Guardduty

Xenofos — Guardduty

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


Context

Dark Season/Movement Week/Clay Day/Early night. For Berra this continues from [[[Xenofos:Idiot pagan city dwelling soft folk with no sense]]] and takes place in same time as Daughter of Eiritha [[[s02:session-21|Session 21]]]

Events

Night. Clayday. A warrior the size of a child patrols in the darkness, alone.1Berra passes scan. Varanis passes CON, barely. From the general direction of this week’s privy trench, a heavily bundled figure approaches. She’s swaying slightly, but yes… it does look like Varanis.

Berra, relaxing only a little in the lee of a tent on the clear, cold night, lifts a mittened hand in greeting. “Hail,” she says formally, and then shrugs a little to get her furred face wrap down out of the way. “Heya.” Informal too.

“Hi, Berra. S’cold out here. You need anything?” The Vingan sounds cheerful, which is a rather dramatic change from earlier, when she rode back to camp in scowling silence.

“Not really. This is what I’m good at. You?” Berra is standing easily, her hands around her weapons, all toasty-warm.

“Air,” she replies. “I needed air. And maybe a bit of water. I’ll get that after.” She yawns widely, covering her mouth with a mittened hand. “Maybe sleep too.” She grins at the little Humakti, like something is funny, though nothing she’s said seems particularly amusing. Then, apropos of nothing, she adds, “I didn’t yell at him.”

“He… he needs to be free too,” Berra says carefully. “I just told him to make sure people knew where he was going. And to take more weapons.”

“I wanted to yell. I don’t like it when he scares me like that.” She frowns now, focusing intently on Berra’s face. “Tha’s why you and he get mad at me sometimes, right.”2Insight? Berra fumbles. Insight: It’s all an act. The drunkenness, the admission of understanding… she’s hiding something.

Berra says softly, “Think how often I shout. At you, I mean. I know I do shout a lot.”3Varanis passes insight, in spite of her drunken state. Insight: Berra is looking to guide Varanis, but where to is impossible to read.

“You don’t hafta shout for me to know when you’re angry or disappointed,” Varanis replies equally softly.

“I think you sometimes fill out what you should be, but sometimes you get hurt by it, and I don’t know how that can be changed.” Berra shrugs. “But I don’t really know how to be anyone else.”

“That doesn’t make sense, Berra. What does you not knowing how to be someone else hafta to wi’ me not being enough?” She’s definitely slurring just a bit. Clearly pretending to be drunk. Or… pretending to be sober. 4 Right, failed Air. Why do I fail that when it’s a comfortable 77? Berra laughs mockingly.

“It means I don’t know what to do to make the path for you.” Berra looks off into the darkness outside the camp.

Varanis shrugs. “I should be able to make my own path. Otherwise, I’m just shit anyway.”

“Well, other than that, sure. But you don’t have to kick it open barefoot. You just have to keep trying. Any good songs tonight?” Berra turns her gaze back to Varanis with the quirky little head tilt she uses to look up at a taller person.

There’s a pause, and for a moment, it looks like Varanis isn’t going to accept the subject change, and then just like that, she does. “Yes. Someone wrote a song about the scorpion-things. Rajar is the hero, of course. He battles them with his mighty…” Her brow furrows as she considers. “I think there was some sort of joke in it, but it might have been lost in translation.” The words are carefully enunciated. “There’s was laughing at times that didn’t seem right.”

“Right. Scorpion ladies maybe? Cracks in the armour?” Berra pauses a moment, then snorts laughter, thinking about it.

“Why’d he go?” Varanis asks.

“Go what? Oh, him, not Rajar. Why do we go? We need to be alone. He needed to. We don’t have to ask. We just make sure we look after each other.” Still the upward look.

“Was easier when I had fewer people to worry about.”

“That part… you need… no, that’s not true. It’s easier for me. I can be a commander. I don’t like to be, and probably for the same reason, but when I am, I’m not a chief. I’m a war chief. That’s different, I think. It’s why you’ll need one in the end. I mean, me. I am. Sort of. I ran out of how to say that before I ran out of words.”

Varanis stares at Berra as the younger woman speaks, a look of intense concentration on her face. “You said a lot of words, but… they don’t make sense.” She frowns. “Is it because you’re tired or because I drank too much kumiss?”

“I know. Let me try that again. I really wasn’t making sense, although you are drunk. A chief has it harder, because they have to care for their people whether there’s a war on or not. I just have to be satisfied I’ve done my best to be a sword for my people, but for you, you have to be a shield and a cloak as well. You have to care more.”

“It was easier when it was jus’ me and Marta. Well… and my tenants. I have tenants, Berra. In Sartar too now. An’ I don’t know how they are doing. I don’t know if they have enough food or if their roofs are good enough. What if their children are cold?” She looks very worried when she thinks about the children.

“What if they’re not. What if they’re from Sartar and tough? What if you didn’t worry about things you can’t change?” Berra takes a moment to face Varanis more squarely.

The Vingan’s gaze has become unfocused. “I miss Serala. Don’t know if she’s alive or dead. Or if she still loves me. Maybe she’s found someone else. S’been a long time. I wouldn’t blame her.”

“Mhm. Can you change that?” There is no mercy in Berra’s question, althogh she does not sound sharp. She just asks it, where other people would not.

“No.” There’s deep sadness in the single syllable. As Varanis refocuses on Berra’s face, her eyes glitter in the dim light.

Berra looks out into the darkness. “Then what can you change? Mourn and move on. We have work ahead as well as a road behind.”

Berra looks like she is concentrating on what she is saying, and on feeling it. Determination settles not onto her, but into her – the profile of her shoulders has it more than the expression she shows.

Varanis flinches, then takes a steadying breath. Softly, she asks, “If I learn separation, will it make it stop?”

“If you do, it stops all at once. What you have to learn, I think, is to be merry despite the pain. Because there’s what’s good. To learn that you can… you can miss a thing and that’s only a part of you, not all of you. But I don’t think that you could ever put it aside. Your heart’s bigger than mine.”

From the yurts where the women have been singing off and on for hours, their combined voices lift into a crescendo of power that the two women standing outside can feel in their very bones. Varanis’ eyes go wide at the sound of it.

Berra, looking away, hardly reacts.5 B: OK, another Insight… V: Hahahahaha 99. I literally cackled when I looked at my dice. Insight: Berra is satisfied, suddenly, to be looking away from that happiness and fertility and power and wildness. Happy alone.

The song must be some kind of signal, because 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. It is the women who choose and one by one, people slip away, until Varanis and Berra are alone again. In the midst of it all, Berra caught a glimpse of Xenofos and Neela, hand in hand.

Berra watches for invaders, and those who do not belong. She gives a few brief glances at the babble and dance and the crowds, but only to check on it. Her expression is that of a warrior being sure everyone is safe.

“I… think I will go to bed,” Varanis says at last.

“Have water first,” Berra says. It’s a form of friendliness.6B fails Insight and rolls on Love (feathery hero) and Fumbles. Yep. Absolutely OK! Insight: Varanis is tired and drunk. Obviously. Other than that, you can’t really tell. She’s like a closed book, our Varanis is.

“Good night, Berra,” Varanis says. She starts to turn away then stops and faces her friend again.7She looks like she might hug you. I’ll give you the chance to dodge. B: Nope. Failed my elbow-in-the-way roll.

Berra gives Varanis a brief, inquisitive glance. She gets pulled into a tight hug, despite her armour. Varanis rests her chin on top of Berra’s head. “I love you, you know. Even though it hurts sometimes and will one day hurt more. You’re a better friend than I deserve.”

Berra gives in to the inevitable. “It’s because you’re worth being with,” she says. “But I shouldn’t say any more. I need to keep a clear head. But you’re a good friend.” She has her leather helmet on, and padding under it, and she is still short enough to be rested on.

At last, Varanis lets her go. “I’ll see you in the morning,” she says in parting. She only goes a few steps towards their shared yurt before she stops, mutters a curse just loudly enough for Berra to hear, then turns in the direction of the privy trench instead.

“Hold your hair back when you puke,” says Humakt, or at least his closest link to Glorantha in the nearby area.

It’s hard to say, given she’s wearing mittens, but that might have been a rude gesture. Varanis disappears alone into the darkness.