Berra — Gain The Armour
????, Fire Season, Illusion Week
Fire Season, Illusion Week, Wildsday. Instructed – or advised – by Lord Eril to have armour fit for Humakt, Berra goes out to buy hers. [[[s01:session-44|Session 44]]]
About the middle of the day on Wildsday, Varanis is back in the White Grape, trying not to climb the walls. She sits, then gets up and paces. She’s up and down the stairs a number of times. She even tries to meditate. Rondrik keeps putting food in front of her and she nibbles at it, but nothing seems to hold her attention. It reaches the point where even beleaguered Rondrik looks like he needs to escape from his own inn. It’s not that the Vingan is trying to be a pain in the ass. But the combination of waiting, inactivity, and lack of fresh air is really getting to her.
Berra, who has been checking over her gear and counting her money and meditating, looks up at Varanis and says, “Right. Walk.” She makes for the door. “I know a place to go where people won’t expect us, and I need to be there anyhow.” She pauses by the door, opens it a fraction, and casts the usual spell.
That attempt gets repeated a few times – perhaps Berra is distracted.
Varanis doesn’t hesitate. She grabs her helmet, slides it into place, and is at the door before Berra has finished the first attempt at the spell. She waits for it to be successful, but the impatience is obvious.
Berra says after a while, “Done. Distracted.” And out she goes. “I’ve been keeping my mind on Death, not fighting,” she explains.
Varanis murmurs something in reply, but it’s a distracted sort of sound. She’s too busy scanning rooftops and breathing air that is less stale than the inn’s. “Can we go up?” She asks after a moment?
“We’ll be walking uphill a little,” Berra says. “But I don’t think we can climb. I’m not risking falling right now, or being unable to concentrate. My god’s presence is not strong in me.” She scans with the habit of a scout who does this a lot, walking more like a predator than a person; people are getting out of her way, as her body language projects her willingness to remove them from this world if they get in her way.1Critical Intimidate. There’s something about Berra…
Varanis glances at Berra, thinking about arguing, but doesn’t. “Where are we going?” she asks instead.
“I’m preparing to be Humakt. If I’m not it’s because Lord Eril can do it better, but I stopped thinking about that. I’m getting ready. I need new armour, and I need to be fit for it. Right-handed. But the armour first. As heavy as I can bear.”
The Vingan looks like she has a number of questions at this, but the one that wins out is “Won’t that slow you down?”
“As I can bear. Not heavier. It won’t weigh as much as Rajar’s anyhow – he’s got to wear about twice as much metal as I do. But I’m not a scout. I’m a warrior. Time to dress like one.”
Varanis nods thoughtfully. “So, is this going to be a long-term change then?”
“Well, I’ll keep the scouting kit. Bronze scrapes and reflects light, and you’re right, it’s heavy.” Berra looks up at Varanis and grins, going from a terrifying threat against all humanity to a short warrior happy to be having new armour in her near future.
Varanis smiles underneath her helmet, finally beginning to unknot a little. “Do you have a particular redsmith in mind?”
“Ireen’s good, but whoever has most amour in is best. I’m in a hurry.” Berra is indeed walking rather faster than normal.
Berra’s hurried pace is a comfortable walk for the long-legged Vingan. She continues her scan of the rooftops and allies as they walk. “I think that other than tomorrow’s worship, there is little left for me to do. That may have been part of what was bothering me so much. Thank you for suggesting the walk.”
“There isn’t really. Rest, worship, thought. I’ll need to be at the Temple tomorrow night, but probably not in the morning. As far as I can make out, this isn’t a mystery I can learn. It’s one I need to uncover in myself. Fancy a race?”
The moment Berra mentions race, the Vingan’s face lights up. She looks ready to bolt at any moment.
“I can’t tell you to stay behind me – but if you’re more than five paces ahead, drop back and count on your fingers. I’ll do the same. We’re a team, but we can still tag-race.” Berra bounces a bit. “I’ll give you a three-point headstart if you like.”
Varanis’ laughter is joyful. “You have already forgotten that I have outrun your without a lead, haven’t you?”
“Yes, but I’m feeling arrogant. After a count of three, then?”
The Vingan nods, already leaning into it.
“One, two, three…” Berra does not, of course, cheat on the count. She takes the last moments to step differently, getting her own weight forwards, and then she is moving off smoothly and fast, as she always does.
At three, Varanis is off at a dead run. The pent up energy bursts forth and she surges ahead, leaving Berra in her wake. As the distance increases between them, she remembers suddenly that this is supposed to be a team effort and she glances back for Berra.
That moment of distraction nearly causes her to collide with someone stepping out of a one of the houses lining the road. She staggers to a stop apologizing profusely as the servant stares at her in perplexity.
By the time she’s stammered her apology out and starting moving again, Berra has caught up to her.
Berra, meanwhile, runs as she usually does. Steadily, determined on what she is doing, and with a lot more attention for the road than might seem possible. She catches up with Varanis and makes a little ‘tsk’ noise, as if to say she saw that.
Varanis ignores the scolding noise and matches her pace to Berra’s for a time.
Berra says, “Straight ahead,” as they get to the street where they should be turning left. “Keep going. But stay closer.”
For a while, it looks like Varanis is going to manage it. She keeps pace with Berra, dodging the occasional debris in the streets and being mindful of entryways. As the market appears ahead, she puts on a burst of speed and makes a break for it. The joy of the movement has taken over again.
Berra sighs, and keeps running, even adding magical co-ordination to the mix, but she finally has to yell, “VARNENAH!” for attention.
Varanis slows, glances over her shoulder, and makes an about face.
She runs slowly back to the Humakti with the short legs.
Berra’s expression is unimpressed, but she says nothing, and settles in to a trot. “Go left here,” are her only words.
Varanis falls into step and stays with Berra for the remainder of the run. Her helmet mostly obscures the sheepish expression.
Berra stretches the run out, so there is plenty of exercise, but it is not until they are heading in towards the street of the redsmiths that she says, “You don’t have to be inside the White Grape all the time. You’re allowed to get out, you know?” She is breathing hard, but not too hard.
The Vingan’s breathing is rapid without being overly strained. She answers, “But every time I leave, someone has to come with me. And if the risk we fear is real, then I’m asking someone to put their life on the line for me, just because I hate being inside.” She takes a deep breath, deliberately slowing her breathing. “That’s not right.”
“Oh do shut up and learn to command people.” Berra might just have reached the end of her patience. “You’re not doing anyone any good by suffering instead of them.”
Varanis looks at her in complete astonishment, stopping dead in the street.
Berra stops too. “Really. This is one of those times …” She is definitely struggling with herself, and goes on, “I know you’re trying to help, but you don’t have to put Orlanth in solid walls all the time. If you stay in, we have to stay in with you too. Just tell us where you want to go. If we can’t find a way we’ll tell you.”
“Berra, if I was paying you, I could command you. If you were sworn to me, I could command you. But you are my friend and my kinswoman, not my servant.” Each word is spoken firmly and clearly. “If you want to change that and put yourself under my command, we can discuss that. But it is not something you have offered and I will NOT take what isn’t mine.”
“Look. We’re your bodyguards. Just for this week. Hand me a bolg if it makes you happier – but don’t try to be good for our sakes without telling us you are. You’ll explode with inkept Air.”
“Fine,” she growls in frustration. “I was trying to reduce risk to all of you. We are needed for this quest and I don’t want to take unnecessary risks. I had decided that my need for fresh air was an unnecessary risk. I’m sorry for not telling you sooner.” She turns towards the market. “Where are the redsmiths?”
“You’re Orlanth. It’s sort of called for.” Berra takes a deep breath, lets out a slow sigh, and says, “That street, over there. They need furnaces, so they don’t usually stay out in the open.”
The road has three buildings on it with the distinctive look of shops – a gated front where the proprietor can stand, and a table for displaying wares. They also each have bronze plates displayed outside.
Whatever anger she was feeling seems to melt away when Varanis spots the armour displays. “Let’s see what they have,” she urges.
“The one we like best is the third along.” Berra walks past the first two, to where a muscly woman is polishing a bracelet. “Afternoon, Ireen,” she says. “I’m finally buying. Your patience paid off.”
As the woman give the little Humakti a biiig stare, Berra turns to Varanis to say, “We’ve handed off a lot of old Lunar armour here.”
“Hello,” Varanis offers with a polite nod.
Ireen gives Varanis’ armour a nod, and then says, “Better come in, then. Fittin’ In the street ain’t dignified.” She closes up her half door, making it into a full door, and then opens it. The shop within mostly has small items, but Ireen bolts the shutter and leads them through to an inner room with several open shutters that look out into a small herb garden. Light, and security.
Varanis looks around the shop with appreciation.
“Whaddya want?” Ireen asks.
“Let’s see one of everything?” Berra suggests.
The shop has plenty of packed shelves, obviously for Ireen to take things from rather than display, but they are all beautiful golden-red bronze. There is a little jewellery, mostly bracelets and arm rings, a few for fingers and toes or ears, but mostly this is an armour-smith’s and she does a few weapons on the side. Axes for the most part, daggers, and knives.
Ireen gives the Humakti another stare. “You sure?”
“Not wasting your time,” Berra replies, slipping into the same somewhat lower-class Heortling. “Gonna get something. Wanna know what.”
Varanis happily browses, taking in everything. She admires the skill and care invested in the work on display.
At their exchange, Varanis glances back to see how the redsmith responds.
The redsmith, phlegmatic, Just starts pulling down things that might fit Berra. Scale armour, ring armour, brightly polished bronze segmentata that makes Berra’s face melt like when she sees Haran…
“Try the segmentata first,” Varanis suggests.
As she examines the shelves, it seems the Vingan is particularly seeking out and trying on arm rings and bracelets. While there aren’t many, she tries each one she finds, examining them closely and checking the fit.
Berra does, and with a couple of bits removed and some effort in tying straps, it is on. “I like this,” she says. “A lot. How about greaves and vambraces?” She looks around for some, bouncing on her toes to try out the weight. The arm rings and bracelets tend towards chunky pieces with smoothly curved insides and Rune-inlaid outsides, squares for Earth, round extrusions to hold Air. A few have been left blank.
They all feel good to wear, the inner curve calculated well.
Varanis turns her assessing gaze on Berra. “Turn around,” she instructs.
Berra does that, trying to see her own back as she does. She looks bulked out suddenly.
“How’s your range of motion, Berra?”
“I need the rest before I find out,” Berra replies. Ireen helps her to buckle on metal vambraces, and Berra draws an invisible sword a few times. Her shoulders might have fallen, inside the metal armour. “Too bulky… maybe scale arms?” Her little face is so sad!
“Worth a try.” One of the arm rings with air runes slides onto Varanis’ arm and stays comfortably. She slides it off again to examine it more closely.
She sets it carefully on the counter, away from the others.
The scale arms go on, but after a little exercise it is clear that it is the segmented breastplate that is the problem. With a sigh, Berra starts tugging at the buckles that are keeping it on, and Ireen goes to find a scale hauberk instead. There is one that is mostly finished and could be trimmed and thonged in Berra’s size, and after shrugging her shoulder in it a little, Berra grins. Her hand runs possessively over the scales.
“I could do you a disk plate with a reinforced skirt,” Ireen offers, but the Humakti is already lost. The tips of each scale are sharpened enough that she is tracing water runes on herself, with her thumbnail. Only the fact she has her leg gently resting by the chair on which Wind Tooth lies gives an indication her mind is on the Middle World at all.
Varanis walks around Berra this time. “Move in it,” she orders, forgetting her earlier statement about not issuing commands. She watches with satisfaction the way the hauberk fits and moves with Berra. “This is good. This looks right.” There’s genuine appreciation for the redsmith’s work.
Berra shrugs about, twists, takes a few swipes at the air, and smiles a lot. “It just about fits my shoulders,” she says. “I think it needs a bit of padding there.”
“Y’get used to the weight,” Ireen says. “Scale holds on like skin.” Berra looks halfway unconvinced and half in awe of Ireen’s knowledge.
After a few more moments Ireen offers over the scale greaves and Berra remembers to check the doorway for assassins, and then asks, “Can you buckle the… in fact, I think I probably need plate. I might not be able to fix my hand for a while.” So that happens. Berra looks down at herself in wonder.
“Test your full range of motion.”
“I know.” But Berra is too gleeful to have it really sink in yet, and she’s still just looking at herself. Then, with a grin, she makes eye contact and slowly moves her left foot up and back. Balancing carefully she arches back to grab her foot and touch it to the back of her head. “Couldn’t do this in the segments,” she grunts.
“Helmet?” It’s a question, but also a statement and it seems to be directed towards Ireen.
“Mhm,” Berra says, and carefully un-stretches. “Full helm… no, wait, that’s probably too heavy. But something that I can put a feather into, whatever the decoration is.
Ireen pulls down a couple of helmets, some with cheek pieces already attached, and shows them to Varanis as well as Berra.
Varanis selects one of the ones with cheek pieces for Berra to try first. It has a mounting point for a side crest.
Berra puts it on, and then wriggles it a bit. “That pinches my ears!”
Her ears, it has to be said, do stick out a bit.
“Too small, then.” The Vingan glances at Ireen to see if the redsmith will offer a suggestion for the next to try.
Ireen hands over another straight away. It is in a similar style, conical with added plates and crest points. Berra tries that one as well, and hmmms over it. “Have you got anything that would go with water? Or Humakt’s Runes?”
Ireen goes to look in her pile. Berra looks at the new helmet, and the extended parts. “This one rubs my nose,” she grumbles.
“Then it’s not the right one,” Varanis says matter of factly.
After a few more Irene says, “Nothing’ gonna to fit you right, but I c’ pad this one and it’ll do, or I c’ press that one there out. But either way, you’ve gon’a have somethin’ changed.”
Berra shrugs, and then looks at her shoulders in delight. “Yeah, tha’ss fine.” Ireen looks to Varanis for a decision.
“Pick the one you like best, Berra. Then figure out what needs changing and can be changed quickly,” Varanis advises.
“None of them, really?” says Berra, but she points to one that made her deaf, but was not fitted badly. “Can you punch holes through there over the ears? In the Truth Rune shape?”
“Take me an hour,” says Ireen. “And an hour to edge the hauberk.” Hour, in this case, almost certainly means ‘some reasonable shortish amount of time’ and not a precise measure of it.
“Are the greaves alright, or a little long?” Varanis studies Berra’s legs.
“Oh, bother.” Berra grimaces. “Ireen, I need a shield to try out the hold. Varanis, I am not that short. They are fine.” She bounces a bit more, and then a strap slips, and one of the greaves tries to get away. “Oh.”
Varanis says nothing.
“It’s the muscle,” Berra says. “It sort of worked it down. My leather springs back more – it doesn’t need straps.” She looks confused, staring down and then pulling the straps back into position one-handed. “If I tighten them more…”
“Don’t let it cut off the circulation. Let me look.” Varanis kneels so she can adjust the straps. They are snug without being tight. “Hmmm… Ireen, the problem is that when the calf is flexed, it’s a lot bulkier. Her muscles are deceptive. Thoughts?” The Vingan’s own muscles tend towards long and lean, so she doesn’t struggle with the same problem.
Ireen looks, and whistles between her teeth. “Strap gotta to be higher,” she says. “C’d try a longer greave, but then….” She shakes her head, and Berra pretends not to have been told all her life that she is short, or else just does not care.
“Can the strap be moved on this one?”
“I could make it thicker,” Irene says, “Arch it mebbe? But move it, no. It’s all one part of a cast.”
Berra sighs. “Got any really big vambraces?” she suggests. Innocently.
Varanis suppresses a grin.
“Not for the likes of you,” Ireen says easily. “But let me see if I have anything with a high strap.” After a while, with Varanis pressed into service holding piles of bronze and leather, and Ireen speaking charms over a leather needle, she repurposes a bit of bronze to make a new attachment point, sewing it onto the old one with sinew. “There. That’s up towards your knee, now, and it’s braced so the sinew’s just to stop it falling forward.”
Varanis watches the woman work carefully, taking in the details.
Ireen is deft, strong, quick. Obviously an expert. “See, this goes in through the mount holes?” she tells Varanis. “So ee’ stays still. It’s the movement breaks things, see?” Meanwhile Berra is going through a set of exercises with a scabbarded Wind Tooth.
Varanis nods thoughtfully. “That makes sense. And then the buckle can adjust as needed.”
After a while, it is almost time to go for a walk so that Ireen can make more alterations. Berra starts talking about money and Ireen starts talking about the cost of materials.
Varanis stays out of the way to let them talk.
Berra’s approach to bargaining is not to care about the money, which she tells Ireen will be delivered from the Temple in the next day or two.
When they are done, Varanis negotiates for the arm ring she’s taken a fancy to.
Berra, in her new armour, bounces just as much as before.