Xenofos Where Is Your Trousers

Xenofos — Xenofos Where Is Your Trousers

????, Dark Season, Death Week


Context

Dark Season, Death Week, Wildday after gettin back to camp of the Bisonfolk. [[[s02:session-21|Session 21]]]

Events

Getting back took about two more hours, and was chilly, but bearable. Berra rode as a scout, as the snow thinned.

They got back. Everyone lived. Animals were tended to. People were checked over. Naps were had. Even Humakt sometimes nods.

Berra is now a confused person blinking in the light of day, from under a pile of hides. “X’fos?” She is cuddling her swords.

“Little cousin?”

“Mm?” She blinks, and then smiles. “How’s the skin?” She still looks a bit confused, but is coming back to wakefulness.

“I think it is just fine. Smarted when you healed it, but that passed quickly and now feels pretty normal.”

Berra nods. Looks around.

She looks so cute.1Xenofos fails Insight (Human) and just looks at her.

There’s vaguely Varanis-shaped lump of hides just behind Berra. Strands of red hair are just visible at one end of the pile.

“It was starting to freeze. Um….” She looks like she is thinking something through.

“Weird, I have ridden on snowy weather before. Maybe it was the wind.” scholar ponders while rolling his neck.

“It’s pretty cold, and you don’t always realise. How deep does it get in Esrolia?” That is the sound of someone being distracted. Berra being distracted, in fact.

“Valind is a vindictive …” Whatever the rest of Varanis’ insult is gets lost in the struggle to extricate herself from the hides.

“Rarely more than two or three inches.” Xenofos answers.

“Oh. Hello.” Berra looks surprised. “I was just talking to Xenofos.” Definitely confused. She has forgotten to talk to him about snow.

“And almost never that,” Varanis observes. “It only gets cold at the end of Dark Season and never this cold. When it does snow, it’s as much rain as snow and it usually melts away.”

“It could well stay this cold for…” Berra counts by looking at her hand, as if a tiny set of marker stones is there. “Ten weeks, but probably not. I don’t know about Prax.”

2Brief OOC discussion:

V: For the hell of it, I looked up the climate for Esrolia. Low of -1 and high of 9 in Dark Season. Between 0 and 10 in early Storm. It says annually, we get 67cm of rain and 5cm of snow.

X: So basically we are Greeks? in our understanding of weather. and even though we have been on the farm we are pampered nobs to boot. Militia training cancelled – it was raining.

B: “Vengeance is sweet, even if it comes via Prax.” – Barbarian saying.

V: No, we are used to training in the rain. Sleet though… why would anyone go out in that?

B: Because it’s finally warm!

X: good hunting can be had. For whole afternoon if one is adventurous. And think of the bragging rights…. don’t think of the beaters who must go there already predawn.

“I need to get better clothing. I’m ill-equipped for this.” Impatiently, Varanis shoves the mop of hair out of her face.

“It’s cold, yes. But you can make things out of mine, if you want. I have spare clothes I haven’t worn in about a year.” Berra reaches for her pack, and thumps it, to say where things are.3And Varanis passes Insight (Human).

Insight: Berra is keeping the subject away from something, and it happened when Varanis emerged – something about Xenofos she did not say to him.

Varanis shakes her head. “Thanks, Berra, but that’s not really part of my skill set. I was thinking I might trade with some of Rajar’s kin.” She looks between Berra and Xenofos for a moment, then struggles out of her bedding. She makes quick work of dressing and says, “I’ll be back shortly.”

“Where are you going?” Berra gets up with the sudden motions of a warrior ready to guard, although she does then have both hands full of sword and no scabbards belted on.

Varanis looks at Berra. “Relax. I’ll be back in a moment.” She slips through the hide door without waiting for a reply.

Berra follows, of course.

After a few minutes, Berra comes back in. “Either she decided she wanted to announce she was going to the earth-place, or she wanted to leave us alone.”

Xenofos is sitting and combs through his hair with his fingers, reluctant to get up from beneath the cloak still covering his legs and feet. “It is not even cold in here…”

“No. It’s thick. And there have been three people, and maybe more when we were asleep. But I wouldn’t want to be here alone, if it gets colder outside.” She goes back to sit by her things. “I need to try to trade for some meat, I think. All the stuff I can’t eat.”

“I suppose I need to trade some kind of leg coverings. Wraps over the knee don’t seem very practical.” He smiles tamely “It would be stupid to freeze those legs again.”

“Yeah, well. I made Varanis’ mistake on the first day going up Kero Fin, and I never caught up with being warm again, until we were down. It happens. Until you’ve done it, I don’t know if you can know. You don’t realise.” Berra does one of her almost impossible balanced stretches to get her pack without moving. “I really do have more cloth than I use, though. I haven’t worn some of this stuff in a while and I hadn’t sold it in case I needed to, but I just wear armour to good occasions now.”

A chuckle “I suppose that dress Karne made you will be of no use in keeping Varanis warm though. “

Berra shakes her head. “No. But I do have one.” She unlaces the bundle. “You’ve never worn trousers, have you?” Most of what she has is the same light blue, mostly linen that is either plain or quilted, probably all from one purchase.

“Trousers? No.” He shakes his head with amusement.

“That’s probably best. I’ve got enough linen and I know the pattern, although my sister sews better than I do.” Berra holds up a pale blue skirt. “I’m probably never going to wear this, and it’s got easily enough material. You’d have a few seams.” She peers around it to check his reaction.

He looks a bit stunned. “That would be very kind from you.” No blush, though.

“Not a problem.” She looks at the skirt assessingly. “We can quilt it, I guess, but that takes time. And patience. So I’m pretty bad at quilting.” She folds the skirt neatly and unfolds a tunic of pale, heavy linen with orange air runes around the cuffs and neckline. “Heh. See what I mean about sewing? Yehna did this. It won’t convert easily, though…” Already she is folding it to go on to the next thing. “Uh…”

The tent flap opens, letting in a small gust of cold air and a smiling Vingan. “Thank you!” she calls to the person behind her. In her hands is a large clay pot, just visible above the hide that wraps around it. The flap is dropped shut as she clears it.

Varanis is looking pleased with herself until she takes in Berra’s expression.4 Insight: And there goes the moment again. Whatever Berra was about to say, she doesn’t. Sighing, she says, “I was given a hot drink for us. I think the woman said it was from a local plant.” She sets the pot near to the fire.

Xenofos turns to look at Vingan. 5 Is that relief Varanis can read from his face?

Once her hands are free, she rocks back on her heels in something similar to Berra’s infanteer’s crouch. “For someone who tends to blurt out truths, you seem to be having difficulties today, Berra. Shall I go find us some food, so you can try again?” Her expression is neutral.

“Depends. Are you going to announce you’re leaving again?” Berra smiles. “I’m sorting out warmer clothes. Some of this I’ve been keeping but I’m in the habit of wearing armour now. It’ll need some work, but I’m not going to be standing in a skirt in court ever again.”

“You are deflecting. I’m certain of it.”

“Yep.” Berra stands up. “But just imagine if you’d come back in the middle of what I’m not saying. With a hot drink.” Somehow, talented in all facets of infantry life, she already has a cup in hand.

Varanis throws her hands up in the air, then relents and fills Berra’s cup. The smell of something earthy rises into the yurt. She fills two more and hands one to Xenofos. “Tastes a bit like lumiviiva,” she says wrinkling her nose as she sips. “But less bitter.” Casting a glance in Xenofos’ direction, she says, “Well cousin, shall I leave again so you can ask her what it is she is not saying to you?”

“I don’t know cousin,” he replies. Exactly what he is replying to is unclear, perhaps even to him.

Berra sips too, and sighs as her fingers lace around the cup. “Mmm. There’s being warm then there’s feeling warm,” she announces, possibly to herself.

“But it sounds like Berra has something on her mind I should hear that is hard to spit out.” He is looking at the fire. “You know what it is Berra, you know if it requires privacy. You also know if it needs to be said now.”

“Yeah, I figured you wouldn’t want it said now,” the Sartarite replies. “It’ll keep.” She’s smiling slightly as her fingers warm.

Xenofos takes a cup.

Varanis sighs, heads over to her packs and starts rummaging through them. She comes out with three small bundles of shimmering fabric. The gold she immediately puts to one side. Then she sits with the other two in her lap, sipping her drink and running her fingers over the blue and the green with a considering look on her face. She ignores Berra and Xenofos both.

“I’ve got a shirt that isn’t going to fit Xenofos, but it could make a couple of things,” Berra says. “And some trousers I do intend to use, and a blanket that’s woven, which I’ve never really liked, but I use it mostly because I promised my sister I’d stay warm, and she gave it to me.”

“Mhmmm.” Varanis sets her drink to one side and shakes out the garments. Both are Esrolian gowns, recognizable to Xenofos as Karne’s work. “The blue, I think.” Indecision, turns to decision. “Yes. The blue.” The rich green silk is carefully folded and repacked next to the gold. The blue is set to one side. She takes another sip of the hot drink and then peers at Berra over the cup’s rim. “I’ll be back in a while. Perhaps an hour? Will that suit?”

“Yeah, no. Are you about to go around camp in blue silk?” Once more, Berra looks ready to follow.

Varanis looks affronted. “I didn’t realise you thought I was stupid.”

“Urrrh?” Berra blinks. “Explain that for me?”

“There’s snow on the ground, Berra. And more to fall soon, if I understood correctly. Why would I wear this?” She holds up the gown in question. It looks like it’s one of the ones that would open to the navel. “Look, I know I screwed up… yesterday? We were in a hurry and I thought we’d only be gone a short time.” The Vingan adds defensively, “I do learn from my mistakes.”

“Because you were showing off and that’s your role?” Berra sags a little. “I thought you … never mind. But silk’s warm. Although I didn’t know it was that open.”

“You have Death back. I don’t need to be Orlanth today. I can just be Varanis. And I know that people might find this hard to believe, but I honestly don’t need to be the centre of attention all the time.” She shakes her head. “I’m going to see if I can trade it for better clothing. The gown is of little use here, but the silk is valuable and there’s enough of it here to be worth something. Their outer clothing doesn’t show it, but I’ve seen the care that Rajar’s kin put into their clothes. There is craftsmanship in what they make and an attention to detail.”

Berra nods. “You could remodel it?” she suggests. “But if you’re going to trade it you should probably find Rajar first, or that girl. Davama?” The way she speaks is tentative.

Xenofos nurses his drink, warming his fingers and letting clothes discussion mainly go past him.

He looks thoughtful as his gaze follows those discussing.

Berra looks almost hopefully at Varanis.

“That was my intention.” She sighs. “Look, I don’t really understand what I interrupted. I can see that you wanted to talk with him.” She nods in Xenofos’ direction. “Leaving things unspoken can haunt you. And I find myself wanting to shake both of you. It’s not your fault he loves you, but it’s not his fault either. Don’t dance around the topic. Lay it bare and figure out how you will live with it or how you will work around it. You can’t be walking on shells around each other all the time and neither can the rest of us.” She throws her cousin an apologetic look. “I’m sorry, Xeno. That’s the truth as I see it and apparently her rune is rubbing off on me because I can’t just watch this silently.”

He twirls his moustache. “Not everything needs to be said out loud, but no offence taken.”

“That wasn’t it,” Berra says patiently. “But good try.”

“Well, when you act like there are giant earth runes painted on your feet and refuse to state what’s on your mind, you leave the rest of us guessing and filling in the blanks. If you don’t like it, go back to your usual self and just say what needs saying. I’ve already offered to give you the space to do so.”

“… Giant Earth Runes?” Berra looks puzzled. “Like, I’m planted?” She draws a clumsy stasis symbol in the air, head slightly tilted in question. “This is my usual self. I’m thinking.”

Xenofos looks at Varanis. “I trust she will speak, when she has figured out what she needs to say. Or what needs to be said.”

Varanis doesn’t reply, except to give Xenofos an apologetic shrug of her shoulders.

Berra nods, wide-eyed. “I need to sort my words so they don’t come out wrong,” she says. “And my clothes. I could probably make the blanket into the inner part of something, and that would be really warm. Or a shirt.” She looks towards Xenofos, appraisingly. “She’s better at sewing than weaving.”

“Things that need to be said are sometimes unpleasant to hear or say. But it may be better to get them out of the way anyway.” His brown eyes try to catch Berra’s and he does not turn from her when continuing ” Thank you for pointing out there was something hanging Varanis, I had no clue.”

Berra sips her drink and holds her peace.

“I’m going to go look for Davama. Alone.” The Vingan’s expression is frustrated. “I do not need a shadow at all times and we all know that if you don’t allow me some space, sooner or later I’ll be climbing the walls to find it. Calculate the risks. I’m highly unlikely to be attacked within the camp. Give me this space now so that I’m not desperate for it at a time where the threat is higher.”

“I know. But…” Berra shrugs. “I want to practice.” Another shrug, maybe of apology.

This gets a raised eyebrow. “Practice? Shadowing me or sparring?”

“Not shadowing. Walking with you and being relaxed but alert. I’m not sparring today – I’m resting. I sparred in the night, in dreams, and… um, well, I’m pretty tired, to be honest. But we can’t hold you back or in. That wouldn’t work.” Berra’s concentration jumps around a bit – sometimes it does.

“Being alone matters to me. I don’t need it all the time, but gods… Berra, I just want space to breathe. You didn’t even let me be alone to meditate the other night, did you? Rajar’s cousin was complaining about spending a shift on the plains.”

“There’s a lot of space between the people. That’s where most people find it.” Berra looks down from Varanis to her drink, and chugs it back, and refills her cup.

Varanis holds out her cup for a refill.

“I would not have thought you require protection in the camp.”

Berra does that as well, for Varanis. “I like this. I need new tastes.”

“But Berra was jumped by some illmannered lout.” He shrugs.

“She brings that out in some people, I guess,” Varanis says with a shrug. “Surprising though it may seem, I don’t typically get into fights. Assassins are a different thing altogether. And with hospitality given, I don’t believe any of this clan would permit an assassination in their midst.”

Berra nods. “I don’t want to lose you,” she says quietly. “And it’s a bit weird. Right now. I mean.”

A thoughtful expression enters the grey eyes. “I see. Can you explain so I can understand better?”

Berra shrugs. “Probably? I love you, and you’re my friend, and we had to argue, and I didn’t enjoy it, and now I feel bad?” Another shrug. “I don’t really know why. Worried, maybe. But then you were ill and now I know you’ve been busy but I haven’t seen you since Windsday and I know that isn’t long but it felt pretty long, and I… I don’t know. I’m feeling like I don’t want to fight anything right now, and I hate that feeling.”

Varanis sighs. “Look, I’m not angry with you. I know that Humakt was riding you hard. You’d never have tried to punch me without warning otherwise. And I’m fine now. You healed me and I’ve rested and had warm food and hot drinks.” She holds up the cup in her hands. “Really and truly, I am going to be ok. We are going to be ok. None of this is about me trying to avoid you. I grew up alone, Berra. I’ve always had my own room to sleep in and it was a place to go to when I needed space to think or work. I don’t know how to be around people all of the time.”

Berra nods just a bit. “Go out while I’m drinking and I’ll concentrate on that,” she says. “It’s a… I like the taste.”

Before Berra can change her mind or Xenofos can muster another argument, Varanis is wrapped in a hide and through the door.

Berra watches her away, and then says, “I know she’s not angry with me. That’s not why I’m feeling like this.” But then she shrugs and adds, “I probably just need food and sleep. That usually fixes me.”

“Could be. Or being Humakt you have been separated and feel effects of that.” He looks at his cup.

“I don’t think I did. Not much, I mean. But I did make sure I walked away from her alone. That was… I was thinking I’d do it overnight. That I’d have to cut off from her to fight her without kinstrife. So I don’t think I felt satisfied I did. Had. If that makes sense.” Berra stretches a little, without getting up.

“I was afraid it might require cutting yourself of the clan.”

He looks even deeper into the cup. ” Happy it did not. And relieved you did not fight.”

There’s a shrug. “Thinking about it, I still feel for everyone I felt for before? I was prepared to, but it didn’t happen. And yeah, I’m relieved we didn’t too. It could still happen, though. This sword is… I think I’m going to be pulled along by it somehow. Like it’s got a part in my Hero-story, or I’ve got to play along with him… And that’s odd because it doesn’t even have a spirit yet.”

“Do I want to hear what I need to hear?”

Berra considers. “It’s one of those awkward things to say, because it’s close to the edge of a thing it would be wrong to ask. But you threw yourself into danger for me. And you should do that for your comrades, but… but not just for me. If you wouldn’t have done it for Rajar, or Nala, then not for me either. He wasn’t armed. He wasn’t a big danger I hadn’t noticed.”

He breaks a piece of kindling and looks into the fire. “You are probably right. I think I would have done the same for Varanis. Not for Rajar, simply because he is bigger. Maybe for Nala, but even there I might have paused to think. But I would probably do it again for you – you were looking the other way when he attacked.”

“I knew he was coming. I could see him moving, and hear him. I… I shouldn’t ask you not to help, because one day a comrade might need it, but I need you to not help too much. And I need you to let me fight if I’m challenged.”

“I had kind of limited time to make that decision, Berra.” He shrugs “And I let you fight without interruption when you told me to, even though I fail to see why you bothered accomodating that cretins wish?”

“I know. But…” She shrugs. “What’s a cretin? And I’m geased.”

“Ill-mannered idiot , wait what did you say, geased to wrestle?”

“No, to answer any challenge to one to one combat. Which that was. And he was a dark, cold person, and I was being Humakt, so I really NEEDED to fight him. And to win. But yeah, I am.” Casually she drinks more as she thinks.

“You have not told me that before now, how was I supposed to know?” he looks at her ” you just mentioned being forbidden to eat vegetables. Something else I might need to know?”

“Probably.” Berra leans back, and grins. “I wasn’t expecting that one to be so informal, to be honest. Even in Sartar we tend to give duelists enough time to finish their drink.” She manages to drop down to support herself on her elbow. “I have to show a target in battle, and I could always be in battle, so I can’t wear armour all over.” She holds up her left hand, showing off the warm fur sleeve where she used to have padding. “And I’ve also been instructed by the god not to use any shield that would protect more than an arm – I’d sort of wondered how to manage with Wind Tooth and Torch, to be honest, and I think that was his answer.”

He looks at her left arm. “I see.” He takes some time to think. ” I can’t promise you I would not do the same again. If given time to think I will remember you geas though.”

“I know. But… try to stay behind me.” With that, Berra finishes her drink and wriggles back towards her furs. “I need something to mark up this cloth. I haven’t cut any in ages and I could never do it well anyhow. A burned stick is good, but I… they don’t burn much wood here. I can use thread if I really have to, but that’s slow.” Reliably, she is off one subject and onto another.