Attempted apology

1628, Fire Season


Context

They’ve just survived the Lightbringers Quest, again, and are on the road to return to Sartar. Berra has been managing to be a guard, but not much else. After session 20: HeroQuest 5

Events

Berra gets out of earshot of the others, as long as they are speaking low, and keeps herself on the outside.  She’s being a guard, maybe by habit.

As soon as Varanis decides they’ve gone far enough, she says, “Are you ok? I’ve never… you looked…” She struggles to find the right words and gives up. “Are you ok?” she repeats at last.

Berra takes a while to answer, and when she does the answer is, “No…”  It sounds for a moment like she will say more, but all that she gets to is another, “No.”  Not an ‘I will be’.  Not even an ‘it’ll take me two days’.

Varanis winces. “How can I help?”

Berra looks at Varanis for a moment, and the moment drags out.  “I want to get you back safely,” she says.  “Be on the mount that goes faster.  But I need to concentrate.”  She looks away.  “You should have my horse.”  There is a shrug from her, and no attempt to get off it, or even any body language that says she cares.  No tears, although her eyes are still red.

“I…” Varanis looks at the stubborn little mule she’s riding. “I picked this because I thought it would be safest. Least likely to cause you… or rather… anyone to worry about me making stupid choices.” She sighs. “But it was the wrong choice?” She’s probably still talking about the mount.

Berra looks back to Varanis.  “Not fast.”  There’s a tiny twist to her expression and then she finally gives way to tears, looking down at the golden-brown mane in front of her.  “You were supposed to get away safely.  I thought you would.”

“I’ll switch to your bison,” Varanis offers urgently. “But it’s a long way to fall and I’ve clearly been dropped on my head too many times already.” She tries for a wry smile, but just begins to cry. “I don’t know how to explain it, Berra,” she pleads. “I just felt it deep in my guts. I had to do this thing. You were all supposed be to be safe.”

Berra blinks back tears for a while.  “You didn’t trust me.”

“Trust goes both ways,” Varanis tries. “None of you listened or trusted me either.”

Berra looks at Varanis, and sighs.  “Please go away.  I want to be not arguing.” This time, the sigh does not manage to stop the tears.

Varanis shudders. “I’m doing this wrong. I’m doing it all wrong again. I didn’t come here to argue.” She yanks her helmet off her head in frustration, swiping at the tears she can’t seem to stop. “I don’t know why I’m like this.”

Berra manages a couple of deep breaths.  “I think I know.”  She clenches her jaw.  “But I shouldn’t say things when I feel like this.  Because what if I’m right?”

“Do you think you could hear me out and then if you want me to leave you alone, I’ll do so?”

Berra shakes her head.  “I don’t want to hear what you’ve got to say.  I already heard it, right?  And it didn’t change me.”

“I’m trying to say something different…”

Berra shrugs.  “Alright then,” she says in a small voice.1Varanis fails Insight

“You accused me of behaving like a spoiled child,” Varanis says. “I… you weren’t wrong. I was acting like little Ranie rebelling against her grandmothers. It doesn’t matter that I believed I was right or that I felt silenced. I failed you by not trusting you. By not respecting you. I listened to my pride and my anger and not my friends.” She sniffs in an undignified way. “I… it’s like you said. I betrayed you.” That last ends in a sob she can’t quite choke back.

Berra looks down, and forces a nod.  “I don’t know what we… what we do from here,” she says.  “Because I don’t know how it works now.”  Varanis gets a hopeless, yearning look.  “And because…”  She looks back along the road only for a moment, but it makes her shudder.

The Vingan takes several breaths, trying to force calm. “I don’t know either. I do know that I love you and I’m terrified I have lost you over this. But I won’t hold you where you don’t want to be.”

Berra says, “I don’t hate you.  But now I… I can’t talk to you yet.  I need time.  I…”  She closes her eyes and tries to attain calm.  It comes after a few long moments, settling on her unnaturally.  “The first priority is to get away from here.  The grazelanders may be a problem.  Stopping me from punching Koraki is as easy as giving me an order not to.  I might have just hurt Kallyr very badly and I am going to be thinking about that too much.  There might be a sky bear about.  I don’t know what other dangers there are on the road.  It is not a normal trip.”  Her voice is how it always is when she is keeping her emotions under check, but the twist of her bottom lip says it will not last long.  “See to the wounded and the hurt, if they still are, please.  And the hungry.  I do not think I can spare that attention.”

Varanis nods reluctantly. “I will take care of those things and try to give you the space you need.” She attempts to run her hand through her hair in a gesture Berra has seen a million times. The fingers catch in a mess of tangles and plaits. The Vingan lets out an indistinct sound and then just jams her helmet back in place.

Berra gets on with scanning the maize fields and the roadside shack coming into bowshot ahead. As she looks away the light hits her just right.  On her left cheek, nestled around the lines of the Truth Rune, there are three reddish blotches.  They look like the flush she gets when she lets herself drink, but in a different pattern to the usual pink-cheeked tipsy complexion.  They are three roundish dots, in a triangle. And, sharp eyes can see, she is not wearing the thong that often tangled with her torc.2Critical scan roll:  The wolf-tooth necklace is missing. Varanis chokes back another sob, but doesn’t say anything.