Public — Preparation For Divination
Esrolian camp after waterdays events [[[s02:session-44|Session 44]]]
After finishing the meal, Varanis and Venlar have a private conversation ending with them going off in different directions. Varanis seeks out the Vingans first.
On finding them, she explains that she is planning to attempt a divination and is looking for Orlanthi guards. She wants to know who the other Orlanthi in the unit are.
There is short awkward silence, followed by a snigger from Aranda. She does not have time to speak up before Sorala answers quietly. “Not quite sure, to be honest. Hofhrai? How many would you need? I can try to find out.”
Aranda finds herself the recipient of a disapproving frown, before Varanis tells Sorala, “A few? One or two Vingans and then perhaps two other Orlanthi. But, it would be good to have replacements available. Sometimes, when the gods take me, I am gone a long time.”
Aranda pouts as Sorala sets out to search a few more Orlanthi. She returns shortly with four men, Hofhrai and three young men who look like they are city lads from Nochets less affluent quarters.
Varanis explains that she’ll be doing a ritual that is likely to last several hours. She needs to know if any of them have identified a good vantage point from which to look over the camp. She also asks if they would be willing to set up a guard rotation between them. “I probably only need a couple of people at a time, but as I told Sorala, sometimes the gods take me for longer than anticipated and it would be good to be able to rotate the guards if this happens.”
There is nodding and rather broad grins. The scruffiest looking of the lot says he thinks he thinks he knows just a spot – on a rock outcropping, over the old stead and the springs.
“Perfect. Lord Venlar will be coming with us. He’s going to sanctify the space.” She turns to Aranda and Sorala. “Do either of you have a steady hand with rune painting and woad?”
Both nod. Aranda quickly and eagerly, Sorala a bit hesitantly and raising an eyebrow, with a sideward glance towards Aranda.
“Aranda, my woad pot is with my belongings, and Venlar has brushes. I’m not entirely sure if he will share them, as I haven’t asked. So, for now, please ask him to show you my woad and my own brushes and let him know that we have a location chosen. Be polite, or you will displease me. That man is important to my family and one of the people I count on most.”(
Aranda gives a smile with pride in the lift of it, bows a farewell, and goes to do just that. Venlar is easily spotted, over by a fire, talking earnestly. He stands as Aranda approaches, and at least from a distance it does not seem like there is any problem.
When Aranda is out of earshot, Varanis says to Sorala, “Concerns?”
Sorala’s hesitation is polite, rather than genuine. “Aranda gets enthusiastic. Mostly we’ve been doing make-up for each other, when we have to, and… nobody wants her fingers in their eyes. Or their kohl.” There is a wry twist of the face, a very Nochet way of saying ‘bless her heart but avoid her help’.
“And you or the others?”
“I’m alright, I suppose? I can do my own with a mirror, but we don’t have anyone who’s really good at that. We didn’t really bring servants.” Sorala says it lightly, as if she is used to slumming it, but her hair could do with rebraiding.
“Hmmm… Venlar could do it, if one of you could sanctify the space instead?”
Venlar and Aranda are strolling over towards the tent, casually. Sorala looks over that way and says, “Maybe that would be for the best.”
“Can Aranda sanctify the space, do you think? It would give her something important to do, which I believe she needs.”
Sorala says cautiously, “I think we are all well prepared, as far as magic goes. We thought it was best not to use too much before we came here.”
Varanis shakes her head. “Sorala, I need you to tell me what you think openly. I need to trust you to speak plainly, not to tell me what you think I want to hear. Can you do that for me?”
Sorala slumps a little. “I don’t know,” she says. “Obviously, she’ll know the spell, but not all of us have been able to worship like we wanted, and we haven’t had a leader, so it’s hard to say how strong anyone’s connection to Vinga is. Mine’s good, but I think I’m like a lot of people. I’ll want it for flying. Not that I won’t sanctify a place, but nobody’s really kept track or said. Why would you?”
“Ok. Not to worry. Then, we’ll stick with the plan for Venlar to do it. You’re going to do my face. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Trace over the runes that are there. I want a fair bit of coverage, so Aranda can do my back. Again, it doesn’t need to be perfect. What I’m after is the effects of the woad to connect me to the gods. You, or one of the other Vingans can give me more runes on the front of my body. Does that work?”
“We can do that,” Sorala says with a nod. “Oh dear… I hope Venlar isn’t explaining too much to Aranda. She can get frustrated with that.” The pair have not yet come out of the tent.
“They may also be having a hard time finding things. I’m not always the tidiest of people,” Varanis admits.
Sorala waits politely, and not long later, Venlar is back with Aranda. He is carrying brushes, she has brushes and the pot of woad, and some oil for mixing the powder. They seem to be getting along well, in that Aranda is doing the talking, and there is no shouting.1 she is beaming, Venlar critted his charm Venlar gives Varanis a nod of the head, rather than a bow.
Varanis waves the Orlanthi over again to confirm which of them will be taking the first guard shift. She suggests that they and Venlar go up to the chosen location now, so Venlar can begin the sanctification ritual. When he is nearly ready, one of the Orlanthi can return to guide her to the location. Yelm’s light is fading fast now, which means the Vingans are likely going to need to work outside and near a fire to paint the runes.
Varanis asks if they can use the fire where the Vingans have camped together. This means that the others can aid with song too.
… It takes perhaps half an hour to have the place found, agreed with, encircled with guards, and prepared. Venlar spends time in prayer there, calling on the Air to make it holy, and telling the space what it will be used for. He stays, meditating, until Varanis is ready.
Drumming continues echoing from the Babeester Gor fireplace. From somewhere else a sound of kithara can be heard.2 “lament of Dormal’s wife” as it happens
At the Vingans’ fire, Varanis strips, leaving only Kallyr’s arm-ring, and asking Aranda to be the one responsible for protecting her armour for the duration of the night. It is possible that Varanis will need recovery time before she can collect it again. 3 why Aranda does not look entirely happy about this position is trust is open to question
Then she offers them the woad pot and asks them all to take a turn in painting the runes. Her wish is to cover as much of her body as possible with the woad.
Painting happens, in various degrees of enthusiasm and skill; most is recognisable, although it does not all go together as a harmonious whole. Nevertheless, it ends with Varanis as blue as Orlanth should be, with everyone having had a turn.
Through it all, Varanis controls her breathing, bringing it into alignment with the meditative patterns she learned in Vinga’s temple. She grows more and more distant from the people around her.
When her escort arrives, she asks Sorala to accompany her. She strides boldly through the camp, the sword in her hand as naked as her body. Her gaze seems to be focused on something beyond what is immediately in front of her.
At the Temple – an outcropping that is up a short path of scree and tough grasses – there are a few sober-looking Orlanthi, who give way in silence to the escort, and then a space that glows a little in the darkness, a soft orange light, that is visible, but makes nothing else lighter; just a suggestion of edges and a spiral within.
Varanis acknowledges them silently, then steps into the space, following the spiral as she steps through one of Vinga’s sword dances. What follows is a long period of dance, song, prayer and meditation. At last, she sinks to her knees, places her sword before her, then reaches her arms skyward, toward Orlanth. The preparations are complete.
Varanis’ preparations for the divination.
- 1she is beaming, Venlar critted his charm
- 2“lament of Dormal’s wife” as it happens
- 3why Aranda does not look entirely happy about this position is trust is open to question