The Road to Jaldonkill

1626, Storm Season


Late in Storm Season and the party has been making steady progress towards Jaldonkill, en route to Boldhome. They’ve stopped for the night and Varanis and Berra discuss their plans for the future. Post Wedding Daze (Session 2.28)


Evening. Berra has called out a watch order and Varanis is at midnight, with Suuraki. Berra is on with Valseena first. It is not yet dark enough to sleep, but there is a good stopping point, and a little time as food cooks up. The Humakti is almost vibrating with her eagerness to be into Sartar, which is likely to happen tomorrow.

Varanis is quiet this evening. She takes her time with Zukko, brushing the day’s dust from him. He seems particularly enthusiastic as she works the brush over his back where the saddle sat and she has to thump his flank with her fist to keep him from knocking her over as he leans into her.

Berra is still finding lumps of mud in Followed’s fur. She is watching Varanis as she picks and snips them out. When Zukko tries to fall on his owner, she giggles, one of her many sorts of laugh.

“Don’t encourage him,” the Vingan chastises, but there’s a hint of laughter in her voice.

Berra grins in return. “What’re your plans on getting into the city? I should ask about now so we can think about them.” It might have been something she spontaneously decided to say. She might have thought about it.

Varanis ducks around the zebra’s head so she can brush the other side of him. He lips at her hair as she passes in front of him. “Stop it. Not food, you foolish beast.” From the other side of Zukko, she can see Berra while she works. “To be honest,” she admits, “I’ve been so focused on getting there that I haven’t given it much thought. I suppose I intend to ride through the front gates. I was thinking I might stay at the White Grape again, if Rurik will have me. He’s reliable.” The zebra shudders happily under the rhythmic strokes of the brush. “I haven’t really decided if I should go to the palace first, or the temple. I want to report as soon as possible to Tennebris.”1B: Insight Human? V: 65. Alas.

“That’s fine. Probably the palace. I should take you there.” Berra looks at a clod of earth. “Oh, Followed… Should we just shave you?” But then she is back to looking at Varanis. “I need to visit my Temple as soon as I can, but not before I know you’re fine.”

“I am fine and I will continue to be so,” Varanis counters automatically. “But… if it will make you happy, then so be it.” She sighs. “We aren’t even in Sartar yet and already it chafes. I am trying, I promise.”

“I know. I… I’m sorry. But I just want to make sure you’re safe. If we see Tennebris and he says you need to do something, I want to know, you know?” Berra looks down at her patient bison, and angrily starts to snip, then carefully completes the motion. “You probably don’t know how different you are to how you were when you left Esrolia.”

Varanis raises an eyebrow. “Which time?”

“The first time. I don’t think you’re having to try so hard. Even if you’re worried I think it’s not enough.” Berra uses her bronze and wood snips to try to cut a fingernail. Followed ignores her.

“What do you mean ‘not enough’? You don’t think I’m worried enough? Or that my worrying isn’t enough to make me try as hard as I used to?”

“Neither of those things.” Berra looks confused for a moment. “I think you’re not having to try as hard, because being you as you are is more natural to you. You’d have had to try harder before and you didn’t like it. Less shouting now. More being.”

“Maybe you’re right,” Varanis muses. “I don’t feel so constantly at war with myself.”

“I know you’re trying, and you often succeed. No need to tell me. But maybe we should be flexible on going into the city. The palace is probably the place, but it’ll depend on the time and day we arrive.”

This gets a nod of agreement. “I’m trying not to cast my plans too firmly into clay. We need to be flexible. We’ve been gone from Boldhome a long time now and have had precious little news.”

“Mhm. Jaldonkill will be the place for that. And people we meet as we ride in.” Berra gets back to Followed, and says with surprise, “I’ve gone all the way around her!” The bison keeps ignoring the Humakti.

“You know, I have no idea what to do if it turns out I’m not welcome in Boldhome. Except… I don’t think I want to go back to Nochet. It’s not home anymore.” There isn’t a speck of dust left on Zukko’s hide and still the brush moves across his back. “I’m not sure where home is, but that doesn’t bother me the way it used to. Serving the Prince gives me purpose, which is better than a home in these unsettled times.” A frown settles on her features. “Mind you, she may turn me away and then what? Bah! I’m going in circles and it’s pointless.”

“Blue Tree. Or maybe talk to Lord Eril. But the Chief Priest will find a place for you.” Berra hangs the snips off her belt by tucking them through the loop of leather that is on them, to make a hitch around what she wears. She seems to be surprised that she is at the end of her task.

“Tennebris first and worry about what ifs later,” Varanis agrees. “I am not Eril’s and don’t seek to be. He is clever, but I should be careful not to impose.”

“He enjoys politics. But yeah, if you want to stand alone, that’s good. He’ll be there if you need him.” Berra climbs up onto Followed to sit there and drum her heels in a friendly fashion on the big beast’s shoulders.

“What will you do in the city? Serve with the Battalion again?” Grey-blue eyes follow the Humakti’s movements.

“I don’t know. It depends a bit on whether bringing the sword back counts as service, and whether you need me. Whether you’re advised you need me, I guess.” Berra leans back to put much of her weight on her hands and stretch out in the way she does. Her feet now scratch at the bison’s neck.

This gets a nod. “We’ll have to see then.”

“If I don’t have anything else to do… even if I do. We should go climbing. Prax was too flat.” Berra’s eyes suddenly track to the gentle hills they are finally moving through, and she pauses in the bison massage.

“By Vinga’s laughter, yes!” Varanis agrees emphatically. “I thought about scaling the largest temples at the Paps, but the Storm Voice there kept me too busy.”

Berra’s attention comes back to the bison. Nobody would think her a warrior if she were not dressed to kill. “I didn’t bring the climbing gear with me, and we shouldn’t do it, and we should go back sensibly, but I sort of want to climb a dragon.”

Varanis grins. “If we weren’t in a rush….”

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    B: Insight Human? V: 65. Alas.