1627, Sea Season, Harmony Week
Sea Season, Harmony Week, around Wildday eve. Swim Roles
Varanis attempts to seek guidance from Nala, but ends up somewhat confused.
Nala and Tiwr were scouting when Varanis and her horse took a tumble. The ground gave out below the horse and they both fell into the Creek, which is apparently a rushing river despite its name. Varanis called on the magic given to her by the Goddess of Salt and Teeth, which made her swim like a crocodile. Suuraki reported seeing a bunch of baby crocodiles swim away from Varanis in that moment and once again praised her as a water bringer. Suuraki told Nala about the incident when they were all at their night camp.
It takes another day before Varanis seeks out Nala at their evening camp. “Nala? Do you have time? I have questions.”
Nala is gutting rabbits. “Of course. I hear you have made me a grandmother.”
Varanis blinks. “Um…. what?”
“My daughter. Teeth and Salt. You have had children with her, Suuraki tells me.” Nala adds, “I am glad that our chat the other day was productive, although to be honest, I’d intended human children.”
Varanis looks at askance at Nala. “The Goddess is your daughter? Um… well… That is what I wanted to ask you about. I was wondering if that’s what you meant about children and if that was… sufficient….”
Nala rips a spine out and nods. “For Orlanth, yes. He puts it about wherever he can, basically. For Sartar… not so much. How did you come to have rune spells from my daughter?”
“She gave it to me. We…” Varanis flushes a little, perhaps remembering the Earth Priestess who chastised them. “We built an altar for her at the Paps. She gave me two gifts then, but the first is now spent. I can’t call on it again.”
Nala blinks hard. “Did you get permission to build a death altar at the Paps????”
Varanis flushes again. “No. Those of us who did it… we’re banished from the Paps. This is why Suuraki needs to get to the cave. He has to learn how the goddess fits into Waha’s Covenant,” she stumbles on the Praxian word, then continues doggedly, “before he can return.”
Nala has no desk, so she cannot headdesk. “Right. In future, you ASK before building altars. I’ve built enough of them to know.” She continues, “How did you come to bear the children? Was it a vision? Did she speak? Also, going rate for an altar is several hundred Lunars.”
Varanis shrugs, then nods. “It seemed like a good idea at the time. We were in Prax. She seemed to feel like Prax was her home…” She takes a deep breath, then continues. “It was a temporary altar. The sort you build on the road when travelling, so that you can worship when you aren’t near a Temple. But, if you want me to answer your other questions you need to give me a moment to do so.” There’s a touch of impatience creeping into the Vingan’s voice. “I’ve had visions of her a time or two. It’s the only time I can dream of water and not…” She shakes her head. “Not relevant. When I dream of her, I’m in the water. Yelm warms me. It is peaceful, though there is a distant sense of hunger. She spoke to me the last time, I think. But I can’t remember the words. It feels like…. like some of my oldest memories. Ephemeral and far away. I don’t know about the children. I hit the water and it was so cold that it took the Air from my body. I knew I would drown. But, I called on her gift and then I was swimming. I didn’t even see the babies – I only know of them because Suuraki told me.”
Nala looks thoughtful as she puts the food on to cook, sorting out plants that probably look the same to Varanis. “I wonder if that means Orlanth knew her. Have you divined?”
“No. There’s been little time.” Defensively, she adds, “When we first got to Boldhome, my holy day was spent in initiation to Sartar. After that it was Sacred Time and the Temple was too busy with bigger affairs. We left Boldhome too soon for another holy day, so I haven’t had the chance.”
“I think it would be useful, for both you and Suuraki, if you made that divination a priority.” Nala frowns thoughtfully. “I’d not heard of people initiating to Sartar. That…may complicate things. I’ll have to think, and maybe talk to Ma of she can find her way here again.”
“It is not uncommon for the nobles of Sartar to initiate into his cult,” Varanis explains. “He offers some guidance within the cities and on the roads. And well, I’ve met him a few times when meditating. It was because of my first meeting with him that I committed to relighting his Flame.”
Nala asks, “Did he say anything about the sheer destruction of crops and things because of Fleshman being killed? Because as you can see outside Boldhome things are pretty shit for people.”
“I haven’t had a chance to commune with him since returning to Sartar. The initiation ritual… he was just a feeling in my head, rather than a voice that I could speak to.”
“And does he speak to you as Varanis, as Orlanth, or can’t he split the two of you?”
The Vingan considers Nala’s question. “From our first meeting, I got the sense that he recognized our kinship. He feels like my grandfather, which in a way, he is, albeit very distantly. So… I suppose he understands me as Varanis, rather than Orlanth or Vinga.” She adds, “In some ways, it’s almost like he’s one of my connections to Orlanth. Or Orlanth to him? Before I could initiate to Sartar, I had to do so to Orlanth Rex. I did that at the Paps. It wasn’t planned, but when I entered Orlanth’s Temple, the Storm Voice there told me he had been waiting for me. I barely had time to take a breath before he started the ritual of initiation.”
Nala says “eek” quietly, under her breath.
Almost grouchily, Varanis says, “I rather wish people would stop painting Mastery runes on my forehead.” There’s no sign of the mastery rune on Varanis’ forehead now. As Nala was in the Earth Temple the whole time the Esrolian was at the Paps, the last time she would have seen that rune on Varanis would have been seasons ago, in the weeks after they joined with the Blue Tree Wyter.
“Um… Well, you just initiated to two kings. What did you expect?” Nala runs her arm down her earth and mastery runes reflectively.
Varanis shrugs and looks away, then shakes her head. “If I’m to seek guidance from you, I need to not hide things.” She sighs. “Let me think a moment?”
Nala adds, “Also, if you destroy the world, I will give you SUCH a slap. Just saying.”
Varanis blinks at her. “Destroy the world? Nala, what in the name of Ernalda’s green fields are you talking about?”
“Orlanth. He broke the world and it had to be bound back together. We did this, remember?”
“I have no desire to repeat the Lightbringers Quest, if that’s what you mean.” Then Varanis flushes. “It almost happened again when we were with Rajar’s clan,” she admits quietly.
Nala exclaims, “Breaking the world?!”
“I was meditating. And I had a vision in which I was Orlanth and Eurmal stole Death for me.” She glances away, then forces herself to refocus on Nala. “When I got back to the camp, Berra attacked me. Somehow, I’d stolen the spirit from her sword. The Eril sword. We fixed things, though it took a couple of days.” She adds, “It was around the same time the clothes went for a walk and we fought with Rushes to Battle.”
The Praxian woman sighs. “Well, seeing as you brought her up, what in the names of the infinite fucks of the gods is Berra up to? She seems to be channeling Eril or something. I want to punch her in the face ALL THE TIME, and that is new.”
Varanis shrugs again. “I haven’t found her to be particularly offensive. But, I don’t mind Eril either. He serves his god and he serves Sartar. These are things to be respected.”
“Eril is,” says Nala bluntly, “an aristocrat whose egotism means he can never admit a fault. Even when his fault is that he made it very easy for the Lunars to mess up Kallyr’s ritual. Thus, technically, the poverty of the country itself is his fault. He has created at least one demon and JUST LEFT IT LYING AROUND. And he tried to blame it all on me and Rajar. He’s a fuck. Oh, look foreigners, how convenient, let’s blame them.” She glares. “Fuckwit.”
Varanis blinks, taken completely aback. “Um…. I’ve not heard this before…”
Nala is very angry. Zinat gets upset and tries to lick her better. Nala buries her face in Zinat’s fur for a minute or two.
“Can we maybe back up…. unless you think this is important guidance too?” Varanis sounds a bit flustered and worried. She’s not sure what to make of the shaman just now.
“When the ritual started, I was given a vision that there were lunars to the north and south, and that the redness they generated leaks into a chasm in Boldhome. I talked to Kalis, who told me to tell Eril to use the fyrd to protect Boldhome. Eril took the fyrd and left to go south, leaving the city without Storm Bulls or Humakti,” Nala states. “Fortunately, Dormal and Koraki had stayed in Boldhome, the rest of us were sent north. Dormal and Koraki dealt with the assassins, who had gone unnoticed, because the Humakti were off following Eril, days away. But, not until they managed to kill Fleshman, nullifying the ritual. Which was the stationary Lightbringers ritual that we had found on Kero Fin. The failure of that ritual is responsible for the state of the rest of the country. It was done and failed in Sacred Time,” she explains. “He fucked up. He did exactly the wrong thing. And then, he said it was my fault for listening to false visions, and maybe I was having Lunars send me visions, oh and Rajar distracted him from his duty.”
“So it’s not Kallyr’s fault? It’s Eril’s?” Varanis is trying to keep track in the face of Nala’s anger.
“The failure of the ritual is Eril’s fault, of that is what you mean by it.” The Praxian continues, “The demon is also directly his fault. The one he left under Boldhome for years. In the earth. I’d been having visions of darkness in the earth and had no idea why or what.”1Nala passes Hate Eril a second time.
For the barest moment, Varanis looks hopeful, then she shakes her head. “It doesn’t matter anyway. Kallyr is Prince, so the responsibility it ultimately hers. That’s the price of leadership.” Then she blinks again. “The demon is still there?”
“Yes, all the blame fell on Kallyr. Guess who made no effort to spread it about that she wasn’t responsible?” As Nala’s rage rises, her presence becomes almost overwhelming.2Nala wrote: In her anger, Varanis can clearly feel Nala’s increase in Charisma, as she spews out the crimes of Eril. 21 now. – I can’t quite find a smooth way to integrate this IC. “We sent the demon back. I didn’t have any visions of it this past SacredTime. And he could have made others we dot know about, like in his brother’s land. Maybe that is what fucked the triplets up.”
“She’s Prince,” Varanis says again. “That makes the fault hers.”
“No, it makes the poverty her responsibility,” the Praxian argues.
Varanis looks unconvinced.3Nala passes INTx5. Suddenly, it becomes very clear to Nala what Varanis’ issues around leadership are. When it comes to responsibility, it seems like she believes that the bolg stops at the top. And that terrifies her, because what if she has to be the one at the top?
Nala takes a deep breath. Tiwr has started to mosey over, and you hear a string of rapid fire Praxian. He then says in tradetalk, “Eril is EVIL.”
“Thank you, love.” Nala gives him a nose bag of greens, and he wanders off again.
Varanis watches him, then glances back at Nala. “Um…. he’s not my guide too, is he?” She sounds worried.
“He’s my backup. But he isn’t an earth goddess.”
“As you say. I admit, I might not be ready for that much guidance,” Varanis acknowledges politely.
“Kallyr has the ultimate responsibility for other people’s fuckups,” says Nala, trying to calm down. “But the fault is not hers, and she doesnt bear the responsibility alone. Trying the ritual was a bit airheaded and heedless, probably. But the fuckup was all, all Eril.”
“I was wondering….” Varanis starts, stopping when Nala interrupts. “Um. Yes. I’ll think on that,” she replies. Nala can’t quite tell if Varanis is dubious or simply trying to process it all. “Could we maybe back up to the divination part? With Suuraki? I was rather hoping you might help me figure out what to ask. Divination is difficult at the best of times.”
Nala blinks. “I can try. But I’m not good with words,” she says, unaware of the irony of saying after ranting fluently for ten minutes. “I’ll meditate on it.” After a moment, the shaman adds, “Hm. Possibly also best split between you, because he is quite close to Waha.”
Varanis nods. “Thank you. I don’t really understand what the goddess wants from me. I’m of the Storm Tribe. I don’t really know what I can offer her or why she’s taken an interest. I think it must be an accident of some sort.”
“Probably best done in a safe temple, with guards. Alda Chur, maybe,” Nala suggests. “I think that is all because of consort. Which does not mean we have to sleep together. Somehow thanks to Huljeem Ernalda counts me as having given birth.”
“I’m not even particularly good with water,” Varanis admits, flushing again. “I haven’t been since the incident in Wilmskirk. I’m not afraid of it,” she rushes to add. “But I’ve had visions and dreams that tell me I’ll drown and I don’t know if they are true or not. I’ve certainly come close to it a number of times.”
Nala doesn’t respond to that, but continues to focus on the Humakti. “But yes, Berra is shouldering in on command, being anti-emotional, and generally trips every Eril sensor I have. It’s not good. It’s going to end badly. If you know or find out why, please tell me. It’s all since that damn iron sword”
Varanis looks thoughtfully at Nala. “Has she spoken to you of the sword?” she asks.
“Then I can’t speak about it. You’ll need to ask her directly. I’m sorry.” She sounds genuinely regretful. Silence grows between them, until finally Varanis says, “Thank you. You’ve given me a lot to think about…. perhaps… I should go do that? Perhaps we can speak with Suuraki about the divination when you’ve had a chance to meditate on it?”
Nala nods and turns her attention back to Zinat.
- 1Nala passes Hate Eril a second time.
- 2Nala wrote: In her anger, Varanis can clearly feel Nala’s increase in Charisma, as she spews out the crimes of Eril. 21 now. – I can’t quite find a smooth way to integrate this IC.
- 3Nala passes INTx5.