Old Flame Wars

1627, Fire Season, Fertility Week


Context

Fire Season, Fertility Week, evening of Freezeday at House Saiciae. Session 42: Kin-Making

Events

It is oppressively hot, as it sometimes is on Fire Season. Only a slight breeze comes from the sea but even that dies towards the evening. A servant brings a note to Varanis.

The Vingan glances at it. “Who sent this?” she asks.

“It comes from the Grandmother, lady.”

Varanis stares at it. “Did she tell you what it says?”

The servant looks at ground with a carefully neutral expression. “She wished you would attend to this little matter to humor an old lady.”

“I see. Thank you. You may go.” She waves the servant away, but then calls out, “Please see if Xenofos is about?”

She returns in a moment. “Lord Xenofos is in his room.”

“Thank you.”

Varanis takes the letter and heads towards her cousin’s room. She stops abruptly outside his door and looks at the letter again, muttering a curse. From inside the room comes voice of snoring. Varanis sighs, turns on her heel, and walks away. She goes in search of one of the other scribes of House Saiciae.

A very businesslike scribe explains to her that it is a formal invitation to a party at House Oranaeo this coming evening and a small personal note. “I would be pleased if you would do me this small favour and attend this party, since you are leaving Nochet again so soon.” With the mark of the Grandmother.

“Thank you.” She considers, then asks him to compose a note of agreement and have it delivered to Grandmother for her. Next, she sends word to Berra, asking if the Humakti will join her. It’s a verbal message, for obvious reasons.

Berra, after about half an hour, presents herself looking clean and with much shorter hair. Still long enough on top to flop over a little, and thus be combed down, it is shaved at the sides and back. Around her head, unsuspected by many, she has a tattoo of eyes linked by straight lines. Temples, behind the ears, and the back of the head. The haircut makes her look aggressive despite wearing light clothing under light armour; it makes her look even more aggressive than that. She has two swords, no shield.

Marta does her normal magics to prepare Varanis to look presentable. Varanis agrees to Marta’s choices for silks of blue and gold. Her eyes are lined in kohl, her nails gilded. It is only the jewellery that she steps in for, determinedly wearing Kallyr’s arm ring along with varied gold spirals and movement runes. Marta has managed to twist her hair into something almost elegant, topped with a diadem of blue glass and bronze. For a moment, Varanis looked like she might resist that, but in the end, she acquiesces.

Berra, for her part, has no makeup on at all. This is often the case, but now she stands out against the peacock glory; a protective brown hen. Marta looks at her gaugingly, but does not suggest anything.

Berra potters about while Varanis’s final layer of varnish is finished, rubbing with her feet against the polished floor where the bird-run used to be. Patient, in her own way.

On the windowsill, there are some birdseeds and a small cup of water. Partly hidden by curtains.

“We’re going to House Oranaeo,” Varanis tells Berra. “They tend not to play politics much. Though Grandmother chose to marry my oldest brother, Kalops, to the House. It is possible we might encounter him or his wife tonight, if they have come to the city.”

“Euhuh.” Berra nods. “And I’m not to punch anyone. And try not to get challenged.” After a beat-pause, she smiles. Mostly joking, apparently.

She gets a smile in return. “Nor I.” Varanis glances at the rings on her fingers. “Mind you, I could do some good damage if I needed to.”

A lonely bird is singing outside.

“Aim for behind the jaw, hit the corner. Right. Let’s go.” Berra bounces a little, lightly sweaty.

The Vingan collects a fan and then waves Berra ahead of her.

Palanquins are ready, with their heavy curtains ready to provide cool shadow. A pair of guards stand-by to accompany them. Varanis eyes her palanquin with distaste, but climbs in. Inside of the palanquin is cool. Partly perhaps because of the small amphora hanging from the wall and sweating cold moisture. There probably is a chunk of ice or a bit of snow in it.

Berra steps in beside one of the palanquins – the one that Varanis is getting into – without apparently even thinking of going into the other.

Varanis leans back and closes her eyes. She takes slow, deep breaths. By the time they arrive, she will be able to wear a smile.

Berra walks with the measured tread of a killer, listening to the voice in her head and watching the world around them. Alert.1Passed Sense Assassins, and a critical on Scan. Heh.

In due course palanquin and guards arrive at the house Oranaeo. The same one Venlar robbed Mellia from once, seasons ago. It seems there are quite a lot of guests tonight, too.

Varanis knows that House Oranaeo do know how to show hospitality. Their food is highest class, musicians most skillful and the guests chosen with greatest care. Well, usually. Apart from some anomalies. Anyway, there is hardly a more exclusive party in town in the off-season like now.2Many people spend Fire season somewhere other than the city.

Berra settles her expression into a polite one, although it is Sartarite Polite – not quite enough smile, a little too much glare.

The Vingan greets her hosts graciously, passing along polite greetings from Grandmother. She is charming and graceful this evening. A true scion of Saiciae.3Or of Sartar?

Guards of the house look at Berra and make a note of her when she walks into the hall with guests.

Perhaps oddly, Berra does not bother glaring at them – she just looks them up and down, takes in their existence, and moves on.

The hostess is a charming matron in her fifties. She welcomes Varanis warmly, telling how nice it is to have sister of dear Kalops in the house. He is on the farm though, so much better for than the city. So much healthier in the Fire Season… And his wife has always been poorly, poor thing.

“I am sad to have missed him,” Varanis replies insincerely.4Oops. Passed charm earlier but kinda sorta mighta fumbled act on that one. I figured I’d roll it because she has feelings about her siblings.

“I am sure he is devastated too,” the hostess assures. “Now come, there are people you absolutely must see here tonight.”

Band is playing the Lightbringers ballad at the moment.

“Of course!” Varanis allows herself to be guided by the Oranaeo woman. She carefully avoids looking at the musicians.

Varanis and to lesser extent Berra are at the focus of attention of almost everyone in the hall.

Gliding across the room, Varanis keeps her head high and her smile friendly. She acknowledges familiar faces with a nod of greeting.

There are familiar faces indeed. Her most ardent suitors are not there. No Vahnfar. No Garin. No Lenta.

From across the room, Restina Hulta looks at Varanis with flinty eyes. Varanis coolly returns Restina’s look before turning away to greet someone else.

Berra walks calmly with Varanis, a little smile on her face, and no indication at all that she wants to commit violence. She might look a touch too calculating, but that is all.

The matrons of Delargareo, Eskelinga, Evaeo and Zirandarn are introduced in a flurry of encounters. Each holding Varanis’ hands, looking at her with curiosity, and chatting of weather and the wonderful wedding at house Saiciae.

Berra might be taking in names and numbers. Her eyes are already glazing over a little.

Cool sherbets are served. With tiny little tidbits of tasty morsels.

At that point, Berra asks for water, please, or small beer.

“Oh, these are delicious,” Varanis tells her hostess appreciatively. “Your kitchen staff are excellent.”

Anyone who knows Berra – and a few of the people watching – will be able to tell that she is happy Varanis is happy.

“It is the garum from Rhigos, no secret there…” Band starts another tune, a ballad unknown to either Varanis or Berra.

“But the combination of flavours. Very delicate and balanced.”

Quite a stupid plot really. Of four youths loving a Vingan, duelling over her, and travelling to exile and adventures together. The smiles of the matrons are inscrutable.

There’s a tiny smile-sneer from Berra, amusement and superiority.

Varanis pauses, spoon halfway to her mouth. She closes her eyes for a breath, then deliberately continues to eat her sherbet.

“… and you must absolutely meet Soialya Yelendar,” the hostess prattles on. The matron of House Yelendar stands before Varanis.

Berra runs her eyes over the lady, over the rest of the huge room again.

“We have met before,” Varanis replies. “How lovely to see you again.”

“Good evening, Varanis” her voice is cool but not unfriendly. Like her quiet smile.5Berra sees a bit more her voice and eyes hide deep sorrow.

“I hope that you and your family are well, Lady Yelendar,” Varanis replies formally. “And that Ernalda smiles on all of you.” It looks like she wants to say more, but she glances around at the people watching and falls silent.

“I hope the same for you and all the Saiciae,” she responds formally. Soialya looks at the people around them. Their hostess mutters an apology and empty space appears around the two. Well, the two and Berra.

Berra looks to Varanis for a hint. Not only unthreatening, she seems to want to protect someone – Soialya.

Seeing the space, but still feeling the weight of all those eyes, Varanis murmurs, “I’m sorry that you are being put on display this way. Would you care to walk?”

She nods. “The view from the balcony is quaint. And even if the air is hotter outside, there could be a light breeze.”

Berra asks quietly, “Which way?”

Varanis nods. “The balcony sounds lovely. I have become unused to so much noise.”

“It has been a quiet season,” the lady says as she glides towards the balcony at the top of the stairs. Hope of wind was futile. The Air is standing absolutely still. Hot. Suffocating. Reeking of multitude of people.

Berra gives the place a once-over, looking for things that she might see, and then steps back inside.6I rolled a special on that Scan. I rolled it for you to help.

Curtains hang motionless. Pennant on the roof pinnacle has stuck to the pole.

Soialya looks at Varanis quietly.

“How is he?” the Vingan asks quietly.

She blinks when Varanis asks the question and breathes in and out couple of times. “We have not heard of him since he rode to exile.”

“What?” Varanis gasps. “Exile?”

“Exile for his crime of duelling, Varanis,” she confirms.

“No. That isn’t right. He’s being doubly punished.” The Vingan shakes her head. “It’s not right.”

“Only five years.” Soialya sounds positively fragile now. “Five years for him and Garin, who fought. Year for Agri and Hofhrai who were seconds.”

Back inside, Berra gives a head-shake to someone who looks like they might want to approach. Tiny Bouncer.

The lady puts her fingers together in front of her mouth and looks over the dark area of Warrens below. “It was lenient. They fought within the city walls on the holiest day of Imarja herself. Down there.” She nods towards the dark slums.

“I could try speaking to the Queen,” Varanis offers.

“He chose to speak up, Varanis. He told me he had reasons.” Soialyas eyes bore to the Vingan.

“Then I will not risk dishonouring his decision,” she replies, though she looks sad. “And was the other duellist found and punished?”

“Garin Merelt? No he has not been seen since. But if he shows his head in the city it is forfeit. Why Vahnfar thought that was worth the price, I don’t know.”

Varanis winces.

“He told me to tell you, he will keep the bird you left as safe as it can be on the road.” She looks over the warrens.

“It is hopefully safer than it would have been with me. We have been in some very difficult circumstances.” Varanis turns sincere eyes on Soialya. “Is there anything I can do?”

“If you happen to see him… tell him we miss him. And pray for his safe return.” Soialya is not looking at Varanis. Her voice is holding. But only just.

“I will do so. Lady Telendar… would you like wine? I can stay or I can give you some space.”

“Please go.” She is very quiet. Her long fingers are gripping the wooden railing tightly and she has turned her head away.

Varanis nods and slips back through the door. Seeing Berra, she murmurs, “Don’t let anyone disturb her until she’s ready to return.”

Berra gives a little bob of the head, and puts her back to the door, falling into an easy attitude of rest with optional violence.

Varanis plasters her smile back onto her face and returns to the party. It’s a weak attempt to appear as if nothing is wrong, but she is likely fooling very few.795/20 for act. Not a fumble, but close.

The crowd is watching. Smiling politely. Some older matrons are looking with closed faces. Admiring youths.

Varanis scans the room, looking for safe options. She decides to head to the food table.

Up the stairs, Berra rolls out her shoulders, eyeballs the approach to the doorway, and rests her hands easily on her swords. When the curtains part after a while, she gives a look over her shoulder as if to say she is professionally interested and no more, and steps aside for the lady. All she asks is, “Want me to accompany you down?”

“Thank you, little one. I am fine.” Her voice is serene and to extent warm. There is no hint of the crying Berra thinks she heard.

If Berra cares about that, she gives no sign. She just waits until Soialya has had time to go in front of her, then follows.

The Vingan is staring at the foods laid out. There are too many choices and she can’t seem to commit. At last, she picks something sweet and nibbles on it delicately.

“I hope you choke on that, Vingan,” comes a hiss from other side of the table. There, holding a glass with a vicious grip, is indeed Restina Hulta.

Varanis almost does. She was startled by Restina’s quiet verbal attack. So lost in her own thoughts, she hadn’t noticed the older woman approach. Swallowing carefully, she says, “Lady Restina.”

“I can not fathom what lady of the house thought when she allowed you and that, that… thing in here.” She looks at Varanis with pure disdain. “Lightbringer. Ha. A fraud with rabble of barbarians, a dishonest trader, and illiterate scribe in tow.”

Varanis stares at her, first taken aback, then angry. “You insult my friends and companions? I can accept that you are angry with me, but do not speak ill of those I love!” She doesn’t raise her voice, but her fury flickers through her eyes.

Berra, at this point, must still be upstairs. No help.

“You… minx… have the gall to talk of love…” She drops her glass, flicks a very rude and plebeian gesture and storms away.

Varanis watches her go, taking several slow, calming breaths. She glances around to see who is watching. The crowd is studiously not watching. There is a moment of silence.

“S’cuse me. Sorry, didn’t see you there.” Berra has backed into a large man, and is apologising, the only voice, right at the edge of the room.

Soialya picks up a glass of sherbet.

The band begins to play.

Varanis shifts closer. “Lady Yelendar, may I ask what might be an awkward question?” Her voice is pitched low, so that only Soialya can hear.

“What do you wish to ask, child?” She answers her warm voice and countenance a model of Esrolian matron who is in control of her emotions.

“Do you know what became of Lenta Hulta? Her mother is clearly still very angry with me.”

Berra drifts through the crowd politely, nodding to people who make eye contact, and sipping from a cup. It is only water, but at least she looks like she is trying to be convivial.

“No, Varanis. I don’t know. I have not seen her for some time though.” She looks at her glass. “Not since dark season I think. I was not in very many parties at that time. But when I was, she was there. Surrounded by suitors.”

Varanis sighs. “I am out of place here now. More than I ever was. Dressing the part doesn’t…” She shakes her head. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t be burdening you with my own frustrations. What I should be doing is working to further my prince’s cause.”

The lady looks at Varanis with sympathy. “No need for apology. I hope your prince is worth that loyalty.”

Berra’s path leads her to circumnavigate a very wide woman, although she takes less time about it than Harrek sailing around the world.

A slow air with a haunting melody and rhythm that flows through ones veins like cold fire starts. For a while Berra is left on the floor alone. But only for a while for several pairs make their way to the dance floor. The melody is known to Varanis – one of courtship dances sacred to Uleria, also very popular as a social dance.

“She leads the fight against the Lunars, Lady Yelendar. And, if the gods smile on her, she will unite Dragon Pass so we can drive them out for good.”

Soialya sips her sherbet. “I hear she is not one who knows how to kindle love and loyalty.”

Berra frowns in puzzlement. Either she does not know the melody, or she has misidentified it. Still, she does not cause a fuss, and instead looks around for what is going on, and then for Varanis. Still, she is short, in a tall room.

Soialya nods and looks like she is withdrawing.

Varanis lets the matron leave and scans the room for Berra. Spying the Humakti, she crosses the room to her, rather than waving, calling out, or doing anything else equally uncouth.

Berra smiles. “Uh… this music?”

One by one couples are leaving the floor. Mainly because they are all left to follow one pair at the center of the floor.

“Courtship dance,” Varanis replies with a shrug. “Come, let’s get out of the way.”

Berra does that, but she grins as they go. “It’s a LOT like ‘advance to battle in good order’. Which is I guess a different sort of song.”

There is a pair in the center that are just so intense that people are left to look at their hypnotic movement. The man is clad in a black mantle wrapped round his body. On his right wrist is a blue ribbon. The woman wears skirts and bodice of blue and silver and a black ribbon tied around her right wrist. The hair of both cascade unbound. The red hair of woman tells she is Vingan. The blond hair of the man suggests he is Grazelander. Both hold their sword hilts with their left hands while they circle each other in intricate patterns of exquisite skill. The distance of their bodies varies but their eyes stay locked in each other.8Berra can tell that the way they keep distance is magnificent display of swordsmanship.

The woman, in her forties, is Leika the Eldest Daughter, High priestess of the Vingan temple.9Oh both of you gimme a fertility check at 20 , Berra can also give a Death check.

Berra turns to look, and then blinks, and looks very confused. “Left… what?”10Failed Fertility. Passed Death. For Berra- that dance is death itself. Like fencing on level way over her head. By both of them.

“Leika?” Varanis’ eyes are wide with astonishment.1157/58. For Varanis – hot damn. Leika?And that other. That is hot. Like scorching hot. Leika. The ice queen Leika? She watches, mesmerized. That beautiful flowing red hair. That sleek movement, like a dancer, like a Queen.

“FUuuu…..” Berra shakes her head. “For a moment I thought Lord Eril was here.” She looks at both of the dancers, checks out the redhead briefly, and then looks away with a disturbed expression.

Eldest Daughter, Leika never has her hair open. Never. It is plaited sensibly. “Leika?” Varanis says again. “But who is he?”12Berra knows him: Sword from the Fifth…

Berra spends a moment looking away. “Um. Give me a moment.” She might be struggling to remember, or thinking she saw her High Sword might have shocked her.

On the floor Death and Storm meet. No overt shows of fertility like in a dance of Bounty. No undulations you could see in temple of Uleria. Just a terrible intensity. Intimacy. Sharpness. And at the same time they follow each other to a beat.

Berra mostly considers the dance floor, quietly, not anyone who is on it. She looks lost in thought.13DAMNIT I WANT TO BE BETTER WITH SWORDS – maybe You should leave swords an pick up a mattock.

As Varanis continues to watch, the emotions and energies build in her. She is unnaturally still. Tense.14Vingan and Grazelander and I can’t have my Grazelander…

The dance ends after a while. Leaving most of the room to breathe in like they had forgot to do it for a while.

Berra is still thoughtfully looking at a spot on the floor, although her hands move a little as she works something through, using them for positioning. It is her way of thinking.

Slightly flushed the Eldest Daughter exits the dance floor with her partner. Coming towards Varanis as it happens.

Varanis remembers to take a breath. And another.

As Leika approaches, Varanis gives her the reverence due to the leader of her temple.

Berra bows too, to the Sword. People observing might see the cold expression. Those who happened to be watching her carefully would know that she put it on just for the occasion.

Leika nods to Varanis. “I hear you have been busy.”

“I seek to serve the gods and Sartar, Eldest Daughter. To help drive the Lunars from our lands for good.” Ah, the shining sincerity of the young.

She nods, looking at Berra. “So I heard. Keep good care of yours.”

Berra is mostly watching the grazelander, and does not apparently see that she is being looked at. Some part of her expression is far away, or puzzled, or occupied. Only a little, but it is definitely there.

“This is my friend, Berra Jarang’s Daughter,” Varanis says, introducing the Humakti to Leika.

“Berra? The one who used to be Lanasha’s lover? The one that rumours call Eurmali?” She turns to look at the Grazelander Humakti.

Varanis immediately bristles. “Eldest Daughter, that is a vile rumour!”

Berra looks confused for a moment, partway through her bow. “Eurmali?” She might be too surprised to be even offended. Standing straight, she gives Varanis a ‘what the hell?’ glance.

“Lanasha thought so too…” She looks at Varanis seriously.

Berra shrugs. “Whatever,” she tells the Sword of Humakt, as she has no other outlet, given noble women are talking.

“Berra is true to Humakt,” Varanis says firmly.

“And to my friends,” Berra says happily.

“That may be so. But Lanasha should not have run a sister through with a spear in her fury.” Leika sighs. “Good thing we had a healer close by.”

Berra looks suddenly proud.

“She did what?” Varanis exclaims, glancing at Berra, then back at the high priestess. “I’m sorry, Eldest Daughter. I forgot my manners in my surprise.”

“Nobody can make her do anything,” Berra tells the Sword. She might be trying not to laugh.

“Apparently Kleitosnis ran her tongue and asked how Lanasha felt being held a fool by an Eurmali while they were drinking. And Lanasha ran her through with a spear.” Leika looks at Berra with a gauging look. “Vinga is rebellion, yes. And loyalty to your sisters. Both failed the test.”

Berra gives Leika a glance, and then a polite look. “The best thing about Orlanth is he puts it right when he messes up.” She sounds like she really means that.

Varanis winces.

“Quite, so I sent them on a quest. Together. To find the proper Storm way. Not drunken Gagarthi scum violence.” Leika looks at Berra. “They were both pretty good Vingans. My friend tells me that despite the rumors you might be worth it. Do not prove him wrong.”

Berra considers that. “I’m a Humakti,” she says, and puts a finger to her cheek. “Got the Truth Rune and everything.”

Varanis draws herself to her full height. “Eldest Daughter, Berra Humakti is an honourable woman and a skilled and steadfast warrior. I am proud to call her friend and would hear none speak ill of her.”

“I think it was Lanasha she was upset with,” Berra stage-whispers.

The sword looks at Varanis with a friendly smile. “She is one of ours. And she behaves in a way that gives base for these rumours.”15He could be cousin of your lover…just blond and 40, old like hell.

Berra smirks. That might not be the most politic thing.

Varanis’ gaze turns icy. “There is no basis to these lies, Sword,” she says fiercely.

“Nah. It’s politics,” Berra says. “I’ll explain a bit about it on the way back.” She does still look amused.

“There is a story of her avoiding fight at Tourney altar. Sacred duelling gound of Prax. You know her duel with Kesten, don’t you?” Heinamika the Sword explains with a friendly smile. “It is absurd to accuse her of being Eurmali. But these stories do add up. And stain her reputation.”

Varanis looks like her temper is continuing to rise. With visible effort, she takes several slow breaths. The Air within her does not dissipate.

Berra looks unprepentant. “Anyhow, it’s nothing you don’t know. Some sword was waving his weight around, and then he got censured. I avoided that one by inviting him to walk outside with me, then walking in again. Nobody ever even got asked to duel. He’d disturbed me while I was worshipping because he wanted my iron. But like Ermalda taught me, there’s always another way. Nobody’s mentioned the walktapus I fought on the way back, the scorpion things in the salt mine, or the ogres.” She turns back to Leika from Varanis. “That was just in Prax. In about two seasons. But those things were worth fighting.”

Leika looks at Heinamika who looks at the little initiate and shakes his head. “Dodging truth and haggling over it like a merchant. She is a vendref, Leika, but you cannot blame her. She comes from a race of merchants and peasants….”

Leika hits him in the ribs. But not very hard.

Berra’s smirk was already back by the time she was called a peasant, and she actually chuckles when Leika hits him.

Varanis’ sudden intake of breath is warning that she isn’t taking this as lightly as Berra is.

Berra puts her hand up, not towards the two with great rank, but with the back of it gently towards Varanis. “Maybe you could go get me some more water?” she suggests. “Because they don’t even know yet that I’m a duck. I could be here a while.”

Her friend looks at her, then back at her high priestess. “Eldest Daughter, would you care for a drink?” she offers with exquisite, icy courtesy.

Leika looks at the Sword who looks at Berra and asks “Do you wish instruction little duck dagger? To Varanis he sounds sincere. He wants to know if Berra wants instruction.

Berra smiles almost as politely. “No, just some water. But thank you for asking.”

Sword nods to her and tilts his head to Leika.

Varanis turns on her heel and heads in the direction required to fetch drinks.

High priestess and Sword nod to Berra. Sword with a friendly, Leika with a polite smile.

Berra looks after Varanis for a moment, and then gives the other two a look that is a little more calculating than it needs to be. “Anyhow, I really did find out I was a duck, recently. I didn’t know that’s what the feather meant when I was given it. Now I have to work out what that means.”16Make an int5 Berra? Pass. Which one of them just lost money? Usually someone talks to you on a day of worship at the temple.

Varanis returns with water and wine. Berra is handed the water, Leika, wine, and this leaves the Sword with his choice of water or wine.

“Thanks.” Berra looks like she actually needs it. Hot, in that armour.

The Sword accepts a beaker of wine and looks at Berra with amusement. His dull black mantle leaves his right arm free.

Varanis sips at the water.

“You should teach your companion how to dress for social occasions, Varaena.” Grazelander notes with wry grin.

“Berra dresses as she chooses,” Varanis says with a shrug. She seems to have regained her composure.

Berra looks down at herself. “Not enough black? I wore the light armour and everything. Should I paint it?”

He just smiles and sips his wine. After all Berra did say she does not wish for instruction.

Berra looks into her water, then back at him, then at Leika. Socially bored, waiting for the next thing to happen. The coolness of her earlier mood is gone, and with it whatever she was masking.

Leika downs her wine looks at the Grazelander, then at Berra, then at Varanis. “I can’t order you Varanis. But I think it would be better for Lanasha and Kleitosnis if they do not join your group.”

“I am pleased to have had a chance to speak with you, Eldest Daughter. I will take your words under advisement. Thank you.” Varanis hesitates, then adds, “And it was truly a privilege to have watched you dance. But now, it is time for me to take my leave. Yelmrise always comes early.”

She gives her cup to Heinamika and takes hold of Varanis right shoulder looking at her in the eyes. “Take care of them Varanis. Vingans and others. You can do it. I know.”

Berra looks at her cup, sips, hides her expression.

And she walks away followed by the Sword who gives the two cups to Berra.

Berra, however, does not take them. With one cup in her hand, she looks confused.

He just shrugs and places them on nearby counter.

Berra does the same, after draining her cup.

Varanis stares after them.

“I need to go home now,” she murmurs.

“Yeah. Let’s. We’ve been seen.” Berra gestures lazily to the door.