VS 180 Bad Memories

Varanis — 1626 0900 Memories

????, Earth Season


Context

End of Earth Season, on the ship to Prax. [[[s02:session-18|Session 18]]]

Events

Crossing the Mirrorsea Bay on the first part of the journey, in the relatively calm waters, is a good time to settle in for the long slow wait. Several people have been by the prow, on and off, taking turns watching forwards. Berra has been down by the animals, cutting bits of dreadlocked mane off Followed and telling the mare that she will be able to roam free soon. Then she comes up above the deck and something catches her attention and twists her heart, and she just stares off at… nothing. Suddenly, briefly, she was stricken by memory.

Varanis watches silently.

Berra goes to lean on the railing that makes the boat safe to be on, while keeping it light, and her eyes are heavy and troubled, her changeable personality fixing on this moment and keeping her there.

After a moment, the Vingan joins her. “What’s wrong?” she asks softly.

For a few moments, Berra does not answer, and then she says, “The City of Wonders used to be there,” quietly. Then, a little louder, she repeats herself. “The City of Wonders.” More firmly.

“Before Harrek,” Varanis says.

“Before me. I went there with him.”

Varanis is silent for a time. Finally she says, “What is he like?”

Berra thinks for a bit. “Um… he’s.. himself. But not like anyone else is. He won’t tolerate thinking anyone’s trying to stop him. Like Orlanth in rebellion, if he wants to be. But he doesn’t rebuild, except around himself. And he gets affronted if the world isn’t how he wants it. Like, if the sky angered him he’d just climb up there and claw it until he’d defeated it. I really think he could.”

Quietly Varanis says, “They killed my mother.”

Berra nods in answer, accepting that. “They kill a lot of people. And he doesn’t care, but it’s hard not to be swept up by him, when you’re with him. Or at least, it was for me. He’s terrible, but he’s also a figure that just makes the world be what he wants to be, and you’re part of the world.”

“I used to think I’d kill him if I met him. A child’s fantasy, I suppose.”

“Yeah… You could want to, but he wouldn’t allow it, and that would be that.” She looks down at the sea and the little crest Magasta sends to mark their passage. “I saw him tear someone in half.”

“He is just a man. Sooner or later, someone will succeed in killing him,” Varanis replies, her expression turning mulish.

“Someone. But he’s not just a man. I’m pretty sure he’s different to us. To how we were born. He said to me he was five hundred years old. I had to get someone to explain to me how you could count in hundreds. But he slept for centuries, he said. Like a bear.” Berra looks back out at where the shining reflections should be on the water, and the great silvery towers.

Varanis considers this, then shakes her head. “He can’t be invulnerable.” After a moment, she adds, “What was that business with the duck and Harrek? Back on the island.”

“You don’t survive him unless he wants you to, or doesn’t care. He saw me at Pennel Ford. So for about a week, and it was probably the weirdest week of my life, I got drunk with him. He gave me the sacking of a building. There was… well, an omen, I guess. But even so, I don’t know if it was worth going. But I was in Blood Hour at the Ford. And he respects professional killers, and he likes that I don’t fear him. It’s because he’s Death, and I don’t fear that.” The Humakti explains that bit like Varanis might not have picked it up yet.

Abruptly, Varanis turns and stalks away.1Berra gets a special on Insight. Varanis is suddenly very angry, but she probably doesn’t want to take it out on you. It’s a flash in the pan and from what you know of her, it will likely pass quickly.

“Sorry,” Berra blurts out, even as Varanis is moving off. “I should have shut up.” It is loud enough to be heard by anyone nearby, although not a shout. She makes no effort to follow, but lets Varanis leave.

The other woman doesn’t acknowledge her words, heading instead to the opposite side of the ship. Hours pass before she returns to Berra. “I wish it didn’t sound so much like you admire him,” she says as though the conversation had not been interrupted.

“I… I don’t. But I’m scared of what would happen if I met him again,” is Berra’s reply, like the conversation has had just enough break for her to think that through, and the continuation is natural.

Varanis arches an eyebrow at her, but says nothing.

“Maybe you don’t see this. But I’ve got a lot of water in me, and some people can just change me. I don’t want to meet him again, but if I do, I don’t know what will happen. Because he might just form me into part of his world again. Last time I got sick of it all, but… it was weird. I don’t know.” Berra yawns suddenly, catches herself, and suppresses it.

Her eyes narrow thoughtfully, then Varanis sighs. “Maybe I know too well what you mean.” Absently, she rubs the water runes that encircle her left forearm. “After all, I’m going in search of Argrath.”

“We probably do need to know what is going on in more of the world, before we try to change it,” Berra says with a wry smirk. “But one day. Only we’re young… how’s the High Strategy going? Still Vinga and Honour?”

“There is nothing without Honour.” Her reply brooks no argument. “And Vinga’s hand guides me. Nothing has changed that.”

Berra’s expression reaches something like happiness. “Yes. So that means, you’re doing alright. We are. A bit ratty because we work best in action, but we’re doing fine as long as we keep doing it.”

Now it’s Varanis’ turn to smile wryly. “And that’s why I needed to leave Nochet.”

“Mhm. I’m glad you’re here. Really am. All of you.”

Varanis reaches out to put a hand on Berra’s shoulder. “I couldn’t just watch you go.” She lets her hand drop then, adding, “Which reminds me… did Lanasha find you?”

“Yeah.” Berra considers how to put something. “She was calm. I was nice to her. I think she wanted me to know that she was looking out for me, so I thanked her and told her not to worry.” There’s a shrug from the young woman. “It’s not going to work, but at least there wasn’t any crying.”

“She still loves you, but at least she isn’t trying to trap you any more.”

“Mm.” Berra does not entirely agree with that, from her body language, but she changes the subject. “I need to eat. Want something?”

Varanis nods. “Food is good. I’ve got some stuffed bread that Marta packed me this morning. It won’t keep. I’ll share it if you’d like some.”