Xenofos — Shards
????, Storm Season, Season/Movement Week
Storm Season/Movement Week/Clay Day to Wildday Takes place over time i short bursts [[[s02:session-29|Session 29]]]
Xenofos spent quite some time in temple of Uleria after a talk with Varanis.
His ramblings are below
“It looks like Yelm is setting… Am I late already? Where are my clothes and arms, Aranda? I need to get to the Grape to escort Varanis…”
It is near Yelm set on Clayday. Xenofos is told Berra has come to see him. He breaks down again and priestess declines to let Berra see him. To her it is obvious it would do more harm than good at this time1 Honor as feel of shame passed, love Berra failed
Aranda remains by his side almost constantly. She sleeps in his room, shares his meals, and provides him with regular physical contact. When he needs to cry, her embrace waits for him.
The first night his sleep is dreamless.
On the second night, he dreams of Uleria. She wears Aranda’s face. She envelopes him in Her love and when he awakes he feels the echoes of it.
“I love her you know. She does not love me. She is devoted to Death and has no room for love.”
Aranda pulls him close.
“Unrequited Love is a hard path, but Uleria understands this love too. She loves all, but not all love Her. It doesn’t change Her love.”
“I am happy when she is around. I… thank Uleria that she has given me that,” Xenofos rambles.
“Your love for this Humakti is a gift. Bittersweet, as such gifts are. Your love for her is a gift to the Goddess.” She cups his cheek in her hand to peer into his eyes.
“I count it as a gift… I know it will not last. It cannot last. Either she or I will die to the sword or worse. Neela predicted that. Or she said it would happen to me if I follow Varanis. As may very well happen.”
“Death comes to us all and Uleria will be there at the last if you allow Her in your heart.”
“I feel like I have walked on borrowed time for quite some time already,” he muses.
“All time is borrowed,” Aranda counters. “Our lives are gifts. The pain, the joy, the suffering, the love – these are ours to experience and then to return to the gods. Suffering makes joy, when it comes, so much sweeter. It is true, Xenofos, you could die tomorrow, by a blade, or a fall from your horse, or any number of things. But you could also live to see your grandchildren play at your feet on a warm summer’s day. If we live in fear of the first, how can we possibly enjoy the second? Love as your heart demands, and trust that you will always have Uleria’s love in return.”
“Grandchildren? Hardly. But love has been a solace, where logic has not.”
Aranda smiles gently at him.
“You can leave the Temple at any time. Visit your friends. Walk the city. I will go with you if you wish, or you may go on your own. But will you promise to return before Yelm sets for at least a few more nights?” Gentle fingers trace his features. “Sleep here and let Her help to fill you up again.”
He nods, but for some reason or another does not leave the temple for several days. Most of the time he is writing, sometimes he is sharpening his rapier – already sharp like a razor and sometimes he is lost in prayer for hours.
Each night, Uleria grants him peaceful dreams. They are soft and difficult to hold onto. He doesn’t wake in the night. He doesn’t thrash or call out anyone’s name. He simply sleeps, in the joint embrace of Uleria, and her initiate, Aranda.
When he seeks it, Aranda’s loving is generous. It is an act of giving and an act of worship. She loses herself as she surrenders to her goddess, but each time, she brings Xenofos with her. It’s more than a physical release. It is a sacrifice of self to Uleria that leaves a sense of deep peace in its wake.
“I left a woman behind in Prax… I did not court her, nor did I try to seduce her. Buts she fell in love. Quite illogical. I am afraid I brought her pain.”
“Love isn’t logical, Xenofos,” she says, long fingers brushing his hair from his face. “And if you were to ask this Praxian woman, I think she’d tell you better to have one day of love than an life of emptiness. Heartache tells us we are alive and though it doesn’t feel like it at the time, it reminds us that we will love again.”
“Neela, her name is Neela…”
“A beautiful name,” the Ulerian says. “And though she is not the one you have fallen in love with, you love her nonetheless. It is not an all encompassing love, but that doesn’t make it less real.” She peers into his face. “Tell me of her?”
“Tall stands Neela even among her kin, who are not small people. Her hair falls like flock of black horses running over the hills of her shoulders. Her gray eyes are like tranquil pools, her teeth a string of faultless pearls. She has borne a son; she is blessed by Eiritha. Lucky do I call the man whose yurt she will choose to grace.”
She listens, rapt.
“And I miss her, too” He looks at Ulerian. “Our mistress is fickle, playful and dare I say cruel at times.”
“Love has keen edges. When it draws blood, that too is a sacrifice to Her.”
“I do hope she finds happiness… And wish that my memory will not bring her pain.”
“Uleria’s Love reaches across the Plains too,” she says.
“Praised may She be, mighty Woman among Gods.” he replies.
“Her love encompasses all and excludes none,” she concludes.
At another time. “I feel much better Aranda. But I don’t know how I can face them anymore after they exposed my weakness. She prodded at it earlier, but Varanis lay it bare. The shame burns.” He sighs. “I cannot shelter on your arms forever…”
“Only you see this as weakness. Did you hear her words or were you too lost?”
“Ranie loves me like a sister, Berra pities me. I think.”
“Did you listen to Varanis’ words?” Aranda asks patiently.
“I already knew, that Berra knew. But she did not force me to say it…. Varanis? I heard what she said. And she believes it to be true, I guess. But… It is not, Aranda.”
“Xenofos. Are you saying that your cousin does not respect and admire you? Because those were words she spoke.”
Her eyes bore into his.
“No. But she is blinded by love and tries to shield me…”
“Do you think you cousin lacks intelligence?”
“She lets her feelings run over it, I love her dearly, but sometimes she is sentimental like a man.”
“And you think you, an emotional man, are unbiased in your assessment of yourself?” She is as patient as the earth.
“I… I am not unbiased. But I see what is behind the facade, what ramshackle supports keep up the ripped and painted canvas that is supposed to be a sturdy fortress.” He started the discussion almost calmly, only a tad worried. Now he is on brink of meltdown. “She only sees the front, and occasional rip. I know how thin it all is.”
Aranda pulls him close to her, wrapping her arms around him as she did before. “You are safe.” Her voice fills his ear. “It is ok to shatter. Your foundations are solid. Let the goddess tear down what is broken, so you can rebuild yourself. There is a lot of detritus that needs to be cleared away.”
“I am so tired of holding up the appearance… So very tired. And afraid.”
“There are no appearances to hold up here, Xenofos. You cannot hide from the goddess anyway,” she tells him in her soft voice. “Give Her your pain that She might set you free.”
“Who am I, if I let go. I have seen men, comrades in arms, do it, and not rise again.”
“You have deep inner strength. The goddess will catch you. And then together we will support you as you build yourself up again. You will not be a shell.”
“I am afraid Aranda. Afraid I am a fraud. Afraid of shame. Afraid of fear itself. A coward?”
“That, my darling man, is what it means to be a person. A coward is someone who lets his fear stop him from living. A coward is someone who stays home, not someone who follows his cousin into hell and back.” She strokes his hair as she speaks.
He breaks into sobs again.
“Give Her your tears. Let it go. You are safe. You are loved.” She holds him as his body is wracked with sobs, murmuring softly. She praises him for giving his pain to their goddess.
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