1628, Earth Season, Fertility Week
On the ride up towards Grizzly Peak. Session SA3.04.
Once Manasa is behaving again, Varanis turns her teasing on Maalira. “So, what are your preferences anyway? I mean, most of us are picky, but not limited, if you know what I mean. Leaving aside Berra, who according to popular songs has a preference for Durulz, but in reality loves her sword.”
Maalira has gone an interesting shade of red.
Berra gives Varanis a look!!! and then gives Maalira a … look. “Les’ change the subject. Does anyone see any clouds that look like big white bears right now?”
“‘Subtle as a Humakti with a hangover’ is going to be my favorite phrase now.” Finarvi opines.
Varanis laughs again. It’s a hearty, happy laugh with a sort of freedom that’s been lacking for a while.
“It’s ok, Berra,” Maalira manages to sputter out. “I don’t mind the question. I just, um, don’t have enough experience to answer the question.” The red has deepened.
“I don’t think anybody does, really,” Finarvi puts in kindly. “We might think we do, and then one day we meet someone who proves us wrong.”
“Subtle as a storm bull,” Berra says quietly, maybe about herself, maybe not.
“Do you need another lozenge, Berra?” Finarvi asks in that same solicitous voice.1Finarvi rolled a special on insight to suss out what’s on Berra’s mind right now: ‘Berra is not protecting herself. She’s drawing attention to herself to stop the conversation. But underneath she is also struggling with her anger.’2Maalira passes: Berra started by being protective of the Praxian present, when Varanis was teasing. Now, she is looking different somehow.
“Depends. You gonna put your hoof in another thing?” Berra sort of smiles.
Finarvi abruptly sobers, for real this time. He casts a reflexive glance at Varanis.
Varanis’ laughter trails off as Manasa once again side-steps irritably. Once her mount is behaving, as much as the mare ever does, she finally takes in the mood and mutters some choice words in Pure Horse Tongue. The accent is probably off and she may be swapping a syllable, but it’s clearly meant to be ‘bollocking bollocks with blistering boils’ or something to that effect. A tongue twister of sorts. “I’m sorry. I was just teasing. I’ll shut up now.”
Berra’s expression changes, becoming calm in the way she often manages, but with a lot more sadness mixed in. She does not say anything, just sits straight in the saddle, guiding her expensive horse without the need for the use of her hands, as she takes a few moments to be herself. For that time at least, it looks like she can actually ride.
“I’m sorry too,” Finarvi says quietly, though loud enough for Berra to hear. “I’m still a little giddy with everything that’s happened. And afraid for the future.”
Berra looks to Finarvi, and nods briefly. “We have difficult things to do,” she says in a slightly absent voice. “I can see it will be hard. Today is just bad for joking for me, I believe.”
Maalira smiles. “I don’t mind, truly.” She tilts her head quizzically at the Humakti. “It really is alright, Berra, I promise. What’s worrying you?”
Berra guides her mount closer to Maalira to think, and then to tell her. “You … I don’t know who knows what about us and if you minded then I …” Then she shrugs. “S’all one. We’re going where we’re going and we’re together.”
Maalira gives Berra the look that is the look she gives Berra when Berra misses out nouns and expects her to follow without them. “Do you mean you would defend my honour?” she asks cautiously.
Berra looks at Finarvi and Varanis. “Well, I… if they didn’t know how you felt… I…” There’s a deep breath. “I really have been struggling with my anger. But I didn’t want you to feel miserable about you because they were teasing me.”
Maalira gives Berra a soft smile. “You’re a good person, Berra. I don’t know if they…” she waves her hand vaguely “know, but… we’re friends, we agreed that, didn’t we? I’m not pining.”
Quietly, Varanis tells Finarvi, “I’m going to drop back a bit. Check in on the rear guard or something. I’m not ditching you, but I’ve crossed a line and need to give her space.”
Now it’s Berra’s turn to go red, slowly, as she says, “Sorry,” to Maalira.
“No-no-no! Nothing to be sorry for!” Maalira says hurriedly.
Subtly, Finarvi’s horse picks up its pace a little, just enough to pull a few more horse-lengths ahead to give them more space for privacy.
Berra gives Maalira a sort-of smile. “It’s good you’re not pining. Or anything.”
At the same time that Finarvi moves ahead, Varanis guides her mare off to the side to let others pass.
Maalira mirrors the sort-of-smile. “I’m extremely fond of you and my heart stops every time you get into danger, but… time passes, you know? And being your friend is an adventure.”
Varanis looks puzzled as the others ride past her, but stays silent. When the path is clear, she wheels her mount and rides back in search of the rear guard.
Berra looks a little confused too, like everything got away from her.
Maalira pats her bison again and smiles at the back of the beast’s head. “Well, that was refreshing,” she says to no one in particular.
Berra gets out her water bottle to offer Maalira a sip.
Maalira accepts the water with a grin and a nod.
“So anyhow, I think we probably can’t die of embarrassment. Either of us.” Berra sighs, and then shrugs. “Have you ever climbed a mountain?”
“No, never.” Maalira says. “Not one like this, anyway.”
BleysRex: “I don’t think we’ll have to go too far up. There was a high point, but it could be reached by infantry.” Berra looks off into the distance, but either the weather is wrong or they are not close enough yet. “I wonder if we can get guides. I wonder if we should.”
Rapid hoofbeats announce Finarvi and his mount have had enough of the sedate pace and are riding back, a polite distance off the path the others are taking. He waves to Maalira and Berra as he rides past to let them know nothing’s wrong.
Once his horse has stretched the ants out of its legs, he lets it drop back into a walk and falls in beside Manasa.
“The outriders are fine,” Varanis tells him by way of greeting. “At least, as far we could understand each other. I think I need you to teach me more than swear words and flirtations. My limited vocabulary has become painfully obvious to me.”
“Guides are generally a good idea,” Maalira says. “But then again, that’s just more people who know what we are doing.”
“Yeah. Which would I guess make at least some people who do.” Someone woke up on the wrong side of the hide this morning, and it was Berra.
Maalira snorts. “You’ll feel a lot better about it once your body finishes catching up with the last few days.”
Berra gives Maalira a grateful look, and subsides in quiet for a bit.
- 1Finarvi rolled a special on insight to suss out what’s on Berra’s mind right now: ‘Berra is not protecting herself. She’s drawing attention to herself to stop the conversation. But underneath she is also struggling with her anger.’
- 2Maalira passes: Berra started by being protective of the Praxian present, when Varanis was teasing. Now, she is looking different somehow.