Bully Boy

1629, Fire Season, Harmony Week, Fireday


Varanis has been sent by Kallyr to Whitewall, to ask them to swear to Sartar. She is in Wilmskirk, on the way there. Session S5-S-01.


It is Falnin who will judge today, and he approaches after a while of waiting to ask, “Are you ready?”

She rises and offers him a respectful bow. “As much as I can be, Storm Voice.”

“Then follow.”

He leads the way to an area of the great spiral close to the centre, where there is an awning with stool and one big chair beneath it.

A duck, well tied up, is sitting on one of the stools. He has obviously been put there: he could not have hopped up by himself. There is another stool, empty, by Devolin’s.

The others are in a cluster, and a few people are standing by them, waiting.

“In Wilmskirk you sit unless you are talking,” Falnin says. “Take yours, and I shall begin.”

Varanis glowers at her Eurmali.

“You are a feathery menace,” she murmurs to him as she takes the seat.

“And not in the scary way. In the annoying way.”

“Wwwwwk,” he says. A muted quack.

“We are all here,” Falnin says. “First, I shall judge the running of a lottery without permission. Let the duck be aware that if he uses magic within this ring, his punishment shall be doubled. Wind Lord, would you loose his beak?”

There is a cloth tied around the beak, fastened with a long winding of string, and several knots.

“Of course, Storm Voice,” she replies courteously. She rises to make it easier to reach the knots. Her movements are brusquely efficient. “Do not shame me further, Devolin,” she warns when she finishes with the last one.

“Oh, that’s betdter,” he says, shaking out his head. “I’ve been unable to defendd myself!”

“Shut up until you’re given permission to speak,” she snaps, retaking her seat.

“It is said that Devolin of Duck Point was the creator and organiser of a lottery,” Falnin says. “Who is prepared to speak on this?”

“I am,” Devolin quacks. “I’m Devolin of Boldhome!”

Several of the other people present are already standing up.

“Shhh,” Varanis hisses at him.

There is a quiet quack.

Several people tell the same story of how Devolin talked then into experimental worship of a goddess of luck, through payment and ‘oracularmancy’ or the drawing of eyeballs from dark places to see if luck was shining on the petitioner.

“I have a rihht to prracttise cult rites,” Devolin mutters.

His Orlanthi glares at him.

Falnin then tells Devolin, “Speak,” and the duck tries to stand up, and falls over forwards.

“I prostradte myselff befoah the courdt! How was I to know that the worshipp of luck was outlaweddt?”

“I am not here to answer that question,” says Falnin. “You are.”

Devolin looks appealingly up at Varanis.

Varanis looks down at him for a long moment. After heaving a sigh, she once again rises, this time to pull the Durulz to his feet with a firm grip on the back of his collar. “Stop flapping and answer the question.”

“Duckks Can’td Fly!” He shouts. “This is bullying!”

Nobody looks impressed, and after a few moments Devolin adds, “I justd wanted to help people,” in a quiet voice.


“Invokatttion of the Lord of Luck brings Uleria’s blezzings.” His shoulders droop a little. “And I could do with some of that.”

“So far you haven’t explained yourself, Lightbringer,” Varanis says, her tone almost gentle though her eyes remain stormy. “You wanted to help people. Is people you? I’ve not known you to help others with one notable exception. Who were you trying to help, how, and why? If I’m to be held accountable for your actions, you will explain yourself.”

“Well, I am ppeopple, but they are dtoo. Don’t you know thadt if you’rre unlucky with money you’rre lucky with lurrve? I’m ttrying dto bring love into livezs!”

Varanis shakes her head. “No, Devolin. Just no. You don’t get to scam people and claim it was to help their love life.” She turns to the Storm Voice. “You’ll get nothing else of use from him, I think. He talks circles like this and often convinces himself in the process.”

Devolin nods. “It’s trrue, I’m full of love for people. All shapes and sizes!”

Falnin says, “You were the creator of a lottery, and we find you guilty of that. Next, theft. The balls that you used were taken from Maran Gor.”

“Borrowed! With permission! She asked me to!”

“Maran Gor?” Varanis groans softly. “Devolin… you cross that Goddess and there isn’t a lot I can do to protect you. I can try, but if you make her angry enough, we’ll both be dead and there’s not a lot I can do when I’m dead.”

“They were just on the ground,” Devolin mutters. “And a big duck took them and ran away!”

Falnin manages patience. “And yet, the Earthshaker says that they are in the possession of the Wind Lord.” Falnin gives Devolin his attention, even though Varanis is the one he mentions. Devolin is, just, wise enough to say nothing more.

Varanis blinks. “My possession? Literally, or by way of my feathered Eurmali?”

“Divination upon the matter revealed that the stones were in the house of the Wind Lord and the Dagger,” Falnin goes on.

Varanis looks puzzled. “You put them in our house in Boldhome?!”

“They needdetd to be guarded!”

Varanis glares more. “That’s what those marbles were? The ones that you left all over my floor?” She looks ready to shake him. Hard.


“I nearly broke my neck!” she roars at him.

“Butt you didn’t, see? Lucky!” – Devolin sounds like he knows this for a fact.

“Right. I can send word to Boldhome to have them collected and returned. Along with a suitable donation to the temple,” Varanis tells Falnin. “I wonder if Maran Gor likes feathers,” she muses, as if to herself.

“It will be done. The Wife of All here persuaded her sister not to cause great destruction for the moment.” That is, the Ernaldans put their foot down over Maran Gor’s foot-stamping. “Will the Dagger of Humakt bring any charges over the use of her name?”

Varanis sighs. “She might. It is within her rights and any insult to her is an insult to the Hero, Lord Eril.”

Squawking from the prisoner.

“We will leave it to the Temple of Humakt to lay such a thing, then, and hear a case if it cannot be settled else-how.”

Devolin looks up at Varanis. “Berra and me, we’re like this.” He wriggles a shoulder but cannot get his hands free. “Sshhe knows the value of a goodd duckk.”

“You know what Berra would do to you if you weren’t under my protection, Devolin. Shut up, so I can hear the rest of the charges against you. Us. Charges against us.” She winces.

“She paid me for my fine work!” Devolin preens briefly, fluffing up the feathers he can reach on his neck.

“It is clear that you took money by your lies, and this will be paid back, and a clack extra for each Lunar you stole. The total there is, as far as we can tell, eight Lunars and three clacks. The bolgs, we shall scatter to the Air. If any more come with proof of your theft, that will be paid also. Maran Gor’s Temple will have its restitution, but this will be a head of cattle, for sacrifice, and not silver or gold, and furthermore this criminal cannot be banned from Earth Temples, but cannot be protected within them for the next year, save by the reputation of the Wind Lord.” Falnin takes a deep breath. He is not finished.

“Didn’td want to visit Ernaldda anyhow,” mutters the prisoner.

Varanis pinches his beak shut.

Indignant wheezing.

Falnin does not smile, but he spends a moment looking satisfied. “Then there is the usurpation of the authority of the RIng. King Farinst expects a visit, an apology, and an explanation. In this matter, his justice comprehends ours, and so we have no more to say.”

Devolin makes more noises.

“I see. And is the King of the Locaem in Wilmskirk at the moment?” she asks with a sigh.

“He is,” Falnin says. “And likely to be at home after Yelmrule. I shall have a message sent.”

“I nngg gggg hhhh,” Devolin says.

“I will release your beak. Don’t tempt me to see if any of these fine folks can cast Glue,” Varanis warns. “Do you understand?” She stares hard at the Eurmali.

There is an attempt at a nod.

She lets go, giving him a warning glare.

“That spell doesn’dt work on beakks!”

“Your trickster has cost you twentyeight Lunars and three clacks,” Falnin says, “But the rope is free.”

“I don’t suppose you found any coin on him when he was captured?”

“Only what belonged to others.” Falnin shakes his head sadly.

“Fair enough. If I deliver the payment to the temple, you’ll see to the distribution?”

Falnin nods his head, and then bows. “It is done. We will see to distribution.” He steps forward to add, “In these cases, claims may be made for up to one season after the court case, or two in Fire Season, when people travel.”

She bows. “Thank you for your wise counsel and fair judgment, Storm Voice. “I’ll see to clearing the debt as soon as possible. You have my word on it.”

“How have you been?” He ignores Devolin. “Would you like me to send a messenger to the King now, or later?”

Devolin starts cleaning his feathers. Noisily.

“I am on a mission for King Kallyr and so must take care of these matters with some urgency,” Varanis replies. “It is essential that I return to my task as soon as possible.” She offers the older man an apologetic smile. “I have been well enough, thank you. There is never time to sit with friends for long, it seems, but you know how it is. Duty calls and we obey. Perhaps you could send word to King Farinst and while we wait on his readiness, you could tell me of the news here?”

“So let it be.” Falnin turns to go deal with that.