1628, Fire Season, Late in Stasis Week
Just outside the Glowline, after a multi-day ride away from the Temple of Maran Gor. Session 3.20.
Berra leads the way from the camp, climbing up rocks occasionally to look around. She selects a site not far away, but blocked from the firelight, and then looks at it, sighing, and does not move.
Varanis peers about, looking for a good vantage point from which to stand guard. “You’ll be staying here?” she asks.
“I’m going to pray here,” Berra replies. “If Lord Eril knows, he can work out what news to tell Kallyr, in which order. And I can get orders too, but that’s less important.”
The Vingan nods. “How close or far would you prefer me to be? I can guard from back there,” she nods with a chin. “Up there.” Another nod. “Or I can stay here.”
Berra shrugs. “Don’t come into the Temple, is the main bit.” She unbuckles her – Varanis’ – the iron sword. “I’ll ask you to look after this. It is hard to be entrusted with Death. And if you will, I’ll take the one you bear.”
The Vingan arches a brow, but nods. She unbuckles Eril’s sword from her waist and offers it to Berra, hilt first. Her movements are slow and deliberate. She does not reach for the iron sword until Berra has put a hand on Eril’s.
Berra hands it over with some deference, to the sword but also to the woman. “I will be a couple of hours,” she says. Her prosaic, rural voice would be considered by some to be at odds with her formal actions. Those people would probably never have heard her in action.
“I will be here,” Varanis promises.
Berra takes the swords, and kneels to pray to them. Time passes, and her attitude changes little. The last of the light fades from the sky.
Varanis is patient, though not still. She watches everything around them, peering into the growing darkness. From time to time, she lets her eyes rest on the kneeling Humakti, but she never lingers.
Berra stays with her head bowed for what must be long enough for feeling to leach out of her, for she is in her armour. It seems to make little difference to her.
The barking of a fox is the closest thing to danger. The skies above are clear, and the rocks reflect the low campfire. Finally, Berra stirs. “Uuh. Ow.” And she stretches upwards, and leans her weight back.
Varanis is there, outside the boundaries Berra has set. She has a flask of water waiting.
Berra gets her legs moving before she steps outside the ‘temple’, and then she offers back Eril’s sword. “Thank you, Lord Orlanth,” she says formally.
“Of course, Humakt, my Brother,” the Vingan replies1… after rolling on whether she would use the phrasing.. “And I return my own blade into your custody and care.” She offers back the iron.
Berra takes the sword, and then sighs. “Well, he knows.”
Her companion looks vaguely apprehensive. “Did you get a sense of his reaction?”
“Ehh, it’s hard. I told him Jar-eel ran the Heroquest, and Yelm was back, and asked if I should report home. He said yes – you don’t always get much, just like with most of the time you talk to the god. Well, I mean, I guess it’s the same for you.. I got a sense of the correctness of coming back, and I don’t think there was anger there? It seemed like an order, although maybe he’s under stress. More than usual, I mean. I asked him another thing as well, but I can’t really tell you that. Not without proper permission, and I probably shouldn’t.” Her voice becomes tightly controlled as she mentions the second question.
Varanis nods. “Fair enough. More might have helped us to determine how much risk there is for those who need protecting, but…” She shrugs. “We work with what we have and we are lucky that you have a connection home for us at all.”
Berra sighs. “More might have made him think too hard about me. About this time he’s probably trying to sleep, too. But the protecting thing – he knows. He’s a High Sword. The High Sword. And if I was the one to break the news, he’ll want time to think, anyhow. But now, if you can, try to get me home alive. There’s stuff I couldn’t tell him.”
Looking disgruntled, Varanis protests, “I always try to get you home alive!”
“Yeah, but…” Berra waves her hands. “I don’t want to say this one. But at least we can tell people the message is in Boldhome. Lord Eril likes us alive, and … you know the phrase inside pissing out?” She finally remembers to buckle on the sword.
“That sounds very… Sartarite,” Varanis replies diplomatically, with a shake of her head.
“Well, it’s not how he’d put it. But… we’re generally useful. And I’ve got something interesting to tell him.” Berra shrugs. “Did you have water? And why did I decide to kneel?”
“That’s good to know, yes, and I don’t know.”
Berra holds out her hand. “The other thing… I might be in trouble. If I am, it’ll be tough, but it”s the kind of thing where you shouldn’t jump into it. Be very careful, if that happens.”2Berra fails Insight (Human)
A number of conflicting emotions cross Varanis’ face, none staying long enough in the poor light for them to be readable. After a long silence, she says, “Are you asking me to stay out of whatever it is? Or advising me that it might be dangerous?”
“I don’t yet know if it’s bad at all. But if odd things happen, don’t get into them without a plan.” Berra shrugs, and makes sure of her grip on the water bottle, and then gives Varanis a pensive look. “It’ll probably be all fine anyhow.”
“As you wish. I’ll avoid leaping without looking.”
“Let’s go tell the others. Or maybe in the morning, if they’re asleep. But they should know the message got back.”
“Who has first watch?” Varanis asks as she picks her way back toward camp. “I might offer to swap. Not sure I can sleep right now anyway.”
“Irillo, so he can sleep through. I’m not having Valseena watching at all.” Berra’s expression moves smoothly back to thinking about the next problem. “If he’s up early, that’s not a problem for him.”
“I’ll see if he wants sleep. If not, I’ll manage. You get some rest now, while you can.”
- 1… after rolling on whether she would use the phrasing.
- 2Berra fails Insight (Human)