Investigations

1626, Sea Season, Fertility Week


Context

Sea Season, over the end of Fertility Week and the beginning of Stasis Week. Just after Session 1.26: Warg and Peace

Events

Short version: Varanis noticed that someone made copies of parts of her armour. She asks Dormal and Xenofos for help.

Part 1: Talking to Dormal

After the Hero Quest ends, Dormal asks for a mirror. Varanis offers him the use of hers and they head to her quarters. On arrival, Varanis closes the door, looks around her room quickly, and turns to her cousin. “Someone did something to my armour.”

“Hm. Any idea what?” His response is curious, but not overly concerned.

“I think they copied the images. Can you help me figure out who?”

“Fweh. I can try and find out but I’d probably have to go over and above whatever the bribe was to get it done, assuming that’s how they did it. Also almost certainly whoever it is the chief priest thought you were now has a copy of your armour in the works.”

“Work on it,” she responds urgently. “Let me know how much money you require and we will discuss it.”

“Alright,” Dormal says, “but, before I go looking – is that box connected with the rest of this?”

“Forget about the box. It’s irrelevant.”

“I’m sure it isn’t, but you don’t have to tell me. Just remember: I’m the one who thought you were right to get it. And I’m also the one who made sure the others didn’t get it. If they’d had their way.”

“It’s fine.” There is impatience in her expression now. “But, I want to know whose image is being circulated, why you think people are looking at me funny, and who made an impression or copy of my armour. These things are clearly more important at the moment.”

“Fair enough. I’ll make inquiries. Get Xenofos to follow you around and see if he can tell if anyone else has the description. Might need to follow that lead instead.”

As they are talking, they move to stand by the armour stand. “Sssooo…” Dormal continues, “is this armour from here? These aren’t Esrolian or Saiciae designs. Wait… that time the girl called you an outlander. Was your father from up here?”

“My father is a Saiciae as you are. Or maybe more.” Old bitterness shapes the words. “My mother’s mother is supposed to have come from Sartar. She died before I was born, so I never knew her.”

“Hmm.” He seems to be thinking.

“And the armour is from Grandmother. She had the cuirass and helmet commissioned for me after the Siege, but the rest was older stuff that she gave to me. I assumed it came from the armouries.”

“Can I see that?” She passes him the vambrace, with traces of wax in one of the movement runes. “I think… you should ask Xenofos to identify these designs.” The wheels seem to be turning in his head. “Who ruled here before Kallyr? I think… I’m guessing… you might have a claim. We need to find out who your grandmother was. You might be the backup in case we failed in the hero quest. Hm. Yes. I can see why Grandmother would have planned it all. Why she stepped in and ruled you were in the clan, despite the political cost. Cunning.”

“I know her name. She was called Berra and she was from the Colymar tribe. I don’t know who her mother was. Or her father, for that matter.”

He taps his fingers thoughtfully on the bronze in his hands. Varanis eyes him in annoyance. “You need to get that information. Ideally from someone who won’t instantly blab it.” He continues, ignoring his cousin’s glare. “Put Xenofos on that. he can get it from his temple. I’d ask Berra but she’d just stab me then spread it all over town, and we don’t want this info out.”

“You judge Berra too harshly,” comes the swift reply.

“You don’t want Kallyr thinking you have a claim, if that’s what this is. Berra literally called me a stinking slimy maggot for defending you over the box. And tried to kill me after I stopped Onjur from killing her in the market. Serala had to sit on her.”

“Hmmm… I missed that part. I think I was picking the mud out of my ears.” Varanis seems torn between amusement and chagrin.

“So, you know, she’s polite to you because you have rank. But I’ll stick to my assessment of her until she starts at least acting polite.”

“I’m used to that, cousin. Most people who are polite to me are only polite because of my rank.” Her tone is definitely bitter now.

So is his, as he replies “You should try it without rank. It’s not better.”

“Berra, at least, talks to me like a person and argues with me like she actually cares about what I’m saying.”

“Well, she definitely doesn’t care what I’m saying. Anyway. Xenofos. Colymar history. Hm. Or… Nala’s sort of a shaman… maybe she can commune with your grandmother.”

“Tell me about Nala. I thought Berra was going to knife me for referring to her as a savage and Irillo told me to have more respect for her. All I see is a pretty little unicorn princess who sulks.” Varanis sounds genuinely confused.

“That’s about 50% true. I think she’s just not ready for the role the world wants her to fill. Argath asked her to stay out here. And she’s on a sort of prolonged quest to get her mother promoted to Hero. Some sort of prophecy or something. Also once we’re done here we need to head south on that business for Grandmother.”

“What business?” Varanis asks, raising an eyebrow at Dormal.

“So, what did she tell you?” he asks.

“To be loyal to my family,” comes the prompt reply.

“Hold on. I don’t want to tell you anything that’s going to put you on the spot. How much can I tell you without causing problems…” Dormal thinks for a moment. “We need to head down to Rhigos. We’re on the trail of an important clan heirloom. And we really want to find it before anyone else does. or even before they know it’s missing.”

“Are you asking me to steal something, cousin?” There is suspicion in her eyes as she watches her cousin for his reply.

“Ha. No. Somebody else stole it. We’re going to retrieve it. Whoever currently has it might object, but buying it is acceptable.” He sounds completely reasonable.

“So, why do we need to worry about people knowing? If we are retrieving something that is ours, surely we can walk in and claim it.” Varanis is not certain she’s buying his answer.

“It’s one of those things where if it’s known you lost something, you lose a lot of face. The Queen would get involved. And there are plenty of people who’d kill us to stop us, or even get the thing for themselves.”

“I will not act the thief,” replies the outraged Vingan.1Sorry Dormal. Rolled 5/80 on Honour and 93/60 on Loyalty Saiciae.

“I’m not asking you to act the thief. Someone down there had this thing. And they may not know what they had. If people find out what it is, the price goes up.” He tries to sound reasonable, but the frustration may be starting to show.

“You are asking me to sneak about to retrieve something and not to let others know about it. This lacks honour. I will not discuss this right now. We need to find Xenofos.” Varanis is very angry.

Dormal quietly facepalms, while his cousin ignores him completely and swans out of the room, clearly expecting him to follow. He silently notes where the box was concealed and leaves.

Part 2: Talking to Dormal and Xenofos

Varanis and Dormal find Xenofos walking down a mostly deserted corridor. They get his attention.

“Esteemed cousin, We can’t start Your rightful revenge yet – we are under Heortling hospitality and attacking any other guests would be highly impolite. And since these – people – seem to think a group should have spokesman and not a lady I am afraid my acceptance is seen as binding You too.” He sounds very sincere in his words.

Varanis looks cross. “We need somewhere we can talk in private.” Looking around, they find an empty room and duck into it. “Dormal is under the ridiculous impression that people here seem to recognize me, or something along those lines anyway.” She sounds dismissive of that. “But, more importantly, someone has been doing more to my armour than cleaning it. There are the remains of wax and charcoal on what should be spotless armour.”

“Gosh, that is weird,” comes her cousin’s reply.

She quickly explains that her armour is a bit of a mix. The vambraces and greaves are old and of Sartarite design, beautifully maintained and in excellent condition. They date to our grandparents’ generation at least. All the rest is new and commissioned by Grandmother Saiciae. All given to Varanis at once as a gift. She and Dormal want to know if there’s something more about the older stuff than Varanis has realized.

“I will study these matters Cousin, but in these parts of the world I need to trust help of sages of Lhankor Mhy. We are no longer in Nochet, Varanis.”

“That’s fine,” she says impatiently.

Dormal adds, “Look, the chief priest seemed to recognise Varanis. Or at least be comparing her to some image he had memorised. And grandmother sent us up here knowing we might fail, she would have thought of a back up. This has all the hallmarks of a ‘lo our ancestor is return’d unto us, verily, for a power play. Which we don’t want to happen now that we’ve got the Prince back. But which someone might try to use to destabilise the area.”

“There are dozens of princes and kings in Sartar – having Varanis turn up to be an heir is unlikely to mean she would be contesting Prince Kallyr’s throne.” Xenofos sounds skeptical.

“If it’s important enough for the chief priest to do a double take in public, it’s important for us to know,” Dormal insists.

“That could be true, but I think Varanis is right and you are overreacting,” comes the dismissive reply.

“Just see what you can find out. Ok?”

“I would never contest the Prince’s throne,” Varanis declares urgently. “They say she is descended from Sartar himself!” There’s something of hero-worship in her eyes.

“That’s… not the point.” And now it’s Dormal’s turn to sound impatient. “Either someone is knocking around looking like you, which is going to be a problem if they copy your armour and start committing crimes. Or there’s a chance someone will use this claim to destabilise the area. Doesn’t matter whether you contest it or not.”

Varanis looks horrified. “If someone pretends to be me and acts in such a way….” Her words trail off.

“If it was just the double take, I’d be less worried. But someone copied your armour. Until we know otherwise, we have to treat any weird behaviour like that as a potential risk.”

“Should we bring Mellia and Irillo in on this?” Her question and tone suggest that she is finally beginning to take Dormal seriously.

“Ask them if they know anything about your grandmother. Otherwise warn them there may be a you-lookalike knocking around and we don’t know if they mean us ill or good.”

Varanis nods. “Hmmm… Dormal, earlier you said something about having Xenofos stick close for a bit, to see how people are reacting to me. That will be difficult if he’s off researching. I’m just going to need to keep my eyes open, I think. But, let me know if you see something like that again.”

“Yes, keep an eye out. I’d follow you myself but I have to do some digging on my own.”

“Oh, I don’t think I mentioned this. My grandmother was Vingan too. That’s why Kesten, our grandfather,” she says with a gesture that includes Xenofos, “brought me to the Vingans in the first place.”

“Hm. Clues might be in the history of the Vingan temple here then,” Dormal replies thoughtfully.

After some more quiet discussion, they part ways.

A couple of days later, Xenofos relates his findings on the mysterious armour to Dormal: “Nothing much really. Markings on greaves and vambraces would clearly seem to refer to tribe of Colymar, but there is something there I cannot quite fathom. I did not find any records on Berra of Colymar here, but they would probably be at Clearwine fort in any case.”

“Hm. Well that doesn’t mesh at all with what Irillo said about her being an important person. I guess we’ll have to go to the fort and find out. Or somebody buried something a long time ago and it’s all about to blow up in our faces.” Dormal sounds vaguely worried.

“How many written records would these Heortlings keep anyway? Those in who need to know lineages would probably know them by heart. Whether she would be heir to some Colymari line or descended from a Colymari villain the fort would be the centre of potential competition or people with grudges to settle – but also of potential support.” Xenofos speaks of the Heortlings with a bit of derision, but there is also some concern carried in his words.

Part 3: Follow-up conversation

After a couple of days of quiet studies Xenofos approaches Varanis privately with results.

Varanis doesn’t hesitate to hear his news, other than to make sure they are alone.

“The markings on greaves and vambraces would clearly seem to refer to tribe of Colymar, but there is something there I cannot quite fathom. In more sinister vein, they seem to indicate heritage of clan EelAriash. Clan of Hon-Eel, Jar-Eel the Razoress and Onjur. So looking at them twice might not be so odd.”

Varanis looks somewhat horrified. “Are you sure? That doesn’t make any sense. Why would Grandmother give something like that to me?” After a pause…. “maybe she didn’t know?” Varanis shakes her head after a moment. “No, that seems unlikely.”

“I did not find a scroll listing marks of EelAriash – or Colymari for that matter. It is possible interpretation for some of those ornaments, that go around main runes, I think that is maize. Done in Sartari style and stylized but looks maize to me. And we all know maize usually refers to HonEel Artess.” His words are solemn and concerned. “But why give it to you? Because it is your heritage?”

“I don’t know,” Varanis snaps at him. Then she takes a breath and more calmly says, “I don’t know why. If it’s Colymar, then maybe. I was always told that Berra was from the Colymar.”

“There are clear indications of Colymar origin too. I did not find any scrolls on Berra of Colymar tribe. They would probably be preserved in Clearwine fort anyway.” He continues: “Clearly this is of interest to someone, who may have gotten a more clear view of the meaning of these still rather vague hints. It might be prudent to investigate.”

They stare at each other in silence for a moment. Finally, Xenofos adds, “Now that Kallyr has been revived mission Granny sent us to would seem to be concluded. Where will you wish to lead us? There are lots of uncleared issues still so I am not in a hurry to return to Nochet myself.

“I’m not ready to return either. I need to know more. We should definitely investigate.” Her tone is edged with worry, but also the need to know. “Find Dormal and pass this information along, discreetly.”