about Koraki being King of Alda Chur. That didn’t come from us, and as far as I can tell, not from Koraki either.”
“An unwilling king. An interesting factor. His wanderings had not escaped me.”
“Uh… Venna said that if he really didn’t like it he could be incompetent enough to get unseated. I think. I can’t remember the words, quite. I was wondering if you’d… no, if anyone was sending him to look after us, it was Tennebris. Or him himself.”
“Or the God.” He casually tosses this in, “His wanderings have appeared random, but I should very much be surprised if they were. But Orlanth wandered widely, and movement is in all of their souls.”
“Or he got linked to us early on. In the Heroquest.” Berra probably does not realise that might be the same thing. “In that case, I’ve just got to appeal to the temple for training, and I’m intending to sacrifice more of my spirit to you.” Polite informational things now.
He nods, as if it were nothing. “Of course.”
Berra finishes off her drink. “Anything more, Lord?”
“No, thank you. You may go. Oh, and pray, do give my regards to the Thane. Enquire whether she has considered her position in the case of neither proxy marriages being fertile, and whether she should be being more careful, and less obviously goadable.”
Berra bows, and starts off with obeying him directly. “Yeah, will do,” but then she goes on. “Although she knows. She’s got to be the one to do that – she’s getting better at it, but… the movement in their souls thing. She’s got to be an Orlanthi without being a bad one, and she’s Air growing from Earth. So… I probably shouldn’t tell her. She’ll have thought about it too much already. If you want her to think about it, she already is, and if you want her to act on it, you should give her advice yourself. That way, she’ll know she’s being taken seriously.”
“I see. Thank you for your….. insight. I shall ponder this. Perhaps I shall speak when she comes to the Palace.”
Berra bows. “Thank you for your time, Lord.” Her face shows that she is running down an internal check-list, or in her case saga, and she reaches the end of it without finding anything else she needs to mention.
Berra brims over with questions for D’Val, and reports to Lord Eril