Public — Chatting And Rumours On The Road
After the futile hunt for false bisons, on the road. [[[s02:session-49|Session 49]]]
As they trail back towards the infantry, Berra says to those near her, “That attack wasn’t like the normal ones Onjur does. He doesn’t leave survivors. So something else was going on. He attacked too many people. And if we don’t see the out-sent cavalry soon, then there’s real trouble. Especially if this was the group they were chasing.” She shrugs. “Could be more than one, they might not be as cowardly as him, but still – if it was to draw us out, we’re going to get back to trouble.”
Then she adds, “And that trouble might even get between us and Argrath.”
Xenofos has a quiet conversation with Varanis – ending with the scholar riding off at brisk speed.
Berra watches him go, and then glances to Varanis, and then goes back to seeing that her command keeps moving.
Once they meet up with the infantry again, Berra relaxes somewhat, although she is still keeping scouts out in all directions, and she looks half furious half of the time.
Rajar is slowly coming awake again after his spell of hungover induced silence. He looks wary and alert.
Berra asks him after a while, “What do you reckon about the near danger? Much?”
“It is hard to tell. He may have fled. But my gut tells me he has trouble in store for us”
“Mm. If that was him, he came around ahead of our cavalry. He felt he had time. Our other cavalry, I mean. But he had those remounts, so he was faster. And travelling at night… Why would he use duck bolts?”
“Are they made of someone you know?”
“Don’t think so, although Devolin’s in the area. But it doesn’t seem right – an attack at night, but they attacked a group bigger than them, so they didn’t expect to win. I wonder a bit if they expected to cause duck trouble, but they had arrows as well. So I think they must have been pulling us off. I think the ducks are probably nothing to do with it, except they might have different bolts for different situations, and no Lunar ones. Could be Vantaros trouble – if Onjur went an’ talked to them, they might have the people out here to come and remind the Princeros to stay loyal. Or he could just be messing with us.”
Berra sighs. “Or trying to cause trouble between the guests and the host, but then he knows we are here AND knows what we are, anyhow.”
“I try not to ponder that too much, I just plan to kill him if I get the chance. It’s a shame we encountered that chaos creature. I could do with more of Urox’s power when I meet him”
“Yeah. I have to think it through then put it outta my head. Options, y’know? Maybe he bought them in Duck Point. It’s a bit far South for him, but we did meet him in Nochet. Maybe he was there causing trouble.” Berra shrugs. “Probably North, probably nothing. Let’s try to get you close to him next time.”
Berra keeps the army together and marching in good order, but on the alert, on the way back to Glasswall. She has scouts out in all directions, and she seems a mixture of grumpily hopeful, and jumpily determined. However, nothing attacks, and at Glasswall they settle back down. On the road to Glasswall from meeting the infantry Xenofos rides in company of Lenta. They are watched over by her axemaiden cousin.
There is time for further discussion with the King, but it seems he is both eager to show how he is a good host, and eager to see them off. Overnight, rumour comes in of what happened to the other cavalry – they were also led off or at least pulled away from the road, but there was no battle.
The next day sees the march back to Alda Chur, with more food than when they set off; King Herengvot is generous to wounded guests.
Varanis is keen to report back to Argrath.
Irillo the Quartermaster does a lot of very quick talking, and looks happy and proud around the wagon.
On the road back to Alda Chur, Berra is calm and quiet and peaceful, with a tiny smile every now and again. Some say she was chastised by Varanis for her failure to catch the Lunar. Others say she is smiling like Varaneva because she too killed someone yesterday. No bodies have been found.
There are rumours among the troops of some kind of argument between Berra and Xenofos. Someone claims to have witnessed Varanis getting sick, which triggers more rumours.
Varanis appears to be tired, but rides in her usual place towards the front of the column. When they pause to rest at midday, instead of visiting with the infantry as she normally would, she sits with Lenta and eats a small meal. Speculations about possible father are rather quiet.1 Hobbitomm: ((LUMINOUS STALLION KING!)), BleysRex: ((She’s been poisoned.))
At midday Xenofos sings a praise hymn to Uleria with a really good kithara playing. Perhaps drawn by that Berra joins him. How that might be, they end up clubbering each other with wooden practise weapons.
Berra is massively bruised afterwards, and apparently very well contented with that. Either by accident or design, Xenofos did not spoil her looks with any blows to the face.
There is hushed speculation if that was ordered by Varanis as further penance.
Some Babeester Gori are giving Xenofos dirty looks.
On the ride Berra seeks out Lenta, making sure there is nobody from the Corps around before she asks a question. She even manages a bit of polite small-talk before asking, “Whose palanquin did you think you were getting into? It’s been bothering me.”
Lenta sweeps an errand strand of hair off he face and looks at the Humakti. There is a shadow of anguish on her face, covered fast by a polite smile. “I would rather not speak of those events, Berra. But since you were there… Palanquin? I had no reason to doubt it would have belonged to anyone but Varanis.”
Berra nods. She looks oddly grim. “I’m asking because there’s still an enemy out there. One day, that could be bad for anyone. We wanna be ready. And the big one – it was Varanis who was commanding it? The person who thought …. who everyone thought was?”
Ernaldan looks forward. “I am not everyone. I though she was Varanis.”
“Nuh, at that point, everyone who saw her did. Like the bearers.” Berra sighs. “I’m missing something, and I don’t know… oh… Yeah. I wasn’t thinking in my head. Anot about who his retainers ARE. I’m pretty sure of who arranged that part, so I was wondering but yeah, if you have someone who’s that loyal that they help you with something like that, you have them even when you get exiled. That’s brother-band, that’s not payed for work stuff, right? He had to have used magic, and he probably has…. a Eurmalite? Or links to the Red Goddess? We know some people who were working for the Empire could use illusion.”
Lenta shrugs. Elegantly. And looks forward. Her smile is calm but does not fully cover the effect memories are having on her.
“Thanks.” Berra might even know what a toll it takes. “This is for the future. We’ve got to think about it. I’ve got to, anyhow – beyond this, there’s a time when we might meet him again. It sounds a bit weird to ask, but…” She thinks, then plunges ahead. “We should probably, all of us that were there, have some kind of signal so we know we’re us. Like a password for when you’re coming into camp and it’s really dark. It won’t happen yet, but we should know now, when we’re sure of ourselves and who can’t be listening in.”
Lenta does not comment that but rides in silence for a while. She straightens her back and looks at the Humakti. “There is a question about you going around, that you should probably know.”
“Oh yeah?” Berra was letting her gaze roam around, but she switches her attention to Lenta.
“I don’t know who asked it first, and I don’t need the answer.” Lenta continues, looking ahead.
“OK, but you’re not looking me in the eyes, so is this about me and ducks, or something that they’ll think is embarrassing?” Berra has her confused-but-thinking face on.
“I think it is embarrasing. Question is did you not know that bisons are slower then horses or did you want to catch the Lunars?” She looks at Berra. “I thought you should know.”
“Oh, right, yeah. Me on a horse is slower than me on a bison.” Berra looks irritated. “Over a short race, it’s not good. Get longer and the bison doesn’t bother getting tired. But I mostly wanted to catch him, and if he’d had bad luck we’d have caught him. A bit, I wanted to see what in hell he was doing and that gave us more information.” Already the irritation has faded. “And I’d put Rajar, with his heavy gear, faster than half the Vingans, and we needed the numbers. I mean, they’d have complained if we left them behind, and they’d have complained if we didn’t catch up, and either way they need something to complain about. They don’t like me and I’m fine with that as long as they obey for the next few weeks.”
“I said I do not need an answer, Berra.” Lenta says. She is looking somewhere else . “You do not need to explain that to me.”
“Yeah, but I don’t mind saying.” She shrugs, despite not being looked at. “But thank you for letting me know. I figured that one would be a problem, but knowing that it is helps me.”
Bits and pieces from ic-plotty following session 49