Meeting At The White Grape

Public — Meeting At The White Grape

????, Fire Season, Season/Movement Week


Context

Fire Season/Movement Week/ Wildday/Wildday eve [[[s02 :session-44|Session 44]]]

Events

Shortly before Yelm sets, Berra is up at the Palace, in her bronze armour, ready to guard Varanis on the way down.

Xenofos has spent the day as Varanis guard at the palace.

Varanis, Xenofos, and Berra arrive at the Grape where Rondrik makes sure there’s a table big enough for the group. His expression when Varanis tells him that she won’t be taking up residence this time is hard to read.

Rajar asks him to bring the barrel over.

Berra sighs. “And a cup for me. If it doesn’t have vegetables in it.” She may still be holding a grudge, but from the sound of it, she is more likely just making sure.

The inn keeper brings over a barrel and plenty of cups. “No vegetables,” he assures the Humakti. He asks Varanis if she would prefer wine and she shakes her head. “Beer is fine, Rondrik. Everyone knows you serve the best beer in Boldhome.”

Berra gives Rondrik a grin. “If I ever have to give up perry, there’s going to be a few bad days.” She takes up the smallest cup, and holds it for Rajar to pour.

Rajar takes a jug, fills it and pours beer for everyone.
Then fills his tankard from the barrel…

He sits down next to it and drapes an arm round it like an old lover

Berra sips, politely. Now the moment of politeness to Rondrik is over she looks very, very thoughtful.

“You staying up at your temple, big man?” Varanis asks the Storm Bull.

“depends on how much I drink. But probably. Its good to catch up with the lads”

The Vingan grins at him. “Yeah, I don’t relish taking the palace stairs daily and definitely not while drunk.”

The stairs to the Stormbull temple are many reflects the plains dweller (who failed his con roll to the Palace)

“It’s really useful to know magic at about eight-hundred,” Berra says.

A few moments later, Berra splutters her beer, with a look of horror. “Oh hell. He said he’d teach me to swim…”

“you’ve lived a good life” comments Rajar who associates being immersed in water as death. Often by salt and teeth.

She stares at Rajar. “You’re going picnics to watch, aren’t you?”

“you lived a good life. Its an exotic way to die”

“I think he’ll have more use for me than that. But I asked him about being a duck and he said ‘sort of’. And apparently learning to swim is very cold. And it’ll be Earth Season soon. And apparently he’s not my father now. I asked him that.” Berra recovers from remembered horror quickly, at least.

“I’ll stay out of the water and just watch from the river bank,” Varanis promises.

“That’s good. I mean that teeth meat thing would need explaining” nods Rajar.

Berra gives Varanis a flat look, and then bursts into laughter. “Yeah. But he didn’t answer whether he’d be a human if I gave him hair, so I’m going to guess not.” There is a small shudder from the Humakti.

“Maybe if we nailed it to his head” Rajar says philosophically ” Maybe if we nailed a feather to Erils head?”

“You first, big man,” Berra replies.

“Swimming is not that hard” Xenofos notes, ignoring the difference in temperature of mountain creeks and Esrolian ponds.

Rajar looks thoughtful. Like a man who has a new notion but has never considered failure

Berra says darkly, “We get snow-melt here even in the summer. And by the time I have time it’ll probably be Earth Season. And I KNOW how cold it is. Normally I don’t stay in long when I’m purifying myself. It hurts.”

“I’ll enjoy watching you triumph over adverserity” promises Rajar.
Who is planning a pit bbq and beer drowning party

“Having you cheering me on when I was running up the steps made me… sort of happy that at least you were sometimes getting rained on too?” The Humakti’s smile creeps back. “So. I’m only a duck a bit. But I need to get back to the Temple tonight so I can make sure I speak to Lord Eril. Lord D’Val says there are two-hundred mixed cavalry and infantry, no veterans. So we need officers. Me… you, Xenofos. And you, Rajar. Probably. And if there are a lot of women, then Nala. But the best officers come from the Temple.”

Xenofos seems to be having trouble with his beer.

Varanis adds, “I’m worried about feeding them.”

“I could take them all north to snake pipe….” Rajar suggests.

“That’s one of the things I’ll be talking to Lord Eril about.” Berra looks thoughtful, like there is a plan somewhere inside. “But it might need the Earth Temple too. I’m hoping I can get him to release resources, but it could be that it needs the Earth Mother. “They’re going to need more than just food, so it’ll cost probably forty Lunars a day.” She gives Rajar the sort of dark look she often gives him, when he is funny but also slightly serious.

Varanis blanches.

“Hmmm. Best officers come from the temple, but do they understand horses? I have heard they are a bit rigidly set on relying the shieldwall and their spears.”says Xenofos.1 Ofcourse referring yo famed Templars of Yelmalio

“Yeah, there are even people who know which end you put the oats into,” Berra tells Xenofos, and then says, “I can cover the Regiment cost for three weeks, but if I do, I’d prefer it to be through the Temple, because then Lord Eril gets credit. If he will.”

The Vingan looks startled at Berra’s announcement. “Three weeks? But…”

“I’ve got things that I had reserved. And if we have to, we can ask for the clan to send a bit of what they owe me, but I’d prefer to only ask for fifty from them. That will get us food and portage, and probably a few lay members of Humakt, but it doesn’t cover warriors who have been around. My hire-out fee’s about seven Lunars a day.” Berra is casual about that, like it’s a known fact that she brings in money for her Temple by being violent. “But we’re nearly into Earth Season, so when that happens we can honourably send them home, and if they’ve been able to at least see action from a distance, they’ll probably tell good stories about you.”

“How far off are the Lunars? A mixed force like this could be a useful raid ” muses Rajar. “They should be blooded”

“I still don’t understand how…” Varanis flushes. “I could manage a week and that would leave me entirely reliant on the hospitality of others for the year.”

“Nobody who is close enough,” Berra says, “And that’s the other reason I really need to talk to Lord Eril. We’re going to need to get them out of here, and we’ll need a soft target, and unless you know a lot about what’s in Prax right now, it’ll have to be Heortland, or most likely up towards Alda Chur, with support. It’s a decent size of force, but it’s totally green.” Berra gives Varanis a glance, and a grin. “Later.”

Still stuck on the issue of funding, Varanis muses, “I could ask Irillo to sell my jewellery…”

“Are there Lunars in Heortland?” Xenofos asks.”Or indeed in Prax?”

“Totally green has its uses” Rajar imitates taking a javalin “but they are fresh and keen and an unknown regiment. That means that they will be treated with respect. A patrol on troll lands or the chaos grounds need not end in doom”

“No, but there are other targets. We could stir up the Wasp’s Nest.” Berra shrugs. “But probably North.” And then she turns back to Rajar. “I figure we divide them into light and heavy cavalry. Varanis tells them that the heavy cavalry’s under you, the light cavalry’s under Lord Xenofos. And I take the infantry, but I’ll need someone to help with that, either where I should be in the line, or where I should be at the back, advising her commands.”

Berra, it seems, has moved on from funding.

“I have never commanded a troop in my life, Berra.” Xenofos protests.

“I have,” and now Varanis looks grim. “Fuck. I have and I told myself never again. I guess I was wrong.”

“And?” Berra looks at Xenofos. “I hope you learn fast, because you’re going to need to. But you have more experience than all of them, and scouting’s… well, you get to be the one trying to hold back the cav, if you’re not careful, but you’re the one who knows it best, and you get to learn fast. We can find you someone to help, again, but it should be people central to Varanis who are the faces. Otherwise, they’ll be trying to do their own thing.”

Xenofos shakes his head slowly. “We don’t really know who is out there. Better not share commands until we do.”

“This is the Hero Wars. None of us will live. How many enemies we pile up as our grave guard is the thing. How many foes we kill in far off lands away from our kin. Apologies Berra I know this is your land. Your kinsfolk road. Road North to slay foes and if needed die glorious deaths. We can give them that at least.” says Rajar

“No. Because ‘no veterans’ means nobody out there is as good as us. They just think they are. So we need to know what we’re doing, so they adopt us. If Varanis decides – if we decide and she takes that advice – then we can change that, but we go in ready. Anyone they THINK is in charge gets to be under us.” Berra explains it like it is not worth thinking about. Rajar gets a nod to the apology, like Berra understands it

“If they argue duel them” says Rajar

Berra might have thought that through, or might just be playing the volley. “If they argue, Varanis sends them home in disgrace. That gets us more supplies for those who stay, and strengthens her.

“Never leave an enemy alive. You disgrace them, they are your foe” Rajar bellows. “I mean officers not rank and file.”

“Easy, Rajar. Not the same as in Prax.” Berra holds up a hand to him, in a calming gesture. “But yeah, maybe. If Varanis can’t handle them. Killing them, though? They’re from Esrolia. You’ll scare the rest so they’ll start resenting us, and that’s bad. They’re not used to war.”

“They’ll learn.” Rajar says

“They’ll desert, fight badly, and shame Varanis. Don’t kill them – let her be the one to persuade.” Berra seems to have forgotten the actual presence of Varanis at the table.

“They have come this far inspired by her words. Why would they not go further. But I doubt threats are the way.” Xenofos says. “They need to hear words from Varanis.” and he looks at his cousin.

Berra nods, and looks at Varanis too.

“Yes. I need to speak to Tennebris, but as soon as possible after that we should go visit them.” She looks thoughtful. “I’ll need to be in Boldhome on Godday. That’s twos days from now. Berra, can we get there, assess them, and back in time? Probably not…” Varanis frowns. “Is it bad to make them wait a little longer?”

“Godday for what?” Berra looks calculating.

“It’s the Orlanth Rex High Holy Day. I have temple obligations.”

Berra thinks. “More important than the Regiment, I guess… I was hoping to set off tomorrow, early.”

“We could set off now?” Xenofos looks a bit haggard when giving the suggestion.

“No, we’d be destroying animals, it’s almost dark, and we need to know what we’re telling them about resupply. Whoever did that – whoever sent them out there – didn’t know exactly when they’d be coming back. So for now, they might be hungry, but they’re not going to be starving.” Berra shrugs.

Varanis, who had brightened at her cousin’s suggestion, deflates, muttering a choice curse or two. “You’re right, Berra. I hate to suggest this, but the three of you and any of the other Praxians could ride out tomorrow to investigate. Just, put Xenofos at the head, as they should recognize him.”

Berra considers that. “Yeah… I want to see them as soon as possible. I guess even without you.”

“Early tomorrow morning?”SCholar answers

“Yeah. That’s probably when I’ll be able to get time with Lord Eril. Meet outside my Temple?” Berra drums her fingers, and then looks to Varanis. “There’s one more thing. I’d like to be able to offer something of value. Can I have the offer of that iron staff? Or at least, the iron on it? It should probably go to the Iron Lord anyhow, or his care, even if it goes to someone else, but if I need to use it to get generosity from the temple, I’d like to have it.”

Varanis nods. “Yes, definitely.”

Berra nods. “I’ll get it back to you if I don’t have to use it. I’m hoping I don’t have to.”

“I was planning to donate it to one of the temples anyway. It was the best thing I could think to do with it.” Varanis says.

Berra blinks. “Uh…”

Varanis shrugs. “It’s not like any of us use a staff and the gods are owed their due.”(muokattu)

“It’s iron.” Berra looks astounded. “That’s… look, sell it to a Temple. The gods get their due and you get the money. And it’s got a crystal in it. But the Iron Lord should see iron – he’ll know if it’s… he’ll know how to treat it.”

“Trade it to your temple for their aid then. Talk to Irillo if need be. But get whatever resources you can. Then it’s a trade and they aren’t doing us a favour.”

“That’s…” Berra sighs. “That’s what the money was going to be for. The favour was – is – in putting us above other people who might buy food as well, when there’s a Temple dedicated to war, and a war on. But I think the staff makes it easier. Only if you ever want to give iron away – I’m going to say maybe that’s a thing you should give to warriors around you.”

Xenofos looks at his beer with a quiet smile.2 Berra : IRON!

Varanis nods. “I’ll keep that in mind should I ever find iron in my possession again.” She thinks a moment, then says, “Ok, here’s what I want. Tell me if you think I’m wrong. Tomorrow, you lot go inspect the regiment. See what’s there and assess their needs. Take as many days as you need to. When you get back, we can talk to Irillo to get advice about how best to use the staff in negotiation. Then we can decide if we trade it directly to your temple, or sell it to them and use the money to buy supplies. Hopefully, by that point, we’ll have a better idea about what to do with them and we’ll return with supplies and orders.”

“So we ride tomorrow to see if those soft earth landers can fight? I best be hungover.” Rajar says

“Is there a message you wish to tell those who are there? Or do you just want information at this point?” Xenofos asks.

“I’m going to talk to Lord Eril, hopefully tomorrow morning, and find out what the current supply is. Who’s sending, right now, what do they have with them? Someone – probably him and Tennebris – put them out there. I was going to ask about the Temple supplying them then, but if you’d prefer to wait, I won’t.” Berra looks into her beer.

“Do we watch or take charge? The skald makes sense with a good question.”
Rajar refills the jug and offers all more beer

Berra takes more beer.

“Yes, Xenofos, but let me think on it.” To Berra, she says, “Is it better to ask before you go? If so, do it.”

A nod from the Humakti. “If I think it’s best, I will.”

On seeing Suuraki enter the inn, Varanis waves him over. “Food and beer, Praxian. You just have to wrestle Rajar to get at the beer.”

Rajar smiles and calls out joyfully in Praxin “we decide who dies. Come there is drink and food and the soft ones worry about who lives and dies”

Xenofos leans back, takes out his kithara and plays Esrolian mariners’ song.

Varanis closes her eyes. Something about her expression suggests that she’s either thinking really hard or feeling ill. Possibly both.

Suurakibwanders over to eat and drink «Are we killing people?»

Berra asks, «What was ask?» with polite blankness. Where a moment ago she looked ready to move, now she looks committed to being in this conversation. Resigned, even.

As Suuraki comes over, Rondrik takes the hint, bringing out bowls for them, small snacks, a roasted chicken for Rajar and a selection of small starters for everyone else. So, a selection of starters for everyone.

Varanis opens her eyes at the innkeeper’s approach, then closes them again when she has assessed the potential threats. She chews on her lip thoughtfully.

Suuraki repeats the question «deciding who dies»

Berra’s lips move, and she works through the grammar. «Raid probably on the end of Fire-Sky Season. Asking where Khans.»

«Whose khans? Prax? Here? Dragonewt? Lunar?»

«Sword Khan and Air Khan» Berra knows that one. «Khans say where. And how beef» Her grammar lets her down a little towards the end, and indeed in the middle.(muokattu)


<<Southern Children come north to fight for fire hair. So we must give them a place to fight. >> Rajar shouts.

Varanis finally opens her eyes again. “I think I know what to say. Xenofos, will you be able to remember if I tell you?” Then she looks at the Praxians. “Suuraki, are you and Valseena camped out? Or do you have somewhere else you are staying?”

Xenofos sets away his instrument. “Sure, I just write…” His hand stops after opening his writing kit and he stares at the table
He swallows and sighs “I’ll try. What do you want said?”

Berra gives Xenofos a look of sympathy.

Varanis opens her mouth to speak, hesitates, then shakes her head. “No. I can’t say that. I need to think. Stay here, while I have a word with Rondrik, please.”

Without waiting for a reply, the Vingan rises and makes her way over to the innkeeper. They talk for a moment and then he waves her up the stairs.

Berra starts eating seriously. No spices, but plenty of everything that is not veg. She looks hungrily at Rajar as she piles a bowl high, but is probably not thinking of him as food.

Xenofos looks after Varanis thoughtfully.

After that he eats. In moderation, enjoying the vegetables, looking at the bread thoughtfully.

Venlar, passing by, sees food and settles down to try to eat more than Rajar.

Berra suddenly blurts out, “Xenofos, you said that there were not many of the Greens present. Is this where they’ve gone?”

He shrugs. “Some Greens were unexpectedly absent. And the Elders of the unit did not know why.”

“Who?” Berra looks very interested suddenly. “How many? Did you know them?”

“I did not pay attention to the number. Enough to cause commotion.” he looks at little Humakti. “Nor names. It was Fireday, we were in kind of a hurry to leave, remember.”

“So, ‘some’. Any idea about ranks? Just… younger people? What would that mean? Any clue about level of training?” Berra reels in her excitement, manages to look polite.

He shrugs. “Trained horsemen. Know their weapons.”

“Are they likely to be a bit… upper-class? Think they know best?” Berra suggests. “I mean, I was thinking they’d be untrained.”

Xenofos looks at Berra with a quiet smile “Every man is a scion of noble clan of course. It is not cheap to serve on horseback.”

“Yeah, and I was figuring that, but these might be the ones who trouble, not the ones who are just useless.” She thinks about that briefly, and then adds, “Maybe I could have put that better.”

“If they are like lads I rode with, they can kill you as dead as any Humakti and die as dead too.” He shrugs. “And if they are here. But that is possible.

Berra nods. “We’ll, we’ll likely find out tomorrow. If you know any of them, let us know.” She shrugs like that is obvious.

After finishing his meal Xenofos looks at his kithara, but does not take it. With a quiet nod he slides quietly out of his seat and ascends the steps to the upper floor.

Varanis intercepts him as she comes down the stairs.

“You almost forgot to eat, Varanis.” He says quietly.

“I just needed to think a bit. C’mon. Let’s join the others.”

Xenofos follows Varanis to the table.

Venlar has overtaken Berra in the eating stakes, and is closing in on Rajar, despite the big man having a chicken’s headstart.

Varanis takes up her cup of beer again and has a sip. “I have decided what I want you to say for me, Xenofos. Are you ready to hear it?”

Xenofos nods.

Venlar leans back to listen.

She launches into a passionate and long-winded speech about honour and the glory of Kallyr and the Kings of Dragon Pass. She speaks of driving the Lunars out of Dragon Pass once and for all. She reminds them of the importance of working together and charges them to set aside their ideas about rank and birth and to instead learn from those with experience. The strength of this regiment comes from each warrior within it and it is their combined strength and skill that will make the regiment. She exhorts them to look around at their comrades and commit to bringing them home to their families. And finally, she promises to join them as soon as she is free to do so, but in the meantime, know that Berra, Xenofos, and Rajar (and any of the others who actually go) speak with her voice.3 special on orate

Venlar nods, like he is impressed and wants Varanis to know it.
Berra looks excited by the end of the speech.

Xenofos listens with his eyes closed with his lips moving as he memorizes her words.

Varanis repeats it back. Words may be changed ever so slightly here and there, but the content remains essentially the same.4 speech in esrolian

Xenofos nodsand repeats her closing line.

The second time around, Berra translates it into Trade Talk, for the Praxians present.5 Tom’s speculation on lewd translation errors lost in transcription


(( Berra’s translation to tradetalk will be loose: She is saying they should take our orders. And she’s mostly sure they will. ))

“You said before we should return to Boldhome and report to you?” Xenofos notes.

Varanis looks thoughtful. “How long will you be?”

Xenofos looks at Berra “Do you know how far it is?”

“A day, on bisons,” Berra says. “You can make it in less if you want to, but it’s hard. Tiwr and Serala have both done it quickly, but it’s a day’s ride.” She perks up. “We can show you where we saw the ghost.”

“So, three days, then?” Varanis asks.

“Do we need a whole day there? Arrive in the evening, start talks immediately. Continue in the morning, ride back on the second day?” Xenofos answers.


Varanis looks to Berra and Rajar.

“That seems to be possible” Rajar says.

“We could, but it would be better to take a day. If they look like they’re going to play spear-man to my banner-lady, then that’s good. But I’m going to be the woman there, and I’m not noble, so they might need a day in which they get used to us. The most important meeting is Varanis, though.” Berra seems to be working that through as she speaks.

“I’ll follow quickly then. When I finish up at the temple, I can ride out.” Varanis decides.

“I can always hit anyone who gets to out of line” Rajar assures.

Berra winces, and then points to Venlar. “Guard? And maybe another? You’ll need to look like you’re arriving with a retinue.”

“we have her skald and perhaps some papery stuff. They like that. Their Khan is coming. They will obey” Rajar says with confidence “I can always bring some of the lads.”

Varanis considers. “I could fly in. It would leave me drained, but would certainly make a statement. You’d need to bring one of my horses with you.”

“once you have them, what do you want to do with them?” Rajar asks.

“Well, the Storm Bulls are certainly… no, don’t fly. You’ll need to save your strength – we’re going to war.” So whatever Berra was saying about the Storm Bulls, she isn’t any more.

Xenofos looks thoughtful.

“you have a sword. What do you want to do with it?” Rajar repeats.

Berra looks to Rajar. “I’m meeting with Lord Eril tonight or tomorrow, I hope.”

“Assess it. Hone it. Then decide what it is useful for,” Varanis tells him.

“that makes sense” Rajar nods

Xenofos nods.

“I’m hoping that Eril can tell us where to point the regiment, so that we can test them,” Varanis adds.

Berra nods. “He’s not going to hold back – if he wants them, he’ll be using them properly. But that’s good, and he knows how not to break a unit.”

Then she adds, “Wants them for himself, I mean. I’m figuring that’s most likely to happen. That they’re part of a bigger force. But he might point us at a target to see how we go.”

“it will be glorious” Rajar muses.

“I haven’t fought in a big Regimental action since… maybe New Pavis? And then before that, Pennel Ford. You?” Berra grins at the big man.

“New Pavis. I was riding with the White Bull” says Rajar.

“I went in over the walls on the second day. It was easy by then. I mean, easier. Still sticky, in a lot of places.”

“I don’t recall most of it very well. Stormbull called to me and I followed”

“Aah, yes. And you lived. Most of what I did was held up a chunk of advance because I had a bad feeling about a street, but I don’t know what came of that. And then we acclaimed Argrath.”

“Berra, Venlar… I have a question for you both about local customs,” Varanis says as she skewers a piece of chicken on her knife.

Berra has finished her food and is working on one last cup of beer. She gives Varanis a glance.

Venlar pauses in trying to out-pace Rajar, wipes his mouth with a bit of cloth with the Runes embroidered on it, and says, “Ask, please.”

Berra continues to be glossy-lipped and bright-eyed.

“Will I cause offence to my host if I have a guard sleeping in the antechamber to my room?” the Vingan asks, glancing at Xenofos.

“It depends on the circumstances,” Venlar says, while Berra just looks mildly confused. The Lord goes on, “As a guard, yes. It is an insult. As a member of your band, to whom you are offering shelter, no. There are a few ways of declaring that, although the easiest is to have them either fully or ritually unarmoured.” Venlar, of course, has a sister who guards him.

“So, a peace knot on the sword could work,” Varanis muses thoughtfully. “And would not cause offence?”

“It probably will. If you have no reason to leave for a day, then wearing armour would be frowned on, because of the implication of readiness, but the simplest way to find out – and to inform your host – is to ask. The door guards will know, and be used to answering such questions.”

Berra watches Venlar, eyes narrowed slightly. She might be taking this in. She might just be lightly drunk.

“Well I do have the reason to leave in the morning. And I do not sleep in my armour.”Xenofos tells his beer. “So that should not be a problem.”

Varanis sighs, then concedes what was likely an argument begun much earlier. “Fine, Xenofos. Stay in the antechamber tonight and tomorrow I’ll ask the guards for guidance on the protocols.” Then she smiles at him. “Besides, I think I’d be lonely up at the palace by myself all the time.”

Venlar nods, approvingly.

Berra says, “You should get walked up the steps anyhow, probably. It sucks.”

“The advantage to this arrangement then is that no one has to walk down after and back up again in the morning.”

“That’s a lot of steps,” Berra says, but then she drains her cup. “I should get along to the Sword Temple.”

“Rondrik has been very generous with his food. Take some for the walk?” Varanis suggests, before taking a bite of roasted root vegetable. None of those for Berra.

Berra looks torn. “Nah. This is here-food. If you don’t finish it…” Now she looks confused, having run herself into logical difficulties. “It’s fine. I’ll have breakfast at the Temple anyhow.”

She gets a nod. “I don’t know if I’ll see you before you go then. Travel safely.” Then Varanis turns to Venlar. “Where are you and Mellia staying?”

“I was thinking not,” Berra says. “Early start and stuff.” But she seems happy enough that is facts about her assumption, not instructions or judgement.

Xenofos looks around “We’ll come by the Grape at dawn to pick up mounts and meet up here?”

“Here for tonight,” Venlar says, “But if we are staying long in town it will be at our Temples. I have no idea if my father will forgive me before I run out of money.”

“We were going to meet outside the Sword Temple,” Berra says. “Wasn’t that the plan?” She is already standing up.

To Venlar, Varanis says, “If you want, you could stay with me the next two nights. It would be crowded with both of you, but feasible.” 6Varanis doesn’t relish the idea, but the offer is sincere.

“Is your bison stabled there?” Xenofos asks Berra.

“Yeah,” Berra replies. “Of course. And I’ll probably only be able to talk to the High Sword in the morning. Until that happens or I’m told I’m not, I get to wait on him.”

Venlar looks about him, and up to where he left Mellia, without actually looking around enough to be sure of where he is. “I shall ask her. She will be the one most welcome.”

Xenofos shrugs. “So we pick you from there unless Eril declines to let you go.”

“Yeah. Probably a tiny bit after dawn, to give me time to get food and saddle a couple of bisons. Lord D’Val wants me to take his for exercise.” There is a brief pause. “Better remember the saddle so it doesn’t look like a meat animal.”

“We can discuss it in the morning,” Varanis tells Venlar. “She needs a good sleep. And I should be thinking about the trek back to the palace anyway. Yelm rises early.”

“I can walk you back there, if you like?” Berra volunteers then remembers the presence of Xenofos, glances at him, and adds, “Or not.”

“Three swords is better then two. But you would have to walk back alone little cousin.” Xenofos says.

“I won’t get lost,” Berra notes.

Varanis shrugs. “The choice is yours, my friend. I always welcome your company, but do not command it.”

“I’ll come with you,” Berra replies.

Pushing herself back from the table, Varanis rises. “Rajar, Suuraki, and Venlar, please do justice by Rondrik and fill your bellies. I’m away, back to the palace.”

Venlar looks at what is left, and at the others. “We can do this, as long as don’t order too much more.”

The Vingan says her farewells, checks that Berra and Xenofos are ready, and then waits for the Humakti to precede her through the door.

Berra does just that, with a spell, and a moment to listen. Short and graceful and deadly and gone.

====
Varanis discusses with others about the coming meeting with the volunteers.