Signs are Positive

Berra — Water Sign 03

????, Fire Season, Movement Week


Context

Fire Season, Movement Week, Godsday. [[[s01:session-41|Session 41]]]

Events

After she finally wakes up, Varanis seeks out Berra to ask a few questions. The Vingan has her water flask on her hip and is drinking from it periodically.

Berra, taking a break from what she was doing, is practicing a few left-handed spear movements on her own.1Varanis rolls a Special on Scan.

As well as those watching casually, there are several people watching with professional interest. One of them is Yamia, who seems unimpressed but also angry about everything. A couple of ravens up on the roof of the barn are likely not watching professionally. Yamia looks like she is twitching for battle.

Varanis comes to stand near Yamia, watching Berra. “She’s impressive, isn’t she?” the Vingan says. “Especially when you consider she’s right-handed.”

Yamia tilts her head slightly, thinking. “I did not know she was. I thought she was a dragon-newt friend.” The stare at Berra is interrupted for a moment to turn it on Varanis. There is an offer of death in them, plain to see.2Passed Intimidate. She’s obviously happy to bring you the true gift of Humakt at any time.

GM decides that to resist intimidate, you need a CHA vs CHA roll. Varanis passes.

Varanis smiles at the Humakti, blithely ignoring the threat implicit in the other woman’s gaze. “She was injured recently and her right hand is still healing. She is one of the most impressive warriors I have ever met, though she is modest about it. Her Sword is also impressive. He can decapitate a horse with a single strike.”

“So can I. Humakt gives much to his servants and takes nothing we cannot give. He chooses the best people.” Yamia’s voice is a little too calm.

Varanis does not respond to the other woman, instead returning her gaze to Berra.

Yamia says, “I had heard of her. I wondered why people did not mention she was left-handed. Now I know.” Only then does she turn her attention to Berra. “Is she using a spear so people will not know how she uses a sword, if she is weakened?”

Varanis shrugs. “She uses a number of weapons, as she chooses. Sword is her best. She’s been teaching me broadsword, as my training was with rapier and I want to develop my own skills. But, it’s possible she chose spear today because she’s planning to use it today.” After a moment, Varanis adds, “And sometimes I think she just likes to challenge herself.”

“That’s a good thing to do,” Yamia says, without any touch of approval.

A few moments later Berra stops, spins her spear to get it under her arm, and bows to Varanis without apparently looking around to find out who is there. She heads towards the pair.

Varanis greets her cheerfully, no hint of the previous night’s events in her voice. She offers her own water flask to Berra.

Berra nods in gratitude, and asks, “Can you open it? I’ve started getting splinters when I pull the bung on mine. I’ll leave toothmarks in it.” She and Yamia have exchanged a quiet nod, and no more.

Varanis opens the water bottle and offers it again.

“Thanks.” Berra takes a long, slow glug. “Are we moving out this morning, or …” Then she looks at Yamia, and back to Varanis. “Let’s go somewhere private.”

“We can,” she replies. “But I don’t have answers to your questions. You’ll need to talk to my cousin for that. Still, there are some other matters I’d like to discuss. Perhaps we can check on my horses while we are at it?” With an apologetic shrug for Yamia, she turns to walk away, clearly expecting Berra to join her.

Berra does just that. “I thought he was just setting up for long enough to sell,” she says. “Seems not.” She has another glug of water before handing back the remainder to Varanis.

Varanis takes a long swallow of the water. As she re-stoppers the bottle she casually looks around to see if there is anyone else within earshot.

There are a couple of people around, and Venlar, the one who looks just like Eril, is not far from where they were sleeping last night. He is talking with some animation to a young lady who seems entranced by him.

Quietly, Varanis asks, “What happened when you arrived that had Hengrast in trouble with his father?”

“Let’s go inside,” says Berra. “I think this might be political.”

Once the door has closed and she has pulled up a stool Berra adds, “That took it out of me. Not enough sleep. Uh… Hengrast gave us hospitality in his father’s name. I think that was right, but he had an older brother here, so he was probably meant to call Venlar.”

Varanis looks unhappy at the reference to Berra’s lack of sleep. “There’s more though. He said something about mistaking the enlo for thralls? And a clash with Yinkins?”

“Oh. I didn’t really see about the thrall bit. The thrallmistress, Thenaya, offered to house the Enlo. I think it would be been generous except that Irillo freed them as soon as he could walk them to the Library in Wilmskirk. And the Yinkins found Zinat hunting, and clawed her.”

Berra looks relaxed about those things at least.

“You and Silor’s daughter appear to have some tension between you. Anything I need to know about?”

“There is something uncanny about her, but not really. She tried to pull a … well, Humakti get good at having people get out of the way. She turned that on me at the feast, so I looked at her and thought about her death. I think it probably shocked her. But it was rude of me to do that, even if it was rude of her. I met her mother last night when I was looking for you, and apologised to Yamia. Thenaya is her mother. She told us you were dehydrated. She’d seen it in Prax.” All the words from Berra, once more. Aaaaall the tumbling words.

“Hmmm.” Varanis ignores the last part of the word pile to focus on Yamia. “I think she tried that on me just now. I didn’t feeling like playing though, so I ignored it. Thenaya is the thrallmistress and Yamia’s mother. Is she mother to any of Silor’s other children?”

“Uh… not a clue. I know his older two were born from a marriage, and that’s all. Jengharl and Habela. And he has two out in other steads, I guess with their mothers but I don’t know. People started cheering for Rajar at that point.”

“Is there anything else you’ve learned that you think might help me with this clan? You mentioned needing me to do something, but I wasn’t completely myself at the time, and I am not sure.” The Vingan is trying to be matter of fact, but there’s that hint of pink in her cheeks, giving her away. The shame is lingering, but no longer crippling.

“I do not really know what we need, but we might come back a few days from now with major relics, and people might remember seeing the High… seeing their cousin Eril having them, for example. People here might have helped him, and if we come back having deceived the Clan… well, aside from it going badly from us, it’s not the right thing to do, I think. My understanding of the path doesn’t cover my High Sword having hidden something before I was born, and my clanswoman’s cousin finding it. But finding out as much as you can so we are prepared and can talk to them, or softening the ground for us when we return… those are both acceptable and would both be good.” Berra fusses with her bedroll briefly, pulling everything square.

Varanis nods. “I was trained for this, even if I disliked those lessons. I will do what I can.” The resignation in her eyes suggests that she dislikes this task as much as the lessons, but she will do her duty.

“Thenaya was Initiate Eril’s thrall. Maybe his lover – Irillo was not sure. And she might already know about us. He said something she should have responded to, and she didn’t.”

Varanis raises an eyebrow. “What was it?”

“Something about her… finding elderflowers, I think. He was glad she still found them. I guess it meant something to her but I just thought his father must have visited and told Irillo something.” Berra’s hand picks at a splinter on the table.

“I should speak to Irillo before you all go,” Varanis said thoughtfully.

“Definitely. Either later today, or tomorrow. I’m not sure which.” Berra pulls out her eating knife to scrape away at the splinter. Then she mutters a bit and starts biting at her hand to get a bit of splinter out of it.

Varanis digs around in her pack and comes back with a pair of bronze tweezers. “Give my your hand,” she says squatting down in front of Berra and holding her own hand out.

Berra does just that. The broken skin is already oozing blood.

As Varanis concentrates the tip of her tongue appears between her teeth. “Almost… there!” She looks triumphant holding the tiny splinter in the tweezers.

Berra smiles. “Thank you.” Her eyes are watering a bit, like that hurt more than she admitted.

“Rinse that off so I can make sure it’s all gone, and then I’ll heal it. Going into the Marsh with broken skin is a bad idea.” The Vingan sounds a tiny bit like her cousin Mellia.

“Um, I can’t hold the water bottle in this hand.” Berra holds up the crippled one. Then, rather than asking for help, she licks the area clean. “Thif workf. I promise I am not an ogre.”

She looks almost like an Alynx, when intent on the task.

Varanis shakes her head wryly, and gets a basin. Reaching for the hand, she holds it over the basin and pours carefully from a clay jug. For just a moment she stares at the flowing water with a look of discomfort, but refocuses her attention on the hand. She closes her eyes and draws in breath. The tiny wound heals, leaving no evidence of its brief existence.

There’s that look of triumph again, though it would be hard to determine if it was for the healing or not freaking out at the water.

“Thanks,” says Berra shortly. “Now, what else? Irillo, maybe? I don’t know if he has plans he cannot share with me. If so, make sure he is clear what I am allowed to know.” Straight to business.

Varanis nods. Out of the blue, she says, “Last night, I felt like if I’d asked you to stay, you would have shared my bed. For comfort, nothing more,” she hastily adds. “I… you grew up with shared beds. Do you miss that?” The question is blurted out almost Berra-style.

“Of course I would. I don’t now, but … I’ve had practice. I used to have my sister with me, or some cousins. You get used to sleeping small and quiet.” Berra shrugs. “I mean, I miss being young and having a…” She pauses only briefly and then gallops on. “A mother. It was easier when I wasn’t the oldest one. But I’ve been out on campaign so much that shared beds came to mean sex, because people thought they might die, or because they wanted to. For me, a campaign means being alone, and so do barracks and longhouses. I’m grown up now.”

The Vingan nods her understanding. “I don’t know how to sleep in a shared bed. Upon occasion, it has led to hurt feelings. I don’t think that was the case last night,” she adds thoughtfully. She’s not talking about Berra anymore.

“Well, if we’ve talked through what we need to, I should go find Irillo.” She rises, smiling down at the diminutive Humakti. “Thank you. For knowing me better than I know myself and for saying the things I need to hear, even when I don’t want to hear them.”

Berra looks up, seemingly slightly puzzled. “Of course,” she says. “You asked for a friend who would do that.”

“My life has been full of people who say one thing and do another. Allow me to appreciate the treasure I have found in your friendship.” There’s a hand, laid lightly on Berra’s shoulder, and then Varanis strides away, on the hunt for Irillo.