Varanis — 1626 0918 Fighttalk
????, Dark Season, Death Week
Dark Season, Death Week, Windsday in the early afternoon. At the Bison Riders’ camp on the plains of Prax.
Continues [http://journeyoftheheroes.wikidot.com/varanis:1626-0920-singingpraises here].
The conflict over Death was resolved in [[[s02:session-21|Session 21]]].
Come Windsday and grey clouds, after Varanis returns from her vigil and snow that covers the ground.
Xenofos emerges from a yurt stretching his back and holding a bunch of freshly scribbled notes.
He is surprised in seeing the change that has taken place in the camp, with white blanket of snow covering the yurts and the ground. Yelm has passed halfway of his travel, but that is not obvious with the clouds. Residents of the camp chatter happily in Praxian. From the chit chat Esrolian picks words Vinga and Humakti.
Scribe smiles, guessing this means ladies have returned from Varanis’ worship ceremonies. Xenofos nods to passing natives and asks in very slow and clear tradetalk ” Have you seen Varanis and Berra today?”
He is answered with animated chitter in Praxian seasoned with wild gestures and some mock wrestling. The speaker also points towards a group of yurts in the western quarter of the camp.
Walking in the direction, eventually Xenofos finds someone who speaks a smattering of tradetalk. âVingan and Humakti – they fight.â The bright-eyed young man grins as he mimes the wrestling. âHumakti stomp around. Red is there.â He points at a large yurt from which uproarious laughter suddenly bursts. âWith warriors.â
Xenofos lifts the doorflap of the yurt and looks in. Cold wind and some snow enter together with his gaze.
The Vingan is sitting around the fire with a group of warriors, including Rajar. She is red-cheeked and laughing. She gestures frenetically as she speaks – it seems like she is telling the story of Rajar and the giant Chaos snail. Thereâs no sign of her armour, instead sheâs in one of her Sartarite blue wool tunics, with Kallyrâs ring around her arm and more bronze at her throat and wrists. Fresh runes stand out on her cheeks, in spite of their flushed state. On her forehead is the mastery rune, very freshly painted; the woad still gleams as though it has yet to dry. She hasnât worn this rune since leaving Sartar.
Xenofos looks with a furrowed brow, letting more cold Dark Season air in, before stepping in. “Good day, mylady, a word if you have time.” Words flow with very polite form and tone, in Esrolian.
Silence falls as all eyes are drawn to the scholar in the entryway. Varanis looks thoughtfully at her cousin without answering immediately. One of the Praxians peers at Xenofos from below bushy eyebrows, then leans over to the man beside him to mutter something. Both men burst into laughter and the silence is broken.
The Vingan rises in place, passing the cup of kumiss to her neighbour. Scooping up her cloak, she tells them sheâll finish the story later. Thereâs a family matter to deal with. The Praxians nod sagely. Family is something they understand. By the time Varanis has picked her way through the group to reach the door, someone else has already launched into a story. She slips through the door, obviously expecting Xenofos to follow.
Xenofos smiles and nods to the group before foÃºlowing Varanis out. The smile does not extend to his eyes.
Outside, Varanis wraps her cloak around her. She waits patiently for him, giving him time to speak. Snow continues to fall, blanketing the plains.
“There was talk of a fight in the camp. What has happened, mylady.”
“The gods are screwing with us, Xenofos. At least, that’s what it feels like. Walk with me?” All signs of the apparent drunkenness have vanished, except for the flush in her cheeks.
He nods wordlessly, pulling his cloak tighter.
“Where to begin? Last night, I suppose.” She begins to walk, not setting a fast pace, but not strolling either. “Last night I meditated on Vinga and was drawn into a vision… perhaps a dream…” She stares into the distance, takes a deep breath, and continues. “I was pulled into the myth. I was Vinga and Orlanth and… and I sent Eurmal to steal Death from Humakt.” She turns to look at him. “I didn’t know it was real. Or rather… I didn’t know I was me and Humakt was Berra. I didn’t mean for it to happen.”
Snowflakes are collecting on her hair. There are even a few sitting unmelting on the woad painted on her forehead, making the mastery rune glitter. “She attacked me when I returned to the camp. Said I’d stolen her sword. I didn’t! But… somehow the myth and the dream and the sword are all intertwined and we need to make it right.” Her expression is worried. “She’s so angry with me right now.” A deep breath. “Berra is off being Humakt right now. And me? I’m being Orlanth, as best I can. So that, tomorrow, if she needs to, she can fight Orlanth and reclaim Death.”
“So you went worshiping with her and in a vision used Eurmal to steal Berra’s sword?” He looks at her hip to check the weapon.
“No. I worshipped alone. But the vision… it was the feast where Orlanth sends Eurmal to steal Death. So he can fight Yelm. I was caught in the myth. Lost in it, really. And somehow she was pulled into it too.” Her rapier is covered by her heavy cloak.
“Alone, but you said… Well I guess it does not matter. I cannot think of a way or thing in which you could have offended and hurt her more. And that includes cutting her with a sword.”
She wheels on him. “I didn’t do it on purpose! I was lost in the vision and the myth. How was I supposed to know what would happen?” There are snowflakes on her eyelashes as she glares at him. “I’m trying to fix it the only way I can think to. If you have suggestions, I’m willing to hear them. If you just want to criticise me, take your recriminations elsewhere. There’s nothing you can say to me that I won’t have already said.” Her breath huffs angrily into the cold air. “I know I fucked it up, Xenofos. And it doesn’t matter that I didn’t mean to. If you can’t help me, then leave me be.”
He holds his hand up. ” I did not say you did it on purpose. I know you and you would not steal. You are making amends? Good… What kind of help do you need Varanis?” He is not smiling but looks determined, if somewhat sad.
She takes a deep breath. “I need you to make sure that Berra is alright. She is too angry to speak with me right now. And, if a fight is what she needs tomorrow, then I need you to help make sure it happens. I will play Orlanth to her Humakt and fix this damage, but it would help if I knew what to expect.”
“By the myth? Severance of ties of kinship.” He blinks a bit. “In this situation. I don’t know. I will talk with her. If she will talk to me either.”
“There’s a version of the myth where Humakt recovers Death by fighting Orlanth for it. Only… I’m worried because that happens after Orlanth kills Yelm and I’d really rather not do that if we can avoid it. One Lightbringers Quest is enough. One possibility it to do it after Yelm sets tomorrow. Then it is as though Yelm has died. I hope.” As she frowns, the a small piece of the woad on her forehead cracks and flakes, revealing blue-dyed skin below.
He is silent for a moment. “Idea of you two fighting scares me deeply, you know. But if that is what it takes you should go on with it.”
She gives him a sad smile. “You couldn’t stop it if you tried, love. I will try not to kill her. I can’t say the same for her. But, if a fight is what is needed to return the sword, then I will do it. Besides, I’d rather die on her blade than to a poisoned meal or a garotte in a dark alley. She’d make it clean and quick. Indeed, she already has.” Unconsciously, her hand goes to her throat to the tiny rune tattooed there, just over the artery.
“Quite.” He looks like he might be saying something else but is blinking to hold back tears. “I’ll…. I’ll talk with her.”
She nods. “I’m going to go back in there and pretend as though everything is fine. I will sing, and boast, and drink. I will play the role of Orlanth as best I can so that I can be what she needs when she needs it. If you need to speak with me, you know where to find me.”