Year, Season, Week, Day (replace as relevant)
Berra is still in her temporary room. She is sitting in her bed, back against the wall, legs crossed. Her iron sword is across her lap, on a bit of rather oily linen, and her right hand rests gently on the cross-piece. When Varanis comes in she looks up with politeness and bows her head. “Thane Vareena. Good day.”
“I’m going to go yell at Eril,” Varanis says with the same mulish expression she turned on Yehna only moments before. “Want to come with me?”
“That’s probably a bad idea,” is all Berra says in reply. “He’s a Hero.”
“Yup. And a High Sword too. But, he’s neglecting you and if he’s not careful, he’s going to lose you and that means I’ll have lost you too and I’m too angry and scared to think straight.”
“Lord Raven asks if he can pay to see this,” Berra says and frowns at the sword. “No. You should not. It is disrespectful.” She seems earnest in her words to the glittering iron.
“Alternatively, you could be sensible, summon a healer for yourself, and get your ass out of bed and into some fresh air before you waste away and die in here!” Her voices rises in volume until she’s not quite yelling by the end of it.
Berra listens without apparent surprise, and then asks, “Is that a good idea? I could, I suppose… I hadn’t thought of calling for a healer. I’m getting better.”
There is no anger in her, hardly any reaction to being shouted at at all. Just that consideration of what she has been told.
“Yes! It’s a fucking good idea. All my ideas are great. That’s why you used to love me!” Varanis rages. “And when they weren’t good, you loved me enough to tell me and argue with me and even yell at me sometimes. I know you said this was necessary, but it’s also horse shit! The price was too high. I want my Berra back. Lord Raven, get your ass out here and tell me how to save her, or I’m going to go get myself killed by tearing a strip off your Hero.”
Berra puts her hand more firmly on the hilt. “Please don’t shout,” she says quietly. She glances down at the sword, and sighs. “Alright. But… be polite.”
A shape forms around the sword, steps off Berra before it becomes more than a suggestion, drops lightly off the bed. “Thane. The pleasure is… let us leave that aside. Walk with me.” Lord Eril’s voice, almost, and that is definitely his gesture towards the door. Raven has a lot in common with him.
Varanis does as she’s told, holding the door for the spirit. It seems that having gotten at least part of what she wanted, she has fallen silent.
Lord Raven goes through the kitchen, and lifts the latch. He gives Yehna a nod – Yehna gives him a fragile smile. Outside the man of smoke leans casually against the wall of the house, keeping to the shadow. “To be clear, I am not entirely sure what the matter is,” he says. He looks confident nevertheless.
“She’s not herself!” Varanis growls, quieter now but still angry. “She should be full of questions and movement and ideas and life. Instead, she’s a living corpse. Or… a golem or something. Alive but just going through the motions.” Her fingers rake through her hair, dislodging the plaits completely. Whatever attempt she’d made to control the red mop on her head has not been able to hold up to her moods today.
“Yes. She cannot disagree with what she is told, from what I see. She was ordered to make me into a suitable Wyter, and she is, I regret to note, incredibly patient if surprisingly badly educated.” He shrugs, like most people are badly educated and he expects it. “But from the tales she has told me I would not have expected patience.”
“She’s broken! Ikadz or the wraiths or both… how do we fix her? Because if we don’t fix her, we might as well just kill her because this isn’t her any more anyway!” Her stance, the way her hands are clenched into fists, the sparks in her eyes – they all suggest that Varanis should be yelling right now. Instead, she’s managing to keep the volume down to an angry hiss. Hearing her own words triggers something though and suddenly the Vingan sags. “We have to fix her.”
“Then fix each part until you find the one you cannot touch,” he says with a smile. “That is where the greatest magic will be required. But recall that Ikadz uses and misuses Death, which is a separation. That seems the most likely of the candidate answers.”
“How do I fix her though? Do I find Ikadz and reclaim those pieces of her he stole? If I kill him, will that bring her back? I don’t know what to do, Lord Raven.” Varanis very clearly does not like not having answers, but at least she’s stopped even the quiet yelling and seems to be listening.
“I am a day or two old. However, despite that I suspect I am no longer even a lay member of the Library. I would say, though, that the answer lies there or in Humakti understanding. She has a Sword Lord, for example. I am certain the Temple knows more than I, a fact which I admit only to avoid being tied to a peasant without initiative for the next decade.”
“Any chance you know how to reach D’Val?”
“Alas, no. If he is not at the Temple then someone else will have to do.” Lord Raven pushes himself away from the wall with a twist of his shoulders and steps out of the shadow to stand in the weak autumn sunlight. He stretches his arms, politely keeping them out of the shape of the Death Rune. “The Temple may know where he is. You could suggest to – that is, ask – Lady Berra to see if the Great Wyter knows. She responds well to direct instructions.”
She nods at him. “I’m sorry I yelled at you. Or for you. And her. I shouldn’t have yelled at her, I guess.” She rolls her shoulders and lifts her head, determined. “I’ll try again. And thank you. I appreciate that you came to speak with me.”
“Do not ask her,” he says, beginning to move slowly through the steps of a sword exercise. It is just like Berra does1‘used to’ – Varanis. “Tell her.”
“I will,” she promises. “Shall I leave you to the sword dance and speak to her now?” She’s already moving back towards the door. Impatient in the way Berra ought to be.
“I will be fine without you, I absolutely guarantee.” Raven does not give Varanis further attention.
She gives Yehna an apologetic look on her way through the kitchen, patting her awkwardly on the shoulder as she passes. “Lost my temper,” she explains, “but I am working on helping.” Without waiting for an answer, she returns to Berra’s room.
Yehna is cutting up dried mushrooms and there is water on the boil. She gives Varanis a slightly braver smile than the one Lord Raven got.
- 1‘used to’ – Varanis