Summary:Spring goes to apologize to Varanim.

XP:S1, V1

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`Spring In preparation for bearding Varanim in her den, Spring goes into the fields around the Cascade and picks a dozen white roses, signifying friendship, then has them distilled into brandy, signifying alcohol. Bottle in hand, he climbs down the stairs into the dank river, remembering to bring a small cake for the new river god.

`Varanim The inestimable sage of the secret river is easy to find, swearing at length at a section of copper coil that was easier to adjust with two hands. The still is a work in progress that has become something of a monster over the past months, tucked into a nook of the catacombs and squatting there like some particularly sinister aspiring river godlet. Varanim is its cranky priest.

`Spring "Varanim?" Spring leads with the bottle.

`Varanim "What the hell do you want?" she answers without checking who it is, then glances around and manages to drum her fingers in a way that suggests she regrets her initial politeness. It's important to be considerate of the vision-impaired.

`Spring "I wanted to apologize."

`Varanim "I doubt that, but briefly entertaining. Enter."

`Spring does so.

`Spring "While I was possessed by the Mask of Winters, I was extremely unkind to you, in a way that denied the friendship I would like to think we had built over the course of some time at some effort."

`Spring "I very much regret this, and I would like to make amends if it is possible."

`Varanim turns, raising her eyebrows. "We were friends because you were interesting. That stopped when you became another idiot playing ghost-god."

`Spring "If that is so, then I am not sure I understand your definition of interest."

`Varanim "Really? You must know it's not precisely a new story in my line of work. I even had your black eyeliner picked out as a going-away present."

`Spring "Presumably the qualities that I previously possessed that you found interesting still exist. Your sudden distaste for them is an emotional response -- a reasonable one, which I understand, and would like to ameliorate."

`Varanim "I'll pick the most humorously implausible element of what you just said for further explanation: do tell me about this emotional response you understood."

`Spring considers this, opening the bottle and taking a swig of brandy.

`Spring "Perhaps you feel betrayed, having put some trust in me and my ability to support you, and having found that trust misplaced. I made a mistake, and I indeed betrayed that trust. I can only say that it is by making mistakes that we learn not to do so again."

`Varanim considers that, absently taking the brandy bottle and sloshing some on a bulbous glass chamber of the still, then hands it back so she can polish the surface with a corner of her shirt and expose the unsettling bubbling behind it.

`Varanim "Do you have any other platitudes arranged for my consumption, or is that the full menu?"

`Spring "Just one."

`Spring "I need your help to put things right."

`Varanim "Ah, appealing to either altruism or ego, good finish. I'd applaud but I've tried that recently, and it turns out that it looks really silly."

`Varanim "If you're done, I can try to use small words and explain why I am... still angry at you."

`Spring "Please."

`Spring sips the brandy, then pours a bit into the river.

`Varanim slouches against the wall and regards his empty eye sockets, suddenly suspecting what Zahara has been fidgeting with in her pocket lately. "Would you agree that I have, relatively speaking, few interests?"

`Spring "Yes."

`Varanim "Good, I'm glad you didn't forget basic counting skills in your recent adventures. Would you agree that I am, in most socially normal respects, a poor excuse for a human being?"

`Spring opens his mouth, closes it, and then says, "For the moment."

`Varanim "Better. A cursory inspection of my adult life would show that it is devoted to one study, and that in this area I've achieved some proficiency. It came at a high cost, the payment of which has set the measure of my remaining days. You apparently took what you knew of me, and decided this had been a trivially easy thing, to be done with neither long consideration nor outside assistance."

`Varanim "I don't mind when Lucent takes me lightly--his heart is full of the sun, and he sees the world as he is. From you, it offends me."

`Spring "Hm."

`Spring "Have you ever spoken with Zahara about me?"

`Varanim "Recently, when I was giving her specifications for the Lethe anvil."

`Spring "When we originally became enemies, it was because I did something foolish, and dangerous, attempting to save Creation. Please do not interpret my poor planning as reflecting on my judgment of you."

`Varanim "This would be an example of learning from your mistakes, then?"

`Spring "I did not deal with the Mask because I thought I could do it more effectively than you. I dealt with him because I was impulsive, and arrogant, and the Mask of Winters is well skilled at taking advantage of these characteristics."

`Spring "And because, even then, I did not wish to kill him."

`Spring "I said mistakes, not mistake."

`Varanim "What I'm hearing you say is that the next time you have a problem lying within my sole area of expertise, rather than bringing it to me you will once again embrace the combined woes of Creation. I am, I hope, missing something."

`Spring sighs.

`Spring "I would like to imagine that I have learned something this time."

`Spring "I recognize, though, that the proof of the pudding is in the eating."

`Varanim is silent for a full minute, which at the speed she now thinks is an impressively condensed period of brooding. "It's forgotten, then."

`Varanim "As a favor to a friend, please don't make me wrong. I have relatively few ties to life."

`Spring looks, if anything, more uncomfortable, but nods.

`Spring cautiously produces a pudding.

`Spring "I have a problem in your area of expertise."

`Varanim "Have a cup of some proper drink and tell mommy Varanim all about it, then," she leers, holding out a shallow drinking bowl pilfered from the kitchen whose enamel has not yet been entirely stripped by its liquid contents.

`Spring takes a sip, then coughs loudly and indeed aggressively, and hands it back.

`Spring "Do you remember when the Mask of Winters was possessing me?"

`Varanim "If that's a mental function check after drinking, yes, my short- and long-term memory are both fine."

`Spring "He left something behind."

`Spring taps his head, slightly unsteadily.

`Varanim "Is it a... large something?"

`Spring "I believe it is just a memory."

`Spring "But I think...if we speak with it, we may be able to interrogate, indirectly, the Mask."

`Varanim starts to look interested. "Is it in an easy to reach place, or will we need tools? I assume you'd rather have this chat before Calibration."

`Spring "It is inside my head."

`Spring "A place you sent me most recently, while tied to an enormous anvil."

`Spring "I think there may be an easier way to get there, though. And possibly a way in which you could accompany me."

`Spring "I suspect he wishes to speak with me."

`Varanim "And you want to do what he wants for a reason which you're about to explain...?"

`Spring sighs again.

`Spring "Because I want to know what he has to say."

`Spring "I think that he did not intend to leave this behind."

`Varanim "Hmm. Do you want my help just to have an outside observer, or to do something hilarious while he's occupied gloating to you?"

`Spring "If by hilarious you mean helping me not turn evil again, then both."

`Varanim "Assuming for the minute I like this obviously questionable idea, what's the way into your head to do it?"

`Spring "As you no doubt remember, Lucent taught me a way to venture into someone's subconscious, when they have damage to the soul."

`Spring "I suspect the Mask of Winter counts as damage."

`Varanim "You're going to hurt his feelings if you keep talking like that. But yes, I remember."

`Spring "So...we will merely find a quiet room, and visit my mind."

`Spring "That is where I saw him last."

`Varanim "Do you have a particular plan for me once we're inside, or should I just do what comes most obnoxiously?"

`Spring "If it looks like I am about to turn evil, make it stop."

`Varanim "What about the Mask-memory? Do you want it trapped in some fashion through terrifyingly amateurish mind surgery, or left where it is?"

`Spring "Oh, I think I will keep it...for now."


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Page last modified on April 25, 2011, at 08:14 PM