In a Spin

1628, Storm Season, Death Week


Berra was wounded in the spirit, somehow, in the recent Heroquest. She is starting to get better. Session SA3.13.


Storm Season in Boldhome is cold, often wet, with a promise of renewal to come. Berra’s High Holy Day saw much of her personality restored; she came home a few days later and was more herself. Much more.

Really, really a lot more.

She has been talkative and silent by turns, thoughtful and reckless. Often her thoughts are about how to be more reckless.

Today she is peaceful and calm, and lying on the floor under the table in the Praxian room.

Maalira has resumed spinning, as she was taught in Blue Tree, and is sitting on a bench pushed into the corner, legs stretched along the length of it and back against the wall.

Berra crawls on her back over to Maalira, wriggling her shoulders along. “Hey. That’s good yarn.”

Maalira smiles down at her, one eyebrow raised. “Thank you. I think I’m getting better at it. What are you doing?”

“I’m thinking about being a fish. Someone told me in Nochet there are fish that spend their whole lives swimming upside-down and I just remembered that.” Berra shrugs, by wriggling to lift one shoulder from the floor. “I was looking at you from under the table but that didn’t seem honest.”

Maalira’s cheeks go a little darker, and she blinks. “I didn’t realise spinning was that interesting to watch,” she hazards.

“Um, is this where I don’t point out how your fingers are moving?” Berra seems genuinely perplexed.

There is a lot more blinking.

Berra slowly turns pink. “Um, you might be making it too tight if you don’t… uh… sorry?”

Maalira gives a slightly choked laugh. “Yes, my tension isn’t always quite right,” she manages.

“Tension. Yes. Good word. Bad word.” Berra rolls over to hide her head in her arms, like a toddler. She grumbles at the floor.

“Say what’s on your mind, Berra,” Maalira says.

Berra looks up. “I was. I was just saying it to the floor.” Only she could bend her spine enough to look up, snake-like, from so close. If she were a cat she would be batting at the spindle now.

“And are you going to repeat it to the not-floor?”

“Sorry. I’m just having a really hard time trying not to find you attractive. I mean, I do, but I shouldn’t let that affect me.” Berra’s face twists thoughtfully. Her ears are still bright pink.1Is that the sound of Jar-Eels words in Berra’s ears for a moment? A memory, obviously, since the witch is dead. – GM

Maalira snorts. “I can see that’s going well,” she says in a strangled voice.

“I got called the Humakti that loves, once. But I want that to be for my family, for my friends.” Berra half-scowls at the memory, and then just looks determined. “I gotta find ways to not let it affect you, though.”

“Love makes people family,” Maalira says cautiously, “but… I know, we’ve had this conversation.”

Berra nods. “Yeah, but you asked what I was saying,” she points out. “I mean, what was on my mind, and then what I was saying to the floor.”

“I did, yes.” Maalira laughs. “That’ll teach me.”

“Uh, given your previous experience, it probably won’t.” That seems to be Berra’s considered opinion. “But is there anything I can do to help you?”

“Show me how not to get the tension wrong on my spinning?” Maalira suggests.

Berra considers, and then stands up with a fluid motion. A sudden calm comes over her, and her movements become peaceful. Her whole body is suddenly relaxed. “I’m not an expert,” she says, “But, I think you’re doing it too fast. I mean the spindle’s too fast for how fast you’re pulling through.”

Maalira holds out the spindle with a pleading look. “Show me?”

Berra does, not even taking care about touching fingers – she no longer seems to care. “So, you’re giving a quick flick to get it all moving,” she says, “And that helps the spin to last longer, but …. yeah, this wool’s a bit dry, so it’s not clinging like it should, so then you have to sort it all out and you’ve still got the spindle moving.” She shows how she would do it, for all the world like she was born to it. “They say you have to make a mile before you get good.”

Now, the Humakti’s voice is slower, too. She just… became calm.

“Perhaps if I start spinning while we ride, the miles will go faster,” Maalira quips.

Berra considers, and finally comes up with, “You might lose the thread of your thoughts.” Her voice seems distant, but not unhappy.

“Something like that,” Maalira says. She tries spinning the spindle again, a little more delicately.

“You could try mixing this with other wool, and combing it again,” Berra suggests. “To get the right mix of oil in it.” Her voice is gentle, that of a patient teacher. “Blending is an art I do not have.”

“I’ll ask Yehna if she has any oilier wool I can use, to get it a bit more slick.” Maalira slides her fingers along the yarn thoughtfully.

“She can probably tell you more,” Berra says, making eye contact.

The Humakti looks calm, acts it. There may be nothing more to her than that.

“More…?” Maalira probes, confused.

“More about how to blend the wools,” Berra replies lightly. “Different lengths and how tough they are. If you have not yet found out, you should know that combing wool is very messy.”

“Everything to do with wool is messy,” Maalira says. “Look at the state of my skirt.” It is covered with fine dun fibres.

Berra looks down at it. “Your robe is wearing a coat,” she says.

“It’s going to need shearing itself at this rate.”

“Some sheep do get plucked,” Berra points out. “The wool comes off some naturally.”

Maalira laughs. “You’ve known me for long enough to know that nothing comes off my gown naturally.”

Berra might under other circumstances laugh instantly. She thinks about it, and smiles. “The whiteness?”

Maalira cracks, laughter pealing forth until tears start to appear in the corners of her eyes and she has to sit down.

After a moment in which it seems like Berra might react, she just pauses, and waits. “Would you like some water?” she says once Maalira is seated.

“That might be a good idea,” Maalira gasps, sniffing and trying to wipe her eyes without hitting herself in the face with the spindle.

Berra drifts into the kitchen, and comes back with a cup of water a few moments later. She proffers it with the patient elegance of a statue, waiting until Maalira is ready to take it, with a hand outstretched in offering.

“Thank you,” Maalira says after a long drink and a few sniffs. “Sorry.”

“For what? I am confused, but not offended.” Just a little blank, too. Politely.

“For falling apart over a joke,” Maalira says. “I’m silly.”

There is a long moment of consideration. “You stay together when you are needed,” Berra says after that pause.

Maalira smiles. “I hope so.”[

footnote]No mention of that one time you put a thumb through one of her arteries. – B
Pfft just a flesh wound. – M[/footnote]

  • 1
    Is that the sound of Jar-Eels words in Berra’s ears for a moment? A memory, obviously, since the witch is dead. – GM