Serala — St1 Berra
Some time before the Nochet events in 1626, but after [[[characters:berra|Berra]]] has named her horse. Berra, Serala (and Pag and Road) have a chat.
“Remind me why we do this, Pag?”
Serala closes her eyes, resting her head lightly against her horse’s neck for a moment. Pagliacci whickers softly and turns to nuzzle lightly at his mistress, who half smiles, lifting her gaze to meet the calm expression of the warhorse.
“Okay, okay!” The lean woman takes the hint, and returns to her most important duty of the day; drawing the brush over the silken neck of the creature.
Sometimes the pain of being away from the plains is like a blade being twisted in her guts. Sometimes it is a more distant ache, never forgotten, always there. ‘But what choice do I have?’ Serala muses to herself. ‘I can stay, be married off and produce children. Yes, I know, children are the future of the clan. But grandmother produced mother, and mother produced me, and thanks to the Lunar bastards, they’re gone, and I’m alone.’
The woman is monologuing quietly to herself in the stables, caring for her charges, finding a little tranquility in the moment and work. But alone, there are few enough answers forthcoming.
A surprising addition to the stable is Berra, who slopes into the stables with a carrot in one hand and half a carrot in the other. She’s chewing, and makes a beeline for her horse, with a brief nod for Serala. “Hello Road,” she says, greeting the most important person first. The horse gets the half carrot.
Serala looks across and smiles gently, a more peaceful expression then her usual impassive, slightly haughty look. “Berra.” The single word is welcoming, encouraging. She hooks a brush out of her tunic and tosses it across. “Road is a sucker for being groomed. I think he’s secretly as big a show off as Tiwr.”
Berra nearly fumbles the catch. She looks tired, and the bristles hit her palm. Some kind of miracle keeps the brush in her hand. “Serala. Do you want half a carrot?”
“I’m sure Pag would like a carrot. He knows not to try and take your hand off.” the Grazelander offers. She keeps working for a long time, just accepting the silence. “Are you okay? You’re not quite your normal… jolly… self.” Did Serala just make a joke?
Berra bites the carrot in half and offers some over to the stallion. The rest, she eats herself. “A lot on my mind. How to do well at the Temple, mostly. And Humakt is generally worshipped at night. You?” A twitch of a grin makes her look different again.
“I’ve not been too involved with temples in the past.” Serala admits. “Grandfather always wanted me to follow the earth goddess, but I was too intent on avoiding my ‘destiny’. And so… everything… we’ve been through has been… confusing. I’m unused to the gods having requirements, and Temples having expectations.”
“Hah! Yes.” Berra looks at the brush in her hand. “You expect me to bond with the cavalry thing now, right? I was going to be for Ernalda too. It was all easy.”
A snort of barely concealed laughter and a nod. “I do. Given that you’ve seen Pag carry me safely on multiple occasions now while I was incapacitated, I’m sure you don’t need me to explain that a solid bond can literally be a life saver. A few carrots, scratching the itchy places and gentle words. Horses are simpler than people.”. Added under her breath, ‘Which wouldn’t take much, would it?’. The slender woman grins a slightly lopsided grin in your direction. “So what’s your excuse for your choice? I’ll tell if you do.”
“Excuse?” Berra puzzles over the word a moment. “Oh. I had nobody to disappoint.” She turns to start work on Road. “I saw what the Broo did to my mother’s horses. She outran them, but they had her surrounded. If it had been high water she might have made the leap into the river. She knew she wouldn’t and jumped anyway. Better that way. And I swore I would protect people. How came later.”
“Broo?” Changing to a comb, Serala starts work on Pag’s mane. “Protecting people is good. I wish I could claim I was so high minded when I left. It was more about ‘away’ then. Seeing that I could be useful, even as a plain-exile wanderer? That came later.”
Berra just nods to the question, not answering what it might be asking about the chaos beasts. “Away is good. Our river always flows away, in the end.” She is oddly interested in grooming Road right now. All of her attention seems to be on it, and her voice is distracted.
Serala can take a hint, and her response is what might be expected. A complete change of subject. Or mostly, ay least. “Do you want lessons? Actual lessons with Road? We’ve generally got time at stops for a short bit of schooling before we sleep. Even if that is sometimes in the dark.”
“I… I should. Yes. Thank you. I will never be in the cavalry but it would be good not to be in the infantry by accident.” Berra calmly gets Road to lift a hoof, and he calmly puts it down again a moment later. “So… you left? Nobody can tell you what your destiny is, right? Do they tell that about Orlanth in the Grazelands?”
A lift of a shoulder. “There is a difference, perhaps, between destiny and duty. Maybe I can’t be told what the further is, but I assure you that there are always many who will try and inform what duty is. The Clans are no l bit so strong that they continue without strong warriors, whether in existence now, or in the future. I should be… helping produce the next generation. Not swanning around interfering in politics that do not concern us.”. There is a hint to her tone that suggests a direct quote. Brother? Grandfather?
“Mhm. I’ve heard that before.” Berra tries again with the hoof. Her technique is good but Road is enjoying the game now. “You could get it out of the way. Find someone you like, pay for the spells to make sure it happens to your timing, have the child towards the end of Sacred Time. Or you could tell them Orlanth’s first words. Nobody can make me do anything. That’s… important. They can’t make you.”
“I can make me.” Serala points out. “I don’t know. Eventually I will return to the plains, and my people. But I believe what we are doing is important. Things need fixing. We can help fix them.”
“Yes. If you stick to your people, the Lunars will roll them over. If we had not passed through, and interfered in politics – if you had not left and returned – Onjur might have won there.” Berra leans against Road and manages to get his foot up to inspect it. One foot done.
Serala is letting Berra get on with the horse stuff. Nothing like doing to learn. Silence, companiable, is allowed to reign for some time. “I feel I should show more interest in everything. Rather than just going along with what everyone else decides. But on the other hand… I am aware of how out of place I am here. Do you ever feel like that? Out of place?”
The answer, at first, is a laugh. Berra looks positively merry as she stands upright, and looks around. “Uh… Yes. But maybe not in the way you think.” Then of all things, she pulls off her vambrace, and pulls back her sleeve, showing the water rune around her left wrist. “I often feel out of place. I don’t have a path – and then suddenly the path was alway irev… irevok… was always there. Water’s patient, until it’s not. It finds the easiest path or it pushes HARD and you can’t tell which, but it’s always in response to an obstacle. I couldn’t exist without a rock to shatter against until it shatters. I don’t have a place. I have a sea to get to. When I’m not progressing towards it, I always feel unbalanced. Unsure.”
Serala lifts her eyebrows. “Always, when I think I start to understand who you are, there are more depths.” she notes. “The same could be said of the others, though. Except Rajar. I’m not sure he would know how to disassemble if his life depended on it. And it’s probably my own fault I know really know the others… People are hard work.”
“It’s not your fault.” Berra turns back to her horse, and starts working her way around the neck with her brush. “For one, you don’t have to understand them. You don’t owe them that. You can only choose to try, or not.” Serala is treated to an expression that has lip movement but nothing in the eyes. Berra is darkly amused. “You’re … dark to people too. Of course you are. I just found out more about you than I knew I could know. I like the silent rider, but I like the talking groom too. Different Seralas. Maybe you’re made of water.”
“Maybe it’s laziness.” Serala suggests, almost cheerfully. “Why get to know people who will move on as soon as the job is done? Maybe I just don’t care enough about people. Horses are so much simpler. And I like the herd instinct. They don’t try and one up each other. Which is peaceful.”. She actually winks at her fellow ‘groom’ and reaches to lower her tunic collar a little, so that you can see a trio of runes. Fire, Water, Air. “Maybe I am, at that.” she agrees with equanimity. “I just… I’m used to keeping everything inside. And people don’t notice you if you’re quiet. Not being noticed is useful. Until they forget you even exist and then you have to run their nose in it if needed. It’s a hobby….!”
Berra looks politely at the runes, and nods slowly. “Yes. You’ll always find a way, and try to make it the right one, and you have pride. But water finds a way. That’s what it does.” She looks up, all the intensity that she throws into everything now in her gaze. “But… I didn’t go home this year because there are things bigger than the Clan. Sartar needs me. It needs me to train, not to see my family. If you’re called away from your home, if you think of more than just the moment, then you can affect more. I’ve learned that from two people now.”
Serala inclines her head to that, thoughtful. Not rushing to answer. Things to think about. Things to ponder. Horses to groom.
Berra is competent at the simple horse tasks, but Road’s good nature is required when she manages to get too close to his eye with the brush. The horse just stolidly ignores it and Berra apologises by head butting the gelding’s shoulder. She seems to be turning things over in her head.