Xenofos — After The Feast
1627, Dark Season
In Glasswall after a royal reception [[[s02:session-51|Session 51]]]
Glasswall has been a home away from home for the last day, and dawn tomorrow will see people leaving. For tonight, however, there is a moment of rest and ease. King Herengvot has decreed music and dancing, on a modest scale, and invited the three to partake of rest inside; the little party had easy exit routes and now they are holed up together in a room far from the madding crowd, and indeed the saning crowd, for some have been cautious in advising the King, and others have been hesitant to reveal secrets to Argrath.
Nevertheless, there is a time in a pleasant room, where the music is loud enough outside to drown out talk, and the seats are comfortable.
Berra has been drinking politely, which is to say more than her usual amount, and she is pink-faced and happy.
Varanis is also pink-cheeked from the wine, though she otherwise appears sober.
Xenofos seems to have drunk his share this evening too.
“That went well, I think,” Varanis says. Her optimism is tinged with caution.
Xenofos tilts his head thoughtfully. “Hard to tell what they really thought. But it sounded as they were amenable to aid Argrath.”
Berra nods. “It was all over ‘xcept the shouting a while back. But people have to have the chance to shout.”
“And what matters is that ultimately, they will follow where their king leads,” Varanis adds.
“I can see why you feel that way, little cousin.” Scribe answers. “Oh, sorry Varanis, I was speaking over you.”
There’s a grin at Xenofos’ comment about the shouting. “No matter,” his cousin waves his apology off. “You’re right about Berra and the shouting.” To Berra she says, “You do shout a lot.”
Berra gives Xenofos a slightly wonky smile, and then looks to Varanis, a little defensive. “Well, I have to…”
“No, no. It’s a good thing,” Varanis reassures her. “I think I’ve started shouting more since the gods brought you into my life. I find it’s helping me to not bury things too deeply in the amphora, so to speak. I shout and then can usually move on.”
Berra subsides, mollified.
“I seem to recall you were not afraid to let your Air emerge as child either.” Xenofos looks at his goblet “Maybe you were quieter in between…”
The Vingan casts a glance in Xenofos’ direction and shrugs. “Grandmother Mirava and her namesake were determined to make a lady of manners out of me after we moved to Nochet. There was more than a time or two spent missing meals for certain behaviours.”
Berra manages not to say anything, although her wriggling as she wraps her arms around each other and twists at the table says she wants to butt in. Nevertheless, she stays out of Esrolian politics.
It is possible Xenofos is not fully concentrating on the woes of Varanis later childhood. He just nods as answer and looks at his goblet. Or rather Berra, over the edge of his goblet.1 And seems to get a bit absentminded
Instead of blurting out anything personal, Berra asks personal questions. “Xenofos, are you going to want to go to Prax after Dark Season?”
He shrugs. “If Varanis does not need me… And if I am alive, I wish I would have time. I don’t know if I am welcome though.”
Berra nods, considering. “I think I need to stay in Boldhome. I need to improve myself.” It is obviously, from how she says it, somebody else’s phrase.
Varanis arches an eyebrow. “Is that your High Sword speaking through you?”
Xenofos takes a sip of wine and mirrors the gesture of his cousin.
“Er… He’s had that passed down to me,” Berra admits. “And says the same sort of thing himself. Improve, get better – he’s pretty intense sometimes. But that’s why I joined his Temple.”
Xenofos leans back on the bench. His finger draws lines on the small amount of spilled wine on the table. Less than optimal tools and his skills don’t make for very great likeness.2 roll of 20 on skill of 15 in Art That line of neck just does not come out right.
There’s a nod from Varanis. “He is intense. But, I respect that – I know he’ll always put Sartar first.” Changing the subject, she asks suddenly, “Has Lenta been acting a bit odd recently?”
“She has looked a bit tired?” Scholar says.3 line of Berra’s neck still does not appear on the table
“Not that I’ve noticed, but I haven’t been giving her much attention. Maybe … dunno.” Berra does not mind being drawn badly, if she has even noticed. She looks like she has not noticed.
“How come, Varanis?” Xenofos looks at her “Have you maybe not been eating properly?”
“She’s been quiet. But, you’re right, Xeno. She’s probably tired. We’re all tired.” She looks affronted at his question. “Of course I’ve been eating! I promised I would and the only meal I’ve missed since promising is that one night I fell asleep too early for dinner. Even then, I found something to eat when I woke up.”
Berra gives Xenofos a glare. “Varanis is looking after her people. Don’t come at her.”
The Vingan gives Berra a look and then pours more wine for everyone.
He shrugs “She was worried before and had trouble making Varanis hear her. But then it is not Varanis’ eating this time.” He looks at Varanis. “Should you ask?”
“I’ll think about it, but I suspect you’re right and it’s just her being tired. How long has it been since she’s slept in a proper bed, I wonder? I suspect her mother will hardly recognise the woman Lenta has become when she returns to Nochet.”
“Nah. Set someone to ask. Valseena, or Xenofos. She’s the only Ernaldan around. Maybe she just needs a rest, but if there’s a problem, thinking’s not enough. Gotta do.” Berra leans an elbow on the table and gradually slides it forwards, stretching out.
“If she returns.” Xenofos draws the protective Earth on the table to ward off any ill omens.
“Xeno!” Varanis looks startled.
“I don’t know if she has any intention on returning to Nochet anytime soon, Varanis.” he looks at the table “She has flown from the nest that may have felt like a cage at times.”
“Oh. I thought you meant something else… I understand her need to escape. Maybe Kalis could find her a place in the Earth Temple in Boldhome. Being around another Esrolian might ease the transition for Lenta too.”
“Another safe nest? Maybe? If she wants to settle.” Xenofos says.
“Yeah… I thought you meant that too.” Berra shrugs, a little behind the talk.
He shrugs. “We are at war. People do… get hurt. Even those who do not wield weapons and are protected by axes of others. But I was not thinking of that when I said what I said.”
“Yeah.” Berra nods to him. “But if she wants to go back to Nochet she’s got to bring back something worth them pretending about why she left. Do you think she’ll end up marrying Argrath?”
“That is a thing for aunties to talk of, Berra. I could not say.”
“Lenta?!” Varanis is truly shocked now, nearly choking on her wine.
“No, it’s not, Xenofos. If she can organise something like that, she can go back in glory. Otherwise, if she goes back there’s no reason not to strangle her.” Berra sips again from her own wine. Like a barbarian – or any non-Sartarite – she has her own cup.
“Lenta and Argrath?” Varanis repeats.
“If she wants to be a priestess she needs to have a child, Varanis. Preferably with a mighty lover or husband.” Xenofos looks at Berra. “But what calculations those require are women’s affairs. Too subtle for me to fathom.”
Berra shrugs. “It’s one of the few things I can think of. Didn’t say it’s likely, or a good plan.”
“Well, yes, but Argrath has a new wife already, is arranging for another, and likely has one or more back in Prax. Lenta deserves to be someone’s only wife.” Varanis has taken on that mulish expression of hers.
“Alright. I gotcha.” Berra subsides.
A moment later, she adds, “We should ask her what her plans are. She might not want to ask for help staying in Boldhome.”
“Quite. She should be asked, what she plans. What she wants. “Scholar looks at Varanis.
Varanis peers into her cup, searching for answers. “Well, if I ask, she might try to work out what she thinks I want her to do.” She turns to her cousin, “Could you check in on her?”
“At some point you have to believe she’s thinking for herself.” Berra beat-pauses to consider. “She stopped using her womb to do the thinking a while back, I think.”
Xenofos twirls his moustache. “I can ask if she wants to talk with me of those things and tell you were concerned. It might be better if you asked yourself… But if she has had opportunities to talk to you and has remained silent…”
“We share a tent,” Varanis points out. “I see her in private every day.”
“Look, if you two don’t, I will,” Berra complains.
“I said I can, little cousin.” Xenofos looks at the Humakti. “You are too impatient.”
Berra glares, and then shrugs. “Yeah… But it’s taking me a bit of time to work out how to say things, and then you were saying it might be better if Varanis did, and that wasn’t sounding like you would.”
Varanis jumps to her feet, wavers ever so slightly, then straightens up. “I need to move. But I don’t want to deal with that lot.” She waves a hand as the music becomes louder. A royal drinking song, perhaps? “Maybe we can climb the walls…”
Xenofos looks at her and raises an eyebrow. “A bad time to use healing powers, should you have a mishap. I’ll talk with Lenta when I’ll have a chance, milady.”
Berra stands. “Out a window, maybe? They know I do that already. And we’re well dressed so we don’t look like thieves.” She at least thinks this is a fantastic idea.
Varanis goes to peer out the window.
Outside there is a short, rather friendly wall. On one side it meets the great glass outer fortification. On the other, there is a roof.
“Go sleep, Xenofos,” Varanis suggests. “We won’t be long. I just need a bit of Air.”
“Do not catch arrows.” Scribe says as he stands up.
Berra nods. “I’ll look after her,” she promises. No doubt she thinks she can despite being tipsy.
With that, Varanis sets down her wine and heads out the window.
She catches herself with a laugh, then heads upwards.4 bahahahahaha – that would have been a fumble if my climbing skill weren’t so high.
Berra is just getting herself out as Varanis takes a plunge and makes a handhold. “Bloody hell! Don’t do that to me.” She follows close behind, a cushion in case Varanis should fall.5 Special for me. Berra’s obviously making sure that Varanis is OK up this ladder.
Xenofos sighs and says “You can not cage the birds…” to the now empty window.