VS 127 Burning the Candle: An Apple a Day

Varanis — 1626 0796 Candle4

????, Earth Season, Season/Death Week


Context

Earth Season/Death Week/Wildday Eve [[[s02:session-7|Session 7]]]


Events

When Varanis is preparing for the evening, her maid asks what she should do with the apples.

Varanis looks startled. “Apples?”

“Yes Milady, the apples that were delivered.” She shows you a bowl of beautiful, ripe apples. There is writing around the edge of the bowl, under the fruit.

“Put the apples here and see if cousin Xenofos will attend me.” Varanis is hurriedly changing, as her late arrival back from the Temple doesn’t leave much time for preparing for parties.

Xenofos looks a bit absent-minded when he comes. “Yes, Varanis?”

“What does this say?” She points him to the bowl with a vague wave as she searches desperately through her jewellery box for the earrings she wants to wear.

Again, it is a love poem showing fine skill. Xenofos blushes a bit when reading it.1See [https:en.wikisource.org/wiki/Translation:Catullus_2 Catullus 2] for full text “Perhaps not the most delicate approach.”

Varanis looks quite startled. “Well…. that’s a bit… forward. Still no name?”

“No. No name. Maybe better so…”

She looks to the servant. “Who left this?” she asks with a touch of impatience.

“A peddler who said Lady Varanis had ordered and paid for them.”

“But I didn’t order anything!” she snaps at the girl. She takes a deep breath. “It’s not your fault. Pour Xenofos some wine if he wants it, and more water for me, please.”

Xenofos declines the wine, adjusts his rapier in its scabbard and strides away.

Varanis eats an apple absently, looking lost in thought.

The evening’s party is at House Norinel. The crowd is getting familiar. Varanis notices the guy who led her in Five Hours of Summer. Mellia seems tired, but still quite dashing in her greens. Xenofos discusses something with Hofrai at some point.

Varanis circulates, as is her wont. When she stops by the food, she again seems to be choosing very carefully. Once again, she is dressed sumptuously, but her rapier is at her side. She is being watched.2Passes scan.3The watcher and anyone else paying attention to detail will note that she eschews alcohol of any sort. She tries to spot the watcher in the crowd.

It is hard to miss that pair of green eyes. She is leaning to a pillar on other side of the hall, a few steps above the floor, dressed in flowing green, with golden dragonfly in her brown hair.

Varanis casually approaches. “Hello again, Lenta,” she says politely. “Can I help you?”

“Hi Varanis, I was hoping to see you again.” She beams. Her melodic voice is a joy to listen and you are surrounded by light refreshing fragrance when you approach her.4Varanis fails INT x 3. “It is so nice to meet a woman who is mistress of her own destiny, not bound by shackles of traditions and old matrons.” She looks a bit scared there, like she said too much. She looks vulnerable.

Varanis gives her a reassuring smile. “Let’s just say it’s a work in progress, Lente. My Grandmother has opinions of her own regarding my behaviour. Are you having fun this evening? Why aren’t you among those dancing?”

She blushes. “You will think it is stupid.”

“Try me?”

She looks Varanis with that pair of green eyes. “I can dance at any party but the chance to admire your beauty I might not have again.”

Varanis blinks.5For fun, I rolled on Fertility. 006. Given she’s failed her INT check…

“Perhaps we should dance together?” Varanis suggests with a lazy smile.6Passes Listen roll There’s a nice rolling melody. A bit weird in here. It’s a Heortling tune. And the words… [http:
journeyoftheheroes.wikidot.com/ephemera:sweet-saiciae-vareen Sweet Varanis Saiciae]. Though someone has reworked them into Esrolian and got rid of most of the innuendo and death parts.

Varanis freezes and then flushes. Lenta is immediately forgotten as she turns to seek out the offending bard. “What’s the life price of a bard these days?” she growls softly.

Xenofos and Mellia are seen scanning the audience too. The audience seems to be taking this as panegyric work in praise of Varanis.

Varanis glides over to the bard. To those unfamiliar with her, she looks cheerful. She stops as she draws near and though she says nothing, the smile on her face is made of ice and her eyes carry promises of danger to come.

It’s funny how Xenofos appears just a bit too close to her right side suddenly.

“Hello Xenofos,” she says through clenched teeth and a polite smile. “I promise not to kill him. I just want to find out who paid for that song to be sung now.”

There is a soft hand on her left arm. Varanis glances to see who has laid hands on her. Those eyes are soothing, even now when they are full of questions. Xenofos remarks how interesting choice of song that was, indeed. And by tipping the bard, he can make the lady’s wish known.

Varanis inhales slowly and as she exhales, she lets go of the anger that was simmering below the surface. “Find out what you can,” she says to Xenofos. “Come, let’s find you some refreshment,” she says, laying her right hand on top of Lenta’s. She turns away from the bard.

Xenofos, whose smile had something wolflike, is left to discuss finer points of music choices with the bard.

Lenta follows Varanis’ lead, in a manner reminding of a good dancer. Varanis leads her to one of the food tables and makes a show of picking out choice tidbits for the pretty brunette. For herself, she takes only things that are obviously fruits or vegetables. To a casual observer, she would appear to be blithely content.

“Why are you upset Varanis?”7Special on insight human for Lenta – lass understands Varanis

“It’s nothing. Don’t worry about it.” Varanis is lying through her teeth, but unlikely to share more. “Tell me why you think the matrons of your family are holding you back? What are they holding you back from?”

“All I hear is talk of marriage to right man, who has right connections so clan will get some piece of land somewhere or another negotiated advantage somewhere else.” Varanis notices that she has missed the Nochet dialect even though she did not notice that up in Sartar.

“You don’t want to marry?”

“I don’t mind marrying but I don’t want to marry someone I do not love, just for clan interests.”

At this, Varanis smiles sadly. “You said the other night that you admired my independence. Even that has limits, little one. There’s someone… but, it is likely to never be.” She shrugs. “Try this,” she says, offering some sort of delicacy to Lenta.

She accepts the tidbit, but not the words. Soft hands staying on Varanis’ arm a bit longer than necessary.

Not long after, the Vingan makes her excuses and leaves Lenta with a group of young people. She avoids being caught out alone, but instead circulates from group to group. She leaves the party as soon as it is polite to do so, citing religious obligations and an early morning as she thanks the Norinel matrons.

As she leaves, she can feel eyes following her. And the warmth of her hands. And then suddenly, Lenta is not there. The Saiciae leave in one group – Varanis’ seat has no poem. However when she leaves the palanquin her hands meet papyrus, pinned to the curtain. As discreetly as she can, she removes it. Before they part ways in the house, she murmurs to Xenofos, “There’s another.”

Her words are met with raised eyebrows, and kind of mixed reaction.8Critical success on insight human: Xenofos is thinking something along the lines of: the bastard!!! but wonder what kind of poetry it is this time because first one was GOOD. She stares at him with the same Yinkini curiosity as earlier in the week.

He reads it to her quietly:
You ask, my Varanis, how many of your kisses
are enough and more than enough for me.
As big a number as the Praxian sand-grains…
9See [https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Translation:Catullus_7 Catallus 7]

This time, the poem contains a name, embedded within the text: Garin.

Xenofos notes the curiosity. “Yes cousin?”10He passes insight human.

She shakes her head in reply to his question. “It’s nothing. Just trying to understand where these are coming from. Who is Garin?” It’s possible that she has a loose relationship with the truth lately, which is ironic given she’s spent large portions of her day meditating on it. Judging by her mood earlier, those meditations weren’t particularly successful.11Xenofos fails second insight roll and takes her words at face value. If she says it is nothing, it is nothing. She would never lie to him.
“I don’t know.”

She considers. There was that charming guy who led her in the dance the other night, he was Garin, Garin Merelt. She even saw him today.12Pass INT x 3 “Do you know a Garin Merelt?”

Xenofos shakes head. “No. Why?”

“He’s the only Garin I recall meeting recently. I think I’ve seen him a few times, including earlier tonight.”

Xenofos was not armed at the party but had servants bring his blade to where they now sit and is now playing with it. His blade snaps into sheath. “Oh? Hmmm. Merelts are one of the lesser houses, but still noble enough to get invitations to parties like we attended today.”

“I think I danced with him the other night. And I definitely saw him tonight. He was with one of the groups I circulated through. The one I left Lenta at, I think.” She’s playing things back through her head and doesn’t take notice of the way that Xenofos is fidgeting with his rapier.

“Lenta? Who is she?”

“The little blonde who was hanging off my arm earlier. Sweet curves, soft words, and eyes you could drown in.”

“Her, the one who calmed you down before you cut down that kithara player.”

“Wait… brunette, I think. Anyway, she has gorgeous eyes and it’s hard to see past them. Speaking of the bard… why did he play that song?” Another lightning quick subject change.

“He was paid. By a gentleman who introduced himself as Lord Wheel and provided the words and the melody.”

“Lord Wheel? What kind of name is that?”

Xenofos rubs his thumb and forefinger together.

“I know it’s money, Xenofos,” she says sounding frustrated. “But why would someone use that as a name?”

“Well it did satisfy the kithara player quite adequately. So if he or she wanted to remain anonymous it was enough. It was probably a him by the player’s description, but that wheel appears to have been very bright…”