1628, Earth Season, Stasis Week, Clayday (ish)
Having returned from Grizzly Peak by way of the Upland Marsh, the party has temporarily split up. Varanis, Berra, and Maalira stay with the Cinderfox Clan in the city of Wilmskirk. Varanis is feeling cooped up and drags Berra off to distract her.
Berra goes out to inform Lord Eril by Divination of what has happened. When she comes back, she is avoiding Thenaya, although she has a talk with Jengharl. It’s just a short one.
When Varanis goes hunting for her friend, the little Humakti is found curled up on the roof, dozing under starlight, wrapped in her cloak. The bored warrior in the watch tower points her out.
Varanis approaches carefully, but not stealthily. The idea is to not disturb Berra if possible, but especially not to seem like she’s sneaking up on her.
Berra wakes, reaching lazily for her sword, which is safely above her head. She does not bother drawing it, but says sleepily, “Hello.”
“Hello. Any reply from him?” Varanis folds her long limbs as she drops into a seated position.
Berra nods. “Not about us. Or the spirits.” She hugs her knees, a tiny, solid shape. Her expression has a touch of worry to it, like when she is working out what orders she will have to give.
“I don’t suppose it’s anything I can help with?”
There is a slow sigh. “Let’s get this out of the way first?” Berra gestures gently with her hand to indicate ‘the whole situation’.
“By this, do you mean my armour?” Varanis frowns. “That might take a while…”
“Yeah. It’ll… yeah. Then I’ll concentrate on the next thing. Then I am going ter want your help.” Just for a moment, guttersnipe Nochet creeps into Berra’s accent.
“Does it have to do with the quest you were planning a while back?”
Berra looks down at her knees. “I’ve got to speak to him again anyhow. He needs to know what my plans are.”
“Right. Well, then let’s try to deal with the armour as swiftly as possible,” Varanis says. “Unless… this thing you need to do may be more important, Berra.”
“Yeah – but if I start that and he’s commanding somewhere, it could kill him. He needs to do bits of it anyhow. There’s some stuff I won’t be able to fit into the story – he’s gonna have to help me. I can’t make a marsh, but he can have that happen, in dance.” Berra shrugs. “I never planned something like this before. It’s sort of interesting.”
“I’ll trust you to tell me how I can help and I’ll do my best to stay out of your way otherwise,” Varanis promises.
Berra smiles slightly, distantly. “I think you’ll still have to be who I said before,” Silor, trusted brother and friend. Berra is not saying it grudgingly.
Something fleeting passes across Varanis’ features, but she nods. “Of course.”
“If we’re going to talk about it we should go for a walk,” Berra says. “Or we could just relax. I was going to take a turn on guard.” In her host’s house.1V: I think it wouldn’t be polite for Varanis to offer to stand guard… in fact, it might be downright insulting. It was one thing when she was a nobody, but these days, she can’t really pretend that easily…
“Have you offered and had the offer accepted?” Varanis asks.
“I’m Humakti. I’ll just turn up.” Berra grins. “Mostly, people don’t send me away.”
“Why don’t we go for a walk instead?”
Berra pours herself to her feet. “We can do both.” It sounds like she is going to stand guard no matter what.
Varanis rises too. “Think we’d cause consternation if we went down the outside?” she asks, glancing over the edge of the roof.
Berra waves to the guard, and points down. He looks confused, but Berra just says, “We warned them.” She looks a little tired, but eager to go.
Varanis grins and glances over the side again. She turns to face Berra, waves and steps off the roof backwards with a laugh of joy.2Crit on jump and special on climb – Air is a normal pass for the stupidity
The house, after all, two houses. Dropping down, from this little culvert in amongst the rise and fall is… well, easy for tall Orlanthi. Berra wanders up to the edge to look at how she is getting down, unworried.
From twenty feet up, Berra tries a spell, finds it fails her, and just swings off the roof and goes down the building on the exposed wood. The guard gets a wave before she disappears below the roof line. She’s steady all the way down, and jumps from ten feet, landing lightly. It is spoiled slightly by the cloak flipping over her head as she lands, but she stays upright and extracts herself.
The Vingan is clinging to the side of the wall and clambers down easily once she’s certain Berra is good. There’s no challenge for her in this.3V: Insight roll? B: Pass. The look on Varanis’ face when she alights next to Berra suggests that this was not enough. Having started, she wants more.
Berra looks at Varanis. “Wilmskirk is as flat as Ernalda in her purity,” she says, and then the Humakti in her catches up with her. “Almost as flat. And the gates are closed.”
There’s a heavy sigh. “We could run on rooftops,” the Vingan suggests. “It’s been ages since we’ve had a good run.”
“Not very connected. We’ll have to jump a lot. And right now we probably shouldn’t fly. Could we go up a building and sit and just watch things? I thought we were coming out here to talk.”
“Oh right. I forgot. I’m just feeling pent up, for some reason. Sorry. I’ll rein it in and we can sit and have a well-behaved talk. Let’s find the Orlanthi temple, maybe? They’re used to people who need to climb.”
“Yeah. That’s a good idea.” Berra breaks into a jog. “You know the way.”
With a grin, Varanis points herself in the direction of the temple. Her pace is measured – fast enough to make Berra work, but not enough to wear her out. She ignores any glances that come their way, happy to be moving.
Berra runs at about the same speed. Not as tall as Varanis, she is a natural sprinter. The Temple hoves into view.
There’s not much to climb here, but Varanis doesn’t seem to care. She calls out to the initiate by the temple’s entrance, “Tell Falnin that Vareena is here and going up… there.” She points at one of the buildings. “He doesn’t need to come out, but I thought it’d be polite to tell him who’s climbing his walls.”
The initiate stares for a moment, and then nods. “Yes, Lady.” Off he goes.
Berra checks the bindings on the sword that was so terribly named by Eril long ago, and leaves them off Windtooth. “So, it wouldn’t be right for me to keep a secret from my hosts and sleep under their roof.”
“What do you mean?” Varanis asks, watching Berra’s nimble fingers with perplexity.
“I need to ask Thenaya about Lord Eril and their relationship,” Berra says. “But not yet.”
“Ah, right. Yeah, give her time. She’s worried about Yamia and Hengrast right now anyway. That’s enough. Speaking of which, she might need an escort at some point. If our paths overlap.” With that, Varanis makes her way up to the rooftop by bouncing from wall to wall between the buildings. It takes only seconds for her to reach the top. Wilmskirk is too flat and its buildings too low. But up is up.
Berra looks up, and grins. “How holy are these buildings?” That is, can she come up too? They are, as far as Varanis knows, administration and storage rooms.
“Just holy enough that it might irritate the stodgy types, but not holy enough to offend Orlanth or Vinga. Besides, you can come up as Vinga’s grumpy uncle or Orlanth’s champion or my bodyguard, or frankly, just as my friend. We need a safe place and this will do nicely.” Varanis returns the grin and gestures, “Get up here, Berra!”
Berra clambers upward. Someone who was on the other side of the roof drops down and off, leaving them alone up there.
“This bit’s on a bit of a rise, at least,” Berra says as she looks around. Her route was the obvious, safe one, but she is up.
“Has the anger from,” Varanis waves in the vague direction of Tarsh, “has it finally eased?”
Berra sighs, grinning slightly. “Yeah.” She adds, “It’s still in me. I think it’s got to be part of my forever, but it’s a lot better than it was. I got some thinking done on Grizzly Peak. I finally had the time.”
“I’m glad. Anger is exhausting when the storm can’t blow over.”
Berra gives a slow nod. “I had to keep quiet about everything. I was pretty sure that Lord Eril wanted me here in person for some reason to do with Jar-eel, but I couldn’t say that. It’s been eating at me for a while and then I was feeling terrible afterwards. So, it’s not been long. The others might still be on their way out. In Prax.”
“Wait, you think he knew what might happen?” The Vingan’s eyes blaze despite the growing darkness.
“No. I think that… well, I told him that I had a… that the world basically owed me a bear, maybe. But he wouldn’t have been seen as a Hero unless he thought he had to be. If he’dve known, he’dve made that happen instead.” Berra shrugs, and picks at roof-moss. “I mean, I didn’t think it would be like that, but I thought maybe there would be a force like a bear on our side something.”
“I see.” Varanis paces the rooftop once and by the time she returns to Berra’s side, the flash of anger is gone. She gives Berra a wry smile. “Sorry. I’m tense for some reason.”
“We’ve got a big thing you’ve been set to do, and you might find answers. Lord D’Val would say I should meditate at a time like this.”
“I think I can’t sit still. There’s the labyrinth below. I suppose I could try meditating through that, but I’d rather do sword drills.” Then she glances skyward and swears under her breath. “I should probably find a spear again.”
“Spear drill in the dark. What could go wrong. Let’s.” Berra scuttles over the edge of the roof without getting up.
Varanis returns to the earth the way she went up, leaping between the walls of the buildings.
Berra is looking on in admiration as Varanis lands. “Maybe we’ll find out you were descended from Yinkin, and he paused in his race down the mountain with Orlanth,” she suggests.
Varanis laughs. “It just feels good to move. It’s always been that way. Right… now, where to find a spear and a place to practice?”
“Spear or stick is fine. If you can borrow a couple here that’s good? Or from Sil-Jengharl?” Berra looks bouncy, verging on eager.
“Let’s try here first,” Varanis suggests. “They’ll have something. It’s just a question of whether or not they’ll let me given Yelm is down.”4What do you figure? POW * 5? 3? B: Rep/2? V: Easy pass on the rep, so yes. B: And nobody is annoyed you were up there either!
“Tell them I’ll be very careful. And get blunts.” Berra has what might be good advice.
Leaving Berra behind for a moment, Varanis heads off in search of an initiate and some practice spears. She’s back quickly, a pair of spears in hand. They are standard fare, usable in one hand or two. “There’s an open space over there. Used when there’s a need for duels, drills, and the like. I’ve secured permission for you to be there, so we don’t upset anyone.”
“Well, unless they want to be upset, but if they want to try themselves in the dark I’m fine with that.” Berra shrugs out the tension in her shoulders. “Just the drills, or some sparring?”
“Drills first and then sparring,” Varanis says, sliding her hands along the shaft of the spear to get a sense of it.
Berra whirls hers around her hand, and stops it mid-twist. She does feel it up and down for splinters, and gives the head a tug, but she seems to have the hang of which end is which and does not take much time in getting to know the weight. Then she settles to lean on it and watch Varanis with a critical eye.
Varanis handles the weapon with a degree of competence.520/26 for short spear She works through the beginning drills smoothly, having practiced regularly enough since being tasked with it in Boldhome.
Berra moves from time to time to be able to see Varanis as she blocks out the movements, moves through the blocks. “You’re looking a lot smoother,” she remarks as Varanis begins to slow.
“Thank you. These are the ones I can do as I sleep,” Varanis admits. “The next series is usually fine, but the advanced…” She shakes her head. “I can’t seem to keep track of which foot is which some days.”
“That’s learning. Let’s put those into practice? I’ll stick to simple forms, you try to hit anywhere except my face? I like having eyes.” Berra rolls out her shoulders again, a slow-motion shrug in the dimness of night. “I’ll put one on you if I see an opening, but I won’t try to make any.”633 for B and 14 for V
Varanis grins and offers Berra a little bow before launching into a well-measured attack. Her movements are controlled and confident.
Berra defends solidly, but with little imagination. She is hard to get past. Now and again she does try a feint or a counter, like it is automatic, and her amused laugh stands in for an apology when she forgets to be defensive.
Their practice continues and while it becomes clear that Varanis is still young in the use of the weapon, she and Berra have trained together many times and that familiarity helps.724 for B and 28 for V, which is a fail
Berra is just solid, and keeps on being so, and finally that starts to tell – she is giving Varanis opportunities that go unpunished, as the Vingan continues. It is only a few – she does not mock Varanis with what is not happening, just shows up a few weaknesses. If she had done this or been there… if only moments, not opportunities to curse failure.8Pass Air and Harmony – have decided this means V is good natured about it. Probably helped by the lack of a judgemental audience.
After a while, Varanis calls a halt, still grinning at Berra. “It’s too dark,” she says with a laugh. “I can’t see your spear anymore!”
“I am not going to light it on fire just for you,” Berra says. “But if you want me to, I could go through a few things fast?”
Berra starts off with a complicated, slow-motion set of steps. She walks through them twice then brings her spear up online, smoothly. The spear goes through them with her and it looks natural. Then she speeds up, boxing in her imaginary opponent.
Varanis watches closely, trying to follow the movements. Her smile grows as she does.
The movements are repeated four times. Each is faster, and then Berra is breathing hard, letting her lungs catch up.
“Let me see if I can replicate that,” Varanis says, her eyes gleaming and her fingers tightening and relaxing around the spear as she tries to contain her excitement. “I feel like I understood what you were doing.” She begins to follow the pattern laid out by the Humakti. While she doesn’t reach Berra’s speed and grace with it, she replicates what she saw perfectly. And then she does it again. By the end of four repetitions, she still can’t touch Berra’s skill, but it certainly looks like she has learned the pattern.
“S’good. Feel how it throws your weight around? It’s good for bracing and moving in new directions. You can probably go further as a Vingan, but I think I learned that with Lanasha’s friends?” Berra is casual about the name by now.
By the time they finish, Varanis has relaxed significantly and leads them back to the Cinderfox house to rest/guard for the night.
- 1V: I think it wouldn’t be polite for Varanis to offer to stand guard… in fact, it might be downright insulting. It was one thing when she was a nobody, but these days, she can’t really pretend that easily…
- 2Crit on jump and special on climb – Air is a normal pass for the stupidity
- 3V: Insight roll? B: Pass.
- 4What do you figure? POW * 5? 3? B: Rep/2? V: Easy pass on the rep, so yes. B: And nobody is annoyed you were up there either!
- 520/26 for short spear
- 633 for B and 14 for V
- 724 for B and 28 for V, which is a fail
- 8Pass Air and Harmony – have decided this means V is good natured about it. Probably helped by the lack of a judgemental audience.