Varanis — 1626 0658 Two Things
????, Sea Season
At the tail end of Sea Season, in the city of Boldhome. [[[s01:session-30|Session 30]]]
Here follows a series of conversations between Varanis and various companions about bodyguards and other protections.
Day after wrestling Rajar, Varanis has been at the temple, but is now eating dinner in the common room of the inn.
Mellia, wearing her white robes, approaches Varanis. “Good evening. May I eat with you?”
Show conversation with Mellia
“Of course!” Rondrik, used to both Varanis and Mellia now, bustles over with a bowl of vegetable soup for the healer and a small loaf of warm bread.
“Thank you, Rondrik.” Mellia takes a few spoonfuls of the soup, eats a little of the bread and says to Varanis, “There are a few things I wanted to talk to you about.”
Varanis nods, mouth full.
“I’ll start with the one less likely to make you shout. Berra told me that you spoke with Queen Leika’s court bard. Berra wants to talk to me about it, but can’t. Would you please allow Berra to discuss that with me?”
Varanis raises an eyebrow at the first statement. “Yes, Berra can discuss Torograi and what he told us. I can too, if you want.”
“I would love to hear it,” Mellia replies. “Perhaps we should talk about that before getting to the bad part.”
Once again, Varanis looks at her cousin. There’s some concern in her expression. She thinks for a moment then says, “the armour first belonged to my grandmother, Berra Colymar, half sister to the Sartar King, Tarkalor. This makes me a direct descendant of King Sartar ((first of the Sartarite kings)). It went from her to another Berra Colymar, also a descendant from King Sartar, but of a different line. We don’t know how it came to Grandmother, who then gave it to me.”
“Perhaps,” Mellia says thoughtfully, “it is best not to ask how Grandmother got it. This explains something Berra pointed out to me.”
Varanis gives her cousin an inquiring look, over a spoonful of stew.
Mellia goes on, “Berra said that there are few people left with the royal blood of Sartar in their veins. That puts you in danger, Varanis. “
Varanis shrugs. “These are dangerous times, cousin. We are all at risk, in some way or another. Besides, how many people could possibly know?”
“That is a question well worth asking,” Mellia says. “I have no idea. The problem remains that there are people who are going to want you dead. Some of them might not even be Lunars.”
Varanis laughs bitterly. “People have wanted me dead my entire life, cousin. My mother’s father died saving her from assassins. I just didn’t know until now why assassins have been a part of my life. I’m not even sure this is the answer, though I suppose it seems likely.”
“You are a known royal kinswoman, Varanis,” Mellia adds. “You yourself told me that someone had been making copies of your armor during our last visit here.”
“I’ll be careful, Mellia. I promise.”
“Thank you, but you may have to take some steps you will not like. I wish Berra were here.”
Varanis takes a deep breath, clearly trying to find patience. “What are you not saying, Mellia?”
“Berra thinks you need Humakti bodyguards.”
The spoon is carefully placed in the bowl. There is a long silence.
Mellia sighs. “I knew you’d hate the idea.”
“You think I’m incapable of looking after myself?”
“I think you were much too tired to do so yesterday. Will you at least consider an escort when you’re that weary?”
Varanis scowls and stares into her stew. “I’ll think about it.” The tone is mulish and not very promising. “I’m tired. I think I’ll go to bed.” She pushes back from the table. “Good night, cousin. Thank you for your concern. I appreciate that you worry for me, even if I don’t like it.”
“Good night, cousin. You’re welcome. Sleep well.” Mellia begins to attack her neglected soup and bread in earnest.
Varanis goes looking for Berra, to discuss this issue of bodyguards.
Show conversation with Berra
Varanis asks High Priestess Kalis advice, as suggested by Berra. Kalis seems to think the very idea is amusing.
Show conversation with Kalis
In the evening, after the conversation with Berra, Varanis makes her way to the Earth Temple to seek an audience with High Priestess Kalis. The sensual priestess is her usual welcoming self and has plenty of time for the Vingan that night.
Sipping wine, seated amongst a pile of cushions, Varanis studies the beautiful woman for a while. Finally, she asks, “Kalis, Priestess, how can I learn to be more alert and protect myself from spirit-based attacks?”
The question is clearly not what the High Priestess of Ernalda was expecting. She looks faintly amused, “Do you expect them, dahling? Call upon your Goddess.”
“Some of my companions are concerned on my behalf and would like me to take precautions,” Varanis replies with an eloquent shrug. “I promised to consider their words carefully, and so now I am considering.” She doesn’t sound particularly worried, but her eyes flash briefly at the woman’s amusement.
The High Priestess’ next words are dismissive. “You are a leader, then lead. You will never be a Shaman. The training is long, and you will never be as proficient as a specialist in it. Use magic, there are shields for the spirit. Use a guard skilled in it. Your power is to lead.”
Varanis nods thoughtfully. “Thank you.” Then she smiles mischievously at the Priestess. “I appreciate you having time for me. I know how busy your schedule must be.”
There is a languid smile in response.
Later, much later, as Yelm was just considering making his morning ascent, the sleepy Vingan begins to make her way back to the White Grape. As she wanders the dark streets of Boldhome alone, she decides that Mellia would be most dismayed to see her right now. Varanis doesn’t care much though. She’s replaying the night in her head, coming back again and again to the way the priestess seemed to mock her question about protection. Finally, she decides that Kalis doesn’t think she needs protection at all, that the question was stupid, and that she should probably just let it go. It is at this point that she sleepily realises that she has missed the turn to the inn some time ago, and the nearest landmark she recognises is the Temple of Humakt up ahead.
Varanis updates her cousin, Xenofos, on the discussions.
Show conversation with Xenofos
Varanis seeks out Xenofos, in the common room of the inn. They sit together over a drink and have a quiet conversation in Esrolian. First they discuss what she learned from the bard in Clearwine about [[[varanis:1626-0640-armour |Berra, sister of Tarkalor]]]. Once that topic has been exhausted, she raises the issue that she’s been wrestling with most recently.
“Berra and Mellia are trying to convince me that I need security and I agreed to consider it. I even asked Kalis if she had recommendations on how to protect myself spiritually and she laughed, asking if I really thought that was necessary. Her reaction reaffirmed my impression that people are making a big deal out of nothing and I don’t really need to worry about it.” Something about the way the Vingan talks about Kalis’ reaction suggests that the whole thing rankles. She’s trying to look relaxed, but she’s failing.
Xenofos nods at idea of security. “Guards – might be good. Humaktis? Other than Berra? Have you any idea who it was last time who spilled Sartar royal blood? It was not the followers of ploughgod Barntar or Yelmalians or even Lunars. It was the Humaktis.” He continues, “For most part – don’t be alone, be alert, and despite all this fear mongering, have no fear.”
Varanis blinks. “Humaktis killed my ancestors?”
“Not your ancestor, but of blood Sartar – king Temertain. Raised to throne at time of Starbrow’s rebellion by Leika, later worked with Lunars – and killed by Humaktis.”
“Oh, well if he worked with Lunars, he deserved to die. If, Vinga forbid, I were ever to turn to the Lunars and betray our people, I would hope that you ended me.” Varanis speaks with the passion and uncomplicated conviction of youth.
“With the rebellion crushed and heroes like Leika and Kallyr in exile, someone had to pick up the pieces, make the peace and lead the people to survive. With no real support, no respect and brushed a traitor. With assasin’s blade waiting at the end.”
Varanis looks taken aback.
“That man was Temertain who had been a sage in Nochet until found by Leika and put to the throne, making the best of impossible situation,” Xenofos says implacably. “I would condemn him very harshly if he was some petty noble who raised a flag of rebellion and turned his cloak. But he was a quiet man, a mediocre sage of ornithological and hortonomical interests. He did not seek the power, he was found and raised to a position by heroes. And left to deal with aftermath when heroics failed.”
Varanis seems to be trying to make sense of this. “But still, he went over to the Lunars,” she argues.
“He was a king of Sartar, in Sartar occupied by Lunars, with the tribes giving him no support. What power did he have to protect the people?” The scholar’s words are relentless.
“I’d rather die than…” Her words lack conviction and she stops. “But a real leader doesn’t really have the luxury of choosing personal honour over the safety of the people…” Her expression is one of dawning understanding, but it’s clear she is also very uncomfortable.
“Yes. It is a most sad story. He was no hero and failed in the end. But he should not be despised too much.”
Varanis looks lost in thought. Finally she says, “no one could possibly see me as in line for the throne though. Right?” It’s possible her words are more wishful thinking than what she truly believes.
“Adopted to noble Esrolian family and raised to become a Vingan – totally unlikely. Quite unlike a Lhankor Mhy sage working on classifying birds… ” Xenofos has annoying sarcastic streak that sometimes shows up.
Varanis glares at him. “Sometimes, I hate it when you are right.”
“As far as I understand it is not so much line as drop of blood and acceptance of the tribes. With Kallyr strong you would not make a very good pawn. If she was weakened or removed from the table you would be very annoying. Stronger than Leika in some respects. Yet under her and with no own tribal powerbase.”
“Well, let’s ensure that Kallyr stays strong, so it doesn’t become an issue, shall we?”
“I am your man, not Kallyr’s. And that is by choice. But if that is your will, I will follow and support you in that.”
“I would make a terrible ruler, Xenofos,” Varanis says with a wry smile for her cousin. “I’m still trying to learn how to lead and I don’t have much of a following beyond you. My understanding of who and what I am has undertaken some rather significant shifts in recent weeks.”