Words Of Admonishment

Xenofos — Words Of Admonishment

1627


Context

At Glasswall after the chase for Lunar cavalry [[[s02:session-49|Session 49]]] One spoiler for Berra

Events

Varanis and Berra are on the hunt for Xenofos.
Berra is hunting slightly lower than Varanis, of course.
That should not prove too hard. Xenofos has been keeping eye on Varanis. (Since he does not believe in hiding that may have been rather obvious.)

“Walk with us?” Varanis suggests when she spots him. The Vingan looks tired. Worn.

Berra is looking peaceful and even something close to happy. She is on Varanis’ right, but falls back a little to let Xenofos have the choice of where to go.

He nods, looks at them both and steps on left side of Varanis letting her keep the lead.

Berra gives Xenofos a wink to say hello. Her smile is minimal but there.

For Berra He looks at Varanis quite sternly and seems to be scanning her armour quite closely. And seemed to miss that wink. In fact he paid no attention to Berra. At all.

Varanis’ gaze is on something in the distance, as she walks in silence for a time. Finally, she says, “You came to me not long ago, with concerns about my honesty. I wish to discuss this.” There is no sign of the anger that her cousin faced previously.

He nods. “After you have eaten your rations, troops have had theirs. Lenta has told them to keep ours.”

Varanis blinks. “What?”

Berra stays quiet, looking from Xenofos to Varanis, and back to Xenofos.

“Your horses have been watered and fed. Your troops have eaten. You have not.” Scribe explains.

Berra nods. “He’s right. You should eat more.” She is on Team Xenofos today, it seems.1 You cannae have yer puddin’ if ye dinnae eat yer meat! – Tom

“I’ll eat later. That’s not why I wanted to speak to you.” Varanis waves his concerns away absently.

“Um. No. Because I didn’t see you eat much yesterday either.” Berra stops walking.

“I will listen to what you have to say.” scholar says. “But first I must insist you fulfil your duty. And eat.”

Varanis glares at them both. “I’m fine! I’m eating every day.” That anger from before? It’s beginning to show.

“Uh, yeaaah. You know your bones are poking out?” Berra stands back a bit, looking Varanis up and down.

“If a horse is not fed properly you cannot rely on it when riding. If you do not feed yourself properly, your troops cannot rely on you to make wise decisions my lady.” Xenofos explains. His expression is a mirror of Varanis’ mulish face.

“We’ve all been on short rations,” she points out. “We are low on food supplies.”

“That’s not what he means, though. Have you been eating all of yours?” Berra looks like something just came together in her head.

The Vingan flushes.

Xenofos looks steadily at Varanis’ face.”She has not.”

“Others needed it more.”

Berra gives a glare. “Not for you to decide.”

“My troops! My responsibility!”

“You’re doing your duty badly, then,” Berra retorts.

“You are letting them down by not eating.” Scholar says at the same time.

Xenofos looks at Berra before continuing.

Varanis looks mulish for a moment, then wilts. “Fine. Let’s go find our evening meal and walk after.”2 Rolls: Passed Air, just. But fumbled Stasis.

Xenofos nods and relaxes a bit.

Berra gives Xenofos a glance during that moment. “What he said. He said it better.”

“Lets go eat then. But it is not just about this meal.” Scribe says

The Humakti follows along.

The glare that Varanis directs at both of them is more sullen than anything else. But she has stopped arguing, at least.

Xenofos looks steadily back at her with kind of grim determination.

Berra lets it all go over her head. Possibly if she were taller she would be glaring too.

When they have food in hand, Varanis eats methodically. She eats everything given to her, without seeming to care what it is. When she’s done, she displays the empty dish. “Happy?”

“You should thank Lenta, Varanis.” Scribe says.
Lenta looks worried in sidelines.

Berra looks troubled. “Can you have breakfast with one of us and dinner with the other for a bit?”
“Or can you just promise you will eat?” Xenofos asks.

Lenta gets a flat stare. Varanis knows who tattled now. Finally, she turns to look at her captors. “I won’t promise to eat what the troops cannot. But, as long as there is enough, I will make time for food. Will that suffice?”

“You eat the rations, that’s fine. If there’s less for everyone, you don’t have to eat more.” Berra narrows her eyes when she is thinking that through.

“You are rude to hostess of our table who took care of this meal, Varanis.” scribe says coldly. Lenta vinces. Xenofos continues “You are a free lady Varanis. If you decide to be derelict in your duty you can do that and no one can force you to eat.”

Berra gives Xenofos an incredulous look.

“Xeno!” Varanis snaps, “How dare you chastise me like a child?!”

“Yeah… you should have shut up before you said that.” Berra is unimpressed at Xenofos.

“You are a lady of Saiciae. You are free to make that choice. Like Valinyr did. Difference being that her doing it let others live while if you do it you imperil the lives of those you seek to protect.” Scribes cheeks are pale and tone hectic. Abruptly he stands up. His hands are shaking a bit as he puts down his cup. “Thank you Lenta. Now, I promised to listen to you mylady, but it might be more productive if we postpone that discussion somewhat later, say first night watch.”

“She just did, you idiot. She just SAID she would make that choice. After we got her to eat – so you need to learn when to shut up, and that’s twice now you could have learned and didn’t. So you can shut up and siddown now.” Berra more snarls than snaps.

Xenofos ignores Berra’s request and looks at Varanis.3 Varanis passes int 5 and remembers that Xenofos’ mother Valinyr died during the long winter giving her food to others.
A sudden look of understanding comes into the Vingan’s eyes. There’s an inarticulate sound before she lunges to her feet and bolts from the tent. 4 Berra passes listen and can hear she is vomiting

Berra just glares at Xenofos. “You really need to know when to shut up. Like when you’ve won. You should shut up then.” 5 Berra: All the emotion!!!! From everyone!

Xenofos looks at Berra coldly and nods as farewell when walking out of the tent.

“Past day, you’ve accused me of lying, and then bullied Varanis.” Berra follows, not giving up.

“You talk with great conviction, even when you have no idea of what you speak of.” scribe says.

“Yehuh. So tell me. Ins…. yeah. Tell me. Oh Lord of Knowledge.” The Humakti is apparently in a Mood.

Xenofos strides forward as if he was had a certain goal. He glances at Berra. “Maybe I should.”6 So how does he react to irritating little know-it-all? Oh. 01 Crit love Berra and normal succes on Truth. Well that took the wind of rage out of his sails and spoiled a perfect shouting match

“Y’huh. Fuckin’ talk. Get it out of your system.” Wherever she picked up the word ‘system’, it has a slight lisp to it.

“She did not promise to eat the same rations as troops, Berra.” scholar says. “She said she would make time for it.”

“I know. That’s why I said to eat. And then you kept talking.” Berra glares.

He combs his hair with his fingers. Apparently his helmet is in the tent.

Berra does not let up the fury of her look.

“My mother made that same choice. During the Great Winter. She too said she would eat.” scholar looks at little Humakti with an expression that is starting to calm down. “So excuse me if I don’t listen haggling on this topic. She is a free woman and can make her choices as she chooses.”

He looks at his hands. “Getting angry again. I should not. She did not really promise anything new yet. And I wanted to make abundantly clear what she is choosing between.”

“Fuck that. You made her feel bad, when you had just got her to agree to something. Right now, I think Varanis is puking up behind the tent, and you did that. You panicked her. You did wrong.” Berra says it calmly, but with a lot of very careful diction, indicating she is choosing her words, and means every one of them.

“I had gotten her to eat one meal. That I know.” scholar looks at Berra “Rest is what you think. I am sorry if I hurt her. If it makes her eat it was right thing to do even if it was cruel though. If not – then you are right.”

“No. You didn’t get her to agree to eat in the future. You bullied her, and you’re making her feel bad right now. I’m gonna go with ‘fuck that’.” Berra is still scowling, standing as tall as she can, bristling with anger.7 V: Aw bless… does she almost come up to his shoulder at that height?

The argument has begun to draw sidelong glances.8 B: About. The angle is probably really flattering, too. Any minute now she’ll put her hands on her hips.

He nods. “I am sure she is not feeling good about this, you are right about that.”

Berra’s jaw grinds for a moment, and she looks down. “You have to make her want to do it. Did you even….” And then she hits her fists together a few times. “Gaaaaahhhh…..” No words. She is trying to be calm.

“She is not eating because she thinks she fulfills her duty to hungry ones by going hungrier then they.” He looks at Berra and sighs “And that is a noble sacrifice to do. So I had to show it was false now.” he raises his hand “And you said I had persuaded her already. I am not convinced.”

“No, I didn’t say that.” Berra is still angry. “I said you’d won. But you had to go on talking.” She is staring spears at the ground – like staring daggers, but for Heortling warriors.

“Yes, little cousin. I had to.” Xenofos says softly. His hands hang down. “And I hurt her when I did.”

Berra is still keyed up, but managed to stay silent, at least for a few long moments. It is enough for her to finally start becoming calm.

Xenofos looks at Berra and seems to make up his mind about something. He starts walking back towards the tent.

Berra follows, calmly. It is the peaceful, Humakti calm that she has learned at her Temple, but in her case it comes with a tiny smile that speaks of inner contentment, or at least peace. “Now is probably not the time to tell her more things,” she observes, voice a little distant.

“I think I have to, little cousin.” Scribe says. “Is she in?” he asks the tentguard.

“Don’t tell her. Ask her…” Berra stops. “Be gentle.”

The guard nods.

Xenofos looks at Berra and tilts his head towards the tent. “Do you wish to come along?”

“Yes,” says the Humakti, in her peaceful, flat voice. She adds politely, “Thank you.”

“Thank you. She may need someone to talk if she throws me out quickly.” Xenofos says.

“You undercut yourself.” It might even be a pep-talk, the way she put it. A short one.

He takes a deep breath and enters the tent.

Inside the tent, Varanis is seated on the floor. As eyes adjust to the low light, it can be seen that she is pale, but alert. She is nibbling on a piece of dry bread, a cup of water near to hand. Lenta is sitting on her sleeping hides, watching silently.

“Cousin?”

“Yes?” Quiet, but clear.

“I hurt you Ranie. I am sorry.” scribe responds.

Berra follows, and stays by the door, watchful despite her casual look. Her thumbs are hooked over her sword-hilts, her gaze is off beyond nowhere.

She draws a shuddering breath, not as composed as she pretends. “It’s fine. You were hurting. I will do better.” Short sentences.

“It was cruel” Xenofos says. “I can not undo it. Is there something I can do to make you feel better?”

“I’m fine. Let it go now.” She sighs. “You said what you needed to and I have promised to always hear you out. I’m sorry that I failed to do so.”

Berra stays calmly tense, too ready to fight anything not in this room. “I believe we should have a walk without Lady Lenta,” she says. “Or at least, a talk.” Humakti-peaceful. It is real peace, but it sounds different to her more usual contentment.

The Vingan looks at the bread in her hand. “I’ll try to finish this first.”

Xenofos nods at Varanis.

Berra suggests, “Perhaps you could bring it with you. You do better on the move.” She does not change how she is standing, or try to go. She just makes the suggestion and leaves it there.

Xenofos picks up his helmet from corner of the tent . “I am not sure if now is a good time. I did promise to hear you out though.”

With another sigh, Varanis unfolds her limbs. Picking up the water in her free hand, she nods to them both. “Let’s go.” Lenta receives a reassuring, if weak, smile.

Berra considers, and takes a moment looking at the bottom of the back seam of the tent. “We do not have to talk,” she says, “But it would be good to be three, together.” She gives Lenta a very collected look, and a polite bow.

Varanis waits for the Humakti to open the tent flap.

It takes a moment for Berra to realise that is happening, although then she moves easily into her professional mien.

Xenofos bows to Lenta and follows the two others.9 V: Hands are full and besides, if Varanis is going to be a good little Vingan, she is supposed to let you go through doors first

“Which way?”

“Right,” Berra says. “And someone else chooses next.”10 V: I think that V isn’t likely to want to argue further. Unless pushed, she’s going to be quiet, nibble on her bread, and put on a good face for the troops. She’ll try to give reassuring smiles & say some encouraging words here and there. But nothing of substance to Berra or Xenofos unless someone else starts it. B: Hehehehh… Lemme just roll on Darkness.

Xenofos dons his helmet and walks for a while in silence.

Berra lets a little time pass, and then says, “So. Xenofos. You should talk about you now.”

“And why is that, little cousin?” scribe asks. It is possible he has not been entirely careful on scanning the left flank.

“Because right now, I’m calm and Varanis is quiet. You’re upset with me, and you talked to her. Not me, yet.” Berra turns big eyes on him.

Varanis glances at Berra. It seems as though she might say something, but she sips her water instead.

“I did say to you no explanation was required, but you persisted. So technically I spoke first to you.” Xenofos looks in those big pools.

“But yes I spoke to Varanis of your conduct and gave an opinion.”

Berra replies, “You …” Then she pauses, and looks away. “Let it be said again. I should hear it.” She walks along with the dreamy step of a Death cultist who has nothing to prove, and who loves living.

Xenofos glances at Varanis.

Varanis swallows the bread that she was chewing. “Please,” she says when she can speak.

“Do you wish me to recount my argument or to let it go, cousin?” Xenofos asks Varanis.

“Explain your concerns again, in your own words. Maybe I misunderstood the first time. We all know I don’t listen well when angry.”

Berra cocks her head almost curiously, listening. She lacks feathers, but it is a very D’Val habit.

Xenofos nods. “If you relieve someone of command, even when they do not want it in the first place that is a show of distrust. It is entirely within the rights of commander, but should be handled delicately. Giving several differing reasons for it is not that.”

He looks at Berra “Varanis gave an explanation. Yours was not needed.”

Berra’s expression is politely blank, as she listens. Then she bows, although her expression is hard to read – so cool and controlled. “Thank you,” is all she says.

“Furthermore. Yours differed from hers. She spoke of command changes, you of my need for rest.” Xenofos explains.

“I told you it was not a punishment, Xeno,” Varanis warns softly.

Berra holds up a hand towards Varanis, in slow motion, as if to say halt. She keeps her attention on Xenofos, and now all of her movements have that calm to them, like every limb is light yet hard to move.

“And – let it be said I do not believe that it was your intention Berra – first asking if someone is afraid and then telling they need rest would be pretty damn insulting implication from someone civilized.” Xenofos says. Somehow his tone lacks any sense of being insulted.

More staring. The Humakti warrior is good at that. Then quietly she says, “Some would say a judgement of me as uncivilised is a reason for insult. I have decided not to.” Still calm.

Varanis twitches. Takes a calming breath. But she doesn’t speak, deliberately taking another bite of bread instead.

“Spelling out the differences in your arguments was actually bit more then what I said earlier, I think. Correct me if I am wrong Varanis.” Scribe says trying to remember his exact words.

Berra shrugs, in slow motion. “It is done now. Can you put it aside, or should I answer?”

“I laid that aside when I gave my advise to Varanis. What she does with that is her affair, Berra.” Xenofos answers. “But would you care to explain when I have accused you of lying?”

“It was words that were heard badly,” Berra replies. “Let them lie behind us. We discard them.”

“You said that the veracity of our words was in doubt,” Varanis reminds him. “I didn’t hear you badly. That is what you said.”

Berra looks to Varanis, and bows, expression calm.

The bread has disappeared from the Vingan’s hand. Presumably it is in her belly and not handed off to someone else while Berra and Xenofos argued with each other politely.

“Yes. If you tell two differing explanations for same thing it makes you sound like either someone is lying or not knowing what she is talking about.” Scribe says calmly. “Even that impression is something you should avoid.”

“Truth is the same gem, seen from different directions,” Berra says. “A facet is not a gem entire.” Her speech has slowed a little now.

“And we can never even see the whole Truth…” Xenofos answer sounds part of memorized lesson. “But if you choose to hide pertinent facets and overall shape even if you know it you are not lying. But not Truthful either.”

“Speaking all that is in a person takes a lifetime. All speech is short.” Maybe that means something to Berra.

“I think…” Varanis looks exhausted suddenly, “I want to rest before the evening guard shifts begin.”

Xenofos smiles a bit wistfully. “I do not put it past you two to try hide parts of Truth from me if you think that is for some reason necessary to honeycoat bitter things.”

“Pass on.” Berra turns to Varanis, gives her a long moment of stare, and then asks, “Breakfast? Will you have it?”

“I will. One of you can join me if you wish. After the Yelm-rise rites.”

“If I am awake. I think I will sleep long tonight.” Berra bows again to Varanis, and this time it seems to be that she is stopping her part of the conversation. She looks poised, but has apparently withdrawn from conversation.

Varanis glances at her cousin.

“Least I can do, Varanis.” Scribe says.

Berra smiles at that, sudden and brief.

Face of Xenofos is lit as if by reflected light.

“As you wish. You don’t have to if you are busy. I’m sure that Lenta will report if I fail in my duty.” As soon as the bitter words escape, she apologizes. “I’m sorry. That was unfair and unkind. I’m tired. A nap will do me good.”

She points herself in the direction of the tent.

Berra packs her smile away once more, and closes her eyes, apparently just taking a moment to be still and silent. She lets Varanis leave as if nobody is passing by her at all.

Xenofos follows Varanis to the tent. A bit before they reach it he says quietly. “Ranie.”

“Yes?”

Berra is out of earshot by now, walking away towards wherever Humakti go alone.

“I think you should thank Lenta. But if you can not do that, please, at least do not be unkind to her.”

She flinches. “I’ll restrain my cruelty.”

“You were hurt and she is there. But she did not hurt you.”

With a curt nod, Varanis slips into the tent.