Unhearing

Berra — Unhearing

1627, Sea Season, Disorder Week


Context

1627, Sea Season, Disorder Week, around Windsday. [[[s02:session-30|Session 30]]]

Events

Evening on the third day of travel. Berra approaches Xenofos in the growing dark. From the front. Not holding any weapons.

“Hello there little cousin.”

“Hey, Xenofos.” Berra, her Heortling clear, drops down into an infantry squat with one leg extended. “I’m putting everyone on guard once or twice before we get to the Grazelands, so they know each other and the shapes of things in the dark. You alright for tonight?”

“Sure, if need be.”

He gets that head tilt of the Humakti looking at him and thinking. She is taking in what she sees, with curiosity that would be out of place on anyone not so honest about their curiosity. Even so, some would call it invasive.

Scholar is leaning to his saddle and looks back up to the the little warrior. His brown eyes reflect the flicker of the campfire there is melancholy smile on his lips.

Berra nods, and rolls to her feet, conversation done.



The midnight watch. Salid has tapped Xenofos on the shoulder to wake him, and gone to turn in. The creak of leather and the schhhhinggg of bronze lamellae approaches a few minutes later.

Esrolian is strapping on his armour.

“Hey cous.” A beat-pause, and then the correct word. “Cousin.”

“Hello, Berra. So it is you…”

“Not many other people I trust to make sure I know what you know,” Berra replies. “But you don’t have to see… you don’t have to say anything other than guard stuff.” Correct words. Terrible vocabulary.

“I don’t quite follow, little cousin. I think I know the words, they seem simple enough.”

“Uh… oh. Right. The first bit. I want to make sure the guards know what’s going on and who you are, and that you know who all they are, and that I’ve seen you talk to each other, so I know you know as well. That way I know not to have to worry you don’t recognise each other.” Berra gives Xenofos a look to be sure he got that. It’s a little like the curious look, but swift, and mostly hidden by darkness.

“So you want to introduce me to others and make sure I know them and they know me?”

Berra nods. “How you walk, how you move in the dark. And you know them as well.”

“On zebra if there is a fight, if I can…” there is a silent chuckle ” not that it is always possible.”

“Yep.” She is agreeing, but she goes on. “We’re going to be in what’s probably a big camp. I know that people walk into those and out again, but I want us all to know who’s around, and be aware of them. To be in the habit of listening and knowing.”

“Both prudish- prude- wise things no doubt.”

“Prident. No, Prudent.” Berra works that one out. “We’ll do a walk, and see what’s up.”

He nods, donning his helmet. “Not that I would always wear this at night… Does not hinder hearing or seeing that much. But sometimes even little is too much.”

“If you’re in armour now, we’ll do the less armoured version later. I’ve been mostly in the leather helmet.” She steps back, ready to move off.

“Am I staying for watch now or just making the round?”

“I’ll dump you off on a comfy rock,” Berra replies.

“In that case…” he picks up his shield and the pair of javelins.

Berra nods in approval. “Right. We’re close to a road and a couple of shrines, and I’m not expecting any trouble.” It’s the start of a brief she often gives. “Which does not mean trouble is not expecting us. This is bad ambush country but half a mile away is good hiding country. Count up the animals, count up the bushes, count up the people. Don’t muddle them up.” And that’s it, she’s walking.

“Has there been noct…. any traffic after dark?”

“A drunk man walked past in the early watch. Didn’t fall in a ditch. It was still light enough to see him but not make out his colours. And a couple of deer were on the road.” Berra indicates the direction of each with big hand gestures. The man went that way. The deer crossed like that.

He nods.

Berra walks in a path that looks like she has already walked it, until she veers away and walks in a different direction, stopping from time to time to look into the dark.

Xenofos notes the path and follows her example , with some stops to listen.

When he stops, she stops.1Xenofos fails Survival. Too busy looking at Berra. Could get lost easily.

After a time, it is clear they are looping around the camp, but where exactly they are is hard to tell.

“Lead the way?” Berra asks.2Xenofos passes Listen to find the camp.

Xenofos stays still for space of hundred heartbeats, listening to the sounds of the night. The zebras, bisons and horses are almost quiet, but not quite.

Berra does much the same, although she moves enough be taking the sights as well as the sounds.

Very quietly Xenofos asks “You did not show me the guardpost, did you leave them a password?”3Awkward OOC questions, man!

Berra grins in the dark. “Approach one hand up, bow when challenged and say your name. Nothing more.”

Xenofos straightens a bit and starts walking toward the sound of animals. He is not trying to hide.

Berra follows behind, almost hidden. Her footsteps and armour sounds are not those of someone moving quietly on purpose, however, unless she is very bad at it.

Xenofos takes time to look into darkness.

As he spots outline of a guard Xenofos stops and gestures down with his right hand.

Berra takes a knee.

The guard, in Praxian-accented words that some strangely around baboon tusks, says, “Who?”

Xenofos shows his empty right hand and calls out. “Xenofos and Berra!”

Berra waves too, standing. “Berra, and Xenofos,” she says.

“Advance,” the baboon orders.

Berra steps into motion, although not so fast as to get in front of Xenofos, or even stop him from stopping her.

Xenofos walks forward sword hand up and open.

“Just two?” The baboon holds up that many fingers to be sure.

“Didn’t see anyone following me,” Berra says to Xenofos.

He looks at her. In darkness it is hard to see his expression.

“Yeah, we’re done,” she says. “Just let him know how many. I didn’t ask him to ask that, but it’s good.”

“Two.”

“Come on in.” The baboon drops off the rock where he is sitting. “Be a few hundred, Methi. Checking trail.”

Berra makes a tiny noise of surprise, but seems pleased by that.

“Your companion is up the trail?”

“Check your trail,” the baboon says. “Methi holds the place.” He points to a shadow in the rock which definitely and completely does not hold a person.

“Uh…” Berra cannot see Methi either, it seems.4Xenofos passes Scan despite Berra being around. Berra gets a special and Methi… criticalled ‘hide’.

Nothing. Just darkness.

“Oh, right,” Berra says, a moment before the texture of the darkness changes, and Methi moves enough that movement can be seen. Then there’s nothing again.

Methi is not a name Xenofos knows, but it seems to be a baboon name for one of the trollkin. That shape was a bit like Salid’s.

Xenofos nods to baboon.

The baboon lopes into the dark.

“Well hidden, Methi,” Berra says. “Xenofos, we’ll come back here for a bit, but inner route first.”

“Right…”

A couple of minutes away, Berra says in awe, “I did not see him at all. Did you?”

He shakes his head. “No”

“Impressive. And he’d have been able to see us in the dark. And that baboon, the big one? I think they’re both better than they’re being paid for.”

He shrugs. “I would have no idea what Irillo pays.”

“I know what he tried to pay me, once. And I promised him a free caravan, although I don’t know this is it.” Berra now walks with more attention on the inner camp than the outer dangers. However, the way she looks out from time to time makes it clear she is not ignoring that. She might be after a baboon.

He follows her relying more on his ears than eyes to take in the surroundings.

Snores. Breathing sounds. Clinks. Rustles. A tiny crackle of a low fire breaking through embers, but not enough light to tell where it happened. Her armour. Her breathing. Her voice. “Want to go find the comfy rock?”

Xenofos is distinctily aware of her close presence. “The guard spot? Better not be too comfy, to stay alert.”

“We can rough it up a bit for you. Would you say soft furnishings and a small feast would be too much?” She just checks that. Maybe she is teasing, maybe offering to share the joke.

He shakes his head. “Sitting down as guard can be…”

“Boring as any waiting, yeah. But I won’t send in any cymbal players. It might be a distraction.” They are most of the way around to the rock now.

He just nods, something perhaps futile from someone following. In the dark.

Berra slows down as she gets back there, obviously seeking in the dark for evidence of the trollkin from this new angle. “Do you see him now?” Her voice is a low murmur, her expression eager yet frustrated, as far as can be seen.

Xenofos is a bit startled to find out how close she is but manages not to bump into her.

He listens for a moment. That trollkin is well hidden and not moving. There’s a baboon on the rock, though.

He shakes his head, taps her shoulder and points toward the baboon, lifting just one finger.

Berra, apparently entirely oblivious to the traffic jamp she just caused, creeps forwards. Then as Xenofos taps her shoulder she looks, yelps, and falls over sideways. “Whathe….” 5Fumbled Listen, failed DEX x 5. 00, 97. Ouch.

Instinctively Xenofos tries to stop her from falling.6Special on DEX*5, simple pass on STR vs her SIZ.

Berra gets a foot under herself, and manages to use Xenofos to help her not fall over. Or, to put it another way, he catches her.

He stumbles a bit but manages to hold them both in upright position.

Berra gets steady and says, “Thanks,” then, “Not a problem,” to the baboon who is now approaching to investigate.”

Xenofos asks, “Did I scare you, apologies…”

“No. Startled. I wasn’t expecting att… anything from that direction.” She seems entirely calm now, but very close. Her arm is relaxed. No armour on that one.

He realizes that he is still holding onto her arm. He lets go gently and slowly like his fingers would want to hold memory of her. “Quite… I tried to point the one I saw without making noise…”

“Yeah. Seen. Sorry.” She brushes off her arm as she steps away.

“So… the point where … the baboon? was guarding.”

“Harthrap. And the trollkin, I don’t know the name of. I couldn’t work out who it was. That’s your comfy rock.” Berra shrugs. “It’s more comfortable if you’re a baboon, probably.”

“Right. And the other guard, and the relief protocol?”

“You wake your next one when you get off. Spend half your time with one, half with the next. Coming from inside there’s no password, but don’t try to creep up. Don’t go to bed until your next is up and moving.” Berra squares her shoulders, then rolls them out slowly as she gets ready to drop off Xenofos with people who just heard what happened.

“Salid woke me up? Who should I wake? And when?”

“Salid came off, and I’m on next. I’m nearly done for the bit where I don’t sleep enough. Hour-long, and you’re only going to get one watch awake.” She does not look or sound tired, but she is giving information only by having it pulled from her, which is unusual.

He peers at her silently in the dark for quite some time.7Pass on Insight.

Berra walks forward, tells the baboon who is up now, tells the trollkin well-done after checking there is a trollkin hiding, and tells everyone who is on for the next watch. Takes the report. Blushes a little in the dark, in embarrassment.

“All well?” Berra asks the baboon, as he slopes off. “Yep,” he says. “Talk. Morning.”

She nods, and sighs. “Methi? Patrol a sec.”

The patch of darkness that is the trollkin slips away, more visible when moving. Berra watching him out of sight, before turning to the outside and staring.

Xenofos moves to shade of the rock baboon was sitting on. As he passes her he murmurs. “Sorry.”

“Uh?” She looks at him, and from the anger and embarrassment, calm blossoms. “No, not your fault.”

“Caused by my action, if not my intent. My fault.”

“Well, maybe. But I was trying to keep an eye on whether there was a baboon to my outside, as well as find the enlo, and then … I shouldn’t have been taking it seriously like that. I should be watching, not trying to beat the other watchers. Sorry I wasn’t up to it.”

He nods, but does not comment.
====
Berra and Xenofos fall over each other and fail to impress their own guards