Varanis — 1626 0791 Nonap
????, Earth Season, Death Week
Earth Season, Death Week, Clayday, late afternoon [[[s02:session-6|Session 6]]]
House Saiciae, Nochet
Continues in [http://journeyoftheheroes.wikidot.com/mellia:maid-measure Maid to Measure]
Varanis returns to her room after visiting Xenofos. Marta is there waiting and studiously ignoring the Humakti who appears to be taking a nap on the floor. The Vingan looks at Berra almost enviously for a moment, before quietly asking Marta to help her out of her armour so she can head to the baths.
Berra opens one eye, gives Varanis a jerk of the hand with her scabbarded sword in it, and rolls over onto her back, obviously awake. “I can’t sleep in this armour,” she mutters.
“Why do you try?” Varanis asks.
“Because I should be ready for battle,” Berra replies. “The leather was sort of workable, but I shouldn’t be carrying spare armour to sleep in. That’s just weird.”
“What do people in your Regiment do?” Varanis asks, as she tugs on the strap of her vambrace. Marta is busy unbuckling the cuirass. She won’t kneel to take off the greaves. Varanis will have to manage those on her own.
“Mostly, sleep in bigger units. But we used to put armour on when we were on watch, when we marched. Only we’d have more pickets, and two hundred people. I’ve never marched with Lord Eril, though. Just with the Battalion Regiments.” Berra gets up with a fluid motion that ends with her rolling out her shoulders with a lot of wincing. “I can only assume it is the same. I can’t tell you it is. And D’Val… Sword D’Val doesn’t have the same body shape as me. I haven’t seen many people there asleep when not in the barrack. The Wyter Priest doesn’t wear armour, after all…” She trails off a bit at that, looking down at her sword to check she is buckling her belt right.
“Maybe it’s worth checking. You can’t afford to be perpetually…” Varanis stifles a yawn. “Tired,” she finishes. She puts one sandalled foot on her bed to make it easier to reach the buckles on her greaves. Marta scowls, but says nothing as she places the cuirass on the armour stand beside the bed.
“No, I don’t need to be constrained by what other people do. I’m going to find my own way.” Berra shrugs. “Do you need me tonight? Want company?”
“I’m heading to the baths now. You are welcome to join me.” Marta sniffs loudly in the background, but says nothing. “As for this evening, I’ll leave it to you to decide. I’d say I’m safer here than most other places in Nochet, but we both remember the night we met.” Varanis strips out her tunic and to Marta’s continued dismay, her charge has wrapped her chest again. “Oh hush. It’s easier under the armour this way.”
“Oh. Right. I … yeah, I’ll come and dangle my feet in the bath and think about rivers. Berra unbuckles her own swordbelt again, to strip off her armour, something she manages quickly. Then, in underwear, she picks up Wind Tooth. “Do I need to wear something to walk there?”
At a wave from Varanis, Marta comes over with a white linen robe for Berra. It’s identical to the one the Vingan is shrugging into, right down to the air, movement, and water runes embroidered in white thread. Yes, it does seem as though Varanis has two robes for bathing.
The robe comes to Varanis’ ankles. On Berra it is rather longer. There’s a belt to tie it in place. Berra laughs as Marta hauls the belt up, and then she buckles Wind Tooth on. “Maybe some REALLY thick shoes?”
Marta raises an eyebrow at the sword but wisely says nothing. The hem drags on the ground, but not too horribly.
“Let’s go.” As Varanis makes for the door, Marta reminds her to return in enough time to have her nails repaired. Varanis makes a sound that might be agreement.
Berra pulls the robe a little to try to get it to hang right, and finally just walks. She is not Venlar. There are no tripping accidents or expensive problems along the way. The Humakti seems relaxed, calm, even in temper.
As they step into the bathing room, Varanis shucks her robe and drops it in a heap on a bench. She walks directly to the hottest pool in the room and steps into the water with a happy sigh. Settling onto the built in bench, she rests her head on the edge of the pool. “This is the best part of Nochet,” she informs Berra.
Berra puts her robe down in a slightly neater pile, dropping it down with a back and forth sweep that halfway folds it, lazily. She comes to sit beside the water, legs crossed. “It’s impressive.”
“I’ve been thinking. I want to get a new tattoo. But I don’t know how the House artist will feel when I tell him it can only be blue.”
“Two or three whole shades of blue,” Berra says brightly, and gives an evil grin. “Any preparation of woad he likes!”
Varanis chuckles. “I should see if there’s time to talk to him tonight. I might try to get it done tomorrow. I want to start my training at your Temple as soon as possible, Fireday if they’ll have me.”
“It’s a good day to start, I suppose. Unless it’s a good day to finish. I’m considering spending time there myself but I have to decide how much I want to dedicate to the God, and how much of myself I need to keep back, to do his work.”
Varanis looks thoughtful. “It might be a better day to finish, all things considered.” After a pause, she adds, “What do you mean?”
“In the Marsh, I could have been more useful, and there is a spell that allows Humakti to strike the undying dead with his power. It is more reliable than the presentation of the cross, because it is sent by him directly. I’m wondering if that is more useful than my own inner power.”
“What is the cost to you? Not in Lunars, but in who you are?” Varanis asks.
Berra shrugs. “No more than any other time I have learned spells from him,” she says. “It’s not the same as going across the altar. That’s a dedication of the self. I won’t have other demands placed on me, for such a gift. It’s just Rune Magic. True Death magic in this case.”
Varanis changes the subject. “Have you thought about this evening’s party? Will you be in attendance?”
“I hadn’t thought about it. I’ve been awake for a while, so I was going to try to get some sleep instead. I suppose as a guest in the house I should be there.” Berra relaxes her shoulders, her pose almost meditational.
“I was considering asking Mellia if she has something that will help me stay alert. I haven’t slept since Waterday. First there was the Clayday party and I was trapped for all of that. And well, the rest of today has been too busy.” Her eyelids drift shut even as she speaks, relaxing into the hot water.
“She gave me mint tea,” Berra says. “But you could sleep now. I’ll guard you.”
Regretfully, Varanis shakes her head, eyes still closed. “Marta needs me back,” she murmurs. “And I’ll end up looking like a dried apricot or some such…” The words trail away.
“Why does Marta need you?” Berra asks.
It’s a long moment before Varanis replies. “Nails. Make-up. Whatever other tortures she wishes to inflict on me.”
“Right. What you said you’d go to. Fair enough.” Berra sighs. “That was very nearly a bad day, today.”
The Vingan’s eyes open at that. “It was. In more than one way,” she agrees.
“I’ve never had to protect someone in a duel before. Not like that. I mean, I’ve…” she stops suddenly. “But the thing itself was over already.”
“What?” Varanis asks. “What didn’t you say?”
“I thought it might remind you of the fight before the Dragonrise,” Berra says without hesitation. “So I said something else true instead.”
“Mmmm… I need to move beyond that moment. I can’t keep dancing around it or the wound will continue to gape.” Her eyes drift shut again. “It’s holding me back,” she murmurs very softly, as if to herself.
Berra stretches forwards, hovering her hands over the water. “You’re better than you were. You’re here, making yourself do what’s proper, not what you want to do. Fewer excuses in you.”
“Xenofos did well today,” Varanis admits. “And his opponent was honourable.”
“And you can’t take a compliment if it’s true, sometimes. But he did. He was a lot better than I’ve seen in him before – really fast, and direct. I liked his style.”
“Mmmm?” Varanis dunks her head under the water. When she resurfaces, she’s drifted to another topic. “Will there be trouble from the Storm Bulls?”
“I don’t know. If there is, it’s best to meet it head-on, either with more trouble, or with Mellia. They seemed to be happy enough to leave with Rajar, but you would have to ask him.” Berra lets the subject get changed, and does not wrestle it back.
“I wonder what Serala and Finarvi are doing…” Dunking her head did not seem to help Varanis wake up. Her thoughts are drifting on the surface, spoken as they cross her mind and gone again. Her eyes are closed. “Maybe a little nap,” she mumbles. “Just a few minutes.”
Berra reaches over to take Varanis’ shoulder. “If you’re going to stay awake, you need to get out of the warm one and into the cold one,” she says, sensibly. Such a traitor.
There’s a sigh of reluctant agreement. “You’re right, of course.”
“I’m not the one in the hot water. It’s easier for me.” Berra sounds close to but not actually sympathetic.
Varanis drags herself out of her lethargy and the hot bath and walks directly into the cold one without giving herself a chance to change her mind. There’s a sudden inhalation as the cold water hits, and then she dunks herself beneath the surface. When she rises again, she looks considerably more alert. “Right. Duty calls.”
“Always,” says Berra, who already has her borrowed robe on.