VS 090 A Tentative Truce

Varanis — 1626 0747 Tentative Truce

????, Fire Season, Season/Illusion Week


Context

Fire Season/Illusion Week/Fireday/Afternoon [[[s01:session-44|Session 44]]]

At the White Grape Inn, Boldhome.

No real spoilers, but Berra shouldn’t read this because she doesn’t like reading anything that suggests Dormal could be a decent guy.

Events

After waking from her nap, Varanis doesn’t immediately go downstairs. Instead, she raps quietly on Dormal’s door. “Dormal? Do you have a moment? I need to ask you something.”

“Come in.”

She opens the door cautiously and steps inside. Words of welcome don’t always mean welcome. She eyeballs Dormal, assessing him.

There is, as usual, no furniture but the cot. Dormal is sitting on it.

“I need advice. You see things differently than I do and spot risks that I overlook,” she begins. “I want to warn my siblings, without drawing attention to them. I thought perhaps a coded letter sent to my grandmother. She visits my sister regularly, to visit with my sister and her children.”

“Have you agreed a code with them already?” he replies. “And if you don’t mind telling me, what do you want to warn them about?”

“No.” She frowns. “Sort of? But, I was only a child when we used it last, and it was meant to warn if I was in trouble.” She takes a deep breath. “They are my siblings. We share the same mother and thus the same connection to Sartar. They may look and act completely Esrolian, but that might not matter to someone looking for a route to the throne.”

“Hm. Well the old code is no good, they might come running up here and I assume that’s not what you want.” He considers her. “Why to your grandmother and not to them… to avoid tipping anybody off who doesn’t know about them already?”

She nods. “We don’t exactly get along well anyway. They are all much older than me. My nieces are already near their initiations.”

“I’m fairly certain Issaries’ lot have a way of hiding writing in their accounts. Don’t ask me how I know that. The question is would your grandmother… If Irillo knows it you could write a letter about your expectations for the estate and hide it in the accounts.” He continues, “If you can’t rely on a code… talk about an incident from your childhood that sounds innocuous but never happened… can never have happened, and make passing reference, as an afterthought, to the political situation here. She’s a grandmother, she’ll figure it out.”

Varanis nods. “That could work well. She’s a smart woman, as is my sister. Thank you.” She turns to go, then turns back. “Eril said that we should strengthen our relationships with our gods and prepare ourselves for the quest. Do you need anything, Dormal?”

“Oh, are we going now? Mellia asked me to take care of something. I could use a couple of days.”

“We have a few days. Most of us need until Godday to worship at our Temples. I… I don’t know anything about your god. I don’t know when you worship, but you need time for that too.” She is careful in her wording.

“Who are you handing the short straw of playing Flesh Man to?” he asks.

“That remains to be discussed,” she replies evasively.

“Ah, so you have someone in mind.”1Both players fail insight rolls.

She doesn’t answer.

“Hmm. Not exactly reassuring, but I suppose I’m being paid well enough.”

“It’s not you, Dormal. Your god has a role to play and I need you in that role. If I have to be betrayed, better by someone I know has reason to see the quest be successful. And strange though it may sound, I’d rather it was someone I know and care about than an unknown.” She shrugs. She knows that wanting to be betrayed by someone you know is odd, but she’s accepted her own strangeness to some extent.

He shrugs. “If that’s who you pick. That’s who you pick. It’s between you and them and no-one else, and I already bargained to be here. No backing out of deals. What would Irillo say?” He adds, “But it’s not me you should worry about, really. Will Xenofos hold up under the strain?”

“If you backed out? Probably that he was disappointed, but he’d understand. This isn’t a quest to enter lightly, as you well know.” At the mention of Xenofos, she pauses to study her cousin, looking for signs of malice or ill-intent. Finally she answers, “He will manage. But I worry about what will happen to him if I fail and die.”

“I can hazard a guess but I doubt it would be comforting. Will he manage though? It seems to me he’s barely holding it together being an initiate in Sartar, let alone playing Lhankor Mhy in Hell. And I’ve seen people go through withdrawal before. It’s not pretty.”

“He doesn’t seem to be suffering any effects of withdrawal and he isn’t using either. You underestimate him.” Her defense of Xenofos is adamant.

“We shall see.” He remains carefully expressionless. “And what about Irillo? The healers said he wouldn’t be healed for a while.”

“He is healing well and says he can be ready within a few days. The healers appear to support that, though Mellia fusses. Eril also says he will be ready, as it is the Sword who will wield the blade.” Her expression changes subtly as she mentions Eril, the calm mask slipping a little, before being put back in place.

“So we’re not going via Indrodar’s necklace.”

“No. Eril will kill me. One fast, if uncomfortable way to start the quest is for Humakt to kill Orlanth.” She stares at him. “I tried to say it this morning, but none of you were actually paying attention, were you?”

“I was up here, not down there. Why the change of heart?”

“Because we no longer have the time to look for an easier way in. Time is pressing in on us. I believe we can pull Kallyr and the Spark out at once, in the role of Yelm.” Varanis says the words confidently, though her eyes betray her underlying fear.

“Sounds like a lot to pile on one quest.” He glances at her curiously. “Did you know Queen Leika just rode in to the city in state and went up to the palace?”

“Yes. I’m worried about what that means. Berra thinks we shouldn’t warn the Palace of our intentions. She figures Tennebris will already know and it’s best not to make too many people aware.”

“Probably means she thinks Kallyr’s dead and is moving for the throne. As to what will happen when she’s told she isn’t…” He shrugs. “I don’t necessarily disagree that staying away is the right thing to do. The question is, politically, can you afford to?”

“I think it’s a decision to make once we finish the quest. If I succeed, I need to present myself at the Palace and accept the consequences. If I fail?” She shrugs. “Then I’m likely dead anyway and it doesn’t matter.”

“Fair enough.”

“Do you have a way to find out what is happening at the Palace?” Varanis asks, watching Dormal.

“I can always go up there and snoop around. Maybe if Meilla sent me with a message about Eril’s health.” He continues, “I know Leika rode up there, and I know Tennebris wasn’t taken by surprise because he was warned, but not much in advance.”

“Do you want me to speak to Mellia, or will you?” The question she asks indicates her support for the idea.

“Probably right now there’s a tense situation with Tennebris, or someone, trying to make the whole ‘she’s not dead the body has just inconveniently vanished’ situation believable. I’ll talk to Mellia.”

Varanis nods. “Be safe, cousin. And thank you. I know you do this for Grandmother and for what she’s paying you, but I appreciate it nonetheless.” She turns to leave once again.

“Heh. I’ll be safer here than where we’re going, no doubt. I’ll see you in a few hours.”

She offers him a tentative smile and then closes the door behind her.