Quest Of Eril: Asking Nala

Berra — Quest Of Eril 08

1627, Sea Season, Harmony Week


Context

Sea Season, Harmony Week. Still on the way to Alda Chur. [[[s02:session-32|Session 32]]]

*Contains significant spoilers.*

Events

The day after Varanis took a dip, Berra goes around the little bisonocavalcade, talking with people in turn. Tiwr wanted to talk to someone else so she got to Nala last, towards late afternoon. “Heya.” The Humakti smoothly puts her bison in next to Tiwr, nods to the unicorn, gives a grin to Nala.

“Hi.” Nala is as ever doing the hunting and cooking for the PC group, with about three different pipkins because of the different diets. The largest one is probably for the unpicky and ungeased Praxians

Berra, who snacks on her jerky as they ride along, has probably noticed, and is grateful when food arrives.

“I have a favour to ask,” the Humakti says. “It’s a big one, so you’ve got to think about it.”

“OK”

“First off, what I’m about to say shouldn’t go further. I mean, Suuraki asked if he should tell his god, and I decided best not right now. It could damage someone.”

Nala raises an eyebrow but says nothing

Berra looks like she expects something, and then glances down at Tiwr.

Nala’s fingers are busy skinning, hopping and so on. Dextrous fingers. Tiwr occasionally does a dressage step or two nearby to highlight the fact he is the graceful one

Berra grins at Tiwr. “So. Lord Eril is a Hero. And he’s probably vulnerable right now. He needs a wyter. For his community.”

“He has a wyter. For the fyrd.”

Then Nala goes on. “And he’s fucking evil.”

“Currently, he has one for the Temple, but not for him, personally,” Berra starts, and then she stops, as Nala goes on.

Nala states that, then stops.

Berra rides on for a few moments, as her face goes white except for a few red blotches, and then she says, “Maybe tomorrow,” she says, and she hauls Followed to a halt, brooking no argument from the placid bison.

Berra does not approach Nala again that day, although she is polite, as ever, when she eats.

Nala is always, always busy when traveling. As if she has to take care of a large group of people who have the survival instincts of a slug in salt flats.

Berra is not, as if she has packed for a journey.

Better save dry stuff for an emergency, is always Nala’s method. Berra does know this by now.

That evening, once Zinat has settled and the group is quietly spread out watching the flats or snoring, Berra comes up to Nala to sink into an infantry squat. “So.”

Nala looks up, not meeting her gaze, but acknowledging Berra. She starts to say something. but then checks herself

“Probably, all I’ll want you to do is stay out of the way, but if you want I’ll tell you what you’re staying out of the way of. But I think maybe you shouldn’t try to help.”

“I’ll be dragged in regardless because how the gods see the group,” Nala says. “Dormal may as well.”

“Alright. Or you can tell me how things will go, instead.” Berra glares.

“Or you can tell me why you’ve been acting so much like Eril I’ve spent the past fortnight trying very hard not to punch you in the face.” Ever honest, Nala adds “You’re faster than I am of course, but I’ve been medotating on harmony a lot. And I can’t punch for toffee1Presumably some sort of Praxian coinage.. But the point remains.”

“Well, we could. But you don’t really know Humakti, then. I’m trying to be a Humakti. That means distance from people. It scares the hell out of some, I admit.” Berra gives a thin smile.2Failed Insight, but doesn’t really care. “That about covers my bit. You?”

“I’m not scared, and you’re not good at keeping distance from some.” Again, matter-of-fact, with no rage in her face. Either Nala has learned to feign emotions, or she is not currently angry, just blunt.

“Yeah, but I don’t like you as much. You didn’t join my clan.” Berra shrugs.

“Movement. Nomad. Irillo didn’t, either.”

“Rajar. Nomad.” Berra repeats the shrug. “I don’t have to like people to work with them. Which is about how I feel about the High Sword.”

“So why do you want to get him a wyter? That’s not working with him, that’s enabling his ego… Rajar…is sometimes very odd,” Nala understates. As if she is not. “Air.” What that refers to, she does not add. Perhaps a translation of ‘ego’, maybe an explanation for Rajar.”

Nala’s eyes well briefly, but then dry.

“Because he’s a Hero. He needs to have a community around him,” Berra answers. “He’s a great man, and it will be good for Sartar.”

“Since when is he a Hero? Did the demon he created make him one? The one he left under the city, where it could have eaten anybody or become anybody at any time?”

“Since I asked Humakt if he was worthy, and the Iron Lord gave me my sword,” Berra replies.

“We’re as much heroes as he is, and we don’t have a community.”

“No, we’re not. He is a HERO. A thing you worship.” Her stare is cold, but at least Berra is staying this time.

Nala mutters under her breath, then stretches out her legs, for more contact with the earth. “I’m the daughter of a Hero. She looked after her people. Cared for them. Not for her own advancement. Heroes are Heroes despite themselves, not because they desire to be a THING that is worshipped.”

“No, Heroes are Heroes because they walk in new paths with the power of gods. That’s what a Hero is.”

“So what has he persuaded you to do?”

“That’s the bit I mentioned. Get him a wyter. And not let the Lunars find out that he’s that powerful, until he can face them better. The plan, the way to do it, is mine.”

“Individuals don’t have wyters. You can bargain with a spirit to get him an ally. not the same.”

“Heroes do, though. Please stop telling me I’m wrong. I’m getting bored and frustrated.” Berra’s expression mostly shows effort towards calm, not boredom.

“He should have a spirit ally already, as a Lord.”

“He does. And he needs a wyter, for his community, as a Hero,” Berra insists.

“What community?”

“Heroes get worshipped. That community. Like how you set up altars to your mother.” Berra seems a bit more relaxed on that subject.

“Right. Ma has an extant cult. She has priestesses. Eril is…” Nala stops the statement and takes a deep breath, closes her eyes, opens them, and stares at Berra’s chin.

“Is worthy of a cult, yeah.” Berra is trying to be gentle, or seems to be. It looks like there is a lot of effort under her surface.

“So are you proselytising? Is that what you are doing? I will always…dislike..him, as much for his insults to me and Rajar as his character flaws and the city he risked.” Nala is very calm, and neither voice nor colour is raised

“I am telling you he is worthy of a cult. But apparently you haven’t yet heard that. So… he’s worthy of a cult.” Berra now just sounds calm, maybe even resigned.

Nala looks sad. “People who abuse people should not have cults, Berra. That’s how Lunars happen.”

“For…. look, your mother killed a thousand lunars. Orlanth killed the sun. People die. And you’re whining because some… alright. Look. You don’t have to like him. But if I tell you … well, if I tell you, would you try to stop it, if you end up in the Heroquest?”

“I don’t know.” That is soft, and spoken sincerely.

Berra nods, and changes the leg she is squatting on, with a quick hop into the air. “You maybe want to ride with me tomorrow? We likely should just talk. Not about much. Just talk.”

“Okay. If you can stomach Tiwr complaining about being held to bison speed.”

“Well, I guess you’re not going to get on foot and let him prance, but yeah. Let’s do that. There’s a lot about Sartar you could probably do with knowing, anyhow.” Berra shrugs to her own statement. “Leave it at that?”

“Sure.”

Now for a moment it looks like Berra will shrug again, but it is just the preparatory gathering to get her to her feet. All muscle, all action, all grace – she nods down to Nala. “We can go out on the right flank tomorrow.”

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Berra asks Nala to help in her HeroQuest