Xenofos — Daughter Of Eiritha
????, Dark Season, Season/Movement Week
Dark Season/Movement Week/Clay Day/Night and morning. [[[s02:session-21|Session 21]]]
Can be spoilery if one does not want to know what happens between Xenofos and Neela
After a while Xenofos arrives to the yurt of the khan. He is not brooding, but he is pretty quiet, nursing a single bowl of kumiss. He is still wearing armour over his woollen tunic. A napkin is wrapped over his left hand.
The kumiss flows freely around him. People are telling stories and singing songs. Varanis is there. She’s her usual sparkling self, taking her turn to sing and joining in with some of the other songs.
If Xenofos catches her eyes he will toast her from his seat. If not he just remains seated in his place close the door for a polite while.
She returns his toast, the earlier anger having vanished. As the night grows long, he recognises the signs that she’s had a bit too much kumiss. The laughter is just a little too loud. The smile just a little too bright. Finally, she rises in place. Waving one of her suitors back to his seat, Varanis picks her way through the warriors and heads for the door of the yurt. As she nears Xenofos, she pauses, resting her hand lightly on his shoulder.
He puts his hand lightly over hers and squeezes he fingers gently.
“I’ll be back shortly. At some point, perhaps tomorrow, will you tell me about it? About your walk?” Her voice is pitched low, just loud enough for him to hear.
He looks at her. There is a pause before he nods and answers. “Nothing much to tell, Varanis.”
She nods. “Fair enough.”
Time passes. More songs are sung. There’s a growing sense of expectation in the yurt. Varanis doesn’t return. Xenofos stands up, nods towards the khan and leaves quietly.
As Xenofos steps out of the yurt, the sound of the women’s singing, which has been a steady counterpoint to the stories and songs from the men’s yurt, reaches a crescendo. It’s as though the song is a signal for the waiting men. They begin to pour through the door behind the scholar, sweeping him up with them.
He tries to walk to the side of the current of happy and tipsy bison warriors. To no avail.
Within moments, the space between the yurts is full of people. The women, still singing, dance in the starlight. Their feet stomp against the hard packed snow, the rhythm becoming like a pulse. Within moments, wives and their husbands find each other and disappear into the darkness of their own yurts, leaving the unmarried women to seek out partners from amongst the others. They dance while the men watch intently, waiting.
That is a quaint scene between him and the shared yurt…1Failed Scan
She is almost directly in front of him before he realises it’s her. Neela, hair unbound, grey eyes outlined in kohl, a sway in her hips.
He observes her, silently, and nods if she makes eye contact.
Oh, she’s making eye contact. She steps through the dance, feet moving with confidence as she closes the distance. Xenofos looks at her, mesmerized.2Passed fertlity, did not try to oppose it with anything… She holds her hand out towards him. Her pupils are huge and her smile is Eiritha’s.
He reaches out his left hand and when their hands touch, asks quietly “Are you sure?”
“Give me this night, X’fos,” she replies. “Just this.”3For the record, I rolled on fertility for her and got 003.
He nods and follows.
Neela takes him to the yurt she shares with old Majaro Black Lance. Inside, it’s very dark; the fire is banked low. By the sounds of it, they are not alone nor is Majaro all that old old after all, but somehow it doesn’t matter when she leads him to her sleeping furs. For a second time, she strips for Xenofos and while it is too dark to see more than the shape of her, his memory of her standing in the snow is crystal clear. She steps into his arms and kisses him.
Xenofos returns the kiss, shedding armour and clothing. After they fall to the furs his hands travel slowly under the furs, exploring the round contours, confirming what eyes saw earlier.
She does not let him go until Yelm’s light breaks over the horizon. With a sleepy smile and satisfaction gleaming in her eyes, she offers him food to break his fast. Orgfal is delighted to see him. For his part, Black Lance looks like he might object, but he is quelled by a look from his niece and then distracted by the waking of the woman in his own furs. Where the night felt sacred, this… this is domestic. Comfortable. Real.
Fragile. Fleeting moment. But real. Here. Now.
When he has eaten his fill, she sends him away. “Goodbye, X’fos.” The words sound final and as the door to the yurt closes behind him, he has the sense that it is the door to one set of possibilities, now forever closed.
“Ernalda’s blessing with you and yours,” he says softly. He turns and walks to the training ground.