Varanis — 1626 0710 Checking In
????, Fire Season, Movement Week
Fire Season, Movement Week, Clayday [[[s01:session-40|Session 40]]]
There’s been a skirmish and Varanis is checking in with people afterwards.
After the fighting is over, Varanis comes looking for Xenofos. Her helmet is off and her expression is worried.
He sees her approaching. “Yes, cousin?”
“Are you alright? I heard that you hit your head rather badly.” She is studying his face, looking for evidence of pain or injury. There is blood on her armour, a bit of soot, and something sticky looking that might be tree sap.
“A bit stiff and sore neck, but helmet seems to have taken the brunt of that fall. Will happen to anyone in cavalry sooner or later…” He dismisses her question noncommittally.
“Sometimes happens to those of us not in the cavalry too,” Varanis admits ruefully. “Have you seen Tiwr for healing? He’s good at that. And, it turns out, he’s rather good at stomping on things. He destroyed a fallen man much the way you destroyed that cursed head at the farm in Green Fish Tula. It was… messy.”
“War is cruel and cavalry brutal… I guess the bandit had it coming.”
“They say he was a kin-slayer and a child-murderer, so yes. He did.” There is disgust in her words. Swiftly as ever, her mood and words shift, now brisk and practical. “Get healed before we hit the road, cousin. I’m going to help Berra and Rajar hang the bodies.” She puts a hand on his shoulder affectionately and gives him a smile. “I’m glad you didn’t break your neck, Xenofos. You are important to me.” She turns to walk away.
Xenofos smiles in return. His reply is quiet and comes a bit late “Likewise cousin, likewise.”
This conversation can be found on [http://journeyoftheheroes.wikidot.com/berra:on-the-road-03 Berra’s page]
Varanis approaches Irillo, as the party begins to make preparations to get moving again. “Irillo, are you alright?” she asks with a worried look.
He gives a wry smile, “Aside from having a Great Lord of Sartar in my head? Yes. The dealing with absolutes is a bit wearing. I hope he’s having the same experience. When you gaze into the Humakti, you have to hope the Humakti gazes back.”
Varanis chuckles. “Not what I meant, cousin. You were clearly targeted by some rather unsavoury men. Berra tells me you know them before and they seemed rather intent on you. That can shake a person up. And then you very generously allowed one to leave in exchange for rather minimal information. I take it you aren’t worried he’ll be back?” She watches him closely as she speaks.
He shakes his head, “No. Rastip was the one with something against me, and he’s dead, Issaries be praised. It was personal. He blamed me for making him outlaw, although all I did was reveal the bargain he had already paid for.”
She doesn’t look satisfied with his answer. “And this man you set free isn’t his kin and won’t seek vengeance for him? We have, it seems, left him alone in the world. That may be enough to scare him away, but it also may leave him desperate.” She looks thoughtful. “I would avenge you, even if I had no one else left. Maybe especially if I had no one else left.”
“He’s an outlaw. He no longer has a reason to stay near here. He lacks weapons or armour.” Irillo gives a smile, “I think the bargain was good enough. I had to offer him something, as his life is forfeit if he was taken to town, or if he was caught. Threatening him with death means nothing. “
Varanis nods reluctantly. “And you were entirely unharmed in all of that?”
He nods, “I’m actually not a bad mule rider. And I can use a sword a bit. I fought at the Siege.” There’s a teasing smile, “Sometimes negotiations are tougher than others.”
“I know you fought at the Siege,” she replies with a fond smile. “But I’m allowed to worry about you anyway.”
“Of course. As I am about you. Remember, sometimes Harmony pays for itself. I hope this will pay forward,” he says calmly.
“Speaking of worrying…” Varanis adds, looking somewhat shamefaced, “we were so determined to chase them down as they fled, that we left you virtually alone. I am sorry for that. As Dormal reminded me, if they’d had any reserves in the woods, we’d have left you exposed. I will do better next time.”
He nods, and points out, “I was our reserves. And mobile at that. You’re not here to die for me, while I don’t risk anything.”
She nods thoughtfully. “It looks like we are about ready to go. You will be on your own in the middle again – do you need anything before I leave you?”
He replies, “Luck, and the blessings of the Gods….. and a chance to have my head to myself again!”
Varanis looks at him seriously. “May the Gods smile on you then, cousin. And may we resolve this quest quickly so that your head can be your own again.” With that, she gives him a little wave and returns to her place in the rear guard.
After the party gets moving again, Varanis brings Doqeia close enough to Dormal to talk without need to raise her voice. “You are unharmed?” she asks.
Show Conversation – mild spoilers – Berra, don’t read
“Didn’t even get close to them, they all fled or went after Irillo.”
“You put yourself rather close to Irillo, though, and so potentially in harm’s way again. I’m glad that neither of you took injury.” She looks at him consideringly. “Any thoughts on how that could have gone better?”
He shrugs. “If they’d doubled back or held any in reserve it would have gone badly for us,” Dormal points out. “Probably one or two should have stayed with Irillo to guard him instead of almost everyone giving chase.”
Varanis nods. “Yes, you are right on that front. We didn’t communicate well with each other, I think. I wasn’t sure we’d get one alive, because I wasn’t sure I would be heard when I called for it.” She frowns. “This is something we need to discuss amongst our fighting force. I wish the Grazelanders were still here. They’d have picked off a few more in the air. That was a good strategy.”
He cousin ignores the comment and says, “Dispelling the Rastip’s magic would have been good too. Would have either isolated him from his men or forced them to give up their movement advantage.”
Varanis nods again. “Also good advice.”
“That is, assuming someone in the group can.”
“Thank you. These are good points,” Varanis says thoughtfully. Abruptly, she frowns again. “Dormal, I…” Her voice trails off and she looks uncertain.
He casually raises an eyebrow.
She takes a deep, shaky breath. “I owe you another apology. I didn’t want to deal with the survivor and I as much as told you to torture him and then walked away. Not only was it despicable of me to suggest such a thing, it was callous too. I didn’t even think of what you went through in Rhigos until after…” The words rush out and her face is red with shame.
Dormal shrugs again. “I really don’t need to torture people to get information out of them as a rule,” he says dismissively. “And it probably helped that he thought that was going to happen.”
“That doesn’t change what I did,” she says. “You were right. I rely on you for the things I can’t or won’t do. You aren’t the one who tarnishes my honour. I am. I know the words are too little, too late. But I at least want you to know that I hear you and I am trying to do better.” She takes another deep breath. “Enough of this. I can’t wallow in my own weakness, but can only strive to be what is required.” She straightens her posture, sitting tall on the black horse. The mask of the arrogant noble woman falls back into place, as she says, “You know where to find me if you think of anything else I need to know. Thank you for your observations.”
He nods, as she turns to ride away he speaks again. “Just a moment. Was so caught up in the mystery that I forgot to ask. Where are the Grazelanders?” Dormal asks, adding “If it’s not a secret.”
“The Feathered Horse Queen recalled Serala. She wants some service of her, and where Serala goes, Finarvi goes. There was a <<insert Pure Horse Tongue word her that sounds rather foul>> who told Finarvi to make sure that Serala knew her place.” Varanis scowls. “He was apparently a representative from the Feathered Horse Queen’s husband and it sounds like they might be riding into some turbulent politics. I hope they will be ok.” The Vingan looks worried as she adds that last.
“Hm. Didn’t realise Serala was that highly placed.”
Varanis nods. “She was sought after specifically. Her grandfather is very important within the Grazelands, I think. And her brother is a chieftain.” She has a muddled Esrolian/Sartarite understanding of the situation.
“Which side did the Grazelanders take during the Lunar invasion?” he asks. “For that matter whose side do they lean towards now?”
“Their last queen sided with the Lunars, but the current one fights against them,” Varanis answers.
“I mean, I know Serala seems to hate the Lunars, but if she’s been called back because the Grazelands are going red again and her loyalty is in doubt…” Dormal trails off.
“Serala hates Lunars and would never fight on their side,” Varanis replies, fiercely. The mask of cool arrogance has definitely cracked again.
“Well that’s the point, isn’t it?” He explains, “If the power balance in the Grazelands has shifted, and she doesn’t realise what she’s riding into…”
Varanis pulls Doqeia to a halt, staring at her cousin in pure horror.
“Not that I know much about the Grazelands. But politics is politics.”
“Oh Vinga…” It doesn’t require any deep insight to see that she hadn’t considered this possibility and that she’s deeply worried about the Grazelanders.
Dormal stops and looks quizzically over at Doqeia. “I’m sure it will have occurred to Finarvi. And she couldn’t not go after being summoned,” he observes. “And unless I miss my guess, none of us speak Pure Horse, so we wouldn’t have been much use there.”
Varanis lets loose a string of curses in Pure Horse Tongue. “You’re right. My vocabulary is rather limited,” she says scowling. “And I couldn’t walk away from what we are doing and Serala couldn’t disobey her Queen. I don’t like it though.”
“Oh well. My apologies. Just thinking out loud,” Dormal says. “And after all, it might not even be that. Best not to worry.”
Her nostrils flare as she inhales, eyes staring at Dormal stormily. Varanis tries to regain her look of calm, but she’s shaken. “You are right, of course,” she replies, her words at odds with her expression. “If you’ll excuse me, I need to check in on someone else.” She nods politely.
He nods again, and looks thoughtfully off into the distance.