Xenofos — Pity To Wake Her Up
Morning after catching up with Berra and Toras [[[s02:session-27|Session 27]]]
Berra fell asleep against her bison and Xenofos woke her up gently.
After Berra rolls to her feet Xenofos turns away. He takes a few quick steps and catches the tether rope of Followed.
“Here, would you like to try again?” he mutters.
Berra chuckles, low. “That’s good of you,” she says, “But maybe I should find something to climb up on.” Although she is obviously tired, she is in good humour and gives Xenofos a brilliant, wide, happy smile.
Xenofos looks around. There seems to be dearth of suitably big rocks. “Maybe that stone way over there or I can give you a hand.”
“No, I’m fine really,” she says. “Now I’m up, and she is, I can’t get so comfortable. It’s pretty easy to get onto a bison, really.” She has not taken the rope yet.
“I guess she would need harness first anyway.” He shrugs. His zebra is saddled and has his kit already packed.
“I have so much mud on her. I’m going to walk her for a bit anyhow, I think.” Berra looks at the impressively filthy bison in awe. “And we worked for ages last night, too. I think I need a river.”
Xenofos supresses a slight shudder. “For me rivers have lost some of their appeal…”
Berra perks up a bit more. “They’re…” then she remembers herself, and shrugs it off. “A river we’ve checked carefully?”
“Maybe…” he offers the rope ” Are you going to lead her or just let her wander. She needs to carry your saddle in any case?”
Berra takes the rope, picking up the slack from below the hand that offers it. “Lead her. Or tie her to something. It depends if Bill… if Vengeance is good-tempered about it. Calamity, maybe. Help me saddle up?”
“Sure. ” Xenofos does not seem to lift the saddle as easily as Berra, but with has less trouble actually reaching the back of the bison.
Berra guides it a little, on tiptoe, and then starts connecting the straps and harness and bags and bridle and all the complicated bits. She yawns a couple of times, but then she seems to have woken up entirely.
“I don’t think I have seen you this exhausted but rarely?” scholar notes.
“I was awake all last night too. I mean, the night before.” Berra looks confused. “And then I didn’t sleep until you… well, probably a bit after you did, to be honest. But there was already drying mud yesterday and you should look after your animals.” She is partway between far too alert, and a little bit exhausted. “If we have a slow day today, I might sleep on the back of Followed. Not as big as Billy, but she’ll do.”
He nods. “Try not fall off your mount. I have tried. Not to be recommended.”
“Before Varanis joined us, I was the one who came off most. I’ve used the power of my god to make in-combat dismounts, too. Good when you need to come off at speed.” Berra looks at the bridle, and then starts distributing things to make a little nest along the back of her mount. “Breakfast. I should eat. I forgot that. That’ll help. And water.”
He shakes his head. “Army marches on it’s stomach. You should know better than ignore food and drink…”
“I didn’t. I forgot about it. Which is interesting because normally I don’t. I should remember that can happen.” She immediately digs into one of the pouches she is wearing and pulls out a handful of nuts. “Only been with me since Sartar…”
“Sartar – just two seasons ago, but feels like it was ages ago.”
“Long enough these have gone sof…. oh my. I wonder what else got wet.” Berra winces.
He looks with sympathy. “Everything I owned got soaked before Paps, bar the writing materials and cithara…”
“I didn’t get tumbled, but I do need to check the bags that got muddy. I can do that while we ride, though.” Berra gives him much the same sympathetic look back.
He nods. “Stay alert though. That Sword on sable was behaving suspiciously.”
“I… yes. He wants Truth from me. He’s seeing a tiny initiate with iron. I think he’d have called himself insulted enough to attack.”
He raises an eyebrow “Insulted?”
“By Turas.” Berra’s northern Sartarite accent makes a possibly enchanting mess of the name. “Calling down the fury of Urox on him.”
Scribe looks at Rhino rider and then Berra wit mute question.
Berra looks over at Toras. “Did you not catch that last night?”
“Not really… Sable was unhappy with a Rhinorider – that much Rajar explained.”
“Riiiight. Well first of all he was unhappy with not having iron. And there I was and he noticed me in the Temple.”
“I see. And then what?”
“Well, he couldn’t challenge me over it, but he could provoke me.” Berra glares at the strap she is suddenly pulling overly hard.
Xenofos listens and nods with a thoughtful look.
“He used magic on me in the Temple. Said he thought I might be Eurmali. Called me a duck-sucker. So then I asked him if he cared to walk outside.” Berra just got really efficient with the straps. Followed complains only as much as she normally does.
“So you challenged him?” scribe asks.
“No. Pretty important. I asked him if he cared to walk outside. When he did, I left him there and told him I was going to worship Humakt.”
“It is good you could extricate yourself unharmed” Xenofos says. He pauses for a moment and looks decidedly unhappy. “I suppose that was not a lie – technically speaking.”1 X passed both love Berra and Truth
“It wasn’t, no.” Berra takes a slow breath. “But the sword was what he wanted – he said I was too small to have it. And he can’t have that. So if I ever see him without it, I can have a go.”
“But you said he could not challenge you for it? So why did you feel need to call him out with words of deceit and not just ignore him.”
“Because he called me a duck-sucker, and I wanted to shame him. I wanted everyone to know what he had tried.” Her voice is cold and dark for a moment.
He looks unhappy but does not continue that topic.
“But anyhow. As I went in I heard Toras talking to him. Loud voice. Slow.” For once she gets the rhino rider’s name right. “And when I came out again they must both have been waiting. Xarnis was under a pile of people who were trying to hold him down.”
He raises an eyebrow. “Urox’ fury?”
“Yeah. So after that, I had one more thing to do, and then we left.” Berra grins. “And Tiny and Followed went further over rough ground than I’ve ever been on a bison in a day, I think.”
“I see” he nods. “Well he and his band seemed to ride eastward. But by sound of that I do wonder…”
“So I think he’d call what Turas did an insult. But we’re together now. I counted five when they got close enough, but we were not really stopping to count, and they didn’t get all that close – we tired them before they reached us, and that was before you reached them. They’d slowed down, although they were still giving chase. We saw you meet from the top of a hill but they would have been watching us too at that point, so we got off it.”
“Yes, five. So they would be outnumbered. For time being.” he notes tugging at his beard.
“I know. It’ll be trouble. But we’ll stick together, and Varanis knows we need her to look after us, for once, so we’ll mostly manage to be a group, and it’s only a few weeks until Sartar.”
Xenofos looks at the open plains like he is trying to see where the sables ride failing to notice Berra’s reactions. “I think Sartar is the place for Varanis…” 2 Xenofos failed insight human
“It is. And with libraries.” Berra looks critically at her harnessing work. “Right. That’s stable. I’m going to ride and eat and check things. Thanks for the lift-up with the saddle.” Xenofos gets the same scowl the harness got, fading to a fond grin.
“My pleasure, short cousin”
“Maaaaybe not now?” Berra suggests. “Not with someone who called me tiny having also called me a deceiver and said I screw ducks.” Her stare is a little too flat for a little too long.
“My apologies Berra.” He returns the look without looking away. “I did not mean to remind of that, cousin.”
“Not a problem. Let’s go.” Berra gets up onto Followed with a step, a leap up the side, and a pretty much perfect pause with her body horizontal and supported on one arm, before she drops into place. Acrobats would say she should have been juggling, but normal human beings would say that is impossible in armour.3 Passed DEX, Critical STR. Berra is happy! Xenofos did not fumble or crit Truth – so he does not comment on deceiver
Xenofos mounts his zebra routinely, without flashy showmanship.