Varanis — 1626 0850 Rejoicing
????, Earth Season, Stasis Week
Earth Season, Stasis Week, Fireday morning. [[[s02:session-11|Session 11]]]
Fireday morning, after [http://journeyoftheheroes.wikidot.com/varanis:1626-0840-releasing Yamia plucked the poor warbler], Varanis arrives late to practice. Her hair has been hastily plaited in a single plait. Already wisps are sneaking out of it. As she approaches, she is still buckling one of her vambraces into place, the movement made awkward by the helmet tucked under her arm.
The continuing efforts of the Sartarite, not to mention a Lady of the house and a male of distinction, have given the house guards a reason to show enthusiasm. There is a small group of men and women training, trying to ignore the genuinely fast, hard match that is going on between Silor and Berra. The big man is still mostly getting his way, but there is a long bruise streaked down his bare left arm. He fights hardly armoured, in the Esrolian heat.
Yelm is slanting down spear-rays into the courtyard, but the shadows are still young and strong.
Varanis tugs the straps into place and then slides her helmet on. Impatiently, she tucks red strands out of her eyes and under the helmet. She rolls her shoulders, testing the fit of her gear, and satisfied, she begins to step through her warm-up, keeping her eyes on Silor and Berra.
The bout ends when Berra makes a single mistake, her shield slipping as she over-commits, and Silor takes brutal advantage of it, landing a half-pulled blow to her chest. The armour takes it, but she is staggered nevertheless, and puts up her sword-hand to admit defeat. Silor gives her a moment and then attempts a warrior’s embrace, which is made rather awkward by Berra not realising what he meant to do, and failing to open her arms to it.
Varanis almost smiles as she watches Berra get pulled into a meaty bear hug. The Vingan finishes her warm-up and resheathes the bronze sword.
“Quite like to move now thanks,” Berra says after it is clear Silor is not giving up. He laughs and releases her, and on looking around catches the eye of Varanis. “Come look what your Clanswoman did to me,” he says with his broad smile. “It would have made a solid mess of the arm.”
Varanis approaches and makes appropriate noises of appreciation. The colour is definitely beginning to show. “I enjoyed watching the two of you spar,” Varanis says. “Such proficiency is a joy to observe.”
“She’ll get there yet,” Silor says, to a smirk from Berra. “But I have faced my daughter enough to know what short looks like.”
Silor’s Insight: Varanis’ admiration is genuine, though she’s also a little distracted.
Berra says, “Humakt chooses the best short people,” with a grin. It seems to mean something to her, although it puzzles Silor1… whose own brother used to tell him Humakt chose the best people, but without being short..
“Would you be willing to go again?” Varanis asks, looking at Silor enquiringly.
“Been a while since a woman your age asked me that – about an hour, in fact.” He looks to Berra, and they nod, and the Humakti steps back, saying, “I should go scrape down and have breakfast.” It is early for her to stop, but not alarmingly so.
Berra manages to keep a straight face…
Varanis raises an eyebrow, but does not comment. After all, Silor is a married man and couldn’t possibly mean what his words imply. “Let me swap my blade for a waster,” she says instead.
Silor nods to where Berra’s is now neatly piled against the wall, next to her padded shield. “I think that one is still good to go, and this old man is. I’ll take some water while you check it.”
Varanis collects the blade and checks it over carefully. Satisfied, she picks up the shield experimentally.
She looks to see if Silor is using a shield.
Other than the damp handle, the shield will do just fine. Silor has a drink and swaps his wooden sword out for one that he has not cracked on Berra’s ribs. “Well?” He has his shield, rather bigger than the one Varanis has.2Misusing random.org’s layout table for integers, here are sword and shield results:
98 20 – fail but parry
18 32 – special and parry
10 14 – special and parry
The Vingan nods, stepping into place and rolling her shoulders back. She offers him a salute and shifts into her fighting stance.3For Varanis: 62/92; 55/24;47/58 – the first parry is a fail, but everything else is simple success.
He goes straight for a series of blows that offer little mercy, testing Varanis, and finding himself wanting as his left side defence is solid but his efforts to hit her are less than stellar. He is rushing, lost for a moment in the heady attempt.
Varanis responds to his attacks with her own, throwing caution to the wind with enthusiasm. She is competent and aggressive, but pays little attention to her defense, allowing Silor to score a few hits on her.
It does not take Silor long to realise he is pressing too fast and not precisely enough, and the great strength comes to face Varanis properly. “So, tell me about the Blue Tree Clan,” he says conversationally, while his hilt scores a blow that dashes her shield out of line and lets him take up the space he wants to occupy.
Varanis grits her teeth, initially trying to resist the blow and then realizing that she has no choice but to go with it. “They are Colymar, Lord Silor. Proud, though not rich like some of the Colymar.” She steps off the line, out of the way of his sword, before coming back in with a new attack aimed to force the older man to move his shield lower to block it.
Silor takes the blow by moving forward into it, always pushing hard. His strength is in his strength – and his size and ferocity. “Venlar is used to my Tula,” he says, like he has not just made a serious attempt on the structure integrity of Varanis’ helm. The blow could easily have been turned in towards her, not politely shoved along the outside.
Varanis grunts. She does not try to go toe to toe with the larger man, but instead is constantly moving in an effort to make space for her sword. “It is a humble place, Lord.” She sidesteps and tries to take the arm Berra hit earlier. “But its people have good hearts.”
Silor manages to close down the line with his shield, correctly, and that leaves his sword free. “Good to hear, I know little of their trading, though.” He reverses his blade in his hand for a showy but very effective hook on her shield, but cannot make anything of the opening he creates.
The Vingan growls when she realizes her shield is hooked. She uses the pommel of the waster to knock the offending blade up and off, but sacrifices her own chance for an attack when she does it.
“They have horses. Little things, but sturdy and swift. I’m not sure what else. Irillo could tell you more.”
Silor laughs, joyful. The effort of laughter in no way stops him from paying attention, “Oh, the chariot horses, yes. I know their reputation. And some wool, of course. But little else of note. They are outmatched by your glorious city.” He takes a moment to speak, and even gives Varanis a moment to prepare a reply, but he is obviously eyeing up weaknesses.
“Nochet is the centre of the world. Nothing compares to her. But don’t let her beauty fool you.” She comes in fast, making it look like she’s heading for the sword-side, but then lunging past the shield-side in an effort to get behind it. “She’ll clip your wings and cage you before you know it.” The words are bitter.
“Best to be free then?” Silor does not smile for once, although he steps around the safety of his own big shield to keep the threat away from him, thick wood between him and danger. “Are all of the warriors up there as wild as Berra? Are you?”
“Blue Tree doesn’t have many warriors,” Varanis says, pressing the attack again. “And I’m nowhere near as good as Berra. Maybe one day, if I live long enough.” She rains furious blows on him, trying to force his shield out of position to create an opening. The words are now coming with little pauses for breath. “But probably not then either. I have too many things pulling on me to give myself as completely to the sword as Berra does.”
“Not what I…” Silor has to pause to defend against the blows, and then as he lets Varanis tire herself on the bulwark on his left arm, he goes on, “…asked. She could cause a lot of trouble for my son’s new Clan, and I’m trying to decide if I like that. This is a greatshield and your arm is half the size of mine. But keep trying.” He then thrusts straight forward, all the weight of his arm and shoulder moving to jab at her shield, but he does not twist his hips to force it. He is just playing for the moment.
“She does what she thinks is right. And she’s rarely wrong.” There’s a shrug in the words, though not in her shoulders. She steps back and to the side, giving herself time to consider her options.
“Are you making her your Champion?” Silor moves straight in, giving Varanis no room or time now.
Varanis doesn’t answer the question.
Silor grunts, like that is his own answer. “She’s a good warrior, but she might have to help your Sartar Clan negotiate, and she’s busy making enemies. Beware.”
Varanis suddenly tosses her shield at Silor, and follows the shield with her body. She dodges to his sword side, planting her foot at the top of his thigh to throw herself up and onto the older warrior. It rapidly becomes plain that she intends to straddle his shoulders. As she swings into place, the pommel of her sword comes down on top of his head hard.4Special on the jump, just passes the fist.
Silor throws himself over backwards.
The pommel hits. There may or may not be a hard landing…
As Silor goes over, Varanis jumps free of him, landing a little clumsily a short distance to his shield side.
Silor lands heavily, with the sound of air being forced out of him. For a moment he lies stunned, and then he groans. “Gggguh.”
Varanis walks over and offers him a hand up. She has a wicked grin on her face, but doesn’t say anything.
“You are wild,” he says from his dusty couch. “Well done.”
For the moment, he is not getting up. He might be contemplating wrestling,
“You reminded me of Vinga’s teaching.” Her eyes gleam with merriment. “There’s always another way.”
Insight: It seems like Varanis just passed a test in Silor’s mind. He is not pleased to be down, but he is happy to be beaten.
“You need to start with that if you want to walk away,” he says, offering his hand, it’s an offer, not an acceptance, even though it will help him up.
Silor’s Insight: Something was bugging her before and she’s let it go now, in the joy of the fight. She’d keep going if given the encouragement.
She clasps her hand in his much larger one and drops her body weight subtly. She’s bracing to pull him, if needed, but also to keep herself from being yanked down.
He gets up with the aid of the clasp, although he does not need it. “Again?” he asks, hardly wheezing for Orlanth’s gift. “I promise not to do that.” He is smiling a bit. He has an idea.
Varanis smiles and nods. “Happily.”
When Silor is on his feet, Varanis steps back and scoops up her discarded shield. She faces the older man, once again ready in her fighting stance.
This time, Silor throws his shield without bothering to take hold of it properly. It’s hard, and not particularly accurate, but now he has two hands for his sword, and he advances at speed to try his luck.543 52 – pass and pass.
34 100 – pass and… sigh fumble. But a 25 on that, so not terrible.
06 99 – special and fail.
Varanis grins wildly, dancing back as she throws her own shield into his path.
With his fist half protected by the sword, he punches that out of the air, although it is mostly by accident. He is coming in for an overhanded strike that would look better with a sword rather longer than the one he is using. His smile is wide.677/52; 06/48; 86/13
Varanis dodges to the side, her blade darting towards his exposed abdomen. She’s misjudged the distance. The point of her wooden sword can’t quite reach him.
He has not, and he cheats, using a flick of his wrists to bring his blade sideways, strength of both forearms going into the change of direction as he barrels past.
She dances out of the way of the sword, eyes momentarily widening. She recovers balance that was almost lost, then closes again.
“So you can be wild,” he says, chuckling as he turns in what is definitely the wrong direction, sending his sword out in a wild, dangerous arc that protects his flank by its power alone. His body is saying he is out of control. His voice is mild still, lacking the mocking effect he often uses. “Can you make peace too?”
“I’d rather have peace than violence, so long as that peace brought my people safety,” she says. Her sword catches his, but rather than resist his blow, her blade follows his as she steps in. Her free hand catches his pommel and with a clever twist of sword and hand, she forces him to release the hilt or risk injury to his wrists.
He risks the injury, tearing himself free, and wincing as cartilage pops. Left-handed for a moment he steps back as he mutters a healing spell. She has drawn his fangs and he is retreating.
Her gaze is apologetic. “You were supposed to let go.” She steps back to give him room to recover, but doesn’t lower her sword, still wary.
“Let go?” He looks amazed. “So, back to making peace. Wanting it is not the same as working for it. Can you MAKE it?” For some reason, he has slipped into Stormspeech. His accent is Sartarite.
When she replies, her Stormspeech also has a Sartarite flavour to it. “I know how to negotiate when the situation calls for it. When the gods are with me, I can win the hearts of those who listen and persuade them to follow my lead, whether that be into battle or into peace.” Her sword tip has dropped as she considers her answer.
He puts the pressure back on, although now he is twisting and moving, seeking weaknesses rather than just cutting through. “What’s your plan for the place?”
“Blue Tree?” She parries and attempts a counterattack, targeting the purpling bruise left by Berra.
“You’re an Orlanthi. How will you keep peace there?” He accepts a hit to that bruise, which is lesser now – healed as he healed his other arm. In return, he slashes out towards the elbow Varanis has exposed, sacrificing his left arm for her right.
She winces as she doesn’t completely get her arm out of the way, though it’s enough that she doesn’t lose her grip on her own sword. “I want to support Mellia’s ambition to build a temple. Continue to build relationships with the Green Fish.” Her blade cuts low, towards the inside of Silor’s forward leg. “Maybe see if there’s a desire to attract some newcomers to the Tula to settle. I don’t yet know if the land will support more people, but if it will, I know a few warriors looking for places to call their own. After we deal with the Lunars, of course.”
Silor bounces off the elbow strike to entirely fail to parry Varanis, instead aiming for her thigh where the great artery beats. A touch of the edge there says she would be falling now if she had a sharp weapon, and while he would be crippled, she would be dying. “I think you need to know a bit more about how they work,” he says, stepping back. “We should talk. Properly.”
A look of chagrin crosses her face as she realizes her loss. The she nods and steps back, saluting him. “We should.”
Silor nods, rather than saluting, from his rank to hers. He is sweating now, in Yelm’s full light, and breathing as hard as might be expected of a man of his years, but he does not look tired. He looks like he would press on longer, but for other and more important things. Sweat has soaked through his tunic but not the leather he wears as armour on his torso, and as he takes off his helm his hair is slick in places. “Enough for now,” he says, in Heortling again. “I should not be the only one to take such excellent company.” Back to mild mockery, arrogance painted on him.
Varanis grins at him as she removes her own helmet. “I have urgent personal matters to attend to this morning – perhaps I could visit with you later today?” Her hair, where it has escaped its plait, frames her face in a damp frizz.
Silor has to take a moment to think about that. “The fifth hour after noon,” he says. “I usually take a light meal with my children. Come then, if you are free. We’ll send them away and do some real work.”
“I will be at your service.” She nods solemnly, then gives him a cheeky wink. “Thank you for this morning. You are the second great oak I have given to Ernalda. Though perhaps I should call Rajar a mountain instead.”
Silor gives Varanis an ancient look, as old as trees. “You really don’t know just how often you offer up those lines, do you?” He smooths his beard, also smoothing away a smile. “Call Rajar whatever you like, if you show him Ernalda’s kindness.” Definitely no smirk.
Varanis flushes and stammers, “Lord Silor! I… oh. There’s Irillo. I should go.” She gives him a hasty bow and flees.7A failed roll on Air leaves her gasping.
Silor’s laughter follows, although what it means is impossible to say.