1626, Sea Season, Movement Week
Sea Season, Movement Week, Freezeday? Early morning. Between Session 1.26 Warg and Peace and Session 1.27 Hide Bound
Serala has been avoiding Varanis, while Varanis has been trying to find the Grazelander.
Varanis heads to the stables to groom her horses. She’s tired and opts to take Doqeia out this morning. Heading for some sort of green pasture land to practice the things Serala taught her on the road.
After a while, there is a thundering of hooves and Manasa comes thundering by. Yes. Varanis’ horse. Being ridden by a patently showing off Serala, who is riding with no difficulty at all, even as the mare prances and dances and tries, on occasion, to throw her, Serala is stuck as though with glue, a wild – if somewhat unfriendly – smile on her face as she crosses the Vingan’s path.
Varanis focuses her attention on Doqeia as the mare startles. There’s a brief moment of tension, but then things seem to fall into place and both rider and horse relax. Once they are both safe, Varanis looks up to watch Serala and Manasa.
Serala lifts Manasa into a rear before coming down to curvette in front of Varanis. “She has potential.” she notes coldly. “As do you.” That’s all that is offered at this point, before she turns and falls into step, the mare now behaving perfectly. The Grazelander is definitely making a Statement.
Varanis’ initial expression of hopeful welcome fades. Now there is a mix of emotions playing across her face; exhaustion battles with regret and wounded pride. There’s hurt there too. “She’s a demon and I probably deserve her.” The words, when finally uttered, are bitter. “But I’m trying, Grazelander. What more do you want from me?”
Serala reaches out a hand to smooth lightly down the silken neck. “I want you to understand.” she says simply. “Do you even know why I am angry?”
“No.” The word is accompanied with a slight shrug. Varanis is staring between Doqeia’s ears as they ride.
“Guess.” Serala retorts. “You made choices, they were presumably informed by understanding of consequences. Unless it truly was the grabbing of a toddler? Tell me what you think happened.”
“Are you talking about the box? That was weeks ago!” Varanis’ words are incredulous.1She’s also exaggerating the timeline a bit. Go movement rune!
Serala tilts her head to one side, expression completely impassive. “Actions may be in the past. Consequences are not tied to the same. Reasons behind actions continue, unless understood. Am I to expect, when you next hold my back, that, like a magpie, you might rush away to thieve a shiny trinket, leaving me to die? Is that what you would have me take away?”
Varanis looks stunned by Serala’s words. “But… If you hadn’t gotten in the way earlier, I wouldn’t have had to go back for it. You stood between me and my own choice.” Now there’s an angry edge to her voice.
“You. Your choice.” Serala lifts her eyebrows. “Why is your choice so important? When you came to travel with us, did you even consider the dynamics of the group? Is that what your tutors taught you.. that you alone have the right to make choices for all?”
“They taught me that I have the obligation to do so. If anything, my error was in not asserting that at the top of the hill in the first place. And it was the right choice. We found evidence of a spy.” Her arrogance appears to have allowed Varanis to rewrite things in her own head, but there is a subtle defensiveness in her declaration.
“Why?” Serala asks calmly. “Why do you believe you have such an obligation? Is your skill so much greater than those of us who have been fighting for our lives for decades? Right, wrong – that is not my dispute. ” She lets the horses move forward for a while before asking another question. “Tell me of the relationship between Berra and your cousin Dormal. Tell me of what Tiwr means to Nala. Tell me why it is good to ignore the advice of those who have actually been acknowledged as battle leaders. Tell me who you believe put you in charge.”
“But, I’m a noblewoman!”
Serala’s eyebrows go high enough to reach her hairline. “Tell me, Varanis… do you actually believe, among my people, that I am not? Did you not notice your Grandmother offer me notice, without my having to be crass enough to demand it?”
From the look on her face, Varanis clearly had never considered that.
And Serala is quite happy to simply walk Manasa, calm and placid, along at Varanis’s side which she does, perhaps, consider that. After a while, however, Serala does note, quietly, “Varanis.. any leader must understand, before she ever can lead. Berra is nearly as highly trained in battle skills as I am, and due to her experience, I am glad to acknowledge her as leader of the warriors, as is Rajar, for all his skill. Your cousin Dormal, however, has been a thorn in her side. Your reckless actions give him more ammunition to aim her way. You believe you are leader? You are cossetted. Trained, yes, but with your shiny armour and your surety of your own rightness, you are missing the most important points. You poisoned Tiwr, in essence. Just to get your own way. You ran the risk if splitting the group to the points of the compass. All because you wanted your own way. So you found evidence, left in the open, of a spy. Maybe true. Maybe not. But definitely not worth the pain it caused your travelling companions.”
Varanis looks stricken by Serala’s words. “I…. I need to think.” She suddenly urges Doqeia into a gallop.
Serala lets her gallop, staying just within distance to intervene should it look like the horse or her rider are in difficulty. Other than that, she respects the distance they need.
Finally, Varanis slows the black mare, letting her walk off the burst of speed at a rate that seems comfortable. She gently runs her hand down the mare’s neck, perhaps as a gesture of thanks.
Serala catches up, leaving a courteous distance between herself and Varanis. This time, she seems to be waiting for the Vingan to speak first.
Her long red hair has fallen from its previously mostly Esrolian looking style to a disheveled pile of tiny braids and loose tendrils and she’s breathing fast.2She really needs to find someone who can do her hair right. Finally, she glances over at Serala. “I…” There’s a long pause and then a rush. “I’m sorry. I didn’t see it that way.” The words are clearly unfamiliar for her.
Serala is definitely not the girl to do the hair right – she has multiple braids, all caught back into one ponytail-of-braids. But she seems to have no desire to ape a woman of Nochet, supremely confident in her own skin and looks. And the words are all it takes; Manasa is nudged closer, and a hand extended towards Varanis. No physical olive branch, but the gesture is there. “Thank you.” she responds. Before actually winking, “But we still need to talk. Berra and I have different views on ‘the group’ and what it means. My take is that division hurts us, and the sudden ‘Esrolian is best’ influx is.. unhelpful. We are all different and need to understand those differences before something worse happens.”
Varanis grasps the offered hand firmly and with genuine gratitude. And then she almost loses her seat as Doqeia startles at something. The Esrolian flushes red, but focuses on the horse until she settles.
Serala doesn’t comment. The important part, to her mind, is the almost. A few weeks ago, Varanis would have been on her rump, so this is improvement. “I was also angry because.. I like you, Varanis. I had hoped I had found another friend. Clay feet do not suit you.”
Varanis smiles at Serala. You’d almost think it was a shy smile, but surely the Vingan isn’t shy. Carefully handling her reins in one hand, she uses the other to remove a narrow gold band from among her bracelets. It’s a simple piece, not flashy. She looks down at it, studying the tiny beast and truth runes engraved around the circumference. Then she looks back up at Serala. “I made you something….” she says softly. “It’s not payment for your teaching or to make up for the box, it’s just a gift,” she hurries to add. “I wanted to do this for you after the Tower, but I only had the chance to finish it last week.” She offers it tentatively towards the Grazelander.
Serala’s expression flickers with shock.. but a good shock. And she actually blushes. “You didn’t need to..” she replies. But she looks at it with something close to awe, “It’s beautiful.” she says softly. “I am… honoured.” Her grey-blue eyes meet yours for a moment, and she nudges Manasa a little closer, near enough to hold out her hand towards you, offering the opportunity for you to place it on her wrist. “I have no like skill… unless you need some arrows fletching!”
Varanis slides the bracelet over Serala’s outstretched hand and onto her wrist. She smiles with satisfaction and a certain amount of pride. The response to her gift is very gratifying. Then she shakes her head, “It’s a gift,” she says. “You need only accept. There is no expectation of anything in return.”
“Skill for skill?” Serala suggests. “You could teach me to braid your hair?” Apparently she might not feel the need to do it herself, but the intricacies have her interest. “I am no city girl, but it would be good to pass as one on occasion.” The merest hint of a wink, “It would stop people making assumptions about me..”
Varanis laughs. “To be honest, I’m used to having someone else do it.” She indicates the mess of her hair.
(continues in You don’t have to do it alone)