Words Words Words

Berra — Words Words Words



Undated, some time after Holy Week and Berra’s later conversation with Kesten. [[[s02:session-10|Session 10]]]

In Boldhome;
Berra wants to know if Lord Eril was up at the Palace.
“His black eminence? Yes.” Xenofos replies.
There’s a pause. “Tell me later what eminence means,” and off she goes.


It is a brief moment of nothing happening, in the buzz of a day where much has threatened to happen, that someone – obviously Berra – claps outside the door to Xenofos’ room and then knocks on the doorframe. Only she does both as a smooth habit.


She does that, and bows at the door. “Scribe, I have a favour to ask,” she says. Then she pauses. “Two, really,” and thus ruins the formality.

The scholar is at his writing desk and puts some papyri inside it as he looks who is coming in. A raised eyebrow. “Well I am in your debt. I don’t remember even having thanked you for being my friend in that affair with Hofhrai.”

Berra, notably illiterate, gives the papyrus no glance at all. “Oh, that’s not a worry. People get nervous and I can’t actually remember if you did either.” She shrugs. “No debt between us, cousin’s cousin. I need to write a letter to Sword D’Val about his bison, and also I said I’d ask you what eminence meant, and then I didn’t.”

“Ah. Eminence is someone with prominent status. A great lady. Or even a great Lord.”

“Oh, right. That makes sense, then.” Berra takes a moment to stare into the middle distance in thought, and then nods.1Later, Eril hauls Berra in to ask why she is using the mocking phrase ‘black eminence’. Berra: Huh? “Is now a good time for writing?”

“As good as ever, little cousin.”

The Humakti pads closer to watch the process. “I think it’s just a short letter, but Irillo doesn’t write in Theyalan as far as I know.” She seems a little unsure if that is even how it works.

“My Heortling is rudimentary, but I can try. What do you wish to tell D’Val?”

Xenofos is looking calm and professional and his voice is businesslike.

“That the Bison is from Rajar, a Clayday gift from him, and it’s not trained to the charge. It doesn’t have a name yet. Rajar said that was for the Feathered Death to do.” Berra stays at an appropriate distance, politely not hanging over really close. “And if you have room, or maybe are writing small or something, tell him there are rumours of a black-feathered mallard down here. Not a nice one. I might look into it.”

“To D’Val Sword of Humakt from Berra greetings. The bison is Clayday gift from Rajar Of the Stormbull, not trained to charge. Rajar says Feathered Death should name it. There are rumours of criminal black-feathered mallard down here. Not a nice one. I might look into it. Xenofos wrote on dictation of Berra.”

“Would you like to add your mark under, there?”

Xenofos is handing over a reed pen and pointing with other hand.

Berra shrugs. “If you tell me that’s a good letter, it’s a good one.” She is already moving around to get to his side of the desk. “I should, if it has my name on.”

“Remember, very light touch with a reed and ink flows best when you pull the reed on papyrus.”

“Mhm.” Concentrating, Berra does just that, adding the Y-Death mark with care, but no worry. Her strong little hand guides the pen inexpertly but without error.

“Very good.” Xenofos voice is praising as he picks up the reed from Berra’s hand.

Her skin is warm. She beams at the praise as she steps away and bows. “And now it dries and then gets sealed, and you write the name on the outside?” She is working to remember.

“Yes, quite so little cousin. ” Xenofos seems proud of his pupil making progress.

“Shall I come by for it later?”

“Please do, or I can let servants take it to your room after it has been sealed.2… idiot man, he should have offered to bring it himself…

“I’ll drop by. I hate relying on other people. If I’m out, I’ll just come later. Thank you.” She gives a bow with some formality to it, token of having used someone else’s cult knowledge.

On her way to the door she pauses. “Orthodoxy and Doctrine mean the same in Esrolian as I’d expect, right? About behaviour before the gods and how to record it?”

“Those are pretty hard words to explain, little cousin but I can try.”

“I think I know them. Kesten was warning me about orthodoxy regarding a HeroQuest, and I wanted to make sure of it, is all.” She stops, though, and turns back towards him more fully.

“Orthodoxy would be the right, generally accepted belief. Basically the Truth about a matter.”

Berra winces. “Ow. Alright, yes. I can see that’s shaded slightly differently down here. Very similar words, but I think I may have called him unorthodoxish. When he was being good to me.”

“Unorthodox. Outside the Truth… And doctrine would be the way of teaching the Truth. The essence and principles of it.”

“That part’s fine, then. There are probably people in the Temple of Battalion who think Yamia and I are wrong, but at least the doctrine part is explainable. People decide how to teach.” She nods. “I’ll let Kesten know, if I see him again, about the rest.” She bows once more, a precise, collected movement. “Thank you again, Scholar.”

“It can be a problem. We are humans. Even Lhankor Mhy does not know the whole Truth. We even less, and cannot express it with mere words either. But not everyone understands this and they see straying from teachings as straying from the Truth. ” Xenofos lectures seriously.

“In Sartar it means more… uhhh… expected behaviour. Right-way-ness. So other people can do things differently but that doesn’t mean they are breaking with the Truth. Just that there are different paths to get to what’s right. So it doesn’t always mean a bad thing if they are not doing the same thing.” She seems to have accepted his words as only natural.

Xenofos nods. “I hope Battallion takes that pragmatic approach, but I have little knowledge of how they work.”

Berra’s expression twists wrily. “Uh..I-uh… think he was warning me it wouldn’t. Or some people wouldn’t.” She shrugs. “More reason to hang around Yamia and try to get to know her.” And off she goes for the door and unknown danger, a spring in her step.

Xenofos is left twirling the reed pen that holds warmth from her fingers.

  • 1
    Later, Eril hauls Berra in to ask why she is using the mocking phrase ‘black eminence’. Berra: Huh?
  • 2
    … idiot man, he should have offered to bring it himself…