No Worries

1629, Sea Season, Fertility Week, Godday Eve


Berra has been napping in Silor’s house, on the evening of the day she arrived. Session SA4.15.


Outside the door to the room Berra has been assigned, there’s the muffled sound of bickering.

Berra looks up blearily from a short nap enforced by tiredness, and hauls herself to her feet. “Unghk?” she asks the door.

There’s a clap, then, “She’s already awake, idiot. You don’t need to now.” A bit louder, “It’s us, Lady Berra. We wanted to check on you. See if you need anything?”

“You said clappin’ was polite,” Harmakt grumbles.

“Yeah, you clap if you want me,” Berra says, and comes to the door. “I’mmabout ter go see if Lor’ Silor’s free.” When the door swings open she looks tired, like she has just been sleeping. “Was gonna see if he had time to meet you for a bit, too.”

The youths were nose to nose when the door opens. They jump back, startled. Whatever was going on stutters to a halt when they take in Berra’s words. “Us, meet the Cinder Fox chief?” “We’re to meet the High Sword’s brother?” Talking over each other. Again.

“Can you do it without drooling?” Apparently Berra is in a bad mood, or at least one where she picks up Lord Raven’s accent.

They look offended. “Yeah.” “Of course, Lady.”

“You know what, just be yourselves.” Berra winks, and gestures Nayale aside. “He said he’d be free about now.”

They step back to let Berra pass and then fall into place, just a little too close to her heels. They are much better outside than indoors when it comes to guarding. Or else they are just too eager for their own good.

“Back a bit. You’re not alynxes. You’re people. We’re with friends.” Berra has Lord Raven, scabbarded, in her left hand. The belt that would hold him, tooled with Death and Truth Runes, and unpainted, is held loosely between her fingers. “An’ remember, you owe people respect for what they’ve done, but you’re a person too, and if you wanna do great things, don’t be afraid of greatness itself.”

They slow, rather than stop, allowing the distance to open up a bit. “Yes, Lady,” they chime together.

Berra knows the house well enough to walk to Silor’s rooms and whistle outside them, then remembers herself well enough to clap. The whistle was not ever her habit.

The sound of the answer from within is a, “Come! With both of them!” Berra opens the door, giving hardly a glance to the twins.

Within, Silor is just getting up from a table with two chairs – proper chairs and not stools. Perhaps he was not ready for multiple visitors.

The pair make identical bows to Lord Silor.

They manage to keep their expressions neutral, though they practically radiate curiosity.

“Lord, and Chief.” Berra bows her head. “Let me introduce please Nayale and Harmakt, from your brother’s Regiment.” Berra offers over the sword, still sheathed. “And your last visitor, who has been patiently waiting to speak with you. D’you might if I go nap?”

Silor takes a moment to think, and then looks at the youngsters. “Oh, please do. I have plenty of reasons to talk to these newcomers, beyond the obvious requirement of a host to provide entertainment for his guests.”

“Wait, yer leaving?” Harmakt blurts before Nayale can step on his foot.

Berra yawns. “Prayed all night, travelled for two days. I’m sure the pair of you can handle him.”

“I’m certain I’ll be safe with such stout warriors,” Silor says, and manages not to make it a challenge.

They look uncertain, but then resolve sets in. Berra gets a pair of matched bows. “As you wish, Lady Berra.” And “Sleep good.”

Berra disappears, and Silor gestures to the chairs. “Well, do sit down.” He gives them an avuncular smile.

“But there are only two chairs, Lord,” Nayale protests.

“You don’ look like ‘im,” Harmakt says, still blurting. “Yer fer sure brothers?”

His sister gives him a horrified glance. “Well, that decides it. I’m sitting in the lovely chair and you can go stand in the corner.”

“No, no. I’m going to be standing. My guests should be equal to each other.” Silor pours wine from a jug, adds a little water, and takes a sip, offering it over to Nayale first.

She accepts, but has not taken a seat. She takes a small sip, turning herself so that her brother can observe. When it’s his turn with the cup, he copies her motions precisely.

Silor leans back against a wall. “I resemble my father. My mother was of the Kultain. Tall, dark-haired, and usually pale of skin. They say we’re part troll, because of how close we were to the Kitori – on that side, at least.” He moves forward to take the wine. As the noble present, he drinks one-handed, casually, letting Nayale show Harmakt how to use two hands to show respect to the company.

There’s a whole silent conversation that seems to take place between the pair, before Nayale finally sinks into one of the chairs. Harmakt says, “D’ya mind if I sit on the floor, Lord Silor? I’ve not sat on aught but a stool or bench and… I don’t really…” He shrugs apologetically. Without waiting for permission, drops down to sit at Nayale’s feet, leaning against her. It has the appearance of something deeply familiar to both.

Silor looks them up and down. “You’re a guest. But then again, I like standing, and I’m doing so in your presence.” He passes the wine on again. “Some would say you should practice. Do you know how to get out of a chair with a sword on?”

Harmakt blinks. “If I don’t sit in chairs, I don’t hafta know?”

His sister flicks his ear. “Be polite and learn something.”

“If you don’t sit in chairs, how will you hang around nobility?” Silor looks significantly upwards, towards Berra’s room.

It could be that the old fox has forgotten the sword he is holding, finger hooked casually over the hilt.

Harmakt reluctantly pulls himself to his feet. He definitely knows how to get up from the floor with a sword at his side.

He bows again. “My apologies, Lord Silor. Dint mean ta be rude to you.”

“Try to keep one foot under or mostly under the chair, so you can get your weight onto it instantly. And drink your wine. It’s waiting on you.” Silor’s idea of mercy is teaching while loading on more problems, it seems.

Harmakt looks worried. Wine and a chair at the same time. He does his best, while Nayale looks on without sympathy.

“We’ll have him playing the harp soon enough,” Silor threaten-promises Nayale.

Nayale gives Silor a small grin. “If you’ve got a lap harp about, my lord, try him now?”

“Not here – it’s in the hall, and we’ve just settled. Tell me, have you met my other guests yet?” He smiles in his grey-streaked beard.

They shake their heads as Harmakt passes the cup. He manages not to slosh it.

Silor takes a sip and passes it on. “Drawing your sword as you stand is tricky,” he notes. “Now, you’re looking almost civilised. Tell me why you’re here. Why did Lady Berra choose to saddle you with an old man, or to remind him of youth?”

“We’re um… sort of her guards, I guess,” Harmakt starts.

“But not really,” says Nayale. “She doesn’t need any. But she’s testing us and…”

“Training us, sorta…”

“Because we want to serve your brother,” Nayale says. “He’s a great Hero and we want to help Lady Berra help him.”

Her brother nods. “But she’s gotta test us, first.”

“Ah, yes. Please do consider me the best sort of test – a friendly one.” Silor waggles a finger towards Harmakt and the wine. “She is performing the age-old dance of the training hall, and having an expert in.”

“Was the High Sword always so…” Nayale trails off, glancing at her brother, who takes over. He’s accustomed to asking the impertinent questions.

“He’s just… Humakt, he’s scary with a sword. How did he learn that?” And can they learn it?

The young man offers the cup to Silor. He’s getting steadier.

“He was always brilliant,” Silor says. “Politically more than with a weapon, although he grew into that. I know little enough of him as an adult – he was, after all, known to be dead for many years.” His lips curl in amusement, and he reaches his right hand out for the wine. “I suspect the answer is thirty years of practice, honed to what he believed in. Also, having a soothsayer declare you’re likely to be a Hero cannot be anything but helpful. Let’s move on from that. Are you prepared to lose all your friends, all your family?”

They glance at each other and then back to Silor. “Our mothers are dead. Our father…”

Harmakt says, “He didn’ come back from the Battle of the Heroes.” The emotions are difficult to read there.

“Our grandfather is not happy with our choice, to be honest, but we dreamt of Humakt years ago. We knew where we belonged. And…”

“We still do. Besides, he’s got more’n he can feed anyways.”

“No, I mean, each other. You are tight family.” Silor passes on the wine as if he is not asking them to imagine each other’s deaths.

Nayale accepts the cup, but doesn’t take her sip. She is too busy staring at Silor over the brim. She darts a glance Harmakt’s way and a thousand words are exchanged between them.

“We are one,” they reply. “We fight together. We serve together. One day, we’ll die together. We dreamt it.”

Silor gestures dismissively with his one free hand. “My brother nearly was not a Hero. He was nearly a corpse. Dreams are hopes, for the gods cannot intervene in this world.” Really smart people keeping track might notice he is holding the sword differently now – the Wyter would not have heard all of that. It could have happened some time ago, or just now.

The youths wear matching mulish expressions. “Times are changing and the gods are more active,” Nayale tells him.

“They call, we answer,” Harmakt adds.

“The world’s different. Can’t you feel it? Don’t you see it in your dreams?”

There’s a shift. Something subtle, but distinct. The raw uncertainty of them before has given way to something determined and unyielding. They know what they are, or at least they believe it.

“My brother was tortured almost to death for his dreams,” Silor says smoothly. “Be as certain as you like, but plan for if you are wrong. You do not stalk a deer by believing the wind will help you, even if you dream it will.”

Nayale gives him the sort of look he’ll have seen on his children’s faces. She’s humouring him when she says, “Thank you for your advice. We will give it due consideration.”

Harmakt? He’s actually thinking about it. Hard. Then he says, “We’ll plan, my Lord. But plannin’ only gets you so far. Sometimes, th’ wind changes or the snow starts fallin’ or you sprain yer ankle… You still gotta hunt it or yer family will starve. We’re the hunters and we gotta do what we gotta do. An’ sometimes that’s dangerous. Maybe even deadly. But better us than everyone else. We got a duty and a callin’, I s’pose.”

It’s a long, serious speech for the young man.

Silor nods. “Right,” he tells Harmakt. “Decide what you want to be and how to get there. I can tell you that my brother does nothing without plans.”

The young man rescues the cup from his sister’s fingers, takes a sip, then offers it over.

“I’ve bin doin’ night-watches while waitin’ for the Wyter Priest,” he tells Silor. “Mind if I ask yer guards to join them a while? It’ll be hard to sleep this early an’ I wanna learn how a house gets guarded in a city. Never done that before.”

Nayale is silent and watchful.

“Of course I don’t object. If you can persuade your Priest not to take a watch, that would be helpful to me.” Silor smiles over the wine cup, and as he hands it back he uses the movement to cover what he is doing with his left hand; hooking his finger back to where he can talk to Lord Raven. “She has an awkward tendency to volunteer.” He seems unaffected by the wine, although he had some at dinner as well.

“We’ll try. She has a mind of her own,” Harmakt says. His sister snorts.

“Maybe if I sleep across her doorway, I can keep her in her room,” she says. “Or at least, I’ll wake up if she leaves.” Then she shakes her head. “For her good, my Lord, not because we fear for her wellbeing here. But, she’d…”

“Take it badly,” her brother finishes. “Yeah, don’ do that, Nayale. She won’ like it. Just tell her like you tell me.”

“Persuading a superior is a tricky business. Let me think, you’d be… around eighteen? Seventeen is too young…”

“Just had our 18ths.”

“Sacred Time.” He nods. “By your age, my brother had led a handful of raids, and nobody in his band was unblooded. He had also made certain that my own group of companions lived in a friendly rivalry to his, which pushed them both. He makes people want him to want them. You’re wondering how to be what you have seen, aren’t you?”

They nod in unison.

“Another thing I think is key to his thinking, is that he does not wonder. He list assets, decides on priorities, decides on a path. It’s simple stuff, for a Humakti, but he lived it before he ever got to the Temple.” Silor makes sure to keep the wine going around.1He notes that their sips are getting smaller. Polite, but sober. Harmakt is taking his cues from Nayale.

“He is a literate man,” Nayale says. Statement, not question. “I can read some, but to do what you suggest… I want to improve on those skills. I need to read better and write too.”

“I’m not here for advice,” Silor says. “I am here because… well, tell me another reason your Priest brought you here?”

They consider. Nayale ventures, “So we can see where he came from? Who he came from?”

“So we c’n unnerstand that he wasn’ always who we see now?”

“That had not even occurred to me.” Silor smiles. “No, you list possibilities to each other, but do it well away from me. Your host needs to get back to what he was doing.” The smile curves wider.

They rise in response to his clear dismissal. They offer their matched bows.”Thank you for the wine,” Nayale says.

“An’ the food fer thought,” Harmakt adds.

“Digest well,” Silor tells them, and gestures to the door. He does not offer the Wyter Sword back.

They glance at the sword, then slip out of the room, closing the door behind him. As they go, their voices can be heard in muffled debate.

“What did he mean? Why else would she have brought us?”

“Did we get it wrong?”

“Maybe…” They trail off as they move further down the corridor.

There is no chuckle at all, just the sound of a man putting a sword down on a table and pouring himself a drink.

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    He notes that their sips are getting smaller. Polite, but sober. Harmakt is taking his cues from Nayale.