Repairing

Berra — Repairing

????, Dark Season, Death Week


Context

Dark Season, a Freezeday partway through their stay with the Straw Weavers. [[[s02:session-21|Session 21]]]

Events

The long, dark nights and the short, cold days pass by one after another, with Berra in an up-and-down cycle of excitement and seriousness. She spends most Firedays in peaceful calm, turning to ritual and meditation in the afternoon before her Wildday prayers. On Wildday itself, the overnight prayer seems to suit her, giving her gravity along with the tiredness. Godsday is spent trying to be mature and dignified, and Freezeday is usually spent in trying to fix up winter kit, and maintaining all her gear.

Waterday is when she begins to play around with the children of the tribe, people her own size and closer to her in age than she likely wants to admit. She has several who like to listen to her stories and are teaching her many ways of saying ‘charge’ in Praxian.

Today is Freezeday, and she is thawing out a pot of bison fat by the fire, as she mends a tear in her padding. The children play as hard as Rajar, for all they are smaller.

Xenofos has once again picked up his cithara, in vain attempt to get a decent tune out of it. Harmony eludes him so he wraps it up again. (failed play…)

Berra has been singing snatches of tune under her breath, which was not helping. She does not seem to know exactly what she is singing, and keeps changing her mind. After being quiet for a while she says, “Do you think I should get a Hell-Rune tattoo?”

He finishes wrapping the instrument and looks at her. “I don’t know. What would it signify?”

“Varanis got the Lightbringers’ one,” she says. “I want a mark to say what I did, I think. Something so I don’t have to remember myself – so my skin does my remembering for me.”

“I guess that would make sense then, it is true you were there too.”

A couple of open flaps in the yurt walls give a little light in here, and are helping with the oppressive atmosphere, but the fire is still giving Berra and her bronze needle a ruddy, Yelmic glow. She nods. “I think I probably should, but I’m not sure where or what, or if they’d do it for me here.”

“I have not looked at their tattoos that closely. The spirittalker probably does some, but someone else might know the craft too.”

“Maybe under my right shoulder.” Berra taps where her Death-scar is. “You didn’t mark yourself, though. Do you think she thinks she needs reminding?”

“Varanis? I don’t know. She got both a Death rune and Lightbringers tattoo. Yet seems to feel awkward when her deeds are sung… It might be she let those things be marked in ink so she does not need to carry them in her mind. But I have never asked.”

Berra’s expression drifts thoughtfully, and she turns the pot of fat by the fire as if it has suddenly become very important to her. “And Sartar. On her other wrist. But that was when we had to leave. I think she’s trying to be better than she thought she was, but now we’re…” She struggles for the word. “Alone-together-here. Isolated. Can we help her?”

“We can not tame Valind and Urox and until they stop fighting we are more or less stuck. And she hates that feeling. But she should also be safe from assassins in here – at least as long as we are cut out from other people.” Xenofos looks into the fire. “I think she should probably go to Sartar when the weather permits, unless she can divine where the assassins come from and strike back.”

Berra nods. “I want to go back there. I think she’ll do most good there.” She throws herself down sideways, flexing to land on her back with her sewing on her, and just manages to stop the fat from getting joggled over into the fire. A little wriggling and she can look down to keep dealing with the tear, or up to talk to Xenofos, upside-down. “But I really don’t want to be dragging her there if it’s not right for her.”

“It is upto her to decide ofcourse. She has sworn loyalty to White Bull and Kallyr both so she has to decide which way to go. But just trying to stay safe is not leading her anywhere, except make her feel prey.”

“Yeah.” Berra sews for several seconds before she says, “I know you’d follow her… but what do you think her destiny is? What are we helping her to be?”

“I don’t know her destiny. It might be Lunar scimitars or sword of a Sartarite rival, or even call to rule somewhere, though she does not wish that. But her heart beats for freedom of Sartar from the Lunars.”

“I know what I’m going to be. If I survive. Do you?” The tear is mostly closed now. Her work is fast, although nobody could call the result beautiful.

“If I survive? No?” He picks up his sword and starts going over the blade with sharpening stone.” I used to think I would get back to Esrolia, back to farm, raise horses and do some writing. But that will have to wait and I doubt I will return.”

“I thought I’d go back to the tula once, and settle. Now, I couldn’t. We all get changed in our lives, I think. Is that the stone I gave you? Does it work for you?”

“It is. And it works. Although I am not quite sure if I am trying to hone the blade or my mind when I pick it up.”

“That can be the same thing. The sword cuts away uncertainty. It’s a tool.” Berra reaches down to the fire without looking and turns the pot around again. “You’re a scribe and a Truth-finder. And a steady person, that keeps being pulled about. I think you need to settle down somewhere. But you can’t do that unless we all do.”

“We all do. One day.”

“Well, when you plant me, maybe. But I guess I’ll eventually have to serve my Temple.” Berra sighs, and starts sewing in the end of her linen thread. “I want to, but I have no idea how to stop myself from wanting to see new skies.”

He shrugs “There is still war in Tarsh and the Empire is far from finished. It may be none of us will have the luxury of settling down while alive.”

“That’s not a luxury. I thought it was once, but to me it just means dying in place. You’re sounding worried, though. I think you should be a Sage. Be the best Lightbringer you can be.” Berra chews through her thread, and is done with that task.

“I am not really worried about the prospect, I just find it likely” Xenofos shakes his head “A sage. Not likely if I continue trekking like this, and I have no intention of stopping in foreseeable future.”

Berra packs away the needle and puts the tiny thread remnant into the fire, nodding to the flare-up it makes. “We don’t really need this. I’m going to let it go out once the fat’s melted, which it nearly has. It’s for my hide.”

He nods. “No use wasting dry bison excrement, seems to take it’s time drying with all the snow and mud… Rough country.”

Berra opens up a pot of rather gummy rags, and winces into them. “That stinks. Yuk. But still…” She starts working the fat into the hairless side of her hide cloak. “I should have oiled my hands first…” She rubs a bit onto her fingers. “Or just burned these rags. But that would be even more smelly. I’ll have to take it off with ash and we don’t have the proper ash here. When do you think we’ll get back to Sartar?”

He shrugs. “Varanis wished for Storm season, but I have no idea if that is any time for travelling on the plains.”

“Probably pretty wet. But maybe.” She shrugs in an entirely different way, catches her hide as she drops it, and gets on with her work. “Likely the rivers will be full so we’ll have to go around them. And then… damnit. I wanted to get back for Holy Day. But… Sacred Time, then? If we can’t get back for … we won’t get back for Death Week. We just won’t.”

Insight: Although this was previously available information, actually setting it out and speaking it into the world has suddenly ruined Berra’s good mood. The slump is under the surface, like the water has run away from under an iced rivulet, something that had threatened Xenofos’ footwear more than once of late. To outward appearances, she is the same. Beneath, she just got hollow, and it shows only for a moment. She looks into the distance, through her work, and then she is back to concentrating on it, only a tiny bit sadder.

“You seem upset. Did you need to be in Sartar for the sacred time ceremonies because of that sword?”1Xenofos puts together various hints with a Special INT roll.

“Not need. But it would have made it easier.” Berra uses her wrist to stroke the hilt briefly – her hand is oily. “It’s going to be the centre of Lord Eril’s Cult, and if I could get it to him then, it would be best. Better, I mean. I think. I’ve never been in this situation before, though.” She gives Xenofos a worried look.

Xenofos strokes his beard. “Getting stuck in the mud on Storm season does not aid in that though. I see there will be two ladies plagued by Movement in coming seasons.”

“Yeah, well. I just need to get used to it.” Berra shrugs, although she does not seem to be cheering up. She is just the same underneath, just the same on the surface.

“I am sorry little cousin, you may be right there.” Xenofos looks at her with sympathy.

“Probably,” she says brightly. “I sometimes am. Surprises people.” He gets a grin, and a mischevious look which is not one that has ever surfaced for him before.

He returns the smile, but some worry lingers in his eyes.