Berra — Marriage In The Blue Tree
1627, Sea Season, Harmony Week
Sea Season, late Disorder or early Harmony Week, after a conversation Varanis reported. [[[s02:session-31|Session 31]]]
Contains pretty big spoilers.
Berra says to Varanis on the way to get beer, “One moment,” and detours to put away her oil and her cleaning rags, and then swears. “Damned thing fell over. Into my helmet.” She holds up her leather helm, perhaps the worst thing for an oil pot to fall into. “Damn.” Her voice is low, but full of tooth-grinding frustration.
Varanis winces sympathetically.
“I’ll soak it with dust,” Berra says, after a moment. “And then the beer.” But before she does that, she systematically packs away everything, including the oily pot now wrapped in a rag and then a bit of hide. “That’ll learn-me to leave it lying. Propped up wasn’t good enough.”
“I’ll get the beer.” Varanis abandons the Humakti to her task and returns shortly with beer and a couple of cups.
“Thanks,” Berra says, and by the time Varanis is back, she is tidied away, and looking at the ground with annoyance. “Too much rain. But mud’s probably better than nothing. At least it’ll seal the smell in. That’s not fish oil too, which is good. It’s skullbush.”
Varanis wrinkles her nose at the mention of fish oil. “I’m glad. I’d hate to have to make you stand downwind for a season or two.”
“I got this helmet when I was seventeen. I’m also glad I do not have to stand downwind.” Berra reaches up for beer, cheerful again. “Not too much of it. But yes. Thank you. Please.”
Varanis hands over the small beer, without further comment.
Berra wraps both of her little hands around it. “Thank you,” she says again, and this one sounds more final, as she settles into sitting down, halfway on watch despite not being on watch. “Maybe we can use it as a cooking pot for a bit. So. I’ve been thinking about the broadsword. And the rapier.”
Varanis arches an eyebrow. That expression is remarkably like on Xenofos uses regularly. “Oh?”
“Yeah… I’m not sure exactly what I’m getting at yet. But I think that … it’s about the Runes and the thinking, as much as the metal and the blade. It might sound weird. But the Broadsword is a thing that Orlanth stole. It’s associated with Air. Do you think that when you’re trying, pride is pushing you?”
“Pride?” There’s a second where Varanis looks like she might scoff, but then she catches herself. She considers, then replies, “Maybe. Probably… damn it. Yes.”
“I’d think of the rapier more as an Earth weapon. I … I don’t really know, but it’s about… maybe just because it’s from Esrolia. Maybe because it lets you catch your pride, because you’ve been trained in it for so long, by Esrolians? I don’t know. But I think the broadsword is helping. um. that is, helping you to be prideful when you hold it?” She squints at Varanis, thoughtfully.
“Well, that’s not particularly helpful, is it? And besides, maybe the problem is that I don’t like not being good at it.” The Vingan is in one of her rare, brutally honest moods.
“That’s why you don’t like being good at it, though. Or part of why. But nah, it’s not really helpful. But when you’re feeling that way, it’s a thing to think about. Sorry. Can’t get more into that thinking.” Berra shrugs and looks back out at the damp wilderness.
Varanis shrugs. “Nothing to apologize for.” She glowers at the disinterested sky. “I’m the problem. But, I’ll try to be aware of it.”
“You’re not a problem,” Berra says almost sulkily.
“Ok, fine. I’m not. My pride is. It’s stopping me from learning properly. If I get angry, I’m no longer paying attention and then one of us gets hurt.” Absently, she rubs her thigh, where Berra’s waster left a spectacular bruise several days ago.
Berra looks briefly confused. “Well, that wasn’t what I was thinking. I mean, you’re not a problem. More than… this isn’t what I’m trying to say, and I’m saying it badly. Pride should be part of what you do, but it’s getting in the way. Like you just need to hold it right in your hand, strike with the edge instead of the flat. The pride should be there. You can’t bend it on the altar or throw it from a sacred cliff.”
Varanis snorts. It seems to convey an ‘if you say so…’1Pass on Insight (Human).
Insight: Berra believes in Varanis, although the details are not clear – it might be a generalised belief, not an understanding that this matter is now clear.
The Humakti warrior looks at her drink, and sips at it. “It’s just a thought. I think I need to think about it more.” She gives Varanis a slow look, peaceable.2Berra also passes Insight (Human). Insight: Varanis is unsettled and as Berra reflects on it, has been since the blow up at the Flame.
Varanis glances at Berra and sighs softly. “I’m sorry. I do hear you. I just can’t seem to find my balance lately. It’s like Maran Gor is rumbling beneath my feet and what I really need to do is just fly to find myself again. But flight is not an option.”
Berra gives her a tiny nod, like she knows that feeling, and understands it in others. “We’ve got a lot of time ahead, if we don’t let anything kill us. Plenty to settle things.” Maybe for Berra that is comfort.
The Vingan nods. She takes a sip of her beer and wrinkles her nose delicately. “Serala needs to produce children for her clan,” she says out of the blue. “I… I don’t want children.” She admits this last almost defensively.
“Right. Yeah.” Berra says after a bit. “That’s really tough.”
“I didn’t realize it until Nala started talking about it. I’d be a terrible mother. Or father. I’d be like my own mother…. always gone and one day, I probably wouldn’t come back. The way we live…. we’re not the sort of people who get old.”
“You don’t have to be. You shouldn’t be. She should marry someone else as well. Have their kids. You can be the one she loves.” Berra reaches out a hand, although she stops before putting in on the Vingan’s arm, and goes back to nursing her beer. “Marriage for love and marriage for alliance aren’t the same.”
Varanis watches Berra reach for her and then winces at the apparent rejection. “Am I kidding myself to even hope that Kallyr will allow me a love match? That my grandmother will? I know I’ve said that I don’t care about her opinion anymore, but Xenofos took pains to remind me of the consequences of direct disobedience. It’s one thing to rebel against her. It’s another to sever my ties to my clan.”
Berra looks at her hand. “Right now isn’t the time for me to relax,” she says. “I’ve got to keep being on watch.” She gives a glance around the area. “You’re not lying to yourself, but you are hoping. You might have to fight for it. But she’s… Serala is important now. And a Colymar Thane. It’s an important thing.” She looks off into the distance, back towards Dangerford or Boldhome or the Blue Tree Tula. “If you want to marry in your Clan, in Sartar, you usually have to leave your clan first. It’s not like houses.”
Varanis sighs again. “Well that makes things awkward, doesn’t it?”
“Kinda. You’d be joining again, but it is a thing that needs to be done. I mean, for it to be done properly. Some marriages can live inside, and a love marriage without children or property, that sometimes can? But it depends on precedent and I don’t know what the precedent says for the Blue Tree. The general Colymar rule is that it’s left to the clan, meaning that it’s not forbidden at the Tribe Meet-and-Shou…. uh, Moot.” Berra pretends she didn’t say that.3Pass on language: Meet-and-Shout has to be a slang term for Moot. It couldn’t be anything else.
Varanis arches an eyebrow at this. “Even though we come from different clans to start?”
“Yeah. That’s part of what makes precedent difficult. Blue Tree finds husbands from outside, usually. Except for the nobles, who mostly find wives from outside, but that’s a bit harder. Sometimes it’s husbands, and it seems to be about who married out recently, not anything else. I’m pretty sure someone just goes out and finds the right omens for nobles, until they get signs they want.”
Varanis snorts. “Am I a Colymar Noble?”
“You might be a Blue Tree Noble, you’re certainly a Sartar Noble. Colymar, no, because you’re not direct kin to Queen Leika.” Berra’s messy hair has a mind beneath it that holds these things well. It also needs combing.
The Vingan makes an attempt at a nonchalant shrug. “It’s a moot point if I fail at this mission, so one worry at a time, I suppose.” A shadow crosses her features then. Berra knows her well enough to recognize that she’s still troubled. But she seems to want to move on.
“Best way,” Berra says. “Can we afford to take a few hours to get Xenofos a horse? I guess we’ll have to decide about overnighting when we get back to Dangerford.” Her eyes, tired, wander around the landscape yet again.
“Yes. I want him to switch mounts, if we can convince him to. I really would rather not get shot again any time soon.” Varanis seems relieved to change subjects and allows the discussion to move on to the road ahead.
Berra tells Varanis about the Blue Tree Clan’s byzantine marriage precedents