Chastisement

Xenofos — Chastisement

????, Dark Season, Season/Movement Week


Context

Dark Season/Movement Week/Water Day/In the morning while Xenofos is talking with Neela Continues from [[[xenofos:wake-up]]] [[[s02:session-21|Session 21]]]

Events

Back at the yurt, Berra brings in the spare waster weapons. Varanis is inside. She’s tidying and packing her things, which have, admittedly, become a bit strewn about the shared space. Her movements are brisk.

Berra takes a few moments to make sure the wooden and rattan weaponry is all away, and then looks over to Varanis. “You shouldn’t have said what you said the way you said it,” she tells the Vingan.

“Which part?” Varanis asks without pausing in her work.

“The parts where you were speaking.”

“So the parts where I was telling him the truth?” Varanis replies caustically. “Funny how you have no problems speaking the truth to me, but chastise me when I speak it to him. Maybe you care for him more than you admit. You certainly seem inclined to protect him.”

“The parts where you said he should have noticed something he hadn’t noticed. Start with those parts. Were you really fair?” Berra looks straight at Varanis as she replies.

“Neela told me about his behaviour in her uncle’s yurt. That he spoke praise about her to his uncle and played with her son. He ate the food she cooked him. How could he not notice or understand that his actions might be misconstrued? Even in Esrolia, that kind of attention to a person and their family is pretty obvious.”

“To you, maybe. And… ‘I am done helping you with this’? What help was that, and do you think he wanted it?” Berra looks calm – even her voice is relaxed.

“He asked for my help, Berra. He sent me to try to fix things. So I got to be called a liar to my face repeatedly while I tried to explain that he was already in love with someone else and so could never be what Neela hoped for. He sent me to break her heart for him.” Varanis spits the words out angrily.

Berra looks down, and shakes her head. “He really didn’t know. And then in front of me, someone very attractive stripped off for him, and then he had to deal with a shouting child and then you threw something at him. Sometimes, you can tell the truth kindly. He didn’t know what he was asking you to do, I bet.”

“You’re still making excuses for him.” In spite of her anger, the Vingan is packing carefully. Her movements are efficient as she folds a tunic that had been left to dry by the fire. “You’re right, of course. You’re always right. I’m a shit leader and not much of a kinswoman either. I could have been gentler with him. Held his hand and told him it wasn’t really his fault and offered to help make it all better.”

“Mhm. And then you told him to go chase after her, when he’d been told not to, while you were telling him… you know this, don’t you?”

Varanis doesn’t answer, but her angry silence is probably answer enough. Berra says nothing more for a bit, but she stands thoughtfully, not staring at Varanis, but with crossed arms, drumming her fingers. Eventually, the other woman runs out of things to pack and the space within the yurt seems tidier than it’s been in a long while. “What?” she asks.

“I’m thinking, and I’m not quite sure what I’m thinking,” Berra says. “Something that’ll come to the surface in… oh. Yeah. Are you upset because you took out your anger on him?”

“Yes. And I’m also angry because he put me in that position in the first place.” She sighs heavily. “I hated having to hurt her. She deserves better.”

“Having to?” Berra asks. For a moment there is cold patience in her voice. Her eyes narrow, but she fights it, and relaxes her stance. Not calm, but definitely not getting angry.

“By telling her he loved another. There was no other way that she could accept that he wouldn’t love her back. I had to tell her the truth, even though I knew it would hurt her.” Varanis scowls. “So yes, I had to hurt her. I did it as gently as I could and was called a liar for my efforts.”

“Oh. I thought you meant a bit later.”

Her scowl deepens. “I tried to protect you all. I didn’t want to tell her who Xenofos loved, but the only way she would believe it was by seeing it.” She continues, “In the end, I decided that her witnessing and understanding the truth was more important than protecting either of you from it. And what do you mean later?”

“Yeah. She hurt herself, then. Standing by him. She pushed right to the edge and she already knew what the answer was.”

“She thought she could change his mind, I think. It was futile and it was awful to watch. And then he gaped at her before telling her to get dressed again.” Varanis looks around desperately for something to do, anger driving her need for activity.

“That’s not how it seemed to me. But then, I know what he’s like. I figured she was punishing herself for being there. Like when you make a bad decision and can’t go back from it, and the only way is forward, and that’s worse.” Berra shrugs. “You still shouldn’t have sent him after her. Want to go find someone with a lit fire, and bring them a drink?”

“What?”

“She came to prove something, then she was wrong.” Berra casts around. “But we had some bison milk around here, getting sharp, and we could go sit around somewhere and not be stuck in this yurt.”

Varanis nods curtly. “Fine. Though we should check on the animals first.”

Berra nods. “Let’s,” she says. “I’m struggling a bit not to say things too fast and it’ll be good for me.”

Grabbing her Praxian coat and too big hat, Varanis is ready to go within seconds. She stomps her feet into her boots and slips through the door.

Berra comes out a few moments later, in her cloak, shrugging a fur on underneath it. “Getting warmer,” she says. “Valind’s going to lose.”

“But it’s going to snow again. Look over there.” The Vingan points with a mittened hand in the direction behind Berra and the yurt. “I’m so sick of snow. And yurts. And bison.” She swears colourfully in Praxian. One thing Varanis is good at is learning how to curse.

Berra looks up, and nods. “He can’t push his power this far down forever. Yelm’s strengthening. The older time of summer and good times is coming back. Spring first. I won’t miss the mud. I wanted the snow to be reliable.”1Insight: Human? 59. Nope. Berra could be thinking anything.

“C’mon. I want to see how Zukko is doing.”

Berra tags along, a small person in the snow.

By the time they reach the animals, Varanis appears to be calm.

Berra spends a few minutes making sure Followed is well, and running her eyes over the other animals, and then looks around for Varanis. The Vingan is brushing her zebra, murmuring softly to it. Berra leaves her to that for a while, and goes to brush down the other zebra there, instead. Still, she does keep on pausing to look at Varanis.

“What?” The question is resigned instead of angry this time.

Berra eyes her animal over and tweaks the forelock, before turning back to Varanis. “The thing about you is that you always look for a way back, when you get something wrong. Even from the very moment you do. That’s the thing worth following.”

Varanis snorts. “But I always get it wrong,” she says to Zukko. The zebra lifts his tail and lets fall his steamy reply. A look of disbelief crosses Varanis’ face and then she begins to laugh.

“Nah. Sometimes. When I get it wrong, it’s not as loud. When Xenofos does, I don’t understand what happens at all. But you’re trying to carry us all. You always have. And you always try whether you’re… whether you fail or not, you try. And you often do well then forget about it.”

Varanis tries to stop laughing as Berra speaks, but it bubbles out of her as Zukko swishes his tail and swivels his ears in her direction. She catches her breath at last. “I’m sorry, Berra. I know you speak the truth as you see it, but even Zukko knows when I’m full of shit, it seems.” She giggles. Varanis actually giggles.

“Save that stuff,” Berra says after a moment, dead serious. “It smells better than bison poo on the fire.” Then the little Humakti cracks a grin, and suppresses it. Just for a moment, it is there.

“Right.” Still giggling, Varanis grabs a shovel and scoops the dung into the dung heap. “Not right to keep the best shit for ourselves,” she explains when she can breathe again. “Gotta share it with the clan.” She attempts to look serious, but fails until she says, “Shit. I need to apologise to Xenofos. I suppose it’s too late to stop him from going to Black Lance’s yurt…”

“I think it’s a lot too late by now. I tried to keep the boot away but …” Berra trails off, and says like it is a change of subject, “He was really determined. He’s off to do the right thing in the way he knows how.”

“Maybe we can scrounge up some good kumiss for when he gets back,” Varanis suggests. “He might need it. Neela is very expressive when she’s angry. I’ve been yelled at by her a few times in the last couple of days.”

“We can hope he doesn’t come back until morning, I guess. But yeah. Let’s drop by the yurt, pick up something to take as a gift, and go visiting, and can you maybe write him something to say what we’re doing so he doesn’t come back to an empty place? And we can find him a decent drink. And some food. I’m not saying I’d fight a troll for breakfast, but I’m pretty hungry.”

“I’m out of dried fruit…. I’ve given it all as gifts. In fact, I’m starting to run out of gifts in general. I’m going to need to shop in Pavis.” She gives Zukko a last pat. “And don’t say anything where Nosy here might overhear it, but I’d even go for a leg of zebra right now.”