Xenofos — Three Women And A Bundle
The day after holy day of Eiritha, Strawweaver camp [[[s02:session-55|Session 55]]]
Spoilery for those not in Prax, private even there but partly common gossip…
Xenofos opens his eyes slowly. His eyelids and head feel heavy.
He is piled amongst snoring Praxians. Not as many as the previous night, so it seems that some have found their way out of the yurt.
He looks around and reaches for a ladle of water from the bucket.
His mouth feels like a miniature bison crawled into it for a nap sometime during the night. The water is stale, but refreshing nonetheless.
Carefully he stands up and checks if the older warrior who warned him yesterday is around.
There’s no sign of him.
Xenofos walks for the door, around the piles of Praxians trying to not tread on anyone.
1 pow*4 , 98 a fail,
There are grumbling noises from people disturbed by his passing.2 How about scan? 56 on skill of 54 ? Astonishing mobile architecture – Right. Nothing to see here. Move along.
With caution he prepares to step outside despite the pale light of a winter morning, winterday, well maybe not winternight.
It’s later in the day than he realised. Yelm is glaring down and the freshly fallen snow is responding with a glare of its own. It is bone-chillingly cold.
He looks towards the yurt they were in.
All is calm. Quiet. People move around the camp, but that yurt is left alone.
Xenofos looks for familiar faces.3 and specials scan now Dakajeel? Roneer? Saberak? Laalira? Chief or his wife?.
Roneer, who had spent the day and a large part of the night with Xenofos and the others, emerges from his own yurt. It seems he found his way back on his own.
Xenofos remains focused on the yurt of three women but walks towards Roneer.
The Praxian spots him and changes direction to meet the foreigner part way. “How’s your head?”
“Not bad” Xenofos says with a shake that ends abruptly “Considering last night… I don’t know the custom, Roneer. Can I go to her now?”
The other man looks at him. “Only if you are in good spirits. And, do not upset either of them. Where’s your cloak? You’re no good to her if you freeze to death.” Although the last is a clear chastisement, his expression is sympathetic. After all, he’s been in the same place only weeks ago.
Xenofos nods – very carefully, and walks away. He takes a look into the party yurt to see if he can see his cloak.
He spots it under the head of a large bison rider wearing Storm Bull’s runes. He looks enough like Rajar to be his cousin, but for all his size, he’s young. Probably only initiated this year. He is snoring happily.4 That was the scan/pow I was trying for earlier. evil GM
Xenofos rolls a hide to roughly same shape and tries to substitute the pillow without waking up the tired guy. 5 I think I’m going to need a dex roll for that one.- dex5? pass 84/85 damn that guy is heavy
The swap is managed with success, just. There are a few snorts, but the man rolls over and continues to sleep. Others are beginning to stir now, so it may not be long before they all wake.
Xenofos wraps himself in his prewarmed cloak and strides towards Saberak’s yurt.
No one bars his way.
Outside the door he stops, announces his presence and asks if he may enter.
An older woman admits him to the yurt. She looks tired, but there’s no evidence of mourning. Xenofos gives the old woman’s shoulder a gentle squeeze.
Inside the yurt, all is calm. Saberitha sits by the hearth, stirring something. Her sister is sat with a hide in her hands, wielding an awl with ferocity.
Neela sleeps, snuggled up against a well-wrapped bundle.
He nods to Saberak and Saberitha looking for permission to sit down but does not say a thing.
Saberak jabs her awl into the hide, but the other sister nods to him. He can sit by the hearth.
Quietly he sits down, looking at Neela and the small bundle.
There’s a tiny, tiny sneeze.
Saberitha smiles in response and rises to collect the babe before the mother is awakened.
Xenofos smiles and looks on.
She soothes the infant by standing and rocking. Xenofos can see very little beyond the hide wrap.
The Esrolian makes no attempt to hold the child, sitting by hearth, looking at the bundle and Neela in turn.
There is only so much soothing she can do, and eventually it isn’t enough. The baby is hungry. Soft cries become more demanding and Neela wakes up with a little cry of her own. There’s a rapid exchange of Praxian, which is much harder to make sense of today than it seemed last night.
Neela sits up, tugging at her clothing and Saberitha settles the baby with her, so that the infant can be fed.
Xenofos remains silent and watches with a smile.
Probably the chatter warned Neela that he is there, probably, so she will not get spooked… And now the baby needs to eat.
Saberitha hands Xenofos a cup of something hot. It has a gamey scent – bone broth.
Scholar thanks quietly and accepts the cup.
Neela looks tired. She has dark circles under her eyes and seems paler than usual.
Xenofos looks at her, gets a bit closer and offers the cup to Neela.
She shakes her head. “No. I drink after. Saberitha will give to me. You drink that.” She sounds as tired as she looks.
“If you are sure.” He settles down where he is and sips from the cup.
She nods, switching the baby over to her other side. It whimpers, but latches on quickly and returns to suckling. Neela’s smile is soft. Her black hair is bound in a thick plait, hanging over her shoulder.
Xenofos tilts his head. Slowly he sips from the cup.
Now that he’s closer, he might hope to see more of the baby, but with the hide wrapping and the baby’s face pressed against its mother, there is little he can see.
She needs to eat. So it is not time to ask see her.6 Accusing GM- You’re making an assumption there, aren’t you? X- Letting Xenofos’ unsaid hope be there in his thougths
“You hold her,” Neela says as the baby drifts into sleep. She passes the tiny girl over without waiting for agreement.
Scribes outreached arms are there the moment Neela even hints of the possibility.
Softly and carefully he presses the tiny human against his chest.
Behind them, Saberak grunts in disapproval, but is ignored by everyone else. When Neela is satisfied that he isn’t going to drop their child, she fixes her clothing again and accepts the cup her cousin offers her.
“She is so light.”
Neela stares at him. “I name her Elara. Light. How do you know this?”
He shakes his head. Again there is a tear in his eye. “I did not know that. A beautiful name.”
He strokes the little that is there of the small girls head to touch. “I did not even know she is a girl, Neela.”
“Light in darkness,” Neela adds. “She is my light.”
Elara lips purse, like she’s dreaming of milk even as she sleeps.
Neela would get a hug if Xenofos had any spare arms, but he cannot risk dropping the dear bundle. If she is close enough he will lean his head against her shoulder.
She permits the contact, stiffly at first, then relaxing into it. Saberak rises with a grumble, drops her work in a heap, and leaves, grabbing her coat on the way through the yurt’s exit.
“Eiritha be praised.” He raises his head and looks the woman in the eyes “I think this is the happiest moment of my life to date.”
All the practical awkward stuff and future is somewhere outside the yurt for now.
They pass the afternoon quietly, with little discussion and much gazing at the baby.
No need for much words, and no permit to touch on the future either. She must not be upset said Roneer.
He starts to prepare to take his leave when night starts to fall.
Neela lets him go, once again focussing all her attention on the baby.