Still Soft

Xenofos — Still Soft

????, Storm Season, Season/Illusion Week


Context

Storm Season/Illusion Week/Clay Day/ Before noon [[[s02:session-29|Session 29]]]

Events

Spoilery fluff again

Xenofos is in the Lhankor Mhy temple, copying some Esrolian texts from clay to scrolls.1 failed listen roll

Silence and peace abound, until the shadow of a warrior with two swords falls on the floor nearby. Next to it, the shadow of a scribe, long-robed and with plaited hair, consults it. The light source is from the left. The shadows fall to the right, with the taller one just reaching a lectern as it fades into the general light of this room. They have paused in a doorway to speak, and the light is coming in from a well lit room beyond. A suggestion of a shadow, little more, but the parallel lines of the swords are clear. She is wearing both.

Xenofos straightens his back, cleans his reed pen and looks at the doorway.

There is a brief snatch of quiet conversation, and then the man laughs. It’s a happy sound, generous, drawn from whatever she said.

Jalban, the man Xenofos recommended, bows slightly to gesture that the warrior should precede him into the room. She does, and he walks her over to a rack of pigeon-holes full of Heortling texts. She keeps her eyes and her attention on him, forgetting even to scan the room for enemies.

“Good day, seems your research is going well today, master Jalban.”

Berra turns with a wide smile, and remembers her manners well enough to glance to Jalban and fall silent. The old man takes his time in turning, like he already knew Xenofos was there. “I do rather hope so,” he says. “It is, on the surface, simple enough…” Berra gets a sharp glance from him, and is busily ignoring him to give Xenofos a Yelmic look of pleasure at seeing someone’s face. Bright and sunny.

“Things that are simple on surface, can be deceivingly hard” Xenofos answers. He is not looking at Jalban though, his gaze rests on Berra.

“A general understanding of Wyters and wyter myths?” Jalban gives Xenofos a nod. “The decision is in what to present. But fortunately we have a little time.”

Berra says, “His honour’s been really helpful so far.”

“I trusted he would be one with the ability for it.” Xenofos reluctantly tears his gaze from Berra to politely address Jalban. “I have not forgotten your aid with the Rolls of the Company, nor my debt and these works do not lessen it.”

“No debt, only knowledge and thanks for it,” Jalban says. Berra does not quite wince, but her grin gets wry. The man goes on, “All knowledge has value.”

“It is indeed so. But access to knowledge can be aided, and it is right and proper to be thankful for such aid.”

He bows. “Would you like to sit down for a moment, young woman?” he asks Berra. Berra looks a bit confused, and then apparently works out that she is being ushered towards Xenofos.

“Um, if he doesn’t mind? I don’t want to disturb him.”

“Flexing my back and fingers. Three fingers do the work, whole body knows the pain as they say.”

Berra ambles over, and on anyone else it would look slovenly, but on her it looks like she is shaking out her muscles for a new challenge. She hooks a stool with her ankle, pushes it into place with her hip, and hops up onto it to give Xenofos a little wave.

“Correct me if I am wrong, but I would suppose much is known in general, but details of wyters would be dearly held secrets. Not told to outsiders, not even everyone of the cult or clan, master Jalban.” Xenofos looks at Jalbans back, but then his eyes wander back to Berra.

“Indeed,” Jalban says, “And indeed I understand that these two days are a relatively simple task, but there will be a third day which will be about details – far more exacting. Fortunately there are hints to be had, here and there.”

“People have done it many times. And some have even told how.” Xenofos turns suddenly way more serious and asks Berra. “I am not asking how, but have you asked sword Eril how he created the regiment.”

Jalban looks rather surprised, and gives Xenofos a glance. Berra takes a moment to consider the question. “Not yet. I want to be able to understand the answer.” She shrugs at Xenofos, turns her attention to Jalban, and explains, “He uses a lot of long words. I’m really not good at getting what he says.”

Xenofos does not comment that instead looking at the lines of Berra’s nose from profile.

“A commendable attitude, I am sure,” Jalban says gently. “Lord Eril can be… difficult in communication, I have heard.”

Xenofos nods without verbal comment.

“Um, yeah,” Berra says loyally. “But to be fair, I do ask a lot of really simple questions, and I can see that would be annoying if you’re him.” Generous. Loyal. Also truthful. ‘if you are him’. Most people are not.

Jalban considers that, and sticks to a nice safe non-verbal reply as well. As Berra’s attention drifts back to Xenofos, he turns to the shelves to pull out a few scrolls, and he obviously knows the ones to go for already.

“Heya,” Berra says quietly.

“Hello, little cousin.” he answers softly.

“H’yadoing? What are you writing?” She gives him a choice of questions to answer, although there is a tiny pause between the two while she works out that she could ask the second.

“Just copying from clay to parchment. Service to the temple and Lhankor Mhy. And… I don’t really know Berra. Better I guess.”

She gives a nod, to the second, and then answers the first. “Esrolian?”

“Esrolian. Easier for me than the locals to work on them.”2insight human, this time normal failure.

“It’s good,” she says, although it is hard to tell what she means. Then she falls silent, but now her attention is on him and not on Jalban.

He looks at her, silently. Obviously he does not want to distract Jalban, but is too polite to turn back to his work.

Over the course of about twenty heartbeats – maybe thirty if for some reason one’s heart accelerates, Berra settles into a soft, restful smile. Then she blinks, considers, and looks away. Her interest in the clay tablets is apparently real – she would not fake it, but she might have decided to be interested.

Xenofos looks at Berra for quite some time, seeing what she is looking he comments softly.
“Story of Imarja in five parts. Parts three and four are missing. Tablets that have parts of story of Irillo and his noble companions. Some songs of Ernalda and other Ten Thousand Goddesses.”

There’s a pause. “When you have a bit of missing story, do you fill in what you know?” Berra speaks with the quiet respect of one who is in a house of books, asking the scribe what his work is.

“When doing a copy? No.” he pauses. “But I do note that part is missing if I know that.”

Berra looks like she might ask another question when Jalban coughs delicately. “I believe I have enough here to answer your initial question,” he says, indicating a set of scrolls, a couple of leaf-turn books, and a pile of marked wax tablets on very thin wood. “Would you like me to give you a written version that Scribe Xenofos can read later, or just a recital?”

Berra considers that. “Just the recital. I’m going to be … I think best then I hear things and they might get away.”

Behind Berra’s back Xenofos signals Jalban with his eyes and makes a round gesture with his pen over the text he was working on.

Jalban circles an index finger where Berra cannot see. An acknowledgement.

“Indeed. I will need a few hours to refresh my understanding of these, and to be certain the understanding is not flawed, but if you return tomorrow I will let you know the answer to the basic question, and the additional ones you decided on earlier.” He gives her a little nod, and she bows deeply.

“Thank you, scribe. I’ll be here a little after Yelmrise, if that’s alright?” She trembles on the edge of leaving, ready to commit completely and entirely to the next thing.

“Is it right by you, Berra, if he tells me too what he found out?” Xenofos asks.

“Um, yeah, sure.” Berra shrugs. “This isn’t private. Certainly not yet.” She gives him a smile.

Jalban turns back to his work. “You know the way out,” he says, “And I should get to this while the light is good for my eyes.”

Xenofos nods to Berra, his eyes reflecting the smile.

Berra gives them both a wave and sets off at a run that turns into a careful walk before she gets to the door. Jalban at least has no trouble putting her from his mind to get on with the job that is his.

Such arches
Water come to life, like a mermaid
What is that romantic drivel Xenofos, you are not a jongleur
Quicksilver?
There Mistress, would you have those follies, warming a foolish Scribe

Jalban works quickly, getting up only a couple of times to check references, and before the tallow is gone from his lamp, he has a report ready to go. One column of his parchment is recital points – the things he will tell Berra. The other is a list of references and expansions, which would be of great use to anyone looking this up for themselves. He leaves it on the desk Xenofos is using, and goes out without fanfare or farewell.