Xenofos — After The Battle Ii
Day Alda Chur fell [[[s02:session-54|Session 54]]]
The sun beats down just as it did yesterday, on an entirely different scene. There are still the sounds of shouting, screaming, and the ransacking of homes, but less frequently now, being incidents rather than a soundtrack. The Esrolian army has largely behaved as told, although several people are richer and nobody is telling them off for it… Mostly they are coherent and on guard, still by the gate, and occupying the tower. There is order there, at least.
From outside the walls a lone cavalryman walks in, leading his mount by the reins.
To the right is the field hospital, with warriors and now civilians. There is a guard around that, although the best guard might be the White Lady working there. Ahead is the city, with the sounds of horses moving, Praxian beasts on patrol, and the rather tuneless singing, from above more than ahead, of an Esrolian song of heroism and liberation. Something about the Red Earth and her lover the moon, and their fleeing.
Xenofos glances towards the tower, shrugs and carefully leads creamy past the wounded and the dead, making way for couple of slingers bringing in a dead Vingan through the gate.
Just leaving the Hippodrome, through the way wide enough for horses, is a small figure walking at a fast clip – a little infanteer used to walking with big people. She stops when she gets to the road, going instantly from smooth motion to constrained motion. Only Berra wears that single black helmet feather, and only she would bounce on her toes like that while deciding where to go next. Eyes left, eyes right – she has not seen him yet.
Scholar stops on his tracks and just looks at the little Humakti.
No visible emotion crosses his face.
Berra looks like she has seen action. Wind Tooth is missing, and as she turns towards Xenofos and the gate, it is clear that she has a rent in her armour too. A missing or broken scale mars the water effect of her bronze armour.
The scribe just stands by his horse, patting it’s neck.
Berra heads that way, although for a moment it is unclear whether she has seen Xenofos.
Scholar lets her approach without breaking the silence, looking at her face.
Berra veers towards Xenofos and looks up at him. For a moment there are different emotions visible, most of them complicated, and then she calms her expression until it looks like it might be curiosity or care. Or something else.
The kohl Xenofos applied before the battle has spread over his cheeks and stained his beard. There are traces of blood on one of his boots. If anything his expression shows weariness as he nods to Berra.
After a moment more spent pausing, Berra asks, “How are you?”
“Holding together… I think… Now. But only just.” Xenofos answers quietly.
Berra looks down. Looks back at him. “They said you did… they were impressed by you. Do you want to speak to them yet?”
“I need to see horses are watered and fed… I trust they are. Barnropos is a decent chap.” Scribe answers.
“They did well. I think I said that to them already. I can’t quite remember.” he continues.
“Everything was fine when I got in there. I asked if they needed anything, and we’ve got a plan for scratching up some food for them.” Berra looks towards the south road, almost wistfully. “You don’t need more responsibility right now. Walk with me? I’m about to go around the city.”
“I’ll leave Creamy at the hippodrome? Then, why not.” He looks around “I don’t think I can avoid the place anymore.”
Berra says, “I… yeah, sure. Although you really don’t have to. I’ve got some things I’d like back in camp, and we left a lot of things there under minimal guard. I’ve got proper reasons for sending you.”
He shrugs. “I think it is better to stay on move and occupied. Staying at camp… No I don’t think that is a good idea.”
“Well, yeah.” She steps back to let Xenofos lead Creamy on. “I’m looking for Koraki, among others. I’ve heard he’s around. And a storm bull – I’ll know that one when I see him. But mostly, we’ll be looking around to make sure trouble doesn’t happen.”
“Trouble happened when Argrath invested the town and the king here did not agree to terms, Berra. But are you saying you want to fight that Stormbull right now?”
“Well, it’s that or… if I find him, I’m going to make sure he knows I’m after him. Challenge him. We’re not needed any more.” Berra then adds, “I mean, to Argrath. And he’s not going to let us fight proper and then I’ll have to go through a fake fight then make him look foolish by issuing another challenge… Better this way, without him, I figure.”
“Have you told that to Varanis?” scribe says and looks at the short Humakti.
“I said I was going to have a go anyhow. I did say that in front of Argrath. But right now, it could happen and nobody’ll complain as much as if it happens a week from now.” So sort-of yes maybe.
“Have you told that Varanis now?” Xenofos repeats his question with the small addition.
“No. But I will if I see her.” Berra looks up at Xenofos, calm and peaceful and determined.
“You should seek her first.” Xenofos twirls his moustache. “Honour is paramount but you should tell your commander before you abandon your duties.”
“I’m not abandoning my duties. If I die, I die – I’ll send to tell her if I’m about to. How’s that?” Berra gives a little smile.
“Varanis is the one who needs to deal with the fallout whether you win or lose.” He looks at Berra. “You tell her before and I’ll help you in your search. Anything else is putting your private vendetta before your duties, little cousin.”
Berra have somewhere picked up a look like Varanis has – mutinous. “Then talk and walk,” she says. “And if I see him, I’ll let him know – then we can go tell Varanis.” Her jaw clenches, her brows fold in a frown.
“We can do that.” Xenofos says and nods to trooper guarding horses. He sounds and looks tired when he continues “You are a free woman. You can choose honour over duty and let Varanis down. I will walk with you.”
“Oh, fuck you.” Berra bursts out with it. “You already said that.”
“Did I? Maybe I did repeat some thought.” he looks down at the Humakti “To me it was about accepting your suggestion of walking around despite not convincing you.”
“Yeaaaah. What I heard was me moving to meet you and you saying I wasn’t. And judging me.” Berra looks a little jumpy, ready to go off in any direction, including at someone else’s throat. “Because you didn’t have to say that last bit.”
“If you are saying letting him know did not mean fighting him on the spot then you were moving to meet me and I owe you an apology.” Xenofos looks at Berra. “Because that is what I assumed was the likeliest of outcome of such meeting.”
“Yeah. You owe me an apology.” She looks down, seething. Under that, she does look briefly hurt, but it is a flash of emotion that she overcomes. Her face is turning the familiar blank of the Humakti she sometimes is.
“I am sorry Berra. I misjudged your words.” Xenofos sounds earnest but tired. “That said, do consider the possibility of Uroxi starting a fight immediately if you tell him you will fight him. Which way?”
Berra bows in acceptance. “Thank you. I know that right now, words are hard to say and hard to hear.” She changes the subject by indicating the way forward. “I am going to the marketplace, where I think there’s a fountain – I need a drink.”
Xenofos nods and rests his hand on the pommel of his rapier.