Day 034: Keeper Of The Flame
Summary: Chis/Lexa pays Bruns a visit, and reveals her true self to him.
Date: 3 July 2016
Related: None
Chis Lexa Bruns 

Between the Hood and the Market in Tondc
In poses.
34 Days After Landing

A soft summer drizzzle settles over Tondc, and the air is warm and heady with the far off scent of thunderstorms. A subdued quiet has fallen over the city, with many of the warriors being sent out to remove the Reaper infestation from Coesbur. Still dressed as Chis, the young woman steps casually out from the massive half-circle of pillars that mark the entrance to Indra's Seat. A cowl has been drawn up over her braided hair, guarding her from the spindly raindrops. She does not look back into the Seat where she has left Indra, but instead begins to move through the weathered pathways toward the marketplace.

Bruns has set himself up by the busiest thoroughfare. His wares are spread out on a blanket at his feet. It's an odd collection of bits and bobs - a set of needles, some utilitarian bone knives, sinew, scraps of leather, jerky and hard tack. There are also a few pieces of technology, though it doesn't take a tech expert to see the technology is broken beyond repair. He's balanced on a small stool, clad only in a leather wrap vest and cargo pants. The mist of rain doesn't seem to bother him. He's working on securing arrowheads to shafts.

Chis slows, hands sliding into the pockets at her hips. Her gaze flickers over Bruns, taking in his details, and then her gaze drops to his wares. She is short in comparison to most, but there is something about her carry that suggests a strength in that lithe frame. "Heya," she says, almost passively. She drops into a light, balanced squat, forearms resting across her thighs. She muses a bit, poking a finger at some of the leather, turning it over to see the back of it as well as the front. Then her fingers balance lightly just over one of the bone knives. "You make these?"

Bruns looks up from where he's twisting a bit of sinew tight around the arrowhead. "Nah," he says, half word, half grunt. "There's a girl in a village up-river. Does good work. Some of the horn is from my kills though." He watches his customer, but if he recognizes her from the fleeting glimpses when she addressed people in Polis, he doesn't give anything away.

"You are Bruns," Chis says, arms balanced on her thighs now. Her gaze remains steadily on him, even while she has picked up a knife, rolling it idly between her hands. She tilts her head aside, watching him curiously. "The trader." If there's a question there, it is a vague one. Almost as if she knows, and merely is beginning to share what she knows with the fellow Trikru.

"I am," says Bruns. He eyes her more carefully now. He sets the newly completed arrow aside, then leans forward on his knees. "Do I know you?"

Chis turns her attention sidelong, watching as a man comes walking past — his stride is dedicated, purposeful, and he does not look at the trader and his supposed customer. When she looks back at him, her head is tilted aside and her gaze has taken on a cool steadiness — a calculated change of demeanor. "Bruns kom Trikru… the trader…" Then her gaze drops to the knife, the tip gently pressed into her forefinger, butt of the hilt nestled in her opposite palm. "The Unnamed. The Flame Keeper who was not meant to be."

Bruns cants his head. He draws in a long breath through his nose, a bit like an animal trying to pick up a scent. His whole body tenses. He doesn't go for the hunting knife at his hip, but there's the distinct impression that he could get it into his hand very quickly if he were threatened. He watches her hand, silent, and slightly confused. He doesn't refute her words.

Lexa raises her hand ever so slightly, showing her palm to him. "I knew of you only by the stories Titus has told me." She drops the name of the current Fleimkepa very casually, but there is a certain weight in her gaze. Then she sets down the bone knife back with the others, and her arms remain rested against her thighs. "Do you know who I am?" The question is asked quietly, almost at a soft whisper between them. She certainly lacks the coin between her brows and the ashy black wings across her eyes, but Lexa wears the expression of the Commander — controlled and serious.

Bruns is a difficult man to read. It's hard to know what exactly he's thinking as he takes in the young woman across from him. He's only seen her a handful of times - and from a distance, but he worked closely with one of her predecessors. He knows that look, that bearing. That, and there's only so many people that Titus would speak to about him. "What do you want from me, heda?" he says that quietly, and not with the fervor of her warriors. It's with a note of suspicion.

The Commander offers him the smallest of smiles, but it lacks the mirth of a true smile. It is a smile that is worn as a mask. "Much, but nothing that will cost you anything dear." Which is certainly up to interpretation. The young woman picks up a bit of leather, rubbing her fingers over it now so she can test its quality. "Tomorrow, I go to the Sky People's camp… the one where their so-called Ark has fallen." She looks up from the leather to the trader once more. "I am told you have traded with them."

"Their kids, yeah. I haven't been to their Ark-camp." Bruns keeps a watchful eye on her, as if he's trying to pick out similarities with the commander he knew. "But they'd probably be happy to see me. That can't have everything they need." He doesn't question the wisdom of going to their camp. That's not for him to do. He kept that much from his flamekeeper training.

"And you think them just children?" Lexa asks, her expression suspicious at best. "Indra tells me they killed thirty warriors with fire, and more in battles between Thripoda and Coesbur." The Commander shakes her head, and one shoulder rolls in a faint shrug. "Tell me… what do you think of them? Their children." Her tone carries just a hint of something, almost wry humor.

"They're children in experience. They act the way kids do when they're threatened - wildly and without thinking about the consequences. There's no nuance, no discipline or structure. There may be a few wise heads among them, but from what I saw, they didn't realize a united voice was needed." Bruns is really not a big talker, so he struggles with long explanations. "A child left to run through a village with a torch could burn the village down. Does that mean the child is dangerous, or only dangerous when unsupervised?" He grunts softly, "I don't excuse their crimes, but their crimes come from fear and childish stupidity."

Lexa looks thoughtful, head bowed slightly. When her eyes lift once more, they settle on Bruns with that steady intensity. "And yet…" Then she slowly begins to roll back up to her feet, and her hands slide back into the pockets her her hips once more. While her body language returns to the casual demeanor of Chis, Lexa's expression goes unchanged. "A small delegation is going to their camp… will you join us?" Her tone remains level.

"Is this an official request, heda?" Bruns keeps his voice low - too low for passers-by to hear that giveaway word. You don't spend four years in the Polis tower without learning discretion. "Will you be going as yourself, or to observe them unprepared?"

"Do I need to make it an official request?" Lexa replies, her voice also quite low. Then she glances back toward the marketplace, eyes lingering on the people of Tondc as they mill around with their days. When she looks back down at Bruns, she does so with a slightly arched brow. "Unprepared… I need to know these people as the people of Coesbur know them. They support them… one has even taken one as his Second, and I have been made aware," and oh, how her voice turns mildly dry, "of other relationships between our people and theirs. If they are allies, then that will suit Trikru, but if they are not?"

Bruns listens to her speak and then nods slowly. "I don't understand it, myself. Perhaps years of peace have made people more trusting." He grunts, then nods slowly. "I'll go with you."

Lexa starts to smile, though again it lacks the full mirth of a true look of satisfaction. Her gaze slides to the left, watching as another woman walks pasat them, her newborn wrapped to her chest in woven fabric. Once she has left, the Commander looks back down to Bruns. "Indra says I should not trust you," she says, the words offered lightly, as if in casual conversation. "That your forsake your duties to the Commander before me, so why do I dare trust you will uphold any duties I lay at your feet…"

"I didn't feel I could serve your predecessor properly. That's why I stepped down." Bruns looks at the young woman directly. It's still hard to get a read on him, but he seems sincere. "I wasn't worthy to be flamekeeper, but that doesn't make me disloyal. If Indra felt she couldn't serve you, do you doubt she'd step aside for someone who could? Would you call her disloyal if she did?"

Lexa leans back slightly, considering Bruns with those clear eyes. Then she nods slightly, as if mollified by his answer. "Then let us see if you can serve me properly." Then her mouth twitches slightly. "But fear not… I have no intentions to replace Titus." Until Titus decides to be replaced. She begins to step away, saying as she turns, "We leave at sunrise tomorrow."

Bruns simply grunts in response to both her statements. "You better trade somethin', or people might get suspicious." He picks up the knife she was playing with earlier and holds it out, hilt-first.

Lexa pauses, looking to her left now, and then back to Bruns. She looks torn, uncertain, and then she draws from her pocket a long metal chain of tarnished bronze. She winds up the chain delicately in her hand, and holds it out for Bruns to trade for the knife. When the exchange is done, she looks over the blade, and then back to Bruns. "May the Flame Guide You." And there is that faint twitch at the corner of her mouth, and a small satisfaction in her eyes. She begins to step away.

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