VS 131 Burning the Candle: In the Limelight

Varanis — 1626 0800 Candle8

????, Earth Season, Season/Fertility Week


Context

Earth Season/Fertility Week/Freezeday Eve [[[s02:session-7|Session 7]]]
House Saicaie & House Drero

Events

On Godday some presents get delivered. Three different packages. No names. First, one necklace of silver with seven apples of different sizes. Second, a small red-capped songbird in a silver cage. And the third, is really weird, a small bunch of long luxurious feathers shifting in hues of blue and red, with a small bronze case for attaching to the dress or perhaps the helmet.

Varanis receives the gifts when she gets home from the Temple and should be preparing for the Freezeday Eve party at House Drero. With no names, there’s no way to return any of the gifts. Varanis seems to be a bit at a loss, unsure of what to do with them.

She is standing confused, with Marta pleading her to start cooperating in making ready. An outsider might mistake that pleading for commanding.

She turns away from the gifts and allows Marta to help her prepare. “I wonder if wearing the necklace would flush out the gift-giver,” she muses. “But… it would also encourage them, and I don’t want to do that.” Her jewellery selections for the evening are all gold again, lots of little spirals and triskeles. The dress is blue.

Marta nods. “I think you are making the right choice milady.” You are expected at house Drero. Your chosen jewelry is probably much more valuable.”

She doesn’t understand how that filigree has been done. It’s way beyond her skills.1Failed crafting roll. Worth much more than its weight in metal. The central apple is hollow and when handled gives out fragrance of violets.

“It’s not about the value, Marta. This is a gorgeous piece. But, if I wear it, I am accepting the giver’s suit. And I do not wish to accept anyone’s attempts at courtship, especially not a person who hides behind anonymity.” She inhales the scent of violets and considers. “Where have I smelled this before? Outside the palazzo gates. But has it been present at any of the parties?”

Marta looks at her with a stern look that cracks a bit towards worried.

“Lenta2Special on INT x 3… but how does she have the resources for extravagant gifts? And if I’m right, do I send it back to her? Bring it with me to give back to her? I can’t keep this.” She frowns thoughtfully. “I can’t think straight. Marta, see if Mellia can send me some sort of tisane to wake me up more.”

“Mellia is at the Hospital milady.”

Varanis curses softly. It’s a very colourful Grazelander word, that hopefully Marta doesn’t understand.

“Mind your language, g.. milady.” Marta might know the word. “Maybe Solaska? The House apothecary.”

Varanis nods. “Yes, send for Solaska, please.”

The little Pelaskan lady arrives and awaits instructions.

“I need something to wake me up, Solaska. But,” there’s a strong emphasis on but, “it must not be an intoxicant of any kind. I don’t know if that would violate the geasa I am under right now.” Varanis sits still, allowing Marta to apply the kohl around her eyes.

“Intoxicant? Is what? You want drink to wake you up? No?”

“To wake me up, yes. But nothing that makes me…” She gives a vague gesture that seems to represent someone wobbling. Marta makes a chastising sound and Varanis drops her hand back in her lap and tries to be still again.

Solaska clucks her tongue disapprovingly at idea her concoctions would be dangerous. She disappears and comes back with a pot of warm herbal infusion.

Varanis gives it a tentative sniff.

She shows a smallish cup.” One cup refreshed. Two cups very awake. Whole pot, you don’t sleep whole night.” The smell is sweetish and earthy.

Varanis asks for one cup.

“The leaves come from over the sea.” One cup is poured.

If it’s not too hot, she drinks the whole thing down at once. The taste is earthy and sweet with a bitter touch.

“Thank you, Solaska. Now I have to finish getting ready for the night.” Varanis and Marta set to work making sure that she looks as well as she can. Before leaving the room, she picks up the apple necklace to study it one more time. But then she puts it back in its box and leaves it behind.

By the time Varanis is ready to leave she feels refreshed. The songbird lets out a melancholy melody as you close the door after you. “What am I going to do with a songbird? I hate the notion of caging such a creature…”

“Tweet?”

Varanis forgot to speak to Serzeen about the palanquin, but she does make a point of speaking with her guards. No one is to touch her palanquin. If anyone tries to approach it, they should attempt to ascertain the identity of the person and report it to Varanis as soon as she returns.

The guards hide their irritation at irrational paranoia.3Varanis says: It’s not irrational when you’re right! GM replies: You have kept knowledge of you love letters hidden, so to them it appears irrational.

Varanis knows they are judging her. But she’d rather appear paranoid than risk being seen as foolish. She still hasn’t made up her mind about the letters and isn’t convinced that someone isn’t trying to make fun of her. She makes mental note to speak to Serzeen when she gets back from the party.

They are disciplined. If the lady wants her palanquin guarded, they will not discuss the merits of this plan. And rumour of the serenade may have spread. The palanquin raises and starts its way towards house Drero. Varanis hears no whispering.


Varanis steps into the party with a bright smile on her face. She is charming, effervescent even. She begins her social rounds immediately.4Rolled on CON x 5. Then buffed Charm with Fertility. Passed all. She may be tired underneath it all, but the tea has done its thing.

She is radiant indeed. Familiar faces. Inscrutable matrons. Admiring youths, both admiring and stern looking young women.5Passed scan. She is being watched by a lot of people. But as the band starts to play Five Hours of Summer, her eyes lock with a tall man on other side of room. It is Garin. His orange cloak with its black movement and air runes proclaiming him Orlanthi, like tattoos on his face. He smiles to Varanis with a very self-assured air. She gives him a polite smile in return. His gaze is intense. But, he does not approach. She looks away and deliberately approaches another group of people.

A good tenor voice starts to sing of violets. She glances around to identify the singer. Varanis is pretty sure it is the same voice. He ends the short song, thanks the audience for their patience. “For my next song I wish to sing a ballad I only recently heard – Lay of Varanis Lightbringer.” He points with a sweeping gesture towards Varanis. The applause is impressive.

Varanis gives him a polite nod.6She rolls 41/75 on Air. She chooses to brazen it out. It is the damn lay Xenofos penned and that youth is singing every bloody verse. He is too well dressed to be a professional singer. He looks pretty nice actually, a big fellow, nice voice, yellow cloak over blue tunic. Unruly curls on his eyes.

Varanis keeps the polite smile on her face as she contemplates the various ways in which she will kill Xenofos. When the singer is done, she raises her glass to him. The singer blushes and raises a goblet someone brings to him.

Varanis will look around the room, attempting to be casual about it.7Fumbles Scan. People seem derisive. Maybe at you, maybe at the singer.

She flushes, takes a deep breath, and tries to decide what to do next. She heads for the food table.8There is food. People seem to be leaving you room. Are they avoiding you?

Varanis looks longingly at the sweets, but leaves them alone, picking out a few things that seem to be fruit. She glances around, looking for a likely group of people to join. The tall man in orange cloak is approaching. She greets Garin with cool courtesy and a polite smile.

“Enjoying the evening’s entertainment?” Garin responds with equal politeness.

She looks slightly taken aback that he would so directly address the subject, but then she recovers. With an elegant shrug, she says, “The Drero have always held wonderful parties.”

“And young Vahnfar does have a pleasant voice, perhaps a bit thin, but I am sure he’ll mature into a excellent tenor.”9Passes Insight human: That guy is impeccably polite and fuming at the same time.

“Do you know him? I have not had the pleasure of meeting him yet.”

“You have not, well I am sure that should be rectified. May I be so bold as to introduce you to him?”

It’s possible she was goading him with her question. Now she has to follow through. “Please,” is all she says.

With wide shoulders and body language that tells people should get out of the way Garin passes the hall to the side where singer is resting and is receiving compliments for his song. He is bringing leading Varanis by her hand unless she actively refused.

Varanis allows this, but withdraws her hand as they join the group surrounding the young Vahnfar.

“Varanis Saiciae, Lightbringer, let me introduce to you Vahnfar of house Telendar, follower of Yelmalio. Vahnfar, meet the Lady you sang about, the marvelous Varanis of Saiciae, Lightbringer, follower of Vinga and kinswoman of Kallyr Starbrow.”

Varanis raises an eyebrow at Garin, but says nothing in response to his introduction. Instead, she turns a brilliant smile on Vahnfar.

He manages to greet her with all the polite forms and steady voice but he is blushing badly.

“It is a pleasure to meet you. Tell me, how did you come to learn that song? I’m intrigued, you see, because my cousin wrote it, and I did not know anyone else knew of it.”

“It was sung about a week ago and has been spreading like a wildfire on Fire season. My cousin got a copy from the Library – I hope it did credit to your cousins’ work”

She reassured him that he performed it admirably. “And did you enjoy the wine I sent down last night?”

He blushes again and mutters he does not know what she is talking about.

“My mistake,” she says with a sweet smile.

Garin has disappeared with a stiff bow. As soon as she can politely do so, she excuses herself and makes her way over to a group of matrons, offering greetings from Grandmother Saiciae. She does not look back.

The matrons don’t quite know what to make of Varanis, but they would rather die than show that. They do however show that, Lightbringer or not, this is the circle of Matrons. Not young women.

Varanis drifts on, moving from circle to circle, never staying in one place for too long. Although she passes the food table a few times, she never selects more than a bite or two of food.

Green eyes are following her. There is a faint smile on the young woman’s face.10Failed charm, not fumbled. You are not weak kneed. Maybe feeling a tiny bit stupid?

Varanis approaches as if she just happens to have drifted in the direction of the young woman. “Hello again, Lenta.”

“Hello, Varanis.” There is awe and a hint of promise in the voice. She glides closer, taking Varanis’ hands and giving the polite pecks to the cheek. She’s a bit closer than necessary.

“Are you enjoying the party?” the Vingan asks.

“I am – now.”

Varanis eases herself away from the pretty woman, creating a bit more space between them, while making it look like she’s just turning to survey the event. A deep breath confirms that Lenta is definitely wearing the scent of violets.

“A beautiful song. And have you noticed how people are looking at you with wonder like they should.”

Varanis winces slightly at that. “I wish they wouldn’t,” she admits honestly.

A pair of green eyes (or nice perky pair heaving from excitement) try to catch your eyes.

“Though I rather thought I saw a lot of doubters too,” Varanis adds desperately.

“You must be mistaken, who could doubt that.” Soft hand lands reassuringly on Varanis’ arm as Lenta glides closer again.

Varanis turns to look at the woman. She inhales slowly as she searches for words. Finally, she says, “You wouldn’t happen to have a particular fondness for apples, would you?” It’s clumsy, but she’s distracted. So very distracted.11Pass Fertility, barely, fail Death barely. She’s being tempted, but is not going to leap one direction or the other headlong.

“I do like apples.” Her gaze wanders somewhere below your eyes and she smiles.12Pass Insight: She seems a bit confused but is playing along, hoping that was an invitation to something.

Varanis manages to avoid the pitfalls but her gaze notes the graceful curve of Lentas’ neck. Just like made for a kiss. Or maybe five.

“And would you know anything about a necklace with cunningly wrought apples of silver? It’s a lovely piece. Perhaps a touch extravagant…” In her head, Varanis is reminding herself to look at Lenta’s eyes, her eyes, not her… She begins to curse silently, using all the words she learned from Finarvi and a few picked up on the boat crossing.

Those green eyes that open up like pools gaze at Varanis. She shakes her head slowly. Nobody has right to have eyelashes that long. The fragrance of violets is like invitation – maybe to the garden.

For a moment, Varanis seems lost for words. She inhales again, but the scent of violets draws her in. “I need air,” she says suddenly. She wheels away, leaving Lenta behind as she heads towards the nearest door without a backward glance. She knows she’s likely being watched, so she tries to look casual about it, but she needs to escape the confines of the room desperately.

It turns out to be the doorway to the inner garden. The garden is lit only by the Moon. There is gentle breeze from the sea. Varanis checks to see if she’s been followed. Right now, she can’t deal with anyone. Not Garin, not the singing lordling, and certainly not Lenta.

She considers her options. There is convenient shrubbery to hide behind, for various purposes. But, walls are left bare for security. Stairs up to the parapet are fully visible in the moonlight. Varanis breathes slowly, to ward off the feeling of being trapped. The breeze off the ocean is helping to clear her head. She hears the rustle of silk and the fragrance of violets surrounds Varanis as she turns.

“Go back inside, Lenta. Please. I need some space.” She tries to make the words firm.

With light behind her, Varanis won’t drown in those eyes so easily. She was going to say something, but closes her mouth, smile vanishing slowly.

“I’m just tired and Nochet feels crowded. Please, just a little time.”

She turns, reminding you of a kitten that has been doused with water. You are not sure if she heard the explanation.13Pass Listen She was not going to let Varanis hear her cry. She failed.

Varanis calls out, “Wait! I’m sorry. It’s just, I’ve been away from the city for so long and now that I’m back I’m spending all my nights at parties and my days at the Temples. Even last night… I’d finally fallen asleep when that boy and a group of musicians started singing outside my window.” She heaves a deep sigh. “I just can’t breathe.”

The maiden vanishes into the hall leaving Varanis unaware if her call was heard. The Vingan remains outside for a long time if no one else interrupts her. She has the privacy she asked for, but it feels hollow. When she’s ready, she goes back in and circulates a few times. Her heart’s not in it and she lacks the sparkle of earlier. Unconsciously, she searches for Lenta.

No Lenta. No scent of violets. No Garin either. Young Vahnfar is there, tries to approach. She pretends not to see and instead makes her way to the hosting matron to say her goodbyes. Polite greetings are exchanged. The palanquin awaits. Empty. With no scent of violets or any stupid poems.

She gives the orders to go home and retreats to the relative safety of the palanquin. She doesn’t cry. Not even when there’s no one around to witness it.

No extra presents at palazzo. The songbird greets you with a sad, lonely song. The pot of infusion that Solaska made earlier is cold on the table.

She strips away the jewellery and all the other trappings of the noblewoman. There’s a basin of water, still warm, and a linen towel. She scrubs her face until it feels raw. And then she throws herself on her bed and tries to imagine how Serala will react when she recounts these past few days to her. It’s only then that she allows herself to cry.