Berra — Disrespect 02
“It is what your… hagiographers are calling you.” – Eril
“Let’s just assume I won’t know the long words. If you want me to understand, avoid them in future.” – Berra
“I am content to proceed.” – Eril
“Indeed, Lord.” – Berra
A couple of days after the Heroquest, when Xenofos is working, he’ll be interrupted politely, at the end of a paragraph, by the discreet cough of one of the scroll-herders in the temple. There is a Humakti at the door to see him.
“Is the man allowed in or should I go outside?”
“The woman is outside, waiting. She may enter the lower area, but the wings only by invitation. You may invite her if she is accompanied.” The wings are the torch part of the shape; the part that is held in the hand is for everyone.
” She would be invited by me. If You would be kind enough to show her in I’ll show her out.”
The scroll-herder bows, and leaves to do just that.
Berra, when she is shown in, is no longer in a wolfskin. She is dressed in the armour in which she rode and walked here, and the all-important padding, which is a layer of warmth. She looks like she needs it. She has the dry lips and bright eyes of low fever. “Sir Scribe,” she says, and gives a slight bow. “I have a small question.”
“Do ask, I answer if I can.”
“What are hagiographers?” Berra’s expression is curious, making her look very childish.
Raising of one eyebrow. Question was not expected. Maybe slight lessening of tension in shoulders.
“Writers, who write stories of great Heroes and Demigods. Like Pharaoh and Sartar. Or Seven Mothers, Hon-Eel or Jar-Eel. ” A pause
Berra frowns to that.
“But not just any stories, stories that show how they become heroes and gods.”
“So if someone says I have them, is that bad? Those are not names I like.” Berra is switching between confusion and a different sort of confusion. There look to be many things she is confused about.
“…Well, not all of them.” The way that Berra adds in later clarification is much more marked right now.
“Would names like Kallyr or Argrath sound better? Not Gods – but already heroes of great wordfame. I do feel a touch of sarcasm might have been present in the choice of vocabulary. Perhaps tinged with just the faintest touch of jealousy?”
The Humakti does something halfway between a frown and a scowl, with a lot of nose-wrinkling. “Mostly it doesn’t make sense,” she admits. “I was told I had hagiographers. I…”
Berra’s lips move, although not to any words that can be read from them. She is trying to think, and it looks painful.
“Someone has heard good words of Your deeds in song, verse or written. Since You ask – in this house of Truth I must admit that choice of word sounds like a civilized way of implying these words would have been inflated.”
After a moment’s consideration Xenofos adds, “Though that, not having heard the original discussion is my own conjecture, is honest, but not the Truth immutable of Lhankor Mhy.”
“Right. That makes sense.” Confusion clears instantly, and Berra gives a smile. “Thank you. I did not know how to understand it.” A more cultured mind would have said ‘interpret’. A less determined person would be abed, with medicines.
“To better understand Your situation, I must ask if You paid for someone to praise You? ” pause , afterthought of softening the implications “like Chieftains or Nobles do? “
Berra takes no insult at all. She just seems surprised. “Why would I?” Then with a grin she adds something that rings like an aphorism. “Glory is not honour. Praise is not Truth.”
“I did not think You would. Chieftains do – for their glory and honor, is coin they can use to get influence, followers and power. And with those they can serve and protect their people. Praise is not Truth, neither is slander, but slander can stain Your honor.”
Berra nods, and falls silent, apparently thinking. “Mm.” Her hands move in what might be an attempt to delineate things, and then she emerges from that to say, “No. slander can only stain those who speak it. It can change how others see me, but honour is unstainable. It can only be abandoned, never… sullied.” She struggles for the last word, but finds one that satisfies her.
“I think You are mistaken. Insults suffered without compensation sully honor of the injured.”
“Oh, Yes, but that is…” Berra trails off, and finally says, “I think they sully reputation. But I think that depends on whether you are truly insulted, or whether it slides off. Words of fools are like rain. Words of friends are like knives. Words of chieftains are like clubs. Still – I can see what you are saying. I just think there is something missing.”
“As a noble I owe it to my clan to keep my reputation untarnished. Maybe that is different to the Humakti who have severed their ties to the kin.”
“I haven’t. Not yet. That doesn’t always happen. But dishonour is not like a disease spirit. It does not pass…” Berra rocks on her feet, and does not ask for a seat. “It does not pass from person to person. A clan may avenge an insult by demanding compensation, certainly. But that is a clan way. First, the person must be insulted, and then the clan may act.”
“A clan that allows disrespect becomes weaker clan. That is true both in Sartar and Nochet. Ways of handling matter differ in both places. But when they go badly they go outward like an airrune in vortex of blood that may be totally out of proportion to original insult.”
“You’re saying there that a Clan should ignore a….” A deep breath, and Berra tries from the other direction. “If you stepped in to defend my honour when I did not, what are you saying I am? That’s what I hear when you say what you said, so I want to be sure it’s what you’re saying.”
“If we are talking of hagiography – we are talking of a civilized way of non-insult given in hurtful way. Truth rune with serrated edge. And one that speaker can not be called on. Petty talk.”
“Not what I was thinking of. I settled that thanks to your words. You explained really well. I’m grateful.” Berra gives a tired, brilliant smile. “I have taken up your time, and it has been good, but now I want to go think about Truth.” And she is herself and adds, truthfully, “And avoid meditating.”
Xenofos escorts Berra to the doors. On the way he looks couple of times like he is about to say something that decides against it. At the doors he bows, like to an equal, “I bid You success in Your ponderings. “
Berra manages a bow without losing her balance. Her eyes are clear now, although it may be tiredness has taken the unnatural brilliance from them. “And you,” she says. “Let Truth be your torch.”