Not at Home

1628, Dark Season, Disorder Week, Clayday


Berra is wounded in the Temple. Varanis comes to visit. Session SA3.13.


Varanis1now bathed after her blacksmith experience turns up at the Temple of Humakt, asking for Berra Humakti. The new Wyter priest.

There is a short pause, and then an initiate not known to her takes her through the main practice hall, along a long, long passageway that must lead all the way up the ‘blade’, and to the right. From what she recalls they are not far from Lord Eril’s chambers when they turn off. “You’ll be expected to wait for an escort out,” is all the man says, and he leaves that until they are close to their destination.

Her reply is a silent nod of acknowledgement. If he’s heard any rumours of Varanis, they probably don’t match this. She is solemn. Practically withdrawn.

There is a door, and the man knocks on it like he has never met Berra, or does not know clapping is more natural. Inside a man’s voice says, “GO AWAY!” It sounds upper class, and angry, and… then it changes tone a bit. Sulky. “Very well then. Come in.” Well bred sulky.

Varanis arches a brow, but remains silent. If her escort does not move to open the door, she will take care of it herself.

He just walks away. His task is done.

Varanis lets herself into the room and pauses to look around.2Insight: She is troubled. Worried. But trying to hold herself steady.

Beyond the door is a big room. Daylight creeps in from the next room, to the right. Here, there is little furniture. Pulled out from the wall is a low bed, and next to it a table of pale wood, probably oak. That, and the light wooden blanket, and the pale figure in the bed, clutching a sword that has a wrapped blade, are the only things that do not just look dark and gloomy.

Particularly dark and gloomy is the figure made of smoke, just stalking towards the door. Smoke, a touch of fire in the eyes and the glowing scar, and irritation. “Oh. It’s you.”

From the bed, Berra tries to look.

“Hello again,” Varanis greets the Wyter, with courtesy. “I’m glad to see you.” She gives him her full attention first. She hasn’t done more than glance at Berra. He is important.

The Wyter bows, his expression cold. “Truth compels me to admit that I do not reciprocate,” he replies. “I have known you for under two hundred heartbeats, and enjoyed very few of them.”

“You wouldn’t be the first. Nonetheless, you are here for important work and appreciate you for it,” Varanis is still serious. “I’ve come to speak with your priest,” she informs the Wyter.

The Wyter’s scowl does not change. “I should not waste my time,” he says, “It being valuable.” Varanis gets a tiny movement that is barely even an attempt at a nod, and the smoky figure departs, going into the room next door. Despite his slight translucence he casts a full shadow.

“Hello. Thane Varanis, isn’t it?” Berra smiles. “I… hello and welcome. I’m sorry I can’t get up.”

Varanis, who was just about to greet Berra, stops abruptly. She stares. “Thane Varanis?” she asks, a note of disbelief creeping into her voice.

“I know you,” Berra reassures her. “How can I help you?”

“May I… may I sit?” Varanis asks, falling back on the safety of courtesy.

“I don’t have a chair,” Berra replies, “But I don’t mind. I could call for one.”

“I can sit on the floor,” Varanis reassures the priest. “I have done so many times.”

Berra waits patiently to be told what is happening.

Varanis folds herself into a seated position, next to where Berra is resting. She is quiet for several heartbeats, clearly trying to work out what she wants to say3Fail First Aid, but a Critical Insight.

Insight: That is hardly Berra at all. She is holding onto the sword for comfort as much as to be ready for battle. Her position is too straight in the bed. Even with a wound she would be wriggling. And… she is being patient. She is not waiting out of politeness – she is waiting out of not minding what happens next; out of feeling that she has plenty of time and will find out. She should be opening her mouth, asking questions, blurting something that is stupid or profound. She is just pausing, and waiting for the next thing.

“If you’re going to be so formal with me, would you call me Vareena instead, please? I don’t know that I can bear to be Thane Varanis to you.” She studies Berra. “This… it’s not you. It doesn’t feel right.” There’s a vague hand wave, as the Vingan struggles to find the right words. “Are you going to be yourself again when you heal?” Well, she was being polite, but this is definitely not the sort of courteous dialogue her tutors tried so hard to instil in her.

“Vareena, then.” Berra looks up at Varanis. “I am new to formality. I’m doing my best.” She is still using her best peasant accent, but she looks a little worried now, as if she feels she is losing out. There is no joy in seeing her friend, only a cautious smile, as if she wants to know what is going on and hopes the conversation will tell her.

“What’s wrong?” Varanis pleads suddenly. “You’re too still. Even when you sleep, you move. Are you in a lot of pain still? Is that it?”

“It hurts,” Berra says, “But nothing else is wrong. I just have to wait to get better.” She should be pointing out that sometimes in the field she sleeps very still indeed, because she is sleeping lightly, it is only in beds that she wriggles when actually sleeping, and anyway, everyone moves! What she does is give Varanis a tiny grin. “It’ll happen.” She seems sure of that.

Varanis sighs. “If you say so.” She lets the subject drop for the moment. “How are things with the Wyter? He seems moodier than a youth around Initiation age.”

“He does not like being the Wyter,” Berra explains, and then a thought strikes her. For a moment there is a flash of what she should be. “You’re a member of his Temple, right?”

Varanis nods.

Berra seems satisfied by that. The answer is as far as the new thought takes her. “I recall,” she says, like she is tucking the fact away and making sure she remembers it.

“I don’t think he likes me much, though,” Varanis adds. “He thought he was going to be free and I brought him back to you.”

Berra replies, “Yes. We will have to help him learn his duties, and that we are looking after him. So far he has not had much that is good happen. He likes looking out of the window, and…” She closes her eyes, wincing. “And he says he wants some privacy and asks me to be silent.”

“Silent about him or in general?” the Vingan asks with growing curiosity. She glances in the direction of the door he vanished through.

“He can hear me, but right now, just through his ears.” Berra trusts Varanis with that, at least. “But he does not want me to talk about him.” Which, in a way, she just did.

“I see. Ok then. We don’t have to talk about him.” She sighs again. “I’m going to visit Silor when it’s safe to travel again. I’m going to bring several bottles of the best wine I can and we’re going to drink ourselves stupid. Betraying you was one of the hardest things I have ever done.” She glances at Berra, glassy-eyed, but cannot maintain eye contact.4Insight: She is deeply ashamed, even though she knows it was necessary.

Berra considers. “Betray? What was… sorry, you’ll have to hold that up for me again.”

Varanis scowls. “You lost that bit of the memories? I suppose that makes sense.”

After a moment, she says, “You remember that we were re-enacting some of the High Sword’s early deeds?”

Berra thinks about that, carefully. “Yes. Yes, I recall that. I needed to bring about the right distuation… situation. To get the…” She moves enough to glance at the door. “He’s fading now. See you later, Lord Raven… to be able to find him again. Was that you? I think I remember you being there. You played a big part, then?” She is puzzled, not curious.

“I was Silor,” Varanis states, an edge of bitterness creeping into her voice. “Brother and betrayer. You asked me to do it, the same way Eril asked Silor to betray him to the Lunars.”

“Oh, yes. I know that part.” Berra perks up a little, although it is mostly in her expression. Her body stays relaxed, on the low bed. “I suppose I must trust you, then? He loved Silor. I shouldn’t tell you about my High Sword, though. It’s not what a good initiate would do.”

Varanis stops breathing, then she swallows carefully and draws in a slow breath. “You don’t remember our friendship, I take it?”

Berra says, “I think we did things together, but I don’t know what?” She drags out her pause like she wants to say more. Berra should say more. There is always more.

She says nothing more.

“I see.” The two words carry a remarkable about of pain, but then Varanis puts a smile on her face and says with determination, “We’ll just have to help you remember. As soon as you’re well enough, we’re going climbing. Provided the Telmori haven’t eaten me before then.”

Berra nods, hair whispering against her the folded blanket that is propping her up. “Alright,” she agrees. “I can do that.” There is little curiosity about the Telmori. “But for now, I’m tired, Thane Vareena, and I would like to rest.”

The little Humakti gives a polite smile, of the sort given when whoever is leaving is liked enough to be told it is not THEM causing the request.

It’s not personal.

“Ok,” Varanis says, clambering to her feet. “I just have one more question, if I may?”

“Of course.” It is not the way Berra should say it, but it is what she says.

“Who played Ikadz in our HeroQuest? I’m going to need to kill him.”

Berra stares, and then looks away. “I think I should not tell you. It would cause trouble. I don’t want… I do not wish to cause trouble.”5People rolled lots of things.

“I see. Rest well, Berra. I hope to see you again soon.” Just as she’s about to step through the door, Varanis remembers. “They told me to wait until someone could escort me out. Can you… that is, would you please summon someone? Or should I just stand in the hall until I am noticed?”

Berra takes a deep breath, and closes her eyes. She seems to be thinking of something distant. “Someone will be here. They will be on their way in a moment.” The Humakti keeps on staring at the ceiling, though, like if she looks hard enough she can wish the world away.

Varanis gives her friend one last look, then steps through the door to wait.

Berra is still again, almost peaceful.

  • 1
    now bathed after her blacksmith experience
  • 2
    Insight: She is troubled. Worried. But trying to hold herself steady.
  • 3
    Fail First Aid, but a Critical Insight
  • 4
    Insight: She is deeply ashamed, even though she knows it was necessary.
  • 5
    People rolled lots of things.