Northern Thinking

Finarvi — Northern Thinking

????, Sea Season


Sea Season, right after the last log [[[s02:session-32|Session 32]]]

Spoilery for those who do not know about Xenofos and Mellia’s actions, or suspect they might not know all of them


“The news from the North is of war.” Venlar is uncomfortable with that.

“The Tusk Riders we hunted headed North,” Finarvi offers. “And we recently heard from a troll who was part of a mercenary company hired by King Pharandros. My cousin Endars led a force that destroyed another mercenary company that fled south into the Grazelands. The Feathered Horse Queen and Luminous Stallion King had given them quite the beating.” He checks himself, and offers Mellia a look of apology. “But enough talk of fighting. May the war stay far from these lands.”

“My father has more intelligence, although he lives by Wilmskirk. Trolls as mercenaries, however, are troublesome and as news, new to me. I should write that to him.” Venlar switches to intelligent political looks without error. Faintly familiar, although there is no sardonic twist to his expression.

“Their queen will be displeased to hear of it, you may write that to your father. Serala had it from her own lips that she wants us to stand with them to fight Chaos. They have little interest in our squabbles, but they have no love for the Lunars. And we’re working on making them value our peaceful trade more than Lunar gold. Ah, I forgot! The mercenaries were paid in new-minted coins bearing the mark of Pharandros.”

Venlar’s nod is one of concentration. “I shall need more parchment.”

Finarvi smiles to himself. He has recovered from his earlier surprise and is beginning to enjoy Venlar’s conversation. “Do you have reliable supplies of good parchment? Apple Lane’s new scribe hoards it like iron. Perhaps I should ask cousin Irillo to send more from Esrolia.”

“I have a reputation for it in my father’s house,” Venlar replies. “I was brought up more as a support unit than the heavy political infantry my eldest brother is. However, one picks up other matters here and there, of course. Mellia lifted a curse of sorts from me, and I find that activity suits me.”

“You make parchment?” Finarvi asks, surprised. One would think Venlar had just mentioned in passing that he could do sorcery.

Venlar replies smoothly, “No, but my hides have herds, and I use a lot of it. Sheep, mostly. I have several regular supplies and know a dozen ink recipes. Grinding the parchment surface is not a job for a Lord, but I do know how to prepare it from start to finish.”

“My clever love!”

Blushes follow. Venlar is pleased to have impressed.

Finarvi finds this adorable. “What curse did you lift from Lord Venlar, Mellia? Was it the curse of loneliness?” His tone is fond and playful.

Mellia is serious. “Venlar was born with a weak attachment to life. He was clumsy and sick. Ernalda was kind enough to grant a cure.”

This piques Finarvi’s curiosity. He studies Venlar more closely. “I have never before heard of such a thing. Is it unusual?” He asks Mellia.

“It’s very rare. I have my suspicions about how that happened.”

“I would love to hear more.” His tone is sober now too.

Mellia says, “I am not sure what to tell. I think his mother was too close to the Humakti artifacts, but I can’t prove it.”

At the mention of the artifacts, a shudder runs through the Grazer and he has to look away from Venlar. “I never did get the full story of how that quest ended. I regretted having to depart without seeing it through.”

“It ended with us returning the artifacts, Irillo taking some nasty wounds and me stitching up High Sword Eril. Berra killed a demon.”

Fin’s eyes widen. “It sounds like this tale is going to need a whole evening and great deal of perry to do it justice.”

“It’s going to take a better teller. I suggest you ask Irillo.”

“I will, when I see him. Last time we just talked trade.” He heaves a gusty sigh. “There is so much work to be done.”

“Was he well? I have not seen him since Nochet.”

“Very well, and looking prosperous.” His eyes crinkle in a smile that he manages to keep away from his lips. “It would not surprise me if he decided to settle down and enjoy the good life in a year or two. I think the comforts of home and hearth are calling him more loudly than the open road.”

“So long as he is happy.”

“I think so. If he was badly hurt last year… well, the same thing happened to Serala not long ago and now she’s talking of marriage. I’m just sorry it took a dragon nearly biting her head off to get her to listen to me.”

“Someone he loves died for a while last year. Speaking of dragons, I wonder how Xenofos is doing.”

“Now you have me intrigued,” Finarvi said. “What is the link between Xenofos the scribe and dragons?”

“I have never understood it, but Xenofos was too near a dragon, years ago. He never quite recovered.”

“Dragonrise,” Finarvi says grimly. There’s a shadow of remembered terror in his eyes.

“Dragonrise. I was far enough away to see the beauty. Xenofos was closer.”

“As was I. We were not far from the fighting when it happened. A mountain passed over us.” He shivers. “How do you recover from that?”

“Not by taking poppy,” Mellia says grimly. “I hope he stopped.”

Finarvi nods slowly. “He looked haggard, when I saw him. He had lost weight. I remember thinking “I must scold Varanis for not taking care of her cousin.”

Mellia sighs. “I don’t know what Xenofos is up to. He wouldn’t let anyone help him.”

“Well, that’s no good. Couldn’t Rajar tie him up, or something? Sit on him until he saw sense?” There’s frustration in the words, but Finarvi’s kindly face is screwed up in concern. He looks like he wants to ride off and try to solve the problem in person.

“It’s a thought, but Xenofos is incredibly stubborn. Unless he wants help, there’s nothing we can do.”

“I fear you’re right,” Finarvi reluctantly agrees. He still looks worried, mind gnawing away at a solution.

Mellia says, “Except steal his poppy seeds.”

“You could send him to Apple Lane. No poppy there, I don’t think, but we can pile distractions on him until he turns to drink instead.” He frowns at a thought. “It’s not exactly civilised, but the temple of Uleria has baths.” He adds this with the broad delight of someone sharing a piece of good news they have only recently learned.

“Theft is theft, no matter from whom,” Venlar says. “Only a trickster should do such things.”

“Sometimes trickery is necessary,” Finarvi points out.

“Yes, but we are not thieves. Trickery brought back the world, but theft is still theft.” Venlar looks almost offended.

Mellia mentions, “I convinced a trickster to do that.”

“Clever, Mellia,” Finarvi approves.

Venlar says quietly, “I suppose, as a Lightbringer…” But it seems to upset him.

“How do you make someone thirsty for poppy thirst for healing instead?” Finarvi wonders aloud.

“Stop them from thinking that poppy will heal them?” Venlar suggests. “Provide them with other things.”

“Poppy is addictive,” Mellia points out.

“I know, but I think the answer still stands.” Venlar makes an open-handed gesture as if asking Mellia to accept that part at least.

Mellia nods, but adds, “And it will kill you.”