VS 096 Feathers and other Gifts

Varanis — 1626 0757 Gifts

????, Earth Season, Disorder Week


Context

Earth Season, Disorder Week, Waterday evening. Before dusk. [[[s01:session-46|Session 46]]]

At the White Grape Inn, one day after [http://journeyoftheheroes.wikidot.com/berra:aftermath-01 Varanis attempted to visit Berra] at the Temple of Humakt.

Events

It is evening, but not yet dark, on Waterday. Berra slips into the White Grape in full armour, and puts down her pack and her shield, in the place where she sleeps. The Death Runes written on the wall there have not been cleaned away. She runs a finger over one, and smiles, and goes up the stairs to see if Varanis is in.

The Vingan is closed off in her room, but answers readily to the sound of Berra’s clap outside the door. “Come in, Berra,” she calls out.

“That familiar?” asks Berra with a grin, as she comes in. “Am I jingling? Do I clap at ankle-height?” She looks a lot better, with colour back in her, and vivacity.

“That familiar. You are the only one who claps. My family all knock on the door frame and no one else comes to see me,” comes the abstracted reply. Varanis is seated at her table, her jewellery making supplies and a thin sheet of bronze in front of her. She’s scowling at the work.

Berra comes to sit down, unasked. “Oh yes. Esrolian House. You’re used to wooden doors. The Battalion buildings mostly had hides or weave-rush hung in the doorways. Except the kitchen. I used to work there sometimes.”

After glaring at the work a moment longer, Varanis shoves it away from her and lifts her assessing gaze to Berra instead. “How are you feeling today?” she asks, studying the other woman intently.

Berra thinks about that, and replies, “A lot better, thank you. The Water within me always carries me past things quickly. I need to talk to people who know more than me, and they are all busy, except the Iron Lord, who didn’t move or reply when I went into his … well, room, I suppose. Iron Room. But I’m better. I shouldn’t be in charge of anything too complicated for the next day or two, is all.”1Varanis rolled on insight in hopes to get more, but failed the roll. Berra’s often readable face is calm, bordering on content.

Varanis nods. “I’m glad you are better. The quest took a lot out of everyone.”2“Vengeance is mine,” sayeth the Berra, “as I Special Insight: Human while in a position to notice and care.” Insight: Your Vingan hasn’t processed anything yet. She’s worrying about other people and distracting herself with projects, which she’s failing at – she screwed up that bronze sheet on the table in front of you. Looks like an attempt to engrave runes into it that has gone awry. The runes would be a best fit for Sid, by the way.

“I’m glad you did it. Succeeded, I mean, not just tried. And you’re here. You did well. What are you thinking of making?” Berra scoots the stool a little closer.

Varanis stares at the mess in front of her. “I was trying to make an arm-ring for Salid. To say thank you and to show him how proud I am of his courage. But, I can’t get the runes right. I moved the tool too quickly.” There’s a deep scratch in the surface of the metal emerging from one of the darkness runes.

“It hasn’t yet hit you really, so you’re impatient and don’t know why. We all need time. Can you sleep instead of working?” Berra looks at the Vingan, after the briefest of glances at the bronze. “Dreams help.”

Varanis stares at the Humakti. “Dreams help?” Her voice cracks on the final word. “Dreams mean I can see Mellia broken and bleeding again. I can see Xenofos looking haunted. I can see you…” Her voice cracks again and she pauses for a breath. “I can see you, wielding the sword that kills me.”

“They help me,” Berra says, thoughtfully. “Because even if they are bad, I get to see the bad thing and it does not hurt so much afterwards. But… it’s the past now. We did it. It hurts, and we’re alive still. But… bleeding is the price for succeeding. Other people don’t, because of us. We all need time and rest, though. We really do.”

“The thing is, Berra… I got off easy. And I don’t understand it. Dying was such an easy thing to do. Hell. I even did it twice.” She stares at Berra with eyes that look a little wild. “Shouldn’t it have been harder?”

Berra shakes her head. “You had the right bloodline. You had a hero sending you to the right place. You had a Yelm who had asked for you. Are you feeling bad because other people got more hurt?”

“Well, yes.” The look she gives Berra is surprised, not by her own answer, but by the question, which seems obvious. “I led people down that path, and while they chose to follow me, I still started it. And yet, I came out of things whole while others paid the price I should have paid. It’s not right.”

“No. You shouldn’t have paid it. Everyone made their choices and you want to not feel selfish by feeling you’re been lucky. That’s allowed, though. Every battle you live through, you’re allowed to be lucky as well as skilful. It all comes around in the end.” Berra pats where her water bottle usually hangs, and then finds it in a different place on her belt.

Varanis looks away, not yet willing to accept what Berra is offering. “It doesn’t matter, anyway. It’s done. Kallyr is alive and the Flame has returned to Sartar. While a few of us will bear permanent scars, none of us stayed dead.” She shrugs. “We won that battle.”

“Yes. I think you are looking at the bad parts. Can you believe you deserve this?” Berra taps her bottle a couple of times but does not take it off her belt.

Varanis blinks. “Deserve what? Water?” She looks confused. Perhaps she wasn’t fully paying attention.

“No. Victory.” Berra gives a slight, wry smile.

This gets a blanks stare. “It’s not about what we deserve. It’s what was necessary. But it’s also not about me, is it? It’s about all of us, as a unit, if you will. We did it, not me.”

“Right. Then you can stop blaming yourself.” Berra’s grin widens, and she stands up. “Shall we go for a walk?”

Varanis snorts, looks down at her attempt at the arm-ring, and then rises. “Sure. Just let me get ready.” She’s left her greaves on, but had removed the rest of her armour for the engraving. It doesn’t take her long to buckle things into place. It looks like she finally got some of the straps lengthened as Berra had suggested before.

Berra says nothing, and does not even look satisfied over it. “Something to eat, and maybe beer at a place that isn’t here?” She suggests.

The Vingan nods as she straps her sword into place.

Downstairs, Berra grabs her helmet, and runs her thumb lovingly over the black feather, the only decoration in the cross-shaped crest holder. “It turned black,” she says, bright and happy suddenly, and holds the helmet out for Varanis to look.

Varanis dutifully examines the feather. “So it did. That’s the same one your Sword gave you?”

Berra settles the helmet onto her head, about eye level for Varanis. “Yes. Isn’t it fantastic?” Fantastic, and black. There is a touch of colour where it was not pure white before, but it is, for the main, a black mallard tail feather.

“Mhmm,” Varanis agrees as she puts her own helmet on. “It’s very impressive.”

Berra sighs, and does a small but very dramatic eye-roll. “You don’t understand the glory,” she says in mock complaint, and makes for the door with Varanis.3Yeah. Berra’s hugging the duck in her <3 but if Varanis doesn’t want to, she’s not pushing it.4He’s Berra’s duck. Not Varanis’. Varanis has one love, and she’s far away. She has a prince she’s loyal to and who she helped save, but who hasn’t seen fit to call on her. And people who don’t really need her. She’s getting by, but happy for Berra’s joy.

After the spells and the automatic checking of the door, Berra leads the ways down familiar then unfamiliar streets, and then stops leading, and watches Yelm slipping down. From here they could move a few steps and see the Flame. “We should go home,” she says. “The Blue Tree Clan. Or even Esrolia, if you want me to.”

Varanis stops when Berra does, staring at the sky thoughtfully. As Yelm begins to disappear from sight, she takes the steps needed to bring the Flame into view. At last, there is a small smile of satisfaction on her lips. “Maybe,” she says. “I suppose it depends on what, if anything, the Prince asks of me. It would be nice to go to Blue Tree for a while. Quieter than returning to Nochet.” She adds, “There’s Mellia’s wedding to think of too.”

“If we go to Nochet, it gets more complicated. The Tula is a refuge. And yes, I suppose we do. I wonder how they will negotiate a change of Clan like that. It would be good to see Yehna and Haran again.” Berra is almost at the stage where half-formed thoughts bubble. Almost recovered, at least outwardly.

“I would like to go to the Tula, I think. But I need to know what Mellia’s timeline is and what Kallyr expects of me before I make any decisions.” She laughs, a tight little laugh. “I’m trying not to rush my decisions right now.”

“Mellia needs to recover, and we should travel slowly for her. How long do Noble marriages take to agree on?” Someone more educated than Berra would have said ‘negotiate’.

Varanis laughs genuinely now. “It depends on how much of a rush everyone is in. Days? Weeks? A season?” She shrugs. “It’s hard to say.”

“Right. And this one is complicated. It has two Clans and a House. At least we know the couple will get along.” Berra glances along the street where Varanis is, but keeps her attention on Yelm’s light. “Venlar has a lot of thralls. That might be tricky, if he goes to the Blue Tree.”

“I didn’t notice any thralls in the Tula. It doesn’t seem to be a widespread custom in Sartar.”

Berra grunts. “It’s mostly not. There are more cottars. Free people can leave. The … the Clan would probably trade in prisoners of war, but we don’t really take any. It might be different with the Green Fish Clan talking over the border.”

“I expect Venlar and his people are used to their practices around thralldom not being widely accepted in Sartar.” She shrugs. “He’ll adapt, or not.” She doesn’t seem overly worried about it.

“Good point. I was just wondering really. I suppose I need to get them house-gifts. What do people like her get given?” Berra leans against the wall, back to it and the Flame, and plays with bad shadow puppets in the ground, making a wolf and then a distorted alynx.

“Fresh bandages?” Varanis shrugs. “Our Mellia is not much into extravagance and Venlar seems the sort to need them at times.”

“No. But it’s nice to have a thing to help a young household settle. Only I guess that all gets sorted by the families. It’s different for you. Maybe I should carve them something really pointless, that they have to keep.” Berra’s innocent look is not too innocent really.

Varanis laughs, her eyes lighting up with humour. “You should. Something they’ll need to give pride of place to, but maybe something obscure too, so they won’t fully know what to make of it.”

Berra continues to attempt to look like this is not her fault. “Maybe see how long it takes them to ask.”

“Come on. I’m hungry. Let’s go find something to eat.” At last, the Vingan looks and sounds like herself.