Roles and Responsibilities

1629, Sea Season, Harmony Week, Clayday


In Culbrea territory. Lenta died and was resurrected and during that time, Berra had been off at the Tower talking to some Humakti. She’s come back rather unsettled. Instead of discussing that, she gets Varanis on board with a discussion about the respective roles of the Humakti and Lenta within the party. Session 4.07.


As people drift around having breakfast, sipping restorative drinks, and digesting the news of the morning, Berra finds out Varanis. The Humakti looks tired, although she did get sleep once Waterday was over and the evening began. The last thing she did was check there was a watch rota and volunteer to be on it. Thus, she has probably been awake since an hour before dawn.

She has a slice of bread and butter with chopped nuts and dried fruit sprinkled on top, and offers a small bit to Varanis.

Varanis shakes her head at the food and looks a little green at the motion. “What was in that wine?”

“Wine. Wine was in the wine.” Berra eats the crust and gives Varanis a wry look. “Are you awake enough to take on more trouble?”

“First, I think I owe you both thanks and an apology. I’m sorry I was an idiot and thank you for talking me out of Chaos hunting at night whilst drunk.” The Vingan looks sheepish. “It seems last night was full of dumb choices, but that one would have been deadly.”

“Oh, yeah. While I think about it, I should know if you want me to step in with a bucket of water if you and Lenta…” Berra trails off. “Um. Tact?”

“I… I don’t know if we did…” Varanis glances in the direction of the Esrolian woman and winces. “Fuck, I hope not. It would be confusing for her…”1Oh, look at V being all patronizing…

“Y’had yer clothes on,” Berra says. “But you don’t get to ask me if…” she stops short of something that might have been very peasanty. “That’s sort of kind of the problem. Or where it starts. But Lenta doesn’t want me to tell her to do things. That’s fine in a place like this.” The Humakti seems calm and thoughtful, rather than angry about that.

“Is that what led to trouble in the hills?”

“Not really. That … leaving that aside. It might lead to trouble again. But it needs to be addressed somehow. Remember how she said I couldn’t tell her what to do, just now? She’s right when we’re not in danger, but I need to know how she’ll react when I’m acting fast.” Berra scratches at her ear, takes another bite of bread, and apparently muses on it.

Varanis yawns, turns vaguely green, then takes a few steadying breaths. Finally, she says, “We should talk about it. You, me, and her.”

Berra nods. “Yeah. S’what I was thinking.” She gives Varanis a thoughtful stare as she chews. From her, it could mean anything.

“Ok. Before we leave the village.” Varanis peers skyward, then winces at the light. “Why couldn’t it be rainy today? What did you learn at the Tower?”

Berra sighs. “Can we stick with this other discussion for a bit?” She indicates a nearby copse, though. “Maybe we can walk over there, seek solace in shadow.” It is a troll phrase, or a trollkin one, picked up from Salid.

Varanis rises, wobbles, then rushes into the copse. From the sound of things, maybe a different one would be a better choice? At least she looks less green when she returns. “How ‘bout a walk?” she mumbles.

“Yeah.” Berra looks around, and at the pond. “Let’s fill our bottles, though. First.” There is a calm in her which might well mean this is a big subject, or might say she is disappointed with having a hung over conversational partner.

Varanis sighs, but collects her flask from the rock she’d been sitting on and holds out her hand for Berra’s.

Berra hands hers over too, and grins. “I can do the bit where I bend down if you like?” She turns for the pool without waiting for an answer, although she does look back a moment later with her hands ready for the catch.

“S’all good.” When she’s hung-over like this, the Esrolian’s Heortling sounds a lot like Berra. She manages to fill both flasks with careful, precise movements. There’s the barest flash of triumph before she passes Berra’s back.

Berra says, “Taa.” Drawn-out short thanks. Rural. She takes a drink before walking a little way. “When it comes to lines of command, we don’t really have any official ones right now.” It’s an observation, but one she waited until she was out of earshot of others to say.

“Mmhmm,” Varanis agrees. “Not ideal, is it? It’s been working… mostly.”

“It worked when we all knew each other, and we had Rajar, and other warriors. Now, less good.” Berra takes a drink of water and gestures for Varanis to do the same.

Varanis’ throat works as she takes several gulps of the water. “Didn’t expect that to be drinkable so quickly.”

“It’s probably pretty magical, to be honest.” Berra kicks at a stone. “So. I spent a long time thinking over this. I’m letting you down in a thing, because I … because I decided not to be your Champion, like people think Humakti should, but to try be your friend…”

Her friend’s breath hitches, just noticeable enough for someone who knows her well or is paying close attention. “Can’t be both?”

“There’s vows I don’t want to take,” Berra admits. “But there should be more formality. I can be part of your household, with a title. If you want.”

“Without losing you as my friend? I won’t sacrifice that for anything.” Varanis has stopped walking and is staring at Berra hard.2V: Roll insight with usual bonuses? Maybe more, given she’s not really trying to mask just now. B: Probably not, although it’s likely something she can guess. V: Hmm. Easy to guess at elements: she’s radiating sincerity and worry. Less obvious, maybe: She was wondering if Berra was about to cut her off. The old fear of rejection/abandonment lingers.

“Yeah. Without.” Berra gives Varanis a worried smile. “I care for you. But I don’t want to ever rely on promises. They make it easy to stop thinking?”

When Berra confirms that their friendship is not on jeopardy, the relief is tangible. The Vingan’s shoulders had crept up around her ears and as she exhales they come down several inches. “What sort of role would you be comfortable with? That would not offend your High Sword?”

“I don’t mind offending him. I do mind doing things that would damage him. But something like Venlar is – official. You gave him a ring.” Berra tilts her head. “Maybe people you give that to. I don’t know. Battle captain. War chief. Something like that. You’d have to support me, and I’d give you support in return, but it needs to be something that I can put down one day. I gotta have that. No more promises. Not now.” She winces. “Not long things.”

“I’m not a chief myself… can I have a war chief?”

“I’m going to say yes, because I want to. Band advisor.” Berra shrugs. “You have a household. You can declare it. You can make it be built around with things like me never lifting a hand to Prince Kallyr, but you can. Precedent’s onside here.”3I passed my amusingly massive Customs (Heortling) roll.

“Would the title Commander be appropriate?”4I think I just passed a customs roll. Maybe borderline.

Berra considers, and then nods. “Yeah, that’s a good one. Commander of your Clade, maybe. Esrolian… maybe not.” There is a little sigh. “We should not force this on others, as a way of making them obey, but it is a way of explaining.” A lot about her is slow now. She takes a long glance back towards the pool. “I think I would like it, and I think I should step up to it. I am sorry it cannot be forever, but we must all change and grow.”

“I’ll accept what you can offer and be honoured by it,” Varanis replies.

Berra gives a little half-smile, like that means a lot. “Thank you. And… now I think about it, maybe you should offer the same to Lenta. An official position.”

The Vingan blinks, clearly startled. “She’s my guest…” She trails off. “Hells. She’s more than that, isn’t she? But what role can I offer her? I… gah. I’m already worried I’ve given her the wrong idea. I wish I remembered last night better. Truly, I didn’t drink that much, but it hit me very hard. You’re sure it was just wine?”

“Yes, but I think you drank wine, not wine and water. You probably also under-eat.” Berra has no food left, so Varanis gets a twisty smile instead. “Housekeeper? Key-keeper? What does she want to be?” The last question comes with a shrug. “Like us all, she gets some of it.”

“I’ll talk to her. It’s a good idea. You realise… if she becomes my Key-Keeper, she’ll expect to have some dominion within the house. The one you co-own?”

“Yeah.” Berra says that faster, like she has more to add, and then pauses. “That’s good. If you trust her, and if she’s going to live there, she needs to be able to tell me when to be quiet in the house. I think that’s how it should go. Out here, I protect you all. I jump at your foes. Within, she keeps us all. Maybe I have a room outside the main house, but I think not, if I’m part of your people.”

“And it’s your house!” Varanis protests. “I’m not granting you a room in your own house. It’s yours by right and as long as you have part ownership, that won’t change.”

“I own the buildings and you own the land, by tradition,” Berra notes. “But that… that is a detail. The question of whether I own it really depends on what I do with it. We could build more rooms. We have space.” She puts up a hand. “Please, let us not get ahead of that. We should still talk to Lenta, and we should still take time to speak with the others, to decide where we go next, and to decide what we do.”5B: Roll a First Aid, please? V: Oooooh! 2!

Berra looks, just for a moment, as if she is feverish, and then it is gone. Between putting up her hand, and speaking again, something swept over her and was controlled, or at least, conquered. The intensity that comes when she is under her own control is with her, and it nearly snapped, and then did not. Something about how her lip is set says that it was because she was having none of that – she is keeping herself together carefully. She might also be ill.

Varanis studies her friend. “Maybe… we should talk to Mellia or Maalira first? Maalira fusses less and always has those sweets.”

Berra opens her water bottle once more. “I like Maalira,” she says simply, like someone might have forgotten, and that someone was her, and she just remembered and was happy. “You had a thing you were going to say, or ask?” Her expression is calm, but her eyes ask for something.6V: With a 17 on insight, can I interpret her expression? Insight: Berra needs not to be thinking of what is in her head. She is asking for the change of subject.

“Did you reach Lord Eril?” Varanis considers, then adds, “If it won’t strain your loyalties, I’d like to know his response.”

Berra nods. “I did. He commanded me to ignore the army and get on with my job. I do not know if he knew of it already.” Berra tilts her head, thinking. “I told him that it had not looted as it went up the road, and he will know that there was no battle before King’s Tower. He will guess that there was none at Jarolar tower. I was not told to follow.” She remembers her water, and takes a drink.

“And how did you find things at the Tower? Did they have any response to Goldentooth?”

“They were quiet on the matter. They had not gone forth, but the army passed.” Berra looks down. “I could not talk with the commander. I…” She takes a deep breath. “No fighting. I prayed afterwards. Lord Raven can hear me, I think, if I am on holy ground.” She looks halfway between confident in her thinking, and torn apart by horror.

“We have reaffirmed our friendship, yes?”

Berra looks at Varanis and nods, dumbly. As well as pain there is trust and hope there.7B: Passed Hug?

Varanis holds out her arms, offering comfort but not forcing it on the Humakti. “Please let me help? If you can’t talk, maybe you could just lean on me for a little? But if you can talk, know that I am here for you and will listen without judgement.”

Berra folds into the embrace. One arm goes around Varanis, and then the other, and she stands still, just getting her breath back. She does not seem near to breaking down now, but she takes her time.

Varanis holds her, firmly enough to offer comfort, but making it clear that Berra is not trapped. She murmurs vague sounds of comfort into the tousled black hair. “S’ok. You’re not alone.”

Berra takes a slow breath. “Let’s go back,” she says quietly. “But maybe not together. I need a little time. Thank you.” From up close she looks at Varanis. There are no tears, just big eyes, and scarred cheeks, and a brave look such as she seldom wears.

“As you wish,” Varanis says. “I’ll go find some bread or something. Don’t be too long?”

Berra does not reply immediately, which might be part of how she is holding together. Time to think about the question, and no swift answers now. It takes several seconds for her to find a reply that works. “As soon as I am ready and able, then.”

“Thank you.” With one last look at Berra, Varanis sighs again and returns to the others.

Berra’s expression is peaceful, her focus distant. Make her only a little more thoughtful and – with an artisan to see to the hair – she could be a temple statue.

  • 1
    Oh, look at V being all patronizing…
  • 2
    V: Roll insight with usual bonuses? Maybe more, given she’s not really trying to mask just now. B: Probably not, although it’s likely something she can guess. V: Hmm. Easy to guess at elements: she’s radiating sincerity and worry. Less obvious, maybe: She was wondering if Berra was about to cut her off. The old fear of rejection/abandonment lingers.
  • 3
    I passed my amusingly massive Customs (Heortling) roll.
  • 4
    I think I just passed a customs roll. Maybe borderline.
  • 5
    B: Roll a First Aid, please? V: Oooooh! 2!
  • 6
    V: With a 17 on insight, can I interpret her expression? Insight: Berra needs not to be thinking of what is in her head. She is asking for the change of subject.
  • 7
    B: Passed Hug?