Varanis — 1626 0866 Homeward
????, Earth Season, Stasis Week
Earth Season, Stasis Week, Godday [[[s02:session-16|Session 16]]]
After the visit with Queen Samastina
On the way back, Berra tells Dormal what happened, then has a talk with Xenofos, who is guarding the right flank, and a quick word with Irillo as well. Then she catches up with Varanis, not even having to break into a run to do so.
Varanis nods a greeting towards the little Humakti, but doesn’t say anything at first.
“How are you?” Berra asks. She smells faintly of burned hair, even after being immersed.
Varanis shrugs. For a moment, it seems like that is her only answer, but then she says quietly, “The Merelts have not yet been dealt with. They will resurface sooner or later.”
“Mhm. We did the most important thing. We saved her. That’s what needed to happen.” Berra has the remains of her unnatural calm about her, but it seems to be fraying, for she casts her eyes about as they go as if she is seeking for enemies, and then pulls herself back to consideration. “I… do you want to go for a meal tomorrow?”
“You are going back to the Battalion, aren’t you?” The Vingan turns to glance at Berra, without breaking stride. “I suppose I will need to get used to you being around less. Yes, a meal together will be good.”
Varanis’ voice gives little away.1Berra fails Insight. Varanis is inscrutable.
“I should. And we should leave Nochet soon, I think. And find things to do that are not parties. Things to keep you from thinking how the city makes you think.”2Varanis attempts, but fails Insight.
Varanis shrugs again. “As long as I am here, I am at my Grandmother’s bidding. And besides, at the parties, I can work to further the Prince’s cause.” She considers things a moment, then adds, “though Silor suggested I might winter in Sartar, working to bring more of the clans to Kallyr. He proposed that I go to the Malani to start, if I recall correctly.”
“You’re burning up. You need a week of rest.” Berra steps carefully over a drift of street rubbish. “And then to take things more slowly. Tell her so.”
Berra’s words are met with a half-hearted shrug this time. “I am my mother’s daughter and I do what I must. I will manage. But I definitely need to sleep tonight. A cup of lumiviiva would make the morning easier, but I foolishly promised Mellia that I would give it up.” She makes no attempt to mask her resignation as she mentions her promise.
“Varanis. Listen. You’ve…. got to be…. no, you know what, you’re in charge of you. Sorry. But you can sleep more now, at least. And maybe we can go buy new greaves too.” Berra is still in that calm state after all, despite nearly saying something she might already have forgotten.
“The ducks wouldn’t dive to retrieve yours? I need a new helmet too.” There’s a hint of pain there. “We’ll visit a couple of good armourers tomorrow. In the afternoon, perhaps?”
“They might. I haven’t asked. I didn’t think of it. But they’d know where it was, at least. If nobody else already did.” Berra falls silent, thinking.
As they walk, Varanis goes through the motions of being vigilant, but the events of the past few days are catching up to her and wariness is being rapidly replaced by weariness.
Berra, on the other hand, keeps her battle-wits about her. It is obvious in how she carries herself that she is ready for more. “I don’t know yet if I can do the afternoon,” she admits. “It depends on whether the Swift-Strike puts me on guard.”
“I think I may skip training in the morning, and possibly breakfast as well.” She glances up at a rooftop by force of habit. “You may need to leave a message telling me where and when you want to meet.”
“I’ll send to you. Probably through Venlar or Yamia, if you’re not in.” Berra’s eyes scan buildings and roads with equal mercy – none. She even checks their trail from time to time. “I’ll miss you.”
This gets a small smile from the Vingan. “You’ll probably sleep better than you have been.”
“No… I’ll be in a barracks with a lot of people.” Berra answers honestly.
Varanis laughs softly. “More familiar ground though. If… no, when I return to Sartar, will you be coming with me?”3Berra passes Insight for a change. There’s hope, but maybe a certain amount of fear too. It’s like Varanis really wants Berra to say yes, but doesn’t believe she will. As Berra answer, the polite mask slips into place.
“Uh…. Probably? I think I might be going to Prax, though. Nala needs to go there. But you’ll probably do well with the Malani.” Berra’s voice is suddenly a touch lower.
Varanis nods, a polite smile on her lips. “Right, Nala. She means to take Xenofos with her too.”
“You could come. It’s another place to build alliances?” Berra suggests. “I mean, I really want to go back home, but we could loop around and come in through the North, at the end of Storm Season?”
Varanis considers the suggestion. “Perhaps. I get the sense that the Unicorn Rider would see me as a nuisance and burden, rather than an asset, mind you. I don’t know that she would welcome my presence.”
“And yet we’re planning on going back to Sartar?” Yes, that was a plural, not a ‘you are’. Maybe a slip. “Why should being unwelcome stop us?”
Varanis gives Berra a tight smile. “I also need to consider Mellia. She wants to return to Blue Tree. If I make for Malani territory, I can get her to Green Fish and from there, it’s an easy journey to Blue Tree. But I will consider your suggestion.” She falls silent.
“She should, yes.” Berra smiles slightly. “And Haran will be sitting up by the time I see him next.” That softens her voice, and for a moment she sounds like she is yearning for home herself.
“If we part ways in Nochet, I will carry any messages you care to send to your sister,” Varanis offers.
“That would be good. I’ve got a horse to take care of too. And Rajar already bought me a bison. He’ll be disappointed if his cunning doesn’t get answered and I don’t have to use it.” Berra seems happy enough at the concept of parting ways.
Varanis nods politely. “Is there anything more? I should try to be more alert to our surroundings and tired as I am, it’s proving difficult.” It’s not a dismissal, as that would imply an inequality between them that the Vingan has never claimed. But it’s close.
Berra does not answer directly, but paces alongside for a little – and short – while. She is obviously thinking the question through and looking for other things she might mention. “No. Except that you did well. You might not know that, but you did. Even when you were frustrated.”
Varanis raises an eyebrow. “Did what well? Nearly die repeatedly? Lose Serzeen? Nearly lose you? Fail to capture Garin repeatedly? You were the one to find and save Lenta.” The bitterness eases. “Thank you for that and for believing in my innocence when others did not.”
“Get into and out of a set of interlocked traps that we had to walk into for honour’s sake. It could have been a lot worse. And then you reminded me to keep my temper, which was useful. I needed steering in that moment.” Berra answers with her peaceful look settling back over her. It takes effort, but the calm is real.
Varanis gives a short nod of acknowledgement, wincing slightly as she does so. “We are almost home. I aim to fall into bed and sleep until I can sleep no longer or until duty demands my attention.”
“I’ll send you a message. Feed the birds for me.” And Berra drops back, leaving the conversation.
“They’re my birds,” Varanis murmurs grumpily in Berra’s wake, possibly too quietly to be heard. “Of course I’ll feed them.”4Berra failed Listen.
- 1Berra fails Insight. Varanis is inscrutable.
- 2Varanis attempts, but fails Insight.
- 3Berra passes Insight for a change. There’s hope, but maybe a certain amount of fear too. It’s like Varanis really wants Berra to say yes, but doesn’t believe she will. As Berra answer, the polite mask slips into place.
- 4Berra failed Listen.