1627, Earth Season, Stasis Week
It’s late in the evening before Varanis finally makes the time to seek out Venlar again.
Venlar is sitting with a ring of warriors. While Yehna can sing in a way pigs like, he can sing in a way that leaves men of war spellbound. It is a tale of a blue tree, and a man who loved it, and it ends happily, as the warrior pours wine for his spirit love. Then Venlar looks at Varanis, makes eye contact and a decision, and stands up.
Varanis gives him a smile of greeting. “Want to walk? It’s dark and cold, but outside often feels good. Or… we could sit by a warm hearth, if you prefer. That also feels good.” Sometimes Varanis sounds a little like Berra.
“I feel as Orlanth, with his power upon me,” Venlar says. “Let us be out where others would find it inhospitable. It is a pleasing notion.” He swirls on his horse-hide cloak, nods to those around him, and makes for the door as if being a leader and a man of action is perfectly natural.
Varanis bundles her cloak around her more tightly and follows him. She has a bit of a wild grin suddenly. Venlar’s mood might be contagious.
He stops to stretch in the darkness, politely aside from the door. “This is a good place. I like it.”
“So do I, although one day, I’m really going to need to build a bath house here!” Varanis strides past Venlar and whirls about to look up at the cliffs. “Have you been up there yet? I know Berra doesn’t like it, but I swear I feel Orlanth there more than anywhere else.”
“I have met the river,” says Venlar, “But not the tree yet. Before we begin on planning a bath-house, you had something to say?”
The Vingan looks restless. “I was thinking about flying, but I suppose that’s not what we ought to discuss just now.” She sighs. “I’m sorry. I had forgotten your letter. It came at a … difficult time. I… I am uncertain and thus need your advice. It is possible that you will feel too close to the question to provide an answer.”
“Ah, I see.” He considers this. “You could lay the problem before me, if you wish, and if I see another problem within, I shall let you know.”
She shifts through fighting stances, unconsciously fidgeting with her feet as she considers her question. “In Sartar, is it possible for a person to serve another as an advisor while still being considered their social equal? Or could it cause that person to be perceived as less in some way?” she asks at last.
“Oh, I see. Perhaps I can answer that with a question – do you think the advisor truly serves?” He smiles, leaning down a little to speak over the hubbub from inside.
“Yes, but I also believe that a king or chief serves,” she replies promptly.
Venlar simply ignores that bit of perhaps-Esrolian strangeness. “Well, I believe that I can lay your mind to rest. A chief such as Dogva here is chief not because he is greater, but because he is right to be chief. His advisors are considered his equals in many things, and he their leader in some.”
She looks thoughtful. “And how does he serve his advisors?”
“He leads them. He gives them gifts and rewards wisdom, listens to them, weighs their words so that they know that he hears. Sometimes he changes because of them, sometimes he changes them, and sometimes all or none are persuaded, but always they are honoured by the knowledge their decisions made by him are for the clan and the land. Besides, he might give them tokens of their position, so that they can show their worth to others.” Venlar speaks like this is all easy to him.
“I see. That is good. In Esrolia, sometimes an advisor is seen as a servant. A respected servant, but a servant nonetheless. And while the Vingans teach that those who lead must also serve, that is not the philosophy of the Grandmothers. I…” She chews her lip. “I was worried that by asking you to be my advisor, you might think I was asking you to be my servant.”
“Oh, yes, that would be awkward. But I would walk away if I were unhappy. Consider it more that a gem set into gold makes both brighter.” He might have been composing poetry again.
Finally, Varanis stops moving and gives him a direct look. “In that case, Venlar, I would be honoured if you would be my advisor. Would you consider it?”
His reply is instant. “No, not consider. Ask again and boldly.”
She blinks, then grins. “This is why I need you. Venlar, will you be my advisor?”
“Of course, as wine or water in your cup, mixed with others as you will, while ever we match.”
“I will be worthy of the honour you do me and if ever I am not, I trust you to tell me,” she promises him. Then she pulls him into a fierce hug.
Venlar pats her on the back, a big man using his strength carefully. Under the carefully embroidered clothes and the rough cloak, he has some meat on his long frame. “It may flame short,” he says. “But if so, let us ensure I feed that fire.”
She pulls a ring from her wrist. “I made this for you sometime ago and brought it intending to give it to you. Now seems the perfect time.”
Venlar looks back at the hall, and then to Varanis. “I shall of course compose something about it.”
The armring is not particularly heavy, which allows Varanis to open it wider to fit Venlar’s wrist. It is marked with an incised fox head terminals and has air and movement runes on the band.
Venlar steps closer to the door to open it and examine the ring, and then turns back with a smile. “Of course you know I love foxes,” he says. “It is perfect.”
She grins. “Am I allowed to admit that it took a few attempts to get it right?”
“To me, privately, of course. To others you should mention the skill of the maker.” Advice, of course.
“Even when I’m the maker?” she says, arching a brow. Sometimes Varanis is all that is Orlanth. At other times…
“You do not have to mention it but should you believe it is already known, then name yourself when you boast of it,” he replies.
“I will think on your words. It is what we have agreed to, after all. Now, come. The fire is warm and the perry waits.”