Berra — Berra Report 02
????, Fire Season, Stasis Week
Fire Season, Stasis Week, Windsday. After being rescued from Draznk and certain hamburgery death, Berra reports all she can bear to recall to D’Val [[[s01:session-36|Session 36]]]
Berra is almost whimpering when she asks, “Do you want to hear my report, Sword Lord?”
“Yeth. If you are up to it.”
Berra gives him a tiny smile. “Is it alright to give a report over beer? I think I probably need it, but I should give it as soon as possible.”
Berra gets him to open the amphora. “I went to meet Orlanth on the road,” she says. This is already a known fact to anyone who was waiting in Wilmskirk, or at least anyone who was not Rajar. It is also as far as she gets before she pauses for a drink and to hold her cup too close for a moment.
“I decided to sleep by the roadside. I had travelled the length for the road once and returned halfway when I lay down in a sheltered spot at nightfall. I made no fire, for I was in the Great Darkness. I was not tired – I had slept the night before.”
It takes a moment for her to sort out her thoughts. “I was attempting meditation when I heard a noise, and then something hit my right arm hard enough to break some ribs as well. I was beaten instantly, and then I… saw a troll, and he broke my leg too, so I couldn’t run. I think I was pleased then because it meant he had not killed me, but I started to work out why pretty soon.”
“He healed me then, and I saw his face, and the Runes, and all the lead. I…” She looks down at the beer and stares for a bit. “I was afraid then. I knew what he was and that being alive was worse than being dead. Once we … once … once we were well off the road he dropped me, and um… He said he would heal me with his god’s magic if I didn’t heal myself. Then he… um, I’ll tell you that bit if it really matters. I don’t want to think about it. And I didn’t want to be in pain, so I did that. I healed myself. He did it until I had spent all my magic and passed out. Then I woke up and I was moving. But he didn’t know I was awake. He didn’t know what Humakt’s gift to me was.”
Berra takes another drink, and steadies herself, and manages to speak matter-of-factly. “I kept my breathing slow, and he was talking to himself and laughing a lot. I don’t know what he said. It was in his language. But a bit later I started to struggle and he hit me again and then I got to be unconscious. That was good. But I couldn’t tell the way to the cave. I would have tried to be awake if I knew I could know where I was but unconscious… I should probably have tried to be alert for the last bit but I didn’t think it mattered. I didn’t have a way to stop him or to bring an end to myself. I just had to hope he wasn’t … that I wouldn’t die as soon as I got there. And I didn’t, but hope isn’t a plan.” Berra gives D’Val a look that would be an appeal if she did not close her eyes to stop that happening. “I’m sorry. I should have been more alert. I could have found a better place to stay.”
Berra refills her beer. She is drinking far faster than she usually does, but it is not beer with teeth. Maybe she is composing herself – she nearly just asked for reassurance while giving a report.
When she goes on she says, “Sorry,” and this time it is obviously about that little detour, and she does not have to struggle to say it. “Well, I didn’t die. But I… was there a while.” Berra picks her way through the rockfalls of explanation. “He told me what he was doing. That I was going to…” More beer.
“…be used to dedicate an altar.”
For a while, Berra cannot go on.
“I can’t really sort out what happened when, in there. There was a tiny bit of light from the start of the stream, for a while, but he ate whatever was making it. It was only enough to see his shape when he came or went up the ladder. He bent bars of lead around me, where the bones were broken, so I couldn’t heal properly. I got the idea he’d done that before. He was good at it. I think. I don’t really have a way of telling. But he did leave me alone a lot, especially after he brought back something that was struggling. I think that was a wolf from the Telmori. I managed to work out a prayer that I thought would warn anyone who was listening. I couldn’t make a sacred area. He’d have known. But he was away a lot preparing for the Telmori to come in. I said the words then. He was using the undead to dig out the cave passage, because he couldn’t fit through, but he told me it would only be a few days. He called tradetalk ‘Slave-talk’. Do you need the words of the prayer, or do you know them?”
“I think I can guess.”
Berra drinks beer and thinks more. “A while after he’d eaten the wolf – a long while – I’d slept in between – he grabbed me and moved all his troops forwards. Um, I forgot to mention it’s possible to meditate in that position as long as you’ve previously had someone encouraging you enough. But I had a lot of my magic left and he didn’t know I was healed a bit more than he thought, and I was conscious. But I will still bound up at that point. He took a special route with twists in, through one part of the cave, but I couldn’t work out what it was. I felt light on my eyelids and then there was the sound of fighting. His foul troops – uh, three zombies and about a dozen skeletons – had engaged. I opened my eyes then and I could see our band. I didn’t see all of the fight, though. I cast a shield, and he dropped me, and he hid but he could reach me with his mace, but that all bounced off me. I put most of my connection to the god into the shield.” Berra massages her upper arm, where several Disorder Runes are still printed in blood on her clothes.
Now that it is a battle report, Berra stops drinking the beer and just gets to facts, obviously pleased to be out of the darkness. “Dormal pulled me back out of the way. He started getting the bands off me, and I started trying to heal myself, and also add more protection. Varanis landed on him when she leaped over the Troll, but I gave him a soft landing and he didn’t get through the shield either, and then he lent me a sword. I hope he got it back. And then my arm wouldn’t work, and I used the Vigour spell to get me on my feet – it was just good enough although the bones ached a lot. It was good to be moving.”
When she mentions her arm not working, Berra cradles her right wrist, thoughtfully, and with hardly any expression of devastation at all. “I managed to strike him a couple of times, I think. At least once, but I … Yes, I did. Varanis was there, and Rajar, and Serala. Rajar did most damage, but he took most. In the end the troll went berserk, and I shouted for Mellia to get rid of it but she was healing Rajar. The fight was pretty bad, but Xenofos dispelled that state, and he fell, shouting something. And then the Earth took him away.”
“So then… it all goes a bit blurry. I wasn’t really sure what was happening for a bit. I think I told them about the traps. I think I’d told Dormal already because he stopped pulling me away. They were all made for Telmori in wolf form. All that height. And then there was a tunnel, and we went through there. It was a goddess’s skull. There was a man there. A boy really. He was missing from the village. He’d been on the other end of the tunnel stopping the undead from crawling straight through. The Ancestors had been finding lizards for him to eat and there was some water. He’d been there since before the Troll got there. And it was beautiful. All the colours of sand and water, and nothing to fight there. When I came out again you were just arriving. You looked worried. And then there was nothing more to do but go back. But I can’t remember all the details, even from the fight. I wasn’t clear-headed.”
Berra shrugs that off while she thinks about more, and has beer. “And that’s it. I can’t really think of any more details unless you have something to say, Sword Lord. But I think the others are bound into my failure. Any questions?”
“No. No quethtions.”
“I… I could have set a warding, and I didn’t really think I should because I thought it was a waste of magic, but was there anything else I should have done?” Berra looks like she is asking her beer, but it’s not one of the mugs that has little ears for handles.
“No. Thith ith one of those things. Oh, yeth. There is one thing you should have done.”
“Mm?” Berra looks up.
“You should have chopped his head off as soon as you woke. Practith.”
Berra looks at him and after a moment starts chuckling, relaxing over her beer, and then giving him a fond look. “I’ll keep trying, Lord. If you had not made me… that is, if you hadn’t… encouraged my meditation, I’d have had it a lot worse there.”
He nods. “There are sometimeth reasonth for what I suggessdt.”
“Always at least one, Lord. That being that you wanted to suggest it.”
D’Val gives a quackie little chuckle.