Varanis — 1626 0827 Rehashing
????, Earth Season, Stasis Week
Earth Season, Stasis Week, Clayday, morning and afternoon. [[[s02:session-10|Session 10]]]
Follows after [http://journeyoftheheroes.wikidot.com/berra:a-spar-adrift A Spar Adrift]
Xenofos approaches Varanis in the courtyard as she watches the sparring.
“Why did you want to hear of Garin, Varanis? Last we talked you thought he had given up besieging you.”
Show talk of Garin and duels and other such things
“I just have a feeling that something is wrong. He disappeared around the same time Vahnfar was beaten. Maybe that’s a coincidence, but maybe it’s not. He could have been involved or he could have been attacked too.” She yawns. “I can’t think clearly. I need some lumiviiva and a bath. I’m probably pounding on shadows and it’s nothing. It just bothers me that he’s disappeared so completely.”
“The loss of Garin Mertel could be borne by nobles of Nochet without undue grief.”
“I wouldn’t miss him either, but don’t you think the timing is odd?” she asks.
“He could be on their country estate?”
“If you think I’m worried about nothing, say so, Xenofos. I’m too tired to dance around things right now.” She rolls her shoulders back and then stifles another yawn.
Xenofos looks at Varanis a bit worried. “Perhaps you should sleep? If morning training did not wake you up bath is not likely to do that either.”
“Some lumiviiva will help. I need to go to the market today.”
She nods. “It’s a hot drink the apothecary has been making for me. You should try it. It’s very energizing.”
“Sounds like it could be cure for bad dreams… but sooner or later one needs to sleep and what are dreams like then?”
Varanis shrugs. “I don’t know that I’ve been dreaming all that much,” she says.
“Maybe that is a blessing. Though of lately…”
Xenofos looks somewhere far. She arches an eyebrow at him inquiringly. He does not notice. “Lately?” she prods after he remains silent.
“What?” He was not quite here.
“You were saying something about dreaming?”
Xenofos raises an eyebrow. “Funny. I got distracted and can’t quite remember.”
She lets it drop. “Want to get something to eat? I haven’t had breakfast yet.”
“Sure. This weird waking in the morning thing has been bringing a ravenous appetite.”
“Did you talk with Yamia directly of what she heard at the party? She must have misunderstood some, for no Palazzo has been on sale as long as anyone remembers.”
“No, I haven’t seen Yamia since last night. And I don’t really remember getting home. But the notion of a palazzo for sale is ludicrous. She’s a foreigner; she must have misunderstood.”
“And at least half of depravities they are accused of must be exaggeration. Leaves a nasty picture though.”
Varanis looks at him quizzically. “You’ve clearly heard more than I have!”
He shrugs. “I knew Garin has lousy reputation, but what Yamia gathered was that her sister Elanka is not much if any better. If she understood it correctly.”
Varanis cocks an eyebrow at him. “Tell me more? But first, I want to stop by my room for something and then we can find breakfast.” In her room, there’s a cloth-wrapped pot. She pours herself a steaming cup of dark liquid from it. “Want some?” she offers.
“Nah, cold beer after the training,” he says, rejecting the offer. “Probably loads of malignant bollocks in what Yamia heard. But she, Elanka that is, was suggested to hunt both husbands, beards and youths with equal gusto and pretty successfully. He was supposedly getting sensible Matrons to spend huge amounts of money on him. Apart from hunting maidens, youths and matrons. And word is their finances are total mess.”
“Hmmm. I’m not too surprised, I suppose.” She drains her cup by half and tops it up again before heading for the door. It appears the drink was her only reason for returning to her room, as she is ready to leave immediately. “Breakfast. He seemed rather unimpressed that I didn’t fall at his feet, mind you. I’m not sure how to interpret that. Either he’s so used to women doing so that being denied bothered him, or else he was counting on me spending on him.” She frowns thoughtfully as she strides through the building towards breakfast. “I still don’t understand why he’d try to pass off a poem as coming from you.”
He shrugs dismissively. “Easiest way to get it to your table? Tell at the door it is from me to you.”
“But why? And why would someone accept a note from outside of the house purporting to be from you?” she persists.
“Well if a servant brings a message and tells it from someone, who would ask at the door. And if it is not delivered timely they do get scolded.”
“Fine,” she says, accepting his logic. “But why would he create the ruse in the first place?”
“To get his poem delivered?”
“But with your name associated with it?”
“Well that association disappears immediately if you ask me of the poem? I don’t know what he was thinking.” Xenofos looks where Varanis sits at the high table and joins her with a questioning nod.
She nods at him, setting her cup down as she takes a place at the table. Servants bring her a hearty breakfast – they are used to her appetite it seems and there’s nothing dainty about the meal put before her. The same is offered to Xenofos.
Making the sign of Ernalda, Xenofos starts his meal.
As Varanis eats, she works her way through her lumiviiva too. When the cup is drained she stares thoughtfully into the bottom of it. “I’m probably worrying about nothing. I just want to know who hurt Vahnfar. I can’t shake the feeling that somehow I’m responsible.”
“He said duel?”
She nods, mouth full of a sweet pastry stuffed with dried fruit. When she finishes chewing, she adds, “He won’t say who he fought with though. Says he swore to keep it a secret.”
“Something shifty there. When did you say this was?” Xenofos is going through goatcheese, olives and bread.
She thinks a moment. “Windsday evening. Did I tell you the songbird he gave me is his spirit songstrel? And that it stopped singing that day?”
“So if he was brought in on Windsday eve, the fight was in on Clayday…” He arches an eyebrow. “High Holy Day of Ernalda. A duel is not too liked by our ladies at any time, but on that day… It could have serious consequences for anyone involved, be they fighters or seconds.”
“You see why this gnaws at me?”
“No, not really. He had a fight, for reason he deemed serious enough and he protects others involved by remaining silent. I mean, it does explain the silence without any unnecessary sinister motives.”
“Men!” she exclaims, throwing her hands up in frustration. “Someone tried to make it so that he won’t sing again, if he survives. And they might have succeeded. This was more than a duel. It was deliberately destructive. And I believe it was done without honour, but plays on the boy’s own sense of honour to keep it secret.”
“Surely seconds would have intervened if the customs had been broken.”
“You really think I’m just chasing shadows and there’s nothing to worry about?” She sets the now empty lumiviiva cup on the table with a loud thump. Then she describes everything she saw of Vahnfar’s injuries. When she reaches the end of her catalogue, she adds, “There’s likely more than I saw. Mellia could give you a full accounting.”
“That does sound a lot. That singer is tough.” With a nod he adds, “And he has not told anything of their agreed terms I gather?”
“Nothing. He says he is sworn to secrecy.” Varanis sounds frustrated.
“Well if he has given his word he cannot tell.” Xenofos accepts this as simple fact. “By your description it is unlikely, but not totally impossible that Vahnfar was victor of that meeting. Other fighter can be anything from unhurt to dead.”
“You don’t think it’s odd that Garin and Vahnfar were both courting me, then Vahnfar shows up beaten to within an inch of his life and Garin has gone missing?”
“I found Garin worrisome. Letters in blood are not normal and his touch with reality, in those letters, seemed detached.”
“And now that he’s just vanished, you’ve ceased to worry about him?” She sounds frustrated.
“Kind of relieved to be honest. But you are right, that may not last.” He adds, “So what do you want to about it?”
“I think we should try to find out where he is and if he was involved in the duel. Maybe the timing is a coincidence, but maybe not.”
He raises an eyebrow. “Other than attending every party, where did you think start looking?”
“I was thinking about visiting their palazzo this afternoon. A social call, so to speak. Do you want to come with me?”
Xenofos looks reluctant. “I am not sure if that is wise, but I better tag along lest you do something rash.”
Having acknowledged that she’ll go to House Merelt with or without him, Xenofos arranges to make it happen according to his schedule.
Show the visit to House Hulta
Afternoon, Xenofos appears to Varanis’ lodgings in street clothes but carrying his rapier.
Varanis is gowned rather than armoured. In addition to the simple layers of green and blue silk, she’s wearing a minimal amount of jewellery, at least for her. Cuffs of gold, gold and pearl earrings, a single necklace, and of course, Kallyr’s arm ring gleams on her arm, wound round the sleeve of her dress.
“Palanquin and guard or walk and take a guard?”
“I need to walk,” she says. “And I suppose a guard is reasonable. Just let me feed the songbirds quickly.” She adds a handful of seeds and tiny berries to a dish in the odd little habitat that is gradually taking over her room. Yesterday you’d have sworn it was half the size it is now.
Xenofos looks at the display with some puzzlement.
Catching his look, Varanis shrugs. “I can’t set them free, but neither could I cage them. I couldn’t bear it any longer.”
He nods. “You would not cage a spirit.”
“When Vahnfar is well enough, I need to return his songstrel to him.”
Xenofos raises an eyebrow, but does not comment vocally.
“But until then, I have to care for it as best I can.”
Her cousin says, “I checked the directions. It is right past Palazzo Hulta, by Irionooris cistern, above Dark Warrens.”
She takes one final look at her little charges. The blue and red bird is sitting on one of the bricks surrounding the water basin and shifting from foot to foot restlessly. The yellow songbird sits silently on a branch.
With a dissatisfied sigh, Varanis turns her back on them and heads for the door. “Let’s find a guard and get moving, shall we?”
With the familiar guard assigned by Serzeen, the cousins head into the city. Varanis is talkative on the walk, though she’s focusing on inconsequential matters, the weather, the wares in a shop they pass, Sartarite merchant and his entourage on the road.
Xenofos tries to scan the street for threats. At the edge of cistern, he stops for a moment and gestures beyond it. “House Merelt.” A clattering of jackdaws rises from the roof of the massive building.
Varanis examines the palazzo. “It’s impressive, but there’s something about it that isn’t exactly welcoming.” She considers, then shakes her head. “Maybe I’m imagining it.”
Approaching, Varanis’ judgement seems accurate. Windows are shuttered closed. They would benefit from paint.
Varanis looks about to see if there are any House Merelt servants or guards to approach. None are about. “Well, there’s nothing to do but knock, I suppose.” She inhales deeply, then strides to the front door.
The gate is closed. It was once red, now most of the paint has peeled off. Large bronze studs struck into it and huge doorknocker are green with age. Fertility rune on top is almost black.
Varanis raises the heavy doorknocker and uses it to knock three times. The knocks echo through the halls. There is no answer.
“So now what Varanis?”
Varanis knocks again. Quietly, between knocks, she murmurs, “Someone is watching us. I’m sure of it.” 1Passed scan roll
“I feel like that too. And the guards of Serumthar certainly do.” Xenofos nods across the crossroads,
Varanis looks in the direction Xenofos has indicated. Palazzo Serumthar looms high, and guards on its roof are present and look vigilant. There is constant, steady traffic on the street, one of the main streets past the royal palace.
“Hmmm… maybe that’s what I’m feeling. Let’s go over there. Maybe they can tell us when the Merelts left.”
Here gates are open, but guarded. Varanis approaches one of the guards. “Hello. Have you seen any of the Merelts lately?” she asks, nodding in the direction of the palazzo across the way.
“Not for couple of days I reckon, ma’am.”
“I don’t suppose you heard anything about where they were going?”
“Nah, we don’t much talk with ‘em these days.”
She raises an eyebrow. “These days? Has something changed?”
“Pretty quiet for last season or two. And before that not quiet all.” He speaks earnestly. “One could even say boisterous and not quite respectable ma’am.”
“Oh my. I hadn’t heard about that.” She invites him to continue with a charming smile and interested gaze. 2 Passed charm by 1 point.
Other guard is silently trying to silence this one. “Some nobs, but also riff raff like merchants and foreigners and even actors.”
“How peculiar. It must have made life interesting from this side of the street.” She hangs on his every word.
“Gives street a bad rep and stains neighbours too,” interjects the more cautious guard. “With all the gossiping…” Looking gloomily at his talkative colleague.
Varanis turns her smile on the second guard. “You’re very good to protect the reputation of your House. But surely only foolish people would tar such an upstanding house with the same brush as their neighbours. It’s obvious that this is a respectable place, regardless of the behaviour of those across the way.”
He just grunts, but the smile seems to have softening effect.
Confidentially, Varanis says, “I admit, one of them was making me very uncomfortable. I’m not sad they are gone. I’d just feel safer if I knew where he’d gone to ground.” She gives them both a wide-eyed look.
They look at each other. “S’ppose they are just gone. There was no big commotion, not here anyway.”
“Did their household go with them or were they disbanded?” Varanis asks curiously.
“Not so many of them left I guess. I dunno, but s’ppose they went along.”
“Thank you for your time, gentlemen. I can’t tell you how much of a relief it is to know that a certain person has left Nochet. You represent your House well, being so diligent and observant.” Wide-eyed innocence and sweet smiles are offered to them.
“Sarcasm, dear cousin?” observes Xenofos, as they leave.
She winks at him. “Do you think they noticed?”
“Might have been too busy drowning to your eyes.”
“So now what?” She looks impatient.
“I am not sure. Maybe check with Yamia, she seemed to have ideas. Put Irillo to ask discreetly of Merelt business? “
Varanis nods. “Home then. But first, do you have time to come by the market with me? I’m looking for some stones for Mellia and Venlar.”
“Sure. The Library will wait.”