1626, Sacred Time
There are relationship spoilers here. And it gets mildly naughty and fluffy. Read at your own risk.
Varanis and Serala have been keeping to themselves. The Vingan steals time away by arranging to meet with Serala after she finishes with duties up at the palace or at her temple. They often meet by the stables, so they can escape on horse/zebra back.
Serala has muttered quietly that she really should catch up with Berra, and drink with Rajar, but doesn’t seem too concerned – she simply enjoys the time with Varanis, with no expectations on either of them, and no prying eyes. She is, of course, attempting to make friends with Zukko, fascinated by the not-horse, but never fear! It is Varanis’ company she seeks, not her equine mount’s.
Today, Varanis wants to take Serala somewhere else. “Are you much of one for climbing?”
Serala looks a little dubious at that, holding up her hand and waggling it in a so-so gesture. “My skill at scaling unfriendly stone is not something I would boast of. But I am not afraid.” she notes. “I can be better, some days, worse others. It depends on the hill, the cliff, and which way the wind blows.”
“I want to take you to one of my favourite places. We’ll need to ditch the armour though. Climbing in armour is much, much harder. We can leave it with the horses. I’ve got ropes, so we’ll make sure you’re safe.” The Vingan’s eyes sparkle with excitement and the look she turns on Serala is full of hope.
Soft laughter breaks from the Grazelander, “How could I say no, in the face of such enthusiasm?” she wonders rhetorically. “Lead on, Varanis, I place my unbroken bones in your tender care.”
It takes a bit of time, as they have to pass through the western part of the city, below the palace and the Flame, to reach a path the begins as a steep upwards slope. The whole way, Varanis chatters, telling Serala of their adventures in Prax, the crocodile goddess, the dragonewts, and so on. Eventually, they come to a rock face and she stops. “There. We’re going up that way.” Her grin is huge. So’s the rock face.
Assuming she gets a word in edgeways, Serala mentions in passing that she and her merry band fought a dream dragon that came within a hairsbreadth of biting her head off. For fun, she also puts on her dragonhide helmet, that Finarvi carefully crafted to hide the scars. But mostly, she is happy to listen to Varanis talk, smiling and nodding at the various tales that are spilling from the other woman.
On arrival, her grin is not quite so large as she looks up… and up… at the rockface. “Is it too late to bow out? Pride be damned, I am afraid now.”
“I’ve got you, love. Trust me!” Varanis reassures her. “I’ll go first and secure the ropes. Then, you climb after, using them. It’s worth it for the view. I promise,” she cajoles.
She’s trapped. Serala taught Varanis to ride the horses that her brother ‘kindly’ gifted her with, and Varanis never complained, no matter how afraid she was. There is a certain amount of pride in her expression as she purses her lips and nods briefly. “So be it,” she replies, face closed in to her preferred impassive expression. She’s not going to stoop to biting her lower lip or looking afraid.
With a whoop, Varanis throws herself at the wall, climbing with obvious ease and experience. It’s rapidly clear that she’s very familiar with this particular rock face. She reaches a ledge and pauses to securely attach one of the ropes she’s carrying. It uncoils as she lets the end drop towards Serala.1Varanis passes two climb rolls – one to climb and one to secure the rope.
Serala is not terrible at climbing, being athletic and dextrous.2Serala rolls 17/50. It may not come completely naturally to her, but she puts up a good performance, finding toe and finger holds without too much difficulty. She climbs next to the rope, but stops short of needing to hang onto it, for all that she’s clearly reassured by its presence. “The things I do for love!” she calls up.
The Vingan’s laughter rings out. Once she’s certain Serala is managing, Varanis makes the climb to the next ledge and the next place she wants to secure a rope. There’s a moment where she swings for a handhold that’s just out of reach… a shower of rocks falls to Serala’s left. But the second swing gets her where she wants to be and she’s once again scampering up.3Hit that one right on the climb score! The second rope uncoils to hang within the Grazelander’s reach.4Serala rolls 04 here, a special.
Serala lets go with one hand, quite deliberately, letting the shower of rocks go past her, before easily catching her grip again on the way back. “Varanis, sweetness. If you wanted to say no to my proposal, a verbal response would be fine. No need to throw rocks at my head..!” She increases her speed, nearly catching her lover, reaching up to try and mock-tickle her feet as the Vingan moves above her. “You always did like to live dangerously, I suppose.”
“Sorry! Almost there, I promise!” And it’s true. In a matter of moments, the Esrolian woman is pulling herself up over the edge of the rock face and dropping the third rope down. “Just in case. You haven’t seemed to need them though!” she calls out. She sounds impressed.5Special again.
“I only don’t need them because they’re there.” Serala responds, almost grimly. “If they weren’t, I’d have fallen some time ago.” She doesn’t need the third rope either though, scrambling over the top with an evident sigh of relief, to collapse onto her back, staring up at the dome of the sky above her, possibly giving thanks to Yelmalio for getting her up here intact. “I will admit – it’s pretty damn impressive up here though.”
Oh no! There’s kissing. Gross!
Varanis rolls on top of Serala, blocking her view of Yelm. She kisses the other woman ferociously. Possessively. “You’re damned impressive,” she whispers. The edge of the cliff face is precariously near.
Serala’s heart is beating quickly. Possibly just from Varanis’s kiss, possibly from the exertion of the climb, possibly considering what happens if one of them moves just a little too far. But the feel of Varanis’s lips on hers send all that fluttering away, responding in kind, her tongue lightly tracing over the other woman’s lips. She doesn’t bother trying to answer in words, putting all of her passion into the caressing kiss.
The Vingan deepens the kiss, seemingly content to spend eternity entangled with her Grazelander. At last, she lets them both come up for air, rising up to sit with her feet hanging over the edge.
“I do want to marry you, you know. It’s just… it’s Sacred Time and the Prince hasn’t had time to meet with me yet.”
“You pay too much attention to Kallyr.” Serala notes easily. “She doesn’t own you. Not unless you let her.” She shrugs easily, “It matters to you. I will let you bow to the Prince’s demands. But she is not my Prince, I owe allegiance to my Feathered Horse Queen, and Leika as Apple Lane comes under her demesne. That is sufficient nobility in my life.” Serala has always had the ability to completely ignore the demands of almost anyone. And, in all fairness, disliked Kallyr from very early in their acquaintance.
Varanis sighs unhappily. She takes Serala’s hand, entwining their fingers. “Thank you for being patient, love.” To distract them, she starts pointing out various parts of Boldhome, spread across the valley below them. They stay that way for a long time, looking at the city, talking, and just being together. At last, Varanis says, “I have to get back. I’ll be missed soon. But first… I have a surprise.” She closes her eyes and concentrates. The hairs on the back of Serala’s neck rise and there’s a metallic tang to the air suddenly.
Then, without warning, the Vingan lets go of Serala’s hand and drops over the side of the cliff.
Well, it is a surprise, that much is certainly true. Serala lets out a cry of shock and horror, launching herself for the side of the cliff, grabbing at the rope with one hand and reaching out for Varanis with the other, a hopeless, desperate effort.
Only to be met with a flying Vingan wearing a ridiculous ear to ear grin. “I can fly!” She laughs joyfully and throws herself backwards into a mid-air backflip.
“I. Am. Going. To. Kill. You. Myself.”
Serala is torn between laughter, relief, and fury, scared silly by the Vingan’s antics. She sits down abruptly, her legs giving way under her, and shakes her head in despair, unable to avoid smiling at Varanis’s simple joy. “Very good. I’m very impressed. I shall punish you for scaring me later…”
“I cast it on you too! Try! It’s a bit like swimming. Awkward at first, but you’ll get the hang of it quickly.” She doesn’t even have the grace to look chagrined at scaring Serala.6And technically, depending on your size, I might not have been able to cast it on both of us. But I don’t care. There’s no one to stop me from pretending that Vinga loves me today.
Complete suspicion is on the oh-so-earthbound Grazelander. She hops slightly, moving half a yard off the ground, at most. Staring down at the ground as she fails to land. “I…” Serala will usually try anything, but this is clearly unnatural. She leans forward slightly towards you, for all the world like a toddler taking their first steps. “I’m not sure about this..”
Varanis takes Serala by the hand and pulls her away from the cliff and the dubious security it offered. They hover a long way above the rooftops of Boldhome’s temples and houses. She teaches the Grazelander how to move through the air, rising up and then making controlled descents. When she’s certain Serala is as comfortable as she’s likely to get, Varanis lets go of her hand.
Serala doesn’t scream. Instead there is a squeak from her, as unlikely a sound as any she’s ever made. But she can’t help finding the joy in the moment, the ability to soar so high, to be away from the world and yet a part of it. “This isn’t going to suddenly wear off, right?”
Varanis laughs. “Yup! But we’ll get to the ground before it does. Let me just get the ropes.” She flits about as if she’s been doing this forever, instead of a few weeks. Ropes collected and coiled, she guides them to solid ground well before the spell wears off. Pulling Serala in for a fierce kiss, she says, “I’ve been wanting to do that for ages!”
“What, jump off a cliff?”
The Vingan laughs in reply.
- 1Varanis passes two climb rolls – one to climb and one to secure the rope.
- 2Serala rolls 17/50.
- 3Hit that one right on the climb score!
- 4Serala rolls 04 here, a special.
- 5Special again.
- 6And technically, depending on your size, I might not have been able to cast it on both of us. But I don’t care. There’s no one to stop me from pretending that Vinga loves me today.