1626, Storm Season, Death Week, Windsday
Varanis emerges from the Temple of Orlanth after a week’s worship relating to her Initiation to Orlanth Rex. She pauses for a quiet word with Xenofos, who has been lingering outside, then makes her way to where Mellia and Venlar have been staying.
“Venlar?” she calls out softly as she draws near.1B: Do an Insight Human and a First Aid? V: Fumble and pass
Venlar crawls out of his tent, but on seeing who it is makes a decent attempt at standing. He looks tired, and worse than that – he looks scared. On seeing Varanis he gets to his feet but the story is written plain on his face; he is afraid, and it is her presence he would flee, if he could.
She frowns at him then quickly tries to school her expression into something unthreatening. “Are you unwell, cousin? Be easy. I just came to check on you and Mellia…” She holds her hands out to the sides, palms up to show that they are empty.
“Only tired,” he says, and that does seem to be true, although it under-emphasises the problem. When he has been at the Temple, he has seemed active. Now, he seems completely drained. The way he stands makes him seem clumsy just to look at.
“Where is Mellia? Has she seen you?” Varanis steps closer, cautiously, so as not to startle him.
Venlar nods, and closes his eyes like he fears execution. “She knows,” he says, voice even. “This happens to me sometimes. More rarely now, but I have asked too much of my spirit.”
“For my part in that, I am sorry,” Varanis says. “But, it meant much to me to have you there, not just as witness, but as a celebrant. Thank you.” She had something of a shower in the rain the day before and most of the ash has washed away, erasing the mastery rune. The woad air and movement runes have been freshly done. There’s a new tattoo on the back of her left hand.
Venlar bows, and for a moment his movements are smooth, and then as he straightens he has to blink to work out what in hell is going on and which way is up. “It was an honour,” he says. “One I had not dreamed of.”
“You brought honour to me,” Varanis demurs. “You and your kin have been good to me since our paths first crossed, more than I deserved at times. I come to seek your wisdom again, but I have been in the temple many days and I am tired. May we sit?”2V: Insight?// B: Failed. It is possible that the Vingan speaks the truth. She’s been very busy day and night for a week and there are dark circles under her eyes.
“I’ll help as I can,” he says. Then, in just trying to sit down, he is clumsy and almost falls. He aims for the ground rather than looking for a more difficult target, and manages it without breaking anything. “Will you eat?”
She wrinkles her nose. “I don’t remember when I last did, so I probably should. Thank you.”
Venlar claps his hands to get the attention of Felgia, his cooking thrall and servant, and gives her a gesture that probably means ‘two’. She nods, and there is already food on the way by the time he says, “We only have things that are cold, and if you want meat, I’ll have to send her for it, but please share what we have.”
“Thank you. It is more than enough.” She selects a few nuts and nibbles quietly for a moment. “My days have blurred somewhat. I’m uncertain as to when we last spoke as Varanis and Venlar…”
“There were a few times in the Temple, but it was mostly when you needed a prop, and I don’t think you really knew me. I spent at least half of my time out here.” Venlar does not eat immediately, but waits until Felgia has put down a sturdy stool in front of him, to act as a table, and on it bread and half a dozen small dishes with various honeyed and glazed fuit and vegetables. Everything is on flat dishes, to make it hard to knock something over.
“Sometimes I knew who I was. I think maybe most of the time. But Vinga and Orlanth claimed me more than once and sometimes it was difficult to keep hold of myself. It’s a strange feeling to be … filled? Swallowed up? I don’t know how to describe it really. But it’s even more strange when it is more than one god, or even different faces of the same god.” Wonderment animates her features, but then she shakes her head as if to clear it.
Venlar listens patiently, rather than interrupting, although he does start eating, gesturing Varanis to do the same.
She reaches for a piece of the bread absently, but then just holds it. “We have to get to Sartar,” she tells him. “And I don’t know how Rajar will react to any of this, but most especially my intention to warn Kallyr. He’s not very enthused by politics, but he does care a great deal about Argrath.”
Venlar fails to notice that his guest is not eating, but then again, he has to concentrate on not breaking anything. “And is that what you have come to ask about?”
“Well, first I wanted to ensure that you were well. The time in the temple was… demanding. I wanted to be certain that you suffered no lasting harm.” The words are softly spoken, probably to avoid being overheard.
“It will pass,” he says. “It always does, and it was a worthy thing. I too know about being made complete by Orlanth.”
“Have you… has Mellia been able to learn anything to help you?”
“We think so. We’ll be able to speed up the healing that is already happening, as far as I can tell, although some of it being women’s mysteries, I have not asked too much.”
“Where do you and Mellia plan to go next? Where will you spend Sacred Time?”
“We’re not entirely sure. Somewhere with an Earth Temple. You’re all welcome to my father’s Tula. She wants to be near her friends, but I could come to Boldhome. I just need to have certain rites performed at the Temple, and she has not given me those details. I find myself torn; I could keep her from the political games around her, just by asking. I have to be careful never to ask. Yet is it kindest to let her rest?”
Varanis considers his question. “I love my cousin, and would see her safe. Politics has never been her … strong point. She will bravely wade in to help, and in doing so, she places herself at risk. If the choice were mine, I’d have her stay with you and your family, safely away from Boldhome. That would keep others from using her against me too. But I learned long ago not to try to dictate her path. She will do as she believes is right.”
“I have a tremendous power over her, and I don’t think I should every use it. Otherwise, one day someone will have a power over me. But… just to see her smile makes my heart sing.” Venlar sighs, and his eyes lose focus as he thinks about her.
“I respect your desire not to influence her. But if she seeks your opinion?”
“I’ll ask her to be with me where we are happiest. With my family.” Venlar could not be lying, he says it so simply.
Varanis nods her acceptance. “That is agreeable to me. Thank you. And… how does she fare? You said she needs rest?” Noticing the bread in her hand at last, she nibbles on it.
“She did something that tired her, and I have not asked what, but she slept a whole day and she had dozens of tiny cuts and scrapes. They sent for new clothes for her, too.” Venlar looks off towards the centre of the Temple complex. “She is better now, and has gone to look around.”
The bread is sprinkled with salt and rosemary, and some sort of savoury spice Varanis cannot name. Venlar has brought his money with him, it seems. Making a quiet sound of pleasure, Varanis takes another bite.
“I think we will leave soon,” she suggests once she swallows her food. “We need to be at the Tourney Altar soon. You’ll be ready?”
“I’ll be able to travel. I can sit on a zebra well enough. Mellia is always ready to go, and Felgia packs down quickly. I should tell Mamma how good her choice was.”
“Good. I’ll let you know when we were are ready then.” She rises gracefully, despite being tired. “Thank you for your hospitality.”
Venlar looks up, a little puzzled. “Was that the wisdom you came to me for? You wish to know how to treat with people, and what is best for them?”
She smiles wryly at him. “Yes and no. But it seems that my other questions have fled my mind and it is just possible that I need to sleep a while before I can find them again.”
Venlar nods, for a moment austere and severe and then suddenly very human and tired. “Just so. Thank you for stopping. Will you take something with you for your journey?” He gestures to the food, politely, but he does not stand to bow.
She plucks a small piece of honeyed fruit from the platter. “Thank you.” As she turns away, there’s a slight stumble and she hesitates. Then she shakes her head, sighs, and strides away.3Failed dex. Must be tired. Sleep makes sense. But first…. she should talk to Rajar and then….
Venlar, of all people, cannot and does not mention a stumble.
- 1B: Do an Insight Human and a First Aid? V: Fumble and pass
- 2V: Insight?// B: Failed.
- 3Failed dex. Must be tired. Sleep makes sense. But first…. she should talk to Rajar and then….