Berra — Divination 1
????, Dark Season
Dark Season, several weeks, every Wildday. Berra is seeking answers from Humakt. [[[s02:session-21|Session 21]]]
On Firedays, Berra spends the afternoon in meditation and ritual, in a place she marks out in the snow or mud and fences off from eyes that must not know this, walking and dancing the area until her feet are numb and her hands are cold. Then worship follows, giving up her magic to Humakt and to Eril, far away, and then as dawn rises, and the frozen ground bears her weight in a trampled cross, she sits facing the iron sword that she has been worshipping, and bows to it, fluid in her movements despite the cold and the clothes she is wrapped in. When she straightens, she keeps on looking at the sword, head tilted to concentrate on the Truth Rune that is its hilt. With a breath out, she empties her mind. With a breath in, she begins to call the knowledge of magic to her. Silence grows, until she feels ready to ask, “How should Eril be worshipped? Should I recover his armour as a relic?” A general question, and a specific one, and the air does not bear them. She asks in a place that is not Prax.
It is cold in the shadow of the mountain. Flute made of the shinbone of a man wails wistfully.
Berra repeats the questions, quietly. “How should Eril be worshipped. Should I recover his armour as a relic?” Her eyes close, and she listens for anything that might be a clue; the flute, the wind, the sounds of war.
There is metallic clatter at her feet. As if something was thrown there.
Berra takes a moment, unhurried, to open her eyes and look first forward, and then down. Her lips still move with the questions.
That looks like Eril. But he has red runes of Death and Truth on his cheeks. He smiles, but shakes his head.
At her feet are two scimitars.
Berra’s instant reaction is to kneel, foot sliding backwards to avoid her crushing whatever it was that made the noise. In averting her eyes she sees the scimitars, but she does not falter. She keeps her head bowed, eyes on the weapons because then they do not look at her Priest, knees on the cold ground.
“They have lived. You did well Berra, but it is not time yet.”
Now Berra’s forehead creases in puzzlement. She tastes both of the questions silently, and maybe comes to a conclusion, but she does not answer Eril.
One of the scimitars has slightly chipped blade. Other has a band hanging from its grip that ends in a red tassel, that seems to be wet now.
Sound of flute is getting quieter and Yelm is rising from beyond the mountain, lighting up the plain.
Taking that as a cue, Berra looks across the expanse.
You can hear the herd and faraway sounds of the Bison village.
Berra stands, blinking.
Plains air is cool and fresh after the acrid smoke of juniper and smell of blood.
Berra looks at Eril, and her face, and a jerk of a thumb, ask her question. Can she go?
Eril? There is no Eril here in Prax. This is the place she started her ritual.
Berra blinks again, and sighs, and says to the cold air, “Well, that was probably a thing that meant something,” Then she bows to her sword again, and – after checking she has a glove on, and her hand is still flexing – picks up her iron sword.
Why would… hmm. Right. Need to find juniper.
And work out why. Or if.
On Firedays, Berra spends the afternoon in meditation and ritual, in a place she marks out in the snow or mud and fences off from eyes that must not know this, walking and dancing the area until her feet are numb and her hands are cold.
Then worship follows, giving up her magic to Humakt and to Eril, far away, and then as dawn rises, and the frozen ground bears her weight in a trampled cross, she sits facing the iron sword that she has been worshipping, and bows to it, fluid in her movements despite the cold and the clothes she is wrapped in. When she straightens, she keeps on looking at the sword, head tilted to concentrate on the Truth Rune that is its hilt. With a breath out, she empties her mind. With a breath in, she begins to call the knowledge of magic to her. Silence grows, until she feels ready to ask, “How should Eril be worshipped?
Wailing flute echoes from the walls of the House of Death.
Berra stands this time, and goes to look, but she keeps on asking the question. “How should Eril be worshipped?”
As from a distance she sees Berra in front of a mixing bowl like one used to mix wine and water.
She holds a black rooster in one hand and a bronze knife in other.
There is a pause. Berra listens to the music, and watches herself, and murmurs soundlessly, “How should Eril be worshipped?”
The other Berra cuts roosters throat and lets its life pour to the mixing bowl.
From shadows a figure clad in black silks steps forward.
Berra watches, her breathing spaced so that she has room and time to ask the question, although she does not speak or move now. She just leaves room for it.
Elegant hand dips two fingers into the bowl and draws a large Death rune over face of the other Berra clad in her bronze armour but without her helmet.
The Berra who is in hide armour, her body left behind, watches. She hums a touch of the song of the flute, the better to remember it.
The dark figure nods and the other Berra bows reverently holding the blood chalice in both hands. She turns and starts walking toward the gates of the House.
There she makes a stop.
Berra steps aside to watch, sniffing the air as if for the scent of juniper.
Why yes, in braziers there burn twigs of juniper, with fragrant smell and distressing amount of sparks.
Guard stops Berra at the gates “Do you want to leave the House of Humakt Berra Humakti, and be just Berra?”
The other Berra blinks, and nods slightly, like that makes sense, and breathes in the air with its smoke, and breathes out the silent question.
Guard takes a piece of cloth and washes the death rune from Berra’s face. Elegant hand – where did he come from – draws a rune of Truth on it.
Of course he was there. Of course he’d know where to be. Berra nearly distracts herself by watching the figure in black too closely, but she manages to stay calm, to keep watching it all, and listening. She manages to capture only fragments of the song, the rest of it falling from her mind even as she tries to hear it.1 Loyalty to Eril, a pass on Being Calm In Excited Times, and a fail on Sing.
The other Berra looks somehow smaller. She nods and crosses the threshold. The gates slam shut behind her, with no echo, like the doors of Hell. You know the street it runs downwards towards the House of Truth.
Berra blinks her eyes shut, and open, and asks, “Should I recover Lord Eril’s armour as a relic?”
The vision continues.
Other Berra walks down the deserted street.
She is armoured and holds the bowl in front of her.
Surprised to find herself there, Berra follows. She looks around, scanning automatically, but mostly her attention is on the other moving figure.
She reaches the stone that once was washed with blood and pours the blood on it.
Sky is slightly silvery, not something you expect in the morning.
Unconsciously, Berra steps back a little, out of the main part of the road, and a shudder runs down her.
Other Berra sweeps the stone with her hand and paints her whole face red. Obscuring or sweeping out the Truth rune.
There is another shudder, and the Berra who watches says nothing, but she does not look away.
From temple of Lhankor Mhy appears the familiar black clad figure. He traces Sartar rune on Berra’s cheek. Then he nods and the other Berra starts releasing the clasps of her armour. The greaves, one remaining vambrace and cuirass fall to the street with quiet noise. A black feather floats erratically to pile of armour. Other Berra walks away without looking back.
Berra, watching, grimaces. “Should I recover Lord Eril’s armour as a relic?” she asks herself. It seems to be a moment in which she is deciding if this is the answer. When she wakes, that might be a question she can answer now.
On waking, Berra tells her ice-cold sword, “I think that the answer about the armour was it’s not important to the cult, or that giving it away was important. It seemed to be about me, but I’m not entirely sure. Yet.” But it’s Wind Tooth she tells, “I miss home. Or moving. One or the other.”
The third attempt, a week later, gives a similar vision of sacrifice and runes painted and washed away. And answer “Go ye to the swamps and retrieve the famous warshirt, ancient glory of Sambari.”2GM had forgotten it wasn’t in the swamps but that’s fine.
As it’s not in the swamps, this puzzles Berra for a bit, until she decides that either it was a false vision, or Lord Eril should only put on armour worthy of himself, and not the things he discarded. Which is nearly the answer she is after, but of course she should check.