Berra — Sartar Right
????, Storm Season, Movement Week
Movement Week of Storm Season. [[[s02:session-28|Session 28]]]
It’s been an hour since the group got back into Sartar, as proved by a great carved stone. Berra has had a smile on her face all that time, except occasional moments spent coughing.
Now, with Yelm up above, and Varanis with her by accident rather than design, she is riding on the left of the column, a little ahead. With the cavalcade stopping to take care of a slippage in packing, Berra asks, “You see someone in that field?” and gestures forwards with her chin. It is rainy, but visibility is high enough to see that yes, there is a man out walking.
Varanis peers into the rain, then nods. “Mhmmm. What about him?”
“We’ve probably got time to talk to him.”
Insight: Berra wants to talk just for talking, as well as any other reason.
Varanis shrugs and peers at him again. “I guess so,” she says dubiously.
“Can we?” She really means, ‘can I?’ but she is unlikely to be leaving Varanis alone right now.
“Yes,” the Vingan replies and nudges Zukko in the right direction.1Berra fails insight.
Berra waves down the man and gives him a friendly greeting, in Heortling, and there’s a flustered moment in which he looks confused, and then returns the greeting, and asks, “What news of Prax?” which might not be what Berra wanted to talk about.
Varanis looks to Berra, before answering, “Well, it’s colder and wetter there than I expected. Seemed mostly quiet in the places we visited.”
“Nothing like an army in the bits we were in,” Berra says. “But a lot of Storm Bulls, and before that, Tourney Altar at the Paps. I don’t think they want to fight over Sartar right now.” She looks at Varanis, and glances at the man as if asking a question.
Varanis shrugs, as if to say, ‘this was your idea…’
“What’s up in Sartar, then?” Berra asks, and adds, “I’m a Colymar. Will that cause trouble?” She looks like she is trying to be peaceful.2Alas, she fumbled Charm.
Int: Varanis rarely speaks to strangers without purpose. A lifetime of seeing strangers as potential threats will do that to you.
The man says peacefully, “No. The Colymar do that.” He turns and walks away, leaving Berra staring.
Varanis considers a moment, before calling out. “Wait, please. My friends and I have been on the road for some time. We don’t seek to cause trouble.”
Varanis watches the man, waiting for a sign that he heard her.
He just walks away up the field.
Berra stares after him and then manages to remember to look around and be on guard, and then stares at nothing.
The Vingan shrugs. She tried. “Back to the road with the others,” she suggests.
She tugs Zukko’s reins to turn him about. He digs in his hooves. He’s not moving.
“Um. Yeah.” Berra makes no move for a moment. Then the zebra cheers her up. “Stubborn. He knows we’re in an Air land now.”
“Zukko!” Varanis tries the reins again. “C’mon, you stubborn beast. Let’s go.” The zebra’s ears twitch, but that is the only acknowledgement she gets. Grumbling, the Vingan dismounts and grabs the reins close to his mouth. He stomps and she pulls her foot out of the way just in time.
Berra dismounts to come and help shove.
“Listen you,” Varanis tries, her voice soft and coaxing, “let’s go join the others. They’re kind of like your herd, right?”
The Humakti stops just short, letting Varanis make the decision on whether she wants to be helped.
The other woman shakes her head. It takes another moment or two, but eventually the stubborn animal turns around and they return to the road. Varanis stays on foot, leading Zukko.
Berra mounts back up again, and then decides against it and leads her mount, and then decides against THAT and takes up her high position again.
“You’re a stubborn beast,” Varanis observes to the zebra, still using that coaxing tone. “How is it I always end up with the stubborn ones?”
“We’re attracted to you,” Berra says.
This earns a quiet laugh. “Are you stubborn too? Not unreasonably so. You dig your heels in some of the time, but always seem willing to shift when needed.”
“I’m made of Water, but I have a lot of Air in me. You’ve never pissed me off enough that I freeze in place.” Berra goes back on watch duty automatically.
Varanis risks a glance up at Berra. The zebra doesn’t seem to object. “You’ve been pretty angry with me more than once. It wasn’t that long ago that you took a swing at me. Are you saying it could be worse?”
“Think about me and Dormal,” Berra says. “Think about me being that angry and staying that way.” She seems to have stopped then adds, “And also a bit at Lord Eril sometimes.”
Nodding thoughtfully, Varanis says, “There have been a couple of times when I thought you were that mad at me. Thankfully, they didn’t last.” She stares straight ahead as she continues, “I’ve never liked it when people get angry with me, which isn’t to say I’ve always taken it into consideration. I’m not sure which is worse. Doing something when I know it’s going to piss someone off, or doing it and being surprised.”
“I have been. But it passes. I don’t need to act against your…” She struggles for the word. “Your you. Under the talk, I mean. But sometimes people tell me to do a thing that’s wrong.”
Varanis frowns. “Have I ever told you to do a thing that’s wrong?”
“Don’t think so. Can’t think of one.” Berra steers her bison back onto the path by letting it follow Zukko. The repacking behind them is nearly completed.
“You know, Dormal has never forgiven me for trying to hit him on your say so. I suspect he’ll take that grudge to his pyre.”
“Yeah. I didn’t even mean hit-hit. Just like, barrack-room hit, or get Rajar’s attention hit. But if you thought it, and he thought it, then I shouldn’t say that.”
Varanis’ shoulders lift and drop beneath her armour, the barest hint of a shrug. “It was an impulsive thing and, if I’m honest, I regret it. It drove a wedge between us. But while the suggestion was yours, the impulse and action was mine. That’s one I really do bear the full responsibility for.”
“Yeah, well. I’ll remember too. I was frozen angry when people were telling me to duel Lord Kesten, after I’d apologised. I wasn’t going to. They could have thrown me out of Battalion and I wouldn’t have.”
“I am glad it didn’t come to that.”
“Yeah, well. I don’t really want to go back there anyhow. My Temple’s better than that. They know better than to try to bend me.” Berra looks back, and sighs. “He’s watching us. I don’t think he’ll be trouble, but … let’s think. I thought this was Sambari lands but maybe we’re not quite where I thought.”
“You know, I should probably know who has an active dislike of the Colymar tribe. Especially as I am both Colymar and … well, not in favour with Leika.” Varanis eyes Zukko. “Will you let me ride again?” He flicks an ear at her.
“Well, mostly the Locaem and the Malani. Venlar says it’s pretty much as I’d have expected. The Culbrea and the Cincina – those north of Boldhome – who mostly still support Kallyr are against Leika. I know that. And Kallyr’s people, the Kheldon. The Sambari are mostly for her, but torn. There’s a lot of tension in Wilmskirk because the Locaem don’t have a King. So they’re … well, the Balmyr and the Sambari are pushing in on them. Really, the East of Sartar is for Kallyr and a lot of the West is for Leika, but not all of it.”
“I don’t understand how Leika could have turned against her. She supported Kallyr in the past.”
“Kallyr failed at the Lightbringers’ Quest. While Prince.”
Int: Not only would that bind all of Sartar to the result, but Leika was rather more supportive before the failure – she could well have been damaged by being present.
“But we fixed that. She lit the Flame, and that came as a result of the Lightbringers’ Quest. A different one, but surely the second should have undone the damage of the first.”
“That’s not the same. That’s… that’s different. Venlar said… And it is. That means she’s the Prince, but it doesn’t mean she saved Sartar from Chaos. Harvests have been bad all over.”
The Vingan’s frown turns worried. “I wish I knew what to do. I can only hope that aid will come from Esrolia… I wish I knew if my messages got through and if any of them will be heeded.”
“If they think it’s right to help, they’ll help. But we’re nearly there. That’s why we’re fretting.” Berra’s voice has a smile in it though. “And we’re in Sartar.”
“We are.” For Berra’s sake perhaps, Varanis tries to smile. It doesn’t reach her eyes. She halts the zebra, giving herself something else to worry about. “Zukko, I’ve had enough mud. I’m riding again,” she informs him. He stands placidly and permits her to mount. He seems eager to move at a faster pace, now that he’s no longer restricted to her walking speed. His head lifts and he prances a few steps before settling into a walk.3001 on ride this time.
Berra looks happy at that too. “I was trying to talk to Xenofos about movement, and moving past things. I’m always flowing to the sea, but it’s hard to put it… yeah. When you look back at this, the journey will seem small. It’s just a way of getting to where we’re going. But at the end of it, we do things. Fret about the end of it towards the end. Lord D’Val would remind me to meditate.”
“Can you meditate whilst riding that beast of yours? If I tried, I think Zukko would have some strong opinions.” This time the smile makes her eyes crinkle, just a little.
“I don’t know…” Berra looks down. “I can’t do it while I’m on watch, though.” She stands in her saddle to glance around the area. “But that’s a really interesting question, and we should try it some time.”
“Warn me before you do, so that someone is keeping an eye on you.”
“I was thinking you could come out with me. I’d need someone to lead the bison. And I’ll ask D’Val about it too. That’s the sort of question I like asking him.”
“If I am able to, I will. I admit, I really have no idea what will happen when we get to Boldhome. I’m trying not to borrow trouble, but find myself wondering what will happen if Tennebris tells me to just go away.”
“And leaves you free? I know your mind chews on that sort of thing, but think how useful you are to him. And if he does, he should send you somewhere to be useful.
“I can hope. Enough, though. I don’t want to worry about this. I don’t suppose Followed would be interested in a bit of a run, would she? I need to feel Orlanth’s breath on my face, but just now, all I’m getting is Heler’s gift.”
“If we do…” Berra looks left and right, and then listens to the air for a moment. “Alright. Let’s.”
- 1Berra fails insight.
- 2Alas, she fumbled Charm.
- 3001 on ride this time.