Berra — The Trail Of Lenta Iii
1627, Fire Season, Fertility Week
Fire Season, Fertility Week, Freezeday. [[[s02:session-42|Session 42]]]
In the late afternoon, with Yelm slanting down, there is a clap outside the door to Varanis’ room. A moment later it is followed up by a knock.
Marta opens the door.
“Hiya. Is Varanis awake?” Berra is outside, looking a little too hot in bronze armour, highly polished. She also seems out of breath, possibly something to do with the fact she is in bronze armour and likes to run up stairs.
Marta glances back into the room, then opens the door wider to invite Berra in. Varanis is wrapped in a linen robe, her hair unbound and damp. She looks freshly returned from the baths.
Berra gives Varanis a raise of the hand, and a grimace.
“What? Bad news?” The Vingan looks immediately concerned. “Come in, sit. Do you want wine? Marta has brought some food to cajole me with. The vegetables should be easy enough to spot.”
“It’s fine. Just water please. I couldn’t get in to see her. I need to send a letter.” Berra looks faintly annoyed.
There’s a heavy sigh. “There might not be much time. I am hoping we’ll be on the road soon.” Water is poured for Berra while the Vingan sips at her own glass of wine. “I need your back-up for a moment,” Varanis tells Berra.
“Uh… my back-up? Sure. What who where?” Berra snaps to paying attention.
“Nothing like that. Marta and I were discussing my runes. She is of the opinion that I ought to be more consistently wearing this one.” Varanis taps her forehead, where she sometimes has the mastery rune painted. “But, I am unconvinced that it is right for me to do so and given our recent conversation, I think it would also be unwise for me to wear it.” There is no sign that Varanis thinks it’s odd to be given guidance on things like this, either from her servant or her Humakti friend.
Marta tuts in the background.
“So, you said no, and that’s your decision.” Berra looks to Marta, quite prepared to negotiate with a servant herself. “Yeah, she shouldn’t. She doesn’t have to.”
“Xenofos pushed me about it earlier too. Back with the dragonnewts. I was a bit angry at the time, so I don’t remember exactly what he said, but it was probably something about duty and honour and such.” Varanis frowns. “But, now isn’t the time. No, I won’t wear it.”
“No, now isn’t the time.” Berra sips at her water, finds it good, and drinks down her cup.
The servant’s expression clearly indicates that she disagrees, but she chooses not to argue in front of Berra. Instead, she hands Varanis a comb and then walks out of the room.
“Warm wine for me, I suspect,” Varanis says ruefully.
“So,” says Berra as the door closes, “I should tell you what happened. I’m going to need a scribe, and I’d like it to be soon, to be polite.”
“Please do. I can send for a household scribe when Marta returns.”
“I got some snacks, and went along to the house, and asked if Lady Serenelda was in, or if not, Lord Kesten. The porter didn’t know who I was, and… well, I don’t think ‘saw him shit a brick’ is very good Esrolian, but he looked really surprised. But he went in. And then when he came out, he said the mistress would see me. I guess he meant Lady Serenelda, but I know the kind of thing that was going on last time, so I’m not gonna bet my life on it or anything.” Berra pours herself more water.
“Right. But then you didn’t see her?”
The Humakti shrugs a little, in her armour. “Yeah, well. The porter wouldn’t let me in without a cord on both my swords.”
“Hmmm.” Varanis considers, looks like she wants to say something more, but then reaches for a slice of melon instead.
“I sent my gift into her anyhow, but I should write and explain why, and say sorry, and then I need to write to Kesten probably as well, and ask if he thinks that’s an insult. I mean, I’m pretty angry to be honest.” She does not look angry. At all.
“Because they said they couldn’t let me in without Wind Tooth tied, and I said I was a Humakti and I’d only draw her in defense of the House. But they still wouldn’t let me in.” Berra’s voice is light, as if it’s a small matter really.
Varanis shrugs. “Their House, their rules.”
“Yeah, but I’m not going in under them. So, scribe.” Berra shrugs again, as if to say it is nothing to her anyhow.
Marta returns only have Varanis send her in search of a scribe. As they wait, the Vingan asks about Berra’s foot.
“Eh? Oh, fine. There was a touch of bruising, but nothing more. Thanks for putting the bone back.” Berra accepts the change of subject, and has more water.
As Varanis picks at the food, trying to find something that appeals to her, Marta returns with a young scribe.
Berra spends the time apparently ticking things off on her fingers, trying to work out what to write.
“You requested assistance, Lady Varanis?” the scribe asks.
“Yes. For my friend please. We require you to write a letter for us. Berra Humakti will tell you what it needs to say.”
If the scribe is surprised to be loaned out, he hides it well.
Berra says, “It’s to a lady, so I don’t know how to say it right. Should I just tell you what I want to say and you put it in the right words?”
He nods and then looks at Varanis. She arches an eyebrow at him, but rises gracefully from the table to make room. As she does, her long legs are briefly exposed by the robe, and he does his best not to stare. She waves him to the table and he sits down to set up his writing tools.
“To Lady Serenelda Hulta, from Berra Jarang’s daughter, greetings. Thank you for agreeing to see me.” Berra frowns, trying to work out the next bit.
Varanis drifts over to Marta and they have a quiet conversation about clothing choices for the afternoon.
The scribe has noted down the salutation and is waiting for Berra to continue.
“I’m sorry. I could not come in… no, wait. Before that… Please accept the gift from me. I’m sorry, I could not come in. I was asked to tie up my sword, and I can’t do that.” Berra counts up on her fingers, and adds, “It was good of you to be willing.”
The scribe makes quick work of the words. If he is concerned about, or even aware of, the woman dressing behind him, he gives no sign.
“That’s all,” Berra says. “But can you write me another?”
The scribe twists to look to Varanis for instruction. She’s not paying attention, engrossed instead in a discussion about plaits. He shrugs. “As you wish,” he tells Berra.
“To Kesten Hulta, from Berra Jarang’s Daughter. Would you be insulted if someone told you that you couldn’t go into a house without tying your sword? That’s all. For that one.”
He looks at her for a long moment, then nods. He puts his stylus to work. By the time Varanis has lost her argument with Marta and is sitting to have her hair plaited, the scribe is done. He hands Berra a pair of tablets. “It will take some time for the clay to dry, unless you want to bake them.”
“Eh… oh. Huh. I thought you were going to use ink.” She looks perplexed. “Can I just send them like this?” Her fingernail scores a line by accident, in the one with more words, and she makes it into her little glyph signature. “It needs to go quickly.”
“Ink? Tablets are perfectly serviceable, Lady Berra,” he informs her indignantly. He mutters to himself, then asks, “Do you wish to mark the other as well?”
“And it doesn’t fold closed.” Berra uses her thumbnail for the other mark as well. “And it’s slow. How do I bake them?”
He grumbles under his breath, before saying, “Oh, I’ll do it then.” Holding his hand out over the tablets, he murmurs a prayer. It takes only a couple of minutes to bake the clay. “Don’t drop them,” he tells her, handing the two tablets over. Despite her petite size, Berra can hold both tablets in one hand.
“Thank you,” Berra says. “And if I take them there, which door should I use?”
He shrugs. “I’m a scribe, not a delivery boy. I don’t know such things.” He’s not being rude, but he is starting to get close to that line. Varanis notices and bristles.
Berra nods. “Thanks,” she says again. She probably has not noticed, to be honest.
“Mind your manners,” the Vingan snaps.
Berra looks up at Varanis. “Sorry?” she suggests.
“Not you, him!” She brushes Marta away and stands up, striding across the chamber to loom over the scribe. “She’s my friend. I expect you to treat her with courtesy.”
He looks suitably chagrined, though it may not be genuine. “Yes, Lady Varanis. Is that all you require?”
Varanis glances at Berra.
“That’s all.” Berra looks shocked, under the shell. She manages a smile at him, but it is not a deep one.
He makes his escape.
Berra watches him go. The tablets stay in her hand, getting juggled around a bit a little to keep her hand from burning.
“I’m sorry. I don’t know why he spoke to you as he did,” Varanis says.
“He was a bit different from Xenofos,” Berra says, “But remember I’m not one of you – and he called me Lady, but I think he didn’t mean it.”
Varanis growls softly. “I’ll look into it. You got what you needed? Want me to look them over?”
“I assume he’s written it right.” Berra offers over the two little squares of clay. Serenelda’s has been thumb-signed upside-down.
Varanis peers at the tablets. Her lips move as she reads silently. “Yes, they look fine. He has a neat hand, anyway.”
“Can you ask for a delivery boy to send them? And then I’m done there for a bit, although I guess Lord Kesten will probably reply.”
“I’ll make the arrangements, yes. Reply to be sent here or to your inn?”
“Heort-town,” Berra replies. “So here, and then I’ll be here a lot anyhow.”
Varanis nods. “So, I’m heading to the Market of the Jewels. Want to join me? I’m taking guards, so it won’t be a guard shift for you.”
“Yeah, alright.” Berra looks eager. “Why are we going there?”
Marta has somehow managed to make Varanis’ hair passable. The Vingan is dressed in a simple Esrolian style gown and simple jewellery. “Palm cups for the Prince. I’ve heard there are a couple of good glassmakers in that market in particular.”
“Ah yeah. Good point.” Berra finishes another cup of water, and asks, “Ready?”
“Yes.” Varanis collects up the tablets, waves at the quietly disgruntled Marta, and makes for the door.
Berra gets letters written, but not by Xenofos