Harmony On The Surface

Berra — Harmony On The Surface

????, Fire Season, Stasis Week


1626, Fire Season, Stasis Week, Fireday. [[[s01:session-36|Session 36]]]


At an early hour in the morning, after her watch is over, Berra creeps into the stables to see where people of different sizes and shapes are. Being a scout, she might be moving quietly by habit, or she might be making a special effort, but her feet find places that have no straw, and her movements are a slow drift, quiet enough to blend in. She finds Salid, and falls into a physically relaxed pose for a while, just watching him. Then she sinks down low, into an infantry squat, and looks at him from that viewpoint for a while longer. Troubled emotions play over her face.

He doesn’t turn, but says, “Your breathing is fast. Your hand still not moving. You are troubled. May I help?”

Berra snorts lightly. “I was looking at you to remember what a troll could be. Or a trollkin. Troll-person. I really don’t know how to think about trolls right now and I wanted reminding. So I came to remind myself. But I think it’s good you’re awake.” She speaks quietly, with the night-time lisp that evens out sounds and makes them hard to overhear.

He eases up, “Uzko not like Enlo. Not learned humility. Have too much pride.” A pause, “And Zorak Zoran where bad trolls go.”

“Mhm. I suppose everyone has bad people. Maybe that bad. I don’t know. I’ve never really tried to think about it.” She trails off, probably still thinking.

He considers, “Humans join Zorak Zoran.” It’s not said with any sense of blame.

“If he wasn’t there, where would the bad people go?” Berra is caught by the curiosity. Her voice rises a little as she encounters philosophy beyond the reach of her sword.

Sid considers this a moment, “Hard to say. Perhaps to Storm Bull. Perhaps to something Less Dark, more Bad.”

“Mm. Yes. Why would they all go to one place, after all? My hand won’t be moving for a while. Then I’ll…” She pauses, and snorts. “You know, I should probably be horrified, but I’m not – I think he ate that? My tattoo? It’s just… confusing.”

Sid nods, “Hands not much meat. Will gain little strength from it. And rune may give bad stomach.”

There is a shudder that only Uz could sense in the dark. “I think he wanted to have won. To devour that part, and break Humakt’s story. He got the wrong Rune, though. I mean, for that.”

“Zorak is Hunger and Hate. It is all he knows. Does not understand that in Darkness there is peace. Harmony.”

“He uses Death wrong. That’s why my Lord feuds with him. I just don’t really know what to think. That’s really dangerous. I could do anything, and I don’t want to do some of it.” Berra sounds almost wistful.

Sid nods, “Want advice?”

Berra thinks for a bit. “Please say it.”

He looks a bit surprised, “Enlo not often in position to advise.” He ponders, putting it into tradetalk, “Go somewhere dark. Under sky, perhaps. Meditate on the Dark. Dark is not wrong, no more than Yelm is wrong. Is how is used.”

Berra subdues a chuckle. “It’s a Rune I have,” she says. “I’m bad at patience, but I’m very good at… well, I’m a scout. But it’s where my back meets my neck, so it’s part of me but I don’t have to look at it. In me, it doesn’t come out in a good way. It’s not the Dark, I fear. It’s me, I think. I could kill just about anyone in this village. Rajar would be hard. So would some of the… right now, I’ve got the example of the best Rune Lord I’ve ever met, keeping me patient. If I had not met him, I think I would have gone on being angry and not realised I was, and I’m angry a lot. It flows under my surface, in the darkness, gaining strength there.”

He nods, quietly, and gets out his oil flask, and starts oiling his knife thoughtfully, “Am angry sometimes. At Xiola Umbar for not rescuing me. At the Mother of Uz all, for how was born. At Old Master, for behaviour. Sometimes at Humans for how they act.” His tone is just slightly sad, “Then reflect. Argan Argar teaches me to better myself in Harmony. And starting lower, more room for better.”

“Up from the Darkness. The depths. My river kills people. Enough that we all know to take care. That’s where I get my temper. Cold and water, and movement. Why would you give me that advice, though? What were you thinking I was thinking?”

“Dark is Uz. Uz are Dark. Zorak is part of Uz. But not all. Understand peace in Dark, maybe not hate Uz.”

Berra sighs, slowly. “You’re right. In that. I shouldn’t hate Trolls. You didn’t hurt me. I met a trader a while back who warned me of a thing as I was leaving – he didn’t get money out of it. It wouldn’t be right to do that. But that thing…” She breaks off, getting her breathing under control along with her expression.

The trollkin nods, sagely, “Death Lords are bad trolls. But Devolin is bad duck. Would judge D’Val by Devolin? Onjur Bad Human. Should Enlo judge Berra by Onjur?”

“That was why I came. I couldn’t bear to think that on my own. I guess I needed to hear it said. Good that you’re awake. But I hate him. He took my Rune. I owe him. Maybe one day I’ll find him and cut it from him.”

The trollkin considers this, “Is fair trade. Would not advise you to eat it.”

“Bad stomach,” Berra replies. “But… how in hell – and I mean this with respect – does anyone ever face up to one of those?”

The trollkin admits, “Would have run away. Or used many pikes. Or slings. Or fire. “

“So, big group of friends. Got it. He used fire, though – he probably oh crap he took my Rune while I was Humakt.” That was probably not how Berra meant to end the sentence.

The Enlo considers this. “Not on Hero plane.”

Berra speaks quietly still, but her voice is a little dulled by the weight of what she is saying. “Yeeeaaahhh…. But I’d already started a Hero Quest. I was being Humakt to talk to Orlanth. I meant it to make a difference. So…. damnit. I was… I mean, a Death Lord doesn’t just appear, generally. Usually. And I was fine thinking it was that I was the only Humakti around but I might have been the only Humakt around as well. So one day I might have to face him alone. To make that right.”

“Is different Quest. But yes. Although does Humakt not have friends?” The trollkin shrugs a little, “But many storys in the Great Dark.”

“Yes. And I can probably find one that works. And it might not matter, and it might not matter much, and it certainly doesn’t matter now. For now, I’ve got different important things to do. Different important. I said that wrong. But that. Purify. Atone for the error. Start. Maybe use this as suffering in the Great Darkness, but I will need to have a working sword-hand anyhow. So anything that can make a difference while I heal.” Berra folds her arms around her knees, thoughtfully.

“Should meet Xiola Umbar if ever in Castle of Lead. Like White Lady, but bigger.”

“If I ever am, I’ll try to. I… I could end up anywhere. There are secret things I have to do while Orlanth is in the underworld. Die, maybe, if I’m needed in the room with dead Yelm. I might meet Humakt first. Don’t tell her that.”


Berra thinks for a bit longer, and then gets up, but she pauses to look down at her belt and her pouches and her sword. “It’s all in the wrong place. But would you like some nuts?”

He nods sagely. “Eat when can. Who knows of tomorrow.”

Berra pulls a pouch around a little, checks in it, and then just unknots it, rather than trying to open and pour. “Give me the skin back tomorrow,” she says. Her right hand still isn’t moving.