Twin Win

1629, Sea Season, Death Week, Waterday


Context

Berra is napping after leading worship of the Hero Cult overnight. Session SA4.08.

Events

It is some time after dawn. Sacrifices have been made, as they say, and now the meat of them is cooking. Around noon will be the season’s great feast, but the secrets that are told in darkness are over, and like any soldier with sense, Berra is getting her head down. Her room is bare but for a bed well away from any walls and some panniers put down in a corner. Light angles in from the room beyond, the one it is her responsibility to defend should the Temple be attacked, but this one is dim and cold.

Outside her door, there is the muffled sound of voices.1With a Critical on Scan, Berra’s snake bracelet wakes her.

Berra rolls to her feet as if she has been awake for an age, and pads towards the door. “Clap or go away?” she suggests.

“Now you’ve…”
“No, you. Just clap or something. We can’t…”
Two. Definitely two voices, bickering.

Someone claps on the other side of the door.

“Come on in.” Berra is standing not far from the door, rolling out her shoulders.

A pair of sinewy youths with unruly black hair and determined expressions enter the room. They are alike enough that they are definitely kin, possibly siblings or close cousins. Maybe even twins. Younger than Berra by a couple of years at least.

Berra nods her head. “Welcome to my House,” she says formally. She is slightly rumpled from sleep, but looks alert. Lord Eril’s sword is buckled on, and Wind Tooth is scabbarded on her bed, just visible under the blankets. She gives them a brief, wary smile.

“Um, yeah. Hi. I’m Nayale and this is my brother, Harmakt.” They have clan tattoos just visible on their biceps, below the edge of their tunics. Leaping horses of the Narri Clan. They are Colymar.

“How’c’n I help you?” Berra looks them up and down for the state of their swords and their general readiness, too. Nayale gets a little more looking than Harmakt.

Everything about them looks… new. Maybe not new in terms of the kit – this is hand-me down armour. But new to them and carefully mended and cleaned. There’s a strap that clearly been replaced on Harmakt’s shoulder, for example. Nayale looks like her vambraces are buckled as tightly as they can be, but they are still just a bit too big.

They glance at each other and then back at Berra. “Um… well… your exile is almost over right?” Harmakt blurts, as his sister says, “Did you really summon Harrek and fight with him?”

They glare at each other for a moment, then turn curious eyes back on the Wyter priest.

Berra sighs. “Alright, that’s a lot. No, I didn’t summon him. Yes, he did appear on the battlefield where I was. No, I’m not telling you why.” She glances from one to the other. “Exile’s over in Fertility Week, and then I’m heading away for a trip somewhere – into and out of Clearwine and then elsewhere. Why?”

“Are you a hero?” Harmakt asks. Before Berra has a chance to answer, Nayale hisses at him, “Don’t ask dumb questions.”

“No,” Berra says. “And I don’t want to be. I’ve done enough – I’m going to support the Temple and the Hero that we have.” She seems completely unsurprised to be answering this sort of question, although faintly bemused to have them in stereo.

Nayale takes a deep breath, then plunges in. “We wanna follow you. And the Hero, of course. We heard about the battle and well, there are other stories too, and we want to help.”2Berra fails Insight.

Her brother nods enthusiastically.

Berra heaves a sigh. “Are you used to sitting still for a long time and being really bored? How do you deal with having to be quiet?”

“We can do that if we have to,” Nayale promises.

“I’m better at it than her,” Harmakt says before his sister even finishes her statement. She gives him an indignant look, but does not take up his invitation to argue.

“Right. I don’t really like having two people around me, in particular two who are closely related. It means a really awkward time if you both die together in an ambush. Are you prepared to go to Nochet in about a week?”

At first, they crestfallen, but as her words sink in, they glance at each other with identical expressions of excitement. “Yes!” they reply simultaneously.

Looking at them like this, it seems very possible they could be twins.

“Right. First off, if I hear from anyone that you are going to Nochet, you’re not going. If I hear from anyone that I am, you’re not going. And if it all goes balls-up, then I won’t be able to take you, but I’ll try to see you good. I’ll want you to practice quiet and calm, but you do get to ask questions, just not all the time. I’ll also want to see how good you are with every weapon you claim, and we can start in half an hour. I need breakfast, and … Navale? Sorry, not quite that… you need some vambraces that fit. Just curl up your arm, let me see how big you are?”

The young woman flushes, but flexes her arm as asked. “Da said I’d grow into them,” she says a little defensively.

“Probably, but you haven’t yet.” Berra scowls thoughtfully.

“Mm… Not fitting mine. Still, you’ll bulk out. I’m going to want you in Wilmskirk, watching out at the gate for me. Start of Fertility Week, look out for me from the North. Stay there that week, and if I don’t come, something went wrong. You got money to eat on if you do that?”

I’ve got an aunt we can visit,” Nayale says thoughtfully. “She could make room for a bit and we can take turns helping her out while the other keeps watch. If that would be acceptable?”

Harmakt looks like he might argue, but then bites his lip and just nods. “We could do that.”

“As long as it’s done, that’s fine. While you’re there, make sure you visit the Shrine. Lord Eril learned the first secrets of Humakt there. Pay your respects to the shrine, not to him, and to the god there. I’ll be checking on how you behaved to find out how you think good behaviour is.” Berra poinks a brow. “Right. Breakfast. And then spar.”

They look at each other again and grin. “Want us to get you your breakfast, Lady Berra?” Nayale asks.

“Yeah, no. If you ever have to, I can’t eat vegetables and I won’t eat the meat of birds or of eggs, but I can get my own.” Berra hides a yawn, and turns to get Wind Tooth. “I got the rank to get people to get things for me, but I ain’t got the habit.”

“I heard you was a duck,” Harmakt blurts suddenly. His sister looks horrified and steps on his foot.

“Go get our gear,” she hisses. “I’ll escort Lady Berra.”

“I am.” Berra does not explain. “Let’s sweep by the kitchen – dunno if you know this yet, but for feast mornings there’s usually bread and some kind of dipping sauce and oil. I don’t get to eat the sauce – vegetables.”

They fall into step side by side and just behind her. A pair of well-matched guards to protect Eril’s Wyter Priest. If she stops suddenly, they might trip.

Berra does what she said, taking them to the kitchens, showing them the path through the shouting for the snack food, and extracting them to the training hall. “What you good at?” she asks, with a lump of bread in her cheek.

“Broadsword,” they answer in unison. “Bow too.” Harmakt adds, “I’m better with the bow, but she’s better with a knife. She can skin an’ gut a rabbit faster than anyone and you don’t wanna know what that looks like when she has to take it to a person’s belly…” He trails off as if becoming uncomfortable with his own words. His sister pales, but says nothing more. “Raiders. Great Winter. Tried to take everything we had an’ woulda left us bare in the snow.”

Doing the maths, they’d have been children at the time.

Berra gives them a glance. “I know. I’ve killed people just about every way that’s sharp, by now. You get to knowing. So. I want to see you two against each other, and then grab someone else each and show me against them as well, in turn.” It’s a change of subject, definitely.

When they pair off it’s easy to see that they are competent for a couple of people who have been training most of their young lives. They are well-matched and it’s hard to tell if one is better than the other. They demonstrate reasonable control, putting effort and enthusiasm into their fight, without over-committing.

The siblings seem to anticipate what the other will do and it’s a long time before Nayale makes the first touch. It’s a solid thwack to her brother’s sword arm that makes him wince and step back, lowering his sword.

She flashes a look of victory at him and his own expression is one of good-humoured chagrin. “Next time,” he promises.

They look to have broken a light sweat and their breath comes quickly from the exertion, but neither is gasping.

Berra nods. “And now with people you don’t know.” She nods to the boy. “You first, Harmakt.” Berra is interested in the opponents they choose as well as how well they are doing. Harmakt’s is better than his opponent, Nayale not quite as good as hers.

Harmakt easily beats his chosen opponent. The other warrior is an initiate who is a little older and has seen more combat, but his blows lack oomph. Harmakt is just as fast, but better at making each blow count. There’s power in the young man’s sword arm that wears down his opponent and isn’t long before he thumps the initiate with a strike to the chest that knocks the air from him.

Berra watches with the narrowed eyes of a professional taking all this in. She just nods when it is over, and gestures to Nayale to try the same.

Nayale’s sparring partner is quick, but so is she. She is light on her feet and confident in her approach to the fight. As they exchange blow after blow, she demonstrates her ability to both initiate and respond to attacks. The young woman begins to gain some ground and decides to press her advantage. Her opponent’s sword tip lowers, as if he’s tiring and she grins, sensing imminent victory. It’s a trap and she falls for it. As she goes high, he goes low and her sword sweeps through empty air while his lands a sharp poke to her armpit.

She grunts with the shock of it, but does not drop the weapon. Instead, she lowers her blade, steps back, and gives her opponent a salute, acknowledging his victory.

Her expression, when she turns to Berra, is shuttered, though her shoulders droop a little.

Berra nods. “Bruises mean you don’t bleed later,” she says. “Right.” She looks around as if deciding whether to grab someone, or just exercise.

“Kaay. One more thing – let’s see you side by side. Then we’ll go talk a bit, and I’ll know a bit more about what I’m doing.” Berra rolls out her shoulders like she wants to be the one fighting.

They look at each other and once again, their grins are nearly identical. Nayale rolls out her own shoulders, wincing a little at what must surely be an impressive bruise forming. Her brother steps up beside her, taking the injured side. They radiate confidence. “Who’d you wan’ us to fight?” Harmakt asks.

Berra gestures to their two recent opponents. “Herreg, is it? And … sorry, can’t remember.”

“Tarrag,” says not-Herreg. He nods to his new partner, a man who names himself as Varan.

The siblings ready themselves.

As the fight begins, it is immediately obvious that there’s something different. Alone, the young warriors are merely competent. Together, they are good. And, to the trained eye, they show the earliest signs of brilliance. They have the uncanny ability to know exactly where they are in relation to each other. They protect and attack and in the moment of battle there is no ego or competition or even glory-seeking.3They get a Special, and the GM notes that they can act to augment each other.

They make quick work of their opponents, taking Tarrag down at the knees, leaving him long enough to take out Varan with what would have been a decapitating blow by Nayale, and then returning to Tarrag to finish him off.

When they step back, they aren’t even breathing hard.

Berra nods. “That’s pretty good,” she says. “Keep that up with the rest of how you behave.” She gives them a little smile. “Let’s head back by my room, and you can tell me without turning your heads now how many people are in this room.” She makes the demand she would make of a bodyguard without changing her tone, just looks at them to see what they have noticed.

“About 150,” Harmakt4Passed Battle but failed INTx5 says, as his sister5Passed Battle and INTx5 says “200, give or take.” They are back to talking over each other.

Berra accepts that with a nod, and gets on with the next thing.

  • 1
    With a Critical on Scan, Berra’s snake bracelet wakes her.
  • 2
    Berra fails Insight.
  • 3
    They get a Special, and the GM notes that they can act to augment each other.
  • 4
    Passed Battle but failed INTx5
  • 5
    Passed Battle and INTx5