1626, Fire Season, Stasis Week, Fireday Eve
The party is now at the village of Greyrock Fall, preparing to celebrate the successful routing of the Death Lord and the discovery of the sacred cave. Varanis is too worried to party. After Session 1.36: Cave Crocodillem. Follows immediately after Water Falls.
Varanis has been waiting for a chance to talk to Berra, who seems to have been closeted with her Sword most of the time. She spots the Humakti alone by the waterfall and approaches.
After Berra rebuffs her, Varanis retreats to a rooftop, where she can watch the Humakti, the village, and the world. Xenofos decides to climb up.
“Cousin, is something wrong?”
Varanis starts, surprised by his approach. She doesn’t answer his question right away. “How did you…” She trails off.
“You are not exactly hidden here. But if you want to be alone…”
“No. It’s good.” She waves to a spot beside her, inviting him to sit. After a moment she says, “I am not a very worthy leader, Cousin.”
“Now why would you say that cousin?” Xenofos removes his helmet and stretches his neck.
“Berra was hurt so badly. All I could see was my own rage. I charged in without thinking. And then, as I came face to face with the enemy my rage turned to terror. If Rajar hadn’t been there…” She shudders. “And it’s my fault Berra was hurt. If she hadn’t been looking for me, she wouldn’t have been taken.”
“We agreed to meet at Wilmskirk if I remember correctly. Did you order Berra to meet us on the way?”
“No. But she did it because of the quest.”
“So it was her decision and not your fault. I may fail to stop you in blaming yourself, but I can tell you it is wrong.”1Surprise GM interjection: Xenofos uses Lhankor Mhy special move, ‘logic’. Speaking to her other statement, he adds, “Charging in was sound. That is what we tried to do.”
“I was so afraid. He was a troll. It’s not the first time I’ve faced a troll, but it was the first time I feared one. I didn’t like it.” She fidgets with her dagger.
“When you faced him there was quite impressive roaring and his form seemed to change strangely. Looks to me you did not just face a troll but part of the power of its foul master.”
“I was so afraid that I forgot to use bladesharp. What is the point of learning magic if you forget to use it? I barely scratched him.” She full of self-recrimination today.
“To put that more bluntly I think it used magic on you.”
“And after? Do you know what I did after?” She doesn’t seem to hear him yet. “I went outside and I wept. I am unworthy to lead anyone.” She stares down at Berra. “She’s a Hero. She was nearly beaten to death and she got back up and fought her enemy. Rajar is a Hero. He’s afraid of nothing. I’m… me.” She continues to fidget restlessly. “Why do you follow me, Xenofos?”
“Now it is simple. I have given my word and my word is bronze.”
“You follow me because you have to…” The words are very quiet.
“But I did consider before I gave my pledge,” he adds.
Varanis takes a long, deep breath. An expression of calm authority comes over her features. “I suppose it’s time to stop moping up here and go pretend I know what I’m doing.” She rises and dusts herself off.
“Xenofos, you are a good man. Honest, loyal, and good to have at my side, whether you are wielding words or a blade. Thank you. Know that you are valued beyond measure.” She places her hand on his shoulder in a firm grip and smiles at him. While the calm may be a mask, her affection for her cousin is truth.
“You are a warrior and a leader. ” Hesitating pause. “It does not mean you may not weep over suffering and grief. I… was quite shocked by Berra’s pain.”
“What he did to her… was monstrous.” The calm almost slips. “Dormal took a big chance to save her. But he did it anyway, in spite of their dislike of each other. I’m more certain than ever that he’s Eurmali, but… I think he’s still a good man. Is that possible?” She slides into the new subject with little warning.
“He is … unpredictable.”
“Did you know that he was tortured in Rhigos?” Her words are very quiet.
“No, we haven’t spoken of his escapades there. He does not seem too maimed fortunately.”
“I saw the damage earlier. He has welts and scars. It’s like they healed some damage, but not all. Or healed and then harmed again. I’m not sure.” She looks disturbed. “I don’t care what he did. Torture is dishonourable.”
“It does sully its user, indeed.”
“Do you think it’s possible to serve Eurmal and still be a good person at some level?”
“They are without shame or honor. It does not mean they are totally evil.”
“I think he no longer recognizes me as kin,” she says, sadness in the words. “I didn’t see him as often as I saw you, when we were young. But did you know he helped me get away a few times when I needed to escape the House?” She smiles wryly at that.
“No I did not know that. I met him quite seldom. Rarely with tutors, never at the hunt. I kind of suspect he was out on the streets.” This is said with disapproving tone implying stuff like rabble or riffraff.
“I suspect he wasn’t invited, Xenofos. Until recently, his family had no land of their own and you know what our cousins can be like.” Her tone is quelling.
This is met with a raised eyebrow. A couple of seasons of the road have failed to eradicate Xenofos’ inbred and nurtured belief in inevitability of social inequality where he just happens to be in the upper crust.
“You can’t blame him for being in the streets when you left him no better alternative?” She raises an eyebrow in return.
“Me? I was busy studying, working on the palestra and with the horses without trying to actively sneak in others.” He grins at the absurdity of thought.
Varanis shakes her head at him. “Come on. I should go play the role of Thane Vareena before our hosts become insulted.” She takes a deep breath, straightens her spine, and looks over the edge. “Climbing is better than jumping, I suppose.”
“Might scare me and others less. Most impressive leap over that brute in the cave by the way. And not play a part. Be Thane Varanis of Sartar and Colymar.”
Varanis laughs and responds to his compliment first. “It seemed like a good idea, right up until I landed on Dormal.”
“He and Berra were on the floor behind the troll. I didn’t see them until I was literally on top of them. I barely held my balance and came down on Dormal pretty hard.”
“Oh. That was a bit awkward.” Then he adds, “But time to meet our hosts and behave like the lady you are.”
Varanis nods. She turns to face him, heels to the back of the building’s edge, grins wickedly and steps off backwards.
- 1Surprise GM interjection: Xenofos uses Lhankor Mhy special move, ‘logic’.