Berra — So Long Farewell
????, Fire Season
Fire Season Some time after they decide to split up to cover more ground…[[[s01:session-34|Session 34]]]
Berra looks at Varanis, and says, “You’re seeing your other Clan. Good luck with it all down there.” Then she hurries off to go buy beer for the Praxian trip.
Varanis watches Berra hurry away and tries not to look hurt. “Goodbye,” she says softly.
Berra turns1critical listen check! (and a failure on Insight Human) as she is going and gives Varanis a slightly surprised look. “I thought that bit came later,” she admits. “But if we’re saying it now in case we don’t meet later, goodbye.” She looks like she is ready to flow away, the water part of her pulling her onward.
Varanis shrugs, carefully casual. “Be safe Berra. Travel well.” Then she turns away.
Berra dashes off, with a noise that is probably, “Uhuh!” It might be translated as uuuuh what next or it might be translated as yes. Either way, she is gone.
A couple of hours later, Berra is back, her mood chipper. Hurried preparation for action suits her, and apparently she keeps her saddlebags packed. Everything else looks ready to go. She is a blur of energy, but one with enough control to stop and take a deep breath before speaking. “Can you do me a big favour? If you’re in Nochet and passing through the fruit market…” She is even speaking faster than normal.
Varanis pauses in her packing to take in the Humakti whirlwind. “Yes?” Her expression is carefully neutral.
“I think D’Val would like some more fruit.” Berra already has a silver coin in her hand. “I have no clue who will get back first, though. But we should all meet here… probably Wilmskirk in fact if we find Nala. Then we can go in the right direction for the omens.” She is speaking words as the thoughts occur to her.
Varanis nods. “We’ll look for you in Wilmskirk, once we find Dormal, Irillo, and Salid and persuade them to return.” Her expression changes briefly as she speaks, but she recovers her casual air. She accepts the coin. “I will find fruit for your Sword if the opportunity arises. Did he have any favourites?”
Berra’s expression has a twitch in it too, but only for a moment, “That brown slab of stuff slices really well, and it travels. I think it was mostly apricots, dried. And the one that bites back with all the pepper. Just get a couple of those.” The Humakti pauses, then. The speed leaves her and a thoughtful look replaces it.
Varanis nods. “That should be easy to find. I like the apricot one too and know a place that makes it with some ginger for extra flavour.”
“Be sure ginger is not a vegetable. He’s geased not to eat them.” Berra is slightly distracted now. From a frenetic whirlwind she has become planted in the middle of the room, in the way of the packing.
“It’s a root and is used to flavour things,” Varanis says looking at Berra. She steps around the Humakti to collect another item of clothing and then has to step around her again to add it to her bag.
“That doesn’t answer if it’s a vegetable,” Berra says, in a faraway voice. “You’re going to have two Issarians. Who exactly is Dormal playing? Because I know he’s an arse, but there’s a choice of three people and Salid is probably Flesh Man, or I suppose Flesh Enlo. Maybe.”
Varanis stops her packing to look at Berra again. “I didn’t ask Tennebris who would fill which role. I only asked if he could help us find a Flesh Man and a Eurmal. He said we needed to get everyone back.” She shrugs again. “I don’t know how Nala fits either.”
Berra nods to that. “I think there are enough people that I send you there. I don’t come. Humakt can be doing other things at the time, anyhow. I… there are rumours, but it might be matters of higher mystery. D’Val will know them, even if he can’t tell me.” Now she looks relaxed, ready for action, poised for movement but without commitment to it.
“I don’t know if Dormal will come back with us. And I’m not sure what to do if he says no,” Varanis says quietly.
Berra sighs, thoughtfully. “Well, he might be Eurmal. If so, it’s probably allowable to drag him. I mean, without the quest.” She looks at Varanis directly. “I wouldn’t want to force a person into something – but he gets pulled along by Orlanth at some points. Find out about that meeting and see if you can make it part of the quest? But there, I don’t know how to answer. I wouldn’t compel a person, and I don’t know… well, here’s a thing. Would you say forcing him is an act of honour? There is your answer.”
Varanis shakes her head. “I would not force anyone into this quest, not even a Eurmali, but especially not my cousin. We don’t always see the world in the same way, but he’s kin. He’s not particularly fond of me right now though, and I worry that he will set a high price on his cooperation.”
“Well, you’re going to go through Nochet. By the time you see him, you’ll probably have…” Berra hesitates for a brief moment. “Seen your grandmother.”2Varanis passes insight roll. Insight: this is the same expression that had Berra locked up right when she said good luck. She is thinking of something she does not like about that situation, maybe that person.
Varanis nods thoughtfully. “She’s my grandmother, yes. But if she agrees to encourage Dormal to help, that too might come at a cost. I have to decide if I’m willing to pay the price they demand. But in the end, it’s not about me, it’s about Sartar…” She trails off, her expression one of mixed emotions.
Berra sighs. “Like I said. Good luck. But also, you know enough not to need anyone else there, and you know what you’re thinking, and why to think it.”
The Vingan laughs, but there’s no humour in it. “I’ll be fine,” she says. “What can they do to me?” She steps around Berra to pick up more things for packing. “I need to leave some of this in Nochet,” she murmurs.
“They can remind you of how you could help down there,” Berra says. “But… well. Not Sartar. You could always leave these things up here and not bother hauling them around.”
“Mostly it’s the Esrolian silks I need to leave behind. They don’t take up much room, but I don’t need as much as I have. It’s not like I can wear them here.” This time the laugh is genuine.
“Fire Season is warm,” says Berra speculatively. “But you should try to bring back some that mean people talk to your face. Silk is good for showing your nobility.”
“I didn’t think… if there was anyone who had crazy ideas about trying to make me a Prince, I could disabuse them of the notion by parading about as a clear foreigner in Esrolian gowns.” Her grin is mischievous.
“That, and get really cold in Dark Season.” Berra finally looks down at her feet. “Oh. I stopped. I must have started thinking. Why would I be thinking?”
“More importantly perhaps, what are you thinking?” Varanis glances around the room. “Huh. I think I made it all fit.”
“Well, I won’t know that until it happens. It’s below my surface. Something’s bothering me and I’m not quite sure what. Maybe not – probably not – Grandma. Might be Dormal. Maybe fitting in the right people to the right quest. But I stopped to think because I’m moving under the water.” Berra hooks her thumbs into her sword belt, and stares slowly around the room. “Oh, well done. You packed. Check if anything rolled behind your bed, though.” Again, her voice is slightly absent.
“I’m not sure what my reception will be. Dormal will have stopped in Nochet and he was… unhappy with me.” She shrugs, trying to look unconcerned.
“He’s… well.” Berra takes a deep breath. “Yes. But your Wyter can tell the Truth, can’t it? Can tell when truth is spoken?”
“Yes, but Dormal’s truth and mine may be at odds. And I still don’t know if Grandmother really wanted me to do the thing that Dormal told me she required. What if she did?” Varanis shakes her head. “I’ll worry about that crossroads when I arrive at it.”
“Truth isn’t a thing that can be at odds. That’s what Dormal says. He tries to make people – well, me at least – believe it is. What you’re talking about is viewpoint, not Truth. Am I allowed to know what Dormal said she required?” Berra bounces on her toes a little, no longer entirely stuck in place.
Varanis considers before answering. “He wanted my help retrieving a thing that he said had been stolen from our clan. But he said the retrieval had to be discreet. I suggested that he was asking me to steal, and he denied it, but what he was describing amounted to the same thing. I refused him and we barely spoke again before he went south.”
Berra nods. “He is not trustworthy. Well done. I… I’ve never had to choose between Clan and Honour yet. That’s what I mean about opinion, though. To him, I think that would not be theft. He tries to define the world so that it is how he wants it. He doesn’t understand Truth as a Rune. As a Power.”
“What I mean is that he may tell Grandmother and the Wyter what happened between us and she will know I refused. And if she expected my obedience, I do not know how she will receive me.”
“Of course he’ll tell her that. But if she expected obedience, then she’s got to learn some time. You’re a Vingan, and you’re nobility. She’ll… she’ll not want to lose you. You’re rebellious, and at some point she will have to face your rebellion, and use it. If she tried to force you to a thing, how long would she keep your loyalty?” Berra takes a jump from where she is to land on her knees on the bed, thudding into straw. She wriggles to sit down, and unbuckles her waterbottle.
Varanis blinks in astonishment at the sudden jump, but then takes the opportunity to peer under the bed now that there’s more floor space. She reaches under and comes back with a ring in her fingers. “Huh. I didn’t even notice that one was missing.” She slides it onto a finger rather than try to extract her jewellery box from the saddle bags. “Honestly? She’ll lose it the moment she tries to make me do anything I felt was wrong. But you might be over-estimating my value to her. I used to think…” She shakes her head and doesn’t finish the sentence.
“If you don’t have value to her, then you owe her kin Loyalty, and no more. But I don’t think that’s how she thinks. I think that from her understanding she took a risk sending you off with Sartarites, but you were always going to be protected this way. She knew what risks she was taking. And I think you still love her because she is worth that. She protects your house, she picks you all a way through deceptive waters. She might be concerned to get a Sartarite instead of an Esrolian, but you’re her Sartarite, and you’d be one ten years from now if not today. She… she might try to remind you of the better parts of Esrolia, but you know them already anyhow. I don’t think she’ll push you away or show anger. I think she might try to win you from Kallyr, but she thinks Kallyr’s winning you from her, so I can’t blame her.” And then water. Berra takes a swig, and rubs with her thumb and the pink scar on her lip.
Varanis sighs. “Perhaps. I suppose I will find out when we arrive in Nochet.” She smiles suddenly. “I am looking forward to a proper bath.”
“And asking your family about the armour,” Berra adds, like that part is obvious.
Varanis nods and starts to strap on her armour. “We’ll be leaving soon. I should get these bags to the stable. You’ll be careful in Prax, yes?”
“As careful as I always am. And I won’t even pick fights. And there won’t be a lot of rumours and stories and poems following me. And I’ll have Rajar and D’Val. And then hopefully Nala, and back again. It’ll be bastard hot, but it’s Prax in Fire Season. That’s not a surprise. Be careful in Rhigos. You hear things.”
Varanis nods and cinches up a strap on her vambrace.