Cold morning blues

1628, Storm Season, Death Week, Godday


At the house in Boldhome. Varanis returns after her early morning temple worship. Follows after Worship. (After Session: Sundown.)


Storm Season is mostly a cold monsoon, but it has breaks in the rain.  It is Godday of Death Week, and a little warmer than the day before.  Berra has woken before dawn and dozed by the fire in the remains of breakfast.  Yesterday she was animated if tired.  Today?  Who knows.

Varanis comes in and hangs her sodden cloak on its peg, before thinking better of it. She drags it to the fire and spreads it across a bench instead. She is dressed in armour, minus the helmet, and her padding beneath is wet. Rather than stripping it off though, she flops with a clang and a shiver onto another bench.

“Why is it so cold?” she demands, a plaintive note creeping in between chattering teeth.

“Someone killed the sun?” suggests Berra, instantly awake.  “Any ideas who?”  She gives Varanis a grin that is the first for a season not to look like she worries she is doing it wrong.

Varanis starts. “Orlanth’s blue balls!” she yelps after managing not to topple backwards. “I didn’t even see you there.” 1V: Guess who fumbled scan? B: Hahah!

Berra laughs, and looks down at herself.  With a blanket over her, and the fire low, and the windows still closed, it might be just possible to say that she was hard to spot.  “Humakt was the weapon you were holding.  An’ good morning.”  She seems perky.  Chirpy, even.

“Good morning. Please tell me why I have given myself to a kingdom that turns to snow and ice every year?” Although the Vingan is still shivering and complaining and her soft kit has begun to steam, she gives Berra a broad grin. “Also, it’s very good to see you.”

There is a grunt from the pallet Irillo is still dozing in, “I say the same!” Then a snoring

“Is the answer ‘in the hope of learning how wear an oiled cloak’?  You need one of them.”  Berra, of course, has a hide that sheds water and looks like she took it from a poverty-stricken leather merchant doing her a favour.  “Irillo’s feelin’ cold too,” she explains.  

“They wouldn’t let me wear a cloak for spear drills and the morning rituals,” Varanis says. “And the temple’s training yard is not covered. Rain has a knack for seeping into uncomfortable places.”

Cold, stiff fingers begin to work at the leather of her buckles.

Berra nods.  “Yeah, it does that.  Yehna left some porridge to keep warm, if you want it?”  She gets to her feet, coming over to help Varanis with the straps.

The Vingan is having difficulties with one of the buckles. It just doesn’t seem to want to let go of the strap. She swears under her breath.

“Lemme try?” Berra suggests, although she does not grab without asking.  

Varanis nods, getting her hands out of the way of Berra’s.2If Berra ends up in contact with Varanis’ hands, they are like ice. Holding a spear outside in the cold and rain is stupid, no matter what the rituals.  She needs good gloves.

Berra’s stubby little fingers are strong, and she loosens several straps in turn.  “Arright.  You don’t have to be in the padding, though.  Wear hard-twisted wool underneath, and keep the padding for afterwards.  It’s just soaking up water.”

“Why has no one said this? It’s been weeks and no one thought to say anything! I thought the padding would be warmer against the cold, but it’s been a pain to dry it out every day and some days, it just stays damp.” She grumbles and shivers. “You know, I think a few of them may still be mad about the whole business of Tennebris setting them to spy on us.”

“If you’re an adult and you don’t know that, I think people probably guess you don’t mind.  If you make really dense wool with a layer of… just ask Yehna.  I don’t understand how it works.  But you’re wearing the wrong thing for what you’re doing.”  Berra pulls the cuirass left, off Varanis’ shoulder and side.  “This stuff just lets cold water run down you.”

Varanis sighs heavily. “I’ll speak to her. Your sister is a wonder, you know. I’m so grateful she’s staying with us. Maybe we should build an addition to the house that can be hers whenever she wants it!”

“She’s got my room,” Berra points out.  “You get out of those, and we’ll go into the kitchen so Irillo can sleep.”  She glances over to where he is, and pokes out her tongue.

Varanis strips out of the padding and places that on bits of furniture close to the fire too. Now she’s down to her linens and it’s obvious she’s soaked to the skin and looking bluish in the firelight. “I’ll go find dry layers and join you in the kitchen,” she says, still shivering. She is skin and bones and wiry muscle, having long-since burned off any fat gained from bearing a child. She just doesn’t have a lot of insulation against the cold.

“I’ve got a blanket there,” Berra says.  “Go into the kitchen, huddle by the fire where it can warm you, and put the blanket over your back.  You’re pimply and pinched.  You don’t get dressed until you’re warmer or the fire will cook your clothes while you shiver.”  She got bossy in the past day.

Varanis blinks, slightly taken aback. “You really have woken up, haven’t you?” Nevertheless, she follows instructions, wrapping herself in the blanket and heading for the kitchen. “I’m just going to make your blanket damp,” she tells Berra.

“Otherwise you’d’ve made your dry layers damp,” Berra points out.  “From the inside.”  She follows Varanis, and points to the fire.  “Don’t get chilblains, but get close.”  She grabs a poker, a spike of bronze with a wooden handle, and stirs up the fire in a couple of places, peering through the hearth to be sure no coals have spilt onto the other side.  “I woke up a bit before dawn.”  A High Holy Day just before Wildday means tired, yawning Humakti, and Berra went to bed early on Godday Eve.

Sitting by the hearth and wrapped in the blanket, Varanis watches. “You really do look much better than you have been.”

“I feel a bit more awake,” Berra says in agreement.  “I want to do things today.”  She has left the poker in the fire and while she talks she finds honey and puts a dollop into two cups, then fills them with water after checking that it is just water, without anything added.  A small pinch of salt goes into each and then she comes back to the fire, bringing the cups and a spoon for stirring.

Varanis has mostly stopped shivering. “Do something? What do you have in mind?” she asks, reaching for a cup and wrapping her fingers around it gratefully.

“It’s not hot yet.  Give it a moment.”  Berra puts the cups down and picks up the poker.  It is just hot enough to get one drink steaming, and she hands that over.  “Stir it, or all the honey will be at the bottom.  I kind of want to climb a waterfall.  Or try to sprint to the North Gate and run to Swenstown.  Or paint the Dwarf Palace.”  She shrugs.  “Something.”

Varanis stirs obediently, but stares at Berra. “Those things will be cold, but…” She is grinning so broadly her teeth are bared. “Oh, I like it. We’ll need the climbing spikes if we do the waterfall. It’s bound to be icy in places. But, it would also be glorious.”

Berra nods.  “Waterfall, then.  There are a few.”  She puts the poker back into the fire to warm, breaking more of the ember surface up into gold and sparks.  “Porridge, too, once your hands are warmer.”  She seems to have lost the tiny pauses that used to punctuate and differentiate her speech.  The things she says run together even more than usual.

“Yehna won’t like it,” Varanis warns. “She’ll worry. Little Berra is already climbing walls and your sister is finding her a pain to keep up with sometimes. At least she won’t have to watch us be fools for heights.”  

“Little Berra needs more friends,” Berra says sagely.  “Yehna will have to go home soon.”  She finds a couple of bowls and a ladle, and a cloth to help her lift the lid of a pot almost buried in ash.  Inside are slow-cooked oats.  “Did you eat breakfast?”

“Not yet. I don’t like to have breakfast before training,” she admits. “Not since the time Hiorda stuffed me in the gut with the butt of her spear hard enough to make me lose my breakfast during a session up at the temple.”  

There is a smell of spices and warmth.  “Yeah, I get what you mean.  It’s good to have days where you train empty but you should have some where you train full, too.”  Berra doles out porridge, closes the pot, and stands to get the spoons that she forgot.  “You never know what you might or might not have eaten when you fight.”  

“I’ll take that into consideration,” Varanis says, making no promises.

“Get wrapped around that.’  Berra warms her own drink, and reheats what is left of Varanis’, and finally sits down.  She has not given herself as much as the Vingan, but the evidence said that she had eaten already.

After the first bite, Varanis tucks in with unusual enthusiasm. “This is really good. And warm. It’s wonderfully warm. So, which waterfall? And are you sure your wounds are healed enough? And you don’t have to be anywhere today? Will Raven join us?”3B: Would you have joined the High Holy Day and/or the Wildday services? V: Yes

“Death’s Day went well enough that Lord Raven has to live in the Temple now,” Berra says.  “I left him there after the last service.  He probably can’t come out.”  She gives Varanis a judging glance and then adds rather lower, “He’s not so strong out of season.”  Too low for people in the other room to hear.  Just audible to Varanis over the fire.

“That’s too bad. He’d have pretended to be disdainful, but I think he’d have enjoyed it.”

“He likes new things,” Berra says.  “Except he also seems to like things staying the same now and I don’t really understand.”  She spoons up porridge, with the speed of a peasant who will be out in the fields soon, giving Varanis a chance to speak as well.

“Does this mean I’ll only see him at worship now?” Varanis asks. “I was getting used to him being around.”

“He’s an important member of the Temple,” Berra replies.  “It depends a bit on whether you want to be important within his cult, I think.  And on some other things probably but I don’t know them.”

“Berra… is Eril ok? Is he well?” Varanis asks after setting her now empty bowl down and wrapping her fingers around the cup again.

“Huh?”  Berra looks up at Varanis, and takes a moment to parse the question.  In the mean time her mouth is already moving.  “Yeah, I think so.  Why?”  At least her mind catches up with her speech in time to be curious by the end of the sentence.  

The Vingan shrugs. “There was a pause in the sword dance. Not being hugely familiar with it, I didn’t think much of it. But I overheard some people speculating. They were wondering if it was intentional or if he faltered and his Wyter had to help him.” She sips at her drink wrinkling her nose at it and then adds, “It reminded me a bit of… well, of something else, anyway.”4Insight:  she was going to say something else, but maybe changed her mind. And if you pass that, you could add an INT check to know she might be thinking of the time that Eril faltered in killing her and Berra helped.

“Oh, right.”  Berra tilts her head slightly, and her eyes focus on nothing that is visible.  “Yeah, that wasn’t where I was.  It was by the altar.”  The little one grins.  “Lord Raven says his hand slipped.  The Wyter – the Regimental one – … um, I think I shouldn’t tell you that.  But that’s one of the things Lord Raven is there for.”  Berra’s smile is wide.  “All swords are one sword.”5 For a secret part of the story, I rolled a Fumble for Lord Eril and his result was 02, ‘miss next Parry’ so he may have that waiting on his sheet until next time he is in battle.

Berra’s eyes move briefly to the scar on her friend’s neck, and then she looks down at her empty bowl and half-empty cup.

“I suppose even heroes can slip,” Varanis replies staring into her cup. Nose still wrinkled, she tosses back the rest of the liquid. “I think I’m warm now, when do you want to go climbing?”

“Not today.  You’re not warm.  You just think you are.  But you should get dressed.”  Berra stands.  “I gotta report on the Heroquest today.  He didn’t like what I said last time I tried.  Maybe tomorrow?  Get yourself some underclothes today?”  She disappears into the Praxian room for a moment, and can be seen through the hearth’s gap, picking up the plates she was using earlier.

Varanis takes her cup and bowl to the basin used for cleaning. The cup gets a rinse. The bowl, a quick scrub with sand before rinsing. She seems eager not to leave things lying about for Yehna.

Berra piles up her plates and bowl, and then piles them again but with the cup in the middle, and then says, “Go get into more than a blanket.  I can do this and then Yehna can laugh and do it properly.”

With a nod of thanks, Varanis heads back into the Praxian room, sheds the blanket, then heads up to her room. Anyone waking up in the big room or entering into it from wherever they slept, will find all the spaces close to the hearth have been draped with textiles in varying states of dampness. Varanis’ armour has been left in a tidy heap too.

Berra washes up, badly but with enthusiasm.  She puts some of Varanis’ clothes on the kitchen side of the hearth, and goes out for a walk.

  • 1
    V: Guess who fumbled scan? B: Hahah!
  • 2
    If Berra ends up in contact with Varanis’ hands, they are like ice. Holding a spear outside in the cold and rain is stupid, no matter what the rituals.  She needs good gloves.
  • 3
    B: Would you have joined the High Holy Day and/or the Wildday services? V: Yes
  • 4
    Insight:  she was going to say something else, but maybe changed her mind. And if you pass that, you could add an INT check to know she might be thinking of the time that Eril faltered in killing her and Berra helped.
  • 5
    For a secret part of the story, I rolled a Fumble for Lord Eril and his result was 02, ‘miss next Parry’ so he may have that waiting on his sheet until next time he is in battle.