1628, Dark Season, Disorder Week, Clayday
“These are good,” Lord Raven tells her. “Esrolian style?” He has a bit of dried fruit in his hand, and a look of condescending curiosity.
To Lord Raven, she says, “Please be kind to my servants? I’m tired. You’re new and scary and I just don’t want to deal with more problems right now.” Glancing at the fruit, she nods. “Yes, I think so. People are determined to give me things to remind me of Esrolia, it seems.” Insight: She is extremely tired. It’s late, but she doesn’t look like she’d been to bed yet. And although she called him scary, she’s never once reacted to him with fear. Not even the sensible amount a human should direct towards a spirit.
“To them, I am. You understand I am new to this being bound into a sword thing myself, however?” Lord Raven pauses to give Varanis a severe look.
“I know. And I’m sorry for it. The greater good and all that.” This time, the look she gives him is sad. “I truly am sorry. The thought of caging anyone…” She shudders.1Varanis passes Charm.
Lord Raven rolls a baked hazelnut between thumb and fingertip, thoughtfully. “I cannot, I think, help but buck against it,” he says. Of course he is a horseman. “Time is passing for me, even within the sword, and yet I can only hear one voice most of the time, and some of the time she is sleeping. Perhaps it will be better after Death Week.”
“I will offer my prayers and worship to you,” Varanis tells him, staring into the bowl as she picks at the snacks. She has yet to eat any. “I’m not her, and I belong to Vinga, but what I can offer, I will.”
“I will be fading soon,” he says. “When I am gone, can you please be sure the sword is back in its case? I think I broke the fastenings on it. I shall try to stop them from being replaced.” That last bit, the way he says it, sounds almost like a Berra change of subject. While connected to the previous subject, it is actually about something else; he went from explanation to the future, in a terribly familiar way.
“I can speak to Berra about the fastenings, if you wish. I know you can too, but perhaps if I back your request it will help. And yes, I’ll return the sword to the case for you. You know I accidentally stole it once? Mythic reverberations or some such thing. I was meditating…” She shrugs. “Anyway, we fixed it eventually, but she was so angry with me.”
“She has not told me about that,” Lord Raven muses. He is eating at a polite speed, even as he starts to fade. What he is eating is, thankfully, invisible. He can be seen through, yet is not seethrough. “The anger would be real, of course, but it comes because she cares.”
“The next time we snack together, I can tell you stories if you like,” Varanis offers. “Anything you’d like to hear that is within my power to share.” She has, in the end, eaten little more than a slice of dried apple.
“I would prefer to walk,” he says, “But it would be inappropriate to leave a door unlocked.”
“Do you enjoy rooftops?”
Now about halfway through the bowl of snacks, and about halfway gone, the figure pauses, and gives Varanis a warning look. “I spent most of the last season of my life hiding on them,” he replies flatly.
“Too bad,” she says. “They are one of my favourite places to be. But, nevertheless, I will walk with you at night, if you like. I have a key and while the door won’t be barred, the lock should do.”
“Once you have been at a full worship ceremony, it may get easier to contact me,” he says. His voice is a well-bred whisper now, far away.
She waits until he is fully gone before clearing up, then she checks on Ore and Heleris.
The couple are huddled by a small fire, with Heleris shivering despite the growing warmth. He was the one who faced the ‘ghost’ and was mocked by it.
Ore is just staring into the flames.
“He’s gone now,” Varanis tells them. “I’ve tidied up as best I can. There’s a bowl with some fruit and nuts in it, that I’ll have for breakfast. You can just leave it on the table. Try to get some more sleep? It’ll all feel better in Yelm’s light, I’m sure.”
“Yes, thane,” Heleris says, but he hardly looks at her. He just holds onto Ore after that. It seems they may be sleeping here.
Varanis sighs, but leaves them be. She promised to deal with the sword and that means going into Berra’s room. She considers clapping outside the door, but instead just slips inside.
She waits by the door for her eyes to readjust to the darkness.
There is a small pale shape on the bed-platform, and at the other end of the room, Yehna is sitting up. The crash and scream must have been audible from here.
Berra watches Varanis in the darkness.
Yehna reaches for a lamp and starts to chant a spell. Ernaldans are seldom without a light.
“Oh, hello,” Varanis says, startled. “I thought you’d be asleep.”
“There was a spirit,” Yehna says unsurely. “The Wyter. Berra said it was fine.”
The case that holds the sword is open, the bronze catch fittings torn out of the wood.
Berra lets her sister speak.
“Yes. He needed a snack. We had some nuts and dried fruit in the kitchen together. He’s gone for the moment, so the rest of the night should be quiet. I think Ore and Heleris are pretty unhappy though.” Varanis looks to Berra. “He asked me to make sure the sword was back in the case.”
“It never left,” Berra says quietly. “Thank you for checking.”
Yehna gets the lamp to take the magic, and slips out of bed. She is wearing an old tunic, obviously too big for her, and probably well-loved. “Can she close it?” The Ernaldan asks.
Berra nods. Her sister gets a smile.
Varanis pads over to the box and gently closes the lid. “It needs to not lock in the future,” she tells Berra. “He needs to be able to come and go.”
“He said.” Berra looks at the box, and up at Varanis, and gives a tiny shrug.
“He was rude,” Yehna says loyally. “To my sister.”
“He’s young still, Yehna,” Varanis points out reasonably. “And he has been caged. He is resentful and will need time to settle. I think he is still learning what he is and what he’s capable of.”
“It’ll be fine,” Berra says, her voice reassuring. When she talks to Varanis she is formal. “Thank you for coming, Thane Vareena.”
“Still?” Varanis asks, sounding tired. “It is what it is, I guess.” This doesn’t seem to be directed at anyone in particular though. Turning to Berra, she says, “Do you need anything? More water? Another blanket? Fresh air?”
Insight: Yehna is upset by Berra’s formality, but trying not to show it.
“No, I have all I need, thank you.” Berra makes a gesture to say all is well. A hand held up to forestall more offers.
“As you wish. I’ll leave you in peace then,” the Vingan says, and turns to leave.
Collecting her rapier from the kitchen and a heavy cloak from by the door, Varanis makes her way to the roof. The rest of the night is spent alone, wrapped tightly in wool and fur to ward off the season’s chill. She dozes some, despite being so exposed, but mostly she stares at the dark clouds and from time to time, she prays. When Yelm begins his ascent, she is ready to greet him.
(There are no more screams, although in the morning the servants are reluctant to enter the kitchen.)
- 1Varanis passes Charm.