1626, Fire Season, Movement Week
The Tula is quiet for the few hours after Silor leaving. Venlar has been left in charge and he walks the palisade a few times, talking to the fyrd, laughing and joking with them. Aelna goes to pray to Ernalda, and the men who have not gone out with Silor are largely concerned with moving herd animals and talking about emergency harvests. They do not think they will be harvesting early.
Thenaya seems to be avoiding Varanis. Yamia and Hengrast went out with their father. The Eurmalite is nowhere to be seen.
Varanis will go visit with Venlar, if she’s welcome. Meet some of the fyrd. She’s curious about the defenses, not in a planning a raid sort of way, but thinking about Blue Tree and what’s feasible for them.
He will happily walk with her. He’s physically clumsy, like he does not realise how tall he is, and his limbs don’t work properly if he forgets to concentrate. He moves from background to foreground when he speaks, obviously delighted to talk with everyone who has questions. His father is off putting right a thing that went wrong long ago, he tells a few people. He should be a couple of days, and in the mean time, if there is trouble, the fyrd will be ready. Fire season is the perfect time for this.
Venlar is definitely still charmed by Varanis, although it does not seem to be in a flirty way. He just likes people, and he likes her. He explains a few of the signals that she might hear over the next few days, and how trouble may come today if father does not scoop up the raiding party, or three days from now if there is a reprisal. If it comes three days from now, it might come with ransom demands in the shape of helmets thrown over the wall, or as a full-blown attack. That is unlikely.
Venlar has the talk down right, but he is being shadowed by a couple of older men, probably not so good in battle any more, probably there to help him do the difficult thinking. He’s great at making arguments and persuading people and boosting morale. He looks worried when he is not doing that, and he probably doesn’t understand how he’ll be commanding, despite people believing in him. However, Varanis picks up various points of signalling and message methods and war readiness. The place is spending a week with people ready to run for the walls.1Observations are the result of a successful battle roll.
When he is not in the midst of talking to someone else, but following one of his ‘righting a wrong’ speeches, Varanis says quietly to him, “What is the wrong your father sets out to right?”
Venlar takes a moment to look around and see that they are unobserved. “I don’t believe I should tell you,” he says carefully. “It is not my tale. But my mother, or my father, would most certainly be old enough to remember. It happened before either of us were born.” The big scar over his right eye twists as he gives a lopsided smile. His voice is beautiful, his face both unlike and entirely like Eril’s.
“Would it have something to do with your uncle?” she asks just as carefully.
“My dead uncle? I believe so, yes. Apparently he helped to order some of the watch systems here. The signal fires I mentioned are because of him, I believe. Moderniser is often a bad word, but he could always find a precedent for things he wanted to change. I have a lot of his writings.” Venlar is polite about this, but obviously treading carefully around the subject.
Varanis nods. “Were you aware that the High Sword of Humakt in Boldhome sent word to your father recently? Your father was very kind and allowed me to practice my reading with it. I’m better with Esrolian than Heortling, but the High Sword’s hand is very precise.” It’s almost as though she is allowing the change of subject.
“Strange that you should say that – father mentioned it to me. I almost believe that him leaving is not a coincidence. But of course, a man can go riding.” The scar helps twist his grin into an impish one. “Have you been introduced to my mother?”
“Yes, briefly. I was rather hoping to speak with her again. She’s a very interesting woman. Knowledgeable in healing, I understand.” Varanis’ return smile lights up her eyes. She’s enjoying the verbal dance with this man.
“Well, all Ernaldans are lay healers, like all warriors are lay Humakti sometimes. Yamia is rather irritated by that notion, but I can’t see why.” He paces evenly, carefully, towards a fish pond. “We should consider having more of these, if there is likely to be a siege, and simply filling them at short notice, just to get the food inside the walls.”
“That seems like a good idea. Fresh food is appreciated in a siege. Things got very tight in Nochet for a while…” Her expression darkens as memories creep in. “How will you fill them rapidly?” she asks.
“Children. Net fishing, across the river. Grab everything, move it,” he says casually, after a few moments of thinking. “The water would have to be in there already, so I’m only talking about the fish. You could just have them as natural ponds, but being able to block off the river is important, so they would have to be prepared. Hengrast would complain about losing grazing ground, and father would probably say we need horses more than fish, and we can eat horses. Then Hengrast would probably stare at him for a while. It won’t happen, but I’d do it if I were in charge.”
“It seems like a very good idea, Venlar,” the Vingan says warmly.
“Well, yes. But only for me. Father’s better at not being invaded than I’d be, which is why his is a good idea for him. Hengrast’s more dashing, but he is more outward than my father – dad thinks about the whole of Sartar sometimes. Hence, Jengharl.” Venlar walks Varanis around the side of the thrall house.
“Jengharl is the brother who left with some friends to ride towards Boldhome, yes?”
“Yes. Father would not have let him go without preparation, and probably messages for the Prince and half a dozen other people.” Venlar opens the door to ask, “Is… hello Fanshic. Is mother… thanks.” He gestures towards the house and gets his sleeve tangled up around his hand, and says, “Without this being in any way about inviting you to my room, she’s probably in my room.”
Varanis laughs. “Lead on then. We may worry her if we come in together, mind you.”
“She’s very Ernaldan. She’d find us blankets, probably. With little squares on. In green.” He points to a doorway. “That’s the quickest way. Through that stable, under the door in there, which is low and knows the taste of blood, and then… well, that way, anyhow. And mind the door.” It is indeed a very low door, small enough that only the shortest of ponies could get in. “This one used to be the house door,” he says. “The central area was a courtyard once, with the great hall at one end.”
Varanis blanches at the reference to the blankets with runes, but manages a laugh nonetheless. She follows his directions and ducks under the door.
Continues in Pet Rocks.
- 1Observations are the result of a successful battle roll.