Two Trees

Xenofos — Two Trees

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Context

About the third day from Dragonewt city, on the road [[[s02:session-42|Session 42]]]

Events

Before noon Xenofos is riding point at some time.

It is early in the day when Berra seeks him out. She leads Followed up beside him, but unlike yesterday there is no venom in it, none of whatever was twisting at her. The bison responds with languid indifference, but Berra tugs until they are nearly alongside.

Xenofos scans the horizon and nods to the Humakti.

“Hey.” Berra looks up, angling her gaze somewhat under her helmet – the brown armour she now uses for travelling. “I wanted to say thank you.”

He smiles absentmindedly and nods. “You are welcome, little cousin.”

“All well up there?” Berra hooks her reins over her shoulder to keep Followed moving.

Xenofos looks down on the walker and his expression softens. “I am not sure, Berra.”1 fail Truth, pass love Berra

Berra gives him a sympathetic look, and unbuckles her helmet, holding it by the strap in her hand with the reins, her right. For a while she says nothing, just walks beside him.

He looks at her silently for a while. Then he scans the horizon for threats.
“I was quite confused. But what Varanis said seems to explain things.”

“About HeroQuests?” Berra puzzles towards context. “We ended up getting back to Mirava quickly.”

He looks at her and then at horizon. “It seems a choice I made carries a price.”

“Me too…” Berra snorts in amusement at something probably not that funny. “I chose to be Humakt. You don’t go back from that. You…?” She looks up, eyes wide. Hard to say what that means.

“I was liegeman first and went after Varanis. And yo…she helped me reach her.”

“I didn’t hesitate. And I guess you didn’t. We knew, both of us.” Berra looks away when accusing Xenofos of finding this easy.

“I was tempted. Sorely. But Varanis was in danger…” he shrugs.”She did chide me for abandoning her before leading me forward to Varanis, so this is not a total surprise.”

Berra sighs. “I’ve been trying to work out in my head for a while now … who I am, if that makes sense? I think we both found out. So now we live with it.” He gets another look, from under floppy, dishevelled hair.

“That makes sense, little cousin.” he shakes his head “But I do not think I have found that answer yet.”

“No, I think you got the shape of it. You’re a liegeman, like you said, with a sworn word. Her life is your to preserve. Other bits, I guess, are arranged around that. But that’s what you are, if that’s what you did.” Berra seems mostly sure, although she might be making up an explanation for herself as well as for him.

He nods. “That does make sense. I would not say it is the only thing I am, though.”

“No. I mean, I’m not just a warrior. You’re a lot of things. Like… I dunno, a tree only has one trunk, and we know what that is in us? But we have branches and bark, too.”

The Humakti, after all, is of the Blue Tree Clan.

“But what is important? The trunk or the branches that reach out towards Sky, roots that dig to Earth for Water? Or indeed the flowers and the fruits of the tree that carry blessing of Uleria forward and make sure there are new trees.” Xenofos is smiling when he asks the questions.

Berra considers that for a bit, trudging on. Her hands occasionally describe strange gestures, like she is being a tree, or trying out a feeling in spiky dance.

Xenofos rides on quietly, dutifully scanning the horizon but letting his eyes rest on the walking Humakti after each round.

“Alright. I think that the important bits are the bits that are used while the tree is alive, and the bits that are left when it is dead.” Berra sounds certain of that.

“That is not a bad answer, little cousin.” He admits.

“Thanks.” Berra beams up at him.

He returns the smile, but a shadow lingers in his eyes.

She looks for long enough that she must have seen it. “‘S’wrong?” She asks quietly, but like she wants to help. Forehead wrinkled, face up towards his.

“Price of my choice seems dear.” He sighs “And just, I must confess. I will cope, Berra.”

“Fair enough.” She lets it drop.

“I said to Varanis I would choose the same way if I had to make the choice again… I have thought about it now when riding. I think it would be still the right choice and I hope I would have the strength of will to do it…” He shrugs. “But what is done is done. Lhankor Mhy will show me what needs to be done at time that suits him.”

“If you need any help, let me know.” Berra is offhanded about it, maybe because she is saying something so obvious.

He nods. “I will.”2 picturing Berra teaching writing
Something seems to have lightened his mood.

Berra walks on, occasionally making tree-branch shapes with her hands in front of her.