Royal Reveal

1627, Late Earth Season


Context

Varanis needs to tell Kallyr something important.

Events

The invitation to the Prince’s company comes as the sky promises snow, and delivers on its promise.  Soft down floats to the ground, through air that is almost still in Boldhome, and moves a little in the upper reaches of the valley.  The flame gives a faint yellow cast to the light and the air around it, as it reflects from the cold love of Valind and Inora.  The palace itself is an island of warmth set above the white-roofed houses and rising smoke.

Varanis accepts with alacrity. She’s been waiting for her opportunity most days, lingering at the palace whenever time permits.

The messenger leads Varanis to a small private balcony, on a corner that overlooks the flame.  Kallyr is leaning on the stone, hands bare, staring down.  She wears no crown, but lets her hair loose, and pale flakes have settled on it.  The messenger bows, murmurs, “Great one,” to be sure she has heard the arrival, and departs.  Kallyr looks at Varanis, and lifts a hand to lightly gesture her over.  A quick beckoning, and then she goes back to leaning just how she was.

For her part, Varanis is wearing thick wool clothing all in blue, her hair bound up in plaits. She joins her king, bowing as she approaches. She waits to be addressed.

“When it’s dark without the snow, feels like watching the stars come out down there,” Kallyr observes.  “But on evenings like this, I remember my trip among the stars.”  The houses below are distant, broken up by the snow that falls, and there is a dimness to the light already.  “Everything was so far away, and what was close, was simple.”

“I have dreamt of them, but even so, I can only begin to imagine what that was like, my king,” Varanis replies, a wistful note to her voice. “I dreamt once that I was chasing something in the sky, trying to catch it for Vinga or for you. I can’t remember clearly now. Perhaps it was both.” She carefully steps closer, bringing herself beside Kallyr, to peer down at the Flame. “He looks stronger in the snow, I think.”

After a moment Kallyr just nods.  “We can’t thank you in public yet for the work you’ve done, if that’s what you’ve been hoping for,” she says.  “Not until everything is solemnised.  Couriers don’t get sung about.”

“No. I don’t expect it. I follow your orders as best I can and know that I am doing what is needed. That is enough. You received my report from the Chief Priest? And likely Berra’s from High Sword Eril?”

Kallyr’s lips quirk.  “They had their advice for me as well.”  She briefly puts a hand to Varanis’ shoulder, to clasp it, thinks better of the motion, and goes back to staring at the city.  “The hardest part is the waiting.”

“My king, I wish to buy a house in Boldhome. Somewhere for my people to call home when they need it. May I have your permission to do so?” Varanis says into the silence.

Kallyr says, “Of course,” as if that is a minor matter.  “Is that why you’ve been hanging around up here?  You just had to send a letter.”

Varanis flushes. “Well… no. There is another thing I need to tell you.” She takes a deep breath and locks her gaze on the Flame. “I’m… pregnant.”

After a couple of moments, Kallyr says, “Not for a letter, that.”  She falls silent, thinking, and lets the silence grow.

Varanis tries to remain still. But as the silence grows, she shifts her feet. Awkwardly, she adds, “Kalis thinks the baby will come before Storm Season ends.”

“That’s good, then,” Kallyr says, and turns her eyes on Varanis.  “I suppose you want to hear a well done?”  She looks pleased, and worried.  The worry is long-term, the pleasure cautious but present.

“I… don’t know. I rather thought Vinga would keep me safe from this. I don’t know what it means, but…” She turns a pleading look her chosen king. “I don’t want my Grandmother to have any control over this child.”

Kallyr’s face hardens into determination so strong it is almost anger.  “You are my kin.  Her hands will grasp my family over my cold corpse, and not before.”

Relief floods Varanis’ face. “So you’ll not send me away? Do you… will you… take the child from me?” Varanis doesn’t know if she wants that or not. She seems torn.1Kallyr fails Insight (Human) but that does not change her answer.

“If you want me to,” Kallyr says, “But I prefer not to.  A child should be raised by their parents or their Temple.”  She looks beyond the Flame now, in the direction of the North Gate, and beyond it her own Kheldon lands.

Varanis nods, accepting the other woman’s words. “As you wish, my king. At the moment, there are only a handful who know. My cousin, Mellia, who first suspected and advised me to speak to the Earth Temple. She told her husband. High Priestess, Kalis, confirmed it for me. Berra and her sister, and my cousin Xenofos. I tried to limit it, wanting to ensure that you heard it from me and so that if you had any particular wishes as to how the news should be handled.” Varanis rushes the words out in a fair imitation of her Humakti friend.

“Gonn Orta’s handful,” says Kallyr.  “But never mind.  The secret would be out soon enough, I think.  It is your news, but I suggest you find someone else to break it to my future wife’s proxy here.  He does like to talk about fertility.”  Again her lips quirk.  It is not quite a smile, but it is an indication of some kind of emotion, related to amusement.

“I appreciate your wisdom and advice,” Varanis replies with an answering grin. “I hope he isn’t driving you to climbing the walls.” She flushes then. “That wasn’t particularly politic of me. My apologies, my king. I was ever my Grandmother’s cause of despair when it came to such things. I shall endeavour to spend the coming season in improving.”

“No, no.  I do not climb the walls.  I order the walls to be brought to me,” Kallyr jokes.  It’s a poor one, but an attempt.  “Do you have everything you need for over winter, and… the birth?”

Varanis blinks. “The birth…” she says, trying out the word. “I hadn’t thought that far ahead. Berra’s sister, Yehna, is with us. I’m sure that she can advise me as to what I need. I’m hoping to find a house near the West Pocket, I think. She has said she’ll stay with us, at least until Sacred Time.”

“Is she sensible?”  Kallyr seems unsure of that, possibly based on whose sister.  She is holding back incredulity, but not very well.

Varanis laughs. “A fair question, my king. Yes, I think she got enough sense for the both of them. She’s a good woman. Younger than me, but a mother already. Very Ernaldan. Sadly, she was widowed last year.”

“A good house-keeper then,” Kallyr replies, and moves on.  “The West Pocket is a good idea.  Find somewhere with a good view, if you can.  It helps.”

“Thank you. I shall ensure that your people know where we are located, should you have need of me. And… once the babe is born, if you wish, I can bring it to meet you.” The last offered shyly.

“It will be welcome here, of course,” Kallyr replies.  “But when you are ready.”

“Thank you, my king.” Varanis looks out into the falling snow. “Is it getting heavier? I think I need a walk before it gets too cold to do so. If you don’t need anything further from me, I will leave you in peace.”

“It’s getting heavier,” she says, “But slower.  We’ll have a big fall tomorrow evening.”  Kallyr draws herself up.  “Go get that Movement out of you.”

“May Vinga’s breath lift your spirit and Her hand guide your blade.” Varanis bows and slips away.