Varanis — 1626 0890 Latenight
????, Earth Season, Illusion Week
Earth Season, Illusion Week, Waterday Eve [[[s02:session-17|Session 17]]]
House Saiciae, Nochet
Waterday eve, late there is a knock on Varanis’ door. The redcapped songbird lets out a melancholy trill. Marta answers. Outside Varanis’ door is Xenofos. “Good evening Marta, is she awake?”
The servant glances back at Varanis, who nods. “Yes my lord. She is awake and willing to receive you.” She opens the door for him and steps out of the way.
Varanis is seated at her table. There’s a leather covering spread across the table and an array of tools out. In the centre of it all is a gold band. The Vingan is dressed comfortably, in a blue dress with minimal flounces. She wears gold earrings and bracelets in the form of spirals. While it’s possible Marta had attempted to do something with her hair, it is now a dishevelled mop showing. The way Varanis rakes a hand through it when she looks up from her work shows why.
“You are working. I am interrupting something?” Scholar sounds quite formal.
“It’s fine. I need a break anyway.” Even as she says the words, she is tucking tools into pockets on the leather and tidying everything away. “Do you want wine?”
“I think I need to be up early, but a goblet will do no harm.”
Marta brings over the wine and Varanis’ favourite blue glasses.
“What brings you to my door, cousin? And where are you off to in the morning?”
“Of first am not quite sure, Varanis. But I was thinking of rising with Yelm and check the training ground.”
“Oh, I could use some exercise too. If I promise not to attack without warning, can we practice together?” The expression in her eyes is a mixture of mischief and worry. It is possible she has not entirely moved past that particular incident and isn’t sure if he has either.
“Probably not,” Xenofos answers. “I was not thinking of exercise so much as checking on…” He pauses.
She raises an eyebrow at him over the rim of her glass. Taking a sip, she lets the silence stretch.
“… checking on Berra.” He sighs.1Varanis passes insight. Scholar is trying to think. But it seems at this time bare logic or book wisdom is not helping. And he is worried.
She sets the cup on the table. “What has changed, Xeno? You’re worried about something.”
“Well, yes. Yes I am. And I don’t know how to answer to those concerns, Varanis.”
“Do you want to tell me what has happened? Maybe talking about it will help you find answers?”
“I don’t know. That might embarrass you and others I care of.”
She gives a little laugh. “You will find it difficult to embarrass me.” The laughter fades as she adds, “But I understand the desire to protect others. I will not say anything if you wish my silence. I know this may come as a surprise, but I can be a good listener. The decision must be yours though. I will not pressure you.”
He sloshes the wine in the cup as if trying to seek the answer in the bottom of the cup. “I am not sure if I came for answers or comfort to be honest. Stumbling through feelings and logic and assumptions and expectations.”
“I can’t give you answers, I’m afraid. You might be able to find some within. I can listen, keep your cup full, or be a shoulder for you if you need it.” The usual sharp edges of her expression are gone. Instead, she looks sad. “I would save you pain if I could, Xeno. Sometimes though, the pain reminds us that we are alive.”
He looks at her darkly. “Or just living on borrowed time.”
She raises her glass in acknowledgment and takes another sip.
“Maybe I should start from the beginning… I wanted to ask her of travel plans she and Nala might have. It seems they are planning trip over to Corflu and then way up Zola Fel. Library Chief Priest told me further information to the question in letter I brought to him from Jaldis would be found in Pavis… Now he did not quite tell me to go to Pavis, not with that many words. But I would have a reason…” The scholar looks at the Vingan.
She nods, though a flicker of dismay crosses her features. “It’s a long distance. But yes, it is possible that you have good reason to go.”
“Trouble is, I know it is an excuse. I have not promised Jaldis anything apart taking that letter and the Chief Priest just assumed… I don’t even know the contents of that letter.”
For a moment, it looks like she might say something. Instead, she nods and takes another sip of wine.
“I need to find out what temple wishes, it may be an issue, but it is honestly more service than they can reasonably expect… But anyway – for me it would make sense to travel through Whitewall and get instructions directly from Jaldis if you send me over on her errand, so I would not be in her company anyway.”
He looks at his wine but its power of clairvoyance has not improved. “Excuses. I would know why I was going and that would not be devotion to Lhankor Mhy. Not that trip could not be of service to Lord of Knowledge and my studies too.”
“That is a conundrum, not the one that worries me right now though.”
“What is it that worries you now?”
Bottom of the goblet is visible, but it appears the swirls of glass do not hold the answer either. He puts the vessel down and leans on his hands, neatly folded together. “Berra… Berra worries me now.”
“She was in distress, I could see that. But she would not talk. Ran away.”
“What happened? What was she running…” She trails off and looks at him. “Oh. You told her?”
“No it was some random street Donandarian… “
She raises an eyebrow and waits.
“She was quite shocked by what she heard it seems.”
Varanis refills both cups and takes a deep drink from hers. She has not bothered with water, though she left enough room in her cousin’s cup that he could add some if desired.
Tugging his moustache Xenofos looks at the goblet, sees Varanis forgot the water, mechanically adds the proper amount and takes a sip. “So we heard that song and she almost seemed to panic.”
“Which song? One of the ones about her?”
“One about her yes. Apparently new to her. She can tell of it if she wishes to. I kind of doubt she does.”
“It doesn’t have anything to do with this Kesten business, does it? I know you said you worried for her reputation, but she seemed so matter-of-fact about that.”
“I will not say anything to that.2Varanis attempts and fails insight. But she was upset and I did not want to leave her out of my sight like that. Because I could see she was troubled. Though she said she needed space.” Xenofos looks at Varanis, gestures with his hands resignedly “I just could not.”
“You followed her when she asked for space?” She catches herself. “No, I’m sorry. I should be listening, not interrupting. Continue.”
“Yes, yes I did, chased her for quite a distance when she started to run to boot. I was wrong, I should not have. I saw that when I caught up with her, she was scared – and angry . I wished to comfort her and ended up adding to her distress.”
Varanis stares. She runs a hand through her hair. She stares some more. “Oh. I can see why you are worried. Hmmm. Do you want me to try to talk to her? Or will that make it worse? Are you ok or are you beating yourself over this?”
He shakes his head. “I will need to try myself. Even when that may make it worse… ” Again he gazes deep to the cup, like a soothsayer trying to see will of Gods in the red swirl. ” Am I ok. No. I botched. But I try to make amends, learn and move forward. Need to think with my head. Not with my feet or heart.”
Varanis laughs. It’s soft, lacking any mockery. “It’s rather odd that it is you who needs that advice and not me. But even so, you are the one who advises.”
“She complained of being hunted. That felt wrong, unjustified. But if she feels so it matters little what my intentions are.” Xenofos shrugs.
“So I must not scare the prey, keep the drivers at distance and hope I know where it will come to drink.” Xenofos sounds cold.
Varanis raises an eyebrow at that. “She is not a deer. Don’t think of her that way or you will get hurt.”
“I did not, before she put it into those terms. As it is I want to send a servant to her inn to tell me when she comes. But I will not. I will worry and wait. And hope.”
Varanis nods. “I wish I could help you. But you seem determined to do this on your own.” She stares into her own glass, then looks up again. “I… I think you should go with them. I know question your own motives and that is good. But, Nala will need help with her research and you can give her that. And perhaps you can find some way to return to normalcy with Berra.” She takes a breath and lets it out slowly. “It’s not an order. Just a suggestion. Either way, the decision must be yours.”
“I don’t know. If she needs space, Prax should have it. But I wish she gives me time to tell she is no deer I aim to bind with nets of words or silver.”
It is Varanis’ turn to shrug. “Well, I will be up early tomorrow and may look for training time. After that, I am going to do my best to convince Vahnfar to take his songstrel back. I’ve heard they’ve finally sent him home from the hospital.”
Xenofos nods. “Thank you for listening, it is better that I vent some of my worry and bitterness to you than to her.”
Varanis brushes her hair out of her face and smiles at him. “I will always listen to you, Xeno. I may not always follow your advice, but I will always listen. Especially when you just need to talk.”
Xenofos shakes his head. “Your hair looks weird. In some foreign way it suits you. And thank you.” He stands up and stretches his neck.
She drops her hand self-consciously from her hair. “I can’t get used to it. I had no idea how much it weighed! And it dries quickly when I get out of the baths. But it feels very strange. Marta…” She glances over at the old servant, then lowers her voice, “is very unhappy with me.”
Xenofos looks at the old servant and nods. “She cares for you. “
“You know, I think you are right. For the longest time, I saw her as just another of Grandmother’s people, but Marta… she’s more than that. Don’t get me wrong, I know she reports to Grandmother. But…” Varanis shrugs and looks fondly at the woman. “I think she’s dozed off. Poor woman. I should send her to bed. I hadn’t realized how late it has gotten.”
“Good night Varanis.” Xenofos takes her hands for a moment and looks her in the eyes.
She meets his gaze steadily. “Good night, Xeno. Sleep well.”
“I doubt it. I doubt it indeed.”