Xenofos — Cruel Truths
????, Dark Season, Season/Movement Week
Dark Season/Movement Week/Water Day/Afternoon Varanis continues from [[[Xenofos:Chastisement]]] [[[s02:session-21|Session 21]]]
When Varanis comes through the door, she immediately begins to remove her outer layers. The fire is just a few glowing embers and the single oil lamp fails to make yurt more than very dimly lit. It is silent, but Varanis can recognize the forms of Berra and Xenofos sitting by the hearth. “That’s very wet snow…” She trails off, peering across the hearth at them. “Should I leave again?”
“Why?” asks Xenofos turning his eyes from Berra towards his cousin.
Berra is lost in meditation, her eyes closed. She looks peaceful, and maybe oblivious.
“I feel like I’m interrupting,” Varanis says quietly.
“You are not, cousin. I was waiting for you to come back.” He adds a bit of dry grass to the fire ” Or we were waiting.”
There is no movement from Berra, save her breathing.
Varanis nods. Draping her coat where it can dry and unbuckling her cuirass, she comes to sit next to Xenofos. Silently he makes space. With long-limbed grace, she sinks down beside him, grateful for the warmth of the low fire.
Berra’s stillness and calm remain. She looks like she is unaware of her surroundings.
Xenofos looks at the small flames dancing on the prairie grass.
His cousin lets the silence grow for a time. Finally, she sighs. “I’m sorry, Xenofos. I was angry and I took my anger out on you again.”
He shrugs. “You got castigated because of me, so who else vent to?”
“That doesn’t make it right.”
Berra turns one hand palm up, in a natural motion probably unrelated to anything in the outside world.
“No harm done. Most important thing is, I think, she talked with me. And Orgfal got his shoe back.”
“She did? That’s good.” The Vingan stares into the fire. “That’s good,” she repeats. After a moment, she asks, “Are you ok?”
“Yes and no. I feel bad that I hurt her. But I feel better after we had that talk.” He looks at Varanis. “Sorry I put you in awkward position. I really thought it would be the less hurtful way of handling that.”
Varanis sighs. “I said I would, when you asked. I shouldn’t have been so angry about it going badly. It’s just…” She stops herself. “No. There’s no need for excuses. I was unfair when I expressed anger at you for something I had agreed to do.” She shifts a little closer, so she can lean against him.
He puts his hand over her shoulder and pulls her closer. “Thank you for trying.”
“Telling her to watch you with Berra was the only way I could get her to believe me,” she says quietly. “I’m sorry that I had to lay your emotions bare for others to see. I didn’t anticipate her reaction or that it would draw so many witnesses.”
“It felt a bit cruel. But maybe there was no other way. I… did not handle it very well. I was quite surprised.”
The Vingan flinches. “Cruel for her or for you?” she asks, pulling away.
“For her. I guess I deserved that.”
“Tell me, cousin, how would you have done it? Oh wait. We already know. You’d send someone else to do it for you.” Her voice is sharp in the low light of the yurt. “I tried to be kind and she told me I was a liar.”1Insight? He passes. The anger is likely covering hurt. That comment stung.
Even the sharpness does not bring Berra back to the world.
Xenofos sighs “I deserved that. But if on errand to find out what is wrong, maybe tell the one who sent me I was not believed and let him try from there. Not because that guy hiding behind a skirt deserves it, but because she does.” He looks at the fire and adds as an afterthought “Though if called a liar I would be more minded to ask the man where and when his friend can discuss details of the meeting with my friend.”
“I’m sorry I failed to handle things as you would have wished for.” Her back is stiff and where before she sought closeness, there’s now a very distinct space between them. “I will try to do better next time.”
He shrugs. “Eventually blame is mine. I should have talked to her to find out what was wrong. But it is easy to be wise after the fact. You did what you thought was best, with the incomplete information at hand. Thank you, and I am sorry your feelings were hurt too.”
“How much longer are we trapped here, do you think?” The change of subject is abrupt.
“They say years can be very different. So no way of knowing for certain.” He looks at the yurt wall “Majaro said Storm season makes travel possible if not safe and that is pretty close, is it not?” He tries to catch her eyes “Look, I am sorry I said you acted cruelly. I have no idea if she would have believed mere words when she tried to refute what she saw with her own eyes. I just…”
Berra takes a slow, deep breath. She is not concentrating on the outside at all.
“It’s fine,” she says. “I understand. You are like Berra, you speak the truth when you see it.”
“No! It is not fine if I wield truth like a troll wields a mace and hurt people without even bloody trying to!” he barks and hits his thigh with his fist.
Berra blinks, looking up, slightly confused. Finally, something got through to her.
Varanis jumps, startled by his outburst. “I’m fine,” she soothes. “Sometimes the truth is hard to hear, that’s all.”
He draws breath to calm down. “I know, I’ve been reminded of that today, too.” He is looking at the remains of the fire with his shoulders slumping as anger drains out of him.
Berra looks down at her hands, takes a slow breath, and half closes her eyes again.
“We’ll get by, Xeno. We always do.” She shrugs. “Tomorrow’s a feast day,” she says, changing the subject again. “Holy day for the herdmother, or some such thing.”
“I should probably guard the yurt, or the clan,” Berra says, opening her eyes.
“Right now?” Varanis asks. “The snow is half rain. No one wants to be outside right now.”
“No, I mean tomorrow. I don’t know what sort of thing Humakti do around the Clan Mother, but it’s hard to go wrong with guarding.”
Berra stretches in place, arms out, back arching. “It could be awkward if we’re invited. I’m not really a motherhood sort of person.”
After a period of silence Xenofos stretches his neck, shakes his head, dons his cloak and heads out of the yurt. His saddle, shield, helmet and spears are left behind so he was probably not going far.