Berra — Coming Down
1627, Earth Season
Late Earth Season, afternoon of day 2 at the Blue Tree Tula. [[[s02:session-54|Session 54]]]
The voices of the two healers and the Malani who guard them are snatched away by the wind as they descend. Varanis sits on a large rock, her back to Berra, as she watches the others leave. She is silent. In the distance, across the river, the rain advances steadily.
After a while, not long after she has unsheathed her dagger, Berra comes down. She still looks grey, skin pinched around the eyes. “I should go find Wind Tooth,” she says, her voice a little low to be conversational.
Varanis lifts the scabbards from her lap to offer the blades hilt-first to the Humakti. “She needed her hands free to climb down.”
“Huh? Oh.” Berra takes just the one. “It should be fine. The dagger didn’t break.” She kneels on the path, holds the scabbard in her left hand, and draws with her right. Wind Tooth trembles a little in her grasp, then dips, but does not touch the ground. Berra just stares at her sword for a few long moments.
“Humakti secrets?” Varanis asks.
“I nearly ate vegetables,” Berra replies. “I didn’t realise. But my sword isn’t breaking. I’m lucky.” The last words are clipped and businesslike, almost chirpy, and at odds with how she still looks.
There’s a nod, then, “You’re ok to climb down then? There’s rain coming in and I think Mellia wants to yell at me some.”
“It’s just downhill. We can walk it.” Berra sheathes her sword and stands. She is fine again, just like that, a tiny smile lurking for a moment.
“Can you arm me with some foreknowledge, Berra? Why was everyone here? Why is Mellia mad at me? And how, by Ernalda’s green fields, did you almost eat vegetables at the top of the peak? It’s not the day for a picnic.” Now that the crisis seems to have passed, Varanis lets her concern get washed away by the confusion that’s been with her since she finished her climb.
“You we’re climbing on a cliff that kills people,” Berra replies. “Nobody knew if you’d fallen.” Her voice is gentle, maybe a little tired, but definitely caring.1Varanis fumbles Insight (Human) as rolled by Berra.
The Vingan blinks. “I’ve climbed worse without people coming hunting. I’m good at climbing and sometimes I just need to do it. This morning, it was needed.” She glances at the oncoming rain. “I didn’t get as far as I’d like. I saw the rain coming in and decided it had to wait for a better time. I know what I’m doing, Berra.” There’s a frustrated, defensive edge to her voice.
Berra looks back at Varanis, and says quietly, “I don’t know where my father went into the river. Please don’t tell me you were fine. Nobody knew that.” The wind makes it hard to hear.
Varanis blanches. “I didn’t know. I’m sorry.” After a moment, she adds, “It probably doesn’t help my case that I didn’t intend for anyone to know what I was about, does it? No one was meant to worry. I just needed some time.” She shivers then, as the wind gusts through her damp clothing. “Come. Let’s go back down. We’ll get you some hot perry and I’ll let Mellia yell at me.”
“Mhm.” Berra buckles on Wind Tooth without hurry or delay, just as she always does, and reaches out her hand for the other. “You go first.”
After handing over the other sword, Varanis takes a moment to try to bind her hair back out of her face again. The plaits have come partially undone and Orlanth is making a right mess of them. She winces as she snags some of the hair caught in her forehead. Once she is satisfied that she can see again, she turns to look at the path down.
By that point, Berra has both swords back on, and she has set off down the path, holding herself carefully against the weather.2Berra cannot even feel the weather. As Varanis notes, she is in a cloak from Maalira. However, Varanis’ fumble makes it seem like she is happier than she is.
“You’re really ok?” Varanis asks, picking her way down the path.
“No,” Berra says with a growl, “But I will be.”
“You’ll speak to Maalira when we return? She’s terrified that she has caused you lasting harm. I take it she gave you the vegetables? You still haven’t explained that part.” There’s a little shower of loose rock as Varanis takes a short, controlled slide down a steep section.
“Yes. Please don’t say anything else.” Berra is walking easily down the path now, hopping over the steeper sections like it is a child’s game.
The look Varanis directs at Berra is the same look that you see on a thwarted alynx. It’s a blend of offence and determination. “But…” she begins.
“I’m probably going to punch someone if you don’t, and it might be you and it might be the rock.” Berra sticks to the path, mostly, save when vaulting over rocks is faster. She is getting ahead.[[/footnote]]Critical climb.[[/footnote]]
“Would it make you feel better?” Varanis asks, pushing her luck. “You can punch me if you need to. Mind you, I might punch back.”3Passed Air, failed Harmony.
Berra ignores that, sliding down the side of the rock back onto the path, and then letting her momentum carry her on down.4Berra repeatedly fails Air or passes something that lets her remain calm despite strong feelings.
“Berra!” Varanis picks up speed, so that she can try to catch up. “If you’re angry with me, say so. Burying anger is like burying salt – it hurts the soil.” Vinga’s teachings and possibly familiar to Berra.
Berra looks at Varanis. “I asked you to be quiet,” she says. “That’s all I want from you. Please. Because…. please.” She does not seem to notice as the rain starts to hit home harder.
At last, Varanis falls silent. If Berra could focus properly, she would read confusion, hurt, and possibly a bit of guilt – Varanis knows that she’s screwed up, but doesn’t fully understand the how and why of it.5Berra passed Insight, but the players decided she was in no fit state to understand Varanis right now.
Berra turns and walks down the last bit of slope to the village and onto the cinder path, signalling all is well to a few who have not got the message yet, and not saying anything more. Her sister arrives at a run a few moments later, and if Berra was hard to read, her sister is a saga sung loudly. Anguish and compassion and a warm enveloping hug for Berra, who does not fight it at all.6Special on Insight (Human) for Varanis seeing Yehna.
The Vingan stops trying to catch up with her companion and instead slows down and finally halts some distance away. She watches the two of them. Anyone who bothers to look can see that she is deeply confused, but most of the attention is on Berra and her sister. At last, Varanis turns to make her way to Mellia’s shrine.
Yehna gives Varanis a glowering, protective look. Berra is her sister, not Varanis’ swordswoman, it says, but then she nestles her head on her sister’s. Berra shakes like she is sobbing quietly.
Berra finds out she has not accidentally broken a geas
- 1Varanis fumbles Insight (Human) as rolled by Berra.
- 2Berra cannot even feel the weather. As Varanis notes, she is in a cloak from Maalira. However, Varanis’ fumble makes it seem like she is happier than she is.
- 3Passed Air, failed Harmony.
- 4Berra repeatedly fails Air or passes something that lets her remain calm despite strong feelings.
- 5Berra passed Insight, but the players decided she was in no fit state to understand Varanis right now.
- 6Special on Insight (Human) for Varanis seeing Yehna.