1626, Storm Season, Truth Week, Clayday
Yelm has not yet risen when Varanis disentangles herself from Kalis and slips into her clothes.1For the record, the ‘her’ to whom the clothes belongs is Varanis. Quietly, she makes her escape. No one stops her as she makes her way through the temple and it’s not long before she’s standing in the courtyard, swathed in the light of predawn.
She looks around, trying to decide where she will greet Yelm. The temple’s courtyard faces east and it would work, but…. she flicks a glance upwards, to the rooftop. Up is always better. She grins and begins to climb.2B: Climb roll please. V: 46 easy pass, but nothing fancy.
The gritty texture of the surfaces scores her fingers. Green and brown paint coats their tips by the time she is up at the roof. Statues that helped her get upwards stare forward, abandoned.
She does a quick scout of the entire roof. She doesn’t want any surprises, either in the form of unexpected company or unstable footing. Once she’s satisfied, she chooses her spot and sinks to her knees to meditate until Yelm is ready to make his appearance. Breath in. Breath out. Her shoulders feel stiff. Air in. Air out. Her head aches from too much wine and too little sleep. She shifts in place then closes her eyes. Breath in. Breath out. One breath at time, she gives herself over to Vinga.3B: Roll Devotion Vinga? V: 46. As before. Pass, but nothing special.
Here, between the Earth and the Sky, is where Orlanth belongs. Yelm will come, and be slain. But up where the Air should be pure, visible from here through reflections in the torn clouds, there is a tinge of red. Someone else claims the Middle Air, and fights for it.
The Vingan frowns up at the sky. It’s not right. She should fix that. But first, Yelm. There is a ritual to be done.4Rolled on Air too. That one was 03. She rises gracefully to her feet, unsheathing her rapier as she does so. Yelm is just peeking over the city gate. With a fierce grin, she begins the steps of the ritual.
Below, Kalis turns over in her sleep, sighing. Or perhaps something else – she is a woman of deep mysteries.
As she takes the first step, her foot slips. Her eyes grow wide as she starts to slide towards the edge of the roof. Desperately she flails with her free hand, trying to find something to grab.5V: Would DEX be a suitable roll for that? Oh, and for the record, that was a fumbled rapier roll, with a 51 on the fumble chart. B: POW for there being something to grab onto, DEX to grab it. Both x5. But let’s cap the amount of damage you can do at Not Dead. V: 10 on the POW roll. B: Special, so there’s an easy grab. Take a 10 on the DEX. V: 41 on the Dex. Not splattered.
The statue that holds out its hand to Varanis is, of course, Ernalda. Semi-recumbent, semi clothed, it must be up here to get the air, for it cannot be seen from the ground.
Holding tightly to the statue with her left hand, Varanis presses her forehead against the stone. Her breath is coming in frantic gasps; she wills it slow down, breathing in time to a prayer. “Vinga light my eyes, that I might see the way.” Breathe. “Vinga fill my heart, that I might know the way.” Breathe. “Vinga guide my hand, that I might shape the way.”
She reaches up to place her sword on the other side of the statue, so that she can use both hands to pull herself into a more stable position. Getting her feet under her at last, she rises, legs trembling. She takes a few more breaths and looks up at Yelm.
The sun stares back, glorious and powerful.
Gingerly, she retrieves her sword. She breathes the crisp Air of Storm Season, glances around, and comes to a decision. She climbs higher. She picks a new place, tests the footing carefully, and then begins again. The earlier eagerness has been replaced with determination. She will see this through.
The sun creeps into the sky, reaching the point where the shadow of the rock will depart from the Temple…
There’s nothing fancy about her sword work. Her feet step deliberately, without her usual dance. But she completes the ritual nonetheless, the bronze rapier catching Yelm’s light as she slices through him in the ritual sacrifice and salute.
When she’s done, she makes her way carefully back to the statue that saved her life. All of her is shaking as she takes a seat in front of it. “If you don’t mind, I’ll just pause here a moment,” she tells the statue. She leans back against the stone and stares up in the Air above the Earth Temple.
Once she’s caught her breath, Varanis tells the recumbent Ernalda. “Well…. thank you for your company and your assistance. I should probably climb down now.” She holds her hand out in front of her. It no longer trembles so obviously. Rising, she carefully makes her way to the roof’s edge and sits with her feet dangling over the side. She rubs her palms on her legs as she considers the distance. There’s a deep breath, then she swings herself over and around and begins her descent.
On the ground below, Xenofos and Berra are standing at the entrance to the temple. The scribe spots his cousin as she comes down the wall in defiance of protocol, while Berra steps back, letting him deal with the situation.
“Gut Morning, my Lady.”
“Good,” Berra murmurs.
When she’s near to Xenofos’ head height, the Vingan pushes off the wall and nimbly lands beside him. “Good morning, cousins,” she greets them, her eyes alight with mischief. “Did you sleep well?”
“I slept in armour, outside my lord’s door,” Berra says. “But I made sure he wouldn’t trip over me.” She sticks to Heortling.
“No, not slept.” Xenofos struggles through the foreign words with concentration. “At temple.”
“I did not sleep. I was at the Temple.” Berra corrects him clearly, her tone encouraging.
He looks at her, shakes his head and corrects his wording and pronounciation.
Varanis raises an eyebrow, but refrains from commenting. In careful Heortling she says, “We all sleep today, yes?”
“That’s a good idea.” Berra speaks rather more clearly than she ordinarily does.[[Varanis fails insight on Xenofos, but passes an INT check for Berra. Intelligence: Berra is wearing the iron sword, despite having said she would take it to the Temple. Despite being in different armour.[[/footnote]]
“Mebbe… You sleep, and go out with guards?” Xenofos asks.
“Some of us were working last night, this guard says.” Berra grins at Varanis, though.
Varanis shrugs. “We’ll see what day brings. For now, we go to the inn and sleep. Busy night.” She gives them a grin, then heads for the temple’s gate.
Berra sticks herself back on guard to the right as they walk, falling into an infanteer’s pace and a Humakti’s swagger as she goes.
“You still have the sword?” Varanis asks after they leave the temple precinct and are on the empty road leading from the temple to the more developed parts of the town.
“I have it again,” Berra says. “I…” There’s a big sigh from the little woman. “I need to get better at what I am. The challenge will kill me or make me. This is just more challenge than before.” She looks straight ahead as she talks, her expression determined.
Xenofos looks at the little Humakti, mirth that was bubbling in him vanishing to be replaced by a quiet mixture of sadness and admiration.
Berra looks buoyed up more than afraid, some inner emotion pushing her along.
“I see.” The sharp glance she directs at Berra suggests she sees something anyway.6V: Insight? B:fail “And did you tell your High Sword any of the news we brought from Prax?”
“Most of it. He gave me some good advice.” Berra gives Varanis a glance, and then looks annoyed. “Damn… I forgot to tell him about the goddess.”
Brown puppy eyes note Varanis,7V prompts X to roll insight and shockingly, he passes. Insight: Varanis is worried about Berra, but maybe, just maybe, she’s a little jealous too. but Xenofos does not comment on what he sees.
“I need to see Tennebris again. I may return to him this afternoon. I missed out on some of what I meant to say. I didn’t ask a question I meant to ask.” Her Heortling is accented, but passable. The words are carefully enunciated and she is mostly speaking in short sentences with short words.
Berra nods. “We should all get back,” she says. “And I suggested a thing to Lord Eril that he… well, I know a thing you could offer to do.”
The eyebrow asks the question again. “Back to Tennebris, Berra?”
“Someone’s got to approach the Feathered Horse Queen about Prince Kallyr marrying her,” Berra says, and then shrugs and looks the other way. She might be embarrassed. She might be thinking of what to say next.
Xenofos raises his eyebrows. “Right, the kingship.”
This gets a thoughtful look. “And it might get me to the Grazelands for a time… I haven’t been there yet. New oppor…” A frown. “New place to get tossed out.” The laughter is laced with self-mockery. “I will speak to Tennebris. Now, more people ahead. No more politics.”
Berra kicks a stone along the road, and watches where it was, and then where she is going, and walks on.
“As say you milady.” The scribe glances around.
“It’s Storm Season right now, and we’ve got time to rest and prepare.” Berra looks up at the sky as if hoping rain will wash everything away, or at least, maybe, the people in front of her.8B: Go on. One more Insight roll. X: Back to normal 40/39 – oh, that nose. B: She gets freckles. V: 29 – pass.// B: Insight: Berra just tripped over some unexpected internal pain, and now she’s ignoring it and forcing it down.
The Vingan glances sharply at Berra, as if searching for something. Then she sighs and starts rambling about the feast, the food, the attendees, and other noble nonsense, practicing her Heortling and most definitely not talking about anything that actually matters.
The trio is swallowed up by the early morning bustle of people, heading to temples, markets, and other business.
Berra settles to repeating the names of food items, talk about cloth, and a brief lament about missing fried onions.
Xenofos just looks at the two.
Berra has a really cute nose, but her ears are beautifully crinkled too.
- 1For the record, the ‘her’ to whom the clothes belongs is Varanis.
- 2B: Climb roll please. V: 46 easy pass, but nothing fancy.
- 3B: Roll Devotion Vinga? V: 46. As before. Pass, but nothing special.
- 4Rolled on Air too. That one was 03.
- 5V: Would DEX be a suitable roll for that? Oh, and for the record, that was a fumbled rapier roll, with a 51 on the fumble chart. B: POW for there being something to grab onto, DEX to grab it. Both x5. But let’s cap the amount of damage you can do at Not Dead. V: 10 on the POW roll. B: Special, so there’s an easy grab. Take a 10 on the DEX. V: 41 on the Dex. Not splattered.
- 6V: Insight? B:fail
- 7V prompts X to roll insight and shockingly, he passes. Insight: Varanis is worried about Berra, but maybe, just maybe, she’s a little jealous too.
- 8B: Go on. One more Insight roll. X: Back to normal 40/39 – oh, that nose. B: She gets freckles. V: 29 – pass.// B: Insight: Berra just tripped over some unexpected internal pain, and now she’s ignoring it and forcing it down.