Tablet Device

1629, Sea Season, Probably Movement Week, Probably Clayday


Lord Raven has asked Varanis to go to the library for him. Session SA4.16.


Varanis flies in through the window and begins to strip her armour off as soon as she lands. “Lord Raven and I have an appointment at the Library,” she announces to anyone who happens to be in the room. “I arranged it earlier today.”

Berra has Raven on her lap, and is talking to him in a quiet voice. “-was Storm Season, but… oh, hello Varanis. Yes. He’s ready. He brought me back here. Us. We went out to see some sights.”

“Is Nayale coming too?” Varanis deftly unbuckles her cuirass and sets it beside her pack. Her padding follows and then she wrinkles her nose. “I need to change tunics. Does the wash basin have clean water?” The question is muffled as she is already hauling the light linen tunic up, over her head.

“She’s outside, eating. Downstairs.” Berra has a splash of some kind of sauce on her own tunic. Brown, against the pale blue.

“And yea, it does. I didn’t get to it yet.”

Varanis gives herself a hurried wash before throwing on new clothing. Her bleached white undershirt is covered by a rich blue tunic with gold embroidery incorporating Air and Movement runes. She adds Kallyr’s arm-ring and various other jewellery. “Can you tell Nayale that I need her to act the bodyguard?”

Berra rolls to her feet and opens the door, “NAY…aoh. Yes, you. Thane Vareena requires a bodyguard. That’s you.”

A few moments later the youth is in the room, doing her best to look like she is worthy of the task Berra has picked out for her.

Varanis buckles on her sword belt, wearing iron with all her gold. “May I have permission to wear him in the shoulder harness?” she asks Berra, noble worshipper to Wyter Priest.

“Or a belt if he prefers.”

“He really prefers the belt, but he goes on your right hip.” Berra demonstrates helpfully. “Then you can be touching him all the time.”

Varanis nods and buckles him into place. “Feels odd to have a second sword here,” she admits, before placing her hand on the hilt. Any instructions before we head for the Library, my Lord?

Speak only Truth within the halls, he advises. As for now? Nothing.

“Yeah. It takes getting used to.” Berra rolls onto her bed, gets the sauce from her tunic in her face, and looks down as she works out the situation. “Ugh.”

“You could visit a bath house,” Varanis suggests with a grin. “Right, we may be back late. I promise to take care of them both.” She starts for the window, stops with a sigh, and uses the door instead.

“I could.” Berra stays where she is.

Nayale is … eager.

“How are you at climbing,” Varanis asks the young Humakti as they start down the stairs.

“I’m alright, I suppose. Harmakt is better. Good. He goes up trees and cliffs if he has to.”

“Out of deference to my Lord’s preferences, I’ll go on the street level for now. But, depending on how things go at the Library, I might need height later. We’ll see, shall we?” She gives the young woman the briefest of glances before reaching for the door that will lead them into the alley.

“Let me go first and check it,” she says. “The Wyter Priest has instructed me to use magic on command.”

The Vingan considers, then shakes her head. “We should be alright. If someone attacks, there’s enough room in the alley for me to take flight and attack from above. But, yes, you can check it first.”

Nayale steps out, and after long enough to have looked it over, but not long enough that she is looking slowly, says, “Clear.” She has remembered to look up.

Varanis steps out and then takes the lead. “I know an efficient route with a minimum of narrow alleys,” she informs Nayale. “We can work together with those. I’ll scout from above to ensure each one is clear, then we can go through them together. I want to reach the Library before Yelm sets completely.”

“Then you’re guarding me,” Nayale points out. “Amn’t I doing it right?” She hurries to be by Varanis’ heel.

“No. Then we’re using all of our resources to work together. We ensure mutual safety that way. You’ll have my back in any alley we pass through and I’ll know no one is lurking ahead.”

“Alright.” Nayale still seems puzzled.

She is not incompetent, although she is young. A couple of times on the trip she nearly asks a question, but she manages to keep herself silent, showing off her professionalism.

Her vambraces are too big. The armour is hand-me-downs.

They arrive at the Library without interference. Before they reach the entrance, Varanis says, “We go in together. Although you’re here as my guard, you’re also my assistant. Lord Raven tells me you read competently, which is more than I can say for myself most of the time.” She gives Nayale a small grin and a wink. “I’m not sure I’ll be all that likeable over the next few hours. Consider yourself warned.” She’s kept her hand on Lord Raven’s hilt most of the walk, so now she simply asks him, Ready?

Always. From him it sounds less like a boast and more like he is surprised to be asked. Given his occasional slip-ups, he is probably at least of the opinion he is always ready.

There are several entrances, but the one at the base of the Y Rune is for lay members and visitors. There are several people here in discussion, even this late in the evening, and a big desk behind which a man is writing.

“Lady Berra can read too,” Nayale tells Varanis.

There’s a subtle shift that comes over Varanis as she heads for the visitor entrance. She somehow stands even taller, her chin lifts just a little, and she radiates confidence with each step. When she approaches the desk, she is every inch the Wind Lord and scion of a noble house. She wears a Queen’s ransom in metal, between the two iron swords and her gold.

“I require the use of a reading room,” she announces. “And someone to find me the records I must consult.”1Varanis passes Intrigue to hit the right notes.


The man at the desk rises from what he was writing. “Of course. Are you a member of the laity?” He probably does not have such high ladies talking to him often.


“Then there will be an outer reading room.” He remembers himself enough to flag down one of those in conversation. “A comfortable room for the High One,” he says. “And you’ll act as her runner. Lady, you and your guard may leave for the hall the room is in, but go no further.”

The rather younger man looks to Varanis and then back to the desk-keeper. “Of course.”

The desk-keeper asks, “And your name, great one?”

She gives them both a regal nod. “You may record me in your tablet as Vareena,” she informs him.

The tablet is a wax one, no doubt for transcription later. The man settles back down, and the guide says, “This way please.”

Describe where we are, if you would, Raven asks.

Varanis follows, trusting Nayale to do the same. As she does, she silently describes the hall and any rooms she can glimpse to the Wyter.

The description of high ceilings and large lamps with very heavy bases seems to be familiar to him. It is an aphorism that Truth is a light.

And then they are there, a room with several lecterns, some for standing at, some with low stools, some next to padded seats.

“I can fetch refreshments,” the young man says, “But they are forbidden while any scrolls are being handled. It’s fine to eat dry foods around tablets.”

“I don’t require such niceties at the moment, just scrolls and tablets. Please start me with anything you have on the Red Goddess. And references to Humakt in the Great Darkness.” Her demand is brisk, as though she expects immediate compliance. Nothing in her demeanour indicates that she considers her requests unusual.

There is a start. “We have forty of each,” he says. It sounds like he is using forty to mean ‘a very large number’.

Try just Humakt facing the Red Goddess – nothing too obvious. Raven sounds as relaxed as he usually does.

Nayale looks a little puzzled.

“Perhaps we’ll focus on any references to Humakt facing the Red Goddess then?”

There is a bow, and he departs. Just for a moment he was surprised and worried, and then the answer soothed him.2Passed Insight Human.

Nayale speaks up. “As your assistant, can I ask what we’re doing?” She is asking permission to ask, rather than demanding.

“At the Battle of the Heroes, Jar-eel and Lord Eril were both present. Harrek was the wild card. I am not convinced that Jar-eel is gone for good and any information about Humakt and the Red Goddess can be useful in the battles to come. Especially as Harrek is unpredictable.” Every word of that is true, though there are things unsaid.

The Humakti nods. “And Lord Eril might have to face her!” She obviously believes in Lord Eril.

Varanis gives Nayale an approving smile, not saying anything.

Piles of tablets and scrolls are brought in. For all clay makes good records, parchment packs down better. Lord Raven waits patiently to be told what Varanis is reading.3Varanis fails Read/Write

And Nayale knocks over a stack of dried, fragile clay.4Ooops. Read/Write Fumble.

Varanis blanches. “Oh, Nayale. Oh shit.” She glances over at the scribe who delivered them.

The man is staring in horror. Nayale’s lips move silently around the word ‘crap’.

Did… Lord Raven almost asks a question.

There is the smell of clay dust in the room now.

Yes, Varanis replies with a heavy mental sigh. I think I need to summon my uncle. I’d hoped to leave him out, but…

Ask how much it will be to repair it? Raven suggests, not knowing that the ‘it’ is several ‘them’.

“I’m so sorry,” Nayale whispers.

“Uh, that…” The young scribe is starting to pull himself together.

Them, Varanis replies with a mental wince. Several of them. “Right,” she says out loud. “Do you know the Sage, Desdel Saiciae? I require him now. Tell him it’s Ranie.”

Oh hell. The mixing of words is a bad thing. Raven groans internally.

The scribe bows. “I will fetch him.”

As the door swings shut, Nayale says, “I can sell my armour.” Her eyes are still wide, still horrified.

“No, child. You will not do that unless it is to get you something that fits better. The Sage is my uncle. He will help us work out what is needed.” There is compassion in her words. “I’m going to need to come across as angry. You understand?”

Nayale nods, and stays silent, pale-faced and nervous.

They are left alone for a long time. Varanis describes the scene carefully to Raven and then suggests she pass the time attempting to read some of the scrolls. Nayale is left standing at attention.5Desdel passes loyalty family and so not only is he present, but he chooses to come when the young man’s horrified message is delivered.

Poor child. She must be terrified.

Raven replies with a thought. The breaking and mixing of words can be seen as a terrible thing, but if you have allies here it will probably be attributable to human weakness.. If nobody who is not known to you comes, then you have avoided your enemies.

As for terror, he says nothing.

As Varanis peers over the scrolls, trying to make sense of them, an older man in a Sage’s robes strides into the room. His head is bald, but his eyebrows and beard are both lush. He looks a bit like Xenofos may in a couple of decades.

Nayale is not trembling, but she looks a little like she wants to.

Behind Desdel, the young scribe hovers. Behind that is the sound of a complaint. “I ordered the illustrated version…”

“Uncle,” the Vingan says, rising graceful to greet him. “There has been something of an accident.”

He takes in the scene, looking at the mixed tablet pieces with horror. “So I see.”

“My bodyguard,” Varanis waves at Nayale. “She is something of a well-trained barbarian, but unused to such places. Shall I have her publicly flogged for her clumsiness?”

“The warrior knocked it with her elbow,” the young sage supplies helpfully.

Nayale hangs her head, and swallows nervously. Or, more likely, guiltily.

Desdel arches a brow at his brother’s daughter. The expression must run in the family. “A public flogging seems a bit extreme.” He turns to the younger scholar. “With her elbow, you say? So it was an accident?”

There is a small wince from Raven, at the notion of a flogging.

“She was turning around to get another tablet, and she had not even finished the one she was reading!” The youngster is very sure he has to give all the details.

“I suppose I could cut her hand off, so she has to take things more slowly,” Varanis says, looking at Nayale consideringly, before back at the young man. “Would that suit you?” Her voice remains coldly arrogant. A grandmother in the making.

“But how will she write?” The young man is confused now.

Tears are crawling down Nayale’s cheeks.6She has fumbled Insight, and thinks this is for real.

“You are right, of course. What do you propose, young scribe?”

Desdel is watching the scene play out, a small frown adding to his wrinkles.

The scribe looks to Desdel, “Well, they could be picked apart and repaired? We would have to ensure each is a proper copy, of course, but that is… if she is competent at writing she could copy it?”

“You are a kind-hearted young man,” Varanis says. “I shall learn from your wisdom. Now, before we get started, please go collect the relevant supplies and a damp cloth.”

He does look to the Sage, of course.

Desdel nods his agreement, looking vaguely bemused by the whole thing.

That was nicely timed, Raven opines.

The younger man scurries out.

Briefly ignoring both Raven and the Sage, Varanis rushes over to Nayale and pulls her into a fierce hug. “I would never,” she whispers. “Never.”7“Pass Hug. I love that that’s a skill on my sheet.”

Nayale gives just one sob. “I’m sorry. I let you down…”

She hugs back hard. She seems to need it.8Apparently Nayale has Hug too. 3 on a base score of 5.

“It was a mistake. They happen. We’ll talk more later, I promise. But for now, take some nice slow breaths and we’ll get through this. You’re going to be spending your night piecing together some puzzles and copying the text down. I won’t leave you and I will protect you. Take another breath.”

Nayale gets herself under control. “Yes, lady.” Up close she is still very shaken, but she manages to look the part to the casual observer.

Desdel is shaking his head when Varanis turns back around. “There are times when you scare me, Ranie,” he tells her. “Now tell me what is going on and how I can help.”

She gives him the same explanation she gave Nayale. He looks at her thoughtfully, as he considers it. “There’s more, of course, but that is enough. You sit there and get back to studying those scrolls. I will want to know what you think you have read when you finish the first. Child,” he says turning to Nayale, “collect the pieces carefully and place them on the table. Try to preserve the distribution, like so. It will help us.”

He takes over and with a sigh of relief, Varanis lets him.

Nayale bows her head. “Yes wise sage,” she says in Heortling-accented Esrolian.

  • 1
    Varanis passes Intrigue to hit the right notes.
  • 2
    Passed Insight Human.
  • 3
    Varanis fails Read/Write
  • 4
    Ooops. Read/Write Fumble.
  • 5
    Desdel passes loyalty family and so not only is he present, but he chooses to come when the young man’s horrified message is delivered.
  • 6
    She has fumbled Insight, and thinks this is for real.
  • 7
    “Pass Hug. I love that that’s a skill on my sheet.”
  • 8
    Apparently Nayale has Hug too. 3 on a base score of 5.