VS 191 Singing the praises of others

Varanis — 1626 0920 Singingpraises

????, Dark Season, Death Week


Context

Dark Season, Death Week, Windsday in the late afternoon. At the Bison Riders’ camp on the plains of Prax.

Continues [http://journeyoftheheroes.wikidot.com/varanis:1626-0922-stormbulladvice here].
The conflict over Death was resolved in [[[s02:session-21|Session 21]]].

Events

Late in the afternoon the doorflap of the yurt Varanis is sitting and drinking opens up and Esrolian scribe in his green cloak peeks in. “May I join your company my khan Varanis” he asks in tradetalk.

The Vingan sits, surrounded by the Praxian warriors. The fire is warm and spirits are high within the confines of the large yurt. Like everywhere else in the camp, it smells like damp bison. She waves him in, giving the bison rider sitting next to her a friendly shove to encourage him to make room. There’s laughter, and a bit of shuffling, and space opens on her right side for the scholar.

His moustache and beard gleam reddish in the dim light of the yurt interior.

Scholar shuffles into the place arranged for him. He throws his cloak over his shoulder and takes up a bundle wrapped in cloth.

From within he uncovers a worn cithara. This elicits interested looks from the Praxians and a genuine smile from his cousin. He plucks at a string and grimaces. Some tuning is done, new chord struck – same results. “It is far from its verdant home and out of tune. I hope I am not as badly. You have drunk with Varanis today, o warriors and she has sung songs and told stories, but has she told of herself or her deeds, ye men of the Bison Tribe?”

Varanis looks at Xenofos with wide eyes and shakes her head slightly. The Praxians, on the other hand, lean forward with interest. “She talks of Rajar and little Humakt,” one says in passable TradeTalk. “A healer. Even Grazelanders.” There’s distaste in the last word. Varanis shrugs. “I forgot,” she whispers to Xenofos. “But you don’t need to…” The bisonrider continues, ignoring Varanis’ frantic whispers, “She does not tell of herself.”

“She does not, and that is right. A warrior should not sing her own praises. Others should that for them, and even more so for chief or a khan, is it not so warriors?”

This gets nods and grunts of approval. Varanis gives up trying to argue.

“She is my khan I have sworn to follow, so fill my cup and I will sing you of her deeds.” When the cup is filled, he takes a ceremonial sip and begins. His beard seems to be bloody.

Varanis stares at him, unwilling to interrupt, but her eyes caught by his beard now. Is that actually blood?

“You should know Varanis has sworn to serve the Great khan of Sartar, Starbrow, scourge of the Lunars, who by foul curse of evil moonsorcerors was bound to underworld, thought dead by some. With her wisdom she found it was not and swore to break this curse.”

He holds a dramatic pause sips some coumiss “Even if she would need to descend to Hell herself.”

There’s some murmuring in the yurt at the mention of the Starbrow, but silence falls again when he mentions Hell. Varanis takes a sip of her kumiss and then stares into the cup.

His baritone starts the Song of Lightbringers filling the yurt from wall to wall in flowing Esrolian. He translates after every doublet, passably but quickly.1pass sing even in tradetalk, inspired with loyalty Varanis.

The Praxians listen intently, waiting for the translations and nodding along. Varanis stares very deeply into her cup. The flush in her cheeks most likely comes from her proximity to the fire.

It takes quite some time to tell the same story twice, but finally Xenofos comes to end. “To such khan I have pledged my loyalty, o warriors, one ready to go to Hell and come back for duty, Orlanth among men. To her was my song, to her I drink this toast. May her sword be sharp forever, may her enemies tremble, may her herds be numerous, may her warriors bring abundance of loot.”2Morning of Praxian epics did leave some marks.

There are roars of praise and cups are drained in a toast to the bard. A meaty hand lands between his shoulder blades, thumping him in apparent approval. Varanis gives him a grateful smile, though there is uncertainty in her eyes. She slides a ring from her finger and offers it to him. “A worthy song always warrants a token of appreciation. Thank you, cousin. You bring me honour and I will always strive to be worthy of it.” 3It’s a simple gold spiral. Could probably be adjusted to fit your pinkie finger. Or… you know… it might fit Berra.

Xenofos accepts the ring with a bow and raises it to his heart “Your deeds bring you honour, my khan, I just tell the Truth as my god commands.”

More kumiss is poured and the burly guy with the grey streaks in his beard nudges Xenofos. “Sing more.”

“I am not a bard, good warrior, versed in many songs. I just know how to praise my khan for his deeds.”

The big man’s eyebrows lower in thought. “More?” His TradeTalk is perhaps more limited than Xenofos’ own.

Xenofos shakes his head. “No, warrior.”

The man shrugs and turns his attention to the warrior on the other side of him. Before long, they are laughing and drinking again.

“Xenofos?” The question comes from his left, a quiet murmur in the increasing rowdiness of the yurt.

Xenofos turns to his left and answers quietly “Yes?”

“Is that blood?” Her eyes are wide in the firelight. “Please tell me it isn’t.”

He touches his nose and flinches a bit “Where?”

“Your beard.”

“Oh, I thought I got it all with the snow.”

“What happened?” Urgent and worried, she asks, “Are you ok?”

“I am fine, healed that nose myself but getting all the blood out of beard is awkward. Berra said she was fine too.”

“What?” Her outburst draws attention and she waves it away. The Praxians watch the foreigners for a moment, but deciding that nothing exciting was about to happen, they return their attentions to their own conversations. “Do you want to walk again? Get some air?”

“Might not be the best of ideas. We can probably talk here as well.” He sits cross legged nursing a cup of kumiss, with no sign of distaste, eyeing the party with smile on his lips. His eyes remain serious.

“What happened?”

He turns to look at her briefly. “Some lout tried to challeng her to a brawl and blindside her. I stopped him, but not very elegantly. Not that she appreciated that help.” He takes a sip of his drink. “I still can’t understand why she felt any obligation to answer the brute anything.”

Varanis sighs. “You spoke to her though?”

“Kind of. Berra is not quite there right now. She walks more as Humakt than Berra. I did not manage to reach Berra more than fleetingly.” He is looking at far wall of the yurt now.

Varanis nods. “Tonight, I need to pray again. I need to get closer to Orlanth. Right now, I feel like I am merely going through the motions.” She considers. “I wonder if they have anyone resembling a Storm Voice here.”

“I doubt it. They are people of Waha, Eiritha and to some extent Storm Bull I think. Asking might not hurt, though.”

“I’m going to find Rajar.” She pushes herself to her feet and hands him the cup. In spite of the appearance of drinking all day, she’s very steady on her feet. The cup is mostly full. Beneath the smile, she looks tired and worried, but perhaps not drunk after all.4Shockingly, Xenofos passed scan.

“If she meets you she is going to demand Death back.” He drains his cup. “That is why I wanted to talk here.”

“I thought she needed to wait until Wildday?”

“She is out seeking Death. On Wildday she will be closest to Humakt and can do it best.” He shrugs. “She was not very good in explaining in her state.”

“Then I will do my best to avoid her. I can’t hide in a yurt until then though.”

“I know. But you needed to be warned, Varanis.”

“I appreciate that. Thank you.” She squeezes his shoulder lightly, then scoops up her cloak and picks her way around the seated warriors to head for the door.

Xenofos rises to follow her. “There is more…”

Grey streaks pulls Xenofos down again. “You listen. Learn good song.” He throws an arm around the scholar’s lean shoulders and draws breath to sing. Brown eyes look coldly at bearded nomad. Scribe is a bit too slow in his evasion ad gets pulled back to sitting position.5normal fail on grapple… Dammit

Varanis slips out the door as the man launches enthusiastically into a song. There is a roar of laughter and soon all the warriors are singing along. Judging by the sly grins and elbow nudges, it is rather bawdy. When Xenofos has finally slithered out of the friendly grip and gotten out Varanis has vanished.