1626, Storm Season, Truth Week, Clayday
It’s late morning in Boldhome. Takes place after Back and There Again (Session 2.29).
When Valseena comes back into the White Grape after caring for her bison, Varanis is seated in the common room. She has food and drink in front of her.
Valseena looks around the room, sees Varanis, looks as if for someone else who apparently isn’t there then wanders over to say hello. ‘Good day.’
The Vingan nods a greeting. “What do you think of the city?”
Valseena bites her lip. ‘It is…’ she seems to be reaching for the words somewhat ‘…much bigger than I expected.’
There’s a little smile. “You should see Nochet. It makes Boldhome look like a backwater village.”
Valseena looks at the Vingan as if to gauge whether she’s serious or joking… She looks faintly horrified at the idea that anything could be that much bigger. ‘All those people and buildings…’1Valseena passes insight. Insight: The Esrolian woman is absolutely serious. Nochet must be immense. Valseena’s eyes widen as if trying to picture it. She looks slightly more than faintly horrified as she realises that Varanis means it.
“Did you enjoy last night’s feast? I’m sorry I left you and the others. I had … other demands on my attention.” Varanis was seated between the Prince and a rather curvaceous woman who looked more foreign than all the other foreigners. Her attention was definitely engaged through the entire meal.
Valseena nods. ‘The food was excellent. The Prince wasn’t quite what I expected though…When Berra described her as ‘she’ I thought I’d misunderstood…’
Varanis arches an eyebrow at the Praxian. “Are there no women who rule in Prax?”
Valseena smiles ruefully. ‘Not nearly enough. Although many of our Khans are the calfskin gloves around the iron fists of their wives.’
The Esrolian woman returns the smile with a sly one of her own. “Have you seen the market yet?”
‘No I have not. Is it very large and very hectic?’
“Not particularly,” says the woman who just admitted that Boldhome is small compared to what she’s used to.
‘How about compared to the great meeting of the tribes?’ She smiles as if aware their points of reference for large and hectic are some distance apart.
Varanis shrugs. “I haven’t seen that,” she admits. “Why don’t we go visit? I might want to pick up a few things anyway and you can look around. Do you have any coin? You could buy things that interest you too.”
Valseena shrugs. ‘I have a little. Is haggling acceptable here?’
“Of course. I think it counts as a religious obligation for the Issarians.”
Valseena smiles broadly. ‘By all means then. Lead on’
Varanis leaps to her feet. She looks around, but the others are either absent, or caught up in their own conversations. She sets her cup on Rondrik’s counter. “If any of them ask, we’ve gone to the market,” she tells the burly innkeeper.
On the road here, Varanis wore her armour constantly. Now, she appears to have eschewed the heavy bronze in favour of fine woolens, covered in richly embroidered runes. There are brightly polished bronze cuffs around her wrists, small spirals in her ears, and a necklace made of spirals and leaves of bronze at her throat. The heavy armring she always wears is firmly in place. Despite the lack of armour, she has her sword strapped to her hip.
Valseena is wearing her second best bison hide outfit – practical trousers and a tunic, little jewellery but she doesn’t own much as was made evidence at the feast last night. She has a dagger strapped to her calf – the shape of it just visible through the trousers. She looks ready to go. ‘Shall we?’
With an answering grin, Varanis throws open the door and leads the way. The sky is grey, but for once, the rain seems to be holding off. The street outside the inn is full of people, all seeming to be going to one place or another. Here and there, people walk together, but for the most part, people seem to be going about their own business.
Valseena seems to be taking it all in, perhaps a little cautious but she seems to be adjusting to the sheer numbers of people.
“It’s this way,” Varanis says, turning up the street. “You can find just about anything you want at the market. Lots of food, and different kinds of it too. Some ready to eat now, some meant to be provisions for the home or the road. There are textiles of different qualities and types and even a few people who sell ready-made garments, though you don’t want that. Buy the fabric and then have someone make it into something for you to wear.”
Valseena nods but frowns a little as if processing the unfamiliar concept of buying fabric – or is that the unfamiliar concept of fabric…? Either way her eye is soon caught by a jewellery stand selling turquoise items. She seems quite taken with a necklace but clearly can’t afford it so regretfully turns on to the next stall.
The next stall contains still more jewellery – there’s a lot of bronze on display. Most of the pieces combine glass beads with spirals and other runes. The merchant is eyeing Valseena dubiously, but when he spots Varanis behind her, his face lights up. For her part, the Vingan is disinterested in his wares and is already tugging at Valseena’s arm, encouraging her to the next booth.
Valseena does look a bit like Praxian equivalent of a kid in a candy store. She seems like she’s really relaxing and having fun.
Leaving the disappointed jewellery merchant behind, the Vingan pulls her companion into a booth featuring bolts of cloth. The cloth is finely woven, with subtle patterns. Tiny diamonds and squares, little vee shapes that resemble feathers – even for someone who doesn’t usually wear woolen fabric, it’s obvious that this is skilled work. And then there’s the colours. Dark reds like the richest ochre, deep blues the colour of the sky just before Yelm sinks below the horizon, glorious amber like a shadowcat’s eyes.
Valseena looks a bit awestruck. ‘So beautiful.’ She looks almost afraid to touch anything as if she might leave some dust from the road upon it. When she doesn’t think you’re looking she looks at the fabric then down at her much plainer outfit. A tiny hint of a frown wrinkles across her features before she smoothes it back out. ‘When would someone wear these? Are they for weddings?’ A quick glance at Varanis’ tunic suggests that some people would wear them when going to the market. ‘And how much do they cost?’ This last part whispered. There do not appear to be prices listed anywhere, but the merchant has begun to hover.
“The thing about fine fabrics, Valseena, is that you don’t necessarily need a lot of them. Sometimes a small piece will suffice and you just add it to something else. Look here…” She hold out her arm. Her tunic is blue, with row upon row of tiny lozenge shapes. The sleeve stops just below her elbow, where a narrow strip of shimmering gold silk wraps around the cuff.
Valseena admires the gold silk. It’s likely that she’s not seen that much fine fabric. She sighs. ‘I would love a…’ she fumbles for the word. ‘…a dress,’ hesitant as if using it for the first time, ‘…in such a lovely material.’
Varanis grins. “What colour do you like?” She sweeps her hand across the various wools. There are blues, reds, yellows, oranges in varying shades and hues.
The Praxian looks at a lovely sapphire blue with gold embroidery – ‘Something like that maybe.’ She is obviously worried about the cost.
Varanis smiles and sets to work bargaining with the textile merchant.2Merchant gets a critical bargain, while the Vingan only gets a success. Result: Varanis overpays by 25%.
They bicker back and forth in TradeTalk before Varanis hands over the coins with rueful smile. The merchant doesn’t gloat as she pockets them. She sweeps over to Valseena with a long piece of string in her hands and starts to measure the Praxian. She mutters to herself and pauses after each measurement to put knots along the string. At one point, she grabs one of Valseena’s hands in her own.
Valseena looks faintly alarmed. ‘How much do I owe?’
“My gift,” Varanis says. “You saved me and my people more than once back in Prax. Please allow me to express my gratitude.” The merchant is tugging at Valseena’s hand, trying to get her to raise her arm.
Valseena looks like she wants to protest but at the same time she clearly wants this dress badly and knows she can’t afford it. ‘That is very generous’ she says eventually. ‘You only ever need to ask for my help and you shall have it.’
“What runes do you prefer?” the Esrolian woman asks. “And this isn’t meant to create a debt between us, but to show you that you are appreciated and valued.”
The merchant speaks to Varanis and then gives Valseena a smile. “I will make you a nice dress,” she says in careful TradeTalk, speaking slowly so the foreigner has a chance to understand. She is using sign language to help make herself understood, pointing at herself and Valseena in turn. “You come back in three days.” She points to Yelm and holds up three fingers. “You understand?”3Valseena passes Insight. Insight: the merchant definitely thinks Valseena is a foreigner and therefore rather strange, but she obviously has a wealthy patron and therefore should be made happy.
Valseena nods and smiles. ‘Yes. Thank you.’ She looks excited – probably more than the Esrolian has ever seen her. Happy enough not to mind the judgement.
“Right. A snack and then back before we’re missed?” Varanis suggests.
The Praxian woman grins. “Mmmm sounds good. And thank you again.”
Varanis smiles in return and drags the Praxian off in search of something sweet.
- 1Valseena passes insight. Insight: The Esrolian woman is absolutely serious. Nochet must be immense.
- 2Merchant gets a critical bargain, while the Vingan only gets a success. Result: Varanis overpays by 25%.
- 3Valseena passes Insight. Insight: the merchant definitely thinks Valseena is a foreigner and therefore rather strange, but she obviously has a wealthy patron and therefore should be made happy.