Watchful gaze

1629, Sea Season, Disorder Week, Clayday, noon


Riding through Culbrea territory, guided by some bandits. Get thee to a Nunnery (Session S4.02)


As the party heads off through Culbrea territory, guided by Ivarnessa, Varanis brings Manasa alongside Berra’s more elegant and even tempered beast.

Berra is riding like someone who understands horses, for once.  She does not, but her horse, as yet still unnamed, makes a lot of difference, and she likes trying to live up to the mare.

“Can you still feel him?” Varanis asks. “Lord Raven, that is.”

Berra takes a slow breath.  “No.  I think I’d know if he wasn’t there, but he’s a long way away.  I stopped being able to talk to him a bit outside Boldhome.”  She looks into the air as if concentrating, but that does not seem to bring her anything.

Varanis looks thoughtful, then asks, “Is that ok? I mean… are you ok with it?”

“I need to talk to him about how far we can talk to each other.  I’ve been trying, but I don’t know if he can hear me.  When we were at Geo’s, he used my magic to become him, I think – to form up into himself.  Or maybe it was to try to talk to me, but I didn’t hear anything.  Yesterday I had to say no to him because we were out in the wild.”

That is not, strictly, an answer.  Berra does not seem worried or homesick, though.

Varanis frowns, considering. “So he can just take power from you? You told him no, but could you stop him if he ignored you?” She adds, “I tried to worship him on my own. But when it’s not a holy day or when you aren’t guiding things, he’s completely out of my reach that way.”

“It’s … it feels more that I can give it to him.  That he’s a spell I can cast, maybe?  I don’t think he could force it.”  The little warrior shrugs.  “He’s smart enough not to try, anyhow.  If I’m close to him I can offer it directly, but usually I feel him through the sword.  It was easier in Dark Season – him forming in the day’s not a good idea right now.  You… yeah, so this is one of the reasons I was wondering about whether you wanted status in the Hero cult.  He needs people around him to look after him.”

 “Well, I’d like to help look after him. Both for you and because I kind of like him. Sometimes. He’s clever and he and I share a common goal. I’m sure we have many different goals too, but there’s at least a couple in common that matter to me.” Varanis peers into the trees, her eyes drawn to movement on a branch. A raven watches them impassively from his perch. The Vingan stares back. “Are you sure he’s in Boldhome?”

“Um, alright.  He can turn into a raven.  But he’s not here.  And also, don’t tell people that.  But I’ll let him know I told you.”  Berra waves to the raven.  “That’s not him.  His eyes glow and he’s really really black.  You can’t see the feathers.”

The raven makes a low gurgle-croak at them before returning to his preening.

“I forget what I was saying… oh, right. If I can serve without it coming into conflict with my obligations to the Air Temple and Prince Kallyr, then I will.”

“He… he’s got a lot of pride.  He can’t back down, and he’s… um.  He didn’t know who Harrek the Berserk was.  And he didn’t want to let on.  So he probably needs someone who can tell him about politics and what’s happened in the past twenty years.”  Berra looks wistful, thoughtful, and slightly scruffy.  “He really hates feeling like he should know a thing.”

“Ohhh, I have an idea that will preserve his pride while helping us both,” Varanis suggests, her eyes lighting with pleasure at her own cleverness. “But, it requires me talking to him. He can hear what you hear normally, right? When we’re closer to him?”

“I have to let him, but yes.  Or you could pick him up, if he doesn’t mind.  We should make some nominal rank within the cult that lets you do that but warns other people off.  People who helped make him get to talk to him.”

“I have to study the political landscape here and to do so, I need to review the history. My perspectives are still those of an Esrolian.” Varanis wrinkles her nose. “To fulfill my duties, I need to be more … Sartarite, I suppose. What I’m thinking is a sort of exchange of knowledge. I talk over what I know and am learning with him, thereby filling him in on recent history. He helps me to understand things from the perspective of the Sartarite nobility. We both save face.”

“Eheh.   I think that would work for him, and he could definitely help you with the bits I don’t know.”  Any discussion where cutlery might be important, for example, or how not to tell a finely dressed lady that she is wrong in front of her husband.  Berra probably has several possibilities in mind.

“Does this require some kind of official title within his worship? Something that won’t make Tennebris grind his teeth or Eril frown?”

“I think there should be one, because it’s easier to explain to people that way, but we don’t gotta.  It’s just that everything’s so new, and every week there might be someone who doesn’t know what to do or not to.  Maybe just the people with the right tattoo?”

“Why don’t we ask your High Sword and my Storm Voice? Try to find a compromise instead of just doing the thing ourselves?” Varanis shifts in her saddle, causing Manasa’s ears to flick. “I mean, they might just find reasons to object anyway. They don’t seem particularly inclined to working together.”

“Because I want to make sure that Lord Eril thinks of me as something worth respecting,” Berra says, “And I need to push him the right way.  So the answer is maybe, but I don’t know yet.  I shouldn’t ask him for help here.  I need to tell him what’s right and that I’m doing it.  Let him over-rule me if he wants.”

The trail narrows up ahead, and Berra steers her mare that way easily, but now they are heading towards others again, and she adds, “Dunno if that made sense.  I’m gonna think more.”  She falls into silence that looks sulky.  It is just her look of concentration, of course.