VS 201 Morning After

Varanis — 1626 0932 Morningafter

????, Storm Season, Harmony Week


Context

Storm Season, Harmony Week, Clay Day, early morning [[[s02:session-23|Session 23]]]
Straw Weaver Bison Camp

This takes place a few hours before [http://journeyoftheheroes.wikidot.com/xenofos:straw-weaver-camp-by-the-morning Straw Weaver Camp by Morning]

Events

Half an hour before dawn, Berra yawns and wakes up.

Varanis is quietly moving around the yurt, putting her armour on and preparing to go outside.

Berra rolls to her feet, grabs her armour and wriggles into it as she does, gives Varanis a grin, and steps into her boots. Another wiggle and she is ready to go. Getting clean will happen after sparring, not before.

Seeing that the Humakti is ready, Varanis opens the flap to the yurt and steps into the morning chill. She stands to one side to hold the flap for Berra.

Berra slips out, alert, and pads over to where they practice, swords in hand. As always she checks the area, including the blank expanse of Prax to sunward, before the sun has risen. Storm Season is definitely here. For all that it is cold as hell’s pits, the smell of the wind is different.

Varanis prepares for her morning’s acknowledgement of Yelm. Her hair is unbound and Orlanth’s breath draws it forward into her eyes. Impatiently, she brushes it out of the way and watches for the sun god’s appearance. When it comes at last, she salutes him – half greeting, half challenge, bronze blade glinting in the early morning light.

Berra spends that time in practice, for Death is eternal. Naturally, she looks good. Nobody is watching. She does not seem to mind.

The words she speaks flow in Storm speech, defiant and proud. After she sheathes the sword, she watches him for a moment longer, then turns her gaze to Berra.

Berra is showing competence in stabbing the air, although she is definitely leading with the right hand and letting the left follow.

After watching Berra’s footwork for a time, Varanis steps lightly into her own drills. Graceful and competent, she wields the bronze blade like someone who has had a lot of practice lately. She is definitely better with those drills than she was almost a year ago, when they first met.

Berra watches critically, and nods at the end. “Fancy sparring?” Her voice is easy, her posture relaxed. “Maybe work up a sweat?” Her grin? Cocky.

Resheathing her blade, Varanis returns the grin. “You sure? I wouldn’t want to tax you too much.”

Berra shrugs. “I don’t have to,” she points out. “I mean, I could just stand here for a bit. Meditate.” Even as she speaks she is rolling out her shoulders, shrugging, loosening up.

The Vingan removes the bronze sword and its scabbard from her hip and sets them on her shield. She picks up the waster she’s been favouring. “I’m always happy to spar. But, after, can we do a bit more broadsword training? One of these days I’m going to get that blade Finarvi promised me and I should aim to be at least competent with it.”

Berra says, “We should do that, then. We have not been taking enough time to it, and keeping it up is good. I’d been wondering if the Fireblade was your plan.” She shrugs. “I didn’t want to push you. I probably should have.” She draws Wind Tooth. “Footwork meditation? And then I want to see your sense of balance with it.” With her bronze sword on her right hip, the draw could look awkward. It’s Berra. It looks like she is casually getting ready to fight to the death.1Varanis has been doing drills with broadsword regularly, but when it comes to fighting, she always falls back on the rapier. Berra: I had meant to ask, but then you seemed happy with the rapier and I assumed, so now Berra’s … actually, make an Insight Human? Fumbled. 98. Insight: Berra’s expression is impatient, like Varanis is finally getting schooled back to what is correct.

Varanis’ chin tilts up a notch. “I know I’m not very good with it, but I have been practicing.” 2Pass on Air/Pride. Berra tries insight and fails.

“You’re getting better,” Berra says. “I know that. But it needs to be second nature. I mean, if it’s your weapon.”

“Sword is my weapon,” Varanis replies. “I want to be able to use both styles. So, I need to practice both.” In spite of her claims, she is holding the broadsword like a rapier again. She notices it, flushes slightly, and adjusts her grip.3I wanted to see if her mood/ego was interfering, so I rolled on broadsword – took two rolls for her to pass.

“All swords are one sword. Are THE sword. But getting it wrong can slow you.”

Impatience flashes in Varanis’ eyes, but she doesn’t argue. Instead, she breathes deeply and slowly. As she exhales, she begins to step through the drill. Each breath, each step, each movement of the sword flows from one to the next. There’s nothing magical about it, but it is competent and controlled.

Berra nods again at the end of that. “Alright. Then follow what I do.” She begins a set of more complicated drills, building on the work Varanis is doing, always adding a little something to each repetition, always keeping to a speed she can follow.4I rolled a Special when trying to work out how well Berra was teaching. And I am proud.

Varanis follows where Berra leads. She manages to match the pace, or close to it, and her performance of the drills is a reasonable facsimile of Berra’s, though it lacks the deadly grace of the Humakti.5Well, let’s see how well Varanis follows the lesson then, shall we? 31/43 – still capable.

After a while, quite naturally, it turns out that all of the strikes are for the long, slashing movements that work best with a broadsword, all parries and replacements and crosses are designed to bring the sword to a position where it can be best used; it is a drill designed to bring out just how deadly the sword is. Little that stabs, much that passes along arteries and down tendons.

As the drill comes to a close, Varanis’ grin has returned. “I like that one,” she admits. “I could see what the sword is meant to be when we did that.”

Berra smiles, proud. “It’s special,” she says. “But I can’t always explain it. I can feel it, though.” She salutes. “I think you can probably practice that alone, and I’d like to see what you make of it. What feels best coming out of it.”

Varanis nods. “Can I… can I run through it again with you watching?” she asks. “Just to see if I can remember it?”

Berra does just that, building slowly from what Varanis started doing, to what they were doing together at the end, and then goes through it again, although after that final repetition she stops and admits, “Sweating now.” Her smile is faint, a little wrinkle in her cheek and a suggestion of happiness around her eyes.

“Me too,” Varanis admits with an answering smile. “And it feels like it’s starting to stay in my heart.” She lowers the sword, the smile fading. “Berra, I had the strangest dream and… Nala. Nala is hiding something about Argrath. Or rather she knows something is wrong, but she thinks she can’t tell us and that she has to fix it by herself.”

“Uhuhh?” Berra salutes with Wind Tooth, or else salutes Wind Tooth while looking at Varanis, and sheathes the sword without effort despite the odd left-handed angle. “Do we need to get back and fix things? Support her?” She stays relaxed. “Did you see it in your dream, or did she tell you?”

Varanis frowns, concentrating. “Both?” She worries her lower lip between her teeth as she thinks. “I remember her saying something about it the night of the Eirithan holy day… but I’d been drinking kumiss as you remember. I’m afraid I forgot. She was being very evasive about it though. And then last night… I had the strangest dream. For a while, I was Vinga…” For just a moment, Varanis looks very far away, then she recentres herself and continues. “When I was myself, I remembered what Nala had said and I asked her about it again. I’m almost certain I was awake and this was real. She wouldn’t give me a straight answer about it. I think we need to talk to her.”

Berra sighs. “Probably, yes. Breakfast, while you think about as much as you can remember and tell me, and then talking to her?”

“Breakfast is always a good idea,” Varanis agrees. “Let me tidy the wasters away first and then we’ll see what we can find.”

“I should tidy them. Or rather, we both should. Time to get back into good habits if we’re going back to Pavis.” Berra sweeps her gaze around the place. “If we’re here for a few more days I could get some of the children to try to get through to you…”

Varanis arches an eyebrow at this. “Why do we both need to tidy the wasters? It’s a one-person task and I’ve already said I’d do it.”

“Because I should have empty hands nearby, if yours are full. I don’t much like it either, but we – you – have to be ready for this. Used to it.”6Berra passes insight roll. Insight: Waves of emotion cross Varanis’ face. The most obvious ones are resentment and resignation.

“As you wish,” Varanis replies finally.

“I know. I’m sorry. But I don’t want you dead, if that helps? It would upset me.” Berra gives Varanis a wry smile.

She gets a small smile in return. “I know. But I hate it. I need to find the source of this threat and eliminate it. I’ve been under its shadow for too long.” Varanis heaves a deep sigh. “Everything smells like bison, and it’s cold, and I really don’t think I much care for snow, but… it’s been nice not worrying about what’s in my food or who might be lurking behind a door.”

Berra casually rests her hand in the Truth sword. “Yeah. I’ve been relaxed, most of the time. Even if my tent-mates smell of bison.”

Varanis raises an eyebrow at Berra and manages to free her hand from the bundle she is carrying long enough to aim a punch at the Humakti’s shoulder.

Berra takes that as if aware she deserved it. Her laugh is quiet but genuine, half laugh half giggle.