Love… bites.

1629, Sea Season, Fertility Week


Venlar has been planning for his wife’s return, and has done stupid things. Session SA4.16.


After the welcome feast for Mellia, Varanis goes looking for the healer’s besotted husband. It is difficult to stalk him, as he seems unwilling to leave his wife’s side, but she finally catches him in the late morning, likely as he’s off looking for flowers with which to adorn Mellia’s hair.

“Venlar, a word?”

“Only the one?” He asks genially. “Orlanthi should be generous with such.”

Varanis laughs. “Not sure anyone’s ever considered me to be a person of few words. Fair enough, I have several. First, how did she sleep? I’ve been worried that the journey and associated ordeals might exhaust her.”

“Peacefully, once all was said. We talked a little.” Venlar looks away and blushes. “I find it hard not to speak her praises in her presence, but silence suited me better.”

The Vingan pats him on the shoulder, a sisterly gesture. “You are truly smitten. That’s good.” Then she levels him a look. “Are you aware that your enthusiasm sometimes drives others to distraction?”

He looks half penitent immediately. “I… is this about the children finding herbs for her?”

She laughs. “I’m not sure I know about that one.” Varanis shakes her head wryly. “It’s more about you dancing on the Ernaldans’ toes. You have to let them do what they know how to do. They love Mellia too, though obviously not as you do. And if you take over the celebrations for her, they feel slighted.” She’s being gentle with him, but she is trying to lay it out clearly.

He winces. “Ah. Yes. I was in a distraction myself, and can only plead that I was maddened by love.”

“You might need to make it up to them to maintain the peace. Maybe your lady wife will have ideas?”

“She is not a political mind, by any means,” Venlar replies. “But I can find someone who is.” Obviously, he is already plotting.

“Excellent. Now, what news of the Tula?”

“You have probably seen the well by now, and you have certainly seen the hospital. The harvest was good, but the omens for the planting less so. Dogva is worried, I think, although he makes the best of it. As he says, war is everywhere, and such things are to be expected. He does not have to like it, however.”

She frowns. “War leaves deep boot prints on the land,” Varanis says at last. “And still people seem to resist working together against a common enemy. I found people’s respect for the Prince to be lacking in some of the regions we visited.”

His face becomes serious too. “As the Colymar clan in the area, I think these people suffer from a lack of friendship.”

Varanis scowls. “Curse Leika’s stubbornness,” she mutters. “Why can’t she see that Kallyr Orlanth’s choice? She divides Sartar when we need to be unified.”

“Do you want me to answer that?” Venlar gestures so that his sleeve shifts a little, showing the arm ring she made him. He might or might not have practiced the gesture, but it looks natural.

“I do. You’re my advisor and I trust you to speak truth to me.”

“Then it starts with her father, and the rebellion. Kallyr was a little older, remember? Old enough to lead a desperate fight, where Leika was old enough to be in it, and to have hope. Following Kallyr was inevitable, but not enough. Kallai was in a bind, and so was exiled and died far from home. His children are in charge of the Earth Temple there now, and Leika lost much. I think she cannot believe in success when failure was so hard.”

“Then she should step aside and let someone who still believes rule the Colymar,” Varanis growls.

“Oh, were you never trained in logic?” Venlar looks curious.

She stares at him, deflating rapidly. “Um. I believe those lessons overlapped with something more interesting?”

“Well, let us assume that Leika is, for now at least, still King, and a King with a belief. What is her duty as she knows it?” Venlar is speaking smoothly, like he knows the content is hard to swallow.

“To lead her people, provide them with protection, and if possible, ensure they thrive.”

“And what does she see as threats to this?”

“Well, she seems to think Kallyr is, when truly it’s the Lunars and the ways they try to destabilize Sartar,” Varanis retorts. She takes a deep breath, then says, “Perhaps that’s not fair. The Lunars. Instability. War. But for some reason, she refuses to see Kallyr as part of the solution and instead seems to identify her as a threat.”

“Now you are using your own emotions, and justifying why she is wrong. You were not answering my question.” Venlar looks a little saddened by that.

The Vingan scowls, then sighs. “You’re right. I’ll try again. The threats remain the same,” she says after a moment’s thought. “The Lunars bring war, instability, hunger, and servitude. They are the threats that we all face in Dragon Pass.”

“And Kallyr, in that situation?” Venlar waits for Varanis to say it herself.

“Has yet to bring the stability and unification she promises,” Varanis says reluctantly.

Venlar nods just once, acknowledging the point. “And not just because of the Colymar, but because of others, and because of pride – that of Orlanthi, and that of Orlanth Rex herself. You can take this a little further if you like, but it becomes exceedingly worrying.”

“But…” she starts, then mutters a particularly colourful curse. “She did relight the Flame. That’s got to count for something.”

“Yes, most certainly. However, you are defending Kallyr again, and not thinking like queen Leika of the Colymar. Of course she has heard all these arguments, and her own pride, the strong Air in her which held her all these years, does not help her to listen to them. Rather, she knows that the Colymar are what she loves, and that Sartar is hurt, and despite the help of the flame – which Kallyr could not light on her own – it does not draw together.”

Varanis winces. She chews her lip and stares past Venlar for a while. Finally, she says, very softly, “so how do I bring them together? Before pride kills us all?”

“King Kallyr needs victories. The Colymar need a way back, which is tricky at best. A way that Leika can admit she was wrong about Kallyr while being right in protecting her people. If I knew more, I would have acted on it already.”

“We had victory at the Battle of the Heroes. Speaking of which, how’s your brother?”

“It might well have helped. Well, thank you. Still a Storm Bull. He is as hale as ever, and rather more even in himself than he used to be. I think father was takling of marrying him off, for a year or two. Certainly, it would help ease the fact he only has one son ready to inherit.”

Varanis nods and allows the conversation to drift into safe territory. Venlar has given her a lot to consider.