Berra — Eril Gives Advice
????, Fire Season, Illusion Week
Fire Season, Illusion Week, Wildday. [[[s01:session-44|Session 44]]]
CONTAINS SPOILERS about Eril, his family, and politics. And possibly Humakt.
It is some time after Yelmdeath on Wildday. Berra arrives breathless at the Temple, and asks D’Val if the … if Lord Eril is awake, to his knowledge. There has probably just been a sprint in full armour.
“Yeth, to my knowledge.”
Berra bows, forgets to ask how recent that knowledge is, and goes to clap at the door. Her mood seems to be changing from moment to moment, from ebullience to care to slackwater calm, and back. The water part of her personality has control.
“Who is it?”
“Berra Jarang’s Daughter, Lord.” Bouncing on the toes commences as soon as she has said the name. Waiting until there is an answer is obviously too much for her.
“Enter then, if you will it.”
Berra does, and bows. “Do you know it’s really worrying to have you making requests instead of giving orders?” The words come out like she is in conversation and then she winces, and adds, “Lord,” to the end, as really awkward punctuation.
“Is it?” He looks thoughtful, “Thank you for pointing that out.”
Berra nods. “Really quite a lot. It’s so unusual it draws attention to how you’re saying it. It wasn’t even a thing I’d meant to bring up. There are a couple of private matters, but probably nothing important.” She holds up the letter from Xenofos, as an example.
“Mmmm, go on?” Eril is seated at a writing desk, looking no worse than when Berra last saw him.
Berra walks over to offer the letter. “Sent with the respects of Lord Xenofos, of the House of Saiciea, to be opened should the Heroquest go awry; there is information within for that time. He wishes me to note that no disrespect is meant by the contents.” It is obviously a prepared recital, but she does not stumble over the long words.
He nods, “I understand, and swear to open it only under these circumstances.”
“Of course.” Berra looks a bit surprised, and then her face clears. “I will let him know, Sword. … uh… do you have any interest in knowing about the family of Lord Silor Tamainsson?” From her expression she is now going down a mental checklist.
“I should be most interested, yes.”
Berra hides a touch of surprise, but says, “Then I’ll clear my head of that, before anything else…” She looks down, eyes travelling blankly over the work on his desk without understanding. “He has seven children – five of them grown. Two wives. The older adults are Jengharl – out with the army, I did not meet him – and Habela, an Ernaldan whose family I did not ask about, but I understood her to have young children. I don’t recall, or never heard, the name of his first wife. His second wife is Aelna, of the Locaem. I don’t know the Clan. Their children were out at steadings – one boy, one girl, I believe. Away from danger, as far as I could tell, but they might just have been visiting.” She shrugs. “And then Thenaya, the thrallmistess, had triplets between those marriages.” She gives him a look that might be to try to work out what to say next.
He gives a very slight nod, “Might I ask when?”
“About a year after the invasion, Lord. If there was not something mystical about their birth, I don’t know how to explain it. The oldest looks… well, they all have something of you about them, sir. Looks, or understanding of Death, or… alright, I’m not sure what Hengrast has. But they are a really odd mix of you and Lord Silor and their mother.”
“I comprehend. It is best not to consider it too much.”
Berra bows. “I can describe them if you wish,” she says, but doesn’t push. It’s just an offer, and on the flank of it she already has other questions, javelins in hand.
“Yes, if you could.”
It takes a moment of closed eyes before Berra begins. “The oldest is Venlar. He looks like you, or like you must have, when you were young. The face and the frame are perfect, and his voice is similar. He sings well. But he stands wrong for a warrior, even though he is Orlanthi. He’s been to battle, I understand, but he doesn’t see life as a battle. He’s … he’s sharp, though. We had a conversation where Mellia thought he wanted to meet me and ask about you, but I… I got the idea that was not what he wanted. And I don’t know what he DID want – it went straight past me. Mellia wants to marry him. I think he likes her too.”1Failed Truth: Berra does not tell Eril that Venlar is unlike him in being nice.
A brow lifts. “I see.”
“I think they might be at the stage where they ask their parents.” This seems to mean little to Berra. “I guess that’s how it works with nobility?”
“It is, yes. That is an interesting complication.”
Berra looks confused. “Uh, how? Um… sorry.”
“A major Esrolian House becoming tied to a great Clan in Sartar, via someone who has had significantly more impact already than an Initiate traditionally would.”
“Oh right, yes. And who’s probably going to be founding her own Temple at the edge of Colymar lands.”
“Exactly so. In defiance of all precedent.”
“Right. I understand more now, Lord.” Berra thinks about that briefly, and then moves on. “Uh…. then there’s Yamia. She’s Humakti. She’s a lot like her mother, but only in looks. More muscle, though. Less soft. She didn’t seem interested in anything but but Humakt’s mysteries – how to be good at them, how to cause them, how to understand them. Not like you’d expect – I didn’t get the idea she had anything else she loved, except her family. And even then, there’s a distance in her. We met at dinner and she tried to out-stare me. It didn’t go well for her. But she didn’t stop. She just kept on trying, like she doesn’t know how not to be her, just because other people are there. But she is very well versed in tactics and strategy, and apparently good at both. She’s Venlar’s bodyguard – when she was talking about him was when I worked out what was going on with her voice. It doesn’t rise and fall enough. Like she just makes statements and then expects people to understand they are true. Which they are, but she can’t discuss them.”
“Not unheard of.”
“No, but… creepy. I could see her making decisions and carrying them out and not wondering about what other people thought, no matter what the decision was.” Berra seems to find no irony in that at all.
“I see. Go on.”
“Then there’s Hengrast. I met Thenaya later that night, and apologised to her for making her daughter back down at a feast. She told me a bit about him. He’s an Orlanthi, and he’s the one who looks and mostly acts like Silor, but he… I get the idea he doesn’t have judgement. He invited us all in, in the name of his father, but his brother was the one who should have made that decision. Only Hengrast did. It made things a bit muddled because he was acting correctly for if he had been in charge, only Venlar should have been the one asking questions like where we had come from, and who would look after the Enlo. It all came right, but I get the idea Hengrast isn’t going to be the heir, even if Jengharl or Venlar don’t rule. He’s… trusting, maybe? Or forgets everything but the current moment? Maybe excitable. But I’m guessing a bit there.”
“Silor is in good health, and obviously loves his children. He was very generous as a host and protective of us all once he had your letter. I think he’s probably going to take revenge against some of the old Firebull Clan, though, for entrapping you.”
There is a wave of a hand. “Some battles are lost. It is…. how it is. It is important to decide on further engagements based on strategy, not emotion.”
“Well, he was Orlanth the storm at that moment. But I think that’s all I can remember. Should I, if I should be Humakt, be healed in my body?”
“Could you clarify?”
Berra holds up her right hand, the scarred back still wrinkled. “It’s healing, but I won’t be sword-handed for a while.” Over the scar, there is a faint outline of the previous tattoo, in fresh woad.
“I would advise you to have yourself healed. This is important. I can write to Beneva, if you wish.”
Berra thinks briefly. “Only if I can’t get it done myself. Should my armour be better than I’m wearing?”
“I would advise so, yes.”
“You said, Lord, that the Acting High Sword would be required at the Temple. Is there a chance that I’ll be in Hell, then?” She seems disturbed by not knowing, rather than worried about being dead, rusted, and judged. “Uh, that he’d have business – not be required. Wrong word. Sorry.”
“Yes. I suspect this is a distinct possibility.”
Berra hides annoyance badly, but she bows her head. “Thegn Varanis thinks it better to have little warning of where it should happen, knowing how rumour spreads. And that is all the questions I have, Lord, save what to do and how.” There, she finally begins to look scared.
“Prepare yourself, as I said.”
“Um, I don’t know that mystery, Sword. Only the outer tellings of it.” Berra has many confused looks. Right now, her face is a mix of ‘am I expected to guess’ and ‘is this some kind of test of me’, with a bit of ‘huuuuh?’.
“Become fit. Meditate. Gain the armour and equipment you might require.”
Berra nods, and the calm lent to her by meditation upon a Duck, rather than on Humakt, settles on her. “Yes, Sword.” Instructed, she seems suddenly set on the task. From confused to determined takes about the space of two heartbeats. “Thank you. Now I understand your instruction.”
“Excellent. Advice. It is advice.”
Berra gives Lord Eril a look with echoes of something that is not calm in it, but not enough of them to trouble the ear save as whispers of sound. “Thank you for seeing me, Sword Eril,” she says with a formal bow suited to his current rank. “Is there anything I can do for you?” Calm, serene, she seems to be above emotion now.
“I do not believe so, and thank you for attending.”
Berra turns to go, even moving with a calm that was not on her earlier.