Who Was She?

1626, Sea Season, Stasis Week, Clayday


Varanis is trying to do some research. She isn’t happy about the results. After Session 1.26: Warg and Peace


Since arriving in Boldhome, I am making a point to visit the Temple of Vinga daily at the top of the West Pocket. Each time I visit, I make an offering and pray, but I am also carefully taking in the surroundings and examining the faces of the people within the temple’s precincts. Although not as impressive as the larger temples in Nochet, this temple is more impressive than the Vingan shrine I grew up with. It’s clear that Vinga is seen as more than an afterthought or oddity in Boldhome. Unsurprising, perhaps, given who the Prince is.

There’s an older Vingan present each time I enter the temple. She has become a bit soft with the years, and while her hair gleams red, her skin shows the wrinkles and sags of time’s passing. But her smile seems genuinely welcoming, and on the third day, I decide that she will be the priestess I approach first. I greet her with a nod when I arrive, and promisingly, she returns it. After I pay my respects to my goddess, I approach the priestess.

“Good morning, Daughter of Vinga,” I say to her, carefully wearing an open expression and using a friendly, polite tone of voice.

“Good morning. How may I be of help?” The older woman responds with courtesy.

Smile winningly, Varanis. Be careful. “I was wondering if the Temple keeps historical records of Initiates? I’m looking for information about an ancestor of mine, who was said to be Vingan and possibly from this area.”

“Why, certainly. We have some written records. Do you read? And of course, a lot is held in our hearts and our heads.” The curiosity is polite and cheerful. Is she too curious?

A look of chagrin crosses my face. School it, quickly. “I read somewhat, Lady, but sadly not in Sartarite. Perhaps there is someone who could help me, either to search the texts, or to search their memories?”

“Oh, of course. I read a little. But who is it you are looking for?” She is too curious. How loudly did she say that? Who is in earshot? Don’t look around. Don’t give it away. Breathe.

I respond quietly, but casually, as if it is merely a curiosity to me. “Her name was Berra. I think she came from the Colymar Tribe.”

“Alright. Berra Colymar.” A beat. “You mean the late King’s Sister?” Her eyebrows raise.

Oh shit! How loud was she? Stay calm, Dormal can’t be right about this. School the expressions, Varanis. “I …. don’t know, Daughter. I only know that her name was Berra and that she was Vingan.” I force myself to shrug my shoulders.

“Oh, well, I’m sure THAT would have come up. Anyway, she was killed… I forget which battle. But Colymar is a big clan. Let’s go and look for the right one, shall we?” The priestess smiles encouragingly and I’m certain it is safe to follow her. Well, almost certain.

“Thank you. I really appreciate your help.” I smile charmingly and hopefully innocently at her. Oh Vinga, let Dormal be wrong. My prayer is silent and so is my goddess.

“Oh, of course. Yes, this way. My name is Jerema, by the way,” she says, introducing herself.

I follow Jerema as she leads me down a short corridor and into a room. It’s clearly a library, though the shelves are full of dried and rolled animal hides, rather than tablets. She goes and gets various rolls with membership lists. I peer over her shoulder as she examines the lists. They appear to be recorded alphabetically and there are a few Berra Colymars, including, if I’m reading it rightly, a lay member, who would be about 20 now. Briefly I wonder if she is our Berra – I think I spot reference to the Blue Tree Clan, but I’m not certain.

“The Berra I’m looking for came from Colymar and would have been born in the 1530s or some time after. But that’s all I really know.” I know I am prevaricating, but I need to leave my options open right now.

“Oh, well, that’s not a lot to go on. They’ll probably have more down at Clearwine Fort, but….” And she finds a few. It seems to be a popular Colymar name, but mostly after the 1530s. 1560s and 70s for the most part. But there’s a few, most notably, yes, Berra, daughter of the King of the Colymar, King of Sartar, Tarkalor.

There is one Berra Colymar that stands out, as the priestess reads them out to me. She’s the right sort of age. Perhaps a tad younger than I estimated, but the only one recorded as dead “As the ballads record” at the Battle of Grizzly Peak.

Oh shit. She’s the daughter of King Tarkalor, who died in the same battle. Stay calm. Do not give this away. “Are there others of a similar age, Daughter?” I ask, careful to sound curious. I don’t want to draw attention to the Grizzly Peak one in particular. I need Jerema to think there may be other possibilities. It turns out that there are several others. So I ask her to tell me about some of them too, and commit them to memory.

“Thank you for your time, Daughter. As you say, perhaps a trip to Clearwine will help me figure out which of these many Vingans I am looking for.” I smile charmingly, and go through the appropriate pleasantries and formalities. Trying to look calm and relaxed, I make my way back to the palace to mull this over.