1628, Sacred Time, Fate Week, Godday
As Berra and Varanis head back to the Praxian house, their conversation turns towards Nochet. (Follows from Plans, princes, and personal matters)
A little later, as they walk up the hill towards their house, Berra says, “I’m thinking of going to Nochet after Death Week.”
Varanis’ eyes widen. “Nochet? Why?!”
“Lord Eril’s cult. There’s someone there who should… well, that I want to join it. So far, everyone does it through the Wyter, except me, you know? Even Amling. But some people, I want to know him as the god, not as part of the community.” All that seems perfectly simple to Berra, who says it like anyone can catch up with the subtle differences.
“I see.” Varanis shifts closer to the wall, making space for the youngster heading down the road with a heavily laden handcart. He looks like he’s managing, but he is definitely digging his heels in every few steps. “I don’t know if I could go with you. The temple is keeping me very busy. I had no idea how much work there is for Wind Lords!”
Berra nods in acceptance of that. “It shouldn’t be any trouble anyhow, and it’s just Humakti stuff. Maybe I’ll see if any Heortlings want to travel back with me.”
“I wouldn’t mind seeing my grandfather. I don’t know how many seasons he’s got left in him. My grandmother too, I suppose. And I should probably make some offerings at the family mausoleum. It’s getting crowded by now.”
Berra watches the youth with the handcart for a moment, perhaps not realising just how much her look seems like a glare. “We could stay with my people.”
Chewing her lip as she thinks, Varanis finally asks, “We won’t be a burden on them? A Wyter priest and a Wind Lord might be overwhelming to a family like… um… to people with their resources.” She struggles to find a way to say ‘but they’re poor’ without causing insult.
“We give them gifts. I don’t eat much, and if we give them something they can sell, then they can do it and give us anything we need.” What Berra does not mention is the security implications.
“Would we put them at risk?”
“Not if we don’t stay there for long, I don’t think? But we should be sure to ask if we can do anything for them.” Berra might have forgotten that Wind Lords represent the god known for host-hood. Implications for the hospitality part are that the host can ask for a favour of the Orlanthi staying.1Intrigue: it is not while they are staying that there might be a problem, but that afterwards powerful people may have noticed.
“I think if I go to Nochet, the wisest course will be to stay at the Vingan temple,” Varanis says after some consideration. “There will be youngsters I may be expected to speak with and elders who will wish for reports. It would allow me to fulfill some obligations to Vinga without overburdening your kin.” She hastens to add, “Though if I can help them in any way, I’d be happy to do so.”
“I could stay with the Humakti, but I don’t really want to,” Berra admits. “It’s just annoying how they try to make me do things.”
“You staying with your family would be understandable. Me staying with your family when my own is a few streets away? Less so.” The Saiciae Palazzo is significantly more than a few streets away from the little house Berra’s kin fill to bursting, but her point is valid nonetheless. “The safest way to restrict Grandmother’s access to me is the temple. I won’t say she can’t influence them, but she certainly can’t cause them the same degree of harm should she decide I’ve offended her.”
“I’ll probably be about a week or two,” Berra says. “And one of us can always leave early. Lesseee…. if you’re aiding a Lightbringer this next couple of weeks, does that count as service?”
“Probably. Tell her to call on me as a Lightbringer? Then Tennebris can’t object, even if he’s feeling particularly objectionable.” There’s a wry grin as Varanis adds, “He’s been pretty growly lately.”
“Yeah. Although you could probably tell her and it still be honourable. I mean, maybe.” Berra shrugs, looking down, and changes the subject. “Did you see Silor any more over Sacred Time?”
“Yes. There was the feast he threw for Mellia and Venlar the other day. We missed you at that. Were you unwell?”
Berra considers before answering. “Yeah. I guess. Lord Raven really wanted to go but he said I needed rest more. Everything at the wedding was a bit much for me, really.”
Varanis gives her a considering look.2Special on Insight. “You need to sleep more.”
Berra has always been mercurial, sometimes with little apparent reasoning behind her change of moods. Now, she goes from pensive about the question to enthusiastic and excited to be moving, even as Varanis watches. It is like how she sometimes pulls herself to calm, but more so, and the emotions seem to be free, not measured. She is not taking charge of her emotions. They have charge of her.
“I don’t usually sleep that much,” Berra half-argues, with a smile. “Mostly, I think… I want to be with friends, just not be too loud with them. For a while, at least. Probably.”
“Breathe all the way out, before you breathe in again,” Varanis says.
Berra does, but looks puzzled. “I’m fine, though…” The puzzlement that washes over her is momentary, but complete. Then she is on to other feelings.
“Yes and no,” Varanis tells her. “When you were younger, did you ever find that your emotions had the reins and you were just along for the ride? It’s very Orlanthi…”
“Yeah. I hate that. When I’m doing something and I know it’s stupid but I’m angry?” Berra is wholely absorbed by the conversation. “Especially when I can’t change.”
The road opens out into a wider space, and it is natural to look around there, and the Humakti does not. Varanis has her attention, and with Varanis her attention stays.3Varanis passes Battle, and it is obvious Berra is not looking around.
The Vingan checks rooftops and does a mental inventory of the people on the street around them. She is obvious about it, at least to anyone who is paying attention.
Berra looks too. “Oh yeah,” she mutters. “I… sorry. I should be looking after you properly. It seems like you are looking after me!” She might be talking about the physical situation. It is absolutely possible she has not noticed the rest.
“We look after each other,” Varanis says firmly. “Speaking of which, have you noticed that your emotions have the reins a little more often than usual, Berra?”
“Um.” Berra glances to Varanis again. “No? I know I was making some pretty bad decisions in Storm Season but I think it’s better now. Is that what you mean? With my want to do things pulling me around?”
“It’s not just bad emotions,” Varanis says with a shake of her head. “You seem to be feeling all the emotions and they’re so strong that they’re plain to see. It’s not a bad thing, but I thought maybe you’d want to know. Everything you feel seems to be writ into your expressions and …” Varanis shrugs. “Maybe I’ve just been too embroiled in politics lately. Politics are a bit like trade. You don’t want others to know what you’re thinking too easily.” She laughs self-consciously. “I’m not terribly good at it. I am always wrestling with how I feel. I give too much away. But, I’ve been working on making sure that what I feel does not automatically dictate what I do or think.”
Berra nod-nods in agreement. “Yeah, I know what you mean,” she says. “The Humakti way is not to feel it, and if you can’t not feel then don’t react to it. If you have to react to it, be fair and honourable. I’m being a pretty bad Humakti, I guess.” She reaches a hand up for Varanis’ shoulder, as if to comfort her.
It seems that Berra has taken in what she is told – she seems to understand at least the end point of the problem, and yet it is not worrying her. If she wants to be a better Humakti, she has yet to say so.
“Are you comfortable with that for the moment? It might be awkward in a Wyter priest, though it makes for an amusing foil to Eril.”
There’s a pat on the shoulder, not a squeeze. “I don’t need to be a Rune Lord, or anything. I’m doing my best for Lord Raven. He deserves that, and he needs it. But for the rest I only need to be good enough for what I am.” Berra shrugs. “You? Are you happy with what you are?”
Varanis grins, her eyes shining. “I’m a Wind Lord of Orlanth and Vinga in the city of Boldhome. I serve my temple and my Prince. I have a daughter who is healthy and clever and brave and who is being raised by a kind woman who will keep her safe. I have the dearest friends I could ever have hoped for and I’ve had seasons to share with my love. I don’t know if I could be happier, Berra.” She looks like she could leap with the joy that is suddenly pouring out of her. “I’ve certainly never had it this good before.”
Berra’s expression is joyful for her friend. “Good. That makes me happy too.”
“Did you know that little Berra somehow got herself onto one of the shelves in the kitchen the other day? The highest one, where Yehna keeps the dried fruits. No one has worked out how she did it, but we found her with a mouthful of dried blueberries after hearing the pot smash. There were berries everywhere!” There’s a mixture of pride and exasperation in the Vingan’s tale, but pride is definitely winning.
Berra thinks about it. “Was Haran nearby?” she asks, and sets her face towards home again.
“That little imp emerged from the latrine looking a bit too innocent,” Varanis replies.4 Do me an Insight Berra? One last one? Varanis: Hahahahaha. Omg. 000. Berra: HHHHeeee. OK. Berra’s underlying problem is just tiredness, and being worn out. It’ll get better. Varanis will be able to tell this over the next few days by observation.
- 1Intrigue: it is not while they are staying that there might be a problem, but that afterwards powerful people may have noticed.
- 2Special on Insight.
- 3Varanis passes Battle, and it is obvious Berra is not looking around.
- 4Do me an Insight Berra? One last one? Varanis: Hahahahaha. Omg. 000. Berra: HHHHeeee. OK. Berra’s underlying problem is just tiredness, and being worn out. It’ll get better. Varanis will be able to tell this over the next few days by observation.