Xenofos — Obstinate Hearts
????, Sea Season, Season/Movement Week
Sea Season/Movement Week/Windsday/noonish. [[[s02:session-38|Session 38]]]
Yelm is pretty high as Xenofos walks into the inn. As he looks into the common room, his face looks as if he may have had a rough night.
Berra pauses in the middle of taking a drink, puts her hand up in the air, wiggles it for attention, and then poins to Xenofos. Then, with that dealt with, hand still up, she swallows the beer and puts her cup down.
Xenofos walks through the common room, passes the bar and goes directly to private rooms.
“Oy!” Berra calls after Xenofos.
He looks back, nods to Berra and continues forward.
Berra stands up, walking after him towards the stairs. “Need a word with you,” she says. “Two words. Now good?”
“Later. I need to check on Varanis”
“She’s at Temple. Set off this morning. She was well enough to talk. Walk. That. I said the wrong word.” Berra does not step back yet.
Xenofos stops on his tracks and turns around. “She was? Good. I was worried sick.” There is fragrance of incense and maybe perfume surrounding him.
“Mellia was a bit annoyed, but only this morning when her patient had gone.” Berra looks towards the innkeeper, and asks, “Wine?”
He grimaces slightly, but nods.
“You can have beer. Or whatever. But I’m gonna say maybe don’t choose anything that stains if I hit the table too hard.” Berra nods to the man who serves, and says, “Snack for me too. No vegetables.” She goes over to her table, with the usual fluidity she has in motion.
“Still angry?” He shrugs and asks for cup of white wine and pitcher of water following her and sitting down resting his shoulders against the wall.
“Yeah, although the first reason’s one I’ve told you about before. You try to treat me like a woman to be protected.” Berra does not pick up her beer immediately, but folds her arms, leaning forward on the table.
“That can and does happen from time to time, yes.” His eyes are half closed.
“That dragonewt. I was so fucking close to just stabbing your horse. I’ve told you please stop before. It’s getting on my wick now. Really badly.” Berra looks down at the table, notices that their host has put food down, and glares at the little fried dough snacks. Burned honey glaze and sesame seeds are not tempting her right now.
“I was scared by the thing Berra. I don’t know if you understand fear, except by getting angry. But I could not stay still.” He takes a sip. “At least I managed to not start an unnecessary fight, which is not much.”
“Then stay behind me,” Berra says, after a brief moment. “It’s what I’m there for.” She reaches out a hand for the flattened dough balls, remembers her manners, and draws a knife to stab just one of them.
“I’ll try” he shrugs “But I will not make promises I don’t think I’m able to fulfill.”
Her voice dark, almost derisive, Berra says, “Yeah.” She subsides for long enough to chew a bit, take another of the snacks, and sip her beer. She is obviously not finished.
Xenofos sips the wine slowly, looking at Berra’s profile silently.
“We’re in Sartar now,” she says after a bit, and wipes her knife carefully, putting it down so she cannot easily grab it. “And I think that’s given me the time to think. You’re wrong about how to be Humakti, and you’re telling me how to be.”
“Telling you? What do you refer to?” Xenofos asks.
“About Ikadz. What … why don’t you think I understand what Humakt’s cults can do?” Berra is obviously keeping a lid on movement, concentrating on staying still. She looks at the shadow Xenofos casts on the table, and not at him.
“Ah that. It is not all about you, Berra. I was not really talking to you, I was talking to my liegelady, whom I own councel, to a woman who, I think, saved my life and to two men who have saved the life of my liegelady. But since it involves you, I did not wish to speak behind your back.”
A little twitch, then she relaxes back onto her stool, looking suddenly calm. “But… there was a lot about Humakt there. And about what I’d be getting into. Speaking past me while you’re saying I’m ignorant isn’t good either.”
He shrugs. “Ikadz is evil, maybe chaotic. Dealing with him tarnishes both the offer and the torturer. If others have given their word, it was too late to tell them, but at the very they should know what they are getting into…”
“You really have no idea about HeroQuests, do you?” Berra’s look is pitying.
“I have been to Hell and back. I have an idea, but unlike you I do not pretend to know the whole truth, but realize that what a man can know is imperfect.” scribe says quietly.
“Do I tell you how to be Lhankor Mhy?” Berra picks up her knife and sheathes it, a little too hard.
“You try to tell me how to be a liegeman.” Xenofos looks at Berra steadily. “And when telling me to not tell the Truth you are trying to tell me how to be Lhankor Mhy.”
Berra gives him a direct look, finally. “You’re saying I don’t know how to do this. That me being a Humakti isn’t enough. And that’s not even what’s pissed me off most, although it’s rapidly getting to that point.”
“I believe that what you are planning may work. I do not believe it is good for you, but that is immaterial, since that is your decision to make. I do not believe it is good for Sartar.” He shrugs “That means less to me than to you, but it means quite a lot to Varanis.”
“You said my High Sword deserved what happened, for what he did.” Now she looks determined. This is not necessarily a good thing.
“Yes. I believe that to be the case. He had a worthy cause, but he did things no warrior, no man of honor should do.” Xenofos nods.
Her expression does not change. “I’m gonna do the same thing. Am I going to deserve it too?”
“Hide Truth in Lhankor Mhys house after swearing to preserve it? Become executioner? Bind the executed people to afterlife as ghosts?” He looks at her sadly.
“Go on. Tell me the knife cuts are just for him.” Determined.
“You did not answer if you are really going to follow him? Are you trying to deflect the Truth like he did?” scholar points out.
“I don’t know yet. I’ll know when I get there. But I’ll still be Humakt, at the end.” Berra keeps on looking straight at him. “So the happier you are because of the more pain he’s in, the more I’m in pain.”
“You misjudge me, Berra.” Xenofos says “I think he deserved it. But that does not give me any joy. I feel sorry for his agony and shame.”
“Not shame. He decided.” Berra looks away. “Sorry. Yeah. But it’s…” She looks back at him, leans sideways to get out of the way of a duck bustling past without care for the tray he is holding, and goes on. “It’s not for you to judge. I’ll be telling him, anyhow.”
“Making a decision does not absolve one of shame. Even paying the price with pain and self sacrifice does not do it.” He looks at the far wall. “True warriors do not deal with Ikadz, so I was taught. There is pain on the battlefield, even cruelty and of course Death. But Ikadz is to be left to slaves who are tortured or administer torture and mentioned only in curses.”
“Yeah. That’s back to you thinking I don’t know what Humakt can do. It’s not a deal. It’s the worst thing that can happen to us. And we volunteer. That’s why it works.” She looks down, takes a sip of beer. Calm.
He looks to the vortex in his cup. “You speak of this as if this was a common myth, full of conviction…. Tell me honestly, have you even heard of this having been done ever before?”
“Yeah, but not for a long time.” Berra narrows her eyes. “Maybe not why it works. Why it works for us. Why it isn’t a thing that destroys us. Me. It ain’t gonna kill me, but it will tear a lot of weakness out.”
“A lot of humanity you mean.” he nods “But that is your decision like it was Eril’s. And you are free to make use of evil if it suits your purposes. Fight the Lunars, any means fair or foul.”
“You’re still saying it wrong. It’s not evil to do it this way.” Berra shifts her weight back, like she wants to get up.
Scholar shakes his head. “I am sure you believe that, and that pains me.”
“Yeah, well. I’ve decided I should probably ignore a lot of what you’re saying.” She does stand, although for a moment her weight is on the table, as she leans on her hands. “Because you think you’re not trying to stop me, but you’re talking a hell of a lot about what I shouldn’t do.”
He shrugs “I was pretty confident you would not change your mind, once you have made it, even though it would be better for everyone if you did. And there I seem to have been right. I was pretty certain you would not like it but in my opinion it had to be said, for reasons I have said before… I don’t think I misjudged your reaction there either…” He fills his cup with water and lets it twirl again. “As for helping you… I will still need some answers before deciding.”
Berra just about managed to not to walk away, but then she nods. “Yeah. We’re short on time, too. Got a couple of weddings to get to.” The muscles of her back are taut, her fingertips white even with her hands flat on the table.
“Planning to do this before or after the weddings?”
Berra is looking down now, like she is played out. “Probably between. One in Esrolia, one in Sartar. I need to ask my Lord about the exact dates, but there are a couple that are good. We’re getting up to a year after we ‘Quested.”
“I will need priestesses do some divination for me.” He looks at far wall. “Mere logic fails me in a major question.”
“I got a few things I got to settle too.” Berra stands with an apparent effort, but she walks out with no trace of it, as if getting to the next thing to do is easy. She heads for the front door, remembers a thing, and detours back to her pack to grab her helmet.
As Berra grabs the helmet, Yamia comes down the stairs, pausing at the bottom. She looks ready to go out, in her armour and a cloak against the sea season rain. Those present get a nod – except for Felgia, her brother’s thrall – and then she walks to the door briskly, arriving just as Berra does. Berra makes stepping around Yamia look easy. Yamia looks clumsy, and slow, and then nods to Berra to open the door. They go out together.