VS 113 Matters Of Cloth

Varanis — 1626 0777 Matters Of Cloth

????, Earth Season, Death Week


Context

Earth Season, Death Week, Waterday [[[s02:session-4|Session 4]]]

Midmorning, after the party evening in Nochet Xenofos knocks on Varanis’ door in House Saiciae

Continues in [http://journeyoftheheroes.wikidot.com/berra:up-on-the-roof Up on the Roof]

Events

A servant answers the door. “Yes?” She is middle-aged, with a stern look to her. She’s dressed well for someone of her class, in good quality linen with lines of trim in colour. The look she gives Xenofos is courteous, but not particularly deferential.

“Varanis in?”

“Yes,” comes the cool reply.

“Oh, Marta, just let him in. Xenofos is my cousin, he means no harm.” Varanis sounds impatient.

“My lady, you have many cousins.” With a look of irritation, woman mutters under her breath, “And with your attitude, I’m sure at least a few of them would wish you harm.” She then says to Xenofos, “My Lord may come in.”

Varanis is inside, sitting on a stool. She’s wearing a beautiful silk gown, gold jewellery, and an unhappy expression. From the looks of things, the servant was in the process of doing the Vingan’s hair they were interrupted.

Xenofos nods to the servant as he walks in, sweaty and dusty, bringing in smell of sun and outdoors. “Am I interrupting? I can come later if you wish?”

“Not at all! Please take a seat and have some wine if you will.” The look the servant directs towards Xenofos suggests that he is indeed interrupting, but his cousin appears almost grateful for his presence.

Marta pours wine into a palm cup made of cobalt blue glass and offers it to Xenofos. While her eyes hold sparks of irritation, she doesn’t let it show in her manners.

“Thank you. Got any water here? I am parched.”

An urn of water and a clay cup are placed on the table beside the scholar. The implication seems to be that if he’s parched, he can probably work out how to manage the water by himself. Marta has more important things to do.

She returns to take up position behind Varanis, deft fingers immediately back to plaiting and coiling the unruly red hair.

There’s a wince, then Varanis says, “What brings you my way this morning, Xenofos?”

Xenofos drains a cup of water and observes his wine for a moment. “I’d like to get a dress made and thought you could point me to right servants.”

Varanis raises an eyebrow at him and makes a show of looking him up and down, which gets an irritated grumble from Marta, who was trying to pin a plait into place.

“A dress for a lady.” A thoughtful look when Xenofos evaluates his choice of words.

“Oh?” Now she sounds very interested, leaning forward, eager to hear more. She hisses sharply as the servant uses a lock of hair to pull her back into position. “Marta!”

“If my lady would just sit still…” There’s a subtle emphasis on the word lady.

“So who should I talk with?”

“It depends on the style you want. Is it for everyday wear or for special occasions? Silk, presumably? Is she to be your concubine or are you contemplating marriage?” As an afterthought, Varanis adds, “Or is she kin?”

Xenofos starts to answer at flurry of questions on materials and style but unfortunately inhales some of his wine about the time Varanis mentions concubines and marriage. After some coughing and a short pause he answers questioningly, “Kin?”

“Well, there are different reasons why you could buy a woman a dress. One of those would be because she is family. Don’t you know these customs?” The look she gives him is one of mild confusion.

Marta grunts in quiet judgement as she continues to plait and twist and pin piles of hair.

“Higher etiquette of this kind has eluded me, alas. But I suppose of options you presented Berra would be kin, by being your kinswoman.”1Varanis makes a successful roll on insight human. He has gathered himself quite well, but she did get him totally confused/ flustered/ thinking something new and his ears are a bit red. Dress.

Varanis blinks. “You want to get a dress made for Berra?”

“Yes. I want to have a dress made for Berra. Silk. Probably pale blue? To contrast with that scarf?”

Varanis shakes her head. “Wrong colour for her. If it’s blue you want, you need to go very dark. Indigo, rather than woad. But if you want to contrast with the scarf and have the colour suit our Humakti friend,

He gives her an inquiring look.

“Gold-coloured silk.” Marta has just finished pinning the last plait into place and Varanis leaps up with relief. “Let me show you.”

“Well I suppose that throws idea of silver runes totally out.”

She goes to a shelf that is covered by a curtain. She returns carrying a gorgeous gold dress to show Xenofos. “But, you’re right. This colour won’t work if you want the runes in silver. In that case, back to my first suggestion of indigo.” She caresses the dress lovingly, before handing it to Marta and receiving a look of irritation in return. “Indigo would look less striking perhaps, but would be more severe. That would suit Berra’s personality more, perhaps. And the silver runes would contrast nicely.”

“More is more. Indigo would contrast with that, but I doubt if she would ever wear it?”

“Are you sure she will wear a dress at all?” Varanis counters.

“No. I am not sure. As a matter of fact, she declined to wear one as my bodyguard when I asked her in the morning.” Small grin. “But since she told me which type suits her best I thought I might surprise her with one. Give her option of wearing one in other occasions if she so chooses.”

Varanis nods thoughtfully. “Indigo silk then. Something that covers her chest. Trim it with bands of silver and embroidered silver runes. Maybe some dark aqua for colour, like the water beyond the mouth of the harbour. I know who you need to talk to. And I can help with the silks too, if you like.”

“That would be swell. She said off the shoulder? So probably wide but high neckline, maybe slashed sleeves like in that gown Mellia wears on hot weather, skirts wide enough to move freely, maybe with a slash or two for sword scabbard?”

Varanis grins in amusement. “Perhaps you should let me discuss the style with the seamstress? Tell me what Berra said.”

“She said she looks best in an off-shoulder dress, shows her muscles?”

“Well, she’d certainly standout like that. Anything else?”

“That’s it. The rest I just tried go figure out.”

“Do you trust me in this, cousin?” The way she asks her question strongly implies that he should. Varanis, after all, has always dressed well since entering adulthood. She may not enjoy having her hair pinned and her nails gilded, but she loves her silks and chooses wisely.

“Well I suppose it is closer to your expertise. As long as runes are Truth and Death.”

“Water and movement too, but more subtly.” She turns to the servant, “Marta, please arrange for Karne to be sent to my quarters immediately, if she is free.”

Xenofos looks in awe the efficient sartorial campaign rolling into operation.

It isn’t long before there’s a knock on the door followed by the door opening. A lean, sharp-eyed woman with stylish hair and a beautiful dress lets herself in. While the fabrics and colours of her dress show her status as a servant, nothing else does. She moves with the confidence of a woman who knows her worth. Varanis greets her with familiarity, “Karne, I have a mission for you.” She outlines the situation. This gets a thoughtful look. “I think I’ve seen the young woman in question,” she says at last. “I appreciate a challenge. Hmmm… from what I can tell, she has a fine body. All muscle, no fat. It will be tricky, but I can do this. You say you want her to be able to wear a sword with it?” Xenofos is completely ignored during the conversation. It isn’t long though before a plan forms and Karne turns to leave purposefully. “You’ll have to find someone to deal with her hair though,” she says in parting.

Varanis gives the scholar a satisfied grin.

“This will obviously take some time and not be a solution for today’s party.” Sage nod “Do you think they will be ready tomorrow?”

“Karne is a miracle worker. She will have it ready for tomorrow, though it will cost extra. And that assumes she can measure Berra this morning.”

“That should not be a problem, right. She was just on the courtyard practising her moves so she’ll be easy to find.”

Varanis nods. “Karne is resourceful. She’ll figure it out.” Varanis rises to pour herself a glass of wine and to offer Xenofos a refill on his. She is once again the refined Saiciae lady she was last night. A far cry from the Vingan warrior who had traipsed through large sections of Sartar only days before. Varanis’ servants really must include miracle-workers.

Xenofos declines the refill. “I suppose I need some sartorial assistance myself. Grandmother told me to appear less marriageable for next few days and put a girl on my arm to scare matrons.” His brow furrows. “Getting a servant to remove most of those ribbons might help with the first…”

Varanis laughs. “I did mention that last night. I’ve heard rumours about gifts?”

“Not my choice of clothing.” He shrugs. “Yes, Grandmother mentioned gifts, apparently from various sources.”

“I heard there was even some sort of perfume. You clearly made an impression, cousin.” He gets a teasing wink.

“Perfume?” His eyebrow shoots up. “Weird, the only person I really talked with apart from you was Elanka and Grandmother implied stuff was coming from several places…”

Varanis shrugs. “You were watched by many. And why weren’t you talking with more people? That’s what we were there to do, Xenofos. Maybe you created a mystery around yourself by seeming aloof…” She looks thoughtful as she considers this.

“Grandmother told me I would probably be asked by males about Mellia’s situation. But then Elanka appeared and after she left we were not really approached by anyone. Weird that, even with Berra with her charming smile most of the time”

“Elanka? Is that the blond woman I saw you with last night?”

“Yes. That’s her. Do your female rumour networks know something of her?”

Varanis shakes her head. “I’ve not seen her before. I can learn more, if you’d like,” she offers.

“I was wondering what the price would be if I asked her to hold my arm to scare middle aged matrons.” He gives her a sideways grin. “I think she was hinting she might be interested, but whether she would deem couple of days too long or too short I don’t know.”

He continues, “Besides with Berra pointing out that having a girl on my arm with aim on using her as deterrent to matrons would be by nature be deception, a lie, I can’t really do that. Even if said girl would be willing to do that and price mutually acceptable. But going directly against Grandmother’s uncharacteristically plainly stated wishes does not appeal to me either….” Xenofos stands. “I guess I need to freshen up a bit before heading for the Library. That history and politics stuff is still relatively simple compared to this marriage and romance intrigue and haggling. Might clear my head a bit.”

Varanis smiles. “Don’t fret about it too much, cousin. Just, next time, perhaps launch into a boring lecture on an obscure bit of history instead of singing? And why would you choose to sing about me, of all things? If you must sing, sing about Mellia. The White Lady has plenty of songs these days, it seems.”

He smiles. “I did not write those so I don’t know them that well.”

“Learn one,” she suggests firmly. “It will make Grandmother happy.”

“Maybe… I wonder if she has similar surprises in store for you?”

“What do you mean?”

“I told Grandmother I am not wishing for marriage at this time and yet I was presented to the Market…”

“But she also said that you should deter interested ladies,” Varanis observes. “And no, I don’t think she intends to marry me off to someone in Nochet. When she decides to put me on the block, I’m sorry to say it will likely be to some Sartarite family.” The tiniest hint of resentment can be heard in those words.

“That is what she said today… And I have no clue of her evaluations on matchmaking. What you say makes sense.” Xenofos looks distant “You know, after Venlar started talking of Grandmother trying to raise Mellia’s value I kind of wondered how your ‘value’ has soared on the Market.”

Varanis shudders. “Please don’t speak of it. But now, perhaps you know why I’d rather you not sing of me?”

“No. You fulfilled a great oath, went to Hell and brought back your Prince from hands of Death. That is the Truth plain and simple and that should be known, not hidden.”

“What will that mean to people here?” she counters. “Either they won’t believe it and assume our House is making some kind of play for social power, or they will believe it and I will become a thing to be collected by the richest matron for her chosen son.”

“That is too complicated for me, cousin.” Xenofos smiles apologetically. “Truth must be told. To not tell some Truths is tantamount to lying.”

“You must do as you believe right. But please, learn some of Mellia’s songs.” The look she gives him is resigned.

“I am sorry if I embarrass you with my amateur dabbling. I know you are by nature modest and don’t wish the attention.”2Hmmm. Wonder if that is a white lie from x, or if he really thinks that. It might be partially true with new adult Varanis but maybe not quite for child Varanis.

She searches his face, trying to decide if he’s teasing her. Uncertain, she turns away to refill her glass. “Go to the library, Xenofos,” she says. “I have work to do.”

Xenofos looks slowly from gilded toenails to elegant hairdo and nods. “As do I, at the library. I will have a guard with me on the street.”3Xenofos is not teasing. Part blind, part reflective of Varanis’ latest behaviour.

“Thank you,” she says. “For the guard. It relieves me of one worry, at least.”

Xenofos looks like he was seeking words for something, but in the end he just nods again and strides out of the room.