1626, Storm Season, Harmony Week, Windsday
It’s Windsday of Harmony Week. Shortly after arriving at the Paps, Varanis presents herself to the Storm Voice in Orlanth’s Temple. Almost before she has agreed to Initiation, the Storm Voice has doused her in oil and ash. Tail end of Rune Messiah, (Session 2.26).
Before long, Varanis is stripped down to little more than linen and ash, readying herself for days of worship.
Venlar arrives a little later, in his expensive Esrolian gear, with his expensive Sartarite jewellery, to take up a holy chant and to dance – without great talent, but with evident enthusiasm – a story about the marriage of Ernalda to a fine, brave husband.
Bare feet on the cold earth floor, Varanis dances with Venlar. She is quick and has a tendency towards showy acrobatics in her dancing. While she cannot yet fly, her dance speaks to her affinity for Air and Movement.
As he continues, half clumsy and half of the air, Venlar keeps up with Varanis, but no more. First he is threatening guards who would stop him, then taking in turn the part of the threatened guard and cowering in deference and fear. He knows the dance well, but moves without grace, flat-footed and slow in the turns.1B: Because no, he really does not have a good DEX. V: Hers is 15. I did a DEX*5, inspired by Movement and rolled 12. She’s graceful and agile. It won’t last the week though. She’s doesn’t pace herself. B: I rolled on his Dance, and at least it was just a failure. V: Oh right! There’s a dance skill. I forgot! If I use the same roll but for Dance instead of DEX, it’s still a definitive pass.
A song of the Court of the Sun is being sung, in careful fragments, by those who have already danced.
Varanis is absorbed by the dance. Bright eyes gleam beneath a crown of unruly hair. She is Vinga. She is young Orlanth, wild and untamed.
This part of the ceremony ends with Orlanth bursting through the doors and leaping over the traps to demand Ernalda, which Venlar manages with surprising elegance, perhaps because it only demands strength, and not precision. His wildness shows him the way.
Then, that completed, he draws an entirely imaginary sword, which nevertheless flickers in his hands, and slays invisible enemies. Without compunction, and indeed with a smile, he cuts people down.2I decided on Jump, then Broadsword, then Worship Orlanth for whether it was actually visible. Because I could.
The Vingan is Venlar’s shadow, her feet flying in his wake, her sword cleaving imagined enemies.3 Varanis passes the same rolls – including broadsword rather than rapier. She follows his lead.
The pull of the sword through flesh is real, and somehow in the press Venlar is gone, or rather, somehow in the press, Varanis is alone. There is fight to be fought, people without value to destroy, for they stand in the way.
For just a moment, she falters. She’s lost her place. Then she grins her wild grin and shifts into the sword dance. Flickering with lightning, her blade is merciless.4Failed second dance roll, special broadsword.
All is slain, and done. Windsday. Orlanth’s day. Off in the courtyard, Yelm has already been slain by a Wind Lord; off in a weaving room there is a beautiful prize waiting.
Venlar! Is he still present? Varanis scans the temple for him. And that brings her out of the Spike, and into the Temple once more. Venlar is being entirely religiously correct in how he is kissing that young lady who is not Mellia. He is definitely bluer than he was, with longer hair that has a shade of orange to it.
He steps back, and after a confused moment he does not attempt to steal her away, but looks around with a perplexed expression.
Varanis blinks. Hoarsely, she says, “I thought… Mellia…. I have to protect…” She has a hard time putting words together in the right order between panting breaths. “You can’t…”
Venlar nods, and gasps for Air himself. “Uhhh. Uhh. Mellia? What? Where?”
“You vanished and …” A breath. “I thought you were going to steal her again.” She looks stricken. “I’ve interrupted the ritual.”5B: Cult Lore, Orlanth or Vinga? V: Don’t have Orlanth, but passed Vinga.
Venlar grimaces. “I’m done,” he says. “The dance… was the big thing. But if you ….” He heaves a sigh as breathing starts to catch up with effort. “If you aren’t then I don’t know what you should do.”
It is strangely, clearly obvious what must be done now. A broken thing at the centre of the world. Yelm lies dead. Ernalda is to be claimed – no matter whether or not there was a pause. The loom must be made tiny and brought home.
And then there will be darkness, and sadness, and a leader must learn to lead properly, not simply by strength of arms. It starts with coldness and ends with rebirth. The Lightbringers must quest, but first, and vitally, Orlanth must learn why they should, and what it means to be responsible.
Varanis nods. “I have a lot of dancing ahead of me. Many lessons yet to learn. But first…” Her gaze is assessing. “Are you good? Do you need assistance?”6Fail first aid. She can’t tell.
“I will live,” he says, and then he looks at her forehead, and down at her eyes. “You’re…” Though she is damp with sweat, the runes drawn in oil and ash persist. Yes. The mastery rune marks her forehead. Venlar says, in awe, “It’s glowing.”
“He calls me,” she replies. “I have to answer.” Deep in her eyes, the lightning sparks. “Are you alright?” she asks again, urgently.
Venlar looks away from Varanis, unable to meet her gaze.7B: Insight Human? V: 17. That’s a pass. B: Insight: He knows himself unable to stand up to her, in that moment.
“Venlar.” It’s just a name, but it comes with unconscious force. “Tell me if you are alright? He calls me. I need to dance. But I need to see you safe first.” Shorter than he by several inches, somehow she fills the space around them. There’s something… not quite possessive in the way she looks at him.8V: Insight? B: Failed. Can’t look properly.
“I’m fine,” he says, looking down. “But my spirit’s not strong enough for this.” He only barely manages to look at her then.
“I trust you,” she replies. “Go. Seek out Mellia.” She rests her hand on his shoulder briefly, the touch meant to be reassuring, but energy buzzes through her. “Go.” And then she’s gone, her feet guiding her back into the Spike and searching for Ernalda.
Venlar manages a bow of farewell without cringing away.
- 1B: Because no, he really does not have a good DEX. V: Hers is 15. I did a DEX*5, inspired by Movement and rolled 12. She’s graceful and agile. It won’t last the week though. She’s doesn’t pace herself. B: I rolled on his Dance, and at least it was just a failure. V: Oh right! There’s a dance skill. I forgot! If I use the same roll but for Dance instead of DEX, it’s still a definitive pass.
- 2I decided on Jump, then Broadsword, then Worship Orlanth for whether it was actually visible. Because I could.
- 3Varanis passes the same rolls – including broadsword rather than rapier. She follows his lead.
- 4Failed second dance roll, special broadsword.
- 5B: Cult Lore, Orlanth or Vinga? V: Don’t have Orlanth, but passed Vinga.
- 6Fail first aid. She can’t tell.
- 7B: Insight Human? V: 17. That’s a pass. B: Insight: He knows himself unable to stand up to her, in that moment.
- 8V: Insight? B: Failed. Can’t look properly.