Cold Silence

1629, Sea Season, Whichever evening Berra finished the wine party


The sign of the Bison and Harmony, aka the bull in the skittle shop. Session SA4.16.


Berra has spent the evening at the House of Hulta, and come home without ceremony… that is, has come back to the inn where her bed is. The two young Humakti have been told to go take a walk, and find out how many people take note of them.

Varanis is on the floor, hunched over her unrolled jewellery making kit, playing with scraps of gold. She glances up when Berra comes in.

Berra looks tired and strained and angry. She is unbuckling Wind Tooth. “It went well,” is all she says.1Varanis passes Insight.

Varanis arches a brow, so like the noblewomen from earlier. “Then why are you mad?”

Berra looks down at her iron sword and back at Varanis. “We argued.”

“You and Raven? Want me to talk to him?” Varanis chews her lip thoughtfully. “Or, want to tell me about it?”

Berra takes a slow breath. “He probably needs someone to talk to. It shouldn’t be me. He was talking while I was telling people things, and I told him he was wrong. He’s upset.” She puts Wind Tooth down on her bed, and starts to unbuckle the Wyter Sword, careful not to brush against the iron.

“And what helps you the most right now?”

Berra puts her hand on the sword, finally. “Hey, Lord. I need to sleep. Let a Wind Lord hear your complaint if you wish…”

She listens a moment and then hands over the sheathed weapon. “I should never be the one to choose that when he’s stuck inside a sword.”

Varanis nods. “That is thoughtful of you.” She accepts the sword, saying “Do you want to talk here or on the roof, Lord?”

I have already mentioned that roofs are a particular dislike of mine. Lord Raven does not sound happy.

Insight: as well as angry he sounds hurt, and the two are bound together.2An Insight at half normal score.

Berra wore only light clothes and ritual armour, and is stripping for bed. It is a humid evening,

“I was offering privacy,” she says. “But, if you wish, I will try to get myself in a position so that I can do this silently. Let me just put my tools away and my attention will be all yours.”

“I can sleep outside the door,” Berra offers. She does not look at Varanis or the sword.

She sits, with the sword across her lap, while she tidies away her supplies. They end up in a surprisingly tidy roll of leather. “No, you sleep. I can be silent.”

By the time Varanis has tidied up, Berra is ready for bed. She crawls under the light cover and takes Wind Tooth with her.

Once finished with the tools, she slides into the far corner, wriggles a moment or two, takes several deep breaths, and closes her eyes, hand resting gently on the hilt. You are angry, my Lord?

I am, comes the reply. Her arrogance is unbounded.

Oh dear, Varanis says. Did she make a mistake at the party?

She barely acknowledged me, and told me that my knowledge was insufficient. I, who spent this whole week helping her to prepare!

Mhmm, Varanis replies. I can hear how hurt you are by that.

She told me to be quiet! The anger is real, but that is why he is hurt.

I would be angry and hurt in your position too, she admits. Indeed, I have been. Her words can sometimes cut deeply, despite her bluntness. Or maybe because of it. The metaphor rather falls apart.

Getting water in her wick? Did she have to practice her peasant phrases on me?

There’s a soft laugh. That dialect comes out when she has strong feelings, my Lord.

DON’T MOCK ME! The rage is brief, although it is enough to make Dezar puff up. As soon as it is out, the anger recedes. Please. It has been a bad day.

Varanis reels slightly, at his rage. That was not mockery, Lord Raven, but an acknowledgement of her character. We cannot change her plumage that dramatically. She is a peasant. It is just part of her. That will emerge when she is angry or overwhelmed, just as you and I have our own tells.

I was not entirely polite to her either, he admits. She is knowledgeable about Northern Sartar’s customs.

Varanis waits him out.

She may have been right about Colymar social aspects. He sounds played out now. But I will not be apologising. She should treat me with the respect due my station.3Lord Raven had Specialled Air and passed Loyalty (Wyter Priest) so he knew he was being an arse and didn’t have a way back.

Dezar purrs nervously.

So, how long will you hold onto this anger? She can usually past her own quickly, but there are times, the Vingan’s mind voice is partly rueful and partly pained, where she can bear a grudge for a long time. What matters to you most? Her deference or her honesty? Courtesy or commitment?

There is a long silence. I did not ask to be a prisoner of Time and of iron. What is her care to me, when she is my prison guard?

He can likely feel Varanis’ wince through her hand on the hilt. I am sorry, my Lord. If it is at all possible, when we have driven the Lunars back, I will speak to her about finding a way to set you free.

There is hardly a pause, and then he tells her, I know what duty is. I regret the details, not the necessity.

Consider this, she offers, Less than a season ago, I’m not sure she’d have been capable of arguing with you. This is a sign that her mind and spirit are recovering.

She is, yes. I suppose we must now negotiate each other’s thoughts more clearly. So far I have not talked with her as a whole person. Change the subject? Tell me of my family. Let me digest this thing you have helped me swallow.

As you wish, my Lord. Do you want news or stories of our encounters? There was this one time I dropped your brother on his ass…

  • 1
    Varanis passes Insight.
  • 2
    An Insight at half normal score.
  • 3
    Lord Raven had Specialled Air and passed Loyalty (Wyter Priest) so he knew he was being an arse and didn’t have a way back.