Up and Over

1629, Sea Season, Movement Week, Windsday


Berra shows her charges how she used to travel over the rooftops. Session SA4.16.


Nayale returns from the Library. She looks tired, but far less unhappy than she did in the early morning when Varanis escorted her to it. The Vingan is nowhere in sight.

“The Wind Lord told me to tell you she’ll be at her temple most of today, Lady Berra,” she reports.

Berra nods, stands from her work of tapping out a soft bronze dagger edge to the hardness she wants, and says, “I’m bored stuck inside. Did she take you over the roofs?”

“No. She said she wanted me to arrive as calm as possible, so we went at ground level. She didn’t even try to take any dodgy alleys today.” Nayale looks like she’s not quite sure what to think of that.

Berra head-tilts. “Wanna do what I did, when I was your age? Well, about your age…?”

Nayale glances at her brother, who has been lurking quietly in the background. They grin at each other and reply “yes!” in an enthusiastic chorus.

“Right. We’re going to take one sword each, whatever armour you like, and we’re going to race from here to the Temple of Humakt – the start of the path by the killing ground, not the gate. Magic you’re allowed is anything that makes you stronger or faster, or able to climb, clamber, whatever. No god-magic, just your own.” Berra considers her swords. “Damn. Alright, mine go on my shoulder. Get yourselfs and me some water while I get my kit ready.”

They dash to obey, nearly colliding as they compete to be the one to fill Berra’s flask.

Berra tells her sword, “We’re going for a run. You don’t get to use your magic, but I’ll try to tell you where we’re going. Oh, and nobody get arrested or die.”

Harmakt and Nayale just grin more broadly. Challenge accepted.

Berra rolls out her shoulders. “We’ll start on the ground so we can lock this room and leave the windows closed,” she decides, as she gets finished off. She is in her brown leather armour, with two swords1‘One sword each’ but she can’t leave either behind. and a big smile.

Both youths are already in armour. Nayale because she’d gone to the Library and Harmakt because he’d been guarding the Wyter Priest. They are taut with barely contained excitement.

Berra walks out of the door and down the stairs. “You don’t really know the area, so… well, try to imagine it with a roof or two on fire, and the sounds of fighting on the walls.”

Their eyes widen as they consider it. “Only two?” Nayale asks just as Harmakt says “How much fighting? How close?”

“I was in the… uhh… it translates as rapid response unit. The roof runners. We’d go to where we were needed as fast as we could. So it was different every day.”

The common room of the inn has its usual patrons. A handful of people in for a midday meal. The level of noise is low compared to the evening meal.

Berra lets the youths go in front, as she thinks about the route.2We roll for speed, knowledge of the area, climbing, luck.

“Start as soon as we’re out of the door,” the young Priest says. “Any speed you like.”

“But, how do we know which direction to go?” Harmakt asks.

Berra shrugs. “Watch me, if you like?” she suggests.

He nods, while Nayale checks the door. When she decrees it safe, she steps through, while Harmakt waits for Berra.

Berra goes out, turns left, and walks along to where there is an old half wall and a couple of good handholds. She hauls herself up without slowing down much, until she is at the top. “This way’s easy. After that, you’ll be able to tell where you are, and you’re on your own.”

They follow her up easily enough. Once again, Harmakt lets his sister take the lead. On the roof, they look around, taking in the city sprawled out around them.

Berra wastes no time. She just sets off at a slow jog for the next roof. She at least is looking around while in motion.

The others follow, using Berra as their mark for pace for now, while they get used to how they need to move on the roof top surfaces.

“Where’s the target?” Harmakt asks as Nayale says, “How far and in what direction does our goal lie?”

Berra says, “If I need to tell you, you’re not racing me. If you can’t see, get to where you can. I might not even be going the right way.” She grins. “What time is it? Where’s the sun? Where are we in the city? Where’s the Library? Where’s the big palace? You’ve been to the Temple to worship already. You must have marked where the biggest buildings were, right?”

They nod, but look nervous. Then Harmakt peers around him, his hunter’s eyes taking in the details. “It’s like… oh.” He grins suddenly, and takes off over the roofs. He’s picked a direction at a slight angle to the one Berra was using. Nayale calls after him, but he just whoops and keeps going.

“He’s going to break his neck,” his sister grumbles. She glances between his retreating back and Berra as though torn.

“Go your own way,” Berra says. “We’re racing.” Then she’s off, going to the right of Harmakt’s path.

Behind her, Berra hears a frustrated growl, but if she were to turn back, she’d see the young woman resolutely picking another direction and breaking out into a run.

Berra does not look back, but she does look sideways and up and down. She keeps the pace of a trained infanteer, which does mean she keeps to the flatter roofs. Her choice means going faster, but taking a longer route.

Harmakt opts for a direct, if adventurous path with ups and downs and bouts of climbing. He has his landmarks in sight and though he makes one poor choice along the way that has him briefly having to dance through a maze of clothing laid out on rooftops, he’s generally done quite well for himself.

Berra arrives at a twelve foot drop, and makes a mess of getting into position to drop down safely, so that Harmakt gets to see her trot up half a minute after he arrived. She is not breathing like she has sprinted, but definitely looks like she has been working.

She is met by a mischievous grin. He has the smell of an adolescent male who has exerted himself, but is not winded either. He glances around for Nayale and whoops again. “Beat ya’ both!” he crows.

Berra nods. “Well done. We’ll wait for Nayale and then go back as a team, and I’ll call what’s happening so you-both can react.” She looks around for Nayale too, unworried.

He nods and uses the time to study the buildings. “Why’s there so many people here? Where’s their cattle?”

“Underwater, mostly, and overseas. The Closing got opened here, and there’s the big river we came down, so it’s the main trade route for about everywhere.”

“Right,” he replies, like that makes sense to him.

He keeps looking around. “We cud get somethin’ ta eat while we wait.”

“Up that way.” Berra points to the market. “You know what I can eat.” She hands over a couple of clacks, from the purse she keeps around her neck.

He nods and sets off. He’s gone about a half hour before returning with meat stuffed bread for them and a third for Nayale. “They were busy,” he says, handing one to Berra and looking around. “Um. She should be here now, yeah?”

Berra nods. “Yeah. And she ain’t.” She sighs. “We wait here until we’ve fed, then one of us waits here until she gets here.”

He looks around again, his expression carefully neutral. “S’a big place. But, she’ll find her way. She usually does.”

“It’s not a bad day to be lost. Once she realises where she is, she can ask her way.”

He glances at Berra. “Did ya say that be allowed? Gettin’ help?”

“If she’s lost, she can. But she knows she’s late now, so she should.” Berra shrugs. “Didn’t say it wasn’t.”

“She might think it means she failed,” Harmakt says reluctantly. “She hates makin’ mistakes.” A bit like someone else Berra knows.

Berra nods. “Well, she gets to go hungry.” Soldier to the core, Berra is already eating.

Harmakt grins, following Berra’s lead. By the time they finish, Nayale still hasn’t appeared. Her brother is holding onto her food, still scanning rooftops for her. His grin is beginning to look forced. “She’s gonna be mad at herself,” he notes.

“Yep. You know the way back from here?”

“Yeah.” He scans the rooftops again, starting to frown. His scruffy beard has crumbs in it. “Lady? This isn’t like her. Breakin’ stuff an’ gettin’ lost. You saw that on the way here. Don’t judge her on a coupla bad days. Please.”

“I once started a bar fight I couldn’t win, and someone stabbed me with a broken pot and cut the great artery in my thigh. Young people gotta learn to be themselves.” Berra speaks airily from the age of twenty-three.

He nods. “We ain’t been in any bar fights. But you shoulda seen the rumbles back home. Grandfather says he wasn’t happy we left, but maybe that’s because we cud end some of the fights faster, ya know? A broken nose here or there makes lotsa people less interested in throwin’ more punches.”

Berra considers that. “Yeah, never try that with me,” she says blithely. “It just means I got less to lose.”

“Wouldn’t need ta break up a fight you was in,” he replies. “If you started somethin’ it’d be for good reason. And if you didn’t start it… well, either way, we’d have yer back.”

“Mm. I’ve learned a lot. Lord D’Val’s taught me not to get… to pick my fights, because there are plenty out there. But I do still swing sometimes.”

Harmakt scans the roofs again and lets out a sigh of relief. He nudges Berra with his shoulder, like he’s briefly forgotten the differences in their stations. His chin directs her to a building where Nayale is making her descent.3Nayale passed INTx5 and asked for directions.

When the young woman reaches the ground, she casts about. When she spots the pair of them, she hurries over.

Nayale looks a bit worse for wear. She’s sweaty and there are smudges of dirt on her face and limbs. Her eyes are red, but there’s no sign of tears.

“Before your brother takes the piss out of you, when he does later on, he was worried.” Berra grins. “He got you food.”

Nayale glances between them, silent at first. Harmakt tries to look nonchalant as he hands over the bread, which his sister accepts dejectedly.

“I got lost,” Nayale confesses. “Found the slums. Or at least, the edge of them, I think. Why doesn’t the queen help those people? She’s rich, isn’t she?”

Berra winces. “Yeah, don’t go in there.” She picks her water-bottle off her belt. “Every city’s got slums. I don’t know why. But Esrolia’s got really rich places and most people who live on the land ain’t free.”

Nayale’s only reply is, “I’m sorry I made you wait.”

“Sn’t a worry. Once you’ve eaten, we can go back as a group. Harmakt was here before me, so he gets to be front-runner on the way back. He’s not trying to lose us, but he’s trying to get us back as fast as he can. We just have to follow. But I’ll be calling out which places are blocked when we get there.”

  • 1
    ‘One sword each’ but she can’t leave either behind.
  • 2
    We roll for speed, knowledge of the area, climbing, luck.
  • 3
    Nayale passed INTx5 and asked for directions.