1626, Earth Season, Death Week
At House Saiciae, Nochet
Xenofos will be fighting a duel and Berra is his second. She has words of advice for Varanis, who is still not happy about the whole thing. This continues from Storm front, sometime after Session 2.06 (Sartarite Blue).
Berra is standing on guard outside Xenofos’ room. She has sent a servant along to ask if Varanis can call on her.
Varanis arrives moments after the servant returns to say she will be. The Vingan is clothed and armoured. She has eschewed the Saiciae hairstyle in favour of the simple plait she wore through much of her time in Sartar. Marta must be twitching with embarrassment about it.
Berra nods, gives the door a glance, and steps away from it. “I had a thought,” she said. “About the opponents.”
“Yes?” The question is devoid of emotion. She appears calm.
“This is a chance to win people. There are all sorts of things we COULD decide about them – that it was on purpose, or that they are foes, but it is important not to. If he dies, I’ll … well, assume he won’t. He’s going to face someone from the house of Deleaos. We were there a day ago. This is important not to get wrong, for your Grandmother… but for you.” Berra blurts it all out at once.
Varanis studies Berra closely. “You are telling me to use this duel to make an ally?” she asks carefully.
“No. I’m telling you that if it doesn’t go badly, you should, if you can. Or at least don’t… well, acting with honour is fine.” Berra keeps her voice low. “But if this leads to bad feeling because everyone’s sensitive, that’s hard to get rid of afterwards.”
“I never thought to hear you telling me how to turn my cousin’s honour to political advantage,” Varanis says softly. Her gaze is flinty.
“I never thought you’d need it,” Berra replies, her eyes calm although she has to look up to make eye contact. “But I’m not telling you to use his honour. I’m telling you that you should use the situation. If you can. Not there, but don’t destroy there what you can’t mend later, if that’s your limit.”
“Your point is valid. I will remember it. Is there anything else?”
“Ask yourself the ten most important houses to be allies with, for you in Sartar. That’s a campaign. If Deleaos is on them, you’ll have to find out how important Horh…whatever his name is. I didn’t hear it clearly.”
Varanis nods. “Fine. I will think on this.”1Varanis passes insight: Beneath the usual Humakti-can-do-anything swagger, Berra is regretful. It is probably over what she has just said to Varanis, but she does not try to take it back.
“This is under Esrolian rules, Thegn. It’ll be fine.” Berra clips off something she was going to say.
“If that’s everything, I should make sure that Mellia is ready to go,” Varanis replies. She’s aloof. Politely distant and every inch the noblewoman, albeit in armour. Kallyr’s ring glints on her arm.
Berra bows. “Thank you for seeing me.” It’s polite, but she is not being formal in a cold way. She is just being polite.
Varanis turns and starts to walk away. She hesitates, then turns back. “Keep him safe, Berra. As best you can. Make sure the blades aren’t tampered with in any way. Assassinations can be made to look like accidents. And even a non-fatal accident can have significant consequences. Mellia and I will be close by.”
Berra nods. “I know,” she says, and it’s sympathetic, offered to Varanis rather than a rejection of her advice.
With a brusque nod, Varanis turns away again and strides down the hall.
- 1Varanis passes insight: Beneath the usual Humakti-can-do-anything swagger, Berra is regretful. It is probably over what she has just said to Varanis, but she does not try to take it back.