Falling Off Big Walls

Berra — Falling Off Walls 01

????, Sea Season


Late in Sea Season, Berra has been working long hours at the Temple of Humakt [[[s01:session-30|Session 30]]]


Dawn, the Temple of Humakt. A tired-looking Berra in a light tunic and half-length trousers and sandals with straps wrapped tight slips out of the gate, after the usual crowd of worshippers leaving. Her sword is slung over her back, and a water bottle is buckled onto her hip belt. Even without her armour she looks solid, as long as you ignore the short stature and just pretend everyone is that small. She stands waiting a moment, looking at the streets as they start to fill.

Varanis wanders sleepily past the temple, stops, turns back and looks at Berra. “Hello!” She says with a smile followed by a yawn.

Berra grins, looking Varanis up and down. “You’re up early,” she says, in the surprised tones of someone up really, really late.

Varanis laughs. “Sort of,” comes the reply.

“You too? I was going to go wake up for the day, and maybe see the sun properly before the day gets hot. I’ve… not had a good night. Messed up a dance. I don’t want to be anywhere near anyone in there right now.”

“I was thinking about a bath and bed, but it would be unkind to ask Rondrik to heat water when he’s probably sorting breakfast,” Varanis admits. The Vingan does appear to be a little more rumpled that usual. “Where do you want to go?”

“I was going to go to North Gate and back, but we could get horses, or go west and up towards some rocks. The amphitheatre saddle, maybe, and see how far up we can get.”

“It would be good to visit the amphitheatre again,” Varanis says willingly. “Let’s do that.” She’s perked up a bit at the thought of climbing.

“Which way? Up the rocks, or down the rocks? Maybe we should put in hooks there so we can get down easily.”

Berra is already turning her feet towards the Yelmalian Temple, a landmark for either decision.

“Do you have hooks?” Varanis asks, surprised.

“Yes – we bought them for Kero Fin, and I have some. We didn’t have to use the whole lot last time, but I think I could get up or down without a problem.” Berra is in her fast-walking mode today, leaving the Temple and failure behind.

Varanis’ long legs allow her to keep pace with the smaller woman, in spite of the occasional yawn. “I haven’t used hooks in a long time, but they might make things easier.”

Berra is almost skipping in her eagerness to move. “It’s a thing we should use. I’m thinking about… alright, this is stupid and we should not do it, but I’m thinking about trying to get above the Storm Bull temple and plant a flag for Rajar to see. But I’m thinking that because I don’t want to think about Fire Season.”

Varanis grins mischievously. “Let’s do it.”

Berra sniggers. “Not that. Not until I know if I’ll… not that. They don’t know when to stop. But this? Race you to the top.”

After that, Berra walks quickly, warming up and shaking herself down in silence, until the tall, cracked saddle of the Amphitheatre is in front of them, and then she does not stop moving, just begins to find ways up the rock.

Berra’s route starts off up and obvious way, and with her strength and her current state of anger, it speeds up until she is suddenly confronted by an overhang and a choice of getting under it, or crawling all the way up and around the long, lonely shoulder of the rock above. She hangs there, considering, and then launches herself upwards, flailing at the rock until she is over the dangerous part, and her rage begins to recede. At the top of it she stares in annoyance and then in amusement at the blank, bare wall before her, almost the entire width of the shelf she has managed to climb. However, she is so nearly at the top that a good idea will save her, and she backs up on the shelf, accelerates with the explosive force of an angry warrior who failed in front of others – and hits the wall just short of a ledge, landing safely, but getting no further. She tries it twice more before she manages it, and then the other hand swings up and she hauls herself upwards, and then there are ledges all above and she is on a natural ladder, gaining the top without further ado. There, she hauls herself up, and rolls into a sitting position, staring at the bowl of the Flame of Sartar.

Varanis is waiting at the top. Her own route was direct and not very challenging for the Vingan. During her climb she was clearly distracted and her lack of attention cost her momentarily near the top as she missed a handhold and nearly fell. Catching herself, she made the last part of the climb easily and with perhaps a bit more care.

“What is this place?” she asks Berra when the other woman has settled.

Berra jerks her thumb behind her back. “That’s the amphitheatre. We walked down that last time. If we go along the saddle we can get to where we climbed up. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a meeting there, but there are moots and dances and entertainments. And as it’s dawn, probably about a dozen people regretting their drinking or their choice of night partner. We could go…” She sighs and trails off. “I was going to say we could go find someone to be noisy beside. I’m not in the kindest of moods right now.”

“But what’s that?” she asks again.

“What? An amphitheatre?” Berra turns to look behind her, gaze drifting away from the palace and the columned structures. “What have you seen?”

Once she realises that Varanis meant in front of her, Berra looks again. “Oh.” Her shoulders slump. “It’s where the Flame should be.”

Varanis looks at Berra quizzically. “The Flame?” She appears to be searching her memory and coming up empty.

Berra stares. “Yes. Where Kings get crowned. Sartar himself lit it – but the Lunars put it out. It’s our Kingdom – but… well, look.” She does just that, and then snorts. “Salinarg was the last one crowned there. It’s like our banner, or our beacon. They say it’s a Wyter, but I’ve never been able to feel it. Not yet, anyhow. I was a child before, and now I don’t know how to look, but I would have thought at Sacred Time it would have happened. That’s why our Kingdom is fractured. It got put out.”

(( It is along the valley, a while away towards the palace, but there’s a good view from here. A small structure, modest temple-sized, and you could roast an ox inside the bronze bowl in the centre, which is raised up on granite or marble. From most of the city you can see the temple, and if there were a light there, it would light pretty much the whole valley. From most of the place, though, you could not see the bowl in any clarity because it’s almost as high as the palace, and not lit up. ))

“We should visit that one of these days. I’d like to see something so closely connected to my ancestors,” Varanis says thoughtfully.

“So, you aren’t in a good mood. Do you want to find something to hit? Do want to run? Keep climbing? I need to get cleaned up and to the Temple eventually, but I’m not expected until the afternoon today.”

Berra adds, “This is probably the best view of it unless you have full access to the Palace, or whatever that one building is between us and it. But the Palace is the thing that’s above it.” She sounds grindingly tired suddenly, and then not tired at all. “Still, if we drive the Lunars out, Kallyr may be able to relight it.” She gets up. “We could see how close we’re allowed to get, but I don’t … that platform’s sort of unlucky for the Humakti here. Not really, but sort of. It’s where Harsaltar swore his oath.” She stares that way, briefly lost. “I had meant to go for a run, but I can manage without,” she says absently, a little after the correct timing to do so.

“Are you ready to head back?” Varanis is relaxed and is not in a rush to be anywhere for a change. She is just staring out at the city spread below them.

“I could go anywhere. I don’t much mind right now. I… I really messed up badly, Varanis. The dance was nearly broken because of me. I can’t even bear to think of trying to sleep, and if anyone is kind to me at the Temple right now, I’ll probably hold a grudge about it. Walking would be good.” She points along the saddle to the bulk of the mountain. “It’ll hide the city for a while, but then we’ll get around it.”

Varanis is startled by the show of vulnerability from the normally stoic warrior at her side. “Let’s go up then,” she agrees in a tone carefully modulated to show neither sympathy nor judgement.

As they begin to walk, Varanis glances at her companion from time to time, though probably not more than she takes in the landscape. Probably.

The top of the saddle is on several levels of rock, but none of them hard to jump down on or get up to. Berra takes each of them as a chance to jump and push off, or drop down without much caring where she goes, but there is nothing really dangerous there, and they get to a familiar path soon enough. She looks like she is struggling with too many thoughts, all mixing around inside her, and each aggressive run at something difficult helps to ease the pressure for a moment.

After an extended period of silence, Varanis asks, “do you want to talk about it? Or is this what you need most right now?” Again, there’s no judgement or sympathy, but the invitation is sincere. The Vingan has been easily keeping pace, without rushing ahead.

Berra’s tiny snort of laughter has a genuine smile behind it a moment later. “I was about to ask how you were. Dawn at the Humakti Temple is not where people usually walk by. Are you alright?” The smile is sad but real, as she gives Varanis the chance to talk first.

Varanis doesn’t quite blush. “I went to see Kalis, to ask her about spiritual protection, like you suggested. I ended up staying rather late.” Her grin is unrepentant, though it fades as she adds, “She told me I’d never become adept at it and that I should just get someone else to do it for me and focus on other things.”

Berra nods, her attention latching onto the new conversation, like a unicorn to its dam. “But did she tell you any useful names? We knew already it was not your strength.”

Varanis shakes her head. “She was rather dismissive of the question.” She sounds a little irritated about that, even though she was also somewhat dismissive when the subject was first raised. “Maybe we are worrying about nothing.”

“Maybe. No harm in checking, though. Finding options is good.” Berra turns right into the path, and then pauses, and then continues that way. It will lead them to the route they originally took up here, weeks ago.

They continue on, with only the sound of the occasional bird and their own feet as they move over the rocks. Finally, Varanis asks, “Is this a one-way thing? I tell you when I am having difficulties and you listen, but you don’t ever tell me yours?” It’s hard to read any emotion in words. She could be talking about the weather. “Maybe I can help. Maybe all I can do is listen so that it isn’t eating you up any more.” She sighs and this time the emotion does creep in a little. “Sometimes, you need to trust others, Berra.”

Berra stops, and puts her back against the wall, and looks out over the view, which is now mostly of the palace and the rock wall opposite, but with a little bit of the lower city coming into view. “It’s my responsibility to look after others,” she says. “To make them work better as a unit. But then, Clan is Clan. We’re busy at the Temple right now. Everyone knows we’re getting ready for war. I forgot what I should have been doing, while I was trying to help. D’Val is busy – all of the Rune Lords are, and we’re a young Regiment, so we don’t have older Rune Lords – they just haven’t had time to age and new ones haven’t come up to be young. So I was trying to help him and I failed to practice enough.” She worries at the rock behind her with her shield hand, trying to break off a loosened piece and failing. “I forgot the Temple and the Regiment are two things, even though one holds the other so tight you can hardly notice.”

Varanis listens. “Clan is Clan, yes. But, do you not think that perhaps it is also my responsibility to look after others? If you aren’t functioning at your best, how can you be in a place to be responsible for anyone else?” Again, she avoids judgement, but just as the Humakti has stated Truth mercilessly in the past, the Vingan does so now. “What do you need to do about what happened in the Temple?”

“It is yours, yes,” Berra replies. “And well done.” She uses taking a drink of water to give her time to think. “I don’t need to do anything but I have not sorted out in my mind what I should do. I thanked the dancer in front of me, who pulled me to the right line. I don’t think anything else is called for. It’s how to go on and get things right that is worrying me. There is so much to do, and I keep seeing tasks I could help with, and helping is easier than thinking.”

Varanis continues to listen. As Berra’s words seem to dry up, she asks, “What do you think your Sword would ask you?”

“Nothing. If I needed to do a thing, he’d tell me. But he likes people to take the initiative, and to learn from what they’ve done. I just need to work out in my head what the questions are I need to answer.” Berra brightens up a little, talking about her Sword.

Varanis nods and keeps walking.

Berra skips a little from time to time, but does not break into a run. “He’s the one I answer to in my head,” she says finally. “We could climb down, or across. I want to see if someone could knock some holes in the rock to fasten a set of ropes to, but that does mean being up high for a while.”

“I’m happy to be climbing, and it’s early enough yet that I have the time.” Varanis smiles.

“Then let’s see how much work we would have to do to make it so we can get across on ropes. Two – one at foot height and one for hands. We could just dig in posts, I guess.” Berra picks up a handful of small rocks from the drift of a recent fall and starts sorting through them as she walks.

“I’m going to take Mellia back to Blue Tree Tula, when she’s ready,” Varanis says. “I should probably consider who else might come with us. While she trusts Chala Arroy to protect her, there are those who might not respect the white robes. And as I don’t plan to stay, perhaps it would be wise to make sure I have company for the return trip.”

Berra gives Varanis a long look. “The whole Sartarite Army will probably be that way,” she says in the tone of a nurse explaining to a child.

Varanis bristles at the tone. “It rather depends on how soon Mellia chooses to go, Berra,” the Vingan shoots back. “If she wants to leave tomorrow, I will take her tomorrow.”

“If you did, I probably could not go. Campaigning season might start before I could return. If you do, and you want me, Tennebris or my High Sword would have to order it. If the roads get good enough for marching, I have to march.” Berra might be holding back the explaining tone on purpose, but at least it is gone.

“It’s fine. I am capable of looking after myself and finding assistance if I need it. Regardless of how you and the others see me, I am neither incompetent nor a child.” The resentment is tamped down as she changes the subject. “Where are you thinking you want to mount the ropes?”

“Good,” says Berra, and she sounds proud. “I’m not sure where I – where we should put them. I suddenly started thinking of rope bridges rather than rope crossings. The easiest thing would be two posts, one at head height, and a few loops to hold onto or hang through, on the top rope.”

“Fine. Shall we start climbing to look for a likely location?”

Berra replies, “If we can see places that look better than a foundation hole on the path, then yes. The wall is a good idea if we can make enough holes in it.”

Varanis continues in silence.

So does Berra, although it seems to be a relaxed silence from her.

The path stretches…

… and winds…

… and switchbacks….

… and then they are there, at the multi-metre gap that makes the rest of the path pointless. The rock face near it is fresh and hard, the friendly handholds above notably missing at the path level. Berra stops to look at it.

Varanis also examines the rock face. “There’s no debris. The face looks solid. It would hold anchors well,” she observes running a hand over the surface of the rock.

“There’s a crack on the path here,” Berra points out, kicking at it with her toe. “I don’t know if we could safely put a post into the ground. Maybe it would go in here but maybe it would break it more.”

Varanis examines the spot Berra has pointed out. “It’s no good,” she agrees. “It won’t hold out over time. What about over here?” She heads just a little bit further down, where the rock face continues to be solid and the path looks more compact. She kneels down to check the surface and to peer over the edge.

The edge is unstable, although not so far as to put Varanis in danger. A foot or so back from it would be perfectly safe, however. The mini cliff on which she kneels has a drop of broken stone, and what might be the crack Berra found joins it, a jagged diagonal line promising future danger.

“We could go right next to the wall and have one post on either side of the gap, or we could have two, or we could hang it from the wall.” Berra kicks a stone over the edge to clatter down.

“Hanging it from the wall is probably the most secure. Who do you expect will use it?” Varanis asks, continuing to stare over the edge, completely at ease with the height.

“It used to be a processional path, I think?” Berra sounds unsure. “Nobody whose dignity would be worried by using a rope crossing. People wanting to get to the nest-sites and the top of the amphitheatre.”

“Do we want to risk creating an obstacle on a processional path, even if it is out of use currently?”

Berra throws herself down to full length to look over the edge. Wind Tooth peers over her right shoulder, helpfully. “I don’t know. If they wanted it made properly, could they not do it?”

“And no one has done so.” Varanis shrugs. “I’m good with it, either way. I enjoy the climbing. To be honest, I’m probably too tired to look at things from every angle right now, especially as I don’t have all the information needed to make decisions. I don’t know when the processional was last used, or who, if anyone, the land belongs to.”

Berra dangles her arms down, towards Ernalda’s body. “Fair enough. I’m just looking for things to think about doing at the end of Fire Season. I want things to concentrate on.”

Varanis smiles suddenly, her whole face lighting up with it.

“I suppose it could be the Blue Tree Clan,” Berra continues. “But I want to think about Boldhome. I’m here and I can look at it.”

“To be honest, I wasn’t sure if you had plans for anything beyond marching with your battalion and fighting Lunars.” Varanis looks over at Berra, as the Humakti lies face down over the cliff’s edge. “Both are important,” she hastens to add. “I just wasn’t sure if you were looking beyond that too.”

“I don’t know. Go to some funerals. Count my limbs and my friends. See if anyone I love will be saving me a seat in Sword Hall.” It is hard to shrug when halfway over a cliff, but Berra manages it well enough. “A lot of people I know might not come back. I have to look beyond, but it’s sort of hard to see that far too. No jokes about how I am short, please.”

The Vingan’s smile fades and she stares off into the distance again. “I’m not sure who I have left to lose beyond…” She doesn’t finish the sentence, lost in thought for a moment. “But if I don’t come back, it’ll be because I’m sitting in Vinga’s Red Hall, raising a glass with Jareen and the others.” She shakes her head and scoots back from the edge. “I need to get moving. I have temple service today.”

“There’s a short way down,” Berra notes. “It’s quickest.” She does not move yet.

Varanis takes a long, deep breath. She’s fidgety suddenly and having a hard time recovering her earlier stillness. “Long or short,” she says at last, “I just need to be moving.”

“Short. Then i’m going to try to have a run.” Berra pushes herself up with her arms, body rigid, and looks down over the edge, then takes a hold of a handy rock and turns around to start lowering herself. All goes well, until she finds herself stuck just over the next ledge, her water bottle caught on an outgrowing plant.

Seeing Berra go over the edge, Varanis follows, nimbly swinging herself over and down. Hand holds are easy to find and she is climbing confidently, keeping pace with Berra, but leaving enough space not to crowd her.

Berra moves back up to get her water bottle unstuck, and on her way back down trusts her weight to the tiny tree. There is a nasty crk and she reacts instantly by twisting around, choosing to protect her back and the sword scabbarded there, and getting her left side to the wall by shoving off with a right hand full of spiky tree branch. Berra is suddenly gone and there is a thump from below, and the sound of something sliding a short distance in scree.

“Berra!” Varanis yells as soon as she sees what’s happening. Not thinking, she tries to grab the falling Humakti and almost loses her own grip on the rock face as she overextends. Her left hand scrabbles for a handhold and as soon as she’s secure she’s climbing swiftly downwards.

Incredibly, there she is twenty feet down, on an outcropping of the cliff that was missed when it was collapsed and scoured, her feet ankle-deep in scree which has shifted only a little. “I think I dislocated my finger,” says Berra in amazement, looking at her scraped left hand. “It’s fine. I’ve put this back before.” She looks up at Varanis, her face a painted doll of surprise. “That was lucky.”

The Humakti has no call to be upright, and should probably have rolled off the cliff and bounced further down, but there she is, standing up, hardly hurt.

Varanis rapidly makes it to the same level as Berra, scanning the ledge and determining that it will support them both. Gingerly, she steps onto the ledge, getting uncomfortably close to Berra in order to do so. “Let me look,” she demands intently, holding out her own hand.

Berra has spent the time trying to pull the joint back into place, wincing, and failing. She holds out the hand, left finger stiff and stuck in place, and a bruise already growing. “It hit on the way down, and then I landed,” she explains, still amazed.

Berra leans away from Varanis, and puts the thong of her necklace into her mouth to bite down on, folding it along the blunt teeth at the back. “Go”, she says indistinctly.

Quickly, and with no more warning than Berra’s ‘go’, Varanis pulls the finger back into place. It resets easily into position. Before she lets go, Varanis’ hands almost seem to glow a little as she sends some healing magic into the injured digit.

Berra’s face is one giant wince, and she looks away from the injury, tensing to stop herself from letting Varanis just have the finger and the hand with it. “Aah. Fank you.” She spits out the necklace and tries flexing her hand, then she looks up, and then down. “Well.”

“Will it take your weight? We have a distance to go still.” The Vingan looks down and then back at her companion.

Berra says, “I think so,” as she pulls her feet out of the scree. She goes away from the next long drop to grab at a bit of broken rock and pull herself up with a pinch grip on either hand.

Berra would have had another fall of about as far if she had come off here, and if she had not hit it, she would probably require more than a finger setting. It’s more than twice Varanis’ height to where she would have impacted, never mind Berra’s.

Varanis watches carefully.

Berra tries a couple of grips, and then nods and steps away from the rock. Then she sits back against it, and slides down, holding her hands up. They are suddenly shaking. “Battle Trembles,” she says in wonder. “I haven’t had those in years.” Her teeth chatter.

“Why did we go climbing without rope?” Varanis asks suddenly.

“Have a sip of water, Berra.”

Berra says, “Well, it’s boring if you can’t fall.” Still trembling. “But I can always Shield myself. I don’t think I could get my water out without spilling it, but this should pass in a minute or two. It’s just what happens when people charge you.”

Varanis smiles wryly. “I’m not unfamiliar,” she comments.

“Well, yes. That.” Berra watches her hands as the shakes subside, and manages to paw for her water bottle, which turns out to be still attached to her. She gets it unbuckled and looks at the top. “The bung came out. But the water didn’t escape, thank Magasta.”

Varanis looks out over the landscape, so that she’s not just staring at Berra. She does cast her eyes in the direction of her companion now and again. “Did I ever tell you about the time I scaled the Storm Gate in Storm Season with Hulda? It was stupid. Done on a dare. The stones were wet and slippery, making climbing difficult, and Orlanth’s breath was trying to pull us from his gate for our audacity…” She tells the story as they sit with their backs to the wall, in this precarious perch. It’s possible she was suddenly inspired to tell a story, but it’s more likely she’s buying Berra time to revive without being too obvious about it.

“No, do go on,” Berra prompts early on. She shows no inclination to try to get up or be heroic, but drinks water slowly, and works out she cannot use her necklace as a bung, but she can use a strip of her tunic, torn carefully and rolled up.

“I made it to the top first, but even more stupidly, I stood upright on the gate to wait for Hulda, fully exposing myself to the wind. I think Orlanth was offended by my arrogance in that moment, or maybe it was Heler, because the skies opened up, the rain dumped down, and the wind nearly pushed me from the top.” Varanis’ attention has shifted back a few years as she gets sucked into the memory.

Berra giggles. “Oh… Oh dear.” She shakes her head. “But you got there first, right?”

“Of course. I had flatten myself along the top and help Hulda make it over the edge. And then the two of us huddled on top of the gate for over an hour, waiting for the storm to pass. When it did, it took us forever to get down. We were drenched, the stones were dripping…” She shakes her head. “And then we tried to sneak back into the dormitory, but we were leaving puddles as we went. Jareen,” there’s a hitch as she says that name, but she continues. “Jareen caught us. She hustled us into dry clothes and then put us to cleaning all of the floors, in the dormitory and the temple. I’m not even sure if she knew what we’d been up to, really. I suspect the consequences might have been worse if she knew, and I suspect she knew that too.”

Berra’s laughter comes in little, short snorts for a while, until her breathing eases. “That is sort of hilarious and sort of terrible. And, I am in a better mood now,” she admits. “Being alive will do that to me. Do you want to make a call on whether I am ready to go down? I’m not sure of my own decision making right now.”

“Show me your hands,” Varanis says.

Berra holds them up, and the fingers curl a bit too much, even though she is not shaky. There are no injuries there, although a little square of skin that was scraped off the side of her finger has now scarred brown.

“Want to try the wall again? There’s a little ledge, just there,” Varanis points to a small ledge a few metres down, big enough for just Berra to stop on. “Think you can make it to the ledge?”

Berra looks, and considers, and then nods. “I can make that.” She kicks away a little of the scree to give herself a good way to start getting down, and then indeed, she can make that, and the larger ledge further down. She is going a little more slowly than her normal careful pace, and at he wider, better place to stop she takes a few deep breaths that would not normally be needed, but she seems to be coming out of the fit of Trembles.

Varanis follows closely to Berra, avoiding crowding her companion, but staying close enough to help if needed. She seems satisfied with the other woman’s progress though.

Berra gets stuck for a while on the last downward stretch, and closes her eyes. “Where to next?” she asks, unable to clearly tell she should just swing left into a friendly chimney that leans politely towards her.

“Left, into the chimney. It’s an easy go through there, and there should be plenty of handholds. Just keep doing what you’ve been doing – there’s no rush.” Varanis looks at the position of the sun above them, while Berra is focused on the rocks in front of her. She makes a face, but says nothing about it. Instead, she says encouragingly, “you’ve been doing really well and it’s just a short distance to go now.”

Berra looks that way, and freezes up, and then unfreezes as a look of rebellion and determination and furious aim comes onto her features, and then she grabs for the chimney, scrabbles for a hold inside, and hauls herself in. Coming the rest of the way down is inelegant, but safe. At the bottom she ends up hitting the ground with her feet and nearly falling from the jarring effect, but then she falls forward to put her knees to the rock and groans. “That was not all fun.”

Varanis lightly jumps off the wall nearby, having followed a parallel, if more complicated, route down. “You were pretty amazing though,” she comments. “Not only did you manage to save yourself from that fall, but you also got back up and kept going. I’ve seen people quit more than once. Just freeze up and get stuck, going neither up nor down. You dug deeply into yourself and found what you needed to make the climb. You did well, Berra.” This isn’t empty praise. The Vingan has years of climbing experience and knows what she’s talking about.

Berra half tackles Varanis’ legs in a hug. It’s not aggressive, she’s just holding on.

Varanis maintains her balance and looks down in astonishment. She reaches down to touch Berra’s hair hesitantly. “Are you ok?”

“Mm. Yes. Maybe.” Berra lets go to haul herself to her feet. “I … thank you. I’m glad you were there.” She opens up her water bottle and takes a long glug, and swills it. “Maybe next time I’ll ask for a ladder to be brought.”

“How about next time, we bring rope?” Varanis proposes, smiling because there will be a next time.

“Shall we head back to the inn?” she asks.

“Rope. Yes. I still have all the gear in the Temple. And yes, inn. Breakfast. And it’s not the Tribal Manor. I worked that out yesterday. By arranging a place for us, not only was Tennebris being polite but he was also making sure you didn’t stay a mile away.” Berra nods slowly, like she’s sure that’s right, and wants to experience the feeling of it within the world.

“Let’s go, then,” Varanis says, pointing her feet and herself in the direction of the inn.