VS 043 Patient lacks Patience

Varanis — 1626 0666 Patient Patience

????, Fire Season, Disorder Week


Context
Fire Season, Disorder Week [[[s01:session-33|After Session 33]]] and after the vision and awakening.

Varanis is feeling better and is not enjoying being cooped up. Xenofos and Berra do a decent job of putting up with her. Mellia makes an appearance and delivers some well-deserved rebukes.

Events

Varanis opens her eyes and looks around. There’s still a lump on the cot that might be Xenofos, but no one else obviously in the room. She sits up gingerly, testing for a headache. Then she carefully swings her legs over the edge of the bed.

There is also a pile of armour and clothes on the floor, on a cloak. It’s tucked into the corner, where it is only visible to those out of bed, and breathing slowly, quietly. The hair sticking out looks like Berra’s.

Noticing the Berra-shaped lump, Varanis hesitates. Slowly, she lets her bare feet touch the floor. Using the wall near the head of the bed for balance, she rises.

The lump on the cot lets out unclear noises and thrashes about a bit.

Varanis glances around the room. She’s clearly looking for something. Finally, she tentatively makes her way to the door, using the wall for balance as much as possible.

Berra sleeps on, her hand loose near to her sword.

Quietly, trying hard not to wake anyone, Varanis opens the door and slips out. Several minutes later, she returns, just as quietly. Berra is cuddling her sword.

As Varanis tries to make her way back to the bed, she stumbles and curses softly. She catches herself against the wall and leans on it for a moment.

That’s enough to bring Berra to wakefulness.1Passed Listen, yay! The movement from asleep to having her right hand on Wind Tooth’s hilt is fast, and happens as she rolls to her knees. She looks around blearily, works out where she is as she gets a foot under her, and gives Varanis a nod. “Mm.” Talking may have to wait.

As Varanis recovers her balance, she makes her way back to the bed and sits on it. She takes a long drink of water. “Will I ever not be thirsty?” she murmurs softly to the half-awake Humakti.

“I don’t know. Probably, but thirst might be asked as a price for what you are doing.” From one foot, one knee, Berra decides to kneel, not to stand. She buckles on her scabbard, indicating her intention to stay away.

The lump on the cot disentangles rolls to the floor and hastily draws blade. Red eyes scan the room for the cause of the alarm.2Xenofos gets 99 on listen…

Varanis blinks at her cousin in astonishment. Berra gets a foot under her again, this time looking ready to rise forwards – and fast. But as yet, she does not.

“Xenofos, we’re safe. It’s fine.” Varanis’ voice is calming.

“And I’m not even going to laugh,” adds Berra. “But that was very funny.”

Varanis shoots a warning glance at Berra. “Xenofos?” She doesn’t reach out to her cousin, but keeps her tone calm, watching for recognition. “Are you actually awake, cousin?”

Berra sighs, but shuts up. She is watchful, apparently not trying to be overtly threatening but something about her body language as she tries to be quite says that frustration is making her more dangerous. Then she relaxes.

There is slow sense of returning wakefulness as Xenofos slowly starts to recognize people and remember the place. Sheepishly the rapier gets resheathed.

“Hello, cousin,” Varanis says in greeting. “Welcome back.” She smiles at him. “Did you know you snore?”

“Surely not. At least I have never heard.”

“I have a witness,” Varanis says laughing while nodding in Berra’s direction.

“If it wasn’t you, then it was the horse you smuggled in that was snoring. I guess it was a horse. There’s not room for a dragon here. Are you a horse-smuggler?” Berra says it all seriously, like she really believes it. The joke sounds a bit too placid, like Berra’s attention is not on jokes, but on some beautiful place far away.

At the mention of a dragon Xenofos lets out unclear almost inaudible sound.3Varanis rolls on Insight and passes; Berra rolls and fails: What a lovely sword I have! Insight:Fear, taken under control almost immediately.

Varanis glances sharply at Berra again. “Do you think we could find me some real food,” she asks, changing the subject. “I’m so tired of mush.”

Berra reaches for her pack. “We have jerky, and that stuff that is basically jerky in fat, and the stuff that’s jerky but softer, and things that would be jerky if they hadn’t started off as fruit. And if I go out, people will notice and decide you might be awake.”

Varanis rolls her eyes at the list of jerky options. “I made it out and back safely enough. I’m hungry for fruit or something sweet. I’m willing to take the chance.”

“This is a palace and Varanis is a guest…”

“I’m not suggesting danger. People might want to talk about it.” Berra shrugs. “If dried fruit jerky leathery stuff is not sweet enough, then we … I… no, I’m a warrior. I don’t go get food. I ask for food. And Xenofos is closer to the door.” Her mood seems good, if oddly even.

Xenofos rubs his eyes. “It is not exactly a secret you are here cousin, and even though you say you went out and came back safe I doubt it happened without people knowing. So ordering food might not be excessive risk. But with that it becomes more likely that it might be asked if you are feeling well enough to greet our hosts – or summoned to their presence – depending on their sense of joviality.”

He rubs his beard. “But it would be rude to leave without letting our hosts know anyway so that possibility approaches in any case quite rapidly – unless you are planning on staying under covers for a prolonged period.”

“Mostly,” says Berra, “I was thinking that people dropping in to see how she is could be wearing. Choosing the site and spacing of a skirmish is…” She pauses a moment. “This is not a skirmish and we are among allies, but you still don’t have to talk until you’re ready, or at all.” Somehow she has gone from talking to Xenofos, to addressing Varanis.

Varanis hears them out and then says, “I’d really like real food. And maybe some wine. Please?” It’s not quite plaintive, but it’s definitely a request rather than a demand.

Berra shrugs. “Xenofos is still closest to the door,” she points out. “And we can’t stop you.”

Varanis rolls her eyes and pulls herself to her feet, using the wall for balance again. Carefully, without saying anything, she walks to the door and out through it. She hardly wobbles at all.

Xenofos stands up and follows. He seems to have slept in his armour and may now be regretting the experience.

Berra chuckles, and follows, leaving behind her kit. That leaves her in most of her armour, with her sword. As she follows, she buckles on her vambraces, but the breast and chestplate got left behind. The Humakti, who definitely slept on the floor, looks as limber as ever, and quietly happy, and only a little bit murderous.

Varanis is standing in the hallway, one hand on the wall, clearly trying to decide which way to go. She is barefoot, long legs exposed beneath the hem of her tunic. She doesn’t look much like an Esrolian noblewoman at the moment.

“What are you trying to do cousin?” Xenofos sounds mildly curious.

“Find real food,” she replies determinedly. “I need strength and mush is not the way to build it.”

“We came in by the side way,” says Berra, “And they didn’t make you go up any stairs. So we’re a bit down of where we would normally come in, and off to the right.” There is no hint at all in Berra’s tone that she knows where they are because she plans the sacking of such places as a mental exercise. That’s all in her body language.

“The normal way would be to call for a servant, not dash after it…” His tone is soft, reasonable.

Varanis comes to a decision and turns left. Keeping one hand on the wall, she makes her way steadily down the hall. “I didn’t see any servants. Did you?” Her tone is also reasonable.

“No – and then you can send a retainer. “

“Oh, yes. I guess you could do that,” Berra says to Xenofos. “I would not have thought to. I mean, call. Find, yes…” Berra looks like she is considering being loud.

“Any idea of time of day?” Xenofos asks. “It is weirdly quiet.”

Varanis keeps putting one foot in front of the other. “I need to move. I’ve been cooped up too long. And I’m hungry. And I’m thinking about becoming irritable. And I have no idea what time it is.”

Berra side-eyes, and puts her fingers to her mouth. Her expression is pure innocence.

“Ber…” Xenofos raises an eyebrow.

“You know what… maybe I don’t need to find out if alarm signals here are whistled.” Berra drops her hand.

Ahead of them in the corridor, they see Mellia walking briskly in their direction. Berra continues to look innocent.

“Mellia!” Varanis says in greeting, one hand still on the wall for balance. She attempts to look innocent too, but there’s something about a barely dressed Vingan with mussed hair leaning against a wall that defies that descriptor.

Mellia doesn’t appeared fooled. “You!” she says to all three of them. “You had me and Finarvi scared half to death. I even did a divination.” She looks straight at Varanis and adds, “You look like you should be in bed. Are you defying your healer’s orders?”

Varanis blinks. “I don’t know… am I?” She turns to Xenofos and Berra and then back to Mellia. “I’m hungry, Mellia. And all I’ve been getting to eat is mush. I want real food.”

Berra steps forward to bow to Mellia. “Not as far as I know, clan-cousin,” she says. “There was a White Lady here, and she stopped saying Varanis had to stay abed.” Innocent, calm, and lacking the largest part of her armour – Berra’s not wearing her breastplate.

“I think my fever broke yesterday.” Varanis doesn’t sound entirely certain of the timing.

“You look capable of handling real food,” Mellia says to Varanis. “You just don’t seem able to walk it off. What did the White Lady say was wrong with you?”

“She left off ‘stubborn’ from the list,” says Berra proudly. “I think that was well done.”

“I got a fever, but I’m fine now,” Varanis replies evasively.4Failed truth roll. “I had a vision though. About our quest.”

From Berra: silence.

“Long fast, long meditation and Yelm,” Xenofos adds.

“You’re about to fall over,” Mellia snaps. “That’s not ‘fine’. At the very least, I want you in a chair while I look you over.”

“I’m fine,” Varanis insists, but she turns around in the direction of the room without further argument. One hand remains lightly on the wall for balance.

“Here, lean on me. You can tell me about your vision once you sit down.” The healer’s words are brisk.

Varanis bristles at the offer of assistance. “Really, I can manage. I need to. And I’m still hungry.” Her tone has become mulish.

Mellia frowns, but lets Varanis lean on the wall instead. “We can send for some food in a little bit.”

It’s not long before they reach the door to the room. Varanis hadn’t managed to get very far. Frustrated, she makes her way to the bed and sits down with as much dignity as she can muster. Her face is set in a scowl.

“I’ll seek a servant. What would you eat if they have it?” Xenofos asks Varanis, but looks at Mellia for confirmation of possible orders.

Mellia answers, “If she’s been fasting, I recommend a bowl of soup and small portions of whatever Varanis wants.”

Berra manages to keep calm, and quiet, and all of those things.

“I’ve been on mush for two days. I want meat. And something sweet.” Varanis tells her cousins.

Mellia eyes Berra. “Want to tell me how your horse came home without you and covered in mud?” Varanis, not having heard this part, gapes at the other women, then she closes her mouth and decides to enjoy Berra being in the hot seat.

The Humakti kicks back into the little piles of her belongings where she is obviously nesting. Her helmet and armour are there, and she gives a big yawn and says, “Mellia’s right. Soup, and small portions.” Xenofos nods and heads out the door. Then she looks at Mellia and winces. “I… would have thought you’d been told by now. Yes, I rode for a while looking for Varanis, and then when I found her, the horse couldn’t follow, so I left it. Sorry.”

Berra gets a glare from Mellia. “You should be.”

“I’d do it again,” Berra says calmly. “Because what Varanis is not saying, is that she was in a trance. She did not mean to stay away, but she needed looking after.” From down on the floor, she gives Mellia a shrug.

Varanis decides to ignore them both studiously.

Mellia rolls her eyes and pulls on her hair. “Thank you, Berra. Do you think the next time Varanis wants to do something like this, you can get her to bring me along?”

“I’ll try.” Berra gives Varanis a glance. “But mostly, what we need is keywords that people don’t understand. I didn’t want to tell anyone who wasn’t you where we were. I don’t write, and I forgot to ask Xenofos to make a note before I came down, so I couldn’t. It’s an odd thing. I could teach you the landmarking system I use, but it’s awkward unless you practice it a lot.”

Mellia nods. “I need to learn how to read,” she mutters.

Berra gives a weird, one-shouldered shrug. “It’s a good idea.” There might be regret in her tone.

Mellia sighs. “I hope Varanis’ vision will help us with our current quest. Even with D’Val, I don’t think we’ll survive Snakepipe Hollow.”

Berra gives a grin. “It certainly does not rule out the Greydog Lands,” she says. “Going in where Humakt came out is still our safest bet.” She snuggles under her shaggy horsehide cloak. “I hope D’Val comes with us, though. He’ll be a good guide there.”

“I’ve never heard of the Greydog Lands. What are they like?”

Berra thinks a bit. “I know very little,” she says. “They are not quite up against the Marsh Edge, but they were at one point, when the Necromancer pushed outwards. They’d driven the were-ducks away, and thought the Marsh was just an ordinary place. Indrodar Greydog was the main force that held them together as a fighting force after their Queen died, and he was the one who made peace with the Ducks, according to most. They’re… they hate Delecti, more than most, and that’s pretty hard. But I only know it from stories, and from travel along to Duck Point.”

“I can’t really do much about the undead,” Mellia says, “but I can try to keep everyone alive.”

“The Humakti there can do a lot. It’s… it’s more of a holy place than a Temple. The stones are either in a circle, or in the shape of Humakt’s Sword. The constellation. Apparently they change, depending on something people don’t know. It might be a Death-secret. Nobody I found would tell me, but I have one more person to ask. Two, if I decide on an appropriate question for the High Sword.”

“I’d avoid the High Sword if at all possible.”

That gets a smile. “You’re welcome to, but I understand enough… he’s not trying to kill me. He doesn’t care if I die. Those are different things.”

“They are different,” Mellia agrees, “but I still wouldn’t be in a hurry to seek his advice.”

Berra then glances over to Varanis as if to check her wakeful state, and then shrugs. “He’s honourable. He would not lie to me, if I asked him a thing, but his Excellency is not likely to volunteer helpful information. I think he believes this is a waste of time. He doesn’t want resources in it.” The Humakti shrugs, which is rather complicated in her recumbent nesting position. “I can see his point of view. I don’t think he’s right, and I don’t like how he sends people he does not admire onto such a mission he thinks will fail, but I did know already who he was, when I joined the Temple.”

Varanis has been pretending to sleep, but stiffens slightly at Berra’s last statement.

Mellia nods. “Just for laughs, does His Excellency have a solution for Sartar’s problems that doesn’t involve relighting the Flame?”

“I don’t know. I have not thought to ask him.” Berra grins. “Also, that would really irritate him, if I did. But I suspect he has enough plans to put into action, and they don’t involve us. It’s fun watching him try to bait me, though. You can disarm him by perfect correct behaviour. I almost wish I could keep it up.”

Mellia snickers.

Berra fails at an innocent look. “And that’s good for me. It honestly is an honour to accept his orders and try my best to carry them out. It brings me closer to my God. I’ve been considering volunteering for punishment duty, but I just don’t have it in me. Yet.”

“You don’t deserve that, Berra.”

“Well, no. That would be the point of volunteering. As well as being really funny, it would probably teach me more, and toughen me. Deserving or not, the risk is that someone would decide I was mocking them, and I don’t want that.”

Mellia nods. “I suppose I had better take that look at Varanis before she eats the furniture.”

Berra nods, and folds up a saddlebag to use as a pillow. Her greaves and vambraces stay on, although she eases the buckles under her forearms. A happy sigh escapes her.

Mellia smiles and goes to look Varanis over.

Varanis opens her eyes and looks warily at her cousin. “I’m fine,” she insists.

Mellia concentrates on Varanis, which should at least tell her if Varanis is diseased. Mellia frowns. “Your body needs time and pampering to recover from what you did to it. For instance, your stomach can’t go straight from fasting to feasting. If you try that, you’ll get sick.”

“I’ve been eating mush for two days,” Varanis complains. “How can build my strength up in that?” She adds, “I only went without food for a couple of days. I’m fine.”5Oops – rolled on illusion and passed.

Mellia comments, “I don’t know why some of my colleagues love feeding patients mush. I would have fed you soup, then eggs, then solid food.”

“Eggs would be good. Maybe with cheese. And something to give them flavour.” Varanis is clearly trying to be helpful.

“Food is on its way,” Mellia reassures Varanis, “and if it isn’t, we can yell at Xenofos. In the meantime, you need rest and a lot of water to drink.”

“I’ve been drinking so much my eyeballs are swimming, but I can’t seem to quench my thirst,” Varanis admits.

Mellia purses her lips. “Then you need salt as well.”

“I dreamed of water, and the river Wyter, and Magasta… it was like I was going to drown, but I was still thirsty. And they’ve been giving me salt too. In the mush and in the water.” Varanis sighs. “Berra says it might be the price of the vision, but I hope not.” She reaches for the cup by her bed and drinks more.

“I hope not too. Let’s try more salt and see what happens.”

Varanis wrinkles her nose in response, but doesn’t argue.

There’s a quiet knock on the door. Mellia answers it. A young woman is standing there with a tray. It has a wooden bowl with a bland looking broth that has a few bits of vegetables in it. Next to this there are tiny portions of chopped poultry, a wee bit of cheese, and some juicy looking berries. There’s also a bowl of mush and a large jug of water. Mellia takes the tray. “Thank you very much. We’ll ring if we need more.” The young woman bobs a curtsy and pulls the door closed gently behind Mellia.

Mellia comes over and sets the tray down. “I may have to have a word with the cooks. Try the soup first. I know it looks wretched, but it should help.”

Varanis frowns but dutifully spoons some into her mouth. She makes a face. “Well, it’s salty, anyway,” she acknowledges before taking another spoonful with a decided lack of enthusiasm. Her hand shakes just the tiniest bit.

“That bad? Get that down and we can try the chicken. I’m sending the mush back, unless you’re really starving.” Varanis nods and has another mouthful without arguing. Mellia patiently watches Varanis suffer through the soup. When the soup is gone, the Vinga sets her spoon down in relief and immediately pops a berry in her mouth.

Mellia smiles at that. “No dessert until you finish your meal,” she says with a grin.

Varanis grins in response and eats another berry. “You know,” she says after she swallows, “I keep waiting for someone to yell at me.”

“I was going to let you eat in peace,” Mellia replies, “but since you insist…” Mellia takes a deep breath. “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING OF? I thought I was going to need to come rescue you! Seeking visions is difficult and dangerous if you’re not used to it!” Mellia continues in a normal tone of voice, “I’ll let Berra yell at you for going off alone, if she hasn’t already. Did I hear Xenofos say something about Yelm?”

Varanis flinches when Mellia raises her voice. She ignores the noise from under the hide in the corner that might be Berra laughing.

“Xenofos told me I should meditate and I’m terrible at meditating, but I couldn’t think of anything better, so I figured I’d try. I’d never have been able to manage it with people watching me. I only intended to be gone for a couple of hours. But it actually worked!” She pauses to catch her breath and slow down a little. “I got lost in the darkness and found Yelm. Each day he left me with a spark to keep alive, but each night he would return. It felt like 20 years or more that it was me, that spark, Yelm, and the dark.” She shudders. “When I came out of it, I’d been the site of Sartar’s Flame for three days and nights. Apparently, Yelm cooked me more than a little during those days.” Varanis takes a large gulp of water when she finishes her story.

Mellia looks thoughtful. “I don’t know if I could have helped you once you found Yelm. Chalana Arroy is a member of Yelm’s household as well as one of the Lightbringers. If I had been in the vision, I might have been able to soothe Yelm.”

“He was kind in the darkness, or at least not cruel. He kept me warm and gave me light. But I had to guard the spark. I think I wasn’t me. I think I was Sartar and that’s where he is now. Trapped in the underworld, protecting the spark. Mellia, we have to help him.”

“How are we going to get to him, though? I hope Berra and D’Val can find something in the Greydog Lands, because going to Snakepipe Hollow sounds like suicide to me.”

“I hope so too. Not that the Marsh sounds particularly safe, but anything is better than Snakepipe Hollow,” Varanis says seriously.

“I hope we don’t need to actually enter the Marsh. Failing that, I hope we can reach our entry during daylight,” Mellia says. “Eat the chicken.” Varanis automatically obeys her cousin and reaches for the chicken. After the first bite, she tucks in with enthusiasm. Mellia smiles encouragingly. “You’re certainly hungry enough for normal food. Once you finish the chicken, try the cheese. Then see how you feel.”

The chicken disappears quickly, as does the cheese and remaining berries. Over the course of the meal, Varanis drains her cup three times. As she finishes, she quietly says, “I’m sorry, Mellia. I didn’t mean to worry anyone.” Her expression is sheepish.

“I know,” Mellia answers, “but you did anyway. How do you feel? Still hungry?”

Varanis thinks about it then shakes her head. “No, not really,” she admits. “I’m fine, but I’m not as hungry as I thought I was.”

“Good,” Mellia says, “because we’re down to that mush. Perhaps you should digest that in peace for a bit and take a little walk later.”

Varanis nods. “I think I want to sleep a little,” she says in a small voice. “Thank you for coming to check on me.”

“My pleasure,” Mellia says. “I’ll be at either the White Grape or the Chalana Arroy Temple if you need me.”

“Thank you,” the Vingan says, as she makes herself comfortable in the bed. As her cousin prepares to leave, Varanis turns face the wall and begins to regulate her breathing.

Mellia leaves, taking that horrid mush with her.

After several minutes of controlled breathing, but no sleeping, Varanis says, “Berra? Are you awake?”

“Yus,” says Berra indistinctly. “Down here.”

“Why are you being so reasonable? Even Mellia figures you’d have yelled at me.” She sounds very subdued.

Berra moves the hide aside with the sweep of an ankle. “I had a day to calm down, I suppose.” She looks a bit confused. “I was angry, but that was two days ago now.”

Varanis thinks about that, then nods. “I didn’t realize that it would affect so many people. Do you know what the irony is?” She doesn’t wait for an answer. “I was trying to figure out how to keep people safe.”

Berra grins. “That is funny, yes. But… you meant to come back. You know now what the problem with not coming back is. From outside, you gone for a two day walk and you dead don’t seem different. But… shouting should have a purpose. It would just make you resent me, if I did. You did the thinking for yourself, so I don’t have to make you do it.” She shrugs, and sits up to shrug properly. “I’m glad that I had time to calm down, to be honest.”

Varanis looks at her wide-eyed. “I suspect I should be glad you did too.” She adds, “It would almost be easier if you yelled at me though.”

Berra smiles. “If I can be calm, you can be calm,” she says, calmly. The notion of it seems to ground her even further.

Varanis sighs. “I keep waiting for consequences, but maybe I’m already seeing them in the concern of the people around me.” She makes a face. “Do you think Tennebris or someone sent by him will make an appearance? I’d like to get back to the inn as soon as possible and figure out what our next steps are. But I also don’t want to cause offence by disappearing from the palace.” She yawns suddenly.

“Yes. The consequences are the ones you bring. Shouting is when people point them out to you loudly. And yes, but he’s busy and probably doesn’t want to disturb you too much. I’m mostly staying here in case that happens.” Berra gives another shrug, this one not complicated by her lying down.

In a very quiet voice, Varanis asks, “Why would you volunteer for punishment?”

“Uh?” Berra laughs. “Because it would be funny?” She lies down again, in her little nest of kit. “And the reasons I explained to Mellia.” Without her chestplate on, Berra can curl up impressively small, and does.

Varanis drinks more water, then lies back down and returns to her breathing exercises. She doesn’t say anything more and eventually drops off to sleep.