Berra — Long Sword
1627, Sea Season, Disorder Week
Sea Season, Disorder Week, around Waterday. Berra has been to the Temple to report to Lord Eril and tell him about her understanding of the spirit he wants her to bind. [[[s02:session-30|Session 30]]]
Faintly spoilerish for plans, in particular if you are Praxian.
Berra comes back from the Temple with yet another different sword, and stands in front of the White Grape, exercising in the street through lack of courtyard. Her sword is bronze, straight-edged, and a hands’s length longer than she should be using. Still, it keeps the ruffians away, along with any passing custom.
Varanis is in the courtyard, which at the moment is full of Irillo’s mules. She is directing the unloading of certain packages into the inn.
From the street the phrase, “-atic Humakti-” drifts, and Berra’s cheery, “I hear you,” but she does not yet come in.
Varanis waves off Salid with the last bundle and follows the sound of Berra’s voice to the gate. “Berra?”
“Yeaaaaah?” She draws the word out in concentration. Flashing bronze is all over the place.
“What are you doing?”
Berra draws to a halt. “Getting to know this sword,” she says. “It’s beautifully balanced, very well made, and far too bloody long.” Wind Tooth is still in her left hand, but the long, elegant one in her right is… far too bloody long. It’s like a rapier to her, but with too much heft.
Varanis chides her. “You do realise that you are driving away Rondrik’s custom? We are poor patrons indeed if we harm his business, especially in difficult times like these. We aren’t paying enough to have the place all to ourselves.”
Berra looks around, and says, “Oh?” She seems a bit confused by that. “Isn’t Rajar ordering a feast?”
“Yes, for us. But that doesn’t mean Rondrik can afford to turn away his regulars.”
Berra sighs. “Sorry?” she suggests. “But the yard’s full and I really need to do this?”
“Right now? You need to do it right now?”
Berra looks around. “It’s still light and I think we’re leaving tomorrow?”
Varanis sighs. “Fine. I’ll be inside when you’re done.” She turns on her heel and stalks away.
After a bit of thought, Berra crosses the street to threaten innocent passers-by there instead. She comes in after Yelm has moved a finger’s width across the sky.
Varanis is not in evidence in the common room. Rondrik’s daughter, looking a little harried as she flits about the common room, waves vaguely at the stairs. “If you’re looking for herself, she’s in her room.”
Berra considers, and then says, “Sure.” Up she goes, swords sheathed, expression confused.
Varanis is standing in the doorway of her room, looking at the various bags and bundles piled into the limited space. Her own kit is nearly buried beneath the gifts she is to transport. She turns her worried gaze Berra’s direction as the Humakti approaches.
Berra looks at it the pile, and for a moment says nothing.
“What have I agreed to?” Varanis asks softly.
“Your duty,” Berra says after a moment. “You’ve got the rank for this. If you can’t, not many people can.”
“I know. And I volunteered. I suggested this to Tennebris before Sacred Time, knowing he’d bring it to the Prince. But… I can’t fuck this up, Berra. The consequences are too great. And… well, if I fail, then I fail twice, because I’ve walked away from my own sister to do this.” She breathes deeply and rolls her shoulders back, as if loosening them before a fight. On her face, anguish is swiftly followed by resolution. “I have no choice. I can’t fail.”
“Yeah. I know what you mean. And we can’t. So we won’t.” We, not I, from Berra.
“I understand that the Praxians want to travel by way of the cave where we found Huljeem. How far out of our way does that put us? I can’t quite place it on the map in my head.”
“It depends if we go by Wilmskirk, and I don’t know where the Feathered Horse Queen is. If we go by Duck Point, it’s a half day out of our way to get there, and a half day back. If we go by Alda Chur it’s a bit over a day either way.” Berra grimaces. “I don’t want to take that time, but we should know where to go before we set off.”
“The alternative is to part ways and let them catch up, but I don’t know if that’s wise. Regardless, I want to go by way of Duck Point. Faster is better.” In planning mode now, the Vingan takes a more decisive stance. She turns her back on the packages piled in her room and closes the door firmly. “I think we need to go to the cave. The priestess of the Paps demanded that Suuraki learn more and I think we can’t drag the Praxians to the Grazelands without giving some concessions. By Orlanth’s blue balls, I hope they behave in the Grazelands. Last thing I need is one of them deciding to insult the Feather Horse Queen. Or the Luminous Stallion King, for that matter. What little I know of him from Serala and Finarvi makes him seem like an excitable sort. More ego than even Koraki has.”
“Let them catch up,” Berra says. “Or get Rajar to come with us. But if we’re travelling with the caravan then we’re going to be going slowly, and we’ll have guards. We don’t drag them – they are not important. Not to this. Praxians don’t get to slow down Sartarites in Sartar.”
Varanis gives a noncommittal shrug. “Nevertheless, I will think on it.”
Berra nods, apparently knowing not to push it. “Who’ll know where the Feathered Horse Queen is?” she asks. “Lord Tennebris?”
“I believe so. I was going to head there before Rajar’s feast, to make sure we have the most up-to-date guidance.” Varanis pushes the discussion back to the Praxians with an uncharacteristic lack of conversational elegance. “Did you hear Nala tell me that she’s supposed to be my spiritual guide?”
“Errrh?” Apparently not. Berra makes one of her more interesting surprised faces.
“Apparently, she had a vision where she was given instructions to that effect.” Varanis frowns. “And she admitted to oath-breaking.”
Berra sighs. “Well, that’s two interesting things when put together.”
“I don’t really know what to make of it. I mean, she’s Praxian and Ernaldan. She knows very little of my gods. And what kind of guide can an oath-breaker be?”
“One who you should listen to, because she’s a person who isn’t you, but whose words you should weigh carefully.” Berra replies easily enough. “But ask her how the hell that’s suppose to be, anyhow.”
Varanis gives her a dubious look, but nods. “Did you notice her new runes?”
“I’ve barely looked at her.” Berra shrugs. “I’ve been in the Temple.”
“She’s wearing the Mastery rune – it’s repeated several times with Earth runes on her arm. Something big happened to her at the Paps, I think.”
Berra nods. “Right. Gotcha. I should ask.”
“We should,” Varanis corrects. “We need to know if her abilities have changed, and if so, in what ways.”
“Yeah.” Berra bows to that, like a warrior acknowledging her lord’s point. “I wanna know.”
“I mean,” she adds a moment later, “As well as you wanting to know.”
This earns a smile. “Good – because you are good at seeing ways to use people’s skills that I sometimes overlook. You are another person who is not me, but one who has proven time and again to have words I should weigh carefully.” Yes, she has just repeated Berra’s words back at the Humakti, and seemingly intentionally.
Berra bows more deeply this time. “Question,” she says carefully. “Is Nala an Ernalda to you? Is she going to be showing you there’s always another way?”
“Hmmm…. perhaps. In which case, I’d do well to prepare myself for having her contradict me on a regular basis.”
“Yeah. She might be, and I don’t know. But you joined my Clan, and she didn’t. So don’t let her contradict you into a Praxian.” Berra shrugs.1Loyalty Clan pass, Loyalty Sartar, fail. Berra is insular and not thinking big. “She’s… well, I just don’t understand her.”
Varanis snorts. “Me neither. Maybe that’s the point.”
“Or she’s upped and decided that a false vision was a true one. It happens. Or she’s not prayed enough yet, and not found out what that means.” Berra shrugs. “I’m not great at interpreting the God. You want to ask several times, before you know you’ve got all the answer.”
“Perhaps.” Then, with another sudden change of subject, Varanis says, “I might go visit the Flame before Yelmrise.” Varanis has been to visit the Flame of Sartar every few days, as her Temple duties permitted. “I know it hasn’t been that long since I dragged you up the hill, but I need to say goodbye, just in case…”
“‘Nother question. Who gave her the vision?” Berra nods to the change of subject, and then goes along with it a moment later. “I could do with climbing steps and waiting around.”
“I’ll wake you if necessary.” The sounds from the common room below are growing louder. “We should probably head down. It sounds like it’s getting rowdy. I want to make sure that Rajar doesn’t pull the place down around our ears tonight.”
“I should, yeah. We should.” Berra smiles. “I’m going to not worry about the sword, but wake me in time to armour up to see the Flame?”
“Of course.” Varanis lays a hand lightly on the smaller woman’s shoulder. “Thank you.” Then she brushes past and leads the way down the narrow staircase and into Rondrik’s common room.
Berra waits until Varanis has gone past, makes sure the room door is closed, and follows with the gait of someone ready for a party and a fight.
Berra and Varanis talk about the task ahead, and Nala’s mission