Language Lessons

Finarvi — Language Lessons

????, Fire Season, Season/Movement Week


Fire Season/Movement Week/Freezeday/Early evening. [[[s01:session-38|Session 38]]]

In the early evening, there was the clatter of wooden swords coming from the courtyard outside the inn for a while. Eventually, Varanis and Finarvi enter the common room, looking rather sweaty, tired, and grinning like fools. They sit down in a corner drinking more of Rondrik’s wine, albeit watered, and laughing periodically. It’s probably inappropriate, given everything that’s going on, but everyone needs to let off steam. And who knows what trouble they are plotting.

Follows on from [ Training Tired]

<<Pure Horse Tongue>>


After finishing training and sparring practice, Finarvi and Varanis retreat to the relative safety of the common room of the White Grape. “What do you want to drink?” Varanis asks the Grazelander, heading to Rondrik’s counter.

“Surprise me,” Finarvi answers. He’s still sipping water from his flask, and collapses gratefully onto one of the inn’s benches.

Varanis returns precariously juggling a small amphora of wine, a jug of water, and a couple of cups. “I wish Rajar hadn’t chased Rondrik’s family away,” she grumbles. She manages not to break or spill anything as she sets it on the table Finarvi’s chosen. She pours Clearwine for both, topping hers up with water and leaving the Grazelander to make his own choice about the strength of the drink.

“So, now that Berra was worn us both out, do you remember the various words for swords?”

Finarvi slops a generous measure of water into his cup. “I remember <rapier> and <dagger> and <broadsword>.” He pronounces the last with exaggerated care, careful to use the same emphasis Varanis used to correct him earlier. He sips his wine, and adds a little more water. “And I know <lance>,” he adds tentatively, letting it trail into a question. He watches for her reaction.

She nearly spits her wine out, but manages to swallow it before bursting into peals of laughter. When she calms down and wipes the tears from her eyes, she just says, “Minik?”

He sighs regretfully. “That one was Eranda’s suggestion. I thought she was less mischievous than that.”

“She just looks it. It’s not your fault – Esrolian slang involves a lot of tiny shifts in emphasis. Say it like this…” She repeats the word a few times, with careful pronunciation.

Finarvi repeats the word until he’s satisfied he has the new emphasis memorised. “That makes me feel slightly better about the terrible things I taught Minik to say,” he grins happily. The wine seems to have revived him somewhat. At least his hand’s no longer trembling when he lifts the cup to his lips. “You were full of beans earlier. Did Serala teach you some new swear words?”

Varanis laughs. “Yes and no. She used some, but translating them didn’t seem to be a priority for her.” The Vingan tells him about their walk, her comments about duty, and Serala’s subsequent outburst of swearing and hilarity. She smiles ruefully as she tells the story. “I knew her grandfather was checking up on her and wanted her home at some point, but I honestly didn’t know about the baby thing…”

Finarvi sets his cup down very carefully. “Do you mean to tell me that Serala actually listened to me?” He says in awe. “As for the business with Grandfather, that’s certainly how he phrased it. ‘When am I getting fat grandchildren?’ is what he says whenever Serala’s name comes up. In a way, I understand his frustration. The clan’s lost so many.”

Some emotion crosses the Esrolian’s features, but is quickly buried in a wave of mischief. “I think she said something like…” There’s a string of sounds that might vaguely resemble Pure Horse Tongue and it’s even possible that there is reference to dung within the nonsense sounds, but it’s really unclear. Her attempt at replicating <<idiot>>, on the other hand comes out much more clearly and even sounds a bit like Serala.

“That sounds like our Serala.” He hides his smile behind another sip of wine. “<<Dung>> serves as insult and expletive. Use it freely. You’ve mastered <<idiot>>, that’s one of my favourites. I wanted to learn the Esrolian equivalent, so I can curse myself in three languages.”

Varanis happily teaches her companion the word for idiot, and how to modify it for gender, in case he ever feels the need to apply it to her. You never know. With a grin, she offers to teach him a few more useful insults.

And that leads to a discussion about Esrolian grammar and genders, because whilst he didn’t understand a word of it, Finarvi had picked up on the consternation he’d caused in the baths in Nochet.

“Esrolians can be a bit… traditional about gender sometimes. It’s not like there aren’t people who don’t fit neatly into their assigned amphorae, but I suppose the family servants are a bit more used to the Esrolian traditions, than anything else. At home, I tend wear dresses unless I’m training or at the Temple, as it causes less murmuring, to be honest.” She shrugs. “No one cares much who you enjoy sharing your bed with, but they do get curious about what hides beneath the clothing sometimes.” She winks suggestively.

“Is that why your people are obsessed with <baths>?” He raises his eyebrows in mock surprise. “When it’s no longer fire season, we should treat you to a <<sweat lodge>>, you and your cousins. It is very invigorating.”

Varanis repeats the word <<sweat lodge>> a few times, trying to get the feel for it on her tongue. “What is a <<sweat lodge>>?” she asks when she thinks she’s got it down.

“Like a bath,” embarrassingly, Finarvi finds he has to flounder about in his memory to recall the tradetalk word for ‘steam’, and ends up describing the whole process instead, from preparing the yurt to using the right kind of branch to sprinkle water on the heated stones. “And when it gets too hot, we jump in the river.” He grins in delight.

“But there’s no water in the <<yurt>>?” She stumbles a little over the foreign word and the concept of stewing in one’s own sweat.

“There is a bucket, for the… steam” finally! “and there’s the river.’

“But the best part is it is social. You do it with friends, family. It bonds us in dark season, banishes aches, and makes us feel alive.”

“That actually does sound rather good…” Varanis says wistfully. “Think we could get away with building one near the river?”

He makes a show of looking around. “I don’t think there’s anyone left in Boldhome to stop us.”Then he winks. “I’m sure Rajar will make sure nobody gets any ideas either.”

Varanis tops up Finarvi’s wine as she smiles at him. “This sounds like a wonderful idea. What do we need? Let’s make the list in three languages, so we can continue our lessons.” She frowns slightly. “I hope your memory is good, because I don’t think Xenofos will let me borrow any of his writing tools. I might have yelled at him a bit earlier.”

“Memorising is better than writing,” Finarvi says, with the assurance of one who can do the former and is happily ignorant of the latter. “First, a suitable <<yurt>> to hold the steam. A bench to sit on, well-smoothed. River stones. Firewood. A bucket.” He taps his chin thoughtfully. “I should ask Rajar what his clan traditions are. Maybe they differ from the Grazelands.”

“I don’t think we are likely to find any <<yurts>>. Would a tent work?” she asks, giving both the Tradetalk and Esrolian word for tent. “Though the Prince’s army may have taken all the tents,” she adds.

“I have my work tent, if needed. Yes, we should be able to make that work. What better way to apologise for shouting at your poor cousin, than with a little nomadic luxury?” His blue eyes twinkle with suppressed mirth at the thought of the proud Esrolian noble taking part in a sweat lodge. “Esrolians are not…” he thinks a moment for the best way to phrase it, “umm… body-shy, is that right?”

Varanis shakes her head. “No, not at all. Do you not remember the dresses? I’m sure I recall several women trying to make sure you noticed their… dresses.” She flutters her eyelashes in exaggerated flirtation.

He gives her a sly grin. “I’m afraid I was far too impressed by your grandmother’s <serpent> to pay attention to dresses,” he says drolly, not caring if the inflection means he’s just said something ridiculous. It’s worth it, just to see Varanis laugh.

Varanis laughs in pure delight. “Oh Fin, you are a treat.”