Berra — The Trail Of Lenta V
Berra has been called back to the Law Temple of Boldhome. [[[s02:session-44|Session 44]]]
Berra is met at the gate, by a rather impatient scribe. Her beard is white, but she looks young. “You’re late. This is very important, and you are late. Come this way!”
“Sure, sure.” Berra loops one of her swords closed – Wind Tooth stays untied. “What would you have done if we’d been a day further away?” She asks as if genuinely curious.
“Adjurned, obviously. The precedents are clear.”
“Gotcha. What’s this about? I haven’t been told yet, just that I had to come.” Berra is almost bouncing on tiptoes.
“Oh, you are to be a truthful witness. Hence you, of course, as a Sartarite, as no Sartarite Sage has been involved.”
“Aaah, right. I have to listen and remember?” Berra relaxes her shoulders a little, a bad sign to one who knows her. “What are my duties?”
“Ah, no, you misunderstand….” and she leads Berra into a large chamber. Pretty much everyone in here has Beards, apart from Tennebris and a one handed peasant, who merely have beards. One of the Beards turns to the Humakti and says, “Greetings, Berra, daughter of Jarang. You come to give insight on a suit which has been lodged with the Lawspeaker for consideration by the Prince.”
“Yuhuh. I’m giving evidence?” She asks. “You want to get to Truth?” Then she sees the one-handed peasant, and goes, “Oh,” quietly.
“We have heard earlier from the High Priest of Issaries, who states that cooerced trade is not free, and therefore a form of robbery. We shall be consulting the precedents on this. But we have heard from Finvar here as to what happened. What do you know? The High Sword suggested you might shed light.”
“Uh, yeah. But only a bit. And if I don’t know, I might have to guess. I can tell you just what I know – d’you want things that come before that too?”
“Tell the tale, and inform us where it is second hand or supposition.”
“Kay.” Berra holds up her hand for thinking time, and composes herself before beginning. “So, a while back. Lady Varanis was in Nochet. She was looking for volunteers to help Kallyr, but she didn’t find people willing to go, back then. What she did find was someone called Lenta Hulta, who fell for her, got inspired, and tried to bring a force to help her up here. I know she didn’t ask Lenta to – that wasn’t her idea. But it happened, and nobody among them knows how to organise themselves for regimental life. That’s all things I know to be true because I asked Varanis, or because I saw them myself. Now I have to tell you a guess, unless you have questions about that?”
“They’re using a system of shared command. I think that what happened was the woman in command that day, Varaneva, tried to buy food. Big woman, bronze armoured, black horse-hair crest?” Berra draws the Death Rune on herself where they are on Varaneva, looking at the peasant.
“I see?” The Beard indicates she should go on; the person Berra was looking at nods to say that yes, that is the woman in question.
Berra thinks a little, smiling as she rejects a thing to say, and apparently measuring her words with her hands. “So a bit more guessing. She probably had a price in mind, and probably had no idea a man would say no to her, and probably got really angry when it happened. They didn’t come with supplies. Their plan was to buy. And that day, that was what she had to do, and it was her responsibility. She wasn’t the one that Lenta expected to be trouble, but the two she did expect to be trouble were shouting down men just for talking when women were. One of those was a Babeester Gor. That’s the sort of axe-maiden who keeps company with this one, Varaneva.”
It takes her a little time to work out what to say next. “Varaneva must think she was insulted, or that there was an injury done, because she is wearing someone’s hand, and I guess it’s the same one on a necklace round her neck. Two others there, but they’re older. And I’ve heard of a lot of people killed, but I think now that must be wrong, if this is the court case? I was trying to find out whose hand it was, you see. So I do actually need to ask if anyone else was injured, or killed?”
The Loremaster ponders, “We have had no reports of slayings.” He glances to Tennebris, who shakes his head a little. “No. No such reports. But we have heard of mutilation, and theft with menaces. And Finvar has raised a claim for harm, and to replace his hand, and to return his stolen goods, and as punishment for the thief and attacker.”
Berra nods. “Then I can add that Varaneva’s taken his hand and is wearing it as a trophy. She thinks she was offended, or that Finvar was offensive so that she could and should punish him. And she was in command at that point. I don’t think she told the rest of her people, because at least one of them didn’t know it, and she would have expected to. So at least some of the people up there don’t know what happened, but I cannot say whether they would support it. They think that they got told they couldn’t buy food and they are angry because of it, but Lenta didn’t know why. That’s why I think a lot of them don’t know – and they’re blaming Sartar.”
Finvar stands and shouts, “I just said NO! I didn’t want to sell my cows! A free man has the right as to who you sell to!”
Berra nods. “I know. The precedent’s probably going to be the Three Strangers tale, because that’s a basic one.”1Berra Specials Customs (Sartar) and passes Movement to decide to say it.
The Loremaster looks a little surprised. “Well then, Dagger of the Humakti, how would you suggest judgement of this case?”
Then Berra stops. “Wait. Did they take cows?”
Finvar nods, and says, “They said they wanted to buy. I said no. They had weapons, and demanded them. I had a spear. I was scared, so raised it, so they cut my hand off, and THEN bought my cows when my ability to bargain wasn’t… the best.”
“Alright. So punishment and blame depends on whether you are part of the fyrd, part of the warrior band, or if you’ve ever marched to war. Because that bit’s about whether a man is a threat.” She looks at the Loremaster to check that. Beardlessly.
This plus the interpretations of it are what Berra believes is what’s going on. Essentially in coming into someone else’s land they were asking hospitality. But I can re-write that if you think it’s not right.
There is the slightest of nods from the Beard. “All Sartarite men of full age have rallied with the Fyrd. Was he a threat to an Axe of Babeester Gor might be a better question?”
“Humakt left poison in the snake so that it could defend itself. Everyone is a threat, or nobody is part of the storm. But was he threatening? We do not blame the snake that bites in defence of its household. So I think he was not a threat she should have taken an axe to, when he hissed.”
“Very well, and how would you make matters right? For the Snake, and the Snake-striker and all other snakes who might be struck in the future?”
“Before we go on, I think you named her wrong. I don’t think that Axe would be the right word if she’s not wearing iron. Um. But Umath would smite this breaker of hospitality. Orlanth the King made prices for injury, to stop feuds, and that is better. So the cows are eaten, but they must pay the price as assayed, and the money they gave already, if any, is lost because it was not … wait, if it was asked for, then it’s as if a contract was made while too drunk to walk, because the snake was injured. So it’s void, and as the cows can’t be paid back, that’s twice the assayed price, if it’s accepted. Then there’s the injury. That’s separate. But I’d say to put a cost on it you need to ask her in court if she was afraid a fyrdman would kill her. If the answer is yes, then it’s the price of mending it for the person with the lower ransom, and if no, the price of the higher ransom. If the ransom’s the same… I can’t remember. Ransom and a half, I think, or half the other way. But for maiming, not death. And to make it right for the future, I don’t know. Oh… um. Something about the laws of the land and telling people. That’s the Market Recital. Although I don’t know it well enough to give it.” Berra gets to the end of the list, having somehow managed to count up to five on her fingers, for three points. “And probably get them to swear to keep to it. I think. And if she was afraid then he can be counter-sued.” She must have forgotten to say the last bit, back when she should have.2Berra has fun making up extra precedents: “Because the injury and the threat both came from the same person, only the injury is treated with, unless either side is a poet, when words must have more weight, and can be considered as well as injury, for they are a poet’s weapons. The same for insulting horn calls, but not beating the foe’s retreat on your own drum in mockery.” This is a thing now.
The loremaster nods, sagely. “We hear your counsel, Truthspeaker, and will ponder, and give advice to the Prince.” He gestures to Tennebris. Seemingly his time is more wastable than Kallyrs. Or he’s less likely to fly off the handle and punish without thinking. Or both.
There is a slight pause, and then the Greybeard adds, softly, “Now, this is a follower of Thane Varaena, is it not? Does she claim right of restitution?”
“Uh, Varaneva? Or me? Which she?” Berra looks confused.
He frowns, “I think they call her Varanis? The Esrolian of the line of Sartar? This is one of her followers?”
“At the time, no. I don’t know if she is now, but Varanis doesn’t accept followers without being sure of them. So Varaneva wants to be, but Varanis is going to be finding out what happened, and I don’t know if she has yet. But when she did it, she wasn’t one of the Lady’s followers. I don’t know the rulings on people joining someone with a case to come, and I don’t know if Varanis knows there’s going to be a case. Can you be a follower if you don’t know that so you don’t tell someone?”
“An interesting question, which would take some time to research. Would you care to commission such a search?”
“Yeah…. why? Because if it comes up you need a precedent anyhow. So it might be that you need to know it, and otherwise I don’t need to know.” Berra looks a bit puzzled. But are you asking if Varaneva was asking for right of restitution, or Varanis? That bit, I didn’t catch.”
“Varanis, of course. The Thane may view disciplining her people, and making good their faults as her responsibility.”
“I can’t speak for her. She’ll want to make good the maiming cost, but I don’t know how she’ll do it – I can’t tell you what she’s going to be doing right now, so I can’t say if it’ll be her responsibilty, even.” Berra shrugs.
The Loremaster nods and makes a shooing gesture.
. o ( Oh yes. Eril! )
Berra bows, retreats, and heads uphill to the temple. THE temple.
“Do ducks chew food for their children, like humans do?”
“How does a Fireblade spell know the right shape to make?”
“Was it Yelm’s spirit in the underworld, or all of Yelm?”
3) All, ath I underthtand it
“Can you get a Fireblade to make a different shape to the sword that it’s cast on?”
“… how come, if Death separates your spirit, all of Yelm went?”
2) I don’td know. Perhapth itth different for Godss.
“But Flesh Man got separated.” Berra stares in confusion at duck.
1) Ith Fleth man REALLY a God?
“He didn’t have a thing to do. But there were a lot of dead gods and their bodies got left behind and their bones made metal.”
1) Yes, but we know Yelm dethended because of the greatd Darknesss. If his body stayedd there, it wouldn’t have happenedt.
“Maybe his spirit was what made his body glow?”
1) Perhapts tho. You could assk a Yelmian? But then why doess the bodty move from sunrise to sunthetd, rather than the sspirit?
“Good point. I mean, I guess the spirit could glow, but that might be weird. And I guess he had a body. Maybe it wasn’t a good Separation, though, and he died by going to the underworld. Slowly. Maybe he didn’t know how to die? Because it hadn’t happened much before.”
1) Perhaps so.
“Um, I’ve been having weird dreams for a couple of nights now. I was standing behind the altar in the Palace Temple, and I saw both sides at once… What does it mean?”
He shrugs. 1) Leth cheethe at bedtime.
“No, I mean… the two things that are one thing but not. If you stand at the altar.”
“If you stand at the altar – behind it, in the right place – and look down the blade, towards the door, you can see both of the sides of the hilt. And they’re different, but separate. They were one thing once, with the blade now between them.” Berra sounds confused in explaining, but not worried. “And I’ve been dreaming of that gulf since, but it means something I can’t quite get.”
D’Val nods gravely, then says, 1) When you understand that thecret, you will be ready.
Berra nods. “Gotcha. Thank you.” And a few minutes later she asks, “How do you dry a scabbard that’s got really wet?”
“Time and heat. “
Berra has both questions and answers
- 1Berra Specials Customs (Sartar) and passes Movement to decide to say it.
- 2Berra has fun making up extra precedents: “Because the injury and the threat both came from the same person, only the injury is treated with, unless either side is a poet, when words must have more weight, and can be considered as well as injury, for they are a poet’s weapons. The same for insulting horn calls, but not beating the foe’s retreat on your own drum in mockery.” This is a thing now.