A story in two parts, taking place between E10 Spring Equinox and E11 Summer Solstice. Co-written by roisie.

A Lullaby: Vitória
–Sermersuaq, Early Summer–

The embers were glowing low in the fireplace grate when the last bravo left their company to head to bed, no longer able to stay up into the darkest hours of the night. There was a brief, honest glance between the two women, before hands reached up to untie the masks they wore.

“Which did you like best?” Vitória asked softly as she folded away her mask into her bag carefully.

“I thought you’d like them, don’t you want to choose?”  Vitória only shrugged her shoulder a little, then shuffled closer to Felice.

“Elsbet from the Hammerfalls was very beautiful. But we’re leaving with Gabriel soon, and she’s going back to the front tomorrow.” Her voice was quiet, hoarse from the evening’s singing, and she reached for the bottle of mead they had been sharing between them both. “It’s cold out there, it’s warm here, and hand on heart… I’d rather stay close to my leash tonight.”

Felice reached out, tugged the bottle away before Vitória could refill her cup. “Tori, that’s not going to help and you know it.” Vitória’s eyes widened, flickering with sudden, vibrant anger, a vexed comment poised at the tip of her tongue before it fled and she sagged a little, nodding.

“Do you want to go to bed?”

Vitória’s eyes shut for a moment as fatigue washed over her, before she shook her head vigorously. “No. Not just yet.”

Felice set her mask down, and put the bottle beside it. She leaned back in order to reach a cushion, pulling pillows, furs, blankets, everything around her closer to her cousin. “Then let’s just stay here together. Want to sing for a bit? I’ve got my book…”

At that, Vitória’s eyes momentarily brightened, and she smiled easily. “Yes. Oh yes, please? I love singing with you, more than anything. You said you’d teach me more melodies, new songs.” She shuffled closer to Felice’s side across the fur rugs, as close to the dying fire as she dared lest she get smuts on her hose. “I want to copy out so many of your songs. And Adelina’s. And Civetta’s… but I never get the chance.” Her voice dropped to a whisper again as fatigue started to creep into her voice, and in response Felice’s arms pulled her down into the little nest she had formed. “But no songs of fighting, or bravos. Something to drown her out.”

The naga let Vitória rearrange herself into a comfortable warm ball before she curled over her protectively. Vitória smiled up at her cousin as both their hands reached for the others’.

Felice laid her songbook out atop her knees, flipping slowly through the pages, and Vitória’s eyes followed each turn. One finger suddenly reached out to stop the turning,  “What’s this one?”

Felice smiled at the book, eyes looking through the page. “This is from Sarvos, from before…” She stopped, a flicker of a frown across her face, hesitating. Vitória’s hand rested alongside hers, the words clear on the page, and Felice looked down at her cousin and nudged their hands together again. “Someone sang it to me, to keep me still for a portrait.”

“Would you? Sing it, I mean…”

Lay me down gently, lay me down low,
I fear I am broken and won’t mend, I know.
One thing I ask when the stars light the skies,
Who now will sing me lullabies,
Oh who now will sing me lullabies?

“Is this one of those songs in the colour of Night?” Vitória’s weary voice whispered up to her. Felice made a little hiss of affirmation, fangs apart in a grin that her cousin had remembered, and ran her fingers through Vitória’s short hair, soothing until she closed her eyes again to listen.

In this big world I’m lonely, for I am but small,
These people and places, don’t they care for me at all?
You heard my heart breaking for it rang through the skies,
So why don’t you sing me lullabies,
Oh why don’t you sing me lullabies?

Vitória’s eyes flashed open, the twitching in her fingers resuming, trying to wake herself up again, like so many nights before when Felice would watch her cousin fight sleep despite exhaustion.

“Will we still have our tea party in the Hall of Worlds like you promised?”

“We will! It’s a while to the Summit. But we’ll take a picnic, whatever you want to to take, and we’ll sit and sing between the Realms.” She said with a nod.

“I want to see it. I want to understand what it’s like. But then, you’ll probably be busy with the Dawnish Puppy, so, only if you’ve got time.”

“Do you want me to finish the song or not, Vitória ?” Her voice came out on the sharper side and she felt Vitória wince, but she–thankfully– only curled closer into Felice’s body with a soft whispered apology.

She began from the beginning.

I lay here; I’m weeping for the stars they have come,
I lay here not sleeping; now the long night has begun.
The man in the moon, oh he can’t help but cry,
For there’s no one to sing me lullabies,
Oh there’s no one to sing me lullabies.

Felice continued to stroke Vitória’s hair, one hand tousling the sleepy briar and the other tracing along the verses and occasionally leaving the page to trace notes in the air in front of them as her cousin’s voice softly joined hers on some lines, slowly learning the verses. Her voice was tired, though, and fatigue was slowly sending her drifting, the restless movements of briar energy finally overcome by exhaustion.

So lay me down gently, oh lay me down low,
I fear I am broken and won’t mend, I know.
One thing I ask when the stars light the skies,
Who now will sing me lullabies,
Oh who now will sing me lullabies?

“I could write you a lullaby… will sing you lullabies.” Felice could barely hear her cousin’s soft mumbling of the incorrect line.

Who will sing me to sleep,
Who will sing me to sleep?

Vitória’s head was heavy on her lap, finally still, breathing softly.

Felice began again, from the beginning.

‘Who will sing me lullabies’ by Kate Rusby.


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