Return of the Native

1628, Storm Season, Stasis Week, Wildday


At the house in Boldhome. Session SA3.13.


Mid- Storm Season- a bit before anyone with any sense would be travelling. There is a knock on the door of Praxian house. With what is now routine Mehrim answers the call and there is discussion in low voice.

“It was lord Xenofos, he went to get his bison in the stables” He says after coming back.

Berra was asleep in front of the fire, and gives her brother-in-law a brief stare. Then she is awake and up. She pads into the kitchen to fail to find her sister, and having done so, puts a pot onto the hearth and looks lovingly at an apple, but does not try to cook with it.

After a while Xenofos walks into the Praxian room, slapping remnants of wet snow off his bison fur mittens.

By that point, there is some hot water. “Welcome back,” Berra says, bending down a little to speak through the fire that unites common room and kitchen from where she cooks. Her expression is calm, her face oddly different. Her blue painted Truth Rune is gone. Her hair has reached the shaggy and alarming stage.

“Hello, Berra. It is good to be back.” Xenofos looks rather exhausted but his face is visibly lit when he hears Berra’s voice.

The Humakti says, in her half-closed-off way, “Would you like a drink to warm you?”

Scribe nods. “That would probably be a good idea.” He leaves his embroidered bison hide cloak to a peg on the wall and walks into the kitchen.

There is a little copper pot, a new addition to the kitchen, for quick warming. Berra pulls it off the fire and pours it out into a cup with a little cold water added first, to help prevent cracking. She hands it over with a slightly formal bow. Up close, she looks peaceful, with new scars on her face, Truth and Death. Today she is wearing no armour, and only one sword, Wind Tooth.

Xenofos returns the bow and warms his hands on the beaker. “The passes were open, kind of. I think horses could not have made it. Mules and bisons had quite rough time as it was.”

His beard is on simple braids tied with leather thongs, but seems well oiled.1It’s bison fat…

“Varanis has gone out to take Berrita for a walk, with Haran. Irillo is staying here as well. He did not want to risk the journey further.” Berra has not made herself a drink, but now she goes to get another metal pot, about the same size but marked with her Death-Truth symbol in many places, and starts to cut up things that are definitely not vegetables.

Insight (Human): Berra is being polite, as to any guest, but the moment means little to her.

Xenofos nods. “Thank you. I did wish to see her too, of course. The matter Kalis sent you for took some more time then?”

Berra pauses, and then says, “I think you should know. Jar-eel is dead. Harrek ripped her in half in a great battle we were in.”

Xenofos nods “…I suppose all enemies of Lunar Empire should rejoice of that. Yet that knowledge brings me no joy.”

Insight(Human): He seems to feel just sorrow.

Berra just moves on. “It was a big battle. Lord Eril was revealed as a Hero, Argrath and Kallyr both aided King Koraki, and we went into the Grazelands briefly. The task was a short one, but then as we were in Boldhome, many things happened.”

Xenofos nods and says quietly “Do tell, Berra.” Scribe looks at eyes and the scars of the Humakti.

Berra bows her head again, this time in acquiesence. “I should start at the beginning, although you have the biggest of the news.” She turns her attention to her drink, the bronze knife she has chosen moving like a blur on the chopping board. “Firstly, know that Heenith Egilson, Sword of Humakt, can put together an army on the march. We set off from Boldhome, with Varanis riding alongside her kinswoman, and me marching as a unit commander with no unit. On the way we met up with enough Malani that I had a lay group, and the army kept coming. By the time we were at Dangerford we were enough to be going slowly, but it was still the fastest march I have ever been on. Varanis met with Serala, who was one of two people sent by the Colymar. The rest were volunteers – for Argrath.” She has chopped up apples and crushed a few seeds, while her water starts to warm. She sweeps up her work onto the knife and drops it into the little cooking pot.

“Queen of Colymar made an intersting choice.” Scribe twirls his moustache. “Good Varanis got to meet Serala, though.”

Berra nods, and for the first time in the conversation her face lights up. “Yes. They got a lot of time together. It was good.” She goes to wash the knife in a bowl of water that is already there for the purpose, not bothering with sand or a cloth. “Queen Kallyr was, I think, well back and used her relationship to the star in her brow, rather than fighting herself. There were spirits screaming in the sky, and…” She tilts her head to one side, and smiles a little, in a strange way. “Lord Eril got Jar-eel’s attention. Lord Harrek emerged from the Humakti Regiment and fought his way towards her, and I went with him.”

Xenofos raises an eyebrow and makes the sign of infinity with his left hand.

Berra shrugs. “Someone had to get the front line out of his way. After that he dragged me to try to kill the Red Emperor, or just dragged me, like a child with a toy. After that I do not remember much for a while, but it seems I drank a lot of a thing called Sky-wine, or Fire-wine. When I woke up, a whole battlefield wanted a word with me.”

“I can imagine. Harrek is not good news. But sometimes he can be worse news for the enemy.”

“The Emperor left, by the time we got to his camp. I know that much. I think there was a general rout of his troops, and later we found that someone had revealed Jar-eel was using them as a sacrifice to herself. However, it was thought not to be appropriate that I should stay.” That last sentence has a lot of wry amusement.

“By whom?” scribe asks calmly.

“As far as I can tell, Lord Eril and King Koraki. My High Sword told me to cause a fuss. I’m exiled from Alda Chur for a year now, and the King escorted us away from the battlefield. It was somewhere close to Dwarf Mine.”

“I see.” Scribe seems to be counting and then nods.

“In the Grazelands we met Serala’s grandfather. He told her that she was pregnant, and in the course of a vision about it, Varanis and Finarvi saw where Berra Colymar’s remains were on the Sleeping Bear, so we went to Grizzly Peak.” Berra stirs her drink, and sips the drop off the spoon, a human touch among the fact-listing.

“Serala? With a child or somehow in mystical sense?” Xenofos asks.

“With a child. She was not yet aware of it.” Berra spins the spoon around in her fingers, like some people might play with knives to show off. “At Grizzly Peak we found the helmet, and spoke to the spirit of Berra Colymar, who gave us enough to go on that we could find out more. We came back through Six Stones, and Varanis has the armour now, although I believe that Finarvi is recasting it, and the weather has not yet been good enough to find out how that went. The helmet was in good enough condition to be worn with a little repair.”

“You have been busy. No wonder you did not head to Prax.” He shakes his head. “Varanis should have sent a word… But than we were on the road all the time too. And not even a whisper of this came to us….”

“Once it began it was very fast. Let me caution you against suggesting the Thane did not.” Berra goes to get a cloth, checking her own beaker before pouring her drink. “Then, although I was trying to keep a low profile, the Heroquest began again. The Quest of Eril.” She seems to be concentrating on pouring.

Xenofos shudders a bit. “The quest…” He rubs at the fertility rune tattooed at back of his hand.

Insight (Human): Berra seems mostly disengaged from the story, but the drink actually does look like it has most of her attention; sometimes she just does that.

“As it turns out, there was someone else – something else – in it as well. A vampire seems to have been the original cause. We did not know that at the time, but I felt it best to change what I could of the story, rather than see my friends hurt.” There, she finally pauses for a moment, and a flash of sadness passes over her features and is gone. “I went to ask the Ducks at Duck Point for help, and of course nobody would abandon me, so we were all together when we arrived at the fragment of the Marsh, and Serala had been having visions of the Vampire, so we were warned. That is a polite way of putting some very bad things. Do not ask more.”

Xenofos looks thoughtful. “And you and Varanis returned, Finarvi you have mentioned? Others?”

“One duck was killed. Serala walked into the house of a Vampire with the power of Yelmalio on her, which was very fortunate. Some wraiths were killing me, and that kept them from having time to before Varanis finished them. I was lucky – or they were there. You can put it different ways.” Berra shrugs off the question and sips her drink.

Xenofos nods and puts the beaker on the table. “Was that it? You told me to not ask more, the story does not seem finished but if the rest is too bad to talk about…”

“No more details on the parts I have mentioned. Not all of it is my story.” Berra tries another sip. “The rest was better than it could have been, worse than it could have been. Serala died and was brought back, and I spent a lot of time recovering. I bound the spirit, though. I am a Wyter Priest now.” She looks to Xenofos, and there is a touch of curiosity, and then it fades. “Varanis will have more details, and probably a lot more emotion.”

Xenofos nods. “I know it was something you wanted… No. Something you felt you needed to do. I hope…”

He seems to get entangled in his thoughts.

Insight (Human): Most people would have asked about Xenofos by now, maybe at the end of the tale, maybe before. Berra just didn’t.

“If I have to admit it, I’m tired. I’ve done enough, and now I have a thing I can concentrate on.” Berra has another sip of her drink, perhaps unaware of the import of saying she is stopping.

“I was going to say I hope you find it worth it. But since at least earlier you felt it had to be done maybe I should say I hope you can live with the cost.” He stands up and stretches “If I can help, please do tell me.”

“Yehna is out, so wash up your own cup to make it easier on her.” Berra avoids answering the offer as she picks up her own cup to take it into the larger room.

Xenofos nods, rinses the cup and walks through the Praxian room to stairs and his own room, picking up a pair of saddlebags but not talking to the little Humakti.

  • 1
    It’s bison fat…