And A Thousand Steps Down

Xenofos — And A Thousand Steps Down

????, Storm Season, Movement Week


Storm Season, Movement Week, Clayday Eve – after feast Kallyr held [[[s02:session-29|Session 29]]]


Darkness, tinged by the faint red light of the Moon and relieved by the glow of the Flame and the star-spread city, spreads out below the palace. In dribs and drabs, following a cluster of those who babbled as they went, people walk down the steps.

Xenofos looks at the Red Moon, partially hidden by clouds driven by the strong Wind. Noticing Praxians and Berra are gaining ground he hastens his steps.

Berra has at that moment paused to wait, although she sets off again as Xenofos starts to hurry. Her feet are slowed to let him catch up, but perhaps she cannot stand to be still, even for a moment. She veers right to let him catch up on the left.

“I was distracted by the wind for a moment.” scribe comments.

“It’s pretty high. Preparing for tomorrow, I guess.” Berra walks down two steps at a time now, rather than hurrying her pace, landing lightly on each and bouncing in place for a moment before she commits to the next step. That leaves her walking about as fast as anyone who takes stairs the normal way.

Spoiler warning

“By the sea it usually calms for the night, Storms excepted.” he looks at Berra bouncing downwards with look that is partly curiosity.1 Xenofos passes insight, Berra fails. Insight: Berra is mostly untroubled, although some hint of deep thought is with her, when she looks for the next place to land. She is thinking about more than merely foot placement at the top of a hill made of a thousand steps, in the dark, when she is walking down them in a way they were not meant to be used.

“Orlanth doesn’t have Yelm to rage against here,” Berra says, “But thinking back, I think he’s probably calmer at night with Ernalda, in Esrolia.”

“Or he just loves the mountains and can’t bear to part for the night.” Xenofos answers quietly.

“Yeah. They rise up higher towards him here.” Berra is agreeable, calm, somehow distant.

“You seem to be your bouncy self again.” he says tenderly “No trouble breathing anymore?” 2 Checked Xenofos attitude before discussion he passed Truth nomally, but happened to roll 01 on Love Berra

“No, not really. A bit, but I’m not going to be pushing it. And a lot of weight came off tonight.” She tries a few jumps instead of long steps, but after three, with no evidence of instability, she goes back to walking with Ernalda’s favour. The light of the Flame falls on them, and her dim form takes on the soft lights, and her armour gleams suddenly.

“Good. Good…” He pauses for a few steps “That takes a big weight off my mind.”

After about as long she says, “I’ve got more to do, but it looks like I didn’t do anything wrong out there, and it looks like Varanis will be alright to look after. We’re not getting sent to be useful somewhere else.”

He shrugs. “For me it makes usually no great difference where we are.”

“Yeah, nor me really. But being sent away would be hard on her. It might still happen, but it didn’t happen immediately. Kallyr was pleased.” She starts dancing from left to right, reconsiders that, and walks almost sensibly for a bit.

His eyes follow her, with a smile, most obvious in corners of his eyes.
“It makes me irrationally happy just being around you and watch you bounce with that eagerness of yours.”

She is, as she always is, completely engrossed in her task. Then she pauses, one-footed on the stairs, to look at him. “Well, can’t help that,” she says, without much warmth. “But nobody’s stopping you. Wouldn’t be Orlanthi.”

“Why should it be helped?” he asks with a shrug.

“Not saying it should be.” Berra shrugs, and turns away from that bit of the conversation. “I’m pleased to be back, to be honest. The company’s alright too.”

He nods and walks down a few steps before continuing.

Berra hops down a few, changes feet, and hops down a few more.

“You were shielding me when we were close to Dragonkill…. Thank you.” he says softly.

Berra takes a moment before she nods. “You were in a bad way. Sometimes, you look after people, sometimes people look after you. It’s how it works.”

“Not everyone notices.” He looks at her sideways “Or can look after in a way that helps.”

Berra gives him a flat look. “You try to hide it,” she says. “So in some ways, you’re winning out against the people who don’t. But I’m a captain. I mean, I think like one. That’s why I try to go around after each battle. I know what battle-shock is, and you still have it.” Even while she is looking at him, she is walking confidently.

“Such a roundabout way of calling it… Trying to overcome and push it back, certainly.” he answers.

Berra nods. “Battle’s hard,” is all she says.

“So I have found…” he confims with a nod.

“Oooh. We could play ‘things we know’. It’s a game I just made up. You have to say something that you know that the other person will know. It’s a pretty easy game to be honest.”

He raises an eyebrow at the suggestion.

“Damnit. First thing I thought of was ‘I miss garlic’. So maybe not.” Berra gives Xenofos a Yelm-bright smile.

He looks at her and answers slowly. “Some truths hurt, and saying them out loud hurts more than remaining silent.”

“Oh, right. Yes. I’d thought of it for really stupid things to say, but maybe it was a really stupid thing to say.” Penitence flickers over her features, but they are far enough from the flame now that her look is falling into shadow.

He looks at her, his expression softening from the tenseness it carried just a moment ago.

Sometimes, Berra knows when to shut up. Now is one of those times.

He turns to look forward and changes the subject.
“So we should see Varanis at Earth temple at Yelmrise?”

“Yeah. A bit before, I guess. We’ll have Clayday. If I’m not there, I’m held up at the Temple and don’t wait for me, but leave a message there with where you’re going. I’ll come by but if I’m going to be late I’ll go back to the White Grape.” Berra seems to have planned that already.

“Right. Will you see Valseena and Suuraki get settled for the night at the White Grape?” Xenofos asks nodding his head towards the Praxians ahead. ” I don’t entirely trust Rajar’s mentoring abilities in Sartar customs.”

“No… I have to get to the Temple. But they should be fine. He won’t push beyond the point it’s funny. He’s after shocking Rondrik, not them.” Berra tries three steps at a time, and manages as she falls into a jump-pause rhythm. It does require her to make a careful landing each time. She does manage it.

He shrugs. “If you say so. And he can explain weirdnesses in context they comprehend, coming from same background.”

“Yeah. Are you going to your Temple?” She has never been completely able to say ‘Library’ without too much awe. She avoids it.

“I am going to the Temple, yes.” he nods.

“Want me to walk you there? I was planning to run, but I could go slowly.” It sounds like she means it, although then she tilts her head to the side, thinking.

“I don’t want to hold you back, little cousin.” he says softly.

Berra pauses to bounce on her toes. “I should get off at speed, then. I need to see the Blacksmith and talk to D’Val and if I can do all of that before the High Sword returns I need to talk to him too. If he’ll see me that late.”

“Go safely and with speed, Berra, we’ll see in the morning, temple, or if not there, at the inn.”

Berra rolls out her shoulders as they get to the bottom, and then sets off at a run that is rather slower than her usual bursts of speed, within her ability to keep going despite the lack of Air in her.

Xenofos follows her with his gaze as she vanishes and curtly explains to Rajar, Suuraki and Valseena that they will see in the morning at the White Grape before peeling off from the group and vanishes downhill.