VS 132 Burning the Candle: No Napping Allowed

Varanis — 1626 0801 Candle9

????, Earth Season, Season/Fertility Week


Context

Earth Season/Fertility Week/Freezeday [[[s02:session-7|Session 7]]]
Temple of Humakt

Events

Berra comes in dressed in her lighter, leather armour today. “Need a strap-mate?” She asks.

“Please,” Varanis says looking frustrated. “I can’t seem to make it work this morning.”

“Freezeday,” Berra says. “Your fingers are cold.” She has not felt Varanis’ hands. It’s a bit of folk wisdom. “Relax shoulders.” Kneeling, she pays attention to the lower straps first.

Varanis sighs, which turns into a yawn. She rolls her shoulders back, trying to loosen them up. They creak as she does so.

“Breathe slowly, stand tall, palms forward,” Berra says. It is the voice of someone beginning a meditational instruction. “Eyes on anything you like.” That part is not meditation.

Varanis does as instructed, her eyes settling on the birdcage with its lonely little songbird. Yesterday’s gift.

Berra matches her breathing to the movements of the Vingan, but her fingers move fast, arranging armour with the speed of someone who has done this under pressure. “Out of Darkness came Water,” is the first thing she says then, when she stands to do the upper straps and the vambraces. “After today, it gets easier.”

Varanis breathes slowly, her chest rising and falling with the flow of Air through her. As she continues to stare at the songbird, the knot of tension between her shoulders eases.

“That’s good. Air must always feel strange where it sees the God who was once a brother. Tell me about the bird.” Berra probably does not know enough to steer clear of any such subject.

Varanis blinks. “It came yesterday. There were a couple of other gifts too. None of them had names attached, so I can’t return any of them. I think perhaps the necklace came from Lenta. It smells of violets and she does too. But she didn’t seem to know what I was talking about when I mentioned apples last night…”

“Are violets popular with young women this year?” Berra asks. “It could be that someone sent a thing for that. Or to make you smell like her, which would be VERY creepy. What do apples mean as gifts here?”1Berra failed Customs Esrolia so has no clue.

“They can be love tokens, I suppose. There was a poem the other night that referenced apples.” Varanis frowns in concentration as she tries to remember.

“Do you recall the rhythm? Arm up please.”

“No wait… it was a poem in the apple bowl. No apples in the poem.” Absently, she holds her arm up. “That poem spoke of being jealous of a songbird. And there was an apple in the poem. At the end. Undoing skirts?” She frowns in frustration. “I don’t remember. I’m so very tired.” She yawns.

“But apples.” Berra squints at the straps. “This is even more complicated than mine. So someone who sent you a songbird sent you apples? Or… well, not important. There is one task today. Do the task. Then look at the next task. That’s how to do a big thing.” Today, Berra’s ‘mine’ mostly holds on with the curl of leather, and she has even moved her precious black feather back to the leather helm.

“There were three gifts yesterday. A silver necklace with nine apples, the songbird, and a collection of gorgeous feathers. Presumably, all from different people, but … maybe I am jumping to conclusions on that. Ouch! That strap pinched.”

Berra says, “Yes,” carefully. “I wonder if this was made for someone a bit taller than you, from where it is.” But she straightens. “Other arm. And look at something that…” She pauses, and looks at the glittering mica wall. “Look at Vinga.”

She looks away from the songbird to glance at Berra. “There was a song last night too. A young nobleman sang Xenofos’ Lay of Varanis Lightbringer.” She scowls. “People stared and they were judging me. I could feel it in their looks.” She dutifully refocuses her gaze on the mural of Vinga.

“Of course they were,” says Berra. “You’re a Lightbringer. See that? She brought the Light back. They can’t judge you in a way that matters to your Honour, only to them. Nobody can make you do anything. What do their judgements matter?”

Varanis shrugs. “It’s hard to explain,” she admits. “If I am to win them over, then their opinions of me matter. And even if that weren’t my goal, my standing in society is something I have been taught to protect.”

“Alright. I think if I heard that…” Berra carefully folds the padding of the sleeve under her fingers so it will not be humped up over the new Sartar tattoo on the Vingan’s left wrist. “…Then I’d be in awe. I’d probably look at you and wonder if there was a mistake, and want there to be, if I was a jealous person, but I think the song is a good thing. It can be at places where you’re not.”

Varanis considers. “There are other songs too. Some less than flattering. If I could figure out who was behind the stupid Sweet Saiciae Vareen song….” She glares at Vinga. “At least the Esrolian version is less bawdy.” She flicks a glance at Berra. “You should understand. You have your own corpus of songs.”

“If you do want to point me at anyone and promise you’ll share in the fines, I’m happy with that.” Berra starts on the other arm. “Nearly done. But yes. We’re famous now. There are always songs about people you don’t know. At least the polite ones are the ones that usually get sung.” She has gone a bit pink. “Lord Eril’s heard some of them.”

Varanis chuckles. “I shouldn’t laugh. But the thought of Eril in a tavern listening to songs…”

“I… no. I can’t.” Berra stares at Vinga too, as if suddenly thinking of converting.

“Are we ready?” Varanis yawns. “I can’t be late. I need to do well at this.”

“Just the one by your Lightbringer wrist.” Berra steps back to let Varanis do that last buckle. “And don’t think about … well, it’s about swords. And secrets.” A look of discomfort crosses Varanis’ face when Berra mentions her tattoo. In spite of her exhaustion, she covers the expression quickly.2Berra passed insight. Berra gives Varanis a wry look, and no pat on the shoulder. None at all. She does move her hand a bit, but that is all. “Are you…” Then she stops, and smiles at her own words. “No distraction. I’ll ask later.”

“Let’s go.” Varanis snatches up her helmet and unceremoniously slides it onto her head. Her sword she buckles into place as she walks towards the door and the long day ahead.

On Freezeday, they have her running through a series of sword drills, several of which are familiar from Berra’s lessons. While most of what she is asked to do uses her rapier, they also have her work through the drills with broadsword. The morning goes smoothly. The afternoon calls for a return to meditation and this does not go well. She struggles to focus. Kneeling for hours with her sword laid bare across her thighs, in a cool, dark room in the depths of the Humakti Temple, she nods off.3Passed rapier and broadsword. Fumbled meditate.

They make her run up and down the stairs until it feels like her legs won’t support her anymore. Then she is directed to a cold bath and a return to meditation. This time she manages it, in spite of her shivering.

When she gets back to House Saicaie, there’s a second songbird waiting. The cage is delivered to her room. When the two meet they start a wonderful duet.