1627, Earth Season, late Harmony Week or early Death Week
At Ironspike village. Session 2.48 (Scribal Error).
A little after dusk a herald arrives with a letter for Varanis, a rather bulky one written on parchment. He asks, of course, for her scribe or herald.
Xenofos meets the man explaining he is no herald, but has served Varanis as her scribe.
There is a bow, and a supercilious, superior twist of a smile. “Then this is for her. Lord Venlar Silorsson.” He holds up a letter, tied into a stick that has been split and bound around it, which is an odd but secure way of carrying it, if one insists on stick-based methods. It is addressed in a fine hand, and ash has been sprinkled onto the seal, which bears a thumbprint.
“Thank you, good man” Xenofos looks around “Not our camp so I can not offer you hospitality, but have your needs been met by our hosts?”
“Of course,” he replies. “King Stark has been as fine a host as expected.” He speaks Heortling with a southern Sartar accent, and some degree of education.
Xenofos hands the man couple of silver guilders. “To wash some dust off you throat when you have reached a place with inns again. If you are not in a hurry I could ask if mylady has an answer to these?”
“I am not asked to wait for answer,” he says, still with that superior smile, “But it is dark, and I shall be overnighting.”
Xenofos nods. “We perhaps see in the morning then. If not, safe travels and tell our brother-in-law our thanks if you happen to see him.” He turns and goes seeking for Varanis.
The man bows, and goes to be fed elsewhere.
Varanis is in her room, dressing for dinner.
“A letter just came in. From Venlar, said the messenger.” scribe tells showing the parchment.
Berra is half asleep, curled up on a corner without her armour on. She is holding Wind Tooth, of course, and her other sword is beside her. She opens her eyes sleepily to watch.
The Vingan is unpicking plaits that have mostly undone themselves already. “What does it say?” she asks with some interest.
“I have not read it yet.” Scribe arranges better light and sits down. He has the annoying habit of reading silently.
Berra raises her head, stretching elegantly, to look at Xenofos with the gaze of someone just waking up, and already close to alert.
His expression of concentration is given variety by his reaction to the content. Delight, more concentration, concern and concentration.1 insight on Xenofos:start is good, then he is startled, looks at Berra, resumes reading, almost cries and then gathers himself
“It is from Venlar. His father welcomed him as kin and clansman and Venlar is travelling to Blue tree.”
Berra just watches him, like reading is a spectator sport.
There’s a satisfied smile from Varanis. “Good. I hoped that would happen.”
“Then there are family news I will tell you later milady.” He is rubbing his brow.
Varanis peers at him. “Berra is kin.”
“You want me to go out?” Berra suggests, getting to her feet by swinging onto her hands, putting a foot under her, and rising. Her sword comes up with her to get buckled on, but she gives Varanis a glance, and relaxes into not moving.2 BleysRex: There might be other people around outside, of course, lurking under the window and guarding us IC or something, if anyone else wants to get this news.
“She is. But this is news I will relay to your ears only, for reasons I will explain.” He looks at Berra “I am sorry, little cousin. I made an implicit promise to…” he stops his explanation midsentence.
Berra looks confused. “Can you tell me if that was going to be an action or a name?” she says hopefully.
Varanis holds out her hand for the letter. “Let me look at it then.”
Xenofos hands the pergament over. “In the final chapter he renews his promise to serve you, but tells you should not feel bound by your offer if you thought of his and Mellia’s sustenance by the offer.”
He looks at Berra. “Before you tell Berra, would you listen to why I do not?”
Varanis frowns as she stares at the document in her hands. “Give me a moment. I need to concentrate on this.”
Berra starts putting her armour on, her dress armour, the bronze stuff. No padding – it is too hot for that.
Xenofos is shifting weight from one foot to another.
“I don’t see why this should be kept secret, but I have promised to listen to your advice. Berra, if you could give us a few moments, please?” Varanis sets the letter in front of her, a riot of emotions on her face.
Berra leaves, closing the door outside and putting herself on guard a little way away.
Xenofos steps close to Varanis, looks at the windows with some suspicion and explains something quietly in Esrolian.
“I talked about this with Irillo at Argraths camp. I kind of knew Yamia is the mother. Berra was there too and wanted to know. Irillo did not want to tell her because she was going to report to Eril. And this could have political and economical consequenses. I promised to hold the secret so I cannot tell her. And she is bound to tell Eril. So you must choose between Irillo’s wish to not let him know it and her duty to do so.” Xenofos looks slightly nauseous when speaking. “I am sorry Varanis.”
“Oh. I see.” Her expression is deeply troubled. “I need to consider this. And to speak to Irillo.”
He nods, looking desolate.
“I’ll keep silent for the moment. But I don’t like it.”
“Do you think I do, Ranie?” Xenofos asks.
“Take the letter and burn it, please.”
Xenofos nods. “I will make notes of the omens?”
“Please do.” She hands him the letter.
Outside, Berra whistles a tune to herself.
Varanis looks troubled, but nods. She hands the note to Xenofos and then begins to finger comb her hair. “Let Berra know she can return if she wishes.”
Xenofos nods and opens the door. “Berra?”
The Humakti is a couple of meters away, leaning on the wall on the opposite side of the corridor, and whistling a marching tune. She finishes off the chorus as she comes back into the room, giving the pair a curious look.
Xenofos looks miserable.
Berra is as blithe as she is wakeful; alert and cheery.
“Promises were made and I can’t break them. I’m sorry, Berra,” Varanis apologises.
“Nah, no worries,” Berra says. “Can I sleep in here tonight? I need to be on duty, but I want Rajar to have time off, and I don’t want to fall asleep outside.” She gestures to the space across the door.
“Of course. Have I ever turned you away from my sleeping quarters, wherever they are?”
Berra thinks about it. “No, although sometimes you have people in them.” She adjusts the bracer on her right arm, pauses to look at where she no longer wears one on the left. “We should… I should get dressed and maybe go out and try to walk around slowly for a bit. I feel really like I want to run and jump, still.” No cares.
“So do I. But, I promised to join King Stark for dinner.”
A letter arrives to Varanis. Xenofos suggests it’s contents are not told Berra.
- 1insight on Xenofos:start is good, then he is startled, looks at Berra, resumes reading, almost cries and then gathers himself
- 2BleysRex: There might be other people around outside, of course, lurking under the window and guarding us IC or something, if anyone else wants to get this news.
- 3Text of the letter is: Letter From Venlar To Varanis