1628, Earth Season
During a brief break in the action, Serala and Finarvi are alone in Boldhome. Session SA3.08.
Having arrived in Boldhome, Serala wastes no time in paying her respects to the Master Of Horses. Finarvi tags along, muttering something about finding a house afterwards but clearly bursting with some news he wants to share with Serala out of earshot of the others. Yet as they ride out towards the paddocks, Finarvi is quiet and his attention seems to be mainly occupied with fussing over his newly returned mount.
Serala is not quite slouched on Pag, but certainly affecting a casual riding style today. “I don’t like cities.” she notes as the pair amble their way along. “At least visiting the fields reminds me that there is not only stone and bricks around here. A half smile quirks on her lips as she glances to her cousin, and she carefully doesn’t ask what has him so excited to share. That would spoil all the fun, waiting to see how long he can last.
“There’s just something about the way a city smells,” Finarvi complains. He’s absentmindedly braiding the grey’s granite-coloured mane. “It sticks.”
“Definitely nothing like good clean horse muck.” Serala agrees. “Are you going to keep the braiding as a permanent look? You could weave some ribbons in too. Grandfather would be able to froth about you bringing shame on the tribe then.” She screws up her face and does a credible imitation of Giland. “Is it not enough that my grandchild likes hitting metal rather than hitting other tribes? Must he embroider his horse’s mane and tail as well?!”
Finarvi snorts at the impersonation, and shudders in mock horror. “I’m not sure he’s forgiven me for that time you made me dress as you for that ceremony. Which was every bit as boring as you thought it would be, until everyone realised what I’d done. Also, I’m sure it’s my fault that you’re thane of Apple Lane and not mother of a herd of great-grandchildren.”
His tone is light, but he’s stopped plaiting the horse’s mane.
Serala can’t help cackling, just a little, before she looks more seriously at Finarvi. “You know he thinks the world of you, right?” she points out. “He just… hides it well. Very well. If he didn’t care, he wouldn’t bother.” A nudge of her leg, and Pag sidesteps until the two of you are riding tight together, legs just gently pressed between the two mounts. “Would you rather we’d just gone home? Apple Lane seemed like a good compromise, but you know I wouldn’t want you unhappy for the world.”
“I miss it sometimes, but there’s plenty I don’t miss.” He’s holding his hands still, consciously not fidgeting. “Even with Giland’s help, I sometimes feel I belong more in Apple Lane than I did at home. You know there were good reasons we left, among all the bad ones.”
There is a slow nod from Serala, the woman accepting your words. “All true.” she agrees. “And he has Endars there, keeping the L-S King in order, so it’s not like he’s got no descendants to berate whenever he feels like it.” She purses her lips, considering, “We can always visit more often. Perhaps without our outlander friends next time though…”
Finarvi makes a choked sound that might be agreement. He grins. “He was secretly delighted. You could tell.”
“I actually feel a little guilty.” Serala admits. “Because yes.. I could tell. Which means he genuinely misses us. Which means we really should make the effort to get there. It’s not like Apple Lane can’t manage without us for a week or three here or there – as the very fact we’re here, gallivanting in Boldholme and going to parties attests.”
Finarvi nods in agreement, still distracted. He twists around in the saddle, looking back the way they’ve come and judging how far they have yet to go. He settles back with a sigh. “There is something I need to talk to you about, I just don’t know the right way to do it.”
“Open mouth. Let words happen.” A quirk of her eyebrow, “Usually not an issue for you, cousin.”
He pulls a rude face at her. “Alright. You’ve met Lenta, however briefly. When we first arrived in Boldhome a few days ago, Varanis seemed surprised that she was staying at her house. It was extremely uncomfortable. I had no idea what was going on. Then Lenta and I rode together for a while, and she explained their past history. That was more enlightening, but it’s a snake’s nest. I don’t want you putting your hoof in it, cousin.”[notenote]Serala fails Insight Human.[/footnote]
Serala closes her eyes, and leans forward, burying her face in Pag’s mane for a moment. When she speaks, her voice is somewhat muffled by horse hair. “Why is there always something.” She sits up abruptly, looking worried, “Varanis didn’t say anything. I wasn’t getting… err.. in the way of her and Lenta, was I? I just assumed…” She trails off, looking more vulnerable than anyone but family ever gets to see her. “Tell me?”
Finarvi shakes his head. “Oh no. No, it seems Lenta admired Varanis, very much. And then she got kidnapped, and Varanis rescued her so she owes her her life as well and…” he raises his hands, expressing the hopeless tangled mess he’s made of his horse’s mane. “I strongly got the impression that Varanis has no interest in Lenta that way, and Lenta knows it’s hopeless, but her heart hasn’t given up the battle yet. You could very easily wound her, deeply, without being aware of it.”
Not much better, apparently, “Thank you.” The words are heartfelt. “I would not like to make anyone unhappy; I had not considered that open affection might cause others discomfort.” There is a slight wrinkle to Serala’s forehead as she considers. “Having said that, Varanis will be on her way before too long, and I want to make the most of this time.” She suddenly grins, looking younger than her years, “You are tasking me with being subtle, Finarvi? You couldn’t have come up with an easier task, like jumping fully armoured into the carp pond?”
He grins at her helplessly. “I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy thing to ask. But maybe a little bit circumspect. If you can manage it. Oh, and I should warn you about that beast of a bed Varanis has at the house. She tried to get me to try it but I refused. It’s made of feathers or something. Sounds dangerous.”
Serala gasps, “Not.. duck feathers, I hope.” A pause, “Not unless it’s from Devolin, of course.” She’s joking. Right? Yes. Clearly joking. “I shall maybe sleep on the floor and make her come join me if she wishes for company.”
“Ah! I forgot. I left Berra’s cot in there. Varanis didn’t want to sleep alone, and Lenta had moved into the guest room… I really think Varanis had simply forgotten she was staying there, or had assumed she had moved on. Like I said, it was awkward and I didn’t really understand what was not being said.” He frowns. “Maybe I should sleep with the horses tonight. It’s the floor or the duck bed otherwise.”
Serala contemplates this, “So how many beds and rooms are at the house? One master room that can sleep two, plus a cot, and a guest room? That won’t be enough room, no matter what we do, and Maalira should probably have the guest room, as a White Lady.” She pauses and then sighs in contentment as she recognises she isn’t Thane here and who sleeps where is in no way, shape or form, her problem. “Thank you again, Finarvi. I do sometimes wonder exactly what I would do in this life without you.”
“Uh, there are more rooms, but Varanis was using me like a shield, I think. That’s why I couldn’t simply sleep in Berra’s room.”
“By all the Gods…” Serala rolls her eyes and then looks across towards you. “No sleeping in the stables, Fin, not this time. If I have to stay in the big house in the middle of the city, so do you.”
Finarvi makes a rude noise, but he seems happier to have got that out in the open.