Berra — Oil

????, Earth Season, Stasis Week


Earth Season, Stasis Week, Wildday, around dawn. [[[s02:session-11|Session 11]]]


Berra leaves Yamia off at a mid distance, and after making sure there are no listeners around says, “I need to ask an important thing. I promise I will not use this against you, but I want to check a belief. Don’t get angry or… well. It’s important because murder is important, no matter what else is going on. Do you think that someone in your house ordered Lord Rillo murdered? Arranged it, maybe?” Her tone gives no indication of whether she has an opinion on that.

He considers, “It is not unlikely. However if it was Grandmother it was not murder.”

“If it was Eurmal Murderer, it was murder. Honour is the same for everyone.” That’s a snap reply that was probably unplanned.

He shakes his head, “No. Because a Matron holds the power of Life and Death. If someone else, yes, murder. Several have motives.”

Berra’s jaw tightens, but she shrugs. “Doesn’t change a thing. I’m about to cause a lot of fuss. Your house might come after me. So there might be a murderer sent. Only if you thought Grandmother was allowed to do it, then you wouldn’t be …” She gives him a hard look. “Telling someone to kill secretly is never honourable. But if you think it’s someone else who could send the murderer after me. Or if you think that dishonourable death is always dishonourable. Then I could try to make enough fuss.”

“You are Sartarite. You do not understand. A House’s Matron cannot murder one of her House. It is not secret murder, it is private execution. If however it was someone else, and he had a lot of enemies, it was dishonourable. But you lack any evidence it was my House… only a motive, which you presume. I would be displeased if you passed off your guesses as Truth.”

“If she asked you to ambush someone like that, you would? Using assassins? Would you organise it?” Berra manages to keep revulsion mostly out of her voice. “Of course she can execute. But… that? No. Would you?”

“No. Of course not. But I am a warrior and guard, not an executioner. “

“If it’s not honourable for you, it’s not honourable for Eurmal Murderer. Remember what you won’t do. You’d have killed him to order but not secretly. There’s a big difference. Someone went and found a cult you thought was just a myth. You execute in public. That’s …” Berra shakes her head. “I know you have to serve, but you don’t have to like it.”

“Is it better to dishonour your Clan publicly or deal with problems private only to those who need to know?”

“If a thing has happened, there’s no dishonour in being truthful about it. Do it in the open where people can see justice. Or do it privately, but don’t do it secretly. That’s wrong. The dishonour is in the actions of others, until you decide to cover them up.”

“Private is secret if you are not in the group. As you are not.”

“Yeah. I’m glad I’m from Sartar. And I don’t think you being displeased is going to worry me as much as it would have. You’re justifying using secret murder. But if… if you still think that’s wrong, I want to help stop the murderer.”

“You can retract that Lie, or give satisfaction. “

Berra considers for a bit. “I believe you are justifying secret murder. Because I’m Sartarite. Is that still a lie?”


“Then I’ll have my second call. I was trying to do the right thing, Lord Kesten. Trying to catch a murderer. I thought they might send you after me but I didn’t think you’d do it yourself.” Berra bows. “And really, if you do want to catch a damned murderer you can still let me know.” She looks furious at him now.

“I do. It is you who is distracting with lies.”

“Yeah… no. You’re obeying someone because you can’t see it’s not right. But if it… well… in anything else.” Berra shrugs miserably. “It’s not lies. It’s… I… never mind. But let me know if you need to use me as bait. I’ll trust you in that part if you say I can.” She is mostly looking at his neck, either for where to cut it or to avoid meeting his eyes.

“I am obeying someone because it is right. But if your actions weaken my Clan it will be harder to deal with things.”

“You’re obeying someone who does things wrong. If you can’t see the difference between execution and ordering murder, then I can’t ever convince you.” She looks at him in appeal. “And then selling someone who did nothing but obey his mistress. That was cruel. And… damnit. You’re watching a scimitar swing and telling me it’s a straight sword and you’re happy for it to land.”

“No. It’s very simple, Berra. If my Grandmother ordered an execution in private, then it is both legal, and honourable. If someone else did it, it is secret murder. That is the thing. Who is the important question here. Anything you do to detract from that delays justice, and impedes truth.”

“Hell with that. What is important is the way it was done. And you’re sitting there saying it’s just and legal. That’s pretty much all of what I hate about this city. It makes good people think bad things. They think private is the same as honourable. Honour is what you are, not what people see.”

“So if a Sartarite chief sends a warrior out to kill an outlawed old woman, how is that different?”

Berra stares. “Before I answer, is the warrior a member of the cult of Eurmal Murderer? And does the chief order it to be done in secret?”

“No. But he mentions it to his circle, and nobody speaks of who did it.”

“Mhmmmm….” She stares at him. “So not using a murderer on purpose then. So there’s a big difference for one. And then if a warrior isn’t willing to say a thing, it’s a poor warrior.”

He smiles. “So, your warrior would breach the confidence of his Chief and brag of his sacred mission as midwife of death?” There’s a pause, as if that was a teachable moment. “This assumes it was Grandmother. I believe it unlikely. She would probably have told me. So, let me concentrate on finding the offender.”

“You what? Did you even f… did you hear me? We’re not even talking about the same thing here, and you think you’re somehow telling me something new? But now apparently he DID tell a man to kill in secret. I just asked you that. You said no. Think about my answer again, then.” Berra waits impatiently.

“Private is still not the same as secret.”

“You still have no idea about that, and you think an execution can look like anything your Grandmother wants. So yeah, not even talking about the same thing. How far do you think you would have got by now, without my friends and me?” Berra looks like she is going to break into open sneering, then stops. “Actually, that’s an unfair question. You wouldn’t stop, no matter how fast you followed. Sorry. But if it would help to have the offender know where I’m going to be, I’m fine with that, but I’d want to know beforehand because I want to walk away from it. That was mostly what I wanted to tell you.” Then she stops talking, although it is clear she wants to say a lot more.

“I’ll find who it was, and if it was crime or execution. I would prefer you not to make my task harder.”

“I heard that from you. You’re going to be out of luck, I think. And on that other matter, it’ll be Lord Xenofos Saiciae calling on you. Or on anyone else you say, if you have a friend you’d prefer it to be.” Berra smiles very slightly, like this is not a surprise but something familiar or expected.

“Ah. You prefer not to try and kill the investigator yourself?”

“Huh? I won’t be trying to kill you. We’re Humakti. I’m assuming we’ll organise it to first blood a few days from now, but he’ll be my second. Are you trying to think badly of me, or is it just coming easily?” Berra’s smile is back, hard to repress.

“You are making it easy. I apologise.”

“I still prefer you to the other people I met you with, even if only one of us walks away.” Berra shrugs. “I think I ran out of things to say, anyhow.” Now she just looks tired of all this shit. “Got anything more?”

“Not yet. But I hope to. It will be a question of finding a way to ask which must be answered.” He gives a wry smile, “Do try not to be an idiot, Berra.”

“I am genuinely trying not to be. Um, but if that was about me asking you that I just meant conversation. Like I said – we don’t seem to be talking in the same way.” A shrug happens, involving a lot of wry expression. “But it’s good general advice. Thank you.” She gives Yamia a glance. “That was why I was thinking you wanted bait to trail. Anything else I shouldn’t interfere in.”

“It will complicate using you as a tethered goat if you give other people motives to assassinate you.”

“Well, that does mean you’re likely to attract at least someone. Clean up the city a bit. Would that be a waste, if I got the wrong assassin?” Berra looks like she is ready to go fight anything that will come at her. Bouncy. Happy again, although she adds with a slight shudder, “Not a goat.”

He looks momentarily blank, then nods.

“Look after yourself. Don’t let the assassin get you, either.” She gives him a concerned look.

He nods, “Assuming you’re not set up to assassinate me by goading me to a duel of course.”

“Huh. Yeah, that’s not it. I’m pretty sure I can get up to that sort of thing without goading. Nobody asked me to, and I didn’t know or guess you would take offence, and I didn’t try to make you. I’ll put my hand on the altar and say that if you want.” The concern hovers, now mostly about politeness.

He shakes his head. “You’d be an awful choice as an assassin. Your face recites sagas.”

Berra pauses to consider that. “Hunter HeroQuests might bring in your prey,” she says suddenly. “Nala might know the right ones. Or Wolf, either as Humakt or on his own. They should both be able to bring you to a foe you can smell. But I can’t think of a specific story I know well enough to name.” She looks sorry about that.

Yamia’s Intervention

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    Yamia’s handwriting is basic, but her vocabulary is good. Here and there she has to use Heortling words.