Little Spoons

1628, Earth Season, Harmony Week, Windsday


Berra has missed all of the excitement of the Heroquest that took place in the Greyrock lands. Session ??


It is a couple of hours after Berra’s arrival at Greyrock Cave, an hour after the Heroquest ended. A wounded wolf has been patched up, although he asked to keep the scar, and not to have it done by magic. There are many, many cows around, including one being roasted. Berra has managed to scrounge a bit of bread and some kind of slurry in a bowl that is apparently ‘a butter without vegetables in please’ and slumps down by Maalira. There is an odd smell of dried fish.

“Berra, you smell of dried fish. Also, hello,” Maalira says.

“I went to Duck Point and I got some fish there and then some ducklings wanted to be heroic and it’s just not coming out of my hair,” Berra says. “So really only a bit of me smells of dried fish. Hello!”

Maalira snorts at the mention of the ducklings. “I probably have some flower oils that will get the smell out, if you don’t mind smelling of flower oils for a while instead,” she says. “Did you have a good time?”

Berra sighs.1]Maalira passes Insight (Human). The sigh is preceded by a wince that she overcomes quickly, and then a touch of sadness. “I didn’t go there for a good time,” she says, and then adds, “Despite the famous Ulerian Temple and the infamous worshippers of the goddess of love, there. But I got a day’s food for the clan.” That last bit is the change of subject, right there.

Maalira pulls a face. “I meant with the ducklings, but… that was good work, getting the food.”

Blink. “Oh, right. Yes, they like having a famous person who gives them time, and I think their parents are not so sure what to make of me. Even though I’m a Duck, that’s just one person’s opinion.”

“Not someone they would argue with, though.”

“Yeah, which is kind of a problem.” Berra tears a bit off her bread. “This is fruit butter – it’s made by cooking up all the apples and stuff that was going a bit yucky, but it tastes really good. Want some?”

“Yes, please! There’s definitely no meat?”

“Yeah. And I haven’t got any fish on my fingers. Just in my hair. But yeah, maybe the flower oil would be good.” Berra puts down the bowl to tear her bread in half, giving Maalira the piece that has not already been torn. “Just scoop and dip,” she says. “Don’t dip twice unless you’re already sharing kisses.”

Maalira makes a sound that is neither a laugh nor a cough but somewhere in between.

She takes the bread after recovering herself.

Berra pauses, and her ears go a bit pink. “Sorry?” she suggests, once her blush has reached her roots.

Maalira starts to giggle. “You do have a way with words,” she says, tearing off a small piece of the bread and dipping it just once before popping it into her mouth.

Berra does the same. “I used to hang around the biggest barracks in Nochet,” she admits. “Was part of it.” The apple slurry is sweet and has distant reminders of spices in, as well as some butter.

Maalira blinks, processing this. “That would be where you picked that saying up, yes?”

“Yeah. Well, no, but talking like that. It’s not… my sister wouldn’t do it. She went to a different Temple.” Ernalda. Famous for fertility and sex. Yehna probably has entirely different ways of putting such things.

Maalira grins, remembering Berra’s sister. “Yehna wouldn’t blush, for one thing.”

Berra looks down at her bread and blushes again. “Yeah, alright. And she can cook this stuff. I like it on beef, but that’s hours out, and anyhow, we’re going to be … I mean, you’re not going to eat that and I’ll probably be on watch.”

“You should still make sure to get some of the meat,” Maalira says seriously. “I’ve had loads of vegetables but since you can’t have those you mustn’t skip the meat. You’ll end up tired otherwise.”

Berra nods. “I’ll get some food sent up to me,” she says. “While I think about stuff. And watch.” She looks over towards the distant hillside where her land rises, starts to rub at a new bracelet on her arm, and then stops and scowls into that distance. While happy with the idea of a watch tower and soldiers, she has not bubbled over about it since they came back from the land. Of course, she has been away for a lot of it.

“Is something worrying you?” Maalira tilts her head as though trying to see whether the bracelet has been rubbing Berra’s skin.

Berra scowls are cute scowls. “I have to work out how to do this correctly,” the Humakti says. The bracelet is two parallel zigzags – Water Runes – capped at each end by Air. It goes around her arm a little more than once. “Who lives there? How do I keep them from being bored? What’s likely to go wrong?”

Maalira nods. “And, will they like your watch tower?” She smiles, then adds “That is a joke,” just to be on the safe side.

“Well, that’s part of it – it needs to be comfortable enough that it’s basically a house. But it’s also got to be sturdy. And it’s out near nowhere, so you need to have enough people, but not a mix that ends up arguing. Three is… probably good?”

Maalira nods. “You will need to get to know them and work out which combinations will make for a good watch shift and which won’t.”

“Yeah. And who can be spared from the land, when. Maybe I’ll make a lodge for hunters, and they get to live there but they have to keep watch.” The thought seems to have hit Berra partway through talking, perking her up a little.

“That’s a great idea. People will be more inclined to do what you need them to do if you give them a good reason for it.”

Berra drops a bit of bread into the apple sauce, and reaches for a knife to fish it out. “There are two reasons. Keeping this place safe from raiding, and keeping other places safe from this place.”

Maalira frowns slightly over that last bit. “Because of the cave?” she hazards.

Berra nods. “Oh, you weren’t here for the first debrief, so maybe you didn’t think about it. But yes, we’re… we’re here for a lot of reasons but the Cave’s the biggest one. This reward could have been anywhere.”

“Ahh.” Maalira pulls a face. “Politics.” She dips another little piece of bread. “At least it’s politics with good food.”

“Prince Kallyr’s making sure that King Leika knows she doesn’t need her and she can provide for us. And that… well, that we don’t just work for the Colymar.” Says the Colymar.

“A bit hard for us to just work for the Colymar when we’re banned from their lands, anyway,” Maalira observes.

Berra nods. “Yeah. I mean, she’s my King and all, but Leika was letting her lips flap in the wind there.”

Maalira opens her mouth as if she were about to say something, then closes it and tries again. “An awful lot of politics is one of them or other flapping their, uh, mouth and the rest running around yelling about it.”

“Trying to burn Kallyr’s body and move into the palace was a pretty bad move, though,” Berra says. “I … I don’t know how it fits in with honour.”

“Sometimes… sometimes the things people are honouring aren’t always visible to others, I suppose,” Maalira muses. “But it doesn’t really look very good from outside, does it.”

“Yeah. No, it doesn’t.” Berra sighs. “And she’d have needed to admit she was wrong.” She tries dipping bread in sauce on her knife, and now she has two smaller bits of bread that both need rescuing.

“Do you need a spoon? I think I have one somewhere.” Maalira nods at the bowl. “What is it with all of… them… not wanting to admit that they are wrong?”

“I have a spoon. I’m just bad at admitting I’m wrong. Also, I’d lick the spoon and then we wouldn’t be using it any more.” Berra gives Maalira a wry look. “The best leaders are Orlanthi. Air-personalities.”

Strong. Prideful.

Maalira laughs. “Licking the spoon would be irresistible, of course.”

“This stuff is very lickable,” she adds.

“And then you end up with a whole lot of licked spoons,” says Berra, without any blush at all. “But it’s fine. I got them.” She has two bits of bread balanced on a larger bit now, so she can wipe her knife and balance it on her knee and then eat the gunky apple-y bread with fingers that she wipes clean on a bit of rag like a good polite person should.

“If one had a washing-bowl,” Maalira muses, “one could clean the spoon between spoonfuls…”

“There’s a waterfall,” Berra points out. “But you could also go ask for a bowl of your own.” She gestures to the knife on her. “I would have to move this to get up.”

“It’s all the way over there,” Maalira says in a mock whine. “But it’s fine, I still have plenty of bread. You are very good to share with me though. Do you want me to go and get more?”

“No, it’s fine. Only if you want to eat a whole bowl-ful. We’re going to Prax, then.” An acutely Berra change of subject.

“Yes,” Maalira says. “I’ve been away so long, it feels like. I hope we will see some of my family on our way through. And I can replenish my medicines.”

Berra smiles softly, her shoulders relaxing. “It’ll be good to get out and about,” she says quietly. “And… well, the further we get into Earth Season, the less likely that my Temple will need me anyhow. But if they call and I’m gone, then I’m gone. So not a problem.”

“The sky in Prax is always so beautiful at night,” Maalira says, not entirely relatedly. “It feels like you can see forever.”

“It’s got good skies,” Berra admits. “But the … eeee….. it’ll be the end of the hot season, won’t it? I’ll… Varanis is going to fry.”

“Perhaps we should employ a pretty girl to ride alongside Varanis and wave a big fan to keep her cool,” Maalira suggests with a wide grin.

“Let’s make it a pretty man so we’re less distracted. I’m a warrior, remember?”

Maalira snorts. “I thought it was Varanis who we were distracting?”

“No, we’re trying to cool her down. She fights for both si… she likes women and men.” Berra pauses, considers. “Plays for both teams?”

“Licks both sides of the spoon?” Maalira suggests.

Berra sits up straighter and grins, pleased. “Oils both sides of the sword.”

Maalira is properly laughing now. “If she hears either of those descriptions she will throttle both of us with her bare hands.”

“We’ve left out Helerans,” Berra says. “I don’t know if she likes all the points of the knucklebone?”

Maalira doubles over laughing. “I bet she wouldn’t mind finding out if she did…”

Berra says gravely, “Throwing them to find out.” She nods, wisely.

“Tossing them…” Maalira murmurs.

That gets Berra, and she leans forward to laugh quietly, trying to keep the amusement in. “Likes all the bits of a salad?”

“Slurps every bit of the stew…” Maalira can hardly get the words out for laughing

Berra moves her knife off her knee safely before she falls over on her side, giggling. “Open to new recipes.”

This finishes Maalira off completely and she fails to say anything at all, clutching her sides as she laughs.

Berra does not come up with anything else either. She just clutches at the ground as cows wander around in the distance and somewhere, Varanis is oblivious.

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    ]Maalira passes Insight (Human).