Baby Talk

1627, Storm Season, Truth Week


Context

Varanis asks Venlar for some advice regarding raising baby Berra, who is about 2 weeks old. After session 55 (Wolf at the Door).

Events

Varanis has sent word to Venlar, asking if the Thane would mind coming to visit her at the house. When he arrives, he is allowed entry by the fellow at the door, who also promises to care for his mount. Varanis is seated by the hearth, a thick wool shawl draped over her shoulders. There is a wriggling infant on her lap. The two stare at each other with eerily similar perplexity.

The young Orlanthi bows his head, smiles, and approaches.  “I am told they cannot really see you yet, because their eyes are still touched by Darkness and they do not know how to see through it.  However, my source was drunk.”

“She seems to see faces. But no further away than this,” Varanis tells him. “She likes to be closer, but then she wants food and that’s the wet-nurse’s role, not mine. She’s awfully quiet, except when she cries. Then she’s loud enough that I think they can hear her in the Temple above us.” The Temple of Orlanth Adventurous sits at the topmost level of the West Pocket.

“In some wines you find truth.  It is in others that I am persuaded my friend found that wisdom.”  Venlar seats himself by the fire, easy in his woollen clothes.  Recent rumour says he has silk underwear, because linen is not luxurious enough.

“How are things at Sambari House? Orlanth’s tits, how are things in Boldhome? It feels like I’ve hardly left the house in the last two weeks.” By the sounds of it, Varanis needs to get outside soon or she might start climbing the walls.

“Peaceful.  Yamia is content, I I believe.  There is less peace at the House of the Colymar.  Asdel is not taking rejection well.”  Venlar looks wryly sad about that.

“Ah… you have brought me neatly to the subject I most wished your advice on.” Varanis makes a face at Berra, who blinks but otherwise just watches.

“I live to serve.”

“I think I want to foster her out. In many ways, Yehna would be a logical choice. But before I ask her… are there political implications for having Yehna raise Berra, if Yehna marries this Mehrim?” The little limbs are waving, in that uncontrolled manner of a newborn. Varanis sighs and lifts the child up to cradle her closer. “Shush now. Slow down, little one. Fara gets to rest sometimes too.”

“Yes,” Venlar says with a smile.  “Mostly interesting ones.  If the House of Sartar cuts its tunic differently tomorrow, there will be political implications.  Would you have it done at the Blue Tree?”

“Yes,” Varanis replies without hesitation.

“You will make it a place that people wish to visit, and you may make Yehna a very important woman there.  Someone else can talk about the necessary protection for her, but give me a moment to think.”  Venlar looks down at Berra, musing.1I have rolled a pass on Intrigue, so I’m going to guess a few things and @Hobbitomm can tell me if I’m wrong.

Berra looks up, eyes unfocused.  Venlar gives her a brief smile.

The fire crackles.  Finally, Venlar says, “The chief consideration is that you will be known to have sent her out of Boldhome.  It would be well to ask the Prince if she cares to send you off with her blessing, where it can be seen.  Beyond that, the Blue Tree will be judged to be a backwater, and you should work to have it known that it was already being adorned, before this happy event, by those who had aided the Prince.”

“Mehrim’s people won’t expect him to bring his wife to his clan? I thought that was how the Sartarites did things. Oh… but he’s from the Clearwine clan. Ernaldori.” She looks at him enquiringly. “They do things more the Esrolian way, right? That could be good for my daughter too. A foster father who understands the wisdom of women.”

“The Blue Tree has a history of men marrying in,” Venlar says.  “Yehna’s father did, and her husband.  Most marriages bring in the husband from outside, although the noble lines tend to go the other way.  The Ernaldori are flexible about such things, although I would not go so far as to say Esrolian.”

“Leika is of a different clan?”

“She is a Taraling.”  He does not even have to think.  “The Ernaldori are nowadays the Temple clan as much as the Clearwine clan, but the hill fort and the Temple are paired.”

Varanis gently catches a flailing fist. “I don’t want it to look as though I am putting this child into Leika’s control. Last I heard, she was not best pleased with me.”

“It will look a little like you are removing it from everyone’s,” Venlar says.  “It would be politic to ask if she wishes a visit from the child, I suppose.”

“Leika?!”

Venlar explains, “A snub is a snub, even if by accident.  If she invites you, and you go, then you are both showing a fine friendship.  It would start with an exploration of whether she would wish to extend that invitation it if were likely to be looked on with favour.”

Varanis makes a face. “I see. You know, I wish I’d maybe paid a bit more attention to some of my tutors when I was younger. This one will do better than me.” Berra has wrapped her fingers around one of the Vingan’s. “Look! She is practicing her sword grip already. Do you think Kallyr would be angry if I did visit Leika?”

“The question of the invitation would probably be sent through Tennebris,” Venlar replies, like that was too obvious to mention.  “And he would smooth the way for it.  You are someone who can be friends with both.”

“I shall ask then. Perhaps it would be appropriate after Sacred Time. I think I will also speak to Yehna to see if she is amenable. She would, of course, also have access to this house whenever she should require it.” Varanis rises. “Here. Hold this a moment for me?” And with little warning, she shoves the infant into Venlar’s arms. At the last second, she remembers his difficulties and so she pauses to be sure the baby is secure before she lets go.

Venlar does not panic, although the shock is clear as he moves to be sure of the steadiness of his grip.  Then he is holding Berra, awkwardly but safely.  She gets put down very carefully into his lap, his hand behind her head as a cushion, or else to protect her if she miraculously tries to crawl away.  “Thank you,” he says, for the moment extra he was given.

There’s a swift nod and Varanis rushes off through the door to the kitchen, leaving the two alone.

Venlar stays still, not relaxing much, but not obviously terrified by the experience.  He sings Berra a brief lullaby, although he is not really dedicated to the task – it is obviously not music he likes.

Varanis returns and looks at them. “Need rescuing or want to keep holding her?”

“I like it, but it does make me nervous,” Venlar admits.  “I have to remember to stay still.  Fortunately I am in this respect a bad Orlanth.”

Varanis sits without taking the baby, looking intently at Venlar. “I have another question. Would you keep an eye on her, if she goes to Blue Tree? Make sure she learns to be a better Sartarite than I have, but not too… rural? She’ll need tools to thrive as a child of Sartar.” Berra stares up at his face with eyes so blue they are black. She yawns and waves a fist at him. They are clearly ganging up on him.

Venlar keeps his hand under Berra’s head, maybe as a reminder that she is there.  “As I say, it will be seen as a backwater, at least at first.  However, I am sure that this will be dealt with.  Father sent for tutors, for his children.  I thrived under it.  Hengrast suffered.  Still, he is acceptable polite company, in general.”

“You have not answered me, my friend. Not really, anyway.”

“I had thought I put your question aside as un-needed.  Yes, I will keep the majority of the mud from her, but she will have bloody knees from time to time.”

Varanis smiles at that. “Good. Children need to bloody their knees from time to time. Looking at her, I suspect she’ll do so more often than that.”

Venlar looks down at the tiny face.  “Does she have Darkness in her, or are her eyes merely spectacular?”

“Kalis tells me it’s not uncommon for eyes to change in the first few seasons, so…” She shrugs.