Cloven in Three

1628, Dark Season, Probably the end of Disorder Week


Lenta is at home when Varanis and Berra come back from worship at Humakt’s Temple. Session SA3.13.


It is after dawn when Berra and Varanis arrive back at the house. Yelm is picking out gold from the cliffs by the palace. A palanquin stops outside the house.

Varanis has been accompanying it on foot, so she is the one who steps forward to open the curtains and help the Wyter Priest out.

Berra is asleep inside, curled up around her iron sword like she does with Wind Tooth. Its case is empty beside her.

“Raven,” Varanis murmurs, “you’re supposed to be in the case. Now what?” After a moment’s consideration, she ties the curtain back then steps back so that she’ll be out of easy sword range should Berra wake the wrong way. Then she calls out, not loudly enough to wake the neighbours, but hopefully loudly enough to wake the Humakti, “Berra. Wake up.”

“Huh?” Berra makes a confused noise, and then a groan. “Huh?” She repeats the confusion.

“I’m sorry to wake you. I just wasn’t sure I could carry you and a naked Wyter sword. C’mon. Let’s get you into the house and tucked into bed.” Thane Vareena is there, ruining a perfectly good nap.

Berra looks up and nods. “Thank you, Thane Vareena,” she says, and sits up carefully. The sword stays where it is until she is sitting up, and then she reaches for the case. “Lord Raven should have a place to rest.”

“Other than the case? We’ll figure something out. After you’ve had a rest,” Varanis says soothingly. “Do you need an arm up or can you make it through the door on your own?”

“I can stand.” Berra does that, carefully, and then picks up the case. “I mean he needs some time now. It’s been a big night.”

“Surely he can rest in his case next to you? Isn’t that what he’s been doing?” Varanis hovers just a bit too close, as if worried Berra will stumble. When she catches herself at it, she takes a little step back, looking unsure. She thanks the palanquin porters, paying them a tip on top of the hiring fee that had been paid by the Temple. When that’s dealt with, she checks to see if Berra has actually made any progress towards the door herself.

Berra walks to the door, and then as it turns out the latch is still on, steps back to examine it.

There is distant silvery tingle from the other side of the door. Then the sound of latch being pulled aside and the door opens. Lenta peeks out and greets in Esrolian. ” Welcome home.”

Berra looks at Lenta for a moment, and then gives her a smile. “Lady Lenta. Hello.” There is something odd about the way she is looking.

“Berra’s gaze has no quickness to it, no interest. She has taken in that it is Lenta, and is still looking.”

Varanis greets the Ernaldan. “Thank you, Lenta. Berra needs to rest a while.”

The younger woman nods “Ofcourse, Varanis. Please come in, both of you. Yehna is in the kitchen, I think. And lady Mellia was already here when I arrived yesterday.” She makes room for them to enter the hall.1Scan or insight: she is prepared to support the shorter woman if she needs a hand

Berra walks in, carefully holding a plain wooden case like it has something of value in. It looks about long enough to contain a sword. The Humakti is currently not wearing one. She yawns, turning tiredly towards the room where she was last night, where Mellia and Venlar now sleep.

It does not look like she needs a hand. Her sister peeks out of the kitchen just to check on her, and looks a little worried and a little glad.

“Mellia and Venlar are sleeping there Berra.” Lenta says. “Would you like to go to your own room upstairs?”

Berra turns, and says, “That’s a good idea,” and that’s all the reaction there is. She just walks to the stairs.

“Mellia’s here?” Varanis’ face lights up. “Maybe you should stay up, Berra. Maybe she can help you. You could sit by the fire while you wait for her to wake.”

“Beware of Haran,” Yehna tells Berra. “I had to tell him he would guard you, not climb on you, so he might try to scare people away.” It seems to make no difference to the Humakti, but she does listen to what Varanis says. Placidly she makes for the hearth end of the room, by the kitchen. Her sword-case stays with her.

Lenta adds a bit of fuel to the hearth. “Do you want me to continue in the kitchen so you can be with your sister, Yehna.”

She is looking at Varanis even when talking to Yehna.

“I’ve got some bread I was about to work,” Yehna says. “My fingers are already sticky. But thank you. It’s good of you, my dear.”

“Why don’t I put Lord Raven to bed for you, Berra? If you hand me the case, I can take him upstairs. He’s allowed me to handle him before, you’ll remember.” Varanis is speaking carefully in Heortling, enunciating each word. Perhaps she is practicing her language skills.2Insight: She’s speaking as one does when someone may not fully understand the language or whose mind runs more slowly. It’s as though she is trying to persuade Berra to comply but isn’t sure the other woman will understand.

Berra tries sitting down, and winces, and straightens. Listlessly, she looks about, and then hands the case to Varanis. “Thank you, Thane Vareena,” she says formally. “Please help him somewhere quiet.”

Varanis sighs softly, whether in relief or exhaustion or more worry is unclear (perhaps even to her), then collects the case and turns towards the stairs.

“I’ll be back down shortly, Lenta. Would you mind asking Ore… I mean, Yehna, for hot drinks for us all?”

With her hands free, Berra can lean against the wall and use it to help her to sit. She looks like she is in pain, but once she sits she forgets about it, and stares to her right, at the fire.

Lenta crosses her arms and looks at the Humakti in silence for a while. Then she goes to the kitchen, squeezes Yehnas shoulder and tells her what Varanis asked for.

Upstairs, Varanis takes the case to Berra’s room, just barely remembering to clap outside the door and not simply barrel in.

Yehna is currently palms-down in the early stages of kneading bread. “The Thane can wait for me to be done, or you can make them,” she says. “Do you know your way around the kitchen?”

Upstairs there is a loud shout of joy. “Birra!” The door does not open, but a cautious voice says, “Yes?” It sounds like Berra and Yehna’s cousin.

“Um. Sorry to disturb. I was looking for a quiet place for Lord Raven to rest.”

“This is probably not quiet.” The cousin makes an odd ‘oof’ sound then, and Mehrim calls, “Haran, come here and have a treat? Aunty Rebalanta does not need you waking her.”

“I think I can manage mulled ale, sister. Even though I am no great cook.” Lenta says to Yehna, tying an apron over her multiclored skirt. “Eggs are in that basket, butter in that jar, correct?”

“Right. My room then.” Where the Grazelanders might be sleeping, but at least Finarvi doesn’t snore much. Varanis slips into her own room, doing her best not to disturb the sleeping Grazelanders camped out in there. She sets the sword’s case on the table and tiptoes back out again with a murmured “sleep well” to the room’s varied occupants.

“Yes, and yes,” Yehna replies. “The ale and the eggs are about as old as each other. Show me how you make it?”

Nobody, raven, horse-rider, or hawk, answers Varanis.

Yehna pours some ale to a round pot and lifts that to the tripod. She adds a bit honey, some spices whisks them in and then throws in couple of eggs and a chunk of butter. A few more rounds of stirring and she pours the mixture into cups. “You don’t have time to drink whole cup in mid of baking, but would you like to have a taste?”

Yehna takes the time while the pot is heating to mostly bring the bread together. “We do it completely differently,” she says. “I should show you later.” She has put one together for her sister, without eggs, but the details were just a blur.

Lenta tastes her concoction and offers the cup to Yehna. “What do you think?” Her voice sounds uncertain.

In the common room for Praxians without taste, Berra keeps staring at the fire.

“Clovey,” Yehna says, “But I like it.3Lenta hsa failed Craft (Cooking), in this case represented by half Manage Household. The texture is soft.” Maybe a little lumpier than it has to be, but not egg-drop soup, at least.

Lenta looks relieved. “I am more used to asking someone else do that.”

She takes three cups to a tray and leaves a fourth in the kitchen. Carefully she walks into Praxian room.

Yehna starts singing to the bread in a low voice to remind it that it was once wheat and shout try rising to the sun again.

By the fire she can still be heard, for the hearth extends into both rooms.

Varanis has rejoined Berra and is sitting by the fire. She looks up when Lenta enters.

Berra has not moved since she sat down, save to give Varanis a brief smile of welcome.

“She is still baking.” She smiles sheepishly at Varanis. “So you have to do with my cooking. But at least it is hot. Please take a cup while it is still hot, Berra.”

Berra says, “Thank you,” and reaches out for the cup marked with her sign. She sips, and if she thinks it tastes too much of cloves she does not mention it; Yehna used the same spice mix out of politeness.

Varanis hops up to take a cup for herself, so that Lenta has fewer to juggle.

Lenta puts the tray carefully on the low table, picks up the remaining cup and sits on one of the low stools wrapping her fingers around the cup.

Berra drinks in a way that, if it were the Mostali observing, would be called mechanical. She says nothing.

“How are you, Lenta? Did you get back last night?” Varanis asks.

“I am fine, Varanis. And yes. Yesterday evening. The festival at Clearwine was way longer than I thought when I went there.” She looks over her cup at Varanis with those big green eyes. “So I did what I was sent to do and tried to listen for any news…”4Insight: She sounds serious, perhaps mixed with relief. Not flirty, complaining or overly sentimental.

“Did you hear anything of interest?” the Vingan asks. “Anything you feel comfortable sharing?”

“Not sure. It became kind of obvious they do not much like Kallyr, some rumours of disharmony among Kallyr’s men and some bits and pieces of your travels.” Lenta looks at Berra and shudders a bit.

Berra is quietly drinking her too-clovey ale, without evidence of like or dislike.

“And what did people have to say about us?” Varanis presses.

“That you duelled in Duckpoint and you cut Berra down?” Lenta looks at Varanis with sadness “And then marched east with other Humakti. Past Clearwine, I thought then.”

Varanis nods. “It’s almost right. We duelled and I knocked her out. I’m not convinced I won, as I was badly injured in the process and we both needed healing. But it satisfied the demands of the High Sword and he loaned her the Humakti she needed.”

“I am sorry you had to do it.” Lenta looks at the fire “And then there was a word you and your band killed a vampire. Though on the road word was that Silor did it.”

Varanis’ expression is closed off, but she nods her acknowledgment of Lenta’s comment on the duel. “Silor helped us get out of the Marsh, but the vampire killing was Serala and a Humakti Sword Lord,” she explains, staying closer to a less emotional topic. “Again, the details are close.”

Berra sips at her drink, and transfers it to the other hand, resting her right.

“Are Finarvi and Serala well?” Lenta looks at her cup

“They seemed to be sleeping soundly when I put Lord Raven to bed. Speaking of which, Berra, Finarvi and Serala are guarding Lord Raven, sort of. They’ll wake if someone comes into the room. Mehrim and I decided your room wasn’t restful enough just now.”

Berra says, “Thank you. He needs to take in what happened tonight.”

“I heard you were wounded, Berra. How do you feel?” Lenta asks the Humakti.

“I am healing well, thank you, Lady Lenta,” Berra says. She gives a polite smile, but something inside is not really there. She looks worried rather than reassuring.

“May that be heard by Chalana Arroy and Arroin, Berra” Lenta smiles a bit “I am positive lady Mellia will make sure our lady Chalana will certainly hear of you and do her utmost to assist on that path.”

Berra nods. “Yes,” she says. “I need to remember to tell her everything.”

“Please do so, Berra.” Lenta looks at Varanis again. “And how are you feeling.”

Berra looks down at her cup. “I’m healing well?” she says, sounding a little worried.5Insight: Berra sounds worried she may have got the answer wrong.

The Vingan yawns. “Like I stayed up all night, did lots of fighting and feasting and singing, and then slew Yelm again.” To Berra, she says, “More slowly than I’d like. That’s why Mellia is here.”

Berra looks surprised, and then seems to work out that Lenta was not talking to her after all, and subsides. She finishes her drink.

“Should you two perhaps take a nap then? Or should that wait until Yehna’s bread is ready and you have had some breakfast?” She gazes upwards “My bed is empty and I suppose so is Xenofos’ one too.”

Berra considers rather than answering straight away.

“Not until I see Mellia,” Varanis says.

Berra politely hides a yawn.

Lenta looks at Varanis, then at Berra and then at Varanis again.

The Humakti just waits, like nothing else has occurred to her.

“Would you like a nap, Berra?” Lenta asks the shorter woman “Or maybe a few furs to spread on that bench if you want to wait for Mellia here?”

“I’m fine, thank you.” Berra says tentatively. She gives Lenta another of her worried smiles.

Lenta nods. She raises and picks up the empty cups. On her way to the kitchen she squeezes Varanis’ shoulder with her free hand.

Yehna is now mostly free of the bread, and washing her hands in a bowl of water. From here she must have been able to hear the talk, but Lenta still gets a smile.

Lenta puts the cups down. She looks towards the door and wipes something off her eye “I see what you meant last night.”

Yehna looks down at her fingernails, and the dough. “Sometimes Heroquests fade,” she says. “And we can find a way to help her. She’ll wake up again, I’m sure.”

“From your mouth to mother-Ernalda’s ear.”

Yehna nods her head. “Now, Haran is about to be up, and that means most of the house will be. Would you like to go out to the market while he is running around?” Back to pragmatism.

“I can do that sister. At some point I need to go to the temple, but I do not think there is hurry.”

  • 1
    Scan or insight: she is prepared to support the shorter woman if she needs a hand
  • 2
    Insight: She’s speaking as one does when someone may not fully understand the language or whose mind runs more slowly. It’s as though she is trying to persuade Berra to comply but isn’t sure the other woman will understand.
  • 3
    Lenta hsa failed Craft (Cooking), in this case represented by half Manage Household.
  • 4
    Insight: She sounds serious, perhaps mixed with relief. Not flirty, complaining or overly sentimental.
  • 5
    Insight: Berra sounds worried she may have got the answer wrong.