Xenofos — Riding Point
????, Sea Season
Late Sea Season, on the road between the Lunar villa and Boldhome [[[s02:session-39|Session 39]]]
Xenofos joins Varanis at the van soon after the group starts it journey.
She gives him a smile of welcome.
He nods in return, looking a bit stunned.
“You alright, Xeno?” Varanis asks after a few minutes of silence. “You look like…” she trails off, shaking her head. “What’s up?”
“She seems like a dream now…” he answers.
Varanis doesn’t need to ask who. “I… she…” She stumbles for the words, finally saying, “you too?”
“What? Did you? Oh…” Xenofos blushes and looks around.
Varanis gives him a lopsided grin. “She is very beautiful. And I wanted to please her far too much.”
“Davorala.” name comes out like a caress. “Beautiful like a dream, yes. She came when Irillo called out for a fox… Do you think?”
“Yes. I do. And I dreamt too.” Now Varanis is the one to blush, even as her grin grows broader.
“A fox? How extraordinary. That could explain it. I would have thought her a noble sartarite by her looks and attire.” scribe looks ahead at the gently rolling hills.
“So did I, at first. But living there?” Varanis shakes her head. “No. That is no longer the home of a noblewoman.”
“If it ever was hers? That was a Lunar villa by looks of it.” he notes.
“Exactly. I wonder where she is now. What she’s doing…” Varanis’ attention drifts and Fish’s ears flick back in annoyance.
“I wonder how Irillo will try to find the lost girls. It has been quite a long time.” he muses.
She shrugs. “He has his ways, I’m sure. There’s a reason Grandmother is keen to encourage his trading.”
He nods. “I hope you are right. He did give his word, so that is a grave matter.”
“Davorala…” Varanis searches the woods on either side of the path, a hopeful look in her eyes. “I suppose we won’t see her again.”
“I don’t know if I wish to see her or not” Xenofos notes wistfully.
“I felt… I felt like overwhelmed by my own lust.” He shakes his head.”Wanted to throw myself to that stream, but it would not really be love…”
“Doesn’t have to be love to be fun, Xeno.”
“Wine is good. But wish to drown your sorrows or yourself into it less so, Ranie. A bit same with lust. I am not saying it is bad. No.” he replies. “But letting it run over your senses to forget…”
“Sometimes, Xeno, forgetting for a while is what you need to be able to keep moving forward. But you know this already.” She flushes then. “But… Serala. It’s just as well that Davorala didn’t linger, I suppose.”
He shrugs. “I think I know what you mean… You talked with Berra, she was carrying some sorrow?”
Varanis nods. “But not for me to tell, cousin. Still. If you were wounded as Danaril is…” She shakes her head. “Her sorrow and anger is understandable.”
He looks a bit confused. “But we had not even met him at Duckpoint?”
Now Varanis looks confused. “Are you talking about something else? Oh. Yehna’s husband. He belongs to Ty Kora Tek now.”
He looks forward. “I did not know that.. I just saw she was sad about something”
“It’ll be hard on Haran to lack a father. Sartarites seem to value fathers a great deal. And Berra and Yehna don’t have a brother to guide the boy.” She sighs. “The village needs help. I’ve asked Irillo to send some supplies their direction. According to Mellia, the harvest was poor.”
He nods. “Weird country. But uncles and fathers are important for a boy. Never saw her husband, but I liked Yehna.”
Varanis nods. “She seems competent and kind.”
“Like her sister… ” Xenofos notes. “but not as spiky.”
This earns Xenofos a grin. “Indeed. Our Berra is a prickly sort, isn’t she?”
His sigh is deep. “Caring, everchanging, unbudging, prickly…”
She arches an eyebrow. “Have you come up against her in something again?”
He shrugs. “We talked at Duckpoint. But I don’t think either of us changed the point of view of the other… Well, she did made me think if I am keeping my word to her.”
If anything, the eyebrow shoots up even higher, but Varanis doesn’t press for details.
“I promised once in Nochet to not try and bind her with words…. I meant, bind to me. She was saying I am saying too much what she should or should not do…”
He looks forward. “I have not broken a single promise I have made since becoming a man.”
“You do seem rather determined to protect her from herself, Xeno. I can see it chafing her.”
He looks at her. “Like I said to her, I do not expect her to turn away from that quest no matter what I say.”
“But you keep pushing anyway?” Fish sidles closer to Xenofos’ mount, his ears twitching irritably.
“I had to tell you and the others what you are getting into. Since you promised to help,it is too late to change anything, but I swore to give you counsel.”he looks forward. “They are giving evil god something it wants, in order to gain benefit… That is a sacrifice, by very definition. And make no mistake, Ikadz is evil. Polluted. Without honour.”
“I hear what you are saying, but I’m also honour-bound to aid her. All I can hope to do is combat the evil that emerges, should you prove right.” She nudges Fish with her knee, trying to steer him away from Xenofos.
“I know you gave your word.” he shrugs.
The beast’s head snakes around and he nips at Varanis’ leg. “Ouch!” She punches him hard enough to get his attention. “No! Bad horse. Ow.”
“She says they have done this before… So I believe it will most likely work. Though Eril having regained some of his humane feelings makes me wonder what kind of spirit is left. It is also – in my opinion – inherently evil, something that will lower us to level of the Lunars. Making pacts with evil to vanquish our enemies.” He spits out passionately.
He turns to look at Varanis. “If I thought I could stop it I should. Since I can’t, I must find out if I should help. And I may be drawn in whatever I decide.” He sounds resigned now.
With her horse no longer trying to eat her, Varanis is able to give Xenofos her attention again. She flicks a glance behind them, where Berra walks alongside the mounted Danaril. “We need to drive the Lunars out, Xenofos. Look at him. Look at what they wrought. I don’t care if you shared wine with him and he seemed wise or some such crap. Fazzur and the other Lunar scum need to get out of Dragon Pass. And if I can forge a weapon to help Kallyr win this fight, then I have to do it.” Fervent and ferocious, Varanis has shifted from thinking about this problem academically, to being ready to do it here and now.
“Your father taught me to fight for pure causes, with pure weapons. Fight for victory with all might you can muster, but not means foul or fair… ” Xenofos looks sadly at the eastern skyline and sighs. “Maybe that was ever an illusion. Maybe there never was such thing as honourable war.”
Varanis snorts. “Honour is everything, but war is rarely honourable. It’s a contradiction for the likes of us.”
“Dishonourable weapons tarnish you…” he shrugs again. “And following your enemy to dishonour is no excuse… But I have fulfilled my vow of counsel to you on this matter. I will not try to talk you out of it anymore.”
She nods. “Your words have been heard,” she tells him gravely. “Thank you for your counsel.”
He nods formally and sags a bit in the saddle “For my part I remain torn. I will seek wisdom of Our Exalted Lady Uleria, but I doubt that will make the final decisions much easier.”
“I’m sorry I can’t give you the answer you want, Xeno.”
“You have given your word Ranie…” he says, as if that is all explanation required.
She simply nods and returns to scanning the way ahead.