1626, Sea Season, Movement Week, Clayday
Sea Season, Movement Week, Clayday. Between Session 1.26 Warg and Peace and 1.27. Follows after You don’t have to do it alone.
Mellia comes looking for Varanis, who is skulking in her rooms in the Palace at Boldhome
Varanis is shut away in her room at the palace in Boldhome. She’s hunched over a table in the room, working on something shiny, with various tools of her craft scattered around the table surface.
There is a gentle tapping on the door to the room. Mellia calls, “Varanis? Is this a good time to talk?”
Varanis looks up from her work at the sound of Mellia’s voice. “Mellia? Yes, for you it’s a good time. Come in.” She rises to clear another chair for the healer to sit. From the mess in the room, it looks like Varanis may be doing (or neglecting) her own house-keeping lately.
Mellia enters the room, looking as if she’s been working hard and spending magical energy. “Thank you!” Mellia sits in the cleared chair with a grateful sigh. “First off, I want to thank you for standing guard at the quest.”
“No thanks is required, cousin. I will always stand guard for you if it is in my power to do so,” Varanis replies with a smile for the healer. “Would you like something? I think I have water or wine, somewhere around here.” She casts her gaze around piles in her room.
“Please. Thank you, cousin. Thanking the White Lady is thirsty work. Also, I was talking to Serala and had an idea, if you would like to hear it.”
Varanis finally turns up a bottle of wine and a couple of mostly clean glasses. She pours for them both and sits down, nodding at Mellia.
Mellia sips the wine before speaking. “Thank you. It occurred to me that Berra, for all her skill in leadership, may not understand how you fight, or how Serala fights. I think the three of you should sit down and talk skills and tactics.”
Varanis nods thoughtfully. “That does seem like a wise idea. To be honest, I don’t really know how they fight either… other than with flying tackles,” Varanis says ruefully.
“Better still, the bunch of you may want to practice together, keeping in mind that fights tend to find us.”
Varanis smiles openly at this. “That I would enjoy,” she replies with enthusiasm. “I’ve been training, but it’s not the same. Yes,” she says, “this is an excellent idea.”
Mellia beams and drinks more wine. “Serala,” and here Mellia’s smile fades, “is not happy being with us. Are you happy, Varanis? Is there something I can do to make your life easier? I know Grandmother’s instructions were very vague.”
Varanis shrugs in reply. “I’m not convinced that Grandmother intended for my happiness, cousin. I am trying to learn about these Sartarites. The Temple has been welcoming. Serala has been very helpful with those monsters my brother gave me, and I’m slowly learning to ride better, I think.”
Mellia drinks more wine. “The Sartarites are a little strange. It is good that you are learning to ride. Perhaps I should learn how to ride better as well.”
“She’s a patient teacher,” Varanis replies, smiling.
Out of the blue, Varanis suddenly asks, “Mellia, do you know anything about my grandmother? The Sartarite one?”
“No, I do not. I wish I did.”
Varanis sighs. “I wish I knew more. There’s something you might need to know, but knowing could put you at risk. I wanted to protect you from it, but I’m worried that not knowing also puts you at risk.” Varanis sounds concerned. “Serala pointed out that I have no right to make the decision for you though. It’s political and related to my grandmother,” she adds.
Mellia mutters, “I hate politics.” In a normal tone, she adds, “I think you had probably better tell me. If the problem is best solved in a sneaky fashion, tell Dormal as well.”
“I’ve been trying to decide what to tell Dormal. He knows some it, but I have been rather… well, avoiding him recently.”
“Dormal can be a pain,” Mellia agrees.
Varanis begins. “When we first arrived… did you see how Tennebris reacted to me? Dormal thought it was like he recognized me somehow.”
“I missed that. Interesting. How strongly do you resemble your grandmother?”
“I don’t know. She died before I was born. Grandmother Mirava wouldn’t discuss her, but grandfather Kesten used to tell me a bit about her if we were alone. He said I looked like her. I know she was a Sartarite – her name was Berra and she came from the Colymar Clan,” Varanis continues. “And it may be possible that… well, that she was of royal birth.” Her voice is lowered as she says this, clearly not fully confident of their privacy. “That was Dormal’s guess, and what little research I’ve been able to do suggests that he might be right.”
Mellia looks thoughtful. “This is sounding like a job for Dormal. It’s that or convince Kallyr Starbrow you don’t want the throne. “
“I don’t want it!” Varanis bursts out, then looks shocked at herself. She quickly lowers her voice again, “Truly Mellia, I don’t want it. But, I don’t trust Dormal not to take advantage of it in some way. He suggested that Grandmother might have sent me here deliberately. Why would she do that?” She sounds shaken. She has clearly been used to being protected by Grandmother Saiciae, rather than used by her.
Mellia sounds thoughtful. “Perhaps Grandmother would like an alliance with Sartar, or at least more influence here. With you on the throne, that would be guaranteed. Tennebris is backing Kallyr. The other person to watch out for is Eril. I don’t know what Eril wants, other than to send Berra to her death.”
Varanis blinks at Mellia. “But I don’t want a throne. I’d be a terrible ruler, Mellia!”
Mellia says, “The trick will be convincing everyone else of that. This is really looking like a job for Dormal, or maybe Irillo. Do you want me to talk to Dormal?”
Varanis sighs deeply. “Maybe we should do that together? Or perhaps even have a clan meeting and get Xenofos and Irillo together too?”
“Let’s call a clan meeting. This affects us all.”
Varanis agrees with some reluctance. “You should also know that I have shared some of my thoughts and concerns with both Serala and Berra. It is because of Serala that I finally told you. And Berra may actually know more of my grandmother than I do.”
“Then we had better hold a meeting with everyone.”
Varanis winces at that. “We are going to need somewhere private and an excuse to gather everyone.”
“Nala’s camp, throw a party to celebrate the success of the heroquest?”
Varanis nods slowly. “That could work. As long as the unicorn princess doesn’t mind the invasion.”
“I will talk to her,” Mellia says firmly.
“You know,” Varanis says after a moment. “You should take better care of yourself. You don’t look like you’ve been sleeping enough.”
“No, I’ve been sleeping. It’s just that I owe the White Lady an enormous debt of thanks. I’ve been healing the poor and praying a lot.”
“And eating? Berra forgot how and why to eat for a while after…” Varanis shakes her head at the memory. “She seems mostly better now.”
Mellia looks a little guilty. “Perhaps I should go eat something.”
Varanis begins to pack up the bracelet she had been working on. “Let’s go together. I could eat something too.”