VS 055 An Issue of Trust

Varanis — 1626 0698 Trust

????, Fire Season, Season/Movement Week


Context

Fire Season/Movement Week/Freezeday/Afternoon [[[s01:session-38|Session 38]]]
After the events of the second Lunar quest, most of the group is sitting in the common room of the White Grape, drinking Rondrik’s alcohol and pondering recent events.

Events

In the common room, Varanis looks at Dormal. She doesn’t say anything out loud, but when she catches his eye, she nods in the direction of the stairs, and gives him a questioning glance.

He casually heads over to the stairs and walks up to the rooms.

Varanis waits a moment, before following. She sees him enter his room, leaving the door open. The Vingan follows, quietly closing the door behind her.

He leans against a wall and raises an eyebrow.

She looks at him thoughtfully. “Are you alright, cousin?” There’s a subtle emphasis on the final word.

“I am fine. Why wouldn’t I be?”

“It’s been a long couple of days.”

“I’m used to sleeping at odd hours, whenever I can,” he states coolly. “I don’t object to you following me but you should be better at it before you try again. You could have gotten us both killed. Or worse.”

Varanis nods. “You are right. It’s rather hard to follow people quietly in this.” She glances down at her armour, before looking back at him. There’s no argument. No bristling. Just a quiet agreement. “Yesterday afternoon, when you were explaining your perspective on things, you were being honest with us, I think. But you didn’t say everything either.”

“There are things it would help no-one for you to know. And people who wouldn’t work with me if I talked, and it got back to them.”

Varanis considers his words and sighs. “What are the risks to our Clan? What are the risks to our people? Are there steps that I can take to protect them and ensure our success that will not interfere with what you are doing and that will not compromise my honour?”

“Don’t ask the wrong questions, and definitely don’t trust anyone to have your best interests at heart. Treasures are missing, a high sword is involved.”

“Does that include you, cousin?” she asks sadly.

“If you go running to anyone in power to ask them questions you could find yourself walking into the business end of a dagger,” he warns her. “You already don’t trust me, though, do you?”

She shrugs. “You’ve made it pretty clear that there’s a dagger waiting for me sooner or later, anyway. And I want to trust you. I just don’t know if it’s safe to do so. Can Vinga trust Eurmal?”

“Naturally not. Isn’t that what all the stories say?”

“Is that all that’s left for us? Playing out the stories of the gods?” She looks at him in appeal. “What happened to the boy I used to know? Things were sour between us before I betrayed your trust.”

“I gave you nothing but loyalty and support, even while you were walking around insulting my ancestry and laughing with the others. When the others were haranguing you, unfairly I might add, over the box at the altar, who stood up for you?” Dormal asks. “You turned your back on that loyalty. Nobody made you do it.”

“Dormal, I have never insulted your ancestry.” She sounds deeply offended. “You forget that growing up I was also the subject of snide remarks about my parentage.”

“You never called me a ‘son of a broo’?” he demands. “And before you answer, I was listening.”

Varanis blinks. “But I didn’t mean that literally. You are more Saiciae than I am.” She considers it. “I was mad at you, yes. And I insulted you. But I was just swearing. Have you never sworn at or about people when you are angry?”

“I prefer to get even. Anger is rarely profitable.”

“You can’t tell me that you’ve never been angry with me. Everyone has been angry with me.” She argues.

He blinks slowly. “Disappointed, certainly. Frustrated, often.”

“We both know I’ve screwed things up badly, Dormal. I don’t need to be protected from that knowledge.”

“I’ve never tried to.”

“I’m pretty certain you were angry when I tried to punch you.”

“Did I call you names?”

She counters, “Does everyone express anger in the same way?”

“No. But we’re getting away from the point. You called me those things and I did not turn my back on you. I didn’t even consider it. You crossed that line, not me.”

“My anger is quick, loud, obvious, and usually over with as fast as it begins. Yours, I feel, is a slow burn. And I worry that your anger with me stands between us now. There’s no forgiveness coming, is there? Even though I have admitted to my mistake and tried to rectify it.” She sounds sad again.

“When I asked you to exactly and evenly rectify the wrong – your first, instant, instinctive reaction was to find an excuse not to.” His words are matter-of-fact. “You don’t want to right it. You want that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach to go away.”

“My memory of that was that I gave it consideration, rather than dismissing what you asked for out of hand. But, I still believe it would cause further, irrevocable harm.” She looks at him thoughtfully. “I do want the sick feeling to go away. You are absolutely right. Because the sick feeling stems from having lost someone I care about. I want my cousin back.”

“But that’s just it isn’t it? Your instinct is to leap at a chance to strike or belittle me, but to play the considerate and thoughtful leader when the consequences run in the other direction. In the dark, in the heat of the moment, that’s what you really feel.”


“In the heat of the moment, I kept myself between you and a troll, in spite of being able to easily escape him.” Varanis protests. “But yes, if I hadn’t put myself there in the first place, you wouldn’t have needed me. I have offered to protect you from her. What I cannot do is refuse to tell her why.” Varanis sighs. “I wish you could understand that.”

“Protection. This is not about protection. I’ve been looking out for myself a lot longer and with a lot less support than most of the clan.” There’s bitterness there. “It was a test. Would you be as eager to strike on my behalf as you were on an outsider’s? And you weren’t. Not even close.”

“It was your demand that I not tell her why that made it impossible,” the Vingan exclaims.

“And what was the compelling and just reason for you to try and strike me, on that day?”

“There wasn’t one. I was an idiot and I was wrong. I was full of my own arrogance and acted impulsively and violently. There is no excuse.” Her answer is forthright and her expression is shamed, but she meets his gaze, refusing to hide from the admission.

“You can’t unbreak trust with a speech, even a pretty speech. And it’s probably for the best. The next time I came to you with something that needed to be done… you’d just refuse and turn your back on me again. So best if I don’t expect to rely on you. And best if you don’t ask me too many questions – the answers will only upset you. I’ll tell you what you need to know, that you can know, in order for the quests to succeed. I’m not here to sabotage you. That’s not what the clan wants.”1Varanis makes an insight roll: Dormal is not angry, at least not about this. For him it’s history. The thing happened, the individual cannot be relied on – chalked it up to experience and moved on.

Varanis nods sadly. “I will trust you, Dormal.” She turns and lets herself out of the room, as quietly as she entered it.