Fragment 2.17 – The Reclamation of Honour

Diaries The Saga Of Berra — Fragment 2 17

1626


Under the banner of Humakt Battalion
Sat by the Temple of Orlanth his chieftain
There were they judged by the Lords of the Death-ward
Berra found guilty of cowardly action

Speaking out loud she defended her honour
Told she the tale of the danger she went to
Thought on her meeting with Xenofos’ wisdom
She would not fight for a lie she had uttered

Came the reply of grim Humakt’s Battalion
She was seen stalling in honour by others
Staining the name of the warrior Temple
Biting her lip she kept silently humble1But for the details elsewhere, this could be seen as someone not Berra at all, leading to Alleyn calling it an inserted verse.

Sentenced to labour below her proud station
Berra bent down to the task set before her
Proud to be serving the Temple of Humakt
Keeping her reverence clean of the ordure

Deep in her heart lay the pride of her Kingdom
Sartarite anger she tempered with water
Knowing the Temple was wounded and prideful
Berra gave praise to the God not the Priesthood2An indication of pridefulness and refusal to break even when given a low task of punishment. Refusal to praise and defend the priesthood may be taken as a direct matter, or as a refusal to fight and therefore settle the wounded honour of the Temple in the eyes of observers.

When there came news of the fate of her Clan-folk
Taken for ransom by pirates in travel
Berra stood tall as she took her leave-taking
Asking for time to go rescue or ransom

Striding to Kesten she told of her problem
Offered him knowledge of where she was going
If the Black Duck was a target he sought for
So he must know though it turned him to stop her

He who had Truth as the Rune of his heartbeat
Told he was certain the Duck was a pirate
Asked then for Xenofos wise as a word-wright
Meeting them both in the evening at Temple

Berra came cold as the wind sent by Valind
Patient as ever a troll sat in Darkness
Agri was there to meet Xenofos boldly
Asked for the finishing blow of the duelling

There in the yard of the Temple of Humakt
Berra fought Kesten and did him all honour
Casting her spells on the Hulta to help him
Triumphing still as her sword kissed his shield-hand

He sheathed his sword as the Temple yet watched them
Clasping his hand to the wound he soon healed it
So they departed together in friendship
Leaving behind them Battalion all baffled

Kesten declared that his life was in danger
Duty would call him to seek Rillo’s killer
Either his triumph would come in that season
Or be his eulogy heard in the Temple

Thus free of promise the daughter of Jarang
Temple departing went out of their telling
Paying the ransom of kinfolk with honour
Using the money that Grandmother lent them

Berra had been put on punishment duty for failing to duel, but stayed at the Temple despite that, clearing out latrines almost cheerfully. Mellia arrived to tell her that a ransom note had been sent for the members of the Blue Tree Clan who had been travelling to negotiate a marriage. Berra stayed calm about it3Passed “What Would D’Val Do?” and sent Mellia off to find Rajar, while she went to see if Kesten was in the Temple. She told him she was going to look for the Black Feather Duck, in case he was interested following the association of the name with the kidnap of Lenta. She mentioned thinking it was Devolin, and sort of regretting it did not sound like him after all.

Kesten was able to tell her that the Duck was likely a pirate that had been plaguing the area for some time, on and off, and probably had links to Harrek. He was a captain with a galley of two tiers of oars. He asked her to bring Xenofos to the Temple. She took leave of the Temple, found an inn to leave her animals in, and went to the Saiciae House to report what she had heard from Kesten and ask Xenofos to come with her. They went off to the Temple where Agri was waiting to ask Xenofos if his Principal was amenable to fighting now, which she was. A duel to first blood with Kesten was arranged for the practice ground, where he had the area already staked out. Kesten used Disruption and she cast Protection – on him. It failed to protect him, bouncing off his spirit, but he used no further magic she could tell, and she healed herself as she fought. Both of them were aiming for blows that would not kill or cripple, which did not go down particularly well with the Humakti watching, but it was nevertheless a duel to First Blood. Berra put a hit onto his left hand after a few passes, and the matter was, at least in law, closed.

They went for a drink, as custom expected. Kesten told them he was going to confront the killer of Lord Rillo, who had died for a second time. This time, it was official and he would not be coming back, but at least it had been quick. He gave no indication of emotion when Berra noted a good executioner made the difference. He did tell them to come and look for him after their business was done, and failing that, to seek his Testament at the Temple. Berra explained to Xenofos that this was sort of like your will, only also a battle report so that other Humakti could learn what they needed to about what you had been doing.

After that, they went back to the House. Xenofos and Venlar had a scribe-off over language and reading. Grandmother elected to pay the ransoms of Berra’s Clan Ring, meaning they could solve the matter without bloodshed. They hired a ship to take them and a very expensive draft to meet the Duck, who was a Muscovy type, all black feathers all over, save for a touch of white around his eyes, and his red wattles. He handed over the prisoners in exchange for the money, and gave Berra Harrek the Berserk’s regards. They took the rescuees back to the House of Saiciae.


“This is something that calls for delicacy, tact, fine thought…” – Berra
“I’ll go get Dormal.” – Mellia
“No, you idiot! Rajar!” – Berra

“Do people usually write ‘muahahahaha’ on their letters?” – Berra
<<stares>> – Kesten
“I’m not mocking you. I really don’t know.” – Berra
“I would take it as… evidence of an unbalanced mind.” – Kesten

“I was thinking it might be a mallard I knew…” – Berra
“Mallards. That … black-plumaged bird?” – Kesten
“This black feather was from a mallard…” – Berra

“Are you due your next duty here tonight?” – Kesten
“No, only if I sleep overnight here.” – Berra
“Return with Xenofos before you leave, then.” – Kesten
“Thank you brother.” – Berra

“Berra will go to the House of Saiciae after finding an inn to put her stuff at.” – Berra
“And then send in to ask for Xenofos.” – Berra

“Xenofos, Berra’s outside, asking for you!” – Berra
“Xenofos appears promptly, with no hurry at all. Really with all possible dignity.” – Xenofos
“There’s a little bow, and a brief smile. ‘Lord Xenofos. I have some information about the Black Feather, and Lord Kesten would like me to bring you to the Temple later tonight.’ Straight to business. She looks, unsurprisingly, a little strained.” – Berra

“Well, the Black Feather, the pirate, is a two-oar-galley sort. Possibly one of Harrek’s off-shore-ducks.” – Berra
“Berra looks longingly towards the Temple of Dormal.” – Berra

“And I don’t know all of his command that well. The Wolf Pirates wouldn’t feel any loyalty to me anyhow. They know a bit of my rep, but unless Harrek is there they likely won’t show respect, and if he IS there we and everyone else have a whole lot of other problems.” – Berra

“Berra’s all very peaceful on the way to the Temple. It’s like she’s not letting the worry get to her.” – Berra

“Lord Xenofos. My Principal asks for a small change of plan.” – Agri
“Oh?” – Xenofos
“First blood or submission.” – Agri
“I must ask my Principal.” – Xenofos
“Sure!” – Berra
“Agri looks slightly annoyed.” – GM
“My Principal is eager to do this.” – Xenofos
“And would the practice ground, about now, be alright?” – Agri
“Yeah, sure!” – Berra
“I shall go tell my Principal.” – Agri, defeated

“Is your Principal running any magic?” – Xenofos
“Kesten shakes his head to Agri, who passes this on.” – GM
“I think he said no!” – Berra
<<sigh>> – Xenofos

“Kesten is making aimed shots to the leg.” – GM
“I’m going for the left hand…” – Berra

“To first blood, or submission, as agreed. Any magic cast by the contestants themselves is allowed. And… for the Honour of Humakt” – Xenofos
“So, I am going to be trying to cast Protection on Kesten.” – Berra

“My Power is 12.” – Berra
“So his is four higher than yours…” – GM
“Swot.” – Berra

“Take three to the left leg.” – GM
“That doesn’t make it bleed though, does it?” – Berra
“No, but it would meet the criteria of first blood.” GM
“Really?” – Berra
“She hasn’t submitted, and she’s not bleeding!” – Varanis
“First blood or submission is actually a pretty lousy condition.” – Xenofos

“You need to overcome his Power.” – GM
“I failed to. Obviously I was casting *something*.” – Berra
“Indeed.” – GM

“OK. I am looking at Agri and we are wondering, ‘what the actual fuck is happening here? They are not fighting at their level!'” – Xenofos
<<much giggling>> – Berra
“As he has so nicely hurt me I’m going to have to use magic to heal myself instead of using magic to hurt him!” – Berra
<<laughter>> – GM

“Eight… ten… eleven twelve… some!” – Berra

“You’ve opened a nasty gash on his left hand.” – GM
“That’s first blood!” – Xenofos
“He stops his cut, sheathes, and then sticks his hand onto his other hand and heals it.” – GM
“I’ll bow. Thank him. ‘So. Quick drink?'” – Berra
“Quick drink.” – Kesten
“Quick drink.” – Berra

“Well done both of you.” – Xenofos
“There is a certain amount of jeering from the other Humakti.” – GM
“If they want to bring it we can take them, right?” – Berra
“You almost certainly can’t.” – Dormal
“There is a general feeling neither of you were fighting to your optimum there.” – GM
“Yep. But honour was served. Blood was spilled.” – Xenofos

“So does this mean you’re going to be off latrine… were you on latrine duty?” – Berra
“No.” – Kesten
“You were not the one running out of the fight.” – Xenofos
<<fortunately does not hear>> – Berra

“I probably don’t want to ask, but… what happened?” – Berra
“My Lord was unfortunate enough to die again.” – Kesten
“Oh… pants. I’m sorry.” – Berra
“It was… unavoidable and not suspicious.” – Kesten
“Yeah, um… well, as long as it was relatively quick.” – Berra
<<nods>> “I believe he felt… little pain. And did not suffer.” – Kesten
“Well, if you get a good executioner.” – Berra
<<quick glance>> – Berra
<<completely dead pan>> – Kesten
“I’ll buy the drink.” – Berra

“Well, Agri, it’s good. A duel well fought. Honourably. Finished.” – Xenofos
“I agree, I agree.” – Agri
“At the Temple of Humakt. Where it belongs. That’s the way.” – Xenofos
“Yes. Very much so.” – Agri

“Deal with your matter. I believe I am understanding what led to my Lord’s first death.” – Kesten
“Tha’ss… very good to know.” – Berra
“So wrong for a Humakti to say.” – Xenofos
“Come to me after you are finished, or seek my Testament here.” – Kesten
“Understood.” – Berra
“Testament. Like a last will, Lord Kesten…” – Xenofos
“Yeah, but also when you have to pass on important information you make sure that’s lodged at your Temple. I know that one! … Like your saga.” – Berra
“Like when you’re dead? Separated?” – Xenofos
“Ye-es.” – Kesten
“Well, it’s polite!” – Berra

“Question: given what I know abut the Wolf Pirates, will they honour a ransom?” – Berra
“‘Possibly.'” – GM

“Berra, after consideration, will ask Mellia to heal her leg. It’s a bit twingey, and could do with magic.” – Berra

“Nala… don’t … he’s about to be proved wrong. Or he’ll be right and then you can deck him.” – Berra
“Alright.” – Nala

“Honesty Time. Do any of you, going ashore, have any intention of violence?” – GM
“Does reacting to violence count?” – Berra

“Absolutely jet black duck, apart from the red wattles and the white tracing around the eye.” – GM
“Berra does look slightly disappointed.” – Berra

“Never let it be said I’m not a Duck of my word.” – Blackfeather

“Harrek says… hello.” – Blackfeather
“He remembered! … Tell him from me the answer is still no – and I still drink red. While wincing.” – Berra
“I’m sure that, like all of his friends, he’ll kill you last.” – Blackfeather
“Not if I have anything to do with it.” – Berra

“For some reason Eranda is happy with Berra.” – Xenofos/GM
“That’s fine. I don’t like Eranda anyhow.” – Berra
“And never bother hiding it.” – Berra

“On the way back, Berra gives Mellia a bit of time and then checks she’s OK.” – Berra
“And she seems thoughtful, and stares into the water a lot.” – Berra