1627, Fire Season, Harmony Week
Fire Season, Harmony Week, Godday, at House Saiciae, outside Grandmother’s private chambers. Session 42: Kin-Making
Varanis, freshly scrubbed and dressed in clean clothing, makes her way to the room where Grandmother meets people privately. In the hallway outside, she spots Dormal lurking. Well, to be fair, he is sitting on a bench in a little antechamber, rolling a coin across his knuckles and making it disappear and reappear.1Special on sleight, the coin really does appear to be vanishing.
Varanis pulls up short. “Oh. Dormal. Hello.”
He raises an eyebrow. “Hello. I had heard you were back in town. Tarsh treat you well?”
“Briefly, I think. I needed to talk to Grandmother, before I return to Boldhome.” She considers, then adds, “Well enough, I suppose. I’m still alive. And you? Things in Nochet are good for you?” Her assessing gaze takes in the changes to his clothing and general appearance. He is wearing clothes in good repair but does not appear to be dressed expensively or for a party.
“Events proceed. Things have been interesting of late.”
She arches an eyebrow in response.
If you are Berra and try to avoid things to do with Dormal, don’t click this.
“For instance, there may be new alliances and treaties in the offing. I’m sure you know.” He returns her look levelly, giving nothing away. “And the little, mm, hiccup with Mellia’s wedding.”
At this, Varanis scowls briefly, then quickly clears her expression. She was never particularly good at hiding emotions. “What do you know?” she asks.
“Quid pro quo. You tell me about the situation in Tarsh and I’ll tell you what I know about, well, whatever you want to know about.”
She studies him, considering. The silence grows until she suddenly gives a sharp nod. “Alright. Shift over so I can sit, then.”
He moves over.
She drops with casual grace into the space he has created and stares at the door to Grandmother’s chamber. “Where to begin?” She runs through it quickly in a hushed voice: Grandmother’s letter about Mirava going missing, Fazzur’s marriage announcement, arriving in Tarsh too late. She even tells him about Mirava’s plans for Fazzur.2Critical on Truth and passed love family for once!
“Hm. And you haven’t had a chance to tell Kallyr yet? Do you think you can sell the deal to her?”
“I’ve sent word, but I needed to find out what Grandmother is planning first. And honestly? I don’t know. She’s unlikely to have me killed for this – kin-slaying and all that. But, I don’t think she’s going to be pleased.”
“Do you want some advice?”
She turns to look at him. “Maybe?” A pause, then, “yes?”
“Suggest to Grandmother that she send you North escorting a caravan of grain and other supplies. A big one,” he tells her. “Have our merchants head north along the river, not with you, selling food cheaply. Make it so that she can’t act against you even if she wants to. Naturally we’ll send guards with you to protect the caravan. And with the merchants. It will help the people there to associate Esrolian troops with good news. And boost your popularity.” He lets her consider his suggestion, before adding, “Now, we did have a deal, so… Mellia’s wedding? Or would you like to ask about something else?”
She looks thoughtful, then says, “Mellia’s wedding.”
“Mellia chose to inform her family-to-be about our new cousin in Tarsh. It’s possible they knew anyway but once they had officially been informed… Silor could not, or could not be seen to, condone the wedding.” His expression is carefully neutral. “Arrangements had to be made to sneak them out of the city before Silor’s proclamation of exile made it here officially. I can’t tell you how expensive and annoying that was to arrange.”
“So… are they married then? That obviously wasn’t them in the ritual.”
“Officially Venlar and Mellia have fled for parts unknown. They certainly haven’t wed secretly and skulked back into the city in disguise. And again, as far as the Cinder-Foxes are concerned, Venlar is no longer one of them.”
Varanis looks pained. “More consequences of failure then. I thought it might be the case, but I hoped…”
“Hardly of failure. Of letting people officially know things that they would rather have ignored, perhaps.”
“I should have got to Mirava faster. Dormal. She married a fucking Lunar.” While Varanis may frequently swear in other languages, she rarely does so in Esrolian and never outside Grandmother’s room.
“What could you possibly have done to get to her faster? You had to find them first and unless you’ve been keeping secrets you have no spies in the Dragonewt court.” He shrugs. “And anyway, if she can bend Fazzur to her will then we will have scored a massive victory over the Lunars. The war will be on their doorstep instead of here on ours. For once.”
At this, Varanis wrinkles her nose. “You’re right, I suppose. But… They’ve hunted my family for generations. I don’t know how she can bring herself to it.” She shakes her head. “Your advice about the caravans is good. Thank you.”
“Well, then she’s making this sacrifice so no-one else has to,” he points out. “And if we can get Kallyr on board, then we can stabilise Sartar and save many lives. This is a good thing. Always happy to serve the Clan. Ah – I hear someone coming – I suspect she’ll see you first.”
Varanis nods. Before she stands, she reaches out to grasp Dormal’s free hand. “I know you’ll not forgive me, but regardless… I do value you, cousin.” She rises, shakes out her skirts, and waits to be summoned.
Dormal, for his part, accepts the handclasp and then sits back down to wait.