1627, Fire Season, Illusion Week, Waterday
Having joined the Esrolian Free Company as observers, Varanis now meets with their leaders. Follows after:
Text-based rp after Queen of What Now? (Session 2.44)
Among ruckus of banging shields and chanting, Nersteva tries to get Varanis’ attention.
Varanis signals that Nersteva should speak.
“The pickets at Swenstown road are signalling they have seen something.” she points towards the lower edge of the meadow.
Varanis nods. Urgently, she asks, “Kesten, what would the camp normally be doing at this time of day?”
“Getting ready for a practise, milady. On these last few days, that is.” The man with commanders baton looks around. “with everyone here it will take some time… Racers! Saddle up!”
“Please organize the practice just now, but in their units. I need one mounted unit to ride out with me and those commanders you choose to see who is coming.” She has already started to move in the direction of the horses before she thinks to check if he agrees.
On her way to horses she is joined by members of the Golden Racers and Aranda . Varanis’ horse is being saddled by a servant as are some of the troopers’. When she is ready to mount up there are ten men saddled up and rest are getting quickly ready.
She waits impatiently, clearly eager to set off.
A single horseman appears at full gallop, passing the pickets and the small thicket they were positioned in. To Varanis it seems pretty clear that is Xenofos.
She waves at him and nudges Manasa to pick up speed.
Couple of troopers rush between Varanis and the comer. The lone horseman starts to slow down gradually and waves back a greeting.
“That’s my cousin,” she tells them. “Let him through and give us space.”
A lane opens. Xenofos is patting his mount, telling it how good job it did. One can see that the horse has ran a fair bit. Rider has a grave expression despite his soothing words to the horse.
Varanis closes the distance between them. “Do you want someone to walk him for you while we talk?”
He nods and glances around. “A word in private if you please, milady.”
She dismounts and hands her reins to one of the Golden Racers. “Walk his horse. When it’s cooled down, make sure it is cared for properly. Please don’t unsaddle Manasa in case we need to ride out quickly. And watch for her teeth. She’s a biter. Actually, watch for her feet too. Just watch her. We’ll walk back to camp. Those of you staying to guard, please give us some space.” The orders are crisp. Courteous, yes, but with there’s no doubt she expects them to be obeyed.
Xenofos remains silent until the guards are some distance away. ” It seems there is bad blood, and trouble brewing, Varanis.”
“Spit it out, Xenofos. Tell me what you have learned. And where is Venlar?”
“Venlar’s horse started limping. He and guide follow are fine and following at walking pace. The village where man was cut is not far. Less then two hours ride. Even less when hurrying. They refused to let us in or even really talk with us. Venlar was called traitorous Gagarthi if I understood correctly. And we Esrolians would see the law brought on us. Not a concise argument I am afraid, milady, and quite rudely emphasized with thrown turds. Although their aim was rather poor.” Xenofos reports seriously.1 outlaws following foul wind Gagarth. Slur and insult.
Varanis bristles at the insult to Venlar, and then swears as she hears the rest of it.
“Tell me more about what you saw?”
“The gate of the village was closed when we approached. When Venlar told we wished to enter, they called him Gagarthi and traitor because they saw his company and told we would not have even the lowest hospitality from them.” Xenofos closes his eyes ” There were several people on the parapet shouting and no clear spokesperson. There were shouts of law and justice. Some slurs on Esrolians in general. Venlar tried to reason with them, but then they started throwing turds.. So we rode off at good pace. Then Venlar’s horse started limping and we agreed I would ride forward to report and they would following at walking pace.”
Up on the field troops have divided into the units and have spread out in preparation for exercises. Most seem to be doing alright, except the slingers who are just milling about.
Kesten is over there with Nersteva trying to sort out why they are not getting anywhere.
Varanis signals one of the Golden Racers to circle close.
Man rides closer, with Aranda closing in at the same time.
“You, tell whoever is in charger of the slingers to get them setting up targets for all projectile weapon types. Tell them to be creative if need be.” To Aranda she says, “I’m going to need someone to ride out to find Venlar and get him back safely and I’m going to need whichever members of senior command we can get free.”
The man salutes and looks around. Aranda blushes.
“Err, nothing. I’ll get the word to the commander of the slingers” Aranda answers.
“But I need you to get me the senior command, which includes you. Delegate. Every unit should have a second, so that if something happens to their primary or if they are needed elsewhere, then the unit isn’t left flailing. We need some of the senior command left to keep an eye on everyone, but I want those with competent seconds to put their seconds in charge and join me. Do you know the troops well enough to make that happen?”
Aranda nods. “I will make that happen.” For some reason her ears are red and expression a bit angry.
“Excellent. I knew I could count on you, Aranda.”
“You, what is your name. Ride to the slingers and take command – you heard what lady Varanis wants to happen there.” Aranda barks to the Racer.
When the Racer rides off, Varanis quietly murmurs to Aranda, “Learn his name and then tell me, so I know it too.”
Aranda nods and rushes off on her horse.
Varanis and Xenofos see Aranda rush to the banner and hop onto the same rock Varanis was speaking from.
To Xenofos, she says quietly, “This is an utter fucking mess. It took them hours to organize this morning and in all that time, I’m guessing they completely failed to assign seconds. And I have to deal with the Babeester Gor.”
Worried and exasperated, she grumbles, “Who the fuck let them out of their Temples?”
With loud yelling Aranda commands all the commanders to assemble. Gesturing towards Varanis she explains and yells commands. Kesten seems to have opinions but Aranda shouts him down.
“Did you instruct them?” Xenofos asks quietly.
“I told them to set-up sub units and to assign commanders to them. It’s a commander’s job to select her second. Do you not do this in the Greens?”
“I was never in command, cousin.” Scholar says.
“You don’t have to be in command to know how command structure works!” Her cheeks are flushed and her voice is just a little too loud. “This is basic!”
“Commanders and their deputies were chosen by vote.” He shrugs. “It was more of a formality though. We kind of grew to know who is in command.”
After a while commanders disperse and Kesten starts walking briskly towards Varanis and Xenofos.
After a while commanders disperse and Kesten starts walking briskly towards Varanis and Xenofos
She acknowledges Kesten. “Trouble afoot.”
“Yes, the commander of the slingers told as much.”He looks back “So we are assigning people to take over right now. It is a bit hasty since groups have not done anything as these groups and leaders do not know them yet. But if the same people also have the commanders baton in turn, they would need deputies anyway…”
“Exactly. As I feared, the injury caused by Varaneva is a problem. I’ll need Venlar as soon as he returns back to camp, as I need advice on Orlanthi law. In the meantime, there are other things that we need to do.”
“I’ll send a couple of riders, with a spare horse .” He looks back “She left her unit without orders… But I digress, what do you want done now?”
“At the moment, I don’t know if we’re going to be facing a legal complaint or a raid. Venlar might know the likelihood of either. But we should prepare for the possibility of a punitive raid. I want watches increased. The troops should be kept busy, but the activities I had planned need to be eased up. We cannot push them to exhaustion in case we need to move quickly. So, target competition for all missile types. Get someone to track scores. The best of the best can show me their skills. Perhaps top 3 of bow, javelin, axe, and sling.”
She goes on to list a few similar kinds of activities for infantry and cavalry. Nothing too strenuous, but things that give people a chance to show off a little and to identify the most skilled among the troops. “A couple of hours or so. But, before the next meal, I want camps tidied. I noticed that people are not caring for their kit, bones are left too close to campfires; it’s a mess. They’ll attract vermin, but worse, they’ll trip over their own crap in a mad dash to find their weapons if we are attacked at night. Tell them I’ll be circulating again and this is a chance to impress me, if you think that’ll work. Or drop a few hints about how much tidiness matters to me. And get me the rest of the commanders, so that I can reiterate this.”
Xenofos keeps his face carefully neutral when hearing Varanis praise tidiness.
Kesten nods. “Not many people using bows, but we’ll get some kind of butt for them too. And we are not leaving the camp, so all the commanders can attend?”
Varanis nods. “Good.”
Kesten leaves to arrange Varanis’ bidding. With the result that the twelve eventually gather up, with Lenta casually happening to be around.
“Xenofos, please tell them what you told me.” She glances around the group, pausing on Varaneva, then adds, “No interruptions from anyone while he explains.”
“The gate of the village was closed when we approached. When Venlar told we wished to enter, they called him Gagarthi and traitor because they saw his company and told we would not have even the lowest hospitality from them.” Xenofos looks towards Swenston road ” There were several people on the parapet shouting and no clear spokesperson. There were shouts of law and justice. Some slurs on Esrolians in general. Venlar tried to reason with them, but then they started throwing turds.. So, seeing they would not be interested in talking we rode away. Venlar’s horse started to limp after a while, so he and Taros come at walking pace.”
When he is done, she adds what she told Kesten about the possibility of a raid or legal claim and that she needs to hear from Venlar, as he is her advisor on local matters. She explains about wanting the guards doubled for the time being. “Do you have enough money to cover that man’s ransom, Varaneva?”
Before the Babeester Gor can protest, Varanis adds, “I know he struck first, but given you were forcing him to sell something he didn’t want to sell, the Sartarite courts may not agree with you. In some people’s eyes, this group’s actions that day may be understood as theft. I need to know what our options are.”
“I do not much care what a Sartarite court’s opinion on a matter is. The man is lucky he is alive.” Varaneva says smiling calmly “Do you wish me to pay his ransom?” There is slight emphasis on the word wish.
“Only if we have to. And if you’re here to serve Sartar against the Lunars, then you’d bloody well better care what the Sartarite court rules. But what I want to know is if you can if called on to do, or if I will need to pay for you.” The look she directs at the axe warrior is cool.
Axe warrior looks calmly back and answers in friendly tone “I am here to fight alongside Sartar not to serve it. And you will not need worry about paying for me. ” She looks at her silver armrings.
There is some approving nodding at the Axesisters words.
“So be it. We’ll see how things play out.” She moves on instantly. “Now, I can’t wear the troops out the way I’d intended, as I need them to be ready if something happens. But we’ll keep them busy so you can get a real sense of who is useful to you in which capacities. You all need seconds. You might want to try a few people out in that role before you settle it. Or you can just pick one. Use your judgement. Camps must be clean so we can move out in an instant, if called to do so. Tomorrow, if all goes well, we’ll run a few rounds of snag the spear.” The Vingans will recognise this as a competitive game that pits units against each other. It can last for days, depending on the set up, and relies on clever tactics rather than open field combat. Minor injuries are not uncommon.
News of peasants being restless comes to the camp. Varanis is getting desperate on her new troops organization-
- 1outlaws following foul wind Gagarth. Slur and insult.