Head Shot

Berra — Head Shot

1627, Fire Season


Context

Early Fire season, on the way to rescue Mirava. [[[s02:session-40|Session 40]]]

Events

In the evening of a long day as they rode through Tarsh, Berra has eaten, Yelm is still in the sky, and the little Humakti is stepping through greatsword drills, although there are some who would say it looks like she is trying to kill the grass – the rattan point stays obstinately down.

Varanis watches silently, set apart from the activity around the fire, but not interrupting the sword work either. She looks as travel stained as Berra – the bronze of her armour dull in the evening light.

Berra stops once she realises Varanis is there, and brings up the sword in a rather clumsy arc to salute with it, but brings it to a halt where it should be. “Forgot it was longer than I am,” she admits. “Want to poke holes in my guard, or something?” Today her swords are sheathed at her side, and this clumsy practice weapon has been her whole focus.

The Vingan nods. “Yes. I need to work out the aches from the ride anyway. Can I use the broadsword waster, or would you prefer I use my usual instead?”

“Broadsword should work,” Berra says brightly. “I need to get the hang of this. I’m practicing…. um, I guess I don’t know the name for it. This sort of guard.” The blade dips, wobbles a moment, and then comes into a line that lets Berra hide behind it while it could easily threaten a thigh or a foot. Behind it, the Humakti looks like she wants to use it as a spear, and just stab someone.

Varanis doesn’t smile, though there is perhaps a hint of it around her eyes. “I still remember the last welt you left on the inside of my thigh with that thing,” she admits ruefully. She vanishes long enough to collect some wasters, a shield, and her helmet. “I thought I’d keep our options open,” she says as she piles the spare weapons neatly to one side.

“Oh my,” Berra says at the sight of the pile. “Tell you what. You stop when you feel good about it?” She stands with the great sword over her left shoulder, her hand flexing a little as she waits.

Sorting through the options, Varanis selects what appears to be her preferred broadsword waster. She scoops up her shield and straightens up, rolling her shoulders.

Berra goes back into that guard, hands high, blade threatening downwards. She stretches out her feet by getting onto tiptoes, ready to go.(edited)

A nod is all the warning the Humakti gets before Varanis is closing the space between them, closing aggressively.1Varanis passes Broadsword. Berra fails both attack and parry rolls with a Greatsword.

Berra moves to try to block, and in concentrating on getting her huge sword in the way, fails to move herself away from the line of the attack.

Varanis’ strike snakes past the great sword and stops a handspan from Berra’s unprotected head. “Uh… do you want to put your helmet on?” the Vingan asks.

Berra freezes. A moment later, having looked the broadsword over, she nods, wide-eyed.

The helmet is not far away – it is with her things by the fire, and Berra scoots that way, gets it on, and buckles it left-handed as she returns. “Thank you.”

“I’d feel bad if I slipped and clubbed your brains out.” Although she sounds like she’s teasing, Varanis would definitely feel guilty over such an accident.

“Shall we try again?” She lifts her shield into place.

“It would be bad,” Berra agrees. “Let’s, but without me getting caught out.” But that fails to happen. She is slow off the mark again, unused to how the sword feels and thinking too much about it.2Some more rolls, for how they are doing generally, not any specific attack.

Despite only having the practice blade, or maybe because of it, Varanis is wielding the broadsword with general competence. It’s nowhere near her grace with the rapier, but she is consistently scoring small touches on her sparring partner.

Berra, consistently, is a half step out, a moment behind. Her arms and her feet are not moving in concert, and it shows. Even worse, when something goes right, there is Varanis already coming in again, and it is only when Berra is fully retreating she can hope to hold off the Vingan. She certainly cannot hope to win.

Nevertheless, Berra starts smiling a little through her frown of concentration, which makes her look puzzled then content then confused and then amused.

After scoring another touch, this time to the centre of the Humakti’s chest, Varanis steps back, though she doesn’t lower her guard. “More? Or change it up?”

Berra asks, “Are you learning?” after a moment spent in consideration. “I’m getting a lot from this.” She has grounded the greatsword twice, and is standing flat-footed with the effort, but her arms are not trembling and she does not seem tired.

There’s a nod of acknowledgment and then Varanis presses the attack again, with little warning. It’s a characteristic of rapier fighting that has carried through into broadsword. She tends to try for lightning quick attacks, trying to strike before her opponent can react.3Varanis rolls a special. Berra fumbles, and rolls a 92 on the fumble chart for result – critical hit on Varanis. To the 19. Head.

Berra retreats before that for a few more moments, and then sees a chance for a counter. She tries for the same shot as once put a long welt on Varanis, and this time, fails. Her attack puts her in a good position for a recovery that comes forwards, although she has to change her position, and for a moment, she is on the attack. Finally.

Varanis parries with her shield and attempts a counter attack. The sword is fast and she presses closer, trying to get under Berra’s guard.

Under is fine, because Berra has chosen to go over, and for a moment she is free to move where Varanis is not. Her sword comes up in a way that seems natural, as her hands shift on the hilt as she comes in over Varanis’ shield. Her balance is perfect for a kill, then she gives a yelp of alarm as she realises just how hard she is coming in, and just how heavy the sword is, and perhaps how easily necks break.

Varanis is too far committed to her own attack to do more than stiffen in anticipation.

The sword half slips from Berra’s right hand. It should have slowed, but she did not have the control she thought she had. The only thing she can still do is bring it up a fraction so it hits along the bottom of the Vingan’s helmet, and not the exposed neck. Her left hand turns, the blade rotates, and suddenly it is a heavy club moving too fast, instead of a blunt sword.

And there is nothing Varanis can do about it. She crumples as the great sword impacts on her helmet.

Berra drops her sword to get to Varanis faster, her hand reaching for the Vingan’s neck even as she thuds to her knees, her lips moving as she calls on her spirit for healing.

Varanis groans. “Ow… helmet off.” She tries to remove the helmet, but she’s lying awkwardly on her sword arm and her left is still holding a shield.

“Nonono. Don’t move.” Berra repeats the magic, muttering a little when it fails to work, and calms herself enough to do it properly at the next attempt. Then she sits back on her heels, and stares ahead of her.

“Vinga’s Prick! That hurts.” Varanis manages to get her arms loose and wrestles with her helmet. Once she’s free of the bronze, she flops over on her back and doesn’t try to sit up.

Berra looks down and in a small voice says, “It’s still bruised? Want me to deal with it?” She seldom sounds shaken, but right now she sounds upset, at least.

“I’ll be fine. Just give me a minute. I think you took the worst off it.” As Varanis stares up at the sky, her eyes lose focus. She releases a shuddering breath. There’s a long moment of silence before she fills her lungs and then as she exhales again, her expression clears.(edited)

Berra watches, and when Varanis breathes, she does too.

“I’m very glad I had my helmet on,” the Esrolian says at last.(edited)

“Yeah…” Berra looks over at the greatsword, and back to Varanis. “I’m glad too.”

Finally, Varanis sits up. Her movements are careful, like she’s testing herself. “I’m ok,” she says aloud, though it’s not clear whether she’s reassuring herself or her companion.

Berra nods, and says, “Good,” and stays kneeling. “I think maybe I should go to bed.” It is still light.

“It was an accident, Berra. A fluke.”

“I know.” Berra speaks in clipped tones now, keeping under control. “But… no. It wasn’t. I can’t control that well enough. I let it happen.”

“Next time, we go more slowly. I shouldn’t push so quickly when you’re learning something new. I rushed it.” Varanis starts to shake her head, then winces. “That might be sore for a bit, despite the healing. Jareen chided me frequently for rushing into things. A childhood habit that I haven’t completely left behind.”

“I got excited,” Berra replies. “I’m sorry.” But she gets up, looking down at Varanis in the evening light, and offers a hand.

Accepting the hand, Varanis rises awkwardly to her feet. Her eyes fall on the pile of wasters nearby. There’s a muffled laugh. “That was… ambitious of me. Another time, I think.”

Berra grins, although it is fragile. “I was thinking I’d get a lot of different shaped bruises,” she admits. She keeps hold of Varanis for a moment, just in case.

The Vingan seems stable enough. Gingerly, she collects her waster and shield, then heads for the stack of extra practice blades. She’s moving carefully, but otherwise shows little evidence of her brush with Humakt.

Berra goes to examine her own practice blade, professionally. Only someone who knows her would see how her steady movements in themselves say she is unsteady. There is no quickness to her, and too much care.

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Berra comes dangerously close to killing Varanis with a sword