Xenofos — Wake Up
????, Dark Season, Season/Movement Week
Dark Season/Movement Week/Water Day/Just after the Yelmrise. [[[s02:session-21|Session 21]]]
Late in Dark Season, but early in the morning… Varanis, Xenofos, and Berra gather for early morning training.
This morning, there’s a new face among the observers.
She is bundled against the cold, but her grey eyes watch them icily.
Xenofos recognizes the observer nods her in greeting and looks at Varanis.1 Varanis had told Xenofos Neela had made pass on him and that she had explained him to be unavailable
Varanis nods in Neela’s direction and proceeds with her acknowledgment of Yelm.
Neela, for her part, remains silent, though her gaze moves between Xenofos and Berra.
Berra’s work today is sloppy, and she looks tired.
Tired. Small. Half amoured and half dressed warmly. And she obviously has no clue how to use that big sword.
As the young woman watches Berra, her expression becomes increasingly confused. She turns her attention back to Xenofos.
Xenofos is doing solid work with shield and rapier.
Berra’s attempt to keep her sword moving with cold hands nearly leads to her dropping it, but not quite. She tries that bit again…
Xenofos is pretty concentrated on his drills. Whenever there is a small pause in them he checks his surroundings, with the end result that his eyes rest on Berra until next sequence.
Neela’s expression softens as she watches the skinny Esrolian work through his drills until she notices the way his eyes stray to the Humakti. For a moment, her expression is stricken and then anger blooms.
“I thought Redwind lied,” she cries angrily. “But it true. You stare at the Death-child like ….” The words that follow come in a stream of Praxian, unintelligible in their form, but clear in their intent. Neela is hurt and angry. “She not even good with sword,” she observes heatedly, switching back to Tradetalk. “My son better. She like clumsy…” Again, the meaning is lost in a stream of Praxian, but the intent is clear.2 Xenofos and Berra pass insight
Berra either does not hear or is too busy concentrating on what she is doing. Neela gets ignored.
Xenofos does sheath his sword and walk over to the angry young woman.
She watches him approach, bright spots of colour in her cheeks, grey eyes full of hurt and fury.
He stops on that range of rapier where you have to take a half step to touch opponent and asks “You would have words, Neela?” He seems calm but his reddened earlobes tell there may be chinks in his serenity.
“You love that child? I am a woman. I have a child already. Am fertile. I have good herd. Warm hearth. I make good wife. But you want that….” Tradetalk slips into Praxian as she struggles to find the right words.
In spite of her anger, she’s lovely. Rich, black hair in neat plaits. High cheek bones and an elegant nose. She stands eye to eye with the Esrolian.
Xenofos looks at her and thoughtfully tugs his beard. ” Redwind did not lie. I love her.”
She stares at him, disbelieving his words. “But you praise me to my uncle. You play with Ogfal!” Face to face with her and perhaps seeing her for the first time, he realizes how closely the son resembles his mother.
“l have only spoken what is true. If they are words of praise they are that because you are worth them. Orgfal – he reminds me of my nephews.”3 Xenofos fails int5, specials truth
“You speak words of praise and say my son reminds you of family. But you do not act like your words sound. You speak praise to uncle, but you stare at child-woman like lovesick bison,” she snaps.
“Your eyes do not deceive you there then. They tell you I love her. Like I said I do.” Xenofos retorts. ” But you speak like I had meant something else with praise than what I have said?”
Her hands are trembling with anger as she undoes the fastening of her warm coat. Dropping it into the snow, she starts to remove her dress too. “You choose her, instead of proper woman?” Her golden brown skin looks soft, her limbs muscled and well formed. As the dress follows the coat and she stands defiantly in the snow wearing little but boots and anger, her uncle turns up.
Varanis has long since ceased her attempts to practice drills. She looks awkward and uncertain.
“Yes. You are pretty and well formed, but I do not love you. I like you. Like a sister. So please put on your clothes before you get cold.” His voice is a bit unsteady.4Xenofos specials on fertility. It was true when he said it…
She gathers her dignity and her clothes as one, ignoring her uncle’s angry questions and the staring of a growing crowd of onlookers. Even as she walks away carrying her clothing in her arms, her hips sway in a way that invariably draws the eye.
Black Lance steps between Neela and Xenofos.
Berra, meanwhile, has also let something drop – she has put down her great sword and is trying something complicated with the broadsword.
The older man looks at Xenofos, his expression inscrutable. “I think you and Redwind should not visit my yurt again,” he says into the sudden silence.
“Huh?” Berra looks that way. “Suup?”
Varanis looks at Berra and shakes her head. It’s unclear as to whether she’s suggesting Berra be silent or expressing disappointment in the Humakti’s lack of social graces.
Berra narrows her eyes to think, or in anger, or because it is bright out there.
“That may be wiser. Your niece seems very upset. That is something that grieves me for I wish her no ill, and it seems I may have caused that.” Xenofos answers to Majaro, continuing with a sigh “You should perhaps know, that we who follow Lhankor Mhy are not permitted to marry any woman outside our own cult. Most people know this where I come from. So I have never thought of Neela as possible spouse. Nor thought my words could be twisted to mean that.”
Black Lance responds with a curt nod and walks away.
Varanis approaches Xenofos and puts a hand on his shoulder. “That went… poorly.”
“That can indeed be said, Varanis.” He shrugs “But if she wants love or marriage she cannot have them from me. And I don’t know how that could have been said in a way that would leave her happy.”
Berra chooses that moment to come up on the other side of Xenofos. “What on Ernalda was that about?”
“She is Neela. Varanis says she made me an invitation I failed to recognise and she is quite unhappy.”
Berra’s expression is puzzled, like she needs things explained more clearly. “I guess the clothes off in the snow thing is pretty ascetic but still… she seemed to be showing off to me as well as you, you know? Was she warning me off?”
“She sees you as… unworthy competition,” Varanis replies, her cheeks reddened by the cold.
“Oh. Right.” Berra considers a moment, then asks, “Does it have to be a competition?” of Xenofos.
He shrugs. “I think question is academical. She saw me looking at you and was angry and hurt. And she talked of being a better wife. I like her and could perhaps warm her bed. But if she wants more it would be wrong to make her think that is possible…”
Berra nods a tiny bit. “Maybe you could … well, I think she wanted you to follow but it’s probably too late. But you could.”
“Let her have her dignity, Xenofos. If you can’t offer her more, then do as her uncle says and stay away. Her hurt will heal in time,” Varanis suggests quietly.
By her expression, Berra does not agree with that, but she says nothing in reply.
“It is probably too late as you say Berra.” He shrugs looking distressed.” I don’t like that I brought her hurt and would make amends if I could. But I really don’t want to add to that hurt through more blundered action.”
“With some people, the sex helps. But I don’t know if that’s her. And if she was talking about being a better wife, probably not.” Berra turns away, to go back to her practice.
Xenofos nods and looks at Varanis. ” Yes… She is worth love. Just not from me I am afraid.”
Broadsword. Free space. Berra’s invisible opponent starts to take a pasting.
Not only is Berra now working at things she knows how to do, but she mutters a spell as she works, possibly for the benefift of those who are watching. Either it has no visible effect, or it does not go off… And it sounded like Fireblade. Maybe, under that determined look, she has other emotions.
Xenofos seems lost in thought.
He is not continuing his drills but stands still with crossed arms.
After a few moments Berra’s sword bursts into flames for the remainder of her drill.