Varanis — 1626 0753 Blood Wine
????, Fire Season, Truth Week
Fire Season, Truth Week, Godday [[[s01:session-46|Session 46]]]
Earth Season, Disorder Week, Freezeday
The heroquest is over. Kallyr is back and has lit the Flame of Sartar. Varanis and Xenofos have been out rounding up Priests for the Prince.
Late evening of Godday, Varanis and Xenofos enter the common room from outside the White Grape. She is wearing the armour still covered in her own blood from earlier in the day. They part ways, and the Vingan goes to Rondrik to order a jug of Clearwine. Taking that and a cup, she surveys the room, spots Dormal, and heads his way. She takes a seat beside him without waiting to be invited, fills her cup and holds the jug up in a silent offer.
The wiry man shoves his cup over. He gestures at the blood. “That yours?”
Wordlessly, she fills the cup and nods. It’s a lot of blood. There was a sword in her heart and then they had to pull it out again.
“Going to live?” Dormal looks at her with quiet curiosity.
Varanis nods in reply to his question. She takes a long drink of the wine, then looks him over. “You ok?” she finally asks. She sounds and looks tired.
Dormal looks down at himself. He appears to be uninjured. “Surprisingly well, all things considered.”
“You realise you’ve done what you agreed to? For the land, I mean.” She stares at her cup. “What will you do next?”
“I’m aware. Go back and report to Grandmother, I suppose, once things are settled enough here.” He adds, “Maybe pay for a proper family mausoleum, now I have money.”
She looks at him oddly. “You don’t have one?”
“We’re not rich. Or we weren’t. No land, just grandfather’s pension. Lot of graves to pay for.”
She frowns. “I came to check on you and say thank you. You did what was needed and maybe more.” She takes another drink from the cup, not bothering to savour the quality vintage Rondrik had brought out for her tonight. “What can I do for you? To properly thank you? Would it be helpful to you to connect you with my factor? It’s a lot of land to manage and it would help to have someone reliable.”
“Grandmother will want to have a hand in that, no doubt she has someone in mind to spy on me. Best to let her have her way.” His reply offers no commitment of any sort.
She shrugs. “It borders my own hides, and Evalta, the factor, is one of Grandmother’s people anyway. She already reports on me. But she knows the land and the people. I trust her to only skim a small amount, and to only report what needs reporting.”
“I’ll tell her you offered. She may agree. Depends on who she has watching Evalta, I suppose.”
Varanis laughs wryly. “You planning to spend much time there? It’s a bit remote from the excitement of Nochet.”
“Probably not. The Hulta threat is dealt with for now. Probably no-one else actively trying to kill me in the city.” He looks like he is thinking about it as he sips lightly at his wine.
“It was wily of her, making us neighbours. But she has to know neither of us is likely to spend long seasons in the countryside. Unless,” and now she turns a look of amused horror on her cousin, “unless she intends to banish us to the country for a while.”
“Unlikely. Banishment usually means you’re publically out of favour so you can be somewhere in secret on clan business.”
Varanis laughs. “You’re not used to thinking like a noble, Dormal.”
“I’m not a noble. Yet.”
She shrugs. “You have the hides. The rest will come sooner or later. But the point is, for many of my class, being told to go look after your lands and not return until summoned is tantamount to being sent to your room like a naughty child. It’s a public shaming and you’d better stay where you are told to be until she relents or the banishment may become worse than being grounded.”
“I suppose she might, but I aim to be more… useful… in other ways.”
“You figure she’ll be satisfied with this outcome? Even though I refused to try to take what isn’t mine to claim?” Varanis is filling her cup again and tops up Dormal’s too.
“Depends. If the situation with Leika can be dealt with without plunging Sartar into chaos.” He studies Varanis, then continues, “What will you do if the Queen of your clan stands out against Kallyr?”
She drains her cup again before she answers. “I wear Kallyr’s arm ring. I have my lands in Blue Tree because of her. And we are kin. I will follow the Prince’s lead.” She refills her cup and goes to top up his, but it doesn’t need it.
“You should make sure Kallyr knows that. In private,” he advises her quietly.
“You are probably right.” She laughs and it’s obvious she’s becoming rapidly intoxicated. “Did you know I also belong to the White Bull Society?” she asks. “And Rajar tells me Argrath intends to have a say in what happens here.”
“That would… complicate matters. What can he say, anyway, now the Flame is lit?”
She shrugs. “I don’t know. I don’t seem to know anything. Drink more,” she orders, poking his cup with her fingertip. Her hands are steady enough that she doesn’t miss the target.
He sips his wine. “Who would know more? And when did Rajar get political?” His curiosity has suddenly taken a keener edge, though he quickly masks it with another apparent sip from his cup.
“Um…. when we were sitting there.” She points to a different corner of the room. “After we found out that the Prince’s body was an illusion. He came here after being up at the Storm Temple and confronted me about whether or not I was going to try to take the throne. He said…” She laughs. “He said he was glad he wouldn’t have to kill me or something like that.”
“That sounds like he was given orders, some time ago,” he muses.
“Know what?” she asks, not really paying attention to his words or whether he is paying attention to hers. “I think Grandma made our lands border so we’d be stuck with each other.” Varanis generally always uses the formal term *Grandmother* rather than the familial term for the Saiciae matriarch.
He raises an eyebrow sardonically. “Unless you plan to infiltrate Glamour that’s not going to be a problem.”
“She wouldn’t even let me give you my hides. I think she’s trying…” She thinks. Takes a drink. “I think she’s making sure she keeps a hold on me. No matter what.”
He studies the Vingan while she studies her cup. “She doesn’t need the land for that, though, does she?”
“I didn’t beat you down there. I was s’posed to, you know. It’s in the myth. But I was mad, but not that mad. Because it wasn’t real.” She’s not slurring, but her usual aristocratic enunciation is definitely slipping.
He shrugs. “It might have been safer if you had – a Quest is a quest. And I’m no stranger to pain.”
Varanis is jumping from topic to topic and sounding more and more sleepy as she does so. “But…” She looks at him, stricken. “That’s what ruined things in the first place.”
“It’s not the act that matters. Or not just the act. It’s the reason.”
“I was wrong. I’ve said so. But it’s ruined.” She drains her cup again and is startled to find the jug empty.
“Hmm. You should sleep. Tomorrow is a busy day, you need to talk to Kallyr. What’s happening up at the palace?”
“It doesn’t matter anyway,” she says sadly. It’s not very clear what she is referring to at this point.
Dormal raises an eyebrow again.
She rises, wobbles, and uses Dormal’s shoulder to steady herself. “G’night, cousin,” she murmurs. She makes her way across the room and to the stairs with surprising steadiness, all things considered.
“Goodnight,” he calls after her.
It takes a hand on the wall to get her up the stairs. She doesn’t look back.