Second Helping

Berra — Second Helping

????, Earth Season, Stasis Week


Context

Earth Season, Stasis Week, Godday, on the way to the Temple of Vinga. [[[s02:session-13|Session 13]]]

Events

In the House of Saiciae seems to be a bad place to talk to Berra. She is still obviously angry, holding it in with some effort. On the way out she sneers openly at the stakes left in the street. It is halfway across the city that she draws a ragged breath and seeks out Xenofos in their little cluster of people. Her eyes stay on lookout, nevertheless. She is alert and keyed up. “Sorry I was shouting,” she says directly. “He didn’t even wait for me to know that my second wasn’t drowned. I shouldn’t have made …” A quick sigh. “Shouldn’t have made it hard on you.”

Xenofos blinks. “No offence taken. But I did not quite understand what took place there.”

Berra sighs. “We argued. In Temple. I was trying to help him, but we ran into a problem. He thinks that a grandmother can order murder and it’s honourable because it’s her. So he called me a liar when I said it wasn’t. That’s what we’re fighting over.” That part at least is not making her angry. “I said my second would call. I guess I got that bit wrong. It’s done differently in Sartar and Serzeen did this bit before, so…” she trails off with a shrug that whispers threats of bronze and leather.

“So you challenged him?”

“Well, I don’t know. He said I was a liar and should give satisfaction. Isn’t that him challenging me?” Berra looks annoyed. “It would be in Sartar.”

“Well that sounds like it. And then his second would come to arrange details.”

“Oh, right. But then he turned up. Only before that he had come already, to make an accusation against Varanis, from his House. Mellia met him, and I was there so I took service with her, because I was in the house as her guest.”

“Well the guy in was technically his second who quite correctly brought the terms and option to retract your words and apologize or fight.”

“He didn’t give me time to find out you were alive and he was refusing messages from the house. And that was after Hulta slandered Varanis and he brought the message. He can hang and dry until I’m ready.”

Xenofos looks a bit confused. “Why should he have waited for me? He was supposed to send in his second anyway?”

“Because I didn’t have a second to talk to him and couldn’t let him know that, because he’d have turned me away. I do understand what you are saying, but it’s part of the reason I got angry. I couldn’t let him know that my man might be dead looking for something his House should have been….” Berra takes a slow breath. “That. Even if he was being perfectly right, he was being rude.”

“I am sure others would do you that favor as well… But what accusation?”

“The Hulta sent to demand Lenta back from Varanis.” Berra gives Xenofos a glance. “While you were all still missing. I’m sorry. It’s a mess. We have until noon today, and it’s not like we wouldn’t be trying to help anyhow. They just decided to accuse instead of helping.”

“But why?” Xenofos appeals. “I mean they were seen kissing couple of days ago, but surely that is not enough?”

“Maybe Lhankor Mhy knows. Her mother felt ashamed, probably. She wants to blame Varanis for Lenta kissing her in public. Lenta disappeared and was apparently seen getting into the right Palanquin – and for some reason Kesten or the Hulta have forgotten to think about illusion spells. Varanis had not yet left the party hall when Lenta got into her palanquin with someone who looked like her.”

“Oh. Crap. And that letter asking where Lenta was may have been taken quite wrongly then.”

“If letters can be, then yes. I don’t know what you wrote.” Berra shrugs off her ignorance. “Can you send another one?”

“Varanis wanted to ask if they knew where Lenta was. So I wrote that. And if after that they heard they had been seen leaving together…”

“Well, you’d still have to be a bunch of idiots who wanted to find Varanis guilty. Kesten’s not an idiot. He’s a Truth-seeker. I think he’s one of a hero cult in the Temple, to help find truths. So he should be looking. But he still has to be in charge of the guards.” Berra rolls her eyes, obviously unimpressed.

“Part of the Truth is dangerous…”

“Yes. Alright. He’s a very dedicated idiot. I am assuming he’s not allowed to investigate further, to be honest. If he’d accept his Grandmother could murder honourably, I can’t see he wouldn’t accept an order to use half the truth. But that’s got me a bit biased, if you get what I’m saying. I… thought he was better than that.” Berra shrugs it off, and falls silent.

“It can’t be honorable if it is murder. And I have hard time imagining Kesten saying that.”

“Yeah. He says if the Ernalda of Hulta ordered Rillo killed, that wasn’t murder. No matter how it was done, it wouldn’t matter.” Berra’s expression tightens, and for a moment she is looking down and to the front, getting herself under control. She adds in a flat voice, “So we do have to fight, because I’m not taking that back. You can’t use Eurmal Murderer and not have it be murder, even if you’re in charge.”

“Grandmothers have the legal right to rule over our life and death. That is true. And there is no obligation for that decision or its execution be public. I still can not imagine a Grandmother using Eurmalites for the task.”

“It’s secret murder if you decide to assassinate someone, even if they’re in your house. But I don’t feel I need to fight you over that, don’t worry.”

“I was not worrying. I would not call secret execution ordered by Grandmother murder. But there would be little honor in such deed, even when it is legal.” 1Considering this, Xenofos rolls special honor, normal loyalty Nochet.

“Yeah. I would. And he got upset, and I don’t care that he did, beyond him getting in the way. We’re not going to meet on this, and even if I gave a… even if I could see about secret executions being called something different here – which I can’t – there’s still the tool that was used. I can’t forgive that, and he’d be fine with it if she did. It’s a pity, because he’s mostly a good man, even.” From chirpy to angry to sad takes about three sentences. Berra is almost her own caricature right now.

“I am still a bit confused. But if you feel it is worth fighting, I’ll help with the arrangements.”

Berra looks around, eyes taking in the street with the slow habit of someone who has been scouting much of her life. “I’m not going to back down, is all. Anyhow. Yamia sent off a letter to him because if I HAD said his grandmother was guilty that was bad, but he must have got it by now, and he still turned up. So it wasn’t about a mistake either. So yes, that would be good. Thank you. I’ll probably go straight to his House after we get back, to be honest. If you’re in a state to come with me, and I’m in a state to walk, we should.”

“His second was a wreck, but he could speak up the terms. Fight until other party is unable to continue. Humakt’s ring, with just swords and His blessings to decide the victor.”

“Uhhh…. that’s unusual,” Berra says. “Unable to continue is… VERY strange.”

“It does sound pretty vicious? I mean if you feel that strongly then why not suggest one with no quarter asked or granted.”

“Because he can’t. Because it was a petty insult. I am pretty sure he got talked to, then. I mean, first blood and then shutting up about the argument would be normal. How much of a wreck was his second? Could you try to get out of him if Lord Kesten’s being pushed to risk killing me?”

“What did you say to him exactly? That does not sound like response to a petty insult.”

“That he was justifying secret murder. Not even that his grandmother was guilty of it. He’s spiky, though – he almost offered to fight in the room where Rillo was dead, over Nala saying a perfectly true thing – that he was an arsehole. So it could be him. But I don’t think so. He seemed really calm at the time, although obviously with a gigantic stick where his spine should have been.”

“Well to me that sounds pretty grave. But if he was calm at the time…”

“And I just basically said the same thing to you and you said you were confused but offered to be my second anyhow. He can’t back down from having seen an insult I don’t know I’d have bothered with. I might have. I’ve fought for less.” There’s a shrug from Berra, who seems unworried. “But I wasn’t going to use this to make sure that people knew what was going on with the House of Hulta, only if he’s being pushed into silencing me then I should probably find that out first.”

“You think there is time for that?”

“Not a clue. Probably not. But there’s one thing we can do. If he’s going to ask for the Ring of Humakt, make him do it properly. Three Runestaves, and the spell, not the four he’s got. He can go to the effort of finding someone who can cast it. And if he refuses that, it’s going to annoy him anyhow, and I got petty about the time breakfast got interrupted. And it’ll let him know what I’m thinking, too, probably.” Berra shrugs. “Anyhow, my death wouldn’t stop what would happen to Hulta. It would make it a lot worse, so I’m fine with it either way. But I’d like to find out.” She gives Xenofos a grin. “I should stop distracting us.”

Grinning does not seem to alleviate Xenofos’ doubts, but he responds with a hint of smile.

“Glad you’re about,” Berra adds.

Xenofos nods and gives some attention to rooftops, for possible slingers.