Serala — Saying Goodbye
????, Fire Season, Season/Movement Week
Fire Season/Movement Week/Waterday/Morning [[[s01:session-39|Session 39]]]
So it’s dawn at the Prince’s paddocks. Serala has been making nice with a small herd of Goldeneyes and their rider, completely oblivious to the messenger who sneaked in behind her back to takl to her cousin. Eventually she drags herself away and heads back towards Varanis and Fin, looking thoughtful. Well, she often looks thoughtful. One could say… extremely thoughtful.
Varanis is standing next to Doqeia, looking a bit subdued. She watches Serala approach.
Finarvi hails her, breaking her concentration. <<Hoy, cousin. It seems your suit to the Luminous Stallion King has been noticed. He sent his representative to have a manly word with me.>> Despite his jovial words, his face is grim.
Serala’s eyebrows go up. A lot. <<Interesting. That rider is a ‘hostage’ against the Feathered Horse Queen’s delivery on her promises. And he had a word with me.>> She glances towards Varanis, clearly uncomfortable, but not wishing to leave her friend out. She doesn’t sure what to say for a long time, but her eyes are clouded as she finally says, “I’m sorry, Varanis. Truly.”
Finarvi’s eyes flick between the two women. “I’m not sure you want to be burdened with our politics, Varanis. Truly, I’m not.”
“If I was meant to know what was going on, you’d be speaking Trade Talk,” she says, attempting to reassure them. The words are at odds with her worried expression. “Would it be easier if I left?” she asks.
“No,” Finarvi says reflexively. He looks unhappy.
“You know we discussed duty, and how I had avoided by leaving?” Serala clarifies. “It seems that my Queen has found a use for me. And while I can avoid Grandfather’s wishes, I cannot… will not… avoid hers.” The respect in her tone for her leader is clear. <<Apparently if I return home, three warriors will be released to fight for Kallyr in the upcoming battles. I don’t understand the counting around that.>> The extra bits of clarification are for Finarvi, before she echoes his words. “I trust you, Varanis; but I am not going to give you details unless you want them and assure me you will not share them – not even to your own family. Which is a large ‘ask’ and as such it is a choice only you can make.”
Varanis thinks hard. “I’m not particularly fond of lying. But I wouldn’t offer information to anyone. And I would refuse to share what isn’t mine to share. I don’t know if that’s enough,” she replies after a moment. She is absently running her hand down Doqeia’s neck as she looks up at the two mounted Grazelanders.
“That…” Finarvi looks like he wants to add something memorable and descriptive there but refrains, “was Nargli, Lord of Herds, speaking on behalf of the Luminous Stallion King. He told me to help you, Serala, and ‘not fuck up.'” He goes on to relate what Nargli said to him, in Trade Talk, word for word. His eyebrows lift as he repeats the message about the Luminous Stallion king wanting him to be a man sometimes.
“He was a <<giant cock stallion>>,” Varanis mutters. She almost got it right.
Serala inclines her head to Varanis. “Good enough for me. There are no details of battle plans, just orders to fulfill. I think th…” She breaks off as Fin repeats what it said. After a while, she scrapes her jaw up off the floor, “Well. How… elegant. Lance indeed. I’ll give him ‘lance’…” She reaches out to put her hand on Fin’s shoulder, “You are more of a man than any, when you so wish,” she notes. And then can’t help smiling, “Finarvi has been teaching you, I hear.”
“I certainly felt the urge to do to him what Rajar did to that chicken” he grins. “Does that count?”
Varanis smiles at Serala, pleased with herself for causing that smile, however fleeting it might be.
Serala returns the favour and repeats, nearly word for word (her memory isn’t as good as Finarvi’s) what was said to her. “It seems interesting, that two messengers came, one with a courteous invitation from her, and one with a less so from him.” she notes. “And, to be honest, I am unsure what we could ‘fuck up’ merely carrying messages. It suggests to me that there is more than we know at work.” She tightens her grip on Finarvi’s shoulder before releasing him, “I think I will need your skills at reading people.” And then she nudges Pag towards Varanis, “Also, courier work suggests moving around. I am called by duty; but you are not getting away from my friendship so easily. Someone has to keep you in line.”
Varanis has been listening to the two Grazelanders intently, in spite of her joke about Nargli. “You really do have to leave, don’t you?” She straightens her shoulders and draws in a breath. “Stupid question and unworthy. Of course you have to leave. Is there anything I can do to help you?”
“I fear so,” Serala says to Varanis. “It.. may be for the best. The group pulls in different directions; with fewer split loyalties, your life will, I suspect, be simpler. Just make sure you remember.. ‘What would Serala say’ before you throw any stones to cause ripples!”
The Vingan laughs. “Or wake krashtids. Just to be clear, I should be asking what would Serala say, not what would Fin say, right?” Varanis asks, teasing. The laughter doesn’t quite reach her eyes, which look sad.
Madryn stamps, fussing at her bit, sensing her rider’s tension. Finarvi turns her about. “You can always run away with us, you know. Just be sure to reassure your cousins so they don’t come howling for our blood.”
Serala grins at that, “Well, it would get you out of the Kallyr problem.” she points out. “In the Grazelands, no-one can hear you scre… err.. can find you, I mean.”
Varanis looks briefly hopeful, but then she shakes her head. “I’m bound by my vow. But, when the Flame is lit, if I can, I will come looking for you.”
“We’ll set a watch,” Finarvi says gravely, but his eyes are bright. “And I promised you a sword, so we might meet before then, if the gods smile on us.”
“Oh… and I didn’t clarify. Yes, what would Serala do. We know what Finarvi would do in most situations, and it wouldn’t be good for your dignity…” She looks innocent as she glances towards her cousin. “Yes. Come and find us. We will doubtless be in the middle of some big, bloody battle, given our history together to date.” She reaches out a hand to Varanis. “This is not goodbye,” she promises. “Just don’t get yourself killed.”
“I will try to survive this,” the Esrolian says gravely.
“Look after those cousins of yours,” says Finarvi. “And remind Xenofos to eat occasionally.”
“And yes Fin, I will need that sword one of the days. I am looking forward to it. But who will teach me Pure Horse Tongue without you? I have so many curse words to learn!”
“Another reason to visit,” he smiles at her. “Come and I will make sure you get that steam bath I promised you.”
Serala looks to Varanis for long moment. “We aren’t leaving this minute,” she notes. “We need to pack. Collect messages. Check in a few places. But soon. Tell Rajar and Berra and Dormal farewell for me?” she asks. “I’ll miss them all. I know it will be strange to miss Dormal, but there you have it, life is strange. Rajar and Berra… it will hurt my heart, they are shield-sibs. Family.” She looks to Finarvi, “We have work to do. And I fear if we all stand here, the shadows will grow long while we say the same things in different ways. Parting is pain. But duty calls and the future is still to be written.”
“Writing!” Varanis says suddenly. “Do you write? Can we send letters when time allows?”
“I cannot. But I am sure Grandfather can, and would love to see what I am saying in private correspondence…” Serala … snerks. Who know she could snerk? Such talent!
“There are usually scribes in the trading posts and travelling through,” he says thoughtfully. “And if it all goes awry,” he adds softly, “know you can find haven with the White Hazel Clan in High Meadow.”
Varanis climbs into her saddle, with somewhat more confidence than she did two seasons ago. “You have stuff to collect at the inn, don’t you? I refuse to say goodbye right now. Let’s get what you need so that I can at least know you travel as safely and as well-supplied as we can arrange.” She adds, “And thank you, Fin. That means a lot to me.”
Serala smiles serenely, “I will need supplies to help Finarvi with his manliness.” she murmurs sweetly. “A codpiece, perhaps, of sufficient proportions to impress…” She shifts Pag round so that the cousins can move three abreast with Varanis in the middle. “To the inn.”
As they ride, Varanis rattles off her limited list of Pure Horse Tongue. Her vocabulary seems to be mostly limited to weapons and curse words, but she’s proud of it nonetheless.
[http://journeyoftheheroes.wikidot.com/varanis:1626-0708-goodbyes Next story in the sequence]