1628, Storm Season, Movement Week, Fireday
At the Praxian house in Boldhome, Varanis is still recovering from her Initiation. It is afternoon sometime when Berra turns up. Takes place sometime after Wedding planning and a bar fight??? (Session Sartar 14).
Varanis is sitting by the hearth, staring into the flames. Her new/old armour is sitting tidily on the stand next to her bed upstairs. She is huddling in a lap blanket like an old lady.
There’s a cup of mint tea next to her, long since forgotten.
Berra’s face slowly drifts into view. She is peering sideways from behind Varanis, at a just-polite distance.
“Hello, Berra,” Varanis says without looking away from the flames. “Care to join me?”
“Sure.” Berra hauls up a bench to point towards the fire and lies down on it, on her back, her face getting warmed.
“Do you have everything you need for tonight?” Varanis asks after a little while.
Berra looks up, and nods, which requires her to shuffle around a bit. “Yeah. All the big stuff happened for us in Death Week. The Temple organises the sacrifices now as well.” She just performs them.
Varanis nods. “I’m glad. I was wondering if we’d have to search the markets for suitable black chickens and was definitely hoping we wouldn’t need to start raising them in our garden.” Although she sounds tired, the Vingan’s sense of humour appears intact. At least, it’s probably a joke and she wasn’t truly thinking of taking up chicken breeding.
“I was thinking of trying to raise them in the Temple to annoy Lord Eril, but I’m a Priest now and that’s initiate stuff.” Berra huffs indignantly.
Varanis chuckles. “I’m sure it’s a priestly obligation to keep him sharp,” she offers.
“I do that already anyhow. It’s…” Berra trails off and sighs. “He needs someone to keep making sure he’s not going wrong. Tha’s me. Not just sharp, but acting right. I might actually be arrogant after all, come to think of it.” She quirks a look at Varanis.
Her friend laughs. “Don’t look at me like that! How would I know if you were arrogant? I’m an Orlanthi noble. I live and breathe arrogance.”
“Well, could you breathe me?” Berra grins. “Wanna come out for a walk and jump off walls into the river?”
“Into the river?” Varanis shudders. “Maybe. I have a question for you first, though. If you don’t mind.”
“We can find a shallow bit. Yeah sure. What?” Berra sits up, and shuffles bench and self so that she can pay attention.
“Did you, um…” Varanis hesitates, then turns herself so that she’s looking at Berra full on. “Did you share your opinions about the Saiciae initiation rituals with anyone? Silor, maybe?”
Berra blinks, and then nods. “Yeah. I thought I might die, so I told Silor. I wanted to organise it but he… well, he’s the sort of person who could and so I didn’t tell anyone else. I had meant to ask some of the Air Temple about it.” She looks down. “Um. Yeah. I did.”1Insight: She feels ashamed now. It is a very rare thing with her.
Varanis reaches out a hand to pat Berra, slowly enough that the Humakti could easily evade it. The motion causes her lap blanket to shift, exposing the hilt of the sword she has resting across her knees. It’s very familiar looking to Berra.
“No, it’s fine, I think. Good even.” She turns a tremulous smile on Berra. “I feel more connected to Sartar than I ever have, except perhaps the day I met Grandfather.”
Berra gives Varanis a cautious smile. “I’m sorry, though. It was kind of private what on Ernalda’s fertile soil?” She stares at the sword and then up at Varanis again, expression showing some wild surmise.
“It was good,” Varanis repeats with more certainty. “I needed it. Silor… I’ll need to think of a suitable gift for the cunning old fox. Something to let him know he is seen.” She laughs, then swears, “Vinga’s balls, I’m tired though.”
“Alright but that looks like it’s enchanted,” Berra says. “It’s shiny!”
Varanis glances down, then looks back up, her face coming alight. “It is,” she breathes. “And it’s mine, Berra. Truly mine now. I was ready. Look! The Iron Lord’s mark faded from my palm a while back and then Tennebris… and the temple…” Her words start to fall over each other as she tries to say what’s happened.
Berra’s expression mirrors Varanis’, as she shares the emotions while listening. Her eyes are wide, her smile subtle but real, her hair its usual short mop. She would not be her without that, and right now she is very her, almost bouncing in place.
“…And they marched me down the corridors in nothing more than my under tunic and that ghastly bag over my head… I swear, Berra, if I could have gotten close enough for a weapon or knew for certain when I had open sky, things could have gone very sideways…2big eyes For the record, a bag over the head has to be one of the most unpleasant ways to confine someone!” Varanis has never had her limbs broken then wrapped in lead.
“Depends what the bag’s already been used for,” is Berra’s counter.
Varanis considers, then nods. “You’re right. This one was just a little musty. But, I couldn’t hear right either. And they stayed frustratingly out of reach! If someone had cooperated by laying a hand on me, I’d have known where they were and could have done something. Mind you… and perhaps this is a thing to bear in mind… if anyone knows how to effectively kidnap a Vingan, it seems to be another Vingan.”
Berra grins. “They let you wake up,” she says. “They could have done a lot they didn’t. But you need to be awake to get taken to the sacred place. I think I tried to bite someone. They said I did, but I’m not sure. And I couldn’t have seen them anyhow.”
“It was because they deliberately woken me and seemed to want me moving of my own accord that I figured I was safe enough to wait for the right moment. If it had been an assassination, I’d have been dead already.” She shrugs as if to indicate that it doesn’t really bother her.3Insight: It kind of bothers her. Maybe it was the sense of helplessness. “Anyway, when I slipped into the HeroPlane, I was Vingorlanth again. The two so intertwined that they were inseparable, and me with them.” She proceeds to describe her brothers, the coming of her uncles… none of this is secret to another who has been initiated in the same way.
“Yeah, you’re sent there afraid on purpose,” Berra says. “It’s not kind, but it’s… more Orlanth’s challenges way?” She listens, though, to the story. Her eyes stay on the storyteller, not the sword.
“I kept thinking I should be stronger than I was. I couldn’t fly, I had no sword… maybe that’s because I have already lived as an adult and knew those things? It was probably amusing to anyone who could see.” Her lips turn up with a wry grin. “Falling on my face…”
Berra smiles along. “That is kinda funny, yeah. And yes, I think you probably needed to be really young, to fit into Orlanth … I mean Vingorlanth.”
“In the pit, it took me a bit to rally them together, but I did and we fought our way to freedom. I think I saw the Red Goddess, but she was held back.”
Berra’s smile slips away, after a moment. “Oh. Right. That must have been terrible.”
“It was Balance. Balance kept her back,” Varanis says, trying to remember. “I wanted a sword, but they told me I had to find it myself. Someone… she had many eyes… she gave me one. An eye, not a sword.”
“In our Temple, we have a thing we do where we report this kind of detail,” Berra says. “Do you do that? It might be a Humakti thing. Maybe it’s too organised for Orlanth.”
Varanis laughs softly. “They queried me after and someone took notes, but I was…” The laughter fades abruptly and her face shadows. “… not very clear. At the end, things…” She shudders and wraps the blanket around herself again. “There are things at the end that I can’t talk about,” she says finally, “things that won’t let me go yet. I am to report back in a few days and we’ll add to the account of it. I don’t even remember everything I told them right after.”
Berra nods. “Yeah. I don’t remember much of mine, to be honest. I think I saw the Strange Gods, but… I wasn’t Humakti then. I wasn’t anything. So I know the stories but only as they get told, not as you live them. I did… I’ve seen some things too that I don’t want to talk about.” She looks at the fire, falling silent.
“So… a walk to clear our heads?” Varanis unfolds herself from her seat, holding onto the scabbard of her sword. “Oh, wait… the part I didn’t get to, that I can say now…” Her eyes gleam as her mood shifts once more. “Berra, I’m a Wind Lord now. I serve the Boldhome Temple!”
Berra breaks back into the wide smile, and then she full-on attacks. A big hug launched from the bench and hard enough to rock Varanis backwards. “IToldYouItWasShiny!”
The Wind Lord4eeee! manages to hold her ground in the face of the onslaught, getting her sword out of the way in time. She wraps both arms around Berra to return the hug.
“IAmSoHappyForYou! WellDone! YouAreAWindLord! WeShouldCelebrate! YouAreAWindLord!” Berra descends into squeaking.
Varanis grins at the Humakti’s glee. “We could celebrate by going climbing,” she suggests. “But perhaps not a waterfall today? I feel like something very large chewed me up and spat me out.”
“Walls. Small things. We can still conquer them even if they are small. It counts.”
Untangling herself, Varanis steps back to buckle on her sword. It’s still a rapier, but by the gods, it’s a nice rapier. “No armour today? Or shall we clatter and clang our way into the hearts of those whose walls we climb?”
Berra says, “Let’s go light. Just the clothes we need.” For her, this probably means putting on shoes and finding a cloak. “Your hilt kinda matches mine. I mean, the Temple’s, but the one I dreamed.”
“I wondered if it was because I’d used it… not on purpose, but… well, you know. Anyway, this is the sword I left Tarsh with. I gave it into the Temple’s keeping.”
“It was, yes. Humakt is Orlanth’s sword. Sometimes.” That could be a major revelation to some. Berra mentions it as part of a nod-filled agreement.
“Yours has the gem… when did you add that?”
“The Blacksmith did it for me. When I realised that Lord Raven needed magic more than anyone else I knew. So … late in Fertility Week?” Berra scrunches up her face in effort as she thinks.
As Varanis wraps her heavy fur-lined cloak around her and fixes it in place with a massive bronze spiral brooch, she asks, “How is he settling in, anyway? Better yet?”
“He’s happier now he’s less lonely. He can hear a few prayers every day, and I’m getting people to go to his altar and let him know news of the outside. He wants to visit home but we can’t do that yet.” The Humakti’s cloak is hide lined with wool, with little Truth Runes embroidered where the ties attach. Yehna found it recently and replaced the old thread with new, bright blue, like the woad of her tree.
“I’ll be sure to visit him and maybe tell him about my test. I know I’m not Humakti, but maybe it’ll please him to have a Wind Lord amongst his worshippers. Eril won’t care except where it’s politically interesting for him, but Lord Raven might.” Varanis wriggles in her cloak until it sits better. “You know, I never did get my hat back. I’ll need to buy another. For now, I have this,” and she laughs as she plops her beat-up, rather ridiculous looking Praxian fur hat onto her head. It’s the one she acquired when they spent Dark Season with the Bison Tribe and it looks incongruous with the blue and gold of her cloak.
“You dropped your hat on the city,” Berra says. “And your tunic and your underwear. We could go buy you a new hat?”
“Oh gods…” Varanis flushes bright red with the memory. “Well, I suppose it wouldn’t be the first time Orlanthi have dropped random things on the people of Boldhome. Let’s go hat hunting. As long as we do some climbing too.”
- 1Insight: She feels ashamed now. It is a very rare thing with her.
- 2big eyes
- 3Insight: It kind of bothers her. Maybe it was the sense of helplessness.