Berra — Pre Dawn Visit
????, Earth Season, Season/Illusion Week
Earth Season/Illusion Week/Water Day. Continues directly from the previous log. [[[s02:session-17|Session 17]]]
Pre dawn. Berra is leaving today. Still, there is noise in the courtyard even if there is no light out there. The sound of conversation drifts from the end by the gate.
Varanis emerges from the palazzo wearing her armour, her rapier at her hip. She glances in the direction where Yelm will rise, but she’s definitely ahead of him.
She follows the sound of the voices, curiosity getting the better of her. There’s still time, after all.
At about that point, Berra’s voice raises. “Hi there!” She noticed, apparently. The faint beginning of light that is starting to make the sky glow is only enough to pick put the bulk of a bison, and a tall human figure by it. The smaller figure is lost in the shadows.
The taller person turns towards Varanis.
“Good morning,” the Vingan replies, just loudly enough to be heard.
Berra says, “We’re going to go see Kesten when it’s light enough. I’m leaving the bison here.” She does not have her shield with her, but has strapped it to her shaggy pack animal.
“I see. And then you and Nala leave?” The words are carefully neutral.
“Yeah. Water. He might be dead, in which case we’ll be going to the Temple as well.” Berra’s voice is matter of fact, but the words are a little clipped, said carefully as if she is weighing – or avoiding – their content.
Xenofos nods in affirmation. “He wanted to tell something once Blue Tree people are safe.”
“About Lord Rillo, and his investigations. So it might have been too much for him.” Berra checks that both of the swords at her sides are well belted on. They are.
Varanis glances at the sky, considering something. “Do you want more company?” she offers after a brief hesitation.
“It would be good,” Berra says. “I’d like that.” She too sounds a bit hesitant.
Xenofos shrugs. “It is Hulta palazzo so I guess it might be awkward anyway. But they become ridiculous if they are rude.”
Varanis nods. With a deft movement, the helmet that up until now was tucked under her arm is slid into place. There’s a short curse and some fidgeting, and finally it settles correctly. “I’m not used to the change in padding,” she murmurs. “And I miss my helm.”
“Yeah. I know what you mean.” Berra looks at Varanis, and Xenofos, and the sky. “We could go now. Walk slowly.” Enough light falls on her to show her features set in determination.
Varanis murmurs her assent but does not yet move to the gate. Instead, she glances at Berra.
Berra, glanced at, is still looking to the East. “Xenofos? Slow walk with maybe some awkward waiting around there instead of here?”
Notably, the Humakti’s language is informal towards the Scribe.
“Less awkward here? But you two want to leave immediately?”
Varanis looks between them speculatively. She says nothing.
“This is pretty awkward, Lord Xenofos.” Berra looks down from the sky, and gives him a nod of agreement with her own assessment.
“Privately awkward. Not on the street while Hulta decide what to do….But there is risk of that later as well.”
“Oh, I was thinking of lurking around a corner and maybe having a fit of giggles. That happens sometimes. It’s really annoying but also really funny. Like in the Court. I almost couldn’t keep quiet.” Berra looks proudly happy, in the way that sometimes means she is about to commit to action.
Varanis raises an eyebrow, which almost disappears beneath the helm. The effect is spoiled by a yawn.
“Alright. I didn’t keep quiet. But I almost laughed a lot.” Berra adjusts for actual truth.
Xenofos raises eyebrow but does not comment.
“You want to check for enemies first?” Varanis asks with a nod to the gate.
That finally spurs Berra into action. “Here, or when I go into Hulta?” she asks. She is smiling, though, and goes that way, greeting the guard there with an easy raise of her hand. She mutters her spell while waiting. A moment later she mutters again, this time getting it right.
For all that time her back is turned on the cousins.
Varanis glances over at Xenofos, trying to catch his eye.
“Everything ok?” she mouths silently.
He just nods.
“Clear,” says Berra, “As far as I can tell.”
Varanis studies him.1Andpasses an insight roll.
Ganrel opens the gate, getting a soft punch on the shoulder as thanks from the little Sartarite.
Insight: Xenofos does not look devastated, not too happy either. In control. he might have noticed being studied the way he straightened his posture.))
Varanis accepts his reply and waves him through the gate in Berra’s wake, ready to follow once he’s through.
Xenofos nods to the guard and leaves his shield into the guardroom.
The bison takes a moment to splatter Praxian Fuel from its hind end. Berra giggles a little at the natural flatulence of a beast of the plains, and then she straightens up and suddenly looks ready for action. “Varanis in the middle,” she says, and it’s a Humakti Bodyguard in action, and not a changeable Sartarite lunatic talking.
“You’re more at risk than I am these days,” Varanis grumbles, but she moves to take up the middle position.
“Speaking of which, if you are going to come in with us, I should brief you. Or Xenofos should.” Berra walks like she is looking for a fight.
“Xenofos, close the gap so we can talk more easily.” A few seasons ago, that would have been an order, now it is more of a request.
Xenofos scans his sector and moves closer.
“He asked to see us, but there are two things we need to tell him as well. First, the black feather duck gave me Harrek’s regards. Second, about a song we heard last night.”
Varanis glances at Xenofos, then back at Berra. “Xeno mentioned a song last night, but wouldn’t tell me what it was about. It has something to do with you and Kesten, I take it?”
“Yeah. It says he’s the sort to give way to passion and I’m the sort to like men. Did you know he was married?” Berra gives Varanis a quick, inquisitive look.
Varanis shakes her head.
“Well, it makes it a serious slander. I didn’t know that until Xenofos told me.” Berra does not clear up when Xenofos told her, but instead looks to the next junction, and casts a glance behind her.
“That could create even more unpleasantness. Much as I hate to admit it, it’s probably wise for you to leave Nochet for a time. You have a knack for inspiring songs and they aren’t always flattering.” Varanis has a similar problem, but appears to be staying in the city anyway.
“He can’t be first husband as Humakti – I think. So it is not quite the same as with Rillo. But with circumstances preceding Rillo’s death…”
Berra adds to that. “And it mentions Lord Rillo falling on his sword. I don’t think the rest of the city would have known that, but I don’t know. If he’s married it seems like more of an attack on him, and maybe Hulta.”
“Who is he married to? Is it one of the matrons of the House?”
Berra looks to Xenofos for an answer.
Shrug. “One of his cousins, Serenelda Hulta. Pretty respectable I think, matron, not one to become Grandmother unless swallows fly really mysterious ways.”
Varanis nods. “I think I met her once. She’s not much older than us. Very…. Ernaldan.”
“Five or six years?” Xenofos replies, not perfectly sure.
“He’s probably not much older. But he’s had a lot of political experience. We’re probably not telling him anything new, except that the song’s popular enough I heard it by accident, I think. And there’s a sailor’s version. Which I am not going to listen out for, I want to add.” Berra still sounds calm, like this is not about anyone she cares for.
Varanis nods. She turns a sharp glance towards movement on a rooftop across the road, but it’s just a small alynx watching the three of them pass through its domain.
“If he’s dead, or if he’s not available, we go to the Temple and see if his Testament’s to be opened yet. He left a report, and he wants us to look at it. Or rather, he doesn’t, because he wants to survive, but if he does die, we read that. Only if I’m not here, can you, Varanis? You helped find…” Berra sighs. “I said I would go. So I’m going.”
“Xenofos and I can read it together. And I’ll send news if necessary,” Varanis offers.
“I won’t mind much if he’s dead. It’s not knowing that I don’t like. And did we help him, or did we help him to get into trouble we didn’t help him out of?” Berra sighs, forces relaxation on herself, and keeps walking. “He should be fine.”
“I did not deny his request when he made it. So I will look at his Testament if time for that comes.”
“Who do you suppose would kill him? His wife? Grandmother Hulta?” Varanis is playing over the possibilities with curiosity. If the exercise is uncomfortable for others, she doesn’t notice.
“Whoever killed Lord Rillo. That’s what he was looking into. He’s useful and honourable, so his family should be protecting him. But he was going out to deal with Rillo’s death, he said. He’d been looking into it.” Berra gives that as an off-handed report.
“Honorable and useful. Unlike Rillo whose return from shadow of Death was mysterious choice from Lady of Healing. But then she does not choose her mercy.” Xenofos weighs up souls out loud.
Berra goes on, almost to herself. “No. He said he believed he was understanding it. So maybe it was his family, but I don’t think he’d have said so if it had been. That’s what we argued about.”
Varanis shrugs. “It’s not really our…” She lets the words trail off, then takes a slow breath. “Well, if it’s a Hulta matter, it’s not our place to interfere. But perhaps it isn’t. Still, even if he is dead and the Hulta are not behind it, why are we meddling in the affairs of another House?”
“Because there’s been a murder, ultimately. And he’s telling us because we helped him and cared. And because I want to know. Eurmal Murderer isn’t another houses’s matter. It’s murder.” Berra’s voice is still calm, but now studied lightness has crept into it.
Varanis glances over at Xenofos.
Xenofos shrugs. “Murder is still matter of the house. But using Eurmali to do it is dishonourable.”
“Not quite what I was saying, at least not to him. But no matter what – I want to know.” Berra turns and takes several steps bawkwards, scanning the rooftops behind just before they approach a corner.
Varanis acquiesces. “I can see this is important to you. I’ve already offered to look into the matter of the slave for you, but if you have to leave before you have answers about Kesten, I will see what I can learn for you.”
Berra says, “Please. Sorry. I want to. But … I hate it here.” That sounds like a change of subject. “Anyhow. I’m angry with him. I’m chewing on too much and I can’t swallow.” Back to the subject again.
Varanis blinks. “Angry with who? Kesten?”
“Yeah. I think he’s probably the one who made my Clan tell me not to pursue the thing about the slave like I was going to. With Nala. I don’t know how, but only he would have known they were there and been able to contact them. Although it was last night, so if he did that’s good, right? I mean, for him?” She leans forward to look at Xenofos. “That’s the bit where I said to call him a bastard but I was sort of smiling.”
Xenofos looks thoughtful. “Did you tell him what you were going to do? You did not tell me or Varanis?” Questioning look on Varanis.
Varanis shakes her head.
“No. But he knew I was going to do something. I told him I was sorry about the crap that was going to hit him.” Berra shrugs like that is polite conversation.
“That is still kind of vague. I think Granny would have been able to deduce about as much, and have much easier time contacting your kin,” Xenofos points out.
“Mebbe. Still angry. Not thinking about it. Not really clear.” Berra does not falter in her walk.
Varanis nods thoughtfully. “Grandmother could and would,” she admits.
“Which will make it rather amusing when I take up the chase.” This is added with a hint of a grin.
Xenofos looks at Varanis with a bit of worry.
Berra smiles around a laugh. “I need to stay serious,” she complains. “And then there you are, Leaping in.”
“Oh don’t worry, Xenofos. Grandmother has been angry with me before. And I will have access to places Berra doesn’t.”
Shrug. “She is quite understanding actually so I am not too worried of her. But you leaping into trouble you don’t antcipate does make me nervous.”
Berra makes a struggling-to-be-silent noise. “Mm-.”
Xenofos casts her a glance.
Berra’s expression is mostly that of someone watching the rooflines. It can be seen more clearly now, as Yelm fights to become at one with the sky again.
“We’ve rescued Lenta and the Blue Tree elders. Grandmother doesn’t seem interested in having me represent the House just now, and Garin has gone to ground. I need to do something. Of course, I could also go investigate the Merelt country estate…”
“Starting to be season for the chase…”
“If Garin was to blame. I told Kesten about the handkerchief, but that might be the only proof.! It depends how they cleaned out the warehouse.”
“Garin is to blame,” Varanis insists. “I’ve confronted him twice and I’m certain of it.”
Yelms rays start to reach the walls and slowly almost to the faces of the trio in the place where they pass the hill.
“I’m not. It’s likely but if it is not him we are letting someone get away.” Berra looks longingly up at the sun now they can almost see him.
The Vingan stares up at the sky, staring briefly into Yelm’s emergent light. Her expression is a mixture of defiance and respect.
The house Hulta looks ominous, huddling under the mound of royal palace like a wounded beast.
“Left here?” Berra suggests. There is no urgency in it.2Berra fails a Scan roll.
Xenofos looks at the main gate with inscrutable look. “We are not skulking, we should take the main gate.”
Varanis follows his gaze. She looks concerned. “He’s right. Berra…”3Varanis passes her own Scan.
“We should walk around first. I hadn’t realised we were this…” Berra sighs. “This close. I’m not saying we don’t take the main gate. I say we know what’s at the other one when we do.”
“We are not making an assault, we are visiting another noble house,” insists Xenofos.
“Berra…” Varanis says again, putting a hand lightly on the Humakti’s arm in an effort to make her stop moving for just a moment.
“I know. And we’re a few minutes early. Still not polite, right?” Berra is more hopeful than determined. Then she hears Varanis, and looks her way.
“I’ll be damned if I visit the Hulta’s by kitchen door or hide in shadows when on my way…” he goes on.
Shooting Xenofos a quelling look, Varanis says to Berra, “They are in mourning. See the cypress branches at the gate? Someone has died. Recently.”
“Not Rillo?” Berra looks at the gate. “Well. Let’s?” She sets herself to face the gates. “How recent does that mean?”
“Whoever it is has not yet been buried. This is more recent than Rillo. Likely within the last day. It would be very rude for us to come knocking in full armour at dawn on any day, but the morning after a death…” Varanis looks worried now.
“Well, I could take off my helmet?” Berra shrugs. “Temple, if you say so.”
“It is as Varanis says. But we are after Truth.”
Berra does not seem to mind. A death having happened might have calmed her.
Xenofos shrugs and throws his hands out. “It is not very polite, but… I don’t do this to insult, neither do I think either of you?”
He looks at both women from beneath his helmet.
“He asked us to come,” Berra muses. “Can we send to make sure it’s not him before we do?” She seems unworried.
Varanis looks at Xenofos with worry in her eyes.
Xenofos shrugs. “We are here. If it is him they will tell. Just show respect to their grief.” His gaze travels from Varanis to Berra and back. And stays on Varanis, with an added little nod.