Xenofos — In Argraths Camp 3
Morning after the prisoner was murdered and after Xenofos refused to talk with Berra [[[s02:session-47|Session 47]]]
Xenofos looks quietly as Sorala walks away.
Varanis is in her armour, her helmet tucked under her arm. Her face is still flushed from the morning’s exertions. “Well, pick a direction, Xeno.”
Feathers sway as Xenofos nods again. He looks direction Sorala went (- and Berra vanished) and turns towards opposite direction.
His cousin walks beside him, easily matching his pace. She patiently waits for him to find the words he needs to speak.
“I made a hasty call yesterday, Varanis.” Scholar says. “I saw targets and called a charge without considering other options or consequences.”
“You did, yes.” While her tone gives little away, Xenofos has the sense that her neutrality is deliberate, even careful.
“Three men who might otherwise live are dead because of that decision” he continues.
Varanis listens, but doesn’t say anything.
“I killed one with my own hands.” He looks at her sideways “I had almost forgotten how bad that feels. But that memory returned quite vividly when I got back my javelin.”
His cousin studies him. “I… haven’t thought about that in a while,” she admits at last.
“Me neither.” He shrugs ” But it has been seasons, no years, since the last time so I almost forgot.”
He looks at her “But it all came back in an instant. I… I panicked Varanis. I did not have the courage to face him. Garfarn. So I tried to run away with wine.”
She nods. “I need you not to do that again,” she tells him gently. “At least not when it’s not safe to do so.”
“I know I should not have. I did not succeed. Garfarn and others kept me company last night despite my best attempts at knocking myself senseless.” He frowns “Joined by my… your deceased prisoner.”
At mention of the prisoner, Varanis’ expression darkens. “I wish to fuck Venna wasn’t right about that.”
“Venna’s thug made a liar out of me.” He takes off his helmet ” Milady, I made a statement yesterday about his ransom that Venna threw as a beggars alm to pay for broken word. I have thought of that. Decision is no longer mine after I gave him to your custody. “
“I know know you gave your word. Truly, if I had known he was Chaos-tainted, I’d never have brought him here. Not into a camp full of Storm Bulls. I found myself wondering why he didn’t speak up. He knew we had at least one – he injured him! And we didn’t hide our intentions to rejoin Argrath. He could have said something.”
He looks at Varanis “Decision is not mine, milady, so I ask you to do the just thing and pay his lifeprice as restitution.” Xenofos hands over the purse Venna threw over previous day.
Varanis accepts the purse. “I will meditate on this.”
“It is your decision milady. I hope you will do as is just and not make a liar of me again.”
Varanis winces. “That is manipulative, Xeno,” she chides. “You cannot tell me the decision is mine and in the same breath try to shame me into doing as you wish.”
“I recognize that by law and custom you have the sole authority to decide on that… Except the man is dead… You. We did not hold up our end of contract.” Xenofos’ voice is breaking up and his formal politeness is flaking.
“I will meditate on it, Xeno. I believe that you are right, but I am responsible for 200 lives and the Storm Khan says that no promises can be made to Chaos. I must ask Orlanth. I have to know I’m making the right decision.” She reaches for his shoulder. “None of this is easy. I’m sorry.”
He combs his curly hair with his fingers”Excuses and convenience? Maybe I should have just taken the prisoners back to their clan like I was pondering during the late hours of the night. But leaving the camp would have required lying, I could not have guaranteed their safety if Praxians would have offered pursuit. And I had turned them over to you yesterday.”
“You are suggesting that I am making up excuses?” And just like that, Varanis’ calm vanishes. Her fury is so tangible that it leaves a metallic taste in his mouth. Although the rage is directed at him, Xenofos knows her well enough to know that this storm is an echo of yesterday’s.
“I promised you my sword and counsel. This is so close to me that my advise may be tainted. ” He stares back at her “but talking what price of honour in coin could be used or needed for? What is that?”
“I need to think. Go back to camp. Get yourself cleaned up. You smell of wine and I am angry and likely to say something unforgivable right now.”
He nods. “I could not speak with Berra for same reason. Although I was more angry with myself.”
She nods and strides away.