Quest Of Eril: Asking Valseena

Berra — Quest Of Eril 05

1627, Sea Season, Harmony Week


Context

Sea Season, Harmony Week, direct follow-on from the previous scene. [[[s02:session-32|Session 32]]]

Events

The day after Varanis took her dip, Berra rides up and down the line, stopping to talk to everyone. She comes up towards Valseena, whom she put on the left flank, after having a conversation with most of the others.

Over the past few days she has not been putting Suuraki and Valseena on night watch together, but she has been making sure they have time to ride together inside the protective ring during the day – everyone gets a rest, and they usually get their rests together.

Valseena nods to her and smiles. ‘Berra. How are you?’1Passes Insight (Human).

Berra grins, and says, “Well enough,” but underneath that, she seems nervous. Her bison plods alongside Valseena’s, more of its own accord than by Berra’s wish. “I have a favour to ask you.”

Valseena nods. ‘Whatever you need.’

“Well, listen before you answer this one. It’s big. And I have to ask you not to talk about it to others, either. Some people here know but I haven’t told everyone, and I really don’t want the Lunars finding out. Suuraki’s… well, this is the sort of thing I’d prefer your gods not to know yet.” She looks deadly serious suddenly. Her expression has always been quick to shift, along with her mood.

Valseena looks thoughtful and concerned. She glances over at where Suuraki is riding and then nods to herself as if making a decision. ‘I can keep a secret. Even from him.’

“He knows it, but it’s that sort of secret, yeah. I would like you to help me in a Heroquest. It’s for Eril, the Hero. Nobody should find out he’s a Hero, though – he’s not going to be alive for long if the Lunars find out, I figure. Not until he’s strong enough.”

Valseena looks anxiously across at Suuraki. ‘What sort of quest and how risky will it be?’

“It’s reliving his deeds. I’ll play him, and I need you – or someone, a healer – to play a healer. For you, the risk is pretty low. He cut off his own tattoos, and then had someone heal him better than he could. It’s a ritual part of becoming him, and I’d need someone to play the person who heals me.” Berra says this like she has thought about the details quite a lot.

Valseena looks worried. ‘And the risk to you?’

“Errrr… I’m going to be in a lot of pain at the end and still have to fight.” She brightens, by effort. “So having a good healer would be a fine thing!”

‘What if I fail? would you be killed?’

“No. At that point, it just makes things a bit harder for me. I’m unlikely to die. But it’s… do you want to know his whole story?” Berra looks around the flats, as if for problems that would stop the tale being told.

Valseena nods. ‘I think I should understand what we’re involving ourselves in.’

“Right. So. When… oh, you don’t even know what the Household of Death was, do you?” The little Humakti’s expression shows she has just come up short in the telling. “So right from before the start?”

‘You’re right, I don’t.’ Valseena looks a little embarrassed at her lack of knowledge

“That’s fine,” Berra says in a tone that might be for reassurance. “I don’t know the names of the great battles of Prax. The last Prince of Sartar, Salinarg, had a son called Harsalter. He was about nine or ten, but he managed to be an initiate of Humakt – he was … special. Different. I don’t know how it happened, and frankly it terrifies me. But he set up a Battalion of Humakti. That’s a word that means lots of Regiments together, all under him. And he made big vows, and they all promised to defend Sartar to the death, with the Regiment. He nearly managed it – he wounded the Red Emperor.” She grins, then she goes on.

“But my Lord – he was part of the Household of Death. He was a bit older than we are now, and he got cut off from his Regiment to go hide its relics. He did amazing things. Um. Which I think I said I’d tell you about, didn’t I?”

Valseena nods, clearly listening intently – aware perhaps that Berra’s life if not her own may depend upon it.

“Well. He managed to smuggle them out of Boldhome. His friends were all gone and dead, but he’d been cut off from the Regiment so his vows couldn’t kill him – he couldn’t break them. But he had a cross for a standard, a big Death Rune that’s powerful on its own, but was made to bear the standard, and the thing itself, and some iron that Humakt had wrought. So the first bit I have to do, is get thrown out of my Temple, and get into the Heroquest, and then I have to hide in Boldhome. Suuraki’s agreed to hunt me – we’ve done this before because we got sucked into it, which is how we know. Even he’d forgotten, because he had to hide things completely and couldn’t manage to hold onto a clue.”

Valseena looks perturbed at the idea of Suuraki hurting Berra. ‘Would he have to cut you?’

“Only if he catches me – and that’s a risk, yes. That’s one of the ways he could fail. And I’m not trying to kill him, only escape, but for him that’s a risk too. So hopefully we only meet in token battle, and we’ll practice that bit anyhow. I have to get away, then I have to get rid of my clan markings. For that, I need you.” She points to the painted Y Rune on her cheek when she says ‘clan markings’.

‘And you would have to cut those off’? Even for a seasoned healer she looks a little squeamish at the prospect.

“Just scrape the skin. Flint knife. He had to, you see? So I have to. Or at least, make it seem like that within his deeds.” Berra looks away, and now under the surface it is plain that there is fear. “For me, it’s probably just the one. I might have others painted on, though. I need to take his advice on that. How to best be him – we’re… not really well matched to be honest. He knows a lot more than me. And he thinks fast.”

‘And what outcome are you seeking? What do you hope to achieve if you succeed?’

“He needs a Wyter. He’s a Hero, but he doesn’t have a way for people to worship him properly. When we get to the end of this, there’s a chance I’ll be able to bind that for him.”

Valseena considers this. ‘And what makes you convinced he is a hero and deserves worship?’

“I’ve already done it. He’s an aspect of the god that I can pray to. I did it when my sword was made for me – I asked Humakt if he was capable, and my answer was the sword, and the gift that Lord Eril gave me, of a spell of Humakt’s.” Pretty good proof, probably.

Valseena nods considering all this, ‘Then I will help you by being there to heal you.’ And after a pause ‘And I will try very hard not to fail’

“Thank you. I’ll work on keeping the others safe. But that’s what you’ll be – a healer in Boldhome, in a secret Temple that the Lunars don’t know about. She was Chalana Arroy, but I don’t think that’s a problem. More important is the link we have – I trust you.” Berra looks relieved.

Valseena nods seriously. ‘I trust you too. I will do all i can to play my part and keep you safe.’
====
Berra asks Valseena to help her in a heroquest