Berra — Up On The Roof
????, Earth Season, Death Week
Earth Season, Death Week, Waterday. It is midmorning. Tomorrow is Clayday and a Seasonal Holy Day of Humakt. [[[s02:session-5|Session 5]]]
Berra is meditating on the roof. Very still, very peaceful. Easy to miss. Apparently it is about to be Clayday, and a holy day.
With her is Yamia, who is not doing so well at the meditation, but does not seem frustrated.
From below, a voice calls up, “Lady Berra? Can you please come down for a few minutes? I have need of you.” The speaker is unfamiliar, but hers is a voice of calm confidence. It also seems to be coming from somewhere immediately below the meditating Humakti, closer than ground-level.
Yamia looks around for the source of the sound, although Berra does not. The older Humakti stands, puts her hand on Sunhilt, and walks in completely the wrong direction to find whoever called.1Berra has passed Meditation and does not hear. Yamia has fumbled Scan.
“Lady Berra?” The speaker sounds very determined. “Please don’t make me come to you.”
From above there is the sound of Yamia trying to open the wrong hatchway.
Someone opens the hatchway Yamia is at and greets the Humakti with a startled yelp.
“OH I AM SO SORRY!” Yamia freezes, left hand still in a warrior’s grasp of her scabbard, right hand still reaching for her blade. She looks mortified. Berra, on the other hand, opens her eyes and looks around peacefully, very relaxed.
The man drops the hatch closed. There’s the sound of a bolt being thrown on the other side.
Yamia bursts into tears. Berra says calmly, “It will pass. Come sit with me, love.” She holds out a hand like you might to a young child. Yamia just cries, unable to move.
Closer to Berra, a second hatch opens and a stern-faced woman climbs up. She is stylishly clothed, though the fabrics and colours suggest that she is most likely a servant. Her hawk-like expression takes in the scene and she tsks. She calls orders back down the hatch in rapid Esrolian. Servant or not, she is definitely accustomed to being obeyed.
Berra rolls to her feet, and pads over to Yamia. She just about gets her expression calm. “Yamia, love. He is not hurt. You have done nothing wrong.” She puts a hand to the other Humakti’s shoulder, and nothing more.
The stern-looking woman approaches the two Humakti and something in her brisk manner eases as she says to Yamia, “There’s no trouble. Be calm now, everything will be alright.” Moments later, someone slides a tray onto the rooftop through the hatch. It contains a platter with a selection of fresh fruit, three cups, and a ewer. The woman picks it up and carries it to where the others had been meditating. She sets it down and sits down with little care for her finely made gown. “Please join me?” she invites, as she pours water into the cups.
Yamia smiles slightly, and goes to sit down. Berra, frown beginning on her features, asks, “Who are you?” Her thumbnail traces a cross on her own forehead, where Yamia already bears a tattoo.2Yamia passes Harmony, while Berra passes Devotion (Humakt).
“Karne,” the woman replies. “I work for this house. Lady Varanis has asked me to speak with you.” Her hair is impeccably styled. Her nails are tidy and her hands clean. Sharp eyes study Berra carefully, even as she offers the tray of fruits and small sweets to Yamia.
“Today?” Berra looks incredulous. “Do you know what day it is, this evening?” That causes Yamia to pause, and then just pick up the cup of water. “I should stay pure,” Silor’s daughter replies.
“Tonight it will be Clayday. I do not require you for long. A few minutes of your time will suffice.” The woman looks undisturbed as she calmly picks up a slice of some kind of green melon.
“Tomorrow. Yes. Clayday of Earth Season. We’re meditating.” Berra scowls. “Please go away.”3And a failure on Loyalty (Clan) as well. Even Varanis’ name didn’t help. Berra is in a bad mood, apparently.
“Then the sooner you cooperate with me, the sooner I can be on my way and we can both do as we need to today.” She is calmly implacable. She has no desire to upset Yamia, but she is not showing any signs of surrender.
Berra grins, and then says, “Fair enough. But I did nearly just throw myself off the roof to the floor below, to find out if my shield would hold. You might want to bear that in mind if you’re getting debriefed.” She ignores Yamia’s agonised look at her, and saunters over to drop into a one-legged infantry squat. “You’re interrupting my purification. Make it quick.”
“Please stand,” Karne says, rising gracefully to her feet. From somewhere in her dress she pulls out a long cord as she approaches the Humakti.
Yamia sips at her water, and then dips her forefinger into it to pick up a drop, which she draws in a Truth Rune before her. To either side of that, with more water, she adds Death Runes.
“Why?” asks Berra. “Because I can’t let you touch me unless I know I won’t have to start again.” She does stand, but she backs up as if the cord is for strangling, and not, say, measuring.
Yamia looks up as if trying to work out if she should be alarmed, but so far everyone is calm.
“I need some measurements.” She studies the Humakti again. “Do I understand that you do not wish me to touch you?”
“I… am purifying myself for the great Holy Day of Earth Season. Of course I can’t let women touch me!” Berra looks astounded.
The woman sighs. “Then I will just have to manage without touching you.”
Up here, it is hot, and Yamia is in a simple dress with long-slit thighs, while Berra is in a skirt and chest wrap, with her blue scarf tied on casually to protect her shoulders from the sun. “Manage what? My padding already fits me. It’s just in the wash. And I’m not ready for a shroud yet.” Berra scowls mightily.
Berra may have failed to work this out, but Yamia says, “She is a tailor. Varanis is your friend?” And that only confuses Berra more.
“Lady Varanis has asked me to take your measurements for some clothing,” the woman says calmly, unfazed by the scowl. “The sooner we do this, the sooner you can return to meditating.” As an afterthought, she adds, “If you could direct your questions to Varanis, that would make my life easier. I’m just doing my job.”
It must be hard to be the smart one. Yamia just takes another sip of water, looking troubled, and almost speaking again.
“What? My measurements won’t fit Varanis!” Berra is astounded now. “Why should they? She’s tall!”
“You’re upsetting her,” Yamia says to Karne. “Please stop. She doesn’t realise.”
Berra takes little to no notice of Yamia, although she does not seem hugely upset. Perhaps Yamia is wrong.
Karne looks between the two women, appearing confused, her calm exterior rattled briefly. “Why would I take your measurements for Varanis? I have hers.” To Yamia she asks, “I don’t understand why this is upsetting anyone?”
“Because either you are telling her she is going unarmoured to a function, or someone is about to give her a gift she does not want,” Yamia says. “Either way, it would not be…” She blinks, and lowers her head, then looks up in a calm that goes beyond panic. “Humakti.” Karne even gets treated to a little smile. “Is it for a gathering, and is she ordered to go unarmoured? If so, I will go so she does not have to.”4Yamia passes Death, but not Devotion (Humakt), alas for her.
Berra stares at Yamia briefly, and then at Karne as if looking for confirmation.5Yamia has passed INT rolls that Berra has failed.
Karne shrugs. “The Lady did not see fit to explain herself to me. She simply asked me to make a dress. My assumption was that it was to be some kind of gift from her and her cousin to their kinswoman.” She studies them both. “I am good at what I do,” she states proudly. “I was asked to make the gown such that the wearer could carry her weapons and fight in it if need be. This is something that I can do.”
“Uh…” Berra looks confused. “But my armour?”
Yamia says, in Heortling <Maybe for the altar?>
Berra replies, absently, <Short notice. I have no idea what is going on. We could just sacrifice the linen, anyhow.>
It might be that Karne can understand that, but neither seem to care.
“I was not asked to accommodate for such, but…” She circles Berra, studying her thoughtfully. “I could hide plates in the dress that would protect major organs. No one would even know they are there unless they somehow got close enough that they touched you.” She sounds intrigued by the challenge.
“But why in hell would I want to wear a DRESS?” Berra switches from confounded to incredulous. Yamia looks at her with new worry in her face.
Hawk-like as she studies Berra, Karne doesn’t even acknowledge the outburst. Instead, she’s apparently come as close as she dares, well within sword reach, but not crowding the Humakti. She holds the cord up, looks at Berra’s body, and deftly begins to tie knots at various points along its length.
“It’s not ascetic,” Yamia says. “You will be hurting her.”
Berra, for her part, turns to walk away.
In no time at all, Karne smiles in satisfaction and tucks the cord away again. “Will you want more of the water and fruit?” she asks Yamia courteously.
Yamia miserably hangs her head. “You’ll hurt her,” she says quietly. “She does not want things of the world. She wants Separation.”
Berra is by now sitting down, looking furious, but within a few moments her breathing is under control. Nothing else is, though. The look of anger stays on her.
Karne turns to look at Yamia, “It’s not for me to decide,” she says gently. “I do as I am told.” She turns to Berra one last time, “For what it’s worth, I think they mean well. Perhaps you could think of it as a different kind of armour.” The last statement is a peace offering of sorts. The tailor knows she is unwanted here however, so she lingers no longer than is necessary to collect the dishes she’d had sent up.
Yamia looks at Berra, and at the hatch through which Karne came and went, and back to Berra. Finally, once sound has died away she gets up and walks to the hatch. “Thrall?” she calls down it. “Whoever Venlar sent. I need you to … oh, hello Mastyr. You are to find Lady Varanis. Tell her to tell the tailor not to work. It is very important. More important than staying with me. Please!”
A question from Mastyr gets nothing but, “It will hurt her,” and a sob, and so off runs the messenger.