Xenofos — Words Of An Acolyte
1628, Dark Season, Movement Week
Fireday night [[[s03:session-6|Session 6]]]
Varanis and Xenofos are greeted at the temple and the Vingan vanishes down the hall towards the baths, leaving her cousin with the initiate.
“Xenofos, be welcome back to the temple. What is it that you desire today?”
Xenofos smiles warmly after vanishing Vingan and turns to talk to the initiate.
“I wish to speak with priestess Aranda, if she is free to meet me.”
She is a young woman that he has seen here before. Thick black hair and generous curves. Her tattoos are only a few years old.
“Of course. Would you care to meditate while I carry word to the priestess?” She waves him towards the familiar hall.
“Thank you, sister Umarra. May Our Lady smile upon you.” scholar walks the way pointed to him.
He waits for perhaps 20 minutes in the little meditation room.
Looking at the serene face of the Veiled one Xenofos is moved and starts to sing a hymn of praise to Uleria and her manifold gifts.1pass devotion Uleria, special sing. fail love Aranda so he can concentrate on what he was doing
When she enters, she is as beautiful as he remembers. She carries the goddess within her, serene and all-encompassing. “You have returned, beloved.”
“I promised I would and Our Lady let me be true to my word.” Xenofos answers simply.
“She is generous in Her love,” Aranda replies. It is the litanic response, but as always, Aranda makes the words heartfelt.
Xenofos closes his eyes and nods. “Seeing and hearing you again warms my heart, Aranda.”
She closes the distance to take his hands in hers. “What is your desire today?”
“Anything that keeps me in your company for a while, beloved.” Scholar says softly “I have longed for your presence.”
“Then come.” She leads him to a familiar chamber. They share Uleria’s rites of the body and when they bathe together after, there is no sign of Varanis. “Join me for a meal, beloved?” Aranda invites. A shared meal and conversation are one of the foundational aspects of the rites of companionship.
“I would love to, Aranda” Scribe answers and follows the Ulerian to the table.
“You look as radiant as always. How have these last seasons been to you?”
She sinks gracefully to the cushions beside the table and pours wine for them. She adds the water precisely as Xenofos prefers it. “Life in Boldhome has been interesting,” she murmurs. “Always talk of war.” Xenofos can hear the pain and old grief in those words. “But speaking of such things is not why you are here. Tell me of Prax and this woman you love. Is she well?”
Although it was a more elegant deflection than what Xenofos sees from his cousin, he recognizes it nonetheless. There was something she might have spoken of, but she changed her mind.
Xenofos nods thoughtfully “I thought you might be interested and will tell you. But after that I wish to hear about the woman in Boldhome I love.”
He strokes his beard “Neela of Black Lance gave birth to a healthy, wonderful daughter on Clayday of movement week of Dark season. She named her Elara. Light.”
There is warmth in his voice.
She smiles softly at him. “Neela’s soul will carry on in her daughter. Uleria bless them both.”
“I asked her if she would want to come with me, she made a remark that sounded like the children might go hungry unless she remarried.” Xenofos sighs “She chose to stay. Wisely, I think. Married brother of her late husband, my brother Garmeed. I hope they will find love together.”
Aranda strokes his cheek. “Do I sense worry?”
“A bit. I think Garmeed thought of me as competition, as weird that may sound to us.” Xenofos strokes her hand. “But he is worthy husband to a great lady, and he is lucky to get such a wife. I pray Uleria they will get even more than that.”
“This Garmeed is your brother? So you have become an uncle twice in one year. Uleria and Ernalda bless your family with progeny.”
“Garmeeds mother adopted me.” He smiles wistfully to Aranda “I asked Neela if there was a way I could be family with Elara.”
The Ulerian offers him slices of dried apple topped with a soft cheese.
“So now I am an uncle.” Xenofos accepts a slice splits it in two and offers Aranda the other half.
She accepts. “And how is Varanis taking to parenthood?”
“I think she is finding it challenging” scribe says thoughtfully “and mystifying. She is not very Ernaldan, but has found people she can trust to help her.”
Scholar quiets down for a while and looks Aranda in the eyes with his head slightly tilted.
She smiles. “Your cousin is very Orlanthi. I rather suspect she’ll be more of a father than a mother to that child. She came her often in her last month. I think she found the water soothing.”
Xenofos nods. “She asked me an insightful question on the way here.”
“She asked if you know how I feel, or if I know how I feel. I told her yes, I have spoken of it with you. ” Scribe touches Aranda on the cheek “But I realized, I don’t think I have said, I love you Aranda”
When she smiles at him, it is the goddess’ smile. “I know you do. I love you too. It is what makes us Ulerian.”
“It is not just the goddess in you Aranda.” Xenofos says with a small smile “as praised as she may be.”
“You are a loving man,” she says, preparing another slice of apple to share.
“You have taken my burdens and covered me with wings of your love.” Scribe looks a tad more serious. “Are there burdens I could help you with?”
“No, beloved,” she replies, gently rebuking. “That is not your place here. Not yet. But asking shows me once again the depth of your heart.”
Xenofos nods and kisses the palm of Aranda’s hand.
“Could I sleep in your arms tonight?”2 he thinks Aranda might need comforting and considers himself subtle.
“Of course, Xenofos. You may borrow my kithara while I play the flute. We shall play together for a time and I will teach you more of her prayers.” In a whispering of silk, she rises and collects the instruments.3 Aranda reads him like a book
In the night Xenofos wakes to listen Aranda sleep.
She is sleeping deeply.
Scribe listens to the even breathing for a good while, before tucking her better and closing his own eyes again.
“I have not seen or heard the Dragon in my dreams” scribe notes in the morning.
“How long has it been?” Aranda asks.
“About a week or so. I mean, I was pretty sure I would be haunted by it, after I looked at that wyrmish thing and carried it around. And resigned to just cope. But I have not seen it yet.” Xenofos answers.
“That is good, dear one. Nights free of the dreams are nights when your body and soul can recover a little more.”
She slips behind him, her body warm against his. Her hands unerringly find the knots in his shoulders and she begins to unravel them by applying pressure at just the right points.
Xenofos starts to melt under her hands. “Did you sleep well?”
“Always. Uleria keeps me in my sleep, Xenofos. Just as she does when you are here.”
The answer of the scribe is not a proper word but sound of general well being, like a stretching cat.
“You may, of course, stay at the temple every night,” she reminds him. “Tonight I am otherwise engaged, but I think tomorrow night I might be free.”
“I will come by tomorrow night, then and inquire.” Xenofos answers.
She slides out from behind him. “For now, I must break my fast and prepare for the day. Give my love to your cousin, should you see her.”
“I will. May Uleria smile on your day, beloved. And thank you Aranda.”
- 1pass devotion Uleria, special sing. fail love Aranda so he can concentrate on what he was doing
- 2he thinks Aranda might need comforting and considers himself subtle.
- 3Aranda reads him like a book