Berra — My People Vi
1627, Fire Season
Fire Season, the early part of the second half. [[[s02:session-43|Session 43]]]
Berra has spent the hours since Devolin failed to steal a wagon out on her bison, going around the caravan. She speaks with everyone, including – for some time – Venlar. His guard-work is a little erratic, and he has ideas to improve the caravan, and now apparently he is explaining them all. To tell from his expression as Berra lets him ride off, none were as good as he thought they were. That leaves Berra on her own, save for Followed, with very few people to check up on now. The caravan inches up the road towards Whitewall, and that brings Varanis up towards Berra, sturdy little angry rock in the road that she is.
“You look…” The Vingan studies her friend. “Irritated.”
Berra sighs. “Yes. Venlar’s trying to be helpful.”
“He’s a clever man, but still working on wisdom,” Varanis says with a shrug.
“Yeah. I just had to explain to him what happens when you let half your guards sleep through the night, and why the other half hate that.” She shrugs. “It’ll pass. And he didn’t do it where I had to explain where people could hear, so he gets half a cup of thanks, anyhow.” There’s a subtly different sigh, this one Berra trying to put away annoyance, and failing. “I’d meant to ask you something.”
Manasa eyes Followed, as if trying to decide whether or not to take a bite. Her rider thumps her lightly on the opposite shoulder to distract her and it seems to work, for the moment anyway. “Anything, Berra. Go ahead.”
Followed does not bother eyeballing Manasa in return. “It might seem a bit weird,” Berra says. “But I want to know where you know something from, and how you know it.”
“If it’s not a cult secret, then yes, I’ll do my best to answer.” Varanis twists in the saddle to look at Berra and Manasa side steps.
“Alright. One day, Orlanth and his brothers, Humakt and Vadrus and Ragnaglar and Urox were out walking, looking for Umath, and instead, they met with some of their uncles, who recognised them, and greeted them, and said they had a test for the young gods to perform.” Berra watches Varanis casually. Maybe too casually – she is trying not to be obvious about it.
“Yes? This is the story of the testing of the gods. The one we all learn to become adults. What about it?”
“How did you learn it?” Berra looks interested, but maybe… suspicious?
“My grandfather told me Orlanth’s stories and my grandmother told me Ernalda’s stories, of course.” From her tone of voice, this is very much an of course, how else would they be learned notion for Varanis.
“Uhuh… Ever… hmmm… Anything more than that? Does this mean anything to you more than a story of what the gods did? And what happened next?”
“Well… I don’t think this is a secret, really… when I was a child, but almost a woman, I was summoned back to the palazzo to go through the initiation to House Saiciae. My grandfather told me to think of Vinga, while my grandmother said Ernalda. They gave us herbs and wine and we danced and I thought of Vinga. As we danced, it was a bit like a dream or vision, but I was awake. And I remembered the story my grandfather told me.” Varanis looks thoughtful. “You asked what happened next… you want me to tell you the story about the gods in their pits and how Orlanth escaped his? Don’t you know it?”
“I know it, but… it’s interesting that happened this way. What happened to you?”
Varanis shrugs. “I danced until my feet bled. I don’t remember many of the details. It’s hazy, to be honest. I know that I dreamt of Orlanth, but I knew I would anyway. I was always meant for Vinga.”
Berra sighs, and this one is long and slow and probably to help her be determined about something. “Right. Thank you. That’s good to know.” She looks a little concerned, though.
“I dream of them, you know. Often it’s their stories. Sometimes I am one of them, sometimes I’m me. I even dreamt I was Orlanth in his pit once… remember when I was injured on that beach? When we were trying to rescue Lenta?”
Berra looks, and nods very slowly, eyes wide and wary.
Varanis frowns. “The story was wrong though. I made the wrong choices and I think I was trapped. There were too many voices in my head that time.”
“Right…” When Berra talks slowly, she is thinking underneath. Sure enough, she turns to look at the horizon they are chasing, a puzzled look on her face.
“Surely you dream of Humakt? I do, sometimes. I dream of all the gods. But mostly Vinga and Orlanth.” There’s another frown. “And Magasta, but I hate those dreams.”
“Um, yeah. But that wasn’t really what I was asking. I mean, I mostly dream of… when you say you dream OF Vinga… how does that go?” Something struck the little Humakti, partway through what she was saying.
Varanis is obviously perplexed. “What do you mean? It goes well? Unless it’s a bad dream and then it doesn’t.” Berra gets a look. “Did you have a dream or something? Do you need to talk about it?”
“I mean, are you Vinga, or are you watching her, or is there something else going on?” Berra looks like the counter-question was not one she was expecting.
“Oh. Well, sometimes I am Vinga. Sometimes Orlanth. Sometimes I’m watching them. Or talking to them. Or fighting alongside them. In bad dreams, I might fight against them, or have failed them and they tell me so, or I am them and have failed…” She shrugs. “It changes. Just like sometimes Vinga is Orlanth and sometimes she’s his daughter. It just depends, I guess.”
Berra nods. “Right. I was wondering. Alright. That’s all about that, then.” She then forgets it was all, and adds, “Sometimes you remember afterwards, what happened. I didn’t remember much, but it comes back to me.”
“What do you mean?”
“The initiation, I mean. When you said you didn’t really remember.” That tightens Berra’s jaw. She does not like it.
“The herbs they gave us are very strong. It took me a while to shake them. I had waking dreams for days afterwards. It’s not like that for everyone, but sometimes. Jareen thought maybe I had too much.”
That gets a slow, grim nod. “Right.” Maybe it’s agreement, maybe determination.
“Or maybe the gods have made me susceptible to such things. I’ve had visions before, you know that. And dreamroot and hazia both tend to hit me hard.” Varanis looks unconcerned. “Perhaps it’s just the way I am.”
“Mhm.” Berra nods. Maybe she was agreeing.
Berra learns more about Varanis’ initiation