1629, Sea Season, Harmony Week, Fireday


Berra finds out that Kesten has a son. Some other things also happen. Varanis is amazed that Berra is celibate. Session SA4.10.


Berra sees to the rituals of Bleujen under the auspices of Gelvin, although she might be considered to be the senior warrior present. She helps close the eyes and instruct the spirit, and then goes to take her place on lookout, while the others continue. On her way up to a handy rock, she gives the others a cheery smile. “All done now, if you need me. Or if you don’t.”

Varanis, who has been cleaning and carefully inspecting her iron blade, gives a satisfied grunt and sheathes it. She glances around, then seeing nothing requiring her immediate attention, follows Berra.

“You’re alright?” she asks the Humakti as she catches up. “Ankle mended?”

Berra nods. “Mellia bound it up for me. It was just a sprain – it had popped a bit. S’fine to walk on, but if I have to run I’ll make sure of my landings.”

Varanis nods. “What happens next for Bleujen? For the Tower? Do we have obligations?” 1Insight: Although the questions were matter-of-fact, there’s something deeper underlying them. Shame is probably too strong a word for it, but guilt? That probably fits.

“Mostly Gelvin and Kofer handle it. We hired someone – well, it’s sort of hired. They were filling an obligation on top of anything else they asked – and that’s that. Like d’you remember when we had the cross with us, and someone touched it and just died? They’ll let us know if there’s a family that wants recompense, but there’s probably not. A donation to the Temple’s probably good?” Berra, by contrast, seems blithe about the whole affair. 2]Insight: There is a touch of sadness that creeps in, but it is not really aimed at Bleujen. It’s just there.

“Did we miss something? Something we should have seen?” Varanis asks.

The Humakti shakes her head. “Not really. We expect our warriors to stand alone. Maybe I could have sent someone up to relieve her, but Irillo’s not for the front line and everyone else was keeping a dragonsnail and its commander busy.”

Berra then beat-pauses, and adds, “We do need a proper debrief, though.”

“She was a servant of Mallia, yes? Do you think she was a priestess?”

“Dunno, and dunno. Probably, given how she got away.” Berra one-shoulder shrugs. “She left. And we’ve still got the magic on us, me and Mellia.”

Varanis frowns. “She left fast. Like she asked the Mother of Disease to save her and the goddess answered. That’s worrying. And there was another, upslope.” She scowls into the distance. “We need to hunt them down if we can.”

“No. We need to do the thing we’re clearing the area for. Then we can pay attention. But either there ain’t many of them around, or there ain’t many that’ve been keeping just out of range, and I think there’s not many around.” Another shrug from Berra. “Not enough sign of them. The trees are healthy, there ain’t been that many tracks.”

The Vingan frowns, then squints up at the sky. “We’re going to get more rain. Makes the tracking hard.” Her scowl turns thoughtful. “Maybe my dreams will tell me, though I’d rather not sleep out here while working that out.”

“Yeah. As the troop commander, I want to get the thing done that we came for, while we’re still definitely commanding the area. Things ran away from us, and I wanna push in.” Berra nods to the summit of Don’t Ask.

“Yeah, you’re right. We keep going up.” The Vingan stares at the corpse of the dragonsnail and the bits of broo. “Should we burn them?” Her nose wrinkles even as she asks it. “Charred dragonsnail is not a scent I’m fond of… still stuck in my nostrils as it is. But just leaving them here seems like a good way to spread disease.”

“Not much wood here. We can do it on the way down.” Some people get respect, but these things of Chaos are not dead Humakti.

There’s a reluctant nod of agreement. “Fine.” The set of her shoulders, the scowls… something is bugging the Vingan that has not been said yet.

Berra looks at her quizzically, as if wondering whether to ask.

Finally, Varanis sighs. “This is going to sound dumb, but… why me? Why am I the one who picked up one of their diseases just now, while no one else did? I feel like it’s always me. Like that time we passed through the red mist and I had hazia dreams and was sick after.”

Because you’re the Orlanthi and got targeted.” Berra punctuates with shrugs. “Because Mallia hates you more. Because they knew they had to bring you down.”

Varanis sighs. “Yeah, maybe.”

“Let’s think about the difficult bits when we’re off the mountain. S’athing a duck once told me.” Berra stops and then adds, “We weren’t on a mountain at the time. It was an allugury.”

“Allugury,” Varanis repeats. “That’s a new one for me. What does it mean?”

“Using a little story to stand in for what’s happening,” Berra says with plenty of confidence. “Sometimes it’s only going to hit you later how the story and a thing were the same thing. Sometimes it’s pretty obvious.”

“Oh,” Varanis says, brightening. “We say allegory in Esrolia. You can almost hear the similarity. Allugury,” she says, practicing the word. “I’ll remember that one.”

“Yeah, probably the same word.” Berra nods knowledgeably. “I mustn’t eat and also shouldn’t have sex while there’s a funeral going on that I’m guarding, but if you want to get food, do.”

Varanis arches an eyebrow. “When was the last time you even had sex?”

Berra gives Varanis a thoughtful look. “Before the Siege. But you probably shouldn’t get jiggy right now if you’re trying to make up on my behalf.” 3Insight: ||That stung the little Humakti in the pride, of all places.||

At Berra’s reply, Varanis gapes. “Six years???? You’ve been celibate for six years???”

Berra stares back. “Whaddya think celibate means? I walked away from it – I didn’t amble back!” She has forgotten even to be on watch.

“But… it’s not good for you. Things get… you know. It’s bad for your spirit!”

“It’s good for my understanding of how not to be… nah, of how to be Humakti. I ain’t Fertile, I don’t wanna be, and I’m less distracted now.” And not even pink around the ears.

“Is it a geas?”

“No. I decided.” Berra explains like this is perfectly normal. “If I promised not to, then I could rely on the promise. I din’t really think that was unusual, but I didn’t have anyone to make a promise to about it, so I didn’t, and it works for me. I just keep on decising. Deciding.”

“But… are you allowed to change your mind?” Varanis asks. “What if you’re cold? Or lonely? Or even just, I don’t know, bored?” All very valid reasons to seek out a willing partner from the Vingan’s perspective.

Mellia perks up at the voices. She even gets to her feet and waddles in the direction of Berra.

“Of course I could. But that would damage my knowledge of separation – it’s already pretty tough sometimes.” Berra shrugs, and looks down, thoughtfully. 4Insight: ||No inner pain touches her – she is just working out how to put things.||

Seeing her cousin approach, Varanis waves. “Did you have a good rest? Back me up here. Abstaining from sex is bad for your body long-term, right?”

Mellia thoughtfully replies, “The body is meant to have sex, but some disease demons only attack people during sex. So have fun, but be careful.”

“Nah, bodies don’t have to.” Berra shrugs. “Because if I don’t understand Death, I can’t do what I just did.”

Varanis just shakes her head. “I know some Humakti have sex… I mean, Kesten’s a father. And there was that one…” She smiles a little to herself. “So, is it a bit like the not eating eggs thing? Could be a geas for some, might be a choice for others?”

“Beats me,” says Mellia. “I think the Ernaldans would say sex is an act of Life. If I am right, it would make sense for Humakti to avoid it.”

“Wait, Kesten’s a father?” Berra catches up after a moment. “When… How – I mean, I guess I know how. In theory. But he’s a father?”

“So aunt Serenelda says.” Lenta notes, while ripping her blanket to two long strips. “Blessed be Ernalda and her gifts.”

Berra seems to be struggling to comprehend that.

Mellia echoes, “Blessed be the Queen of Life, Who will have Her way.”

Varanis glances in Lenta’s direction.

“But it is not like lack of sex would harm your body. Despite my mother’s nagging.” The Ernaldan starts wrapping one half of the blanket as a loincloth.

“Lenta… what did you do with your clothes?” Varanis asked, looking at the blonde woman with a bemused expression.

“I took them and quarter of that bloody broo off me.” Lenta answers in irritated tone. “They are in that pile over there. I will burn them once we have time. Probably on the way back.”

“And now you’re improvising…. Would you like my tunic? It was protected by my padding. I can just wear the padding and armour.”

“How old are his children?” Berra is still stuck.

“His son is eight , no, nine years old.” Lenta answers the Humakti. She is wrapping the other half of the blanket over her chest. “It might get a bit chilly, but I have my cloak for that Varanis. I’ll ask you if I get cold?”

“You didn’t pack a change of clothes, Lady Lenta? Would you like to borrow my spare robe?” Mellia looks at her pack.

“If you ask me when you’re cold, it’s already too late,” Varanis argues. “Hard to warm up again.”

“I was wearing my spares already Lady Mellia. My first dress was mucked by that horned beast earlier.” Lenta nods to the healer “And Thank you for the offer, but it would not do for me to don a healer’s robes..”

“I got trousers,” Berra says. “Anna cloak. He’s a father? That’s so sweet!”

“Thank you, Lady Lenta, for saving me from broo ick,” Mellia says.

Lenta nods and smiles “I can’t say it was a pleasure. But good you avoided most of that.”

Varanis goes to dig through her pack. “I know I have something.” She comes back a moment later with a short, Vingan-style tunic. It’s a soft, white linen garment – sleeveless and would probably land about mid thigh on Varanis. It is, of course, embroidered with movement and air runes despite being the sort of thing often worn under other layers.

“Just add it to your layers,” she says, handing it over to Lenta. “Better to have some choices now.”

“Thank you” As the Ernaldan nods and reaches for the tunic her improvised top decides to unravel.

Varanis snorts. “You need a belt and some pins too.”

Lenta glares at the disobedient piece of cloth and pulls Varanis’ tunic over her head.

Berra glances around at her command, gives them no orders to share clothes, but asks seriously, “You want my trousers? I got a sleeping top too but I’m wearing it.”

Lenta looks at Humakti “trews?”

“Yeah, same kinda word. Trews have a pattern in the wool, though, and these are linen.” Berra is again knowledgeable.

“Try them, Lenta. Once you do, you’ll never want to go back,” says the Vingan who has only rarely worn skirts or dresses in the last few years.

Mellia sits down on a convenient rock.

“Hey Mellia, you alright?” Varanis asks, turning to study her cousin. “Need some water?”

Lenta looks at Varanis with hesitation. ” I guess there can not be any harm, but the idea seems weird. Thank you, Berra. I’ll try. “

“I’m fine, but I won’t turn down water. I was told to drink more water at my last checkup, “ answers Mellia.

Varanis hands over her water flask. “Finish it if you need to and I’ll hunt for more water. Are you going to be good to finish this climb?”

“Thanks, I should be fine if I am roped to someone.” Mellia smiles and begins to sip the water.

Berra goes over to where she dropped her pack around the time the slope let her down and she turned her ankle. She brings it over. “It will be weird. Your role isn’t wearing these, but they do work well for climbing, walking, running.” She pulls out a neatly rolled pair of patched but serviceable trousers, with a little woollen tie. Blue, not green, of course. They are faded but well looked after. A moment later she also finds an equally worn blue silk scarf. It must have shimmered once, and still has a hint of that, but it has been worn under clothes and maybe armour. “Wrap this around your shoulders, maybe? Under the clothes? It’s where I used to wear it.”

“We can tie you to Irillo,” Varanis suggests. “He’s sturdy enough to be an anchor if you need it.”

“That sounds like a good idea,” Mellia tells Varanis.

Lenta accepts the trousers and tries to pull them on. The bulk of her loincloth makes that impractical so she gets rid of that and ties the trousers on. “Thanks, I’ll be fine.” She looks at herself with suspicion.

“I know. You’re really not looking Ernaldan now – you got any makeup with you? We probably won’t run into anyone where it matters, but still. It might make you feel more yourself.”

Lenta digs in her pack and gets out some kohl. “Getting into bowels of Mother Earth… And rather irritated part if what we have heard is accurate.” she notes to the Humakti while applying the colour to her eyes.

“Berra. Mellia. Neither of you senses trouble nearby?” Varanis asks.

Mellia concentrates, then shakes her head.

“Nope,” Berra says. She actually looks around as well. “And I don’t see anything. And we met at least one here from the group we tracked before – the one with big clumpy feet.”

“That’s good, “ comments Mellia.

“Ok. I’m going to do a quick scout for some water. There might be a spring nearby. I won’t be long and won’t go far,” Varanis says.

Berra gestures to a Humakti guard, and Varanis gets one.

Mellia nods and smiles.

The Vingan looks briefly like she’ll argue, then doesn’t. “Hope you can climb,” she says as she directs him to follow her.

  • 1
    Insight: Although the questions were matter-of-fact, there’s something deeper underlying them. Shame is probably too strong a word for it, but guilt? That probably fits.
  • 2
    ]Insight: There is a touch of sadness that creeps in, but it is not really aimed at Bleujen. It’s just there.
  • 3
    Insight: ||That stung the little Humakti in the pride, of all places.||
  • 4
    Insight: ||No inner pain touches her – she is just working out how to put things.||