Trials and Tribulations

1628, Storm Season, Movement Week, Freezeday


The House in Boldhome, and the Palace. Session SA3.13.


On Freezeday of Movement Week, in Storm Season, Varanis is summoned to the Palace over a matter of justice. As the matter is worded, she can bring anyone with her, and it is in Kallyr’s Court, so attendees can come and see justice done regardless of whether they are invited.

Outside it is blowing down cold rain, as Engizi and Heler celebrate their seasonal meeting.

Berra is by an open window, watching the rain and sometimes sticking her heard or hand out, but as soon as there is a suggestion of going out she jumps up to get ready, then dashes back to close the shutter, and then hurries for her cloak.

Varanis dresses for court, wearing her best woolens – blue with gold embroidery and Serala’s spider silk at the cuffs and neck. She has Kallyr’s armband on and gold in her ears and on her fingers.

“Should I bring the helmet?” she asks Berra, as the only one in the room with any sense of Sartarite legal proceedings.

“Yeah. Bring everything. But it’s the cuirass that matters, I think. Um… in fact, don’t. But if you had that you could send it to someone you trust to hold it, like the Palace, or a Temple, if you want to say you’re willing to give it up, and you could keep it if you’re happy to prove you’d give it up anyhow – some people do and some people don’t. It’d be up to you. If you had it.” Berra’s words hurry out like she has forgotten how to stop.

The Humakti is in her brown armour, with three arm rings on her left arm; two from Leika and one she bought for herself. She has two swords, both bronze, and a rather oversized cloak.

“I think Finarvi was working on the cuirass still,” Varanis says. “I haven’t seen him or it!” She sighs, then goes back to get the rest of her armour and comes back, buckling her vambrace over the embroidered sleeve of her tunic.

Berra checks the door a couple of times, makes sure everyone has cloaks that are waterproof or at least warm, and then ducks outside to check the way.

Nobody tries to assassinate anyone.

Varanis strides up the 1000 steps with the confidence of one who knows she belongs there. She gives the appearance of being entirely comfortable with what is going on.1Special on CON.

Serala keeps pace, but with a glare for anyone who might be looking.

Berra stops bouncing once she gets partway up the steps, but does still walk.2Pass on CON.

Up at the top are the usual guards, and there are the usual polite protocols to undergo, and Berra hardly looks like she wants to fight any of them… it’s into the Great Hall, where there are several other cases being judged today, but none of such import.

Kallyr has her various advisors, including Lord Ebron, the Light Son Priest of the Sun Dome Temple, who is looking particularly shiny, and is either on the arm of Kalis, or has Kalis on his arm – it is hard to tell. Tennebris has a seat not far from Kallyr, and Berra supplies to the group, “With him sitting there, he’s going to be asking most of the questions, but Kallyr makes the judgement.” Lord Eril is a quiet, politely menacing figure behind Kallyr on the right. There are others present too, of course.

Intrigue: This is a very impressive crowd for a matter of law. A lot of important people are here to think about grave-robbing.

Xenofos, wrapped in a bisonhide cloak notes down those present on a wax tablet.

Varanis greets her kinswoman with the bow of a thane to her king. She removes her helmet before speaking, tucking it under one arm. “My Prince, I present myself as commanded, to face the accusations of the Wolf Brothers. I apologise for not bringing the item in question – my kinsman and redsmith has been working on repairs.”

Lenta observes the crowd and the proceedings.

High Priestess Dorasa nods to Xenofos. She takes no notes, but will perhaps be able to recite the proceedings later.

Kallyr nods. “Well, emotions bring trouble. We have all had enough time to cool down.” A wry smile indicates she knows this may apply to her, sometimes, very occasionally. “Storm Voice. Today is a day of rain. Can you bring light to it?”

Tennebris gestures, and chairs are brought for Varanis and a man of about forty, who looks at his seat and shakes his head, then squats down in a comfortable position and gives Tennebris a toothy smile.

Varanis glances between the man and the Storm Voice. She has a dilemma. She could sit and potentially look weak or stand and tower over the other man, potentially looking threatening.3Varanis passes Customs, fails Intrigue.: It is a courtly expectation: the judge provides such things, and it is said they stop Orlanthi from swinging at each other directly.

Varanis nods politely at both Tennebris and the Telmori, then accepts the seat. The clatter of her armour is muted somewhat by the warm clothing she is wearing.

Berra is watching the people behind the Prince more than the actual proceedings, but when Varanis sits, she moves to behind the Vingan and to the right, echoing Lord Eril with far less menace, education, and height.

Varanis places her hands on her knees, palms up and well away from the hilt of her sword. It is an Esrolian gesture of openness and non-aggression.

Tennebris says, “We are here to discover truth and weigh reparation. We shall tell this tale in order as it happened. Thane Varanis, you are accused of grave robbery and desecration, and the accuser is Dinnorath, of the Telmori. Dinnorath will speak first.”

Dinnorath gives Berra a black look, and Varanis a dismissive one, and then gets to his feet.4Insight: He is saying that he does not need a guard.

At his look, Varanis tenses, but then she releases a slow breath, emptying her lungs before filling them again. Her shoulders relax. Beyond these small movements, she does not react.

“It is a simple tale,” he says. “Berra of the family of Sartar was buried with her armour and her wolf-sister, Mavva. Their grave goods were disturbed at the beginning of Dark Season, and items were taken. We know of a cuirass, and I make no other accusation.”

Listen: There is muttering from the crowd. Other Telmori are there, and do not necessarily agree.

Dinnorath catches Serala’s eye for long enough to return her glare.

Tennebris waits for a moment and then nods to the Telmori. “Then Thane. Tell us what happened that day.”

“Storm Voice, the tale begins somewhat earlier and the context matters for my claim. May I begin earlier than the day in question?” Varanis speaks calmly and clearly, unperturbed by the rumbling in Kallyr’s great hall.

“First, the day. Then support for your claim. There will be truth as well as decision,” he says mildly.

Kallyr shifts slightly on her throne, and with an expression of annoyance puts her hand to the side of her belly. She does not take her eyes from the discussion, however.

The cut of her clothes means it is hard to see just how far along she is, but the bulge is visible.

Varanis nods. “As you wish, my lord.” She takes a slow breath, clearing her thoughts, then begins, “On the day in question, I came to the cliffs where we’d been told the cuirass of Berra Colymar, my Grandmother, was entombed. With the aid others, I ascended the cliffs and retrieved the cuirass pieces only, as commanded by my Grandmother’s spirit. Everything else was left in place.” She pauses, as if considering, then adds, “Those are the essentials, but two further things must be said. First, as is right and proper, although others may be named in today’s proceedings, only I bear responsibility for the decisions and actions taken that day. Second, although the honourable Wolf Brother does not mention it, I am compelled to admit that when I came to the entrance of the tomb, the spirit of Berra the Younger, the Telmori Berra, attacked me and I chose to follow my Grandmother’s commands regardless.”

Dinnorath stands, and says, “No offerings were made, no attempt to contact other of her-“

“Not yet,” Tennebris tells him. “Varanis will speak now, unless her friends who were there have anything to add. Your turn will come again.”

The werewolf subsides.

Varanis turns to Dinnorath and nods. “You are right. My view of matters was narrow, driven by the need to obey my Grandmother and to seek out that connection to her. I was caught up in the moment, in seeking what she had told me to seek, and thus I neglected to act responsibly. I failed to make appropriate offerings to your Berra. I would like to make that right. Indeed, I’d have done so already, but did not want to act impulsively again and thought it best to wait until the matter between us was settled. I did not want to risk encroaching uninvited. Again.”

When Tennebris mentions others Lenta pulls down the hood of her cloak and catches the eyes of the Storm Voice. After Varanis has answered the Telmori she raises her hand and nods at him.

When Tennebris nods back she steps forward head held high. (And hair in ornate hairdo and makeup in surprisingly good condition in this rain and wind.) “I am Lenta, of House Hulta, follower and servant of our Mother Ernalda. Thane Varanis speaks nobly when she assumes responsibility for this undertaking, for indeed, it was done to fulfill a quest given to her by her Grandmothers spirit. However, what aid she got from me, she got out of my free will, with no other compulsion than and my own decisions for which I will answer. It should be noted that Varanis herself did not actually touch the cave with her hand or spell or spade. I called forth a servant spirit of the Earth to bring forth the cuirass.” Ernaldan looks at the Telmori. “I think Varanis speaks wisely when she offers redress for disturbing the rest of your relative and would let her negotiate for me – in this matter. As it is, I offer you my apology before anything else.”

Customs (Esrolia): She is wearing the clan Hulta hairdo and symbols today. It has not been her habit of late.

Varanis gets a nod when she is mentioned, but mainly Lenta is concentrating on Dinnorath.

Tennebris growls, “Truth now. Support later.” He glances around for others who might wish to speak.

Dinnorath looks unmollified, and keeps giving Tennebris his attention.

Insight: The Telmori is nervous of being in court and this is making his pride keep him aloof. Anything else is hidden by that.

“The Truth, good Stormvoice, is Varanis did not touch the grave herself. If that has bearing to the case.” Lenta nods and steps back. Insight: that sweetness hid a bit of annoyance at the dullness of the priest under a polite surface.

Tennebris looks around to see if anyone else wishes to speak.

Berra just stays in her relaxed pose, hands neatly behind her back, gaze half on Kallyr and half on Dinnorath.

Varanis waits, taking slow, measured breaths, stormy eyes studying Tennebris and those on the dais in front of her.

Kalis and her new husband are watching thoughtfully. Kallyr looks stormy, as usual. Eril is inscrutable: the hood he wears shadows his eyes. Dorasa is smiling slightly in concentration, or maybe amusement at something far away.

Tennebris seems more interested in checking the crowd than in giving his attention to Varanis.

As the silence grows, Varanis twitches, like she’s having to rein herself in. Another breath, and she relaxes.

“Then to support,” Tennebris says. “And the facts leading to this event.” He gives Varanis a nod.

She returns it gravely. “After the Battle of Heroes, we made our way to Grizzly Peak. I have felt called there for years, wishing to seek out my Grandmother’s final resting place. I am told I am like her in many ways and I … well, I wanted to pay her respect,” Varanis begins.

“Go on.” He gestures to the space before the chairs, a clear invitation to tell a long story if need be.

“She came to me there, the spirit of a warrior who died too soon, but gloriously in the service of her brother, the Prince.” She nods to Kallyr, kinswoman to kinswoman, thane to Prince. “And when she manifested, she demanded to know why I did not have the entirety of her armour. There was a …” The Vingan trails off, then shakes her head and continues, “She directed me to the pieces of her helmet, which I bring before you today.” She glances to wear it now sits, beside her feet. “And bade me reunite the rest. She told of its taking, by her backboy, Derenyr, and of its creation too.”

Kallyr stirs, looking more than politely interested. Tennebris smiles slightly. “So, you had permission from one of the dead, but not the other?”

Dorasa looks exceedingly uncomfortable, and coughs. Tennebris turns to her and says, “My apologies, not the other two, for the record, Singer of Sagas.” The Sage Priest subsides.

“Two?” Varanis looks confused, but then she continues on, presumably anticipating clarification as the discussion continues. “Berra Colymar did not give me permission, my lord. She gave me a command. And, should the Lore Keepers wish, I will do my best to repeat her words and her death song as precisely as I am able.” She chews her lip a moment – a pause to find her place. “Before we left Grizzly Peak, we found ourselves once more in the Hero Plane. I cannot remember the details precisely as Vinga was strong in me that day, but I am certain that Berra Humakti has reported the details to the High Sword.” Eril gets a polite nod now. “We gathered Berra Colymar and all the dead of Grizzly Peak that we could and guided them to the Court of Silence. When we emerged, it was at the Humakti temple near Six Stones Village.” She goes on to explain how they made their way north and learned of Thane Dangmar. How he told her comrades about rescuing and hiding the armour and where they should seek it.

“So we returned to Boldhome, intent on following the instructions we had been given and in doing so, perhaps I erred.” She holds up a hand to ward off any possible interruptions. “Not in seeking out the armour, for that was bound to happen. But in how I approached the matter.”

Dorasa perks up at the idea of the death song, but stays quiet.

Tennebris nods. “Yes. I believe you did.”

Dinnorath speaks up. “It was our grave to keep – never a far-off warrior’s to give away.”

Varanis looks like she might argue, sitting up even straighter in her chair, but even as she opens her mouth to speak, she shuts it again.

Tennebris stands, finally. “Then this is the crux of the matter,” he says. “Thane Vareena, you could have negotiated, or spoken, with the Telmori. Would that have satisfied, Dinnorath?”

“Never. We keep trust, unlike others.” Dinnorath frowns.

Listen: Someone in the crowd mutters, “Not to the Maboder.” Dinnorath growls, and searches the crowd with his eyes.

“But there is one here you would obey, if she asked,” Tennebris points out, rather pointedly as Dinnorath is not looking his way. He has the wwerewolf’s instant attention.

“Yes. But she gave no orders.”

“The kin of the king is kin to us all,” Tennebris says, like an aphorism. Dinnorath, already crouched, leans forward as if to spring. Tennebris holds up a hand to him, and turns to Varanis. “Thane. You did not ask your wolf kinsfolk for help. Some there are your cousins. You did not heed history, or … the work of the Telmori.”

Insight: Tennebris has reservations about the… work of the Telmori.

“You are correct, my lord. I did not. I was wrong and offer to make recompense,” Varanis says, potentially rushing ahead in her desire to make things right.

Kallyr speaks finally. “Well said, and so it shall be. The spirit you fought has been questioned by wise Dorasa and her companions; Mavva the wolf will not call you to court from beyond life, but you will give to her armour of equal value to guard, and for Berra Colymar to wear, and you shall do this yourself, without aid or intermediary. In addition you will set up a votive statue of Berra and her sister, in form as warrior and wolf, at the place they died. Finally, there is the insult you made to the Telmori, whom I hold as my own. For this, Tennebris shall tell you the price.”

“Three cows, or two cows and a song of apology,” says Tennebris. “Which anyone may write as long as it is deemed acceptable.”

“We don’t want a song,” Dinnorath mutters, but he is mostly looking at Kallyr.

Varanis nods, solemnly. “It shall be as you command, my Prince. Storm Voice.”

Kallyr steps forward. “As for you, Dinnorath. I’ve a bone to jab at you. Where in hell have you been?”

With her descent from the throne, the hall becomes more animated, and discussions break out. Berra relaxes a little, but still stays between Varanis and the wolf.

//Anyone who wishes may do an INT x3, and if they succeed in that, an Intrigue.//
INTx3: Varanis arguably has a spare curaiss now, having traded up.
Intrigue: This would be a deliberate move, peeling her loyalties a little further from Esrolia and planting them in Sartar.

In the crowd, a little later, Tennebris comes towards Varanis, hand up like he has just remembered something.

“My lord?” She gives him a little bow.

“Thane.” He smiles briefly. “Orlanth’s Holy Day. Can you be there the day before so that you can wake in the Temple? It will be a long day and we could do with you early.”

“Of course,” she says. “Which temple, though? I have been joining the Vingans regularly since returning to Boldhome. There are fences to mend,” she adds, managing to keep it expressionless, “and my skill with the spear leaves much to be desired. But, I will go wherever you and my Prince require me.”

“I’ll send you a runner,” he replies. “It should be the Adventurous Temple but it will depend on who else is available. You know how these things go.” He gives her a wry look.

She nods.

He takes a slow breath, adding bronze to his backbone. “Now I need to organise a double dozen priests, and none of them will admit to the worship of Yinkin, yet here I am, cat herding.”

She gives him a laugh. “There’s a reason Orlanth and Yinkin get along so well. Do you need a hand?”

He considers. “If you could spend time being pleasant to Lady Kalis, that will help.”

Insight Special: The Lady Kalis thing is personal.

She arches a brow at him and glances in Serala’s direction. “I will do what I can, my lord.”

Tennebris looks the same way, and purses a smile. “Or take the day off. Go breathe easy and polish armour.”

She beams at him, for a moment her youth and Orlanthi nature sweeping away the restrained facade she has presented throughout the day’s proceedings. “You’re certain, my lord? You don’t need me?”

“Go. Before you make me change my mind.” He gestures her away with a proud lift of the chin.

She flees, catching Serala by surprise. Before they make their escape, she lets Berra know that they’re heading back to the house to snuggle by the hearth and listen to the rain batter the shutters. Maybe Varanis can convince Serala that walls and a roof aren’t so bad after all!

Berra bounces down the thousand steps with the enthusiasm of a small Humakti stamping in puddles. All the way.

  • 1
    Special on CON.
  • 2
    Pass on CON.
  • 3
    Varanis passes Customs, fails Intrigue.: It is a courtly expectation: the judge provides such things, and it is said they stop Orlanthi from swinging at each other directly.
  • 4
    Insight: He is saying that he does not need a guard.