1627, Dark Season…
In Boldhome, Varanis and company go house-hunting, but while looking at a place, Mellia starts in on the Vingan about her pregnancy. Before long, there’s way too much advice coming from every direction and Varanis panics. Sometime after Wolf at the Door (Session 2.55).
“This place has good approaches,” Berra tells Mellia. “And the courtyard’s got a good wall. I can get over it, but I know how someone would, so I can guard against that.”
Yamia looks at Berra like she is wondering how to kill the other Humakti for getting over a wall unannounced. She probably is.
Berra looks away from Yamia, maybe discomforted.
Mellia says, “That’s a good thing. Varanis, have you confided in Berra?”
Varanis arches an eyebrow and then looks meaningfully at Yamia and Venlar.
Venlar gives Varanis a tiny nod. Yamia gives no indication at all of knowing or caring what this conversation is about.
Mellia says to Varanis, “I needed political advice.”
“You told them?!” Stormy eyes glare with indignation. “Mellia!”
Berra is pretty much unreadable, at least to Mellia.
Venlar looks like he has something to say, and lets Mellia talk instead.
Mellia blushes. “I am sorry, Varanis, but I really needed counsel.”
Yamia and Berra share a look, and each goes to stand by a doorway; Berra, the one that leads out to the courtyard, Yamia the one that leads back into the house. Berra says casually, “I think the roof’s got a lot of good viewpoints as well,” to Yamia. Yamia just nods, taking that in.
Venlar looks down at Mellia, and then across to Varanis. “Love causes strange decisions to be made.”
“Berra knows, so go ahead and lay it all out for me.” Varanis takes a seat on the floor, waving at Venlar and Mellia to join her.
Yamia says, “My brother did not tell me, but I have guessed.”
“How?” Varanis demands of Yamia. “I only just…”
Mellia sits down. “Varanis, I am afraid for you and the child. Her claim to Sartar will be senior to your sister’s children.”
Yamia looks briefly at Varanis. “I’m a mother,” she notes. “People forget that easily.”
“We know all that,” Berra says. “But you’re wrong about the senior bit.”
“We don’t have a claim to Sartar,” Varanis objects at the same time.
“The tribes wouldn’t support us.”
Mellia says,” I know but I think Fazzur doesn’t believe that.”
Berra keeps on looking out. “Claims here need to be acclaimed as well,” she says.
Venlar nods to Mellia. “Fazzur knows,” he says, “But does not have to care.”
Mellia says, “Anyway I trust Fazzur as far as I can kick him.”
“And you think my sister would tolerate her husband …” Varanis trails off. “Fuck. She would. She could even pretend she didn’t know.”
Berra grimaces. “I don’t think so. I think she wants to keep as much family as she can alive. Keep the pressure off herself. Because if she’s the only one with heirs, that’s bad for her too. More living people are armour for hers. And for her. And proof she’s a good link to people. She’ll want a family around.”
Yamia gives Berra a brief glance. “His other sons?” Berra shrugs.
“Might depend on what sort of child either of us have,” Varanis muses. “She’s bound to have ensured her own pregnancy.”
“Onjur is a Rune Lord of Yanafil Tarnils, as I understand it,” Venlar says. “Annstad is… a disappointment to his father – an Orlanthi. His reputation is not good, but it suffers from him refusing his father’s people, I think. Both are powerful men likely to kick up a fuss.”
“Or to be persuaded to teach their new brother,” Yamia pipes up. “Yehna looks cold out there. I can see her through the window.” Both things seem to have equal weight.
“Oh, Yehna already knows,” Varanis says impatiently. “Invite her in? We’ll have a damned party.”
Yamia steps outside, and Berra carefully looks out at the empty courtyard.
“In any case, Varanis, I would feel much better if Berra and Yamia would guard you.”
Berra is still looking out at the garden. Yamia comes back in a moment later, with Yehna in tow. The Ernaldan crosses the room to where Berra’s cloak is, and bundles herself into it.
“Having guards will make things more obvious. Can it at least wait until I can’t hide this anymore?” the Vingan asks, a plaintive note creeping into her voice. “Besides, if Yamia is guarding me, who would guard your husband?” Varanis has bypassed denial and gone straight to the bargaining stage. On some level, she has already acknowledged that being guarded constantly might have to happen again.1I rolled for insight 5 times, to account for everyone in the room. Every one of those rolls was under 20! She’s an open book, apparently. Must be hormones.
Mellia says,”Venlar should be fine, since we will be staying with you. I had hoped Maalira would be with you, but I heard that she went to Prax.”
“I don’t think she should have the guards,” Berra says, now leaning against the door-post so she can see both in and out. “Because it’s part of the risk you have to take. To be her.”
Venlar looks at Berra with a touch of confusion. He is caught enough off-guard that he cannot come out with whatever he was going to say.
“I am confused, Berra.” Mellia frowns.
“Varanis will do better – for her and Sartar – if she doesn’t hide. There’s danger, but we’ve always faced danger, and so can she.” Berra rolls her shoulders, like she does when getting ready for action.
Yehna puts a hand up for attention, almost shyly.
Mellia shuts up and looks at Yehna.
“What is it, Yehna?” Varanis says, happy to be considering alternatives to being caged.
“When you start to slow down, you’re going to want someone to carry things and help you anyhow,” Yehna says. “It’s not dignified for a warrior, but someone could do that. And you’ll be having help then anyhow.”
Yamia considers that like it is news to her, or else she’s just heard Yehna quack instead of talk – faint surprise.
Mellia says, “Good point.”
“What?” For someone raised by Ernaldans, Varanis looks a bit like she is struggling to make sense of Yehna’s advice.
“You’re going to find it harder to walk,” Yehna says, “And having a friend is useful. Either make the friend be the one who can protect you, or once you start getting out of breath, have a bodyguard as well as someone to fetch and carry.”
Venlar gives Yamia a very pointed look. Yamia gives him a pleasant smile.
Mellia says, “Pregnancy is hard work, Varanis.”
The Vingan struggles to take this in. She looks from the healer to the Ernaldan, and then to Yamia. “It didn’t slow you, did it? Nothing seems to slow you.”
“I was inconvenienced,” Yamia admits. “But then, I am an avatar of Death.”
“She was more than merely inconvenienced,” Venlar says, the dark tone in his voice directed at his sister. “She could barely walk.”
“Oh, that was pain, not lack of breath, brother.” From the sound of it, this is an argument they have already had.
“That is not a helpful thing to say right now,” Yehna tells Yamia, and then Venlar gets a softly stern look as well.
Mellia comments, “I have Comfort Song.”
Varanis begins to look frightened, then she shakes her head. “No. My pregnancy will be different. I won’t let this … thing… interfere. I have things I need to do. I want to practice broadsword. I’m still clumsy with it. And I need to improve my riding. I promised Serala that I would practice daily.” She shakes her head again. “I don’t have time for this.” She has taken on that mulish expression she sometimes gets.
“It is inevitable,” Yamia notes.
Yehna gives Yamia a sigh of enmity.
Mellia is beginning to look thunderous. “Varanis, the will of the Queen of Life is not easily thwarted. The broadsword and riding can wait.”
Venlar puts a hand to Mellia’s shoulder. “Love, perhaps now is not the time?” he suggests.
Varanis launches to her feet. “Look! There’s barely anything there!” she yells, fumbling with her belt so she can draw up the tunic. Her belly is gently rounded, but there isn’t much of a bump yet. On a woman with more meat on her, it probably wouldn’t be noticeable yet. “I’m fine!” She freezes, puts a hand on her belly and glares. “It did it again.”
Mellia concedes, “You are in excellent condition, Varanis. Please listen to me and stay that way.”
Berra stares, and then remembers to get back on guard. Yehna gives the bump a bit of a smile.
Tamakt wakes up and gurgles. Perhaps it was the noise.
“Here’s what I’m willing to concede,” Varanis growls. “I won’t ride Manasa, but I will still ride. I’m going to send that beast to Apple Lane as soon as the weather is good enough for it. I will continue to train until or unless I can’t. If it becomes… painful…” she glances at Yamia before continuing, “then I’ll change what I am doing. And if I am leaving Boldhome, I’ll take a guard, but not day to day.”
As far as compromises go, this one is crap. But it also looks like the most Varanis can concede just now.
Yehna looks to Berra, who shakes her head slightly at her sister, and then goes back to being on guard.
Yamia lifts Tamakt from his basket, kissing the little head before holding him close over one shoulder. He has his uncle’s hair already.
Varanis looks at the baby and scowls. She’s been friendly with babies before, but at the moment, she’s glaring at him like somehow this is all his fault.
Mellia says, “You are going to have daily check-ups, Varanis. Me or the Ernaldans, your choice.”
“No,” Berra says. “Don’t do that.”
“Daily?” Varanis shrieks at the same time.2If Varanis isn’t careful, the whole neighbourhood will know something is up. This house is a write-off.
“They won’t take long,” Mellia says stubbornly.
Venlar tells Mellia, “Remember what we talked about?”
Mellia nods at Venlar.
Berra sighs, and pulls the door closed. She signals the same to Yamia.
Venlar says, “We can talk about this more later,” to Mellia. “Right now, is the time for silence.”
Tamakt murmurs in baby-confusion.
The sound of the doors closing is the final straw. With something akin to panic in her eyes, Varanis looks for a way out. She aims for Berra and the door to the garden.
Berra opens the door for Varanis. “I’ll get them home,” she says.
“I need air. I’m going for a walk.” With a quick nod to Berra, Varanis is out the door and before anyone can say or do anything to stop her, she has already found the way up and over the wall. It might even be the same route the Humakti had identified earlier.
Mellia says, “I swear to the White Lady that I do my best for these people.”
Berra turns to the people in the room. “You really gotta not chase her,” she says, standing in the doorway to keep it. “She can’t stand being kept in.”
Yehna looks worried, but Berra gives her a gesture and a nod to reassure.
Venlar tells Mellia, “She’ll come round.”
Yamia nuzzles up against Tamakt, making a tiny, pleased noise. Her expression says little.3Alynx mother is purring.
Mellia says, “I hope so.”
- 1I rolled for insight 5 times, to account for everyone in the room. Every one of those rolls was under 20! She’s an open book, apparently. Must be hormones.
- 2If Varanis isn’t careful, the whole neighbourhood will know something is up. This house is a write-off.
- 3Alynx mother is purring.