Xenofos — Lankhor Mhy
????, Fire Season, Illusion Week
Fire Season, Illusion Week, Clayday. Venlar has invited Xenofos to his room to talk about music and filing systems. Xenofos correctly guesses this is not a ‘look at my etchings’ invitation. [[[s01:session-41|Session 41]]]
After the meal Xenofos sings Esrolian drinking song of gathering under a roof in foreign land with a refrain toasting the dead and next to die. For once he remembers words keeps the tune in his unschooled base. (Passed sing )
Afterwards he exchanges a few words with Venlar. Venlar is busy keeping the steading happy in his father’s sudden absence, but he’ll be very, very happy to pause to listen to and discuss music and voice. And even to ask if you want to visit his room, as he’s got a few questions on filing systems in libraries.
Xenofos talks of filing system in Great Library of Nochet, an image of Glorantha you see, but that is only a mental image to help you locate stuff and because world has changed there are places there that are no more like Spike, and places that were not there in the golden age like Boldhome.
In Sartar they seem to use tribe and clan of scribe lumping lots of stuff into outlanders category.
Music – for Xenofos it is mainly way of giving Air to poetry. Even though a good voice and melody can add dimensions to dull thoughts.But that goes way beyond his skills. Amidst meandering lecture Xenofos keeps his eyes and ears open.
Venlar is a strange combination of appealing and distant, obviously very smart but somehow mismatched with his body, so he constantly catches his sleeves on things, and his tilted desk is obviously set up for someone very clumsy, with the ink wells set into it, and neat partitions. It would be almost impossible to ruin a large amount of work. Yet, when he is the one talking, he is confident, and his hands do what he wants as part of a structured argument on why the Library system would be improved by filing according to story, not according to history, and he shows Xenofos a new sort of musical notation, which includes breathing notes as well as sounding notes. It’s his own private method, of course, just a thing he was working on…
He does not belong with Orlanth. He belongs safely kept in a Library with a good supply of food, clerks, and furniture without sharp edges.
That much seems clear, to Xenofos but does he himself does not say that. He has little air runes painted all over the white chalk-stucco of his room, and they are in the hennaed tattoos on his face as well. Up close he looks just like the fleeing Eril in the Heroquest, but with rather less arrogance and rather more facial scarring.
Being sage and priest of Orlanth are hard things to combine, but not unheard of Xenofos ponders.
He’s the son of a chief. He has plenty of money. Everything in his room is good quality, although some looks old.
“I must commend you for well rounded education. I would not have expected such learning here. Have you been schooled at the temple of Lhankor Mhy or has you father tutored you so well? ” asks the scholar.
“I was tutored,” he says, “Although the scribe stayed here for a few years. I was growing up, and I didn’t want to be away from my friends.” There is fierce loyalty there, like he is daring you to say anything about them.
“The scribe did well as far as I can see.”
Venlar smiles slightly, proud. “He had a lot of patience. I asked a lot of questions. Too much Air in me for sitting still and concentrating, when the wind is blowing outside.” He fiddles with a much-repaired wooden pen, fingers fussing over it in a way that indicates he’ll be breaking it again soon, entirely by accident.
“Air can be good to raise the spirit high. But Earth is needed to finish the thoughts, make them solid, visible and constant. But what do I know – mere dilettante stuck in gathering of sources like any amateur.” ending comes out with apologetic smile to counter the pedantic beginning.
“You would know, being a Scribe,” he says with a smile. “And much to be respected as a gatherer of law and secrets. Even customs may change, but the written word remains.” There is the fluid gesturing, the confident delivery, the wide difference between Venlar the man and Venlar the orator. Then he drops the pen.
“Who was this remarkable pedant, who taught you, I wonder if I’ve heard of his written works?”
“Hanglon Four-finger,” Venlar replies. “He had lost one on his left hand. So really he would have been Nine-finger.” Or digit. But words vary and pointing that out might be rude. “He mostly wrote on Locaem and Balmyr inter-relations as seen through political marriages. So he was not often employed to write, more often to teach.”
“Stories of power then, not a bad tutor for chiefs son in that respect either,” remarks the Esrolian remembering the alien patriarchal system of power and inheritance.
“Yes. Within our confederacy, and therefore ideal. Father is a clever man.” Venlar has managed to pick up the pen without any further problems, and he examines it, and then picks up a bit of sharp flint from its place in his desk to reshape the end. “Chipped, but not badly,” he tells Xenofos.
“Pens should be treated like swords, with care.” Xenofos sounds a bit absentminded as if reciting some old lesson.
“Swords should be treated like fine clothes,” replies Venlar, as if he has heard some similar lesson. “And never taken out without occasion.” The overlap of pens and swords holds no secret guilt for him, it seems.
Raised eyebrow. “Both swords and pens require practise though, unlike sartorial finery.”
Venlar gives you a grin. “I have seen some terrible fashions worn by people who should know better. Is that a counter-point, or am I supporting?”
Xenofos has seen badly dressed people, but has always taken that as sign of boorish lineage and lack of manners. That style requires practise is novel thought to one raised to it from toddler. “Might be both?”
“Oh, contextual argument. Do you know the Borleina School thinking on that?” He brightens up.
Borleina school sounds like something Xenofos should have heard if he wasn’t reading Deeds of Broyan or translations of Imperial dispatches at the time. It really should have been. No doubt it is on the tip of his tongue. Venlar looks hopeful.
“Not really my area of study. I suppose I was too immersed to other interests to get that deep in theoretic philosophy. Oratory, history that kind of things.” shrug of noble amateur, who would deem it quite impolite to show too keen diligence or workmanlike attitude to studies.
“Oh, yes. The world is too wide for one mind to hold it all, even if that mind is very grand. Yet we still keep trying. What history is your study?” Venlar is wide-eyed, interested in the interests of his guest. Xenofos has been offered a chair, of all things – luxurious in Sartar, a stool with a back. Venlar perches on his writing stool, at ease.
“The Wars or maybe I should say the War. And the Lunar empire by extension.” Some modicum of modesty refrain Xenofos mentioning his proposed title.
“Nothing small, then. It’s a good subject to read while the grey grows in your beard. But does the wideness of it not worry you?”
“It probably should if I was in any hurry to finish the tome and start jostling for position of a Sage.” Spoken again like a true gentleman scholar.
“Aah, right. Yes, my plan is to stay an initiate all my life, and support my brother. I hope that is his plan too.” Briefly, Venlar looks worried, and he turns to his desk to shift a few things, and manages to dislodge a sheaf of parchment.
“I have not planned that far, but for time being my service to thane Varanis takes precedence to my studies.”
The young man gets off the stool carefully, making sure not to risk anything else falling, and picks up the skins. “I’m very fortunate,” he says. “I’ll be able to study and stay home.” He stays away from the desk until he has tidied and squared the corners of the parchments, and then puts them down carefully.
“And what is your topic of study, if I may inquire?” Xenofos lives dangerously, asking a polite question of a scholar’s interests.
“Mostly I dabble – I find it hard to settle down, so I suppose Customs of Sartar and the Sambari People. I’m learning the laws as well as I can. I don’t have a study, but I have a goal, if that makes sense?” He gives a smile that is shy yet ambitious. Venlar is politely brief when talking with a guest.
“I can see practical use in those studies. And academic interest too.” Xenofos is sincerely impressed.
“Well, again, enjoying what I do as well as being good at is and useful is an ideal. If I can aspire to that, it’s a good ambition.”
“So indeed, if your duties permit that.”
“They demand it. I wonder sometimes if father arranged that too. He’s an alarmingly good politician, although he’s sworn off exile. He says it’s bad for him.”
“Pardon me, I don’t follow. Sworn off exile?” Heortling daunts Xenofos for a change.
“He was exiled by the Lunar Empire, when he was already chief. He helped to lead the Firebull rebellion, and there was a lot of politics. I was thirteen, I think. A distant cousin of his ruled, but stepped down when Silor returned. I never found out the full story.” Venlar sounds wistful over that. He adds, as he very carefully checks the levels in his inks, “It all happened in that order. He was not exiled because of leading a rebellion. He came back just after.”
“Intriguing.” Xenofos strokes his beard.
“I know. It’s probably a story I could get him to tell – only he’s gone out right now to what was the Firebull lands. I’m really not going to speculate without appropriate knowledge.” Venlar shrugs easily.
“Let me get timelines straight I get confused with all the rebellions in Sartar. That was the rebellion after which queen Leika was exiled, that would be 1615. Two years after Starbrow’s Revolt unless I am mistaken, and thirteen years after the fall of Boldhome.” This area is pretty close to Xenofos’ area of study, but Sartarite revolts are numerous and protagonists have confusingly similar in names.
“The Firebull Rebellion… Let me just grab that.” Venlar goes over to his neat set of shelving and whistles a tune while he looks up the year. “You are right,” he says, bent over a scroll put carefully on top of his other work. “I was being lazy. 1615 – I would have been twelve, now I think of it.”
(Xenofos notes that Venlar was born year next to the fall of Boldhome.
He is very careful with written scrolls, even more than the usual care he takes around his desk, and he rolls this one back up and puts it neatly into its slot, settling it in to be sure he does not break any edges on it. The effect stays with him as he walks back to his stool. With that level of care and control he looks a lot more like Eril, although the scar twists his profile. It is there in his body language for the first time.
“Nasty scar. Memory from battles after…. expelling Lunars and their allies? ” (Xenofos failed to say Dragonrise aloud.)
“This?” Venlar points to his face. “I was born so. Is it a problem?”
“Oh, pardon my tactlessness. Some scars carry histories of deeds their bearers like to tell.”
“In this case, no. Although I suppose it is the story of every birth, but we all carry that.” Venlar looks a bit flustered now, and reaches for his ink then thinks better of it. “Do you have any?”
“Scars? On my leg. Nothing glorious, just an annoyingly accurate arrow and fall from my horse in early part of battle at Pennel ford.”
“There is merit in having even survived that,” he says with a tiny smile. “But we are in danger of reminiscing like old men. We could go out into Yelm’s light and see if there is anything new to distract us.”
” ‘And youths already for grave are ready’ ” Xenofos cites an Esrolian poet and rises. “You should not underestimate old men’s tales as sources though. Once you subtract third or half of foes felled.”
“Your Humakti killed twelve bandits alone, and your Storm Bull felled eight scorpion-men,” Venlar notes with a smile. “I am certain I will hear of your deeds too, as the bards hear and tell.” He gets up, and nothing wobbles or falls over.
“Subtract quite a lot. Even though I have fought. I don’t think my spear or sword has actually killed anyone since I left Nochet with thane Vareena. Which to be honest I do not regret.”
“If you would protect, be both shield and sword,” Venlar says, which sounds like a quote from somewhere.
The two exit the chambers. Xenofos does not quite know what to think of his new acquaintance, except he is quite bright, quite affable and hauntingly reminiscent of Eril the High Sword.