VS 107 Sword Dancer

Varanis — 1626 0770 Sword Dancer

????, Earth Season, Harmony Week


Context

Earth Season, Harmony Week, Waterday, late at night in Whitewall [[[s02:session-3|Session 3]]]

Follows [http:journeyoftheheroes.wikidot.com/varanis:1626-0769-hidden-humakti Hidden Humakti] and is followed by [http:journeyoftheheroes.wikidot.com/varanis:1626-0771-sword-dancer Sword Dancer Falls]

Yamia has appeared not far from the Temple of Humakt and seems likely to exhaust herself in an attempt to reach her god. Varanis decides she needs to get Mellia.

Events

It is far too early for anyone sensible to be up. Even Venlar’s thralls have not yet stirred to start making their master’s life easier. Yelm is ascending, but has not yet left the underworld, and will not for an hour or two. The Cold Sun is setting, watery, beyond the Wastelands of the West. For just a moment, it seems like there is a dark-haired figure, in a white slip dress, padding towards the Temple of Humakt. Then she passes behind the Temple of Orlanth, and is out of sight. Dark haired, maybe black-haired. The vampires that once lived here were like that – dark-haired, beautiful women. Of course, that could not be a vampire. Of course.1GM calls for scan and INT x 5 rolls – Varanis passes both.

Varanis stares in the direction the woman disappeared to. Then she glances at Berra, considering. With a quick shake of her head, she sets off to follow the woman without disturbing the sleeping Humakti. She walks quickly, but doesn’t run, yet. Her movements are surprisingly quiet, given her armoured state.2Varanis rolls successfully on move quietly.

Behind the Temple, there is a cleared area of ground, on which the vampire – or not – has paused. She is looking around in what might be confusion, and she is armed. A dress, a sword, long unbound hair. Short, but not as short as Berra. She turns and in the light of Yelmalio it is clear who she is. Yamia. With a muttered curse, Varanis considers her options.


Eyes closed, Yamia draws her sword, and then with calm precision begins to go through a set of movements that are in part familiar to Varanis. Changes of line, a slow-motion fight. Varanis has practiced these things lately.

Deciding that at the moment, anyway, Yamia is no threat to herself or anyone else, the Vingan waits silently. She studies the movements, both to learn from them and to assess the young Humakti as best she can.3Varanis passes broadsword roll.

Yamia lacks Berra’s smooth, flowing manner. She is all precision, the right strike delivered to the right place. It is hard at first to tell how good she is, until she begins to speed up. She is not Berra. Berra wastes moves compared to Yamia. Perhaps it is that Yamia is unarmoured, but she seems faster. It might be, instead, that she moves around her target less, making positions rather than finding them. But then, sometimes, Varanis can think of a thing Berra could do that would get around that solid guard and the increasingly vicious attacks.

Yamia is very, very good. Good enough to make it look like Berra does not create that number of errors in her opponents. Good enough that Varanis can imagine what her opponent must be doing by the way she moves.

It doesn’t take long for the Vingan to adjust her opinion of the Humakti in front of her. She continues to watch without interfering. Yamia appears to be safe, in as much as a sleepwalking sword-wielding Humakti can be.

From time to time Yamia pauses and takes a slow breath, or murmurs a fragment of a song, or tries some shuffling dance steps. Each time, she throws herself back into the fight again afterwards, faster and faster, but never desperate. Her expression, eyes still half closed, is one of pleading, but every muscle in her is a slave to her will, the demands she puts on herself. Then suddenly the fight is gone from her, and she sheathes her sword and just stops moving. “I can’t hear you,” she says. “But you’re casting a shadow.” She turns to Varanis, tiredly incurious.

“Hello, Yamia,” Varanis offers. Her voice is friendly, but calmly so. “I didn’t want to disturb you. My apologies if I did.”

“No,” she says quietly. “I was not disturbed.” Her eyes are huge and dark.4Both players attempted and failed insight human rolls.

“It’s very late. Or very early, depending on how you look at it.” The observation is made gently, with no hint of criticism. “Couldn’t sleep?”

“No. I got up early. I wanted to pray. But you’re up too.” She is probably about to ask about how Varanis is, and already her expression is trembling.

“I haven’t been to bed yet,” the Vingan admits. “I went out with Berra and Mellia in the evening. I’ve been back for a while now, but it hasn’t felt like the right time to sleep yet.” The reply is truthful, but gives little away. 5Rolled on truth and harmony to get an idea of how V will reply. Both were passes.

“You should sleep,” Yamia replies. “It is good for you. You are a sun person and should sleep the night away.”

This earns a smile. “I’m a sun person? What makes you say that?”

“How you act. You’re not like your Humakti. She’s cold. Calm. You’re a hot and proud person.” Yamia says it matter-of-factly.

“Hmmm… she can run pretty hot too, under the right circumstances. But I think Berra tries hard to to be calm. Are you a night person then?”

Yamia nods, and looks down. The question seems to have turned her inward, and she heaves a slow sigh. “Which of these is the Temple of Humakt?” she asks.

“That one,” Varanis replies, indicating the Temple where Berra is sleeping.

There is a nod, but Yamia makes no move towards it. “It had a…” She stops and her eyes brim over suddenly, and she sits down on the ground. There is a tearing sound as one of the slits in her dress becomes rather longer.

Varanis approaches carefully. “Yamia?” She watches to see how the young woman responds to her approach, ready to stop or back away, if it looks like she is getting too close.

Yamia looks up, and tries to smile. It’s a brave attempt from the depths of some sudden tragedy that has hit her. “Yes?” she whispers.

As it seems like she has frightened Yamia away, Varanis sinks down to the ground to sit close by. “Can I help you at all?”

The woman shakes her head. “You’re not a Priest. I will talk with them tomorrow…” Proud, she does not wipe away the tears, or try to hide them.

There’s silence for a time as Varanis thinks.

After a while, Yamia says, “There were bodies here, unburied. Spirits in pain. I could hear people talking in the Hospital.”

Varanis nods. “I’ve heard that too. But Mellia and the others, they put the spirits to rest. No one is in pain now.” Again, she is speaking gently.

“I know. It… it just… it happened.” Yamia sighs. “Your Humakti stopped it. And my uncle. And Mellia.” She nods eagerly, like she is happy to have something to agree on.6GM rolled on reputation for the relevant people.

“You could ask Mellia about it, if you want to learn more,” Varanis suggests. “If things go well for her and Venlar, Mellia will become kin to you.”

Yamia sags a little. “They might go badly?” Her lip is wobbling. She looks on the verge of tears again.

“No,” Varanis says quickly. “They will go well. When I was young, I was taught to avoid speaking like things were predetermined.” She shrugs. “It makes me too careful about how I speak about things sometimes.”

Yamia’s breathing evens out, and the growing panic fades. “I would like to be alone,” she says. “I want to commune with my sword.” She suddenly sounds over-determined.

The Vingan studies her. “And when you are done communing? Where will you go?”

“I don’t know. It depends on how I feel. Venlar is with his woman, so I won’t go talk to him. The man from the other wagon is asleep.” Then she stops for a moment, thinking about something. “Do you think the Healers will worry?” That, too, seems to bring dread upwelling in her.

“They might,” Varanis admits.7Critical on truth for Varanis. “Perhaps we should go back and let them know? Then you can commune with your sword without anyone being worried.”

Yamia takes a deep, gasping breath. “I can’t think about Death in that place,” she says. “I don’t want to go back. They are being very lovely but they don’t know about Death.”

“Hmmm…” Varanis considers. “If you promise to stay here to do your communing, I could make sure the healers know you are safe. But I would need your promise. It’s important to me to know that my people are safe and in a way, you’re one of my people now.”

“I promise,” Yamia says. “Until they find me, or you release me.”

Varanis nods and rises smoothly to her feet. She offers Yamia a hand to rise.

Yamia takes it, and uses it. She is not clumsy, like her brother, but the difference between Berra pouring herself to her feet like an Alynx, and Yamia standing like a warrior is clear. Yamia keeps her right hand free, of course.

“How long would you like, Yamia? Before anyone comes for you. I can ask them to leave you alone to commune.”

“I don’t know. I can’t feel the God.” Finally she crumbles, hiding her face behind her hands, trying not to sob.

Varanis blinks. Carefully, Varanis pulls Yamia into an embrace. It is, unfortunately, a bronze embrace as the Vingan is wearing her armour.

Yamia lets it happen, although she does not hold Varanis in return. She is too busy fighting against the feeling inside.

Sword-calloused fingers stroke the long, dark hair. “Shhh,” she soothes. “We’ll find a way, Yamia. You don’t have to face this alone.”8Passed Harmony roll. One again, V demonstrates that she doesn’t understand separation.

“I don’t know what to do,” Yamia murmurs, and then she straightens her back and takes a steadying moment, and says, “You were going to the Hospital.”

“Yes. And you will find what to do. First, do your drills and when Yelm rises, perhaps the priests will be able to help, if not here, then in Nochet. You will find Humakt again, Yamia. I believe it.” Although the words are spoken quietly, they carry conviction. Yamia is released and Varanis promises her that she won’t be disturbed unless there’s good reason.

Yamia closes her eyes, and her smile is more deadly than hopeful, but she seats herself again, this time in a meditational pose, sacrificing more of the seam of her dress.

With a last look at the young woman, Varanis heads in the direction of the Temple of Chalana Arroy [http://journeyoftheheroes.wikidot.com/varanis:1626-0771-sword-dancer to find Mellia]. She’s moving quickly, but without urgency.

Yamia seems peaceful, at least to the outer observer. Her back is straight, her breathing even.