Fire in the Darkness

1628, late Earth Season


Berra discusses something of her actual plans. Session SA3.10.


After the meeting with the Colymar, there is a food break, as Berra will not be able to eat at Silor’s. She normally eats like a peasant on her best behaviour, which is essentially what she is – a warrior of low birth. As the sun starts to slant down, she seems confused about the food, until she makes herself a small eating spike out of wood, and uses that and a knife to supplement her spoon.

Varanis, with her own bronze eating implements, stares at Berra for a long moment. In the end, she says nothing.

After a while Berra stares as well, looking at what she does, and then she throws the spike into the long grass and with a scowl settles down to her food. Her knife gets balanced on her knee instead of held.

As the distance towards Wilmskirk lessens, Berra’s stride lengthens, like she is determined to get into the city before it closes, despite not planning to get into the city. Her hobnailed boots scratch on the road – the leather must be wearing thin.

The weight of the backpack she is carrying again does not seem to be slowing her down much.

Varanis watches her friend almost as much as she watches Manasa’s ears. After a while, she swings down from the horse to walk beside Berra.

Berra gives Varanis a slow, gentle smile. It has curiosity in it, an invitation to talk. It is related to her curious look – but not quite like it.

“Is what we’re doing going to create a Wyter?” Varanis asks after a while.

Berra looks ahead, and her smile turns wry. “It’ll let me bring back the spirit I killed, or remake it,” she says. “And then I need to persuade and bind it. Him.”

“Which one?” The Vingan is frowning slightly, looking confused.

“Remember when the dark thing attacked? Irillo was wounded, and a thing grew from the blood? A demon?” Berra has a slightly amused expression. It’s hers, and nobody else’s.

There’s a shudder. “That? You want that to serve him?”

“That is him. It’s… I saw it, when I killed it. For a moment the fire lit it up, and it’s him.” Berra shakes her head, expression wondering. “It’s powerful, and smart, and close enough to him to be his Wyter.”

“But it was so… monstrous.”

Berra is silent for a few moments, and then says, “When we challenged it, it stood up. It didn’t stay and hide in Irillo. It’s got honour. And whatever power was in the Heroquest. I think it might have been made from him somehow – he’s all Darkness and Fire, right? Cold, smart, high and distant? We see the obvious parts, is all.”

“You know,” Varanis says, taking a conversational detour, “I keep wondering if maybe part of why I insist on seeing the humanity in Eril is because I am seeking some kind of reassurance that he wasn’t entirely lost to his decisions. And that it means you won’t be too.”

“Last time, it changed him. A lot. But mostly he came back. I can’t tell if the rest is because he values me more now, or because he’s really different. But he… I think it’ll end. Not all effects last forever.” Berra then adds with a shrug, “Or he can call on Humakt to put him right.” Divine Intervention. The power of a god, lent to his followers. More to his Rune Lords than his initiates.

“If I thought it would do any good, I’d demand a promise from you. But I can’t. It’s not my place. Not my right.” Varanis sighs and kicks a stone across the path. Manasa, who had been peaceably allowing herself to be led, stops abruptly and stamps. “I’m sorry,” Varanis tells her, then laughs. “Gods. Look at me now. A couple of years with all of you and I’m even apologizing to horses!”

Berra laughs too. “Yeah, I’m bad with horses,” she says. “I mean, promises. Horses too, but promises are tricky. They make you rely on them. It’s like having a rope when you should just be climbing.”

Varanis: “Speaking of rope… did we tell you that when Serala dragged Finarvi and me to the Air Temple for the Lunar Tennebris to question, she marched us in with our hands bound behind our backs? Half the temple was drawn into the HeroQuest, but the rest weren’t. The gossip is going to fly over that one.”

“Oh for… I didn’t pick that up. Yeah, that’s going to cause a lot of trouble.” Berra looks impressed, and gives Serala a look that says ‘wow’. She adds, “I mean, Lunar Tennebris. I would not wanna be explaining that.”

“Given I’ve been paying my tithes in Boldhome and rather think of the house and the town as home now, I hope they’ll get over it. The grudges could be … awkward when Vinga calls me to test.”

“You’re probably not the one that needs to do the explaining,” Berra points out. “But I might have to. Which means…. um… I probably need to think about how to tell people we – I – started a Heroquest by accident.”

“How did it kick off, anyway? You can practice with me.” Varanis glances at the small Humakti. “It was supposed to wait and then suddenly we were in it. I haven’t wanted to press, because I figured you’d get around to explaining, but… I’d like to know.”

Berra says, “I really don’t know. It worries me a bit, because it’s happened twice now. But I was just walking past the Temple and it happened. It wasn’t like with Irillo – that time, I think Dormal started it, and then it failed, and then Rajar and everyone else started it. That night everyone was chasing people around? That’s when it happened. So I wonder if there’s a someone, or a something, because Dormal shouldn’t have been able to start it on his own, right? You need worshippers.”

“That sounds like a thing you need to talk to Eril about. Surely he’d know if he had other worshippers meddling in his affairs.”

Berra stares at the road ahead for a moment. “Right now, he’s the only person I can’t talk to at all – I need to be cut off from help, and he’s the help I’m cut off from. You know D’Val isn’t in town? I don’t know who’s playing Ikadz yet. And I can’t ask for guidance without messing it up.”

“If things go very badly and Ikadz kills you, I will kill him.”

Berra nods. “Yeah. If it all goes that badly, it doesn’t matter anyhow. Go for it. But it’s probably not going to be D’Val. Please don’t kill him if it is.”

The Vingan glowers, that familiar mulish look coming into her eyes. There’s an odd similarity between her and her horse in that moment.

“For one thing, there’s no point in you dying. Rune Lords are hard to kill.” Berra says it lightly.

“So am I,” Varanis points out. “I’ve been to hell and back repeatedly now.”

“My duck’s tougher than your duck,” Berra tells her with a smile.

“You’re my duck!”

Berra considers that with a wide grin. “Alright. But I think Lord D’Val could take me.”

Varanis returns the grin, letting the worry go for now.