Morale Check

Berra — Morale Check

1627, Earth Season, Death Week


Earth Season, Death Week, around Freezeday [[[s02:session-49|Session 49]]]


On the road back from Glasswall, Berra was on edge. From the unnatural calm that she called into herself, she slowly seemed to fill with animation and then nervousness. As they got towards the edges of Argrath’s camp, some of the tension came off her. Once it was clear that they were not going to be attacked on the way in, that finally left her too. Yet even now, as people make camp around them, as the semi-familiar routine sets itself in, she seems off somehow. She is too thoughtful, and that generally means she is worrying, and it is not about anything she can handle, or she would go handle it; she is in a jumpy mood, and yet not jumping.

Varanis has watched this in silence, not calling attention to it, but quietly noticing despite her other concerns. Whatever kept her from asking before seems to have passed, as she approaches Berra to ask, “Want to talk about it?”

“Uh?” Berra looks up, and then nods. “Yeah, you’re the one.” She looks around. “Let’s take a walk. They’re doing fine here.” She is smiling now, happy to see Varanis, with the worries packed away underneath.

A quick nod, then Varanis starts walking, aiming for the camp perimeter and assuming Berra will fall into step beside her.

Berra does just that, walking with the longstrided gait she adopts for being next to tall people. Once they are largely out of earshot she says, “It’s not a real problem, but I’d been working out when to bring it up. I mean, it’s not a new thing. It’s real.”

Varanis arches a brow. She’s left camp in armour, but without helmet or shield. She has the worn look of someone who has been on the road for days.

“I don’t know how much they dislike me. I don’t think it’s growing too fast, but I’d like to find out. I mean, I don’t think they dislike me more than they did when they set out, but it’s really hard for me to tell.” Berra seems far more concerned about not knowing than about the dislike. This seems professional.

“What? Why would they dislike you? You’re very competent. You push them, but not beyond their capabilities. You’re good at what you do and you’re making them better!”

“Because they wanted to be heroes when they came out. Half of them have never seen battle and think it’ll be easy, and most of them think an Esrolian should be in charge. So because I haven’t proved myself, and because they don’t know what it’s like, they… resent? Is that the word? Not a lot, but enough that it’ll be tricky if I fail them when it comes to something big. And I don’t know how they’re feeling, because I’m not… well, people don’t generally talk to me about it. Varaneva did, a bit, and Lenta. But I want to know how their morale is, and nobody likes me enough to tell me the truth.” Berra shrugs. “I can keep them going without.”

Varanis frowns. “Hmmm. Do you want me to see what I can learn?”

“It’d be good. I think in general they’ll follow me, and I don’t give a damn what they think about me, but I do want to know that I’m not wrong.” The Humakti shrugs again. “Probably not. It doesn’t feel like an unhappy unit, but it’s …. really weird, to be honest. Not knowing. And I don’t know how to ask directly. I mean, I could? The unit commanders? But the usual sort of asking didn’t – doesn’t – let me know the bits I’m missing.”

There’s a thoughtful nod. “I’ll see what I can do.” Varanis walks in silence for a few steps. “Am I going to need to forgive Venna?” The question is asked quietly, likely because she doesn’t want it to be overheard.

“Uh? Oh. Right.” Berra thinks briefly. “No, you don’t have to. Because you should have pride. But Orlanth might. Or make an accord with her. Does Orlanth forgive Yelm, or do they start again?”

“It depends on the tale. I’ve heard it told both ways.” Varanis frowns. “It’s been easier not to think about it, but now that we’re here again, I find I’m still angry.” She growls in frustration before continuing, “But, if I don’t let this go, it will interfere with my negotiations for Kallyr.”

“If you can work with someone without forgiving them, that works too. She did you wrong.” Berra stops, grimaces. “Unless you’re Yelm here. Or… does he always forgive his brother? He lets Storm Bull back into his house. That might be important.” Berra, always confident about how to be Humakt, is rather less sure when trying to work out how to be Orlanth.

“Yelm? Bah. Never that one.” There’s a sigh. “I’ll meditate on it. Later. I’ll need to report to Argrath when he’s ready.”

“You could try reporting to her. Just to talk to her. But there’s a thing I thought of. It’s going to be cold soon. Argrath asked if we could … if we needed anything. We’re going to need sleeping hides and warmer gear. Hides and cloaks in particular.”

“We will. I got what I could, but it isn’t enough. Oh… I bet none of them have trews. Will it get bad enough that that’s going to be a concern?”

“If we’re not gone from here in four weeks, we need to have everyone ready for cold rain. Death Week’s a bit early to know when it’ll get cold, but that just means the end of Movement Week is only four weeks away, and after that it can sleet at any time. I mean, we’re up in North Sartar… Tarsh… so I don’t know exactly. But it will be bad if we can’t get into Alda Chur. They’ll have to have better clothes, or go home.” Berra looks thoughtful, not worried.
5 August 2021

Varanis runs a hand through her hair, further dishevelling it. Despite being away from Marta for a year, she has not mastered plaits that stay put. “You’re right, of course. I’ll talk to the unit commanders and Irillo.”

“Of course?” Berra looks up at Varanis. “Are you thinking that’s your job to think of as well?”

“They are my responsibility, Berra. Their well-being matters to me.”

“Yeah, but you put me in charge to think about things like that. So you did, kinda. And there’s Irillo. Both of him. Them. You’re getting that as right as you can, given what’s around.” She seems offhanded about it, like that is just totally true and she does not need to give a pep talk.

Varanis considers this a moment, then asks, “So telling me this wasn’t your way of telling me I needed to fix it?”

“Uh, I think we got lost there… You do need to fix it, but you can fix it by going to Argrath or Irillo, and it’s not your fault you didn’t know that you didn’t have to until now, and I think you were worried about that.” Berra might be guessing now.

“I’m tired. Not thinking clearly enough, I suppose.”

“Yeah. It’s hard.” Berra looks around. “I don’t think I need to do anything more. You eaten?”

“Not yet, but I promise I will. I have to be ready to report and decide who I am reporting to.”

Berra nods, looks around. “Yeah, I’m gonna take a walk.” She at least had her work done when the camp began to settle in. “Won’t be long.”

Varanis nods. “Thank you for bringing the situation to my attention. I’ll see you back in camp.”

Berra turns to pad away.


Berra asks Varanis to check on morale, and reminds her winter is coming