Drinking Party (Part I)

1627, Fire Season, Fertility Week, Clayday Eve


Context

The heroes are in Nochet after Kin-Making (session 42). Varanis has been climbing the walls of the palazzo. The evening after a miserable party at House Norinel (Night at Norinel), she is determined to escape everything for a while.

This is a eleven-part binge drinking event. If you really want to read it all, you might want to grab a beverage of your choice.

Part 1/11: Choosing a venue and drinking partners

To skip past the entire binge, you could jump to Slap Happy.

Events

Varanis sends a message to Berra, inviting her out for the evening. Then a short time later, she goes to knock on Xenofos’ door.

“Yes, who is it?” comes a response.

“Varanis. Can I come in?”

“Please do.”

The Vingan lets herself into the room, glancing around to spot her cousin and possibly also looking for his servant.

The scribe stands by his writing desk, twirling a pen in his fingers. “How are things, cousin?” He sounds a bit tired.

“Well enough, despite Irillo not yet being ready to leave. I want a night out that isn’t at a noble house. I’ve invited Berra. Will you join us?” She has dark circles under her eyes, but otherwise seems fine. She’s dressed casually, at least compared to what she normally wears in Nochet.

“That will be a pleasure, Varanis,” He answers with a smile.

“Excellent. Got any recommendations on the venue? Ideally, I’d like some place I won’t be recognized.”

He looks at her. After a while he answers. “Well I suppose that may be a bit tall order Varanis. You do have quite a reputation.”

She sighs. “I know. But I can hope, right? Go somewhere less obvious…”

There is a whistling from down the corridor, and then the sound of someone stopping to talk to a servant and ask where Varanis and oh yes never mind… Berra peers around the doorway.

“Maybe the House of the Mistress? But I don’t know if that would be unpleasant for Berra?” He ponders, back to the door.

“Berra! You got my message? I want a night out where I don’t have to be that Lightbringer or a descendant of Sartar. Xenofos and I were just discussing places we might go.” Varanis beams at the Humakti, despite the weariness around her eyes.

Berra waves, lazily. “Yes, I did. One of the places gate guards drink, maybe?”

“That works! I wonder if we should ask the Saiciae guards where they go and then not go there.” The Vingan’s expression is half serious and half mischief. “Think I can just go like this?” She’s in a short tunic layered over a wrapped skirt. It appears to be more Sartarite in style, than Esrolian. Simple earrings and the cuff bracelets and Kallyr’s arm ring are the only jewellery she wears.

“Guards?” Xenofos asks. Pointedly.

“No, let them have their private stuff,” Berra replies seriously. “You can, but you need to wear people if you’re not wearing metal.” She is in her leather armour. “But the thing with where guards drink is they’re usually safe. Nobody wants to get back to work early.”

“A compromise… how about I wear the Praxian armour?” Varanis proposes. “The bronze is too identifiable.”

“Rhino is tough,” Berra tells her.1Insight: Berra’s focus is mostly on Varanis, partly on something else.

“You don’t need it in the House of Uleria, but on the streets there and from there either armour or guards would be prudent.” Xenofos notes, “But that may not be the best place now?”

“Let’s go to one of the places frequented by guards. As Berra says, that should be relatively safe. I’ll wear the rhino hide, so I’ll be well armoured and less noticeable.” Varanis gives Berra a curious look. “You ok?”

Berra nods. “Yeah. Just thinking about a few things.” She gives Xenofos a glance, and a brief smile. “Let’s go be professional?”

Xenofos nods, belts his sword on and throws a riding cloak over the left shoulder.

“I’ll go armour up. Xenofos, get your kit on. If I have to be in armour, my favourite scribe does too. I’ll meet you two back here shortly?” Without waiting for an answer, Varanis slips past Berra and into the hall.

“Professional, I said,” Berra tells him, rather shorter.

“Conspicuous. With the bronze.” He shrugs. “I guess if I leave the helmet I will not stand out that much.”

“Give her the time when we don’t need other people looking after us. Her.” Now that Xenofos has her attention, her look is almost challenging.

“Putting full war-gear on is apt to gather the attention she wants to avoid.” He looks at her. “It is a tradeoff. I would not have taken a sword for a night in a tavern if not for her security.”

“You heard her. Get your kit on – her scribe’s wearing armour. A few people there will be, if it’s anywhere like I remember. Not many people I knew, when I checked, but there might be someone.” Her words are clipped, her impatience slowly rising to the surface.

“Yes, I heard her and will do as she told.” He smiles at her calmingly. “Is something else bothering you?”

“Good.” Berra turns to get away, and then pauses, turns back, considers. “Yeah, but nothing you need to worry about.” She goes out backwards, rather than actually stopping for any length of time.

The little Humakti waits almost patiently outside Xenofos’ room.

Xenofos furrows his brow and armours up.

There’s a peculiar odour that arrives before Varanis does. A heavy scent of flowers underlaid by rhino. When the Vingan does come around the corner, her nose is wrinkled, suggesting that the smell is not making her happy.

“Bloody hell…” Berra bursts out with it.

Xenofos flashes a smile to Berra, from beneath his helmet standing tall and gleaming in almost mirror polish. “Fragrant”

Berra goes on to be marginally less polite than Xenofos. “Who in hell let Voria care for your armour?”

“Marta said it smelled bad, so she gave it to another servant to fix.” Varanis looks disgusted.

“Well it could have been fish oil. Rhinohide is not fresh. But still.” The scribe shakes his head.

Berra keeps a straight face, but says, “Maybe that isn’t going to be subtle in a drinking hole. It smells like you really love that armour, and it’s your girlfriend.”

“It’s going to draw attention. But… it might also make people avoid me. Mind you, if I ran an inn, I’m not sure I’d let me in the common room. Maybe I should just wear the bronze.”

“Let’s go to the Temple. Less armour, and you’ll be able to fall over drunk without bruising.” Berra is back to concentrating on one problem at a time.

“You’ll be good there?” Varanis asks. “Not too weird for you?”

“I’ll live. As long as nobody tries to tell me I shouldn’t be there.” Berra smirks a little.

“Right. Fine. A bit refined for what I want, but it will do.” Varanis vanishes back in the direction of her room. When she returns, she is back to her casual dress of before, the lingering scent of flowers and rhino the only evidence that she’d been in armour recently.

Berra gives Xenofos a glance as if to see if he’s getting changed again, and then waits. A little more resigned, a little more patient now.

Xenofos unties his helmet and leaves it in his room. “I am ready”

Berra nods, and when Varanis comes back, says to Xenofos, “Walk us there?”

“Yes. Horse would be impractical.” he notes.

“Also we don’t know the way,” Berra points out, but lets him lead on.

“You should pay more attention. It is right around the corner. Right opposite the great temple of Esrola.” He nods to general direction.

Varanis snorts. “Living dangerously tonight?” she asks her cousin.

“It is right in the beginning of Sacred Way,” he says.

“Yeah, which mostly I know as a right bastard to cross when you don’t know if there’s going to be Lunar Magic incoming, rather than a road you walk along.” Still, Berra makes an attempt to be good about it, and to let Xenofos guide.

Varanis, having escaped the gilded cage of the palazzo, is all smiles now.

Past the temple of Ploughman, past the well of Desires. Yelm is hanging low on the western horizon, about to descend again to the Underworld.

Berra watches Yelm as much as the route, but she watches the way around them far more, taking her task of guardian seriously.

Xenofos is watching Yelm pretty intently, muttering something quietly.

The Vingan gives Yelm a jaunty salute. The further they get from the palazzo, the happier she becomes. There’s almost a skip in her step now. “Why are you two so gloomy?”

Xenofos looks at Varanis. “Not gloomy. A bit tired.”

Berra shrugs. “Nothing people need to worry about.”

Xenofos turns to look at Berra and then casts a glance at Varanis.

“We’ll all get jarred tonight and forget our troubles. Just for one night,” Varanis reassures them. “We can send for an escort back later, if we need one.”

“Sure? But I didn’t bring Uleria-drinking money with me,” Berra admits.

“That should not be a problem.” Xenofos says absentmindedly. “There may be other complications.”

“Well, the last time I tried to get into one of these places they put me in a little side room even though I asked for the feast. So this time, let’s see if we can just do better than that.” Berra sounds a little like she wants to fight the whole temple, but only a little.

A flash of challenge comes into Varanis’ eyes. “No one will need to spoil my night out, I’m sure,” she tells them.

“A room, feast and a hostess to keep company?” Xenofos asks.

“Yeah, so’m I.” Berra looks forward, determined, and then casually flips out of that mood to watch the roofline.

“That will work, Xenofos. Some privacy will be good.” Varanis smiles again. “No one watching me. I’m so tired of people watching me.”

Xenofos leads the trio to the door of communal eating. Size of community being open to negotiations. They are lead to a dining room with reclining couches for diners. With small tables at their sides.

Berra, once inside, hauls off her helmet and stretches, looking suddenly relaxed.

Varanis drops onto one of the couches immediately. “Get us wine, please, Xenofos. Beer for Berra if she’d prefer that.” The Vingan glances Berra’s direction to see what her preferences might be.

Blue Tree to the core, the Humakti replies, “Perry if they have it, but anything’s good. I think I want to start light, though. I get the idea I could snap like a tracing if I get too drunk too fast.”

Gracefully nodding a servant takes the orders Xenofos gives her with a silent voice. Another tries to assist Berra in taking off her armour.

There is a brief moment of surprise, and then Berra says, “Thanks.” Despite not needing the help at all, she lets herself be taken out of the shell.

“Did you arrange some food too, Xenofos? I’d like to make sure I last a while.”

After shedding his armour too Xenofos settles on a couch. “Not yet, Varanis.” As he answers, wine and water are brought in. Together with some olives, cheese and bread.

Berra settles onto the couch next to Xenofos’, and closes her eyes, and just for a moment looks at nothing.

Varanis dives into the wine. She doesn’t bother to water it.2Cup #1

A woman in her late twenties comes in. “Good evening, I will be your hostess tonight. My name is Davorelia.”

Berra smiles a very tiny bit, and says, “Hello,” and opens her eyes again.

She smiles back.

“Nice to meet you, Davorelia. I’m Vareena. I intend to drink too much. I just thought you should know in advance.” Varanis grins over the top of her wine bowl.