1627, Fire Season, Illusion Week, Waterday
Having joined the Esrolian Free Company as observers, our heroes visit the camp through the afternoon.
Text-based rp after Queen of What Now? (Session 2.44)
A little after noon, a woman on horseback arrives from the direction of Boldhome; her horse looks sweaty but not exhausted. She demands to see the authorities here, in the name of Issaries the Talking God. She is armed for a journey – bearing a sword – but she is not armoured. Her main concession to the dangers of the road is her wide-brimmed travelling hat.
The woman is met on the road by a patrol of horsemen who escort her the last stretch to the camp and to Varanis.
“I’m Varanis Saicaie, sometimes called Vareena. May I help you?”
The woman bows, after an expert dismount. Her horse stays exactly where she puts the reins. “I have a message that should be heard in public,” she replies.
Varanis gives her a speculative look. “How public? Do you want me to summon all but the perimeter guards? Or just the commanders?”
The horsewoman says, “I need only speak to whoever is in authority, so that nobody can say secrets were passed.”
Xenofos’ hand goes for his journal. And returns empty.
Varanis nods to one of the nearby Esrolians. “Tell the others I need them again. By the banner. It’s good for their seconds, I’m sure.”
The commanders assemble, a bit quicker then before. Also Lenta makes an appearance.
When they were waiting for the others, Varanis offered the messenger refreshments. As soon as the last commander arrives, she nods to the woman. “Whenever you’re ready, good trader.”
When they are there, the woman – who politely accepted a small amount to eat, and no more – tells Varanis, with another bow, “Storm Voice Tennebris, Chief Priest of Orlanth in Boldhome, names Varaneva of this company to present herself at the temple of Lhankor Mhy to answer charges of banditry, affray, and wounding, on pain of outlawry.”
Varanis does not look surprised.“I see.”
Herald nods her head to say her message is done.
There is no flicker of emotion on face of the Babeester Gori. She smiles a bit and asks Varanis with a calm voice “I do not regard such drivel worth notice, but do you wish me to answer them, lady Varanis?”
“Yes. With other witnesses to the events. What I need to determine is if I should be accompanying you.” She stares thoughtfully skywards, then adds, “It’s too late in the day to start. You’ll leave just after Yelmrise. This will give me time to make any arrangements we need.”
“I’ll want one of your axe sisters who witnessed it to go with you, the other should stay here to assist with command. I’ll leave it to you to decide the best choices there. I do want another commander to accompany you. Esrolakar of the Greens, perhaps. Esrolakar, do you have a suitable second to handle the Greens while you are in Boldhome?”
“Errr, I was leading Greens for today only, Kesten and Barnropos can certainly take over. If I am needed I can certainly ride.” Esrolakar explains.
Varaneva nods to a pale dour looking axemaiden who nods back.
“Issarian,” Varanis says turning to the messenger, as a sudden thought crosses her mind. “If I send witnesses to speak for Varaneva, are they likely to be charged too?”
The woman looks confused, but only briefly. “If there is a suit brought against them, but only then. If they must answer charges, they will be informed, but it will be in public. Where all can see.”
“I see.” She turns to those she has named. “I will not demand it of you, but I believe that it is right and honourable for you to present what you witnessed to the sages. This is a free company and each of you must be free to choose. Varaneva is the only one who must go, as she is named in the suit. But I would not wish her to go alone.”
Xenofos is looking thoughtful. Lenta looks at Varaneva’s necklace but her smile stays on.
“Where, in the name of the Lightbringers, is Venlar?!”
“If he does not leave his horse he will be coming walking pace.” Xenofos answers “But he should be here way before Yelmset even then.”
“You should rest good Issarian so that you will be fully recovered in the morning.” Lenta tells the herald.
“My message is delivered,” the herald replies, “Although if Varaneva wishes, I will travel with her, to show her the way.” The woman glances over, waiting for an answer without pushing for one.
“That might be the case and there might be a message for you to take the other way.”The Ernaldan says, looking at Varanis “If lady Varanis wishes it.” She is giving Varanis a very long look.
“Please stay a while. I’ll let you know shortly if I need to hire your services,” Varanis tells the messenger. To the commanders she says, “I’d suggest that you return to your units now, if that suits Kesten. We can have our evening meal together to discuss what comes next.”
The messenger bows her head, saying nothing, but accepting the offer to stay.
To Varaneva, she adds, “Would you walk with me a while?”
The axemaiden nods. “My second in command will carry on then.”
As the others disperse, Varanis leads the axe maiden towards the perimeter for a walk. “Talk to me, warrior.”
“What do you want to talk about?” Axemaiden asks.
“I want to know what you weren’t saying back there.”
“If you wish me to go, I go. Is there more to be said?”the Babeester Gori asks.
“Perhaps not then. The Earth Temple in Boldhome is good. Regardless of what else happens, I would trust High Priestess Kalis to feed and shelter you. She’s Esrolian and familiar with your home temple. Tell her I sent you.”
Varaneva shrugs and looks at Varanis, or maybe through her.
“Go make whatever arrangements you need to.” Varanis looks troubled as she dismisses the warrior. After a moment, she goes in search of Lenta.
Lenta is not hard to find, she is still by the banner, looking at different groups of warriors going about their business and discussing with Xenofos who leaves and walks towards the herd of horses.
Varanis checks to see if anyone is near enough to overhear before speaking. “Did you have something you wanted to bring up?”
“She did not say the witnesses would not face charges, only that if such would take place they would be handled openly” the young Ernaldan comments.
“I noticed. That is why I didn’t demand it, only suggested it.” Varanis frowns. “I don’t much like it. She should have someone who was there speak up to say that she was not the first to attack, but if they charge any who come with her, then the witnesses might not choose to speak. I wonder if I should go with them.”
“You told them you regard it right and honourable they go. I have no doubt they will.” Lenta answers looking serious. ” You could ask safe conduct for them if you are worried they might be detained?”
“I can request it. No certainty that it will be respected. This is why I am considering going. But, it feels too soon to leave here too.” Varanis runs a frustrated hand over her hair, loosening her plaits in the process.
“Orlanth is everchanging yes, but also bound by honour. If this Tennebris grants safeconduct I would be surprised if he broke his word on that openly.” Little Ernaldan says hesitantly.
“But how will I know if he grants it? Varaneva should report immediately.”
“Herald did not name a time. She can go back with an answer that Varaneva is coming and request of safe conduct for witnesses.” Lenta suggests.
“They’ll think we are delaying…”
Lenta shrugs gracefully. “Perhaps. But is there not a reasonable cause?”
Varanis glares in the direction that Venlar should be coming from. “I’ll need to know that the delay won’t make it worse.”
Off in the distance, there looks like there is a pair of figures just coming along the road. Maybe.
Lenta bites her lip and nods.
Varanis doesn’t notice in her rush. Before long, she’s saddling up Manasa and getting ready to ride out to intercept Venlar.
The figures get bigger – Venlar on foot, leading a horse, and his escorts. The young lord is risking sunburn by going bare-chested in the heat. He raises a hand as Varanis comes closer.
She reins in Manasa and manages to dismount with reasonable grace despite her rush. “You are well?” she asks first.
“Yes, quite so,” he says. “My horse took a stumble, but not a fall. Myself, much the same.” His shoulders are a little sunburned, which is not surprising given how pale he is. He does not ask questions, simply waits to be addressed, with the poise taught to him long ago, and finally matched with a body suited to obeying.
Varanis hands her reins to Venlar’s escorts and waves them onward.
Venlar watches them away, mildly. “I am sure you have had a report by now.”
“I have. I’d like your perspective and then I’ll explain what has just happened.”
“The approach was easy enough, but the locals are offended – pride and fear is a bad combination – and I do not think we were followed. Certainly, there would be no need. There were a few minor tracks on the way, so our location must be known.” Venlar smiles slightly. “And to tell from their missiles, their diet is not currently good.”
Varanis nods. Rapidly she explains about the messenger and her insistence that Varaneva present herself in Boldhome. “I want her to have people who witnessed the events with her, but I worry that they will be charged too. Lenta thinks I should send the messenger back with a request for safe passage for the witnesses, but I worry that it will make things worse. I hate that I don’t know Sartarite law.”
“That would be an insult to the Storm Voice,” Venlar replies after a moment’s though. “Consider, you are either saying he is entrapping them, or saying that if there is a possibility of them being guilty, you still insist on them being allowed to leave.”
Varanis nods. “I wasn’t far off in my concerns then. I will stick with the plan that I have already set into motion.” She gives him a quick summary of the discussion. “Lenta was right about one thing though,” she muses. “My word choice didn’t leave them much of a way out. I have to be more careful about what I say.”
“Are they your people, or are they their own?” he asks, like he is genuinely curious.
“I don’t know anymore. No one has sworn any oaths, but they are here because of me. That makes them my responsibility.”
“If you sent one, but gave the others the option, you are already making a choice. Either suggest, or send, but not both. I… suggest.” He looks off into the distance when saying that. He does good distance-staring, being tall.
“She is the one who has been summoned.”
“So you did not order her – she was ordered. I see. It is probably a wise idea to stay at a distance until you must bind these people to you. It will be more effective when you do.”
“I could escort her back myself, but I wasn’t witness to what happened.”
“What is your fear? That she will be badly treated, or that she will treat others badly?”
“I will be going back there a little after Yelmrise, of course,” Venlar notes.
“So be it. If you travel with the messenger and the Babeester Gor, you should have some safety. And anything you can learn in Boldhome would be of value to me. Perhaps you could find Berra to pass along messages.”
“I shall try. She may be difficult to pin down. It could be she travels towards us already, of course.”
Varanis nods. “I’m going to watch them train for now. If there is anything else you think I should know, please tell me.”
Venlar considers. “They did not throw stones,” he says, “Or try to kill me. They are not committed to rebellion, but they are angry. However, they were not yet intending to escalate the issue; I suspect that our visit today may make them talk it over, however. It certainly did not ease matters.”
“Well, someone clearly escalated it. Unless Varaneva committed theft and injury to someone else too.”
“The army that apparently maimed someone is in the area. It is an escalation even of itself.” Venlar seems unworried, like that is obvious.
“Orlanth, you truly test me sometimes,” Varanis mutters under her breath. To Venlar she says simply, “Your skin is burning.”
“I know,” he replies. “Alas, my tunic is in far worse order. Fortunately, it is in a saddle bag, and I have others. We are not far from camp.”
She nods absently, her thoughts having shifted elsewhere. “You don’t have any sacred herbs, do you? I might try to seek advice from the gods.”
“No, but I could make a place to do it, and I have the right brushes for woad.” He runs his hands through his hair, which has come loose again, and reaches back to plait it clumsily.
“I have my Blue Tree woad. I’ll get your assistance to set it up this evening then.”
Varaneva is summoned. Varanis tells her to answer the charges and she agrees.