1628, Dark Season, Disorder Week, Water Day Eve
Berra has been badly wounded in a Heroquest, and her sister has been waiting for news. Session SA3.13.
Sometime shortly after Berra has been brought to (or brought herself to) the Temple, a petite1SIZ 5:4 of a Berra. She got the big genes. – Berra
She’s still not a large person though, is she? I mean, Berra’s only what? SIZ 6? – Varanis, but heavily pregnant Ernaldan with a strong family resemblance turns up at the gates, politely insisting that she be allowed in to see her sister.
There are two people on the front gate, and they politely send in a message to inquire if the Lady Berra will see her family. Lady. Lady Berra.
The man who was sent off comes back to bow his head to Yehna. “The Priest will see you. Please follow me.”
Yehna steps into the Temple grounds without hesitation. She is not afraid of Death, just now. Her sister is what matters.
It is dark, full night by now. A blessing of Boldhome is that the moon does not shine down into the valley. Humakti care little for torches, but there are enough to see the way over a courtyard, and then inside is a space with tiny lamps and a long corridor and then another and another, until they are before a door. Not a hanging, a door, reinforced with bronze. Everything here says austerity, asceticism, war. The warrior who accompanied her claps outside the door then pushes it open.
The room has two lights, enough to see a low pallet and a tiny figure on it, lying under a cover too light for the season. Her right hand is out, clutching the hilt of a pale sword. Berra stares up at the ceiling, eyes dark in her pale face.
“Berra?” Yehna whispers. Then again, louder, “Berra!” She rushes to her sister’s side and kneels by the pallet.
Sharp eyes try to take in everything in the low light.
Berra gives Yehna a smile. “Sis.” Her face is drawn with pain but the smile is real. “Don’t touch the sword?” There is the smell of blood in the room and Berra is far too pale. She looks like she will not die, though. On her face are two new scars, the Runes of her god.
The Ernaldan is careful to give the sword space. She does not want to risk Death touching her through that blade. But, the relief at seeing Berra and hearing her voice is quickly subsumed by worry. “You look terrible,” she says.
The room is bare, save for a pile of Berra’s belongings neatly in a corner, by but not on a shelf made of stone set into the wall. There is another door out of the room. The only furniture other than that holds her sister, who is under a light sheet because a heavy one would hurt. A cut on her chest is still oozing blood, and she is wearing bandages around her belly. “I feel pretty awful right now too,” Berra admits. “I will live.” Her voice is too slow and too careful, although her face still says she is pleased to see her sister.2Special Scan for Yehna.
She should be holding out her other hand, and she is not. Everything must hurt a lot.
“Why haven’t you been healed?” Yehna demands, reaching out as if she is going to attempt it right now. Her brows are drawn tight with worry and no little frustration. How dare they leave her sister in such a state?
“Magic,” Berra says. “This one won’t get better with magic. Just time.” She closes her eyes. “Magic.” She looks exhausted.
Yehna falters. “But… I could try?”
“S’fine, sis,” Berra says. “I’ll be seeing a healer soon. I got patched up and the ir… a shaman checked me over for bad spirits.”
“Well, the least they could do is make it warmer in here. More blankets. Have you had water? I don’t see a jug. And there’s no broth. How will you regain your strength without a broth?” Yehna is clearly fussing now, determined to find something within her control.
“I can call for anything I like,” Berra says quietly. “I suppose.” She opens her eyes, which do not focus fast enough. “I didn’t think about water. I suppose I should.”
Yehna calls out to the person at the door. “My sister… the priest? She needs water. A jug and a small, easily handled cup,” Yehna orders. “And maybe a clean rag too.”
The man is gone, but Berra says, “I can call someone. If you want.”
Her older sister should be doing, not asking. Berra might well be feverish too. This is not how she behaves when injured. She should be trying to get up. (edited)
Yehna places her hand on Berra’s forehead.
Cool. Cold, even. The damp-dry feeling of someone who has been sweating and has stopped.
Yehna rises to her feet. “I’ll be right back. Rest a while,” she orders. Then she makes for the door.
“Um.” Berra makes her unsure-and-thinking noise, the one that comes before her blurting something out. “Alright.”
Yehna glances over her shoulder, before heading through the door in search of somebody. Anybody.
The door is heavy and has a bar that could be used to lock it, currently leaning against the wall. Outside the corridor is almost empty, but for a woman checking the oil in the lamps. In an Ernaldan Temple she would be called ‘the gossip’ – checking lamps is a time-honoured way of hanging around.
“You,” Yehna calls. “I require some things for my sister’s care.” With her belly leading the way, Yehna marches up to her. “If you can’t get them yourself, please find someone who can. We need a jug of water, a small, easily held cup, a clean rag, and a healer.”
The woman sighs. “Sure. After I’ve done the lamps. I’ve just got a couple more.”
“Now,” Yehna says urgently. “There is something very wrong here. She’s too dry.”
“She can call for anything she likes.” The caretaker looks puzzled. “She’s a Priest.” And yet she makes no move.
“And if she weren’t so ill, perhaps she would!” Yehna snaps.
There is a dawning of understanding, and then the woman steps into movement suddenly. “Stay here,” she orders, and her steps carry her away quickly. The oil bottle she was carrying starts to fall over, in the lamp niche.
Yehna darts forward to catch it, trying to prevent the oil from spilling3Pass DEX..
Echoed, distorted conversations follow a clapping sound nearby, and then a woman with a sheathed great sword held in one hand comes back towards Yehna, the caretaker in tow. “Repeat what is needed.” She is big, her voice confident.
“She is low on blood, I think. Too pale and too dry. So, water and plenty of it, but slowly. A jug and an easily held cup. A clean rag in case the cup is too much. A sustaining meat-based broth, but that’s less urgent. And a healer to check on her. I don’t think all of these wounds were caused by the demon. Surely some of this damage can be healed.” Now that she is being heard, Yehna is growing calmer but still determined.
“I’ll send to check on the healer. The rest will be there shortly. Please remind your… sister? that she can call on the Wyter directly until healed enough to look after herself.” The woman nods, and waits for long enough to find out if there are any questions.
Yehna nods and then marches back into the room. Her thank you drifts back to the two women.
“Get on with your duties,” is the last thing she hears from them, and in fact the only thing. Humakti are not known for polite chit-chat. It sounds like the woman with the oil is getting reminded of what she should be doing.
“You need to be calling on the Wyter to help you,” she tells Berra as she enters. “There’s water coming and the Healer will be chased. But you are not taking care of yourself and I won’t have it.” She’s lecturing as she returns to her place by Berra, still avoiding the sword.
Berra is back to staring at the ceiling again, looking slightly confused. “I asked if I should call someone. You left.” Perplexity. “But you’re right. I probably need help.”
“Well, now you have me.” And suddenly Yehna is weeping.
Berra tries to move her arm, but it is tangled up in blankets. “Sis… you’ll be fine. It’s alright. Please don’t cry…” She should be hugging Yehna, like she used to.
Yehna just cries harder, but the storm passes nearly as quickly as it began. She wipes her face on her sleeve, sniffles, then says, “Well, that was silly. Undignified in front of a priest, even if that priest is my own sister.” She draws a shuddering breath and then, channelling Varanis for a moment, she says, “I’m fine. Rest. Water will be here soon and if you sleep before it comes, I’ll wake you. And then you can sleep again. I’m staying here for a bit.”
Before Berra can even answer, the door opens and an armoured man comes in with what was asked for; exactly that. Water in a pitcher, a cup, and a clean bit of old wool, over the cup’s side. No tray, just the things. He bows his head on coming over the threshold, and comes to offer over his burden.
Berra’s answer, if any, is lost.
Yehna looks over everything and nods her approval.
Berra entirely fails to reach out for the water, or to greet the warrior, or to make some apparently unrelated remark which she then explains.
Yehna takes care of everything except the last.
The man leaves wordlessly, with another bow to Berra on the way out. The silence within the Temple is so deep it is intrusive.
It takes about half a cup of water for the healer to arrive. Berra manages to sit up enough that Yehna can get a folded blanket under her head, meaning she can sip clumsily.
The healer is a man with a lantern on a stick, indicative of his status as a surgeon, and a member of the cult of Arroin. His robes shine white even in the dim temple. “Lady Berra?” He asks the room, from the door.
Yehna glances up. “She’s very tired, in pain, and, well, not herself. I’m getting water into her, and there’s broth, which I was planning to try next. But, I want you to look at her wounds. They can’t all be impossible to heal. They just can’t.” What starts as a calm account increases in urgency and worry.
“Time for you to go home and rest,” he says. “Come back in the morning. I have her now.” He gives her a kind look. “She will be fine. I promise I will do my best.”
Yehna looks to her sister, a silent appeal for reassurance.
“I’m sure I’ll be fine,” Berra says peaceably. “Go rest.”
Yehna leans over to kiss Berra’s forehead, as gently as she can. Of course, given her belly can’t help but get in the way, this would be an awkward time for the baby to kick.
Berra wriggles her arm, rubbing her elbow against the pronounced bump. “Hello niece or nephew,” she says with sad happiness. “Be well.”
“I will be back in the morning,” Yehna promises, before clambering to her feet. After a last, worried look, she disappears through the door to make her way out of the Temple.
The woman with the oil bottle shows her out.
- 1SIZ 5:4 of a Berra. She got the big genes. – Berra
She’s still not a large person though, is she? I mean, Berra’s only what? SIZ 6? – Varanis
- 2Special Scan for Yehna.
- 3Pass DEX.