Finarvi — Marriage Plans
????, Sea Season
Sea Season, directly following on from the last. [[[s02:session-32|Session 32]]]
Potentially spoilery for Varanis as there are plans afoot, but nothing major
“We really can drown him in distractions in Apple Lane,” Finarvi adds. “I have help. Great and terrible help. Friends who kept me sane through the worst of the fighting in Esrolia, and that singing scribe I mentioned earlier. He will get into so many arguments about the care and filing of scrolls that he’ll forget about poppy seeds and dragons.”
“Xenofos swore fealty to Varanis. We should get Varanis and Serala wed without delay.”
“Politically tricky,” Venlar notes.
Finarvi nudges his horse closer. “I am in support of this plan. Tell me what you need.”
The Orlanthi lord looks interested too.
Mellia thinks. “Depends on how fast we want them wed. We might need to lend them the courage to defy Kallyr and Grandmother.”
“And me,” Venlar says quietly. “That is rebellion that I agreed not to, and I am not kin to the Prince.”
Finarvi looks a little alarmed by this, but it’s anyone’s guess whether that’s because of Grandmother or Kallyr Starbrow.
“Well, I gather Kallyr will consent to a year-marriage. That leaves Grandmother.”
“Would her forgiveness be easier to get than permission?” Finarvi wonders.
Mellia replies, “It’s quicker. I am not sure about easier.”
“Surely your wedding will have put her in a good mood? Really, Serala and Varanis need to get married before either of them lets duty or supposed good sense talk them out of it. I love her dearly, but my cousin has the wisdom of a newborn trollkin when it comes to emotions.” Finarvi speaks with love, no doubt.
Mellia replies in the same vein. “I agree. Now how can we arrange that?”
“If we could contrive to get them both to the Grazelands, I’m certain Grandfather can do the rest,” Finarvi said thoughtfully. “Though we would need the help of a trickster to make that happen. I do not know either the Sartarite nor Esrolian customs for marriage. What needs to be done?” After a moment, he adds “and why would Kallyr be against it? It’s not as though Serala is the Feathered Horse Queen, that her marriage would be a threat to the Prince.”
“Who else might she marry?” Venlar asks. “That could be a great alliance.”
Finarvi looks troubled at that suggestion. “Trying to coerce either of them into a political marriage is… Likely to result in bloodshed,” he amends.
“We can’t have that. The biggest Esrolian custom is negotiating a wedding contract. I think we need to skip that.”
Finarvi readily agrees.
“I did try to steal Mellia,” Venlar says. “It’s fair that Varanis should have one try.”
“She declined to be stolen away when I asked her, but perhaps the idea would appeal to her more if she was the one doing the stealing.” Finarvi is completely serious.
“That might well be. Now all we need to do is find those two.”
“Serala can reliably be found in Apple Lane. Varanis is less certain. What is the news from the North, Venlar?”
“My father has heard very little, and what he has heard, he does not like. It seems that there is a disruption of trade, or at least, of gossip, which being a man he likes to listen to.” Venlar looks roughly Northward. “He has asked Yamia to send back her thoughts, which is very different from asking me to send back mine. Hers often start with how to conquer a place or kill everyone in it, although that’s really just a hobby of hers.”
“I have heard this too,” Finarvi agrees. “My father tells of rumors of trouble in the Lunar empire, and of Tarsh minting its own coins.”
He frowns slightly, thinking. “This mission that Varanis is riding north for…will it take her very long?”
“The gods only know,” says Mellia. “Probably longer than not.”
“Trouble in the empire is not likely to mean good news for us. Maybe a temporary respite, though. We should make the best of it, prepare our defences. Make sure the fields are well tended.” He adds, acknowledging that the recent poor harvest owed something to the troubles of the year before.
“Rumour says that Varanis will be away for several weeks,” Venlar says. “Probably not more, but it might be years if things fall out that way. There is a possibility of her staying away for valid reasons.”
Finarvi raises an eyebrow at that. “What reasons might there be?”
“I don’t know for certain, but I think her current task requires patience,” Mellia says.
Venlar replies, “If my father had wanted me to tell people, he would have let me know more.” There is a smile, but it’s a politician’s close-down of the enquiry.
Finarvi seems dissatisfied with this answer. He huffs a frustrated sigh. “So, no elopement or abductions.” He returns his gaze to the horizon.
“Nothing of amusement at all, it seems. But perhaps the world will provide.” Venlar gestures onwards. “Let us go look over more of what I might have. Yamia will be very pointed if I do not know what she is talking about.”
“And Yamia is pointed enough normally,” Mellia says.
“Also, bladed,” Venlar agrees sadly. “But I would not change her.”
The trio take a leisurely ride about the land Venlar indicates.
At one point, Venlar draws rein to look over towards Malani lands. “There must be redsmiths there,” he says. “Why not encourage border trade, and find a thing they do not have?” He gestures to Mellia as an example.
“I have no wish to trample over the diplomatic efforts of wiser heads than mine,” Finarvi says, though it’s clear he finds the idea appealing. “Perhaps in time. I would like to see Blue Tree with its own forge so they do not have to trade for every trinket or tool, but there’s no reason the redsmith has to be me.”
“I would hate to tell a man how to live, or a merchant where to trade, but access to Dangerford for the Alynxfish clan is worth a lot in itself. A market between, or a trade-and-fetch agreement, would have more people talking.” Venlar makes a neat catch of the corner of his cloak as a playful gust of wind tries to blind him with it.
“That is a good idea. You should suggest it to chief Dogva,” Finarvi offers.
“I’m sure someone will, if I don’t,” comes the counter. Venlar is very good at not saying exactly what he should not say.
“The river is the road here,” Finarvi adds. “I understand Durulz trade along it.” He does not comment on what past failures of diplomacy might have denied the Alynxfish access to such trade.
“I hope the temple, once it’s finished, will help calm the region. I haven’t heard of river trade.”
“I’m sure it’s very good, when the river isn’t in flood,” Venlar says brightly.
“I am trying to remember who told me about it. Yehna perhaps, or Ivalla.”
He bows in his saddle to Mellia. “Yehna tells me the temple is already helping to ease tensions. The shared guard duty is fostering familiarity, maybe even friendship.”
Mellia smiles. “I am glad to hear that.”
“She said the Alynxfish started with posturing and showing off, but now they are bringing their wives and children to visit.”
“Posturing and showing off is what a good warrior does,” Venlar says. “But a good Orlanthi visits neighbours.”
“Neighbours is better than enemies. Where I’m from, if your wife and children are there then it’s home.” To Finarvi, all this staying still is unnatural.
“Matters are indeed improving. White Lady be praised!”
Venlar has a different outlook. “Where Ernalda asks us to look after her body, that is where home is.”
“You will need to take care here,” Finarvi warns. “I am told the reason no-one bothers with field markers is because the river likes to sweep them away.”
“Ernalda knows,” Venlar says, not troubling himself to remember they are above the flood level.
“That is a lot of flooding,” Mellia says with a frown.
“The river is known to be lively,” Finarvi explains. “No doubt this is why the villagers chose to build on the high ground by the cliff.”
“And have much of their higher cropland over a rock ridge. I have met the river; it did not take me.” Venlar looks wryly amused, maybe at the thought of what he is getting into.
“I think the flood plain yields better harvests, when the river doesn’t flood and ruin them. That’s why they plant there.” Finarvi doesn’t sound very certain of this fact.
“I am not sure,” Mellia says. “I skipped those lessons.”
“Different crops for different spots,” Venlar opines.
“No doubt,” Mellia agrees. “I should get back to the shrine. Finarvi, would you like to come with me?”
Venlar blinks at the brush-off, but gets the hint. “I want to go be sure of the rise and the land-lie that way,” he says.