1626, Storm Season, Truth Week, Clayday
At the White Grape in Boldhome, in the early morning after a feast. Post Back and There Again (Session 2.29). Spoilery for facts about Berra
When they get in, and Varanis goes up to her room, Berra goes to get breakfast, having only eaten once so far today. Halfway through a bowl of milk curds with honey, she pauses, nods to Rondrik, and takes her food upstairs. She balances it on her knee there for long enough to clap at the door.
There’s a sleepy “yes?” from the other side.
“I had a thought,” Berra says. “I can go away if you like.”
There are muffled noises, a thump and a curse, then the door opens. Varanis is wearing a thin linen shift and nothing else. Her hair is tousled and standing up a bit oddly at the back of her head. “Come in?” she invites, stepping back to make room for Berra to enter.
It’s the same room she used before. Her gear is tidily stowed in the corner near the door. The small table has an urn and cup, but nothing else. The blankets on the bed are as dishevelled as the Vingan.
Berra takes a moment to come in, apparently getting used to semi-clad Varanis. “You look good with short hair. Um, that came out wrong.” She comes in, wincing a bit in apology.
Varanis snorts. “Kalis didn’t share your opinion, but thank you. I think.”
Berra manages to hide what might have been a smirk. “So. I thought of a thing that is important, although it’s not urgent. Not as much as the marriage, anyhow.”
The Vingan waves Berra to the chair, whilst dropping back onto the bed. She pulls the blankets up around her to ward off the chill.
Berra drops into the chair, easily, and puts her bowl down on the table to keep eating from it.
“Don’t leave me in …” She falters, unsure of the correct word in Heortling. “Suspense?” She supplies the Esrolian word with a hopeful look at Berra. “If Xenofos has to practice, I should too.”
“Suspense, or don’t leave me waiting.” Berra nods approval. “I think you should find out more about your armour. Ask Vinga about it. Try to find the bits, or if they are broken or taken, try to find how to replace them.”
The Esrolian repeats the word a few times, committing it to memory. “Good idea,” she says at last. “Though, we tried to learn more before.”
“Last time, I don’t think we … well, we tried within the world, more than with your goddess, didn’t we? We could find the right questions to ask, and maybe Chief Tennebris knows more than we do. He recognised it, and now he knows you better he might answer more. But Vinga knows, I bet.”
“Oh… I don’t know why I didn’t think of Divination…” Varanis pushes her hair back from her face and looks thoughtful. “That’s good, Berra. Yes. But… I may also ask Grandfather Sartar…”
Berra nods, and looks into her bowl, and gives Varanis a nod. “That’s a very good idea,” she says. Her bowl gets scooped up onto her lap and she looks at it, melancholy settling on her briefly. Something breaks under the surface and she says simply, “I’m in love with Kallyr.” And then, “Bother. Shouldn’t have said that.”
Varanis blinks. “You’re… did I understand that right?”
“Yeah, look… Can you leave it?” She looks away, and there is that pained expression again, the one from earlier this morning.
“I… but…” The usually eloquent Vingan is at a loss for words.
Berra pokes at the contents of her bowl with her horn spoon. “Just… what we’re going to organise. I might not be thinking too clearly about it. I guess. Although I still shouldn’t have said it.”1Critical on Love Kallyr, Critical on Truth. DAMNED DICE.
“Uleria has a cruel sense of humour, I think. I’m sorry. I’ll say nothing more on the… on it.”2Berra fails Insight.
“Don’t let… I mean, it’s a weakness that could be exploited. Please don’t let anyone…” Berra trails off, and shrugs miserably. “I can’t have her know.”
“I’m sorry, Berra. I promise silence.” The words are softly spoken.
“Thank you,” the warrior replies in a quiet voice. “It’s a religious necessity, you see…” She does not reveal what exactly is necessary, or how. “I hate it. But… well.” With some effort, she is moving on.
“You can help with what might be needed? If I have to carry word to the Feathered Horse Queen?” The question is neutral, just seeking answers and offering no judgement.
Berra looks into nothing for a few minutes. “Yes,” she says after that. I just… seeing her last night jogged me. I thought I had put it all away. I won’t let you down.” Her back straightens, and then there is a professional killer there, an incongruous bowl of food nearby. By the time she makes eye contact, there is nothing there to say she is anything but a slightly tired warrior.
“If you say it is so, then I believe you. You have hid this for a long time… even when Rajar provo… provoked? me by saying I should kill her…” Varanis shakes her head. “You’ve kept this secret well.”
Berra thinks for a moment, and only then does she snort her amusement. Her expression is dark, and even that gets turned off a moment later. “It was just something I have to live with. I shouldn’t let it affect me. At least, not my actions.” Her voice is too flat, but with a conscious effort she relaxes, and shrugs.
“As you will.” Varanis looks like she might say something more, but she lets the subject drop. With a sigh, followed by a yawn, she says, “I wish we had some lumiviiva. I need something hot to drink and I’m so tired.”
“Yeah. Me too.” Berra takes a bite of her food. “About the armour, though. There’s a reason. A couple of reasons, behind it.”
“Tell me.” A command, not a request, though she tempers it by adding, “please.”
“Well, the one that might break in your hand and cut you, is that it was made for a Heroquest. It might be that because that’s been failed twice, it shouldn’t be done, but it’s a thing that might be if matters become desparate. And then it’s a thing with a relationship. The person with that armour was never going to be Prince. So it says who you are, loudly and clearly – you’re a cousin, or a sister, or a servant. Not a Prince yourself.” Berra gestures with the spoon to make her point.
Varanis considers. “Both good reasons. Dangerous, but good. Thank you. I will speak to Tennebris today, I hope.”
Berra nods, and gets up. “I think I’m going to go for a run, and then sleep a bit.” Her bowl comes with her. “I haven’t run up Boldhome in a while. I might see if I can still breathe.”
Varanis is already pulling the blankets back over her head when Berra leaves. “Later,” she mumbles. “I’ll deal with it later.”
Berra manages a chuckle, fond, as she makes for the door. “See you on the other side of that, then.”
- 1Critical on Love Kallyr, Critical on Truth. DAMNED DICE.
- 2Berra fails Insight.