Varanis — 1626 0870 Praxianpresumption
????, Earth Season, Stasis Week
Earth Season, Stasis Week, Godday [[[s02:session-16|Session 16]]]
It is sometime in the evening when Varanis knocks on Xenofos’ chamber door. “Please enter”
The Vingan steps into the room. She’s dressed in a simple robe and her hair hangs in a long, damp plait down her back. When she spies Xenofos, she comes over, looking for a place to sit.
Xenofos is by his writing desk. He has taken off his helmet and hung his rapier on the armour stand. His vambraces are on the floor. He looks a bit surprised. “Oh, you already found time to tidy up.”
Varanis shrugs. “Priorities, cousin. I have priorities.” She scoops up one of the vambraces as she takes a seat. She turns the vambrace around aimlessly in her hands, staring at it without really seeing it.
Xenofos looks curiously at Varanis.1Xenofos rolls a special on insight. She’s trying to figure out how to ask him something. Maybe it’s because she’s tired, but maybe it’s something else. She can’t seem to find the words.
There is raised eyebrow, as Xenofos looks at her. He is giving her time to compose her words. Without a word but with questioning look he beckons at the wine jug and goblets on the side table.
She nods in reply to his wordless question. As he pours, she watches him silently. He pours her a glass and tops his own goblet.
She sets the vambrace on the table and accepts the wine in its stead. She raises the glass to her lips, then sets it down without drinking. “When were you going to tell me you were going to Prax?”
There is a raised eyebrow. “I am going to Prax? I have no such intention.”
“Marta tells me that you are to accompany Nala.” She looks at him steadily. “The Praxian apparently told your servants to pack for you and said that it was on Grandmother’s orders.”
Xenofos looks at his room where his things have not been packed. “It seems Grandmother’s orders have been respected less than usual.”
She follows his gaze and seems relieved as she takes note of the truth of his words. “You would tell me if you were leaving, right?” She flushes as though she suddenly realizes how pathetic she sounds. “It’s fine if you need to go. It’s just that with your oath to me, I…” She hesitates then rushes on, “I just don’t want you to disappear again.”
“I was helping the Unicornwitch to get some information from the Library. She did ask me to accompany her to Prax but I said no.” Xenofos sips some wine.” Apparently, she is a bit spoiled because she had sent me a note at some point, threatening to spread rumours of me refusing to go as if she had any right to command me.” He yawns. “As a matter of fact I wrote a response that this evening. I first read it after our return.”
“Well, she is some sort of noble where she comes from, I think. But… if you do have to go, you have to go. I just want to know about it first. You… I worried when we… lost you.” She takes a sip of wine, forestalling any further words from herself.
“She did help you on your quest, but frankly, threatening me with slander to get her way just disgusts me. I can’t really imagine Grandmother willing to placate her just because she throws a tantrum.” Xenofos’ tone is light; he does not seem to worry about the possibility.
“Be careful, cousin. We don’t know her well and we don’t know what she’s capable of. It’s best not to make an enemy of her unnecessarily. But, of course, Grandmother will have the final say.”
Xenofos swirls his wine in the goblet. “Well, Grandmother has the last word by law of course.” He looks like he is going to add something but decides to take a sip instead.2Varanis attempts and fails an insight roll.
Varanis watches him for a moment or two, then rises. “I’m keeping you from something, aren’t I? I’m sorry. I’ll leave you in peace. I think I may sleep early tonight.”
Xenofos rises at the same time and protests. “No, not really. I just wrote a few notes of these last few days and what has passed. To clear my mind a bit. Seems I might have lost track of time in the process.” He looks at his muddy sandals and tunic that has a bit of soot on it.
She sinks back down. “Do you want to share your notes with me?”
There is slightest moment of hesitation before Xenofos nods and pulls a papyrus from the pile on the desk.
Lady Varanis is falsely accused by the house Hulta of abducting a maiden. She proves these accusations false with aid of her companions by saving the green eyed Lenta from mysterious villains through great tribulations and danger, braving perils of the Marsh, Sea and Fire. Brave Irillo slays a fearsome Aquatic troll and Rajar untold chaotic horror.
Queen Samastina declares the accusations void but mercifully does not punish the Hulta for them since the deception of the villains was clearly too delicate for them to comprehend.
They talk about the visit with the queen for some time, eventually exhausting the subject. Varanis rises to leave, then sinks back into the chair. “Berra is planning to go to Prax with Nala. I don’t know if that influences your decisions in any way.”
There is a pause before Xenofos answers “She is? I did not know that.”
“She mentioned it on our return from the Palace. Perhaps you should speak with her before you send your reply to the Praxian.”
“Perhaps I should have… That arrow is already in the air though.” Xenofos sounds thoughtful. “But thank you for telling me.”
Varanis nods. She looks like she is contemplating rising again, but instead reaches for the wine flask and refills the glasses. “Have you written any more poetry recently?”
“No, not lately,”answers the Scribe, looking like he is thinking of something else. “Funny you should ask though, I was contemplating trying to scribble something.”
“Oh?” Curious eyes watch him over the brim of her wine cup.
“Feeling a bit confused at the moment and sometimes letting feelings and thoughts flow with ink leaves clarity in its wake.” He shakes his head. “But this time I just could not get started. I am not sure how long I just sat before that desk in front of empty papyrus…” Xenofos adds.
“Long enough for me to have a bath and speak with Dormal, anyway.” She continues to study him. “You do need a bath yourself.”
“You are not saying?”
She gives him an innocent smile. “Nothing, cousin. Except you are maybe… just the tiniest bit… pungent.”
That earns her a smile. First one during this conversation. He has been rather serious.
“Are you heading to the baths soon, or going to stay here for a while longer?”
“I am – was,” he gives her another smile, “in no hurry, but I don’t think I get anything written tonight, anyway.”
“Mind if I stay here a while? I won’t bother you. I just don’t really want to go to my own room yet.”3Xenofos rolls on insight and fails. She seems curiously neutral when asking the question.
“You are no bother, Varanis. I enjoy your company. “
She settles in, sipping her wine.
He puts his writing materials neatly away, stacking papyrus, putting cork on inkwell. He cleans the pen he was using and places it in its case, picking another one instead and letting that roll in his fingers. He looks a bit absentminded. “So…? Did you have something else on your mind?”
“Why do you use ink, instead of clay?” she asks, avoiding his question.
“Lighter to carry around, cousin.”
“Hmmm…. Practical, as always.” She takes another sip of wine.
“Practical? Sometimes maybe…” Xenofos looks at the pen he was playing with and places it carefully to its case.
Varanis yawns suddenly, hiding it behind her cup. “Sorry.”
The scholar raises his gaze from his goblet. “You are tired?”
Varanis raises an eyebrow. “Aren’t you? I can’t remember when I last slept properly. My little enforced nap at the temple notwithstanding.”
“I am tired, yes. Sleepy? No. Like I could not unwind.”
She peers at him without saying anything for a long moment. Finally, she admits, “I don’t want to dream. I had enough dreaming on the beach.”
Xenofos looks at Varanis silently for a long while. “I do know that feeling. Poppy…” He shrugs. “It will not take the dreams away, but it will let you pass the threshold, even when your mind screams against it.”
She considers. “Mellia would disapprove.”
“She probably would. I don’t think she would approve the required amount of wine either.”
Varanis takes another sip of wine, savouring it before she swallows. “Maybe she doesn’t need to know. Do you have any or has she confiscated it all?”
He raises an eyebrow. “I have not replaced my dose, I would trust Solaska can help you.”
Varanis nods, but makes no move to leave. She seems content to sit, talking idly at times, and at other times savouring silence as much as the wine.
He chats some trivialities, picks up a cithara from the wall at some points, to quietly play a bit. He finds, unfortunately, that his fingers don’t quite remember the melody of the Lament of the Sailor’s wife.
When Xenofos looks up from his cithara, it is to find Varanis asleep at last. Her arms are folded on the table in front of her and her head rests on them. Wisps of hair have escaped her plait, framing her cheek. She looks almost peaceful. Quietly Xenofos covers her with a light blanket. He looks at her for a while and quietly strides out of the room.
Some time passes and Varanis wakes suddenly from some sort of nightmare in which everyone is drowning and she can’t save them. It takes her a moment to register where she is. When she does, she rises rather stiffly from Xenofos’ chair and looks around for him. He’s gone. She folds the blanket someone had draped over her and places it on his bed. Then she makes her way to her own room.
Marta is there and fusses at her before being waved away. The sleepy birds are fed. Finally, she stretches out on her own bed and stares at the ceiling. It glitters with tiny specks of mica schist. She has stared at it many times before. After some time, she calls for Marta and requests a sleeping draught. Marta doesn’t look happy about it and even argues momentarily, but in the end, she fetches something from Solaska. At last, the Vingan sleeps.
When Xenofos returns to his room, the blanket is folded and placed neatly on his bed. Varanis is gone. Xenofos hastily prepares two letters and rearms himself before making his way to Varanis’ door. He knocks and quietly calls, “Varanis?”
Marta answers the door. “Yes?” The older woman looks unhappy.
“Is she asleep?”
“Near enough. She will be soon.” Marta studies him. “What do you want?” Is Xenofos imagining it or is there a note of accusation in her voice?
“To tell her I am leaving quickly, I don’ want to just leave a note.” At this point Xenofos is too focused to study reactions of servants.
Marta looks him up and down and nods. “Try. She would want to hear it from you.” She steps back and lets him enter the room. “She’s taken one of Solaska’s sleeping draughts,” she warns quietly.
Xenofos strides in and nods with a small grimace. There is a residual smell of smoke lingering on his tunic as he kneels by the bedside. “Varanis?”
She doesn’t respond at first.
Lashes lift slowly to reveal grey-blue eyes. She blinks at him dazedly. “Xe? Dream?”
“Something urgent came up. I need to go. I am coming back when I can.”
“Xe? Don’t…. leave… don’t wanna be alone.” The words are slurred and she struggles to keep her eyes open. She fails. Her eyes drift shut again.
Xenofos presses her hand and rises; she doesn’t move.
He turns over to Marta. “It concerns Berra. I have explained it in my letter, but I am heading first to the warehouse we were earlier, and may not be back before she wakes up.”
Marta nods, a worried look in her eyes. “The letter?”
“Here.” Xenofos looks at Varanis and shakes his head “She really needs that. May her dreams be pleasant for once.”
Marta accepts the letter and shoos Xenofos from the room.