Grave-digging Part 7

1629, Sea Season, Disorder Week, Godday


In the wilds of Culbrea territory, there was a Telmori den. Berra braves the den in search of grave goods. Part 7 of 8, following on from Grave-digging Part 6, Session Ill Wind.


Berra, dusty and sweaty, sits down by Varanis eventually.  “It’s not easy work,” she says.  “But we’re probably down almost far enough.  Depends on what Irillo’s finding. They got any stuff to take with them?”

“I don’t know. I’ll see if the healer brought anything out.” By now there is a tent, and some quiet talk coming from inside it, where the women are discussing the Lightbringers’ Ballad.

Varanis pushes herself to her feet, patting Berra’s shoulder. “I’ll be back after I’ve asked. Still have water in your flask? You should drink more.”

Berra nods.  “A bit.  We were camped up by a tiny stream, so I can go get more.”  She looks over at the other two workers, who are still working away, half clothed despite the cold of the night.  Now that there is room for both of them, both are working, and she does not say anything about that.

The Vingan heads over to the healer who fetched out the bodies. “My apologies for interrupting. I was wondering if there was anything in the den that might be appropriate for burial?”

She pops her head out of the tent to answer.  “There were a few little things, but they’re in the burial sheets.  Do you need me to go have another look?”  She is looking settled but not yet sleepy.

“It’s ok. I can look. You get some rest.”

“There are no spirits left there,” the woman says without demur, “But mind the walls.  They’ve been scent marked.”

“Ok, thanks. Sleep well.” Varanis heads back over to Berra. “I need a small lamp or something. I’m going to head into the den to see if there’s anything left behind.”

Berra says, “I can see in the dark.  I mean, right now.  I worked out how to make the stone work.  I think I emptied it of magic, though.”  Volunteering.  Of course she is.

Her friend glances at the den’s entrance and considers. Then she shudders. “It looked really tight…”

“Is this back to the Orlanth and Ernalda thing?”  Berra is already getting up.

“You don’t mind?”

“Why would I?”  Berra seems confused, in the light of the digging lantern.

“I feel like it ought to be me. My responsibility. And I’m asking you to do it for me. You dislike the Telmori.”  The Vingan considers a little longer. “If you are sure, then… yes. Please go look. She said the spirits are gone, but stay away from the walls. They’re scent-marked. And if you don’t want to do it knowing that, tell me and I will manage.”

“Walls get pissed on.  Great.”  Berra pulls off her rather sweaty tunic, and then peers into the wolf den.  “If you hear growling sounds, it’s because someone missed a living one.”

“Are you sure? Maybe it should wait until morning.” Now that it’s gone from a thing that needs doing to a thing being done, Varanis is having second thoughts.

Berra drops into a crouch and then disappears into the wolf den, a pale figure going into darkness.  “S’not too steep,” she calls.  “Just slanted.”

“Be careful,” Varanis calls after her nervously. “This is a bad idea. I shouldn’t have asked. It’s bad. It smells strange and it’s too dark and this is… it’s bad.” Quietly babbled not-yet panic.

“I think this is where they were.  It opens out…”  Berra does not sound panicked.

“You ok in there?”

“Yeah?”  Berra calls back a bit louder this time.  “There’s not much here, but a cou… … things.”

“Don’t take too long…”

There is the sound of someone wriggling back up towards the surface,

Varanis is too close, peering into the darkness that has swallowed her friend.

Berra is slow because her hands are full.  She holds out a basic stone knife, on some rather stained clothes.  That and a sling made of twine seem to be it.  “Just this.”  She looks puzzled, or confused, or perplexed, or something like that.

“We’ll put it all in the grave with them,” Varanis says absently, as she checks Berra over. “Thank you. You’re ok?”

“Uh, yeah?”  Berra gives Varanis a thoughtful look, head cocked to the side.  “It was just a hole – a little cave.”