Berra — Long Climb
1628, Sea Season, Fertility Week
Sea Season, Fertility Week, Godday. [[[s03:session-6|Session 6]]]
Godday. Berra traipses up to the top of the long steps up to the Storm Bull temple to ask, “Is Rajar in, and if you lie to me, you over-grown bastard, one of us’ll end up going down the steps, and it’s prob’ly not me.”1Berra passes Intimidate, essentially to be taken seriously as a tiny person.
Rajar arrives a little later. Beer in hand
Berra is standing on one leg, looking out over the valley. “Hey. Are you ready to come down?” She glances at the guard, who is definitely not looking nervous about a little psycho being present.
Rajar smiles and takes in the view. He holds out his arms to feel the wind. Eyes closed he leans into the wind a little.
Eyes open. “Sure. Let me get my axes.”
Berra relaxes a little, showing that she is worried by how much she lets go, and how much she does not. “Don’t dress for war,” she says. “If you want to leave any of them here, that’s fine.”
Rajar looks a little confused. “Not for war?” There’s a moment, then he says, “I’ll be back.”
The Duck Outfit gets its first outing.
Berra looks approving. “That looks good on you. Rich, like you’re prosperous.” She sets off down, letting Rajar go first so that they are almost on a level and can talk. “Things happened, after you came up here to worship. Important things.”
“Ah.” The big man might be pleased. It’s hard to tell from behind him. “So you owe blood debt?”
“Heh. No, but I’d totally come to you for that. No, bigger than us. Watch your footing on the stairs kind of big.” Berra in fact makes sure that they are not coming up to anything with scree on before she says, “Onjur wrote to Varanis.”
“Oh. Him. Coward.” Rajar sniffs. “So what did he say?”
“That the Crimson Bat’s finished in the heartlands, and may be sent to Sartar.”
…. Rajar almost stops on the stairs, just for a moment.
“He likes to scare people, that one, he enjoys it.”
“Yeah. But it’s the sort of threat we still have to deal with. Which he knows. Or at least, have to look into. Obviously I’m going to volunteer if there’s need, but I just finished telling Lord Eril everything I know about him, and he’s asked me to get an artist to do a likeness of him. A picture. You know what that is? Like… a fresco or a wall painting.”
“Yes. I’ve seen the like…2Rajar references wanted posters. Editor removes them from the world. Hmm. It’s been too long. Time to fight.”
“He wants you to put down as much as you can remember about Onjur – talk to the artist. And if you can remember anything I can’t, or have thoughts about him I don’t, then let him know, I think. Although he’s busy, he’d probably want that. The artist’s down the bottom – I didn’t drag him up in case you’d already gone. I sent him to the White Grape.”
“I have him in mind. He is my enemy. I know his face.”
“Yeah. Exactly that. We want other people to as well. And I saw Lord Eril spit. He’s angry. Worried. Not showing it much.”
“All these stone cities. Good targets. You can’t run. He’s right to be angry.” Rajar nods. “I shall talk to the artist.”
Berra takes the next stretch of steps in silence, and then says, “So, I did some thinking while I was talking to Lord Eril. Wanna hear it, or would that muddy you? I could check it, or you could keep yours and your anger untouched.”
“Talk. This is your land.”
“Right. When we took the horses, and he found us in the marketplace, I thought that was because he was looking for us, having followed. But now I don’t. I think he’d been in Alda Chur already. I think he’s like a spider in a web. Sometimes going out to kill a fly, but mostly not. So he didn’t so much look for us, as find us. Maybe didn’t even mean to. Because he was there – I think – controlling a lot of things. Or more than just one. Can you think of a reason that’s wrong?”
No. I think that is so. He is the Khan and he sends out many raiders to test and probe before the tribe goes to war
“Yeah. So that’s what I told Lord Eril. But if I’ve led him astray, I want to know I’m wrong as fast as I can. We’ve mostly met him together, though. I’ve told him of the false burnings, of the attack outside Glasswall, of the rank that Onjur must have had in Nochet. Anything I might have missed? He’s probably still touchy about the attack here, but not much. He didn’t make anything of it when I talked of it.”
“He likes to set friends to arguing and fighting.”
“Yeah. Maybe I’ll ask you to deliver the work of the artist, see if he has time to talk, if you offer. He might keep you waiting all day, but evening and dawn’s the best time. I said about setting suspicious people to fighting, but not so much about the friends. I think you’re right, though.”
“Yes. I’ll talk to him. It’s good to get a guide.”
“Also, if you think about where we saw him, and what he’s like, where would you guess he’s based now? I had an idea, and I’ve had another since we talked, but that’s one I want to hear from you as well. Your guess, to add to mine, not to mate with it.”
“Hmmm.” Rajar does not pause for long. “I think he’ll be closer than we think. Directing his raiders. In the margins. On the borders.” He adds examples as the occur, or as the storyteller in him demands. “Beast Valley. Pavis. Esrolia.”
Berra nods. “Yeah. I was thinking Furthest, or Bagnot, but then I wondered about Alda Chur as well. If he could have a place in Nochet, he could be worming his way back in there. Probably not Alone – he’d be safe but not able to do much. I hadn’t really thought he’d be South, though. Beast Valley worries me a bit, if he can find allies there.”
“Alda Chur is too easy to be bottled up and trapped. He wants to stay mobile causing trouble at the edges. A dog that nips at your heels while the red lion roars…”
“He was in Alda Chur before, and he might have been in Boldhome for a while, preparing. So… actually, if they want to take it back, that’s where he is. Otherwise, he’s not.” Berra leaves that. “Anything else I’ve missed?”
“Are any tribes unhappy?”
“Good question.” Berra listens.
“He’d love to set Leika and Kallyr fighting. Or another powerful tribe. It would be a master stroke. How would that happen?” Rajar is not the expert in Sartarite politics.
“Eheh. And … hmm. Mention that to him too. Because us being exiled is not a coincidence. I mean, it might just have happened, but we got exiled because of the fighting. Not that he’s in on it. But there might be more… borderlands. Who’d strike the Colymar?”
“Who has feuds?”
“Malani. Mostly. So it could hit the Blue Tree, or the Varmandi – that’s the middle of Sartar, though. Blue Tree and Varmandi are possible. Trouble at Wilmskirk is possible. Those are the most likely. Oh, and the Lismelder. And still a lot of ducks. The Colymar feud well. All of Sartar does.”
“Beast Valley is allied with the ducks,” Rajar points out. “Another anti duck raid.”
“Yeah. That’s not necessarily a thing Lord Eril will worry about, but I’m sure I can tell Lord D’Val.” Translation; my High Sword is a bigot who will care less about ducks than humans, and might not see the rest of Sartar doesn’t.
“In his place :- an attempt on Lekia made to look like the Prince…” Rajar muses.
“Oh, yeah. That’s a good one. And… I don’t think Gunda’s bound up in this, but it might look like she’s been hired, or something like that. An attempt on the Prince that looks like the Colymar, too.”
“Gunda is interesting. A piece I cannot place on the board.”
“She’s not a piece. She’s Harrek. Just gone on before. And she’s been talking to Nameless, so it’s all about whether… I hate this, you know? My Queen is cheering for two horses in a race. She shouldn’t be. But she is, and Harrek’s going to support – or invade – someone. Or else Gunda wouldn’t be in Sartar.”
“It’s not clean.”
“Yeah. But I told my Lord that too. So’s you know.” Berra looks down at the bottom of the stairs. “So the Colymar. And the Locaem – they’re just to the South of he Colymar – are falling apart. No King. Plus some of their people are an old Colymar clan.”
“Lekia is smart and tough and so is Nameless. Kallyr is tough… Hmmm interesting. No Khan.” A lot to unpack.
“Kallyr has smart people, and lit the Flame of Sartar. As long as she listens to the people and doesn’t go too fast, she’ll win. But yeah. No Khan, and a lot of people like that. And the Malani lost Queen Amalda, didn’t they? But they do things differently.”
“Smart people around you only works if you give them chance to talk… Hmmmmm… The white bull is another thread to pull on.”
“Kallyr – Prince Kallyr – knows about Onjur and hasn’t killed anyone. And yeah. How does the White Bull work here?”
“It’s another thread to pull on. He has claim to the throne. As does Varanis.” Rajar’s tone is warning. “And we are unpredictable. Kallyr makes a try to kill V. What do we do?”
“We believe in Kallyr’s honour. Because if we don’t, why are we following her? And she believes in us, and kin. We’ve earned it. But we make sure that they know what things might look like soon. Alright… are all of his people Yanafil Tarnils, do we think? They cannot be, right?” Berra takes to the slope beside the stairs briefly, skidding and scrambling down a lesser slope.
“He’s there to throw shade on people’s honour.”
“Yeah. So making sure they know. Tennebris and Lord Eril and – so help me but this might help – the Luminous Stallion King. People who can calm Kallyr. And who like to look into things.”
“Aye. He’s out there. Doing his work.”
“Yep. But he reminded us what he is, and even probably helped us to learn it. Anyhow. Grazelands. We’re going to be in them. We should see how Tarsh and the grass-munchers go.” Herd-beasts. Slang.
“Best we let people know about what we know and get out.”
“Yes. Still, that’s tomorrow’s task. Today is telling someone what that man looks like. You saw him in the marketplace, when I was angry. I saw him walking to fight, when I was calm.”
Later: Rajar passes INTx5 to remember Onjur’s features for the artist
- 1Berra passes Intimidate, essentially to be taken seriously as a tiny person.
- 2Rajar references wanted posters. Editor removes them from the world.