Quis Custodiet

Berra — Quis Custodiet

????, Earth Season


Late in Earth Season, as they start up the Zola Fel, Berra talks to Nala about how to be a warrior in Prax. [[[s02:session-18|Session 18]]]


“Well, here, it’s easy. Unless you manage to be eaten by the river or something in it.” Berra can tell, incidentally, that Nala is happy (aside from the body language, chattiness and smiling) by the fact that in the above she doesn’t say ‘are stupid enough to be eaten’. It really is a different person. Except it’s not.

Berra is happy enough, but she wants to know things like, “How can I tell who’s an enemy in the tribes and people around?”

“You know your own tribe. You judge by your leaders, and who is breeding stock just then, and whether they walked or rode in or were raided. You know, roughly, where your tribe tends to be at what time of year. No one wants to be in the desert at Storm Season, even at the oases.” Nala uses a complex term for oases, then bungles the TradeTalk for it.

Berra nods like that’s about what she was expecting, but not hoping. “Right. And so we need to know who should talk to anyone who comes close. Right.” Her trade talk is, as always, basic. “What are aosols? That last word?”

“The places that are the refuges in the desert. The gods made a trail of them; Ernalda keeps it working. Though they get claimed and ‘controlled’.”

“Oasis. I think.” Berra gets the word right. “So do we have to pay taxes to go through?”

“Everybody wants to be in the Good place, the Paps, or, if hardy, along the Zola Fel towards the end of the year. Peace is mostly kept at the Paps unless there’s an army there, or simply too many tribes. Nala’s pronunciation definitely has quote marks around it–pretty clear she learned it in the army.

Berra adds, “I mean, the oasis. We might find any tribe you’re at war with? And if we can’t go there we need water anyhow? That’s what I mean.”

“Oh. If they are sable, you kill them. Anyone else, if it’s the end of the year and you just want water, you bargain with. I try to have some brews on handy, or metal things.”

“Right. I can handle that. Are we still fine for me to be setting who is on guard at night or is there anything I need to know there?”

“Depends on the tribe. We are the only tribe habitually ruled by women. Some tribes might think it’s cute, you thinking you’re in charge. Some won’t care. Some won’t notice, because they’ve shouted CHHHARRRRGEEE!” Nala glances Rajar’s way.

“There is a WHOLE TRIBE of Rajar.” She says this with some awe

“Among our friends, I mean. But I think you’d have answered. We don’t really have an in-charge here right now. But we can have different people talking, right?” Berra leans over on Followed, to think a moment. “No tribe could be that fat. He’s amazing.” Her voice is fond, and has respect in it.

“More raiding here than Sartar, because we don’t have roots, except in Prax itself, and precious few walls outside Corflu and Pavis. MOST of the tribe are enormous. It’s almost impossible to tell them apart. I should be okay with the Bison after last year’s hospitality where I taught dance and told stories, but they might have been outliers.”

“Uhuh. And they seem to know who Humakt is here. People mostly respected D’Val once they realised. At least, that he had iron. But I can’t tell if they looked down on me because a lot of them were looking down on him first. Ugh. So, ask you and Rajar what people are likely to do as soon as we work out there are people. I’ve walked across Prax twice, but it was always with an army. And I’ve never come up this way.” Berra looks at the nearby river in wonder.

“How many did you lose?” Nala is curious. “D’Volin was my first duck. D’Val was my second.”

“Not many. It was Argrath’s people. Venna moved us around. But all I really had to do was walk and then we got to the walls. I went in on the second day – the blood had dried from the first by then, and they’d put the holes in the walls.” Berra springs off Followed to walk for a bit, as she often does.

“WE had put holes in the walls,” says Tiwr, tossing his mane and looking important.

“Well done,” Berra says with a smile. “It made getting in a lot easier. So I didn’t do much, although I did tell an officer I wanted to check out some hinges before we cleared a street. They were new but the shutters were old. A Lunar style of place, with them on the outside. Held people up a bit but it was nothing. And that was all I really did. I hardly got my sword sweaty, even. Not like the heroes of the first day.”

There is some Tiwr storytelling. There’s a certain amount of solipsism, of course, but like Fflewddur Fflam at the last, it all seems to be true. He finishes, “..and of course I jumped the wall to start with. They weren’t expecting that.”

Nala makes a fuss of him, but nods. “S’true. All I did was stay on.”

“WITHOUT a leap spell,” he appends, lowering his eyes to stare into Berra’s.

“It was marvelous,” smiles Nala. “And dropping a unicorn on unsuspecting troops behind a wall has a VERY good scattering effect, because they are mostly bolstering.”

“Of course I took many wounds,” he starts, and Nala chimes in, laughing “and I healed them!”

Berra listens with a happy expression, and more than that, she jumps with joy when he goes over the wall, and fights the air when slaughter happens. “It was amazing!” she blurts out finally.

“I am amazing,” shouts Tiwr happily

“Yes. And Nala,” Berra adds staunchly.

Nala giggles and sinks her face in Tiwr’s neck happily. “It was about my first adult thing,” she says

“A joyous one,” says Berra with a wide smile. “And I want to hear other people tell the Saga!”

Nala immediately degenerates to a pile of knees and elbows. “Sadly, people don’t write about me,” she says. Which is hard on Tiwr.”

“You can pay for that, you know? It should be famous. It was amazing!” Berra is at the end of her limited vocabulary.

“We are pretty much broke,” Nala says, honestly. “Altars are expensive, and I’ve endowed several… Plus paying for ransom… Anyway, Pavis was kind of an army attacking, and kind of every attacker in their own worlds, with some yelling over the top, yeah?”

“I am too, but my Clan owes me, so I’ll get some back.” Berra walks along happily enough, and then climbs back onto Followed. “I wasn’t in my own world. I had a… small number of people. I had to command. But I never met them again afterwards.”