Varanis — 1626 0880 Separation
????, Earth Season, Movement Week
Earth Season, Movement Week, Waterday [[[s02:session-16|Session 16]]]
Berra is downstairs in the courtyard, half asleep against the wall, with Road and Followed waiting patiently. The horse also looks asleep, and the bison is patiently chewing cud. She is holding on to reins for both, lest their wild natures assert themselves, or possibly in case someone tries to put them back in the stable.
Varanis approaches, not calling out a greeting, but deliberately making a bit of noise so that Berra will hear her coming.
Berra blinks awake and rolls to her feet, waking up on the way to being vertical. She gives Varanis a look, and then a grin. “Hello.”
Varanis greets the Humakti politely. “You wanted to see me, Berra?”
“I’m off,” says Berra after a moment. “Are you…” She jerks a thumb to the gate.1Varanis attempts and fails Insight Human.
Varanis raises an eyebrow. “Am I? Willing to walk with you? Sure. I can do that.”
“You’re angry with me,” the Humakti suggests. “That’s how you talk when you’re angry.” She does not move off, but looks at Varanis cautiously.
Varanis considers her reply, then says, “Not here.” She offers to take a set of reins.
Berra asks, “Take Road? I don’t know how the bison will behave, so I should be holding…” She peers beneath. “Probably her.” As she straightens, Yamia steps into view, her long hair tied back. Both Humakti look at each other, and then Yamia nods. Berra gives Varanis a weak smile, and says, “You go first. We’re not going straight there, just so you know. Head to the Plaze of the Jewels.”
The Vingan accepts Road’s reins and heads towards the gate. Before having the guard open it, she hesitates and looks back at Berra with a question in her eyes.
“We are clear,” says Yamia, after a few moments, “As far as I can tell.” Berra casts a spell, and nods. “I make it clear. Walk slowly. Yamia will be on guard.”
Varanis indicates that the guard should open the gates. He does so, stepping back to give Varanis a respectful bow. She strides past, acknowledging his courtesy with a brief nod. Somehow, despite holding the reins to a rather shaggy looking little horse, she manages to convey an air of nobility.
Her bison gives Berra a little trouble through the gates, which Yamia ignores entirely. The older Humakti looks eager for action, in a rather more predatory way than Berra usually does. Still, there is no action present, and so Yamia walks on, on the other side of the bison from Berra, who is almost entirely hidden by the woolly back. Only the bobbing of the black feather gives her away.
On a corner not far ahead, casually watching from a shadow, armoured, is Venlar.2Varanis and Yamia pass scan rolls. Berra has too much bison in the way. Yamia mutters, “Subtle…” and Berra asks, “Huh?”. “Plaza,” the slightly taller Humakti says. “And ignore him. My brother has made an appearance.”
There’s something about Varanis today.3Passed Intimidate. People clear out of her path with alacrity. Those of lower station give respectful bows. Those closer to her station give nods of greeting, but avert their eyes and do not seem inclined to stop for conversation. She does not rush, but she does choose the most direct path to the Market of the Jewels.
Yamia gets clear space around her too. Nobody jostles Berra… but a few fail to spot her, and get grumbled at.4Yamia passed Intimidate. Berra was too short.
Varanis ignores Venlar’s presence ahead and turns left, taking the road that will pass House Norinel and lead more directly to the Plaza.
It does not take long to get there, and Yamia tells them, “Good enough. I have not seen father yet, and he is almost as bad at hiding as Venlar.”
Berra says, “I could do with a drink. Yamia, um, I know you’re noble but could you walk the animals? I’ll get you a drink later?” She looks a little uncomfortable, but Yamia bows like a hawk stooping and puts out her cla… hands for the reins.
Varanis relinquishes Road’s reins without comment and looks to Berra for direction, her expression neutral.
Berra points to a small wine shop. “We can get beer there, and walk with it, if you want to talk? And I can explain a bit more than Yamia did.”
Varanis nods and turns to the shop. She greets the owner courteously and orders herself wine, which she liberally waters. She does not even attempt to buy Berra’s beer.
Berra pays for both, saying, “I probably count as the one giving the advice,” to a confused shopkeeper. “We’ll probably bring the cups back.” She pays for the deposit, and then walks a little way. “The short version of this is there’s a small chance that the Eurmali Murderer…er… him. Will come after me. Only a small chance, but Yamia wanted to make sure that if we were with animals, we didn’t get …well, I have all my luggage, and that would slow me down because I wouldn’t want to lose it.”
There’s a brief flash of alarm in Varanis’ eyes, but it is ruthlessly quashed by courtesy. “I see. It is wise to take precautions, Berra. I’m glad that Yamia is willing to aid you in this way.”
“She’s pretty good. It’s a small chance, and really I am sort of hoping, because I want to do something for Lord Kesten, but…” She trails off and shrugs. “He knows where I’m going to be, so he can use me as bait if he wants. I’m sorry I’m going. But I have to.”
“I understand. You must do as you think best, of course.” The Vingan takes a sip of her wine. Her expression gives nothing away.
Berra drinks as she listens and wipes her lip with thumb and fingertip before she replies. “I’ll be around. Not just this week – we should work out where we’re going and where to meet. Maybe Boldhome, but probably at a wedding. Or Silor’s Tula, in spring.”
“I don’t know when or if I will be permitted to return to Boldhome. Perhaps Silor’s Tula would be best. He, at least, has given no indication that my presence would be unwelcome. It will, of course, depend on my other obligations.”
“Then if we get torn apart, leave word for me there, or send it, and I’ll go there in Spring. Unless there’s a change of plans, I’ll get a message. You’ll be fine. You’re doing well.” Berra looks seriously over her cup.
Varanis flinches. She stares into her cup a moment, and when she looks up, she has regained her composure. “If I cannot meet you there, I will send word,” she agrees.
“Really. I mean it. You will. Now, other things?” She drinks back much of her beer in one long swig.
“What other things?”
“Well, mostly the route we’re about to take, and whether we’ll stop for food. I think Venlar and Silor planned to get in front of us most of the way. They’re really bored, Yamia says. So when they heard, they wanted to guard. I did offer to pay them Trollkin rates, but they turned me down.” Berra looks studiously innocent.
Varanis’ composure finally snaps completely. “Berra, I have no idea what you are talking about. Why would you discuss your route with me? What do you care what I think about your plans? What do you care what I think at all? You are leaving.” She doesn’t raise her voice, but the words are laced with pain. She takes a few frantic breaths and fights to regain her calm. “I’m sorry. That was uncalled for. Give me a moment, please.”
“I meant from here to the Temple, so-” Then she stops, maybe having realised what just happened, and gives Varanis the moment.
The Vingan breathes slowly and carefully. When next she meets Berra’s eyes, her polite mask is back in place. “My apologies for my outburst. It was unworthy. Was there something you wanted to do at the market? Some reason you selected it as a stopping point?”
“No, not really, except to tell you this and let the others get ahead. And there are lots of exits from it. You’re not alright, are you? You’re speaking like that again.”
“I am trying to be respectful of your desire for separation. And I suppose I am trying to remind myself how to not rely on anyone. Sometime in these last few seasons I came to need certain people and that is unhealthy for me and for them. I just didn’t anticipate how difficult it would be. You needn’t worry. I’ll be fine.” Consciously or not, she echoes Berra’s own words from a few minutes before. She squares her shoulders and takes another sip of wine.
“It’s hard. But probably best to do it during winter. Otherwise we’d get snowed in together and you need to REALLY love each other for that.” She nods wisely.
The Vingan laughs hollowly. “Silor warned me of snow. I’ve never seen anything like a snow…” she searches for the word in her memory, “drift?” She rises decisively. “Right, let’s return the cups and pick an exit, shall we?”
“Drift. Some places have snow tunnels between houses.” She finishes her beer. “I’ll take the cups… no, let’s do that together. I’ll pretend that I’m really in danger.” Her smile is sly. “And we’ll see what the Temple has to say to me and Kesten.”
Varanis agrees with a half-hearted smile.
As they reach the Temple, Yamia asks Varanis if she would mind getting some food while Yamia goes in – she has a thing she wishes to do which will not take long, and will return to the edge of the Temple Grounds. And then Berra goes into the domain of Death, and Yamia follows.
- 1Varanis attempts and fails Insight Human.
- 2Varanis and Yamia pass scan rolls. Berra has too much bison in the way.
- 3Passed Intimidate.
- 4Yamia passed Intimidate. Berra was too short.