On Guard

Berra — On Guard

????, Storm Season, Disorder Week


Context

Storm Season, Disorder Week, Windsday Eve. [[[s02:session-24|Session 24]]]

Events

After meeting Gallaf, Berra trots out of the yurt, and with the unhurried pace of a infantry casually hoofing it, she makes her way across to where she left the body of the Shaman Yellow Storm.

She often runs through the camp, sometimes fast, and so it does not look like there is a problem from a distance. The difference is that she is not greeting people as she goes. She looks serious, set on a task.

Left where he was tossed off from the bison lies the corpse of the small rider you now suspect to have been the shaman. It would have been good to know that before bringing him to the edge of camp. Nala really could have said something before dashing to camp to get help, but you were all in the rush. He looks very small in there in the puddle of rainwater, other leg bent under his body, one arm up , one on the side, a bit like the ragdoll Yehna used to carry around. His eyes stare at the clouds and the sky, unseeing, with rain water flowing out of the eyesockets like tears.

Berra looks about at the small yurt and the small person, and then looks about for the drum.

The drum with its broken frame lies next to him in the soggy ground.

Berra sighs, and looks around for other people who might be too nearby.

It is dark and at the edge of camp there are no people. Pickets are further out and the bonfire for Bill is drawing most attention.

Berra sets herself to learning and remembering the landscape, to listening out, and to waiting.

Time passes. Berra, wet even inside her padding, stands in the dark and rain.

Varanis approaches. She has borrowed a bison cloak off someone as her coat is still drying from earlier. “Berra,” she says softly, announcing her presence to the Humakti.

“I see ya. And hear ya.” Berra turns fully to Varanis. “Heya.” She still does not have her helmet on, and her wiry hair is weighed down by the water. Her cloak is over her shoulders, but being a Humakti she has kept her right arm clear for action, and it needs to be able to get to her sword, and the cloak is too tight to allow that, so it is hooked back just a little. She’s going to need warm, dry clothes eventually, and maybe wringing out.

“Do you want to go dry out? I can stand guard for a time,” the Vingan offers. She’s wearing her oversized bison hat, with her hair pushed back under it so it’s out of her face. Under the cloak, it looks like she might be wearing the bronze armour. “There’s warm food and drink being sent to the yurt.”

“I said I’d do it, but if there aren’t any runners from the Khan in a bit, I might ask you to go get me something warm, and a bigger cloak. And my helmet. The Duck feather’s missing all the watery weather.” Berra hunkers down a bit in her clothes. “No action here, nothing. Although I’m wondering a bit if the drum being broken made the rain too, or if this is just Praxian weather. It’s wet, either way.”

“Take ten minutes or so. Change your padding too. You must be wet through and putting a dry cloak over top of that won’t make you dry. I need you hale, Berra.” From the stern look she directs at the Humakti, Varanis does not appear to be making a request.

Berra looks back towards the camp, and then towards the body, and sighs. “No. I said I’d stay here. I accepted the post. It’s good of you, but I…” She hesitates before a word that might be ‘cannot’ and might be ‘won’t’.

Varanis stiffens. “This is not about me being good to you. If Eril told you to change your kit so that you could better do your job, would you listen to him?”

“Ye… No. Not if he hadn’t given me this duty. He can’t call me from my word, not even him.” Berra looks suddenly half an inch taller, a big change in her. It is all pride.

“Right. Fine. Take this cloak then and give me your wet one.” Varanis unclasps the heavy cloak from around her shoulders and stands in the rain staring in frustration at her friend.1Berra failed Insight (Human), although we can guess.

Berra smiles, and says, “Thank you. The inside’s mostly just bare hide so it’s fine.” She swings hers off and takes the bigger one. “I’ll go when being here is about to stop being useful – when only moving can keep me warm. Then I’ve done the best I can, and I can come back to do more.” Her cloak is oiled on the inside, mostly waterproof, and made to fit a broad-shouldered woman. It is also short, like her.

Varanis nods curtly. “I’ll be back shortly. Don’t go away.” That last might be ironic. Or perhaps it’s just annoyance. She turns on her heel and vanishes into the growing darkness.

Berra waits again, this time a bit warmer, but nowhere close to drying out.

It’s not long when Varanis returns with Berra’s helmet and something wrapped in a small piece of hide.

She hands the helmet over first.

Berra gives Varanis a look of gratitude, wide-eyed as she pushes a hand through her hair to get some of the water out of it, and then puts the helmet on. “That’s good for keeping water out of my eyes, too,” she says. “Maybe needs a better brim, but still.” The black feather, unbroken still, gets a touch of the fingertips as Berra reassures herself it is still there, and then she keeps her body warm under the bigger cloak.

The hide wrapped object turns out to be a clay beaker, wrapped for insulation. Handing it to Berra, she says, “It’s just a meat and bone broth, but it will warm you for now.”

Berra sips, looks around to check if anything is coming, and then glugs and winces. “Hot! Yes! Ow!”

Thunder rumbles in the distance. “I don’t trust this weather,” Varanis murmurs.

“No. Not with yesterday happening. But it’s draining pretty quickly. At least so far. Hey… you could attack with water elementals in this weather. I wonder if you can use air elementals to keep water over… they’d move too much to be useful for that, I guess. But dust. Rushes-to-battle threw sand in our faces as we advanced.”

“Was that earth or air, do you think?”

“Air. I think what happened is the Shaman made a spirit do it, but it’s a think that could be done by anyone with a good command of the winds, so if we have a way of dealing with that, we need to use it. I haven’t thought of one yet. Maybe rain. Weirdly enough.” Berra shrugs, expression contorted in thought and then becoming peaceful a moment later.

“Can’t we put his body to rights?” Varanis asks, staring at the corpse. “It seems wrong to leave him as he was dropped. He may be the enemy, but we don’t need to be so disrespectful.” She steps towards the body as if to act on her words.

“Don’t,” Berra says sharply.

Varanis stops, turning a questioning glance on Berra.

“The Khan said it was better nobody touched his remains until Erhehta had had a look at them. That includes the body, not just his things. If he says it’s dangerous, it’s dangerous. And after that it might well be me anyhow.”

This gets a reluctant nod. “I just don’t like seeing him so twisted up like that. Even an enemy deserves better.”

Berra looks at the body and shrugs. “It’s… well, his spirit’s gone. I don’t see it in the same way, I guess. But you can look outwards more, and I’ll look inwards more, if you like?”

This gets a tired shrug.

“Soon time to go,” Berra says, and there is a yearning note in her voice. “Somewhere dry.” Less yearning. More infantry disgust with the weather.

Chuckling quietly, Varanis says, “So…. not Sartar?”

Berra laughs out loud, a long bright peal that starts with a guffaw and ends with a chuckle drawn out by the need to breathe in halfway through. She mutters under her breath, just loud enough to be heard. “Grrr rrr rrr mutter mumble.”

“Don’t spill the broth.”

“Good point.” Berra tries another sip, and then a longer drink. “Just right now.” She relaxes a little in the big cloak, and finishes the drink, whimpering a little. “Ow ow ow was not just right ow.”

“Since you are determined to stay out here, without letting me take your place for a time, is there anything else I can do for you?”

“Funny little dance to say sorry about Sartar?” says Berra after a moment, and then shakes her head. “No, but I could do with a runner, and I should go back in… probably about half an hour. I’ll probably be really cold then. But the broth was good.”

“I’ll find you a runner and I’ll be back in half an hour then.” She collects the cup and looks at Berra silently for a moment.

Berra gives Varanis a wonky little grin, a twitch of the side of the mouth. It could be for reassurance, or for thanks, or just one of her little expressions because she is always moving when she can.2More Insight called for!

Insight: Varanis is dissatisfied about something, and for just a moment, she looks like she might talk about it. But Berra can see the change of expression as she decides not to, just as she turns away.

Berra does not press, but goes back to watching.

The Vingan vanishes into the darkness.

After a while ominous shadow lumbers forth from the darkness.

Berra then herself towards it, squeaks a greeting in Praxian.

A greeting is grunted from within the huge bison cloak.

“Stay with me, touch nothing, run to give warning if I tell you to run. Clear?” Deathchild looks up at the big man.

“Khan say you have message?” Farqaa grunts in reply. It is unclear how much he understood.

After trying to find the Praxian words for a while, Berra says, “Patience. Message if I fight. Tell people.” She nods to the body. “Dead Shaman.”

Farqaa looks at the small broken body and the small guard glumly. “Shaman? Bad?”

“Maybe. Must take care.” Berra does a big shrug, writing her resignation to the job in a gesture.

Colossus looks at her gloomily.

Berra digs under her borrowed cloak and comes up with a handful of jerky and some dried fruit, which she offers over. “Infantry life,” she says. “Guard duty. In the rain.”

He shakes his head. “Not a footsoldier.”

“I know. This rain. Always this much rain?”

He just grunts. That is probably not a word. Even in Praxian.

“Gotcha.” Berra settles in to watch the rain and the dark. Her back is to the camp and the body is several feet in front of her, so she looks over it to keep a general watch as well.