Xenofos — Landowner
????, Earth Season
After the feasting at the Blue Tree Clan, Xenofos finds out what his rights and responsibilities are. [[[s01:session-29|Session 29]]]
Xenofos will approach Berra and ask her to be interpreter with Gis the lawgiver and the two cottars that work the lands his hides are on.
Berra is hard to find, but turns out to be halfway down a rocky slope, with a group of people all chattering away about horses. She is off a little to one side, half asleep, but she is not so sleepy she cannot be woken by a kick from one of the young man in the group. There is no venom in it – it’s just a tap on her armour, and she gets up and looks around and listens to what Xenofos says, and nods. “I can do that,” she says, “But there are people who know the words better than I do. Up until yesterday my sister was a cottar.”
“I would not bypass Gis the lawgiver, being a foreigner here and not versed in your bar… customs. “
Berra smiles thinly. “Of course not. But Yehna owes me a small child to hold anyhow.” She shrugs. “I’d take the generous farm-wifewho can cook as your guide, personally. What do you want to know?” She offers Xenofos the path back to the centre of the village, and takes the rocky scramble beside him.
“These renters have rights and obligations. I wish to talk with them and Gis so we all know what is expected of renter and the landlord. “
“Ah, right. That’s pretty easy, in fact.” Berra walks quickly, occasionally hopping from rock to rock of stepping in behind Xenofos for a while, never before. “But you’re right, you should hear it from him. Yehna’s Esrolian’s better than mine, I should add. Last chance for good cooking.” She’s either teasing, or in a mood to push him.
“I know you to follow the path of truth. But she seems to be a good person and if your kin I have no reason to doubt her either. If she would like relief of child holding and be bored with administrative work I would be grateful of her assistance.”
Berra grins. “Mostly, I want to steal Haran again,” she admits. “And Yehna will see you right. And she’s sharper than I am – she knows the questions to ask if Gis doesn’t. Although Gis will.” Berra shrugs complicatedly, with some hand waving. “We’ll go find who we find. If we find him first, it’ll be easier to do that.”
As it happens, Yehna gets found first, and greets Berra happily, and then after a little explanation she sighs at her sister and tells Xenofos in Esrolian, “Hello and welcome. I think my sister is right – she does not know some of the words, but she knows most of them, and Haran is one.” The small bundle gets handed over to a delighted Berra, who walks away with him with all the care in the world. The larger, curvier daughter of Jarang gives Xenofos a formal curtsey. “Would you like something to eat before we speak with Thane Gis?”
Xenofos is not hungry at all but feels such question might be more than about food. ” I would not like to impose on your resources. But I feel it would be imoplite to refuse your hospitality.”
“Oh, just a little then.” She gives him an appraising look up and down. “You need feeding up. Do you like vine leaves? I just made a pot because Berra loves them, and she can’t get them up here, you know? And she’ll go get the cottars, so we can all eat together, and feed Gis.” So yes, it is a question about more than food.
Xenofos stacks his shield and javelins ouside the door. He is unhelmeted today but otherwise in armour. “Thank you for your hospitality.”
Yehna says, “Oh, do bring that in in case of rain. Or put it under the eaves. We have places to hang it all on the walls, but Dostariag doesn’t have a shield, so there’s room.” She bustles into her house and there are delicious smells from the cauldron and a bread oven, and she slices some cheese, “Just in case anyone wants some,” and adds spices to perry that she will just warm up quickly… And by the time Gis arrives with two scrawny-looking farmers in tow, there is a table full of food, and Xenofos has already been told several times to help himself.
Xenofos has been waiting for Gis to arrive and rises when the older man arrives. ” Lawgiver Gis ” nod and nods to both cottars (( with names if he has been told them else “and I am afraid I did not quite catch your names?” ))
Yehna says, “Athri, Ternon. How wonderful to welcome you to my home,” thus covering any potential awkwardness. She switches between Esrolian and Heortling quickly and easily. “Please sit.” For Gis she pulls out the chair that is obviously her husband’s, and the lawgiver nods politely as he sits down, thanking her gravely. The cottars look a little lost until Yehna pulls out chairs for them too, and chivvies them into sitting down.
Waiting until all have eaten some – actually eating more than he intended for he has no clear memory of when he ate properly- Xenofos adresses the lawgiver “did Berra tell why I wanted to see you, Athri and Ternon?”
Yehna translates smoothly, and Gis nods, replying through her, “As is proper, you wish to know your duties and rights, that you may do one, and rely on the other. For the most part, these matters are very simple, if you are prepared to follow our ways.”
Yehna pours perry for everyone, including for herself. She has an Esrolian understanding of spices, although she has prepared other, plainer food for the cottars and Gis, just in case.
“It is so lawgiver, that is my wish. Though I am and remain Saiciae, not a member of Blue Tree clan, yet I am sworn man of Lady Varanis of your clan. SO in dealings with those of your clan working lands given to me I wish to follow your customs.”
“This is indeed good of you,” cedes Gis. “First, you should know that neither of these households bears any sword charge. Nobody within needs be a Thane or send any sword to battle outside the Tula, but if you accept the income, you accept you are providing two Fyrd members. These are Athri and Ternon, and if there is no objection to them serving in your place, I shall continue.”
“There are things here that are foreign to me. So did I understand correctly that if I accept their service Athri and Ternon will serve in arms – in the fyrd, but only within the tula?”
There is a brief discussion, and then Yehna explains, “A sword-man looks after his own equipment, and would be expected to be ready at any time. Here, you have spear-men, or in the case of Athri an axe. It is unlikely that they will march, but if the Tribe were called, they would. You don’t accept their service, though, except in your place. You’re accepting tenants. But I see where that would could be confusing. Service-in-your-place to the Clan and personal service. I’ll try to be more clear.” She takes her first sip of perry, and smiles in pleasure.
“Athri and Ternon – will you agree to serve in fyrd with your customary weapons in my place? “
The two of them nod, and Ternon smiles widely and says something about spears and battle. Yehna completes the understanding, “He says yes, and he has his own spears and javelins, and so battle will cost you nothing.”
“I thank you. Proceed good lawgiver.”
“Next, Athri is a rent-giver, but the holding on which Ternon lives must be visited by a Landlord or an agent to demand the rent. Should you fail in this, it is not paid. Any agent will do, but it must be within Earth Season each year, after the first harvest. Each of the farm will give up their surplus after the cottar and family have lived – usually after you have paid for items requires, this will cost about forty Lunars. Excess is yours, but they will not pay your land’s debts if the harvest fails. They will follow your instructions, or that of your agent, in planting, and in buying. In each case here, they own their clothes but not the contents of their houses, so you may wish to make an accounting and a list for checking. It is your duty to keep the houses in good order…” Yehna pauses, and says, “Sorry, good repair. This can be done, again, through an agent.”
Raised eyebrow at repair of cottages ” I see, proceed.”
Yehna says, “Both are currently well repaired, and your agent may wish to… quibble?” She tries out the word before she tells Gis to go on, and the old man speaks while she drinks perry. “There is a period of notice upon both of the lands. The cottars may leave if they find you new tenants, or a season after they have told you they intend to. You may find new tenants and give them half a season’s notice, and food that they would otherwise have earned in that part of the year. There is a tithe on the lands to Ernalda and Orlanth, of one part in five of the income received. This in your case would be after Athri and Ternon have tithed, and would be included in the prices.” Yehna then pauses to note, “I personally would expect about forty Lunars to come to you, before you make your tithe, on a well run farm.”
“I would hope that neither I nor Athri and Ternon will feel a need to terminate their dwelling. But is there more good lawgiver? “
“While the cottars are within their houses, you have no right of entry, for the dwelling walls are theirs to command, as is the door, but you have all the rights of hospitality that may be requested of them, as any other would.” Gis considers a bit longer, and Yehna prompts him with something, and he adds, “Rent can be paid in any reasonable way,” he says, “But usually, in grain and goods. It can be arranged to send it to Dangerford to sell, if you wish it in silver.”
“A mans cottage should be his castle – that is well and will be respected. There is still time to rent collection and we can talk of these things before that. Is there more good thane? “
Athri and Ternon are both trying to sneak food and be subtle about it, and Yehna is trying to sneak them food so they do not have to be subtle.
Gis thinks it through, and says, “There is nothing more. You may demand, but not command. That is that way of the Orlanthi, that they will not be forced to anything. Have you aught to say?”
“Thank you good lawgiver, for help you have given me. Athri and Ternon, will you rent these lands from me with these obligations? “
Yehna asks the question, and the men nod in relief, and happiness, and Athri raises a cup to his Landlord. Ternon quickly follows that up.
“To your health and prosperity. May Ernalda bless you and your crops.”
Yehna sits back on her stool, and says, “I think we got all that,” to Xenofos. She finally manages to get some food onto her plate.
“And to our fair hostess. May Ernalda continue to show her good will and you and yours. I stand in debt to you and good lawgiver. Thank you.”
Instantly, Yehna sits up to politely translate that for Gis. Somewhere in her past, she was probably trained in this.
Xenofos chats politely talking much without saying much until Gis leaves which he takes as signal to leave, repeating his thanks.
Yehna is a delighted, bubbly hostess, as unlike Berra in her mood as it is possible to be, but oddly like her in looks. She is happy to see Xenofos to the door, and insists on giving him a bundle of snacks to take with him wrapped up in woven grass, in case he does get hungry later.