Berra — Climbing Roses
1627, Fire Season, Illusion Week
Fire Season, Illusion Week, Water Day. [[[s02:session-44|Session 44]]]
(Contains only timing spoilers.)
It is a little before noon when Berra finally catches up with Suuraki. She rode out to see the Esrolians on Wildday. Now is Waterday. She looks sweaty and annoyed and has a bag slung over her shoulder. She looks like there has been a lot of walking in the morning, and her bison is conspicuously absent.
Suuraki raises a hand in greeting. “Did something happen to your mount?”
Valseena looks concerned at the missing bison “Are you okay?”
Berra looks confused. “I didn’t bring her?” A moment later she adds, “It’s hard to move around the city as fast if you have a mount. Walls get in the way.”
Valseena gets a big grin, and a nod, and a, “Yeah, thanks,” in passable tradetalk.
Valseena appears to ponder this and nods sagely.
“How went the meeting with Varanis’ warband?” Suuraki inquires.
Berra says, carefully, “I met them, and they are not yet her war band, although they might be by now. They are…” She considers for a moment. “Raidable.”1Both fail an Insight(Human).
Valseena says staunchly, “Varanis deserves more capable support.”
Suuraki is more prosaic. “Well, everything is, if you bring enough raiders… Perhaps you should lead them on a raid to bake them into harder clay.”
“There are two hundred of them. They were camped in one spot, and they had under a handful of guards. I would be with them now, only I got called back to answer a thing about law.” Berra sighs. “But I can’t raid with them – the only people to raid would be Praxians, and it would go Very Badly.” Then she perks up. “Hey, Valseena! Want to check on a bison for me?”
Valseena nods with enthusiasm – you suspect she is keen to be of some practical help and with nobody wounded this is the next best thing
Berra perks up even more. Her emotions seem to be fast things, following on from each other swiftly. “Good. It’s my – He’s my – Sword Lord’s.”
“And where is he?” Valseena asks.
“At the Temple. I was hoping to catch you, although I came here to ask Suuraki a favour too.”
Suuraki pauses, thinking. “Twice a double-handful of double handfuls of men? They must have many herdbeasts with them if they are not raiding.”
“We could all walk to the temple together and you could ask the favour on the way?” Valseena says, smiling at Suuraki and squeezing his hand
Berra pulls a handful of coins from a pouch, and shows the silver and copper pieces. “Each clack is a warrior.” She then pulls out a gold wheel from the rest. Apparently she is rich. “Double-file of ten lunars.” Two-hundred clacks to the wheel. “That many.” Already she is rocking her weight back, ready to move off.
Valseena looks impressed. “Did you win at dice?”
“They should be careful the locals do not become jealous of their herds. I am told the year here has been hard.” Suuraki is a Praxian above all. “So, what of this favour then?”
“I sold jewellery,” Berra replies. “Gold I did not need.” Suuraki gets a long look from her. “They don’t have herds. They are like children. They don’t have enough to live on. I…. need the use of your axe. Probably.” The change of subject seems to be no problem to her.
“The axe is for use. What do you need?”
Valseena looks a little wistful at the thought of jewellery. But she pulls herself out of it.
“I need to learn to swim.” Berra looks a bit confused, but non-sequiturs her way onwards. “If you want, I can show you the way across the walls, or we can go a way you can ride.”
Valseena gives a little side glance to Suuraki.
Suuraki just blinks
“The way across the walls sounds fun.” Valseena trying to be cheery.
“Swimming is… I can swim, a little. Just enough to avoid drowning. The river here is harsh.” Suuraki now has his llama back under him, as it were. “I would not trust my life to it. Is there a small lake nearby?”
Valseena shudders a bit at the mention of swimming. Then staples her happy face back on
“Yeah. So, there are a few rivers, and my Lord says I should have someone there to pull me out if I start drowning. We’ll start by the market and then we can get onto the roofs from there.” Berra subject-bounces as happily as she always does.
“Mostly I trust swift-strider here. Other than the Zola Fel or the flash floods there is little call to swim in Prax.”
“You can ride if you want, but we’ll be higher than you sometimes,” Berra warns Suuraki.
“We should bring swift-strider. A better swimmer than any of us,” he replies, then adds, “Do you know if Varanis has swum in this river?”
Valseena looks suitably alarmed
“She hasn’t,” Berra replies, confidently.
It takes a few minutes for Berra to walk across to the market, and as she does she asks Valseena, “Do you like climbing, and can you jump?”
“Yes – I can climb and jump reasonably well.”
Berra grins. “Good. Hitch up any clothes you don’t want to catch, and we’ll take some interesting routes. Suuraki’ll be able to see us.” She points to a wall about six feet tall, on the other side of the market. “You know how to go up one of those?”
Valseena grins and nods. “I think so.”
Berra shakes out her shoulders, stares at the wall, and then breaks into a run, going for it, and hitting it with a foot to drive herself upward. She gets her hands to the top and pulls herself up in one fluid motion. “Don’t fall forward,” she yells over her shoulder, balanced there.
Valseena scrapes up behind you but less elegantly
Suuraki climbs up into his saddle and wheels his llama round.
Berra points the way to the Temple. “See? If you just think of the walls as ways to go, it’s easy. Suuraki, uphill from here and then turn when… alright, you can see the Sun Dome already. Just track us.”
Suuraki nods and nudges his llama into a walk.
Berra takes a few moments to work out a path. “Wanna go first?” she asks Valseena. “Nobody’s going to complain we’re cutting across, as long as we don’t fall into anywhere.”
“Hmmm. I think after you.” Valseena smiles ruefully, still annoyed at her scraping up the wall.
Berra walks, mostly. Sometimes she runs, but never too fast. The path is mostly along gutterings between tall roofs, although there are flat parts and thin walls. Nothing is particularly challenging. Then she pauses, looking at the big Temple where she is a member. Its long cross-shaped build is visible from this height, the courtyard that forms a scabbard around the blade being less obtrusive.2Insight for Valseena: Berra is making herself ready to be a member of the Temple again, breathing right. She is suddenly not the cheery person who was padding along roofs and waving to people below – she changes, just looking at what she should be.
Valseena follows, focused, concentrating on the task at hand. 3Berra gets the feeling something is troubling Valseena.
Berra has made sure Suuraki is nearby, but not tried to herd him – the Death Temple is not hard to find, after all.
Suuraki walks his llama up to the area before the temple gates and dismounts.
Outside the gates, a couple of Humakti give Suuraki a professional eyeballing.
Berra gives Valseena a look as she gets ready to go down the wall. “You alright?” she asks.
One of the guards – the redheaded one with rather more tattoos than the other – gives Suuraki a tiny nod.
Valseena smiles tightly (but it doesn’t quite reach her eyes) – “fine. A stroll round the camp perimeter.”4Prax equivalent of a walk in the park.
Suuraki settles in to wait. Praxian hunters are good at waiting.
“Uhuh.” Berra accepts that, and swarms down the wall. It is only about eight feet tall, and has several bits of wood sticking out up to half a handspan – a veritable ladder!
Valseena comes down after her, rather slower and nearly missing one of the bits of wood. She gets a splinter and winces but doesn’t curse.
That, Berra does not seem to see. She just asks, “Good?” and pauses in getting over to the gate.
Meanwhile, over BY the gate, the guards have stopped eyeballing Suuraki, and are also waiting. Death is famously good at that.
Valseena attempts to get the splinter out of her palm. “Yes. Fine.”
“You might want to suck that. Or just ignore it and see how it settles, but sucking out is good if it’s fresh in.” Berra bounces on her feet. “I’m not sure you’ve met Bithon. He’s Lord D’Val’s bison.”
Valseena is using a more pressure on either side technique. She draws the splinter and throws it aside with more energy than required. “Great name for a bison,” she smiles
“My Lord described it and named it,” Berra says, and then she goes from bouncing to walking calmly, and by the time she is at the gates, she can lift a hand to the guards there, tell them, “My guests,” and just walk in. She looks every inch the murderous little warrior, despite her lack of armour.
Valseena follows. Suuraki walks in after, leading the llama.5Neither can tell much from a Battle roll. It’s just a Regiment inside a wall.
Berra asks a favour of Suuraki and drags Valseena over a roof. Valseena is game