1626, Storm Season, Disorder Week
The group has just fought a crocodile, extinct in Prax for a very long time. After Rune Messiah (Session 2.26).
It is early on in the evening. A crocodile has been skinned in Prax for the first time in … in Time, perhaps. The skin is being stretched by someone who knows how to do it. The jawbone has been excised. Teeth and claws of crocodiles are available to those who wish to boast.
Berra is out practicing sword work. Great-sword work, with a new bit of rattan scrounged from the caravan somehow. She is starting to get the hang of it, according to her smile.
Varanis approaches, watching the Humakti train without interrupting the work. She is dressed in borrowed Praxian leathers, her armour set aside for the moment.
Berra’s work is over within a few minutes, starts again, and finishes as the tip of her sword quivers through the last slow-motion attempt on her own shadow. She scowls at it, and then gives Varanis a bright grin, changing expression on the instant.
“Hello, Berra.”1Berra gets a critical Scan and a failed insight, to spot what Varanis is carrying but have no idea what it means to her.
Berra bows to the sword in her hands and goes to put it on the rock where she has her water bottle and her bronze helmet – complete with feather.
Varanis has something in her fist.
Berra raises a brow. “You’ve got something on your mind,” she says.
The rain dots down, heavy blotches of water on mud and puddles. Berra has been doing her work on a fortuitous outcropping of one of Ernalda’s rocks.
Varanis stares off in the direction of the Paps, then shakes her head. “I do, I suppose. But that’s not why I’m here. I brought you something.” She opens her fist palm up and stares down at it. With her right hand, she picks it up to hold out to Berra. There’s a leather cord, and suspended from it is one of the large crocodile teeth.
Berra looks at it, and reaches out her hand to take it. “Huh.” Her expression is one of puzzlement. She doesn’t know what to think about this.
Varanis shrugs. “It’s hurried work. I’ll do better when I have more time. But… there’s something about this encounter that struck me as important. Crocodiles don’t belong here, Berra. I’ve seen them before and their preferred home is distinctly different from anything I’ve seen in Prax.” She frowns thoughtfully. “I don’t know why this is important, but I feel it in my bones. It is something to remember.”
Berra looks down at it. “I’m not sure I want to commemorate it with this,” she says. “I … I didn’t finish it. But I was here.” She goes to put the tooth by the helmet, and then picks it up again. “Can you cut it in half for me? Lengthways? I can if you want. But I should have this flat.”
Varanis eyes the tooth speculatively. “Maybe not this one, because I’ve already drilled through it. But I have others. I think I can do it without shattering the tooth, if I go slowly enough.”
“I… don’t do it yet. I don’t know how to wear it yet.” She looks briefly troubled, then shrugs. “These were the teeth he told me he’d wear. So I shouldn’t be afraid to. But I think I’m still thinking about how we got here. I don’t know. It’s… I’m… I haven’t worked out what to think yet.”
“He who?” comes the confused reply.
“The troll. He was after the teeth, and the power. I don’t think he really understood – he just thought they were powerful.” Berra seems unworried, and pops the top from her water flask, her left hand still full of dangling tooth.
“These are symbols, tokens of memory. They aren’t imbued with any power that I can sense.”
“Nah… yeah, I know. I mean, I guess. But … I’m. Um, I guess there’s a new thing in Prax now. And we did it.”
“Unless he was alone. The ones in Esrolia don’t tend to be complete loners though. You should see what it’s like when several of them compete for a kill. It stays with you.”
“If he was alone, he got here anyhow. Somehow. By magic. And they should live in salt water. And… that one can’t have washed down from anything. I just don’t know how it happens and for some reason I want to.”
“I feel the same. And Two Blue Scales… did the others tell you?” Varanis crosses her arms, looking off in the direction of the Paps again. With effort, she brings her gaze back to Berra’s.
“Uhh?” That looks like a no. Berra hooks her waterskin around her arm so she can lift it without letting go of the tooth in her left hand.
“The newtling? While we were waiting for the waters to recede, he emerged from the …. wadi?” She waves back in the general direction they’d come from. “Suuraki spoke with him. It seems he thinks we brought water back to Prax. Possibly that I’d brought water back to Prax, though I’m not entirely certain I understood everything.”
“And there’s one hell of a lot of water.” Berra shrugs. “But it’s storm season. That’s going to be an interesting story to sing.”
Varanis winces when Berra mentions the singing of stories, but she doesn’t comment on it. Instead, she asks “I’ve never been in Prax in Storm Season…. is this abnormally wet?”
“I don’t know. We’ll have to ask. But it seems to me more than usual because… well, this would be a lot for Sartar.”
“It feels like a lot, even for Esrolia, but…. last year, I was in the Palazzo and, if I’m honest, in my rooms for most of Storm Season. My memory of the weather may not be entirely reliable.”
“Oh yeah.” Berra thinks about it. “Um, where was I?” She counts back on her fingers. “Oh … the Duck! There was a hailstorm.”
“The Duck? D’Val?”
“Yeah. I was training. My … uh, you probably worked out I’m small, right? And I don’t really hold up well if you hit me. So I was getting some of the weakness worked out of me. At least I got to spend Dark-time inside. But when it was warm enough that the ice wasn’t likely to kill me, I spent a lot of time running up from the great gate to North Fort. With rocks.” Berra grimaces.
“This Dark Season was the first time I’ve done any training in cold conditions,” Varanis admits. “It was… interesting.”
“The ramp would be a frozen waterfall if people didn’t clear it,” Berra says. “So I was inside for that. But as soon as it got melty I was running. Rajar came and ate by the roadside and cheered me on sometimes.” That amuses her, in a wide-smile way.
“So, the Tourney Altar we’re taking you to. What do you know of it?”
“Um. Its name?” Berra guesses.
The Vingan’s eyes widen. “Have you tried asking Rajar or the other Praxians? It’s wise to have some idea of what you are walking into.”
“Yeah, I know. But I haven’t yet started thinking about it. I’ve been thinking about other things. I can ask the caravan too – they were going to go there, but the path got rained out.” Berra is wide-eyed, a little distracted just by the thought of the contents of her own mind right now.
“I’m not sure what to expect at the Paps. A temple or shrine, from what I understand. I just know I need to go. And Berra… I know I said I’d ensure you get to the Tourney Altar on time.” Grey-blue eyes meet brown with an uncertain gaze. “I might not be able to go with you. I feel… called, I suppose. I don’t know how long I’ll need to stay at the Temple. It might be that I can just go and do my duties to Vinga, but I feel like that might not be enough this time. I can’t explain it.”
“That’s fine. We’ve got enough people that I can dump off the caravan, look for a companion or two, and get back.” Behind her people are starting to serve up cooked crocodile. “I’ll be on a bison. Maybe with a Rajar. I’ll be fine. You don’t have to get me there in person.”
“If that happens, where do we meet next? The Tourney Altar or the Block?”
“It’s not looking like I’ll make the Altar by Wildday, so that means I’ll be there for Death Day instead. If Nala’s taking a while… Well, where do you want to meet? I think you need to come past Tourney Altar, or near, to get to the Block anyhow.”
Then, being Berra she adds, “I think.”
“I’m almost entirely reliant on our Praxian guides. I think we would pass close to the Altar en route to the Block, but I’m not certain. Perhaps it would be wise to set a date and place of meeting, just in case?”
Berra thinks about it. “If you’re not at Tourney Altar by the end of Death Week, I’ll set off for the Block,” she says. “And if I don’t see you there by Storm Bull’s Day, I’ll head to Boldhome.”
Varanis nods. “That works. Thank you.”
The wind changes, bringing the smell of cooked meat over. Berra is still failing to notice that food is ready.
Varanis, on the other hand, rarely misses cues for food. “Dinner,” she comments. “You hungry?”
Berra perks up. “Yes!”
- 1Berra gets a critical Scan and a failed insight, to spot what Varanis is carrying but have no idea what it means to her.