Berra — Rebellion 01
????, Earth Season, Disorder Week
Earth Season, Disorder Week, Wildday. Berra has been thinking about Movement, and how Eril can no longer keep her in order. [[[s02:session-2|Session 2]]]
He holds it in his right hand. The Regiment. He bound it.
He didn’t just touch it and survive. He fought it. Impressed it. I know Wyters get bigger with worship, but… There had to be something first.
How could you resist that call to battle, all the time? Does he? Has he made it part of himself? Does it bother him? Is it him? It’s beautiful. It’s all of us, but it’s more.
I’d thought of him as an ordinary man. Something like a Rune Lord. But he’s not. He’s as far above that as they are above me. Which makes his behaviour towards me and D’Val all the more petty. Why does he bother? He has nothing to prove.
I want that Eril back. The one that pushes me. I can’t do that myself. Not unless I have something to kick against.
I should let Varanis know I’m going to be trouble. Not for her, but for any authority. Or I could try not to be. But that won’t work. So I could just avoid authority.
No, I really can’t.
Conversation with Mellia (from her thread)
It is evening on the way to Wilmskirk. Most of the Enlo are napping, as they will be on watch during the night. A fire is starting to warm a caul of water, and Salid is explaining patiently to Uzdok that we do not eat the skin used for cooking things in. Berra has organised a watch rota with Salid and taken a few minutes to go through some sword exercises at full speed, maybe advertising to any potential trouble-makers that there is a Humakti present. The road is busy off to either side, when she comes looking for Varanis.
Varanis is sitting with her back to the fire, watching the people still moving along the road. She’s taken her helmet off and it’s sitting next to her, shield leaning against it. Once again, her hair seems to have resisted staying plaited and long strands of it hang loose around her face. Her expression is thoughtful.
Berra comes close, so her shadow falls in front of Varanis, and she clenches and unclenches a fist so that shadow moves, getting attention.
The Vingan looks at the shadow and laughs. “Shadow dances, Berra?” she asks.
“I used to do a really good one an Ulerian taught me, but I lost the profile when I put on muscle. Snake dance hand, she called it.” Berra stays standing. “What’s up?”
The Vingan glances at the sky like she is considering saying something about birds or clouds, but after a moment, she shrugs. “Just wondering if I am going home or leaving it.” She turns finally to look up at Berra. “And you? What brings you my way this evening?”
“I wanted to talk about Movement.” Berra looks down. “Maybe while walking.”
The Vingan nods.
Berra offers a hand.
“Just a moment.” Varanis pulls her helmet out from under her shield and slides it into place. Then she takes Berra’s hand and comes to her feet.
Berra is as solid as her build indicates, then as fluid as the snake she can no longer dance as. She turns to walk off, unbuckling her helmet and pushing it back, but not taking it off entirely.
The Vingan walks alongside the Humakti, seamlessly matching pace with the shorter woman. “So what’s up?”
Berra breathes a slow sigh. “I want to be going to Prax,” she says. “Or West through Dragon Pass, or East once we get to the Mirrorsea Bay. Anywhere I haven’t been before, or haven’t been lately. It’s generally a bad feeling for me to be having.”
Varanis smiles. “Why is it bad to have a spirit that likes to wander?”
“Because right now, I can’t. Or won’t. It’s really hard not to be saying goodbye, and I will probably make very bad decisions if I don’t get to… do something I don’t really know what.” Berra ran out of vocabulary again.
“Hmmm…” Grey eyes study Berra. “It’s one thing to want to wander. Another thing to let that distract you from duty. You have the discipline to meditate, even when you don’t want to. That same skill can help you focus on what needs doing now.”
“I know. It’s just that you should know I might fail at it.” Berra gives Varanis a look of discontentment. “I’m here for two reasons – the Priests at my Temple expect me to be here, and you.” This time, it is the grammar, not the vocabulary, that shows her upbringing.
“Me?” That single word carries considerable surprise.
“Well, yes. I’d be fine in Boldhome. Or if I wasn’t, there would be a lot of trouble.” Berra gives Varanis a look that says this is obvious to her, at least.
“You don’t think the Colymar would go for you in Boldhome?” Varanis asks with curiosity.
“If they did, that would be the trouble. And if I lived through it, I’d be a lot tougher than I am now, so it’s a risk I rather want to take.” Berra shrugs idly.
“I am sorry that we are in trouble with the Tribe. But we are in the right. I have no doubt of it.” Varanis’ expression is one of absolute certainty. “So, back to the issue at hand. When you try to meditate, but can’t concentrate, what do you do?”
“Heh. Keep going. Or go for a run. It depends on whether I’m trying to learn through meditation. Why?”
“Because meditation challenges your drive to move and movement is at least part of what drives your need to see new things.”
Berra looks like something just came together in her head. “Oh, don’t worry. I’m not asking for help. I just wanted you to know. If I’m difficult, that’s why – you can let me know I’m being difficult and it’s not a problem at all. Don’t try to walk between spear points – just say.”
She gets a smile in reply. “It’s hard for me not to try to find ways to help,” Varanis admits. “I have no desire to feel any of your blades at my throat again, so yes, I’ll mention it if I notice difficulties.”
Berra grins. “Speaking of… Fancy some sword practice? And I’ll show you a thing I’ve been meaning to show you, which could put to rest a lot of your worries about the rapier in combat.”
Varanis smile widens. “Yes. But first…” She takes a breath. “Something about Nochet brings out the worst in me. When I was here with the Grazelanders, I behaved in ways I am ashamed of. If you see me reverting back to the Varanis you first met, please say something.”
Berra tilts her head. “Right. And that’s what I need. A thing to do.” She nods. “I’ll do it. And let’s not beat around here – stay at the Vingan Temple sometimes, and maybe have me outside your room. Break the habits that make you into you, here. It’s hard. They’re your Clan too.” There’s a complex shrug that would be hidden in her leather armour.
This gets a thoughtful nod. “Grandmother won’t like it, but I don’t think I’m particularly worried about that just now.”
“Home to me turns out to be the Temple. The Regiment. I didn’t realise that. I mean, it’s still the Tula, but what I want to go back to isn’t just my family any more. It’s bigger. Maybe we’ve outgrown being in just one Clan?” Berra sounds a little worried by that notion.
She gets a wordless laugh in reply.
Berra casts around for a flattish area on which to practice. “We are going to do live drills,” she says, “At half speed. You with your Rapier. Me with a broadsword. This is one of those times when you REALLY must not hit me.” The angst or worry or whatever it was that she was carrying has been put away, and she is cheerful again, carried past her odd mood by the force of her own personality.
Varanis smoothly unsheathes her sword and rolls her shoulders.
Berra goes through the unusual step of checking for rocks and uneven ground, and then draws her second sword, leaving Wind Tooth sheathed. Then she puts a hand out for Varanis’ blade. “Keep it steady a moment?”
There’s a nod in reply and the blade is held steady.
Berra concentrates for a moment. “The third morning drill,” she says, “But on fire. It won’t burn you unless you touch it.” Then she puts her hand on the blade. For a few moments there is nothing, and then there is a word from her that brings fire. The rapier blade is suddenly invisible, maybe transformed, and flames flicker where red bronze was. Berra moves her hand back quickly, for leaving it there is no longer an option.
Varanis stares at her own sword and then her eyes light with unholy glee inside her helmet. “Oh, yes! This is going to be fun.”
She shifts her feet into stance and moves the blade experimentally.
Berra gives Varanis only a moment, then starts the drill, at exactly the half speed required, and with a look of concentration unusual even for her. Varanis has that moment to pick up the odd, lighter, jumpier movement of the weapon. It could be a distraction, but it is more likely to be an aid.
The Vingan slides into the drill, matching Berra’s pace.
Her eyes are drawn to the sword easily and at first she has to work at putting her attention in the right place. It doesn’t take long for it to look natural.
After a couple of minutes the flame flickers out, and Berra relaxes rather. She lets the drill finish, and salutes. “That’s how you should be causing damage, while you learn the True sword,” she says. “If your Temple cannot teach you, I’ll ask about you making a donation to the Battalion.”
Varanis raises an eyebrow at the reference to the true sword, but then looks at her rapier for a long moment. “What kind of magic is it?” she asks curiously.
“Just of the Spirit,” Berra replies. “But it’s powerful. It cut the Demon apart. I think it knew it was facing Darkness, or else I did.”
“If the Temple in Nochet teaches this, it is a well-kept secret. I’ve not seen any of the Daughters use the spell except during the worst of the siege and even then, there were only a few and I didn’t know them well.”
“It might be thought of as Yelmic,” Berra admits. “But it’s… it’s an expression of how the Sword can damage. It’s a meditation on Death through fire-means.”
“I will ask.” Then she turns to Berra. “Do you have the energy for a broad sword lesson?” she asks. “I can’t have Finarvi getting too far ahead of me and wherever he is, I suspect he is practicing diligently.”
“Oh, yes. Of course. But first let me tell you the… well, you can find out the drawbacks of having to maintain a blade made of fire, but you might want to know I wasn’t just thinking about drills there.” And she offers over the sword she was using, to draw Wind Tooth. “We’ll do changes of line, left to right.”