The Merchant

Public — The Merchant

????, Fire Season, Season/Illusion Week


Context

Fire Season/Illusion Week/Waterday/ Afternoon in the Esrolian camp [[[s02:session-44|Session 44]]]

Events

Throughout the afternoon, Varanis carefully watches the warriors at their training and competitions. She praises those who cooperate well or take time to help a comrade more than she praises those who perform the best

When the troops are released back to their camps, Varanis gives them time to start on the clean up she requested before she begins to circulate again.

As Yelm drifts downwards, and Venlar considers the possibilities of using the tent to make a holy spiral for the ceremony, those watching towards Boldhome are troubled again. This time, there is a line of mules approaching.

Again a troop rides out to intercept them.

The merchant at their head gives a sign of peace, and a wide, welcoming smile, and asks if he has the permission of Varanis to enter the camp.

The guards look stoic, bored, and over-heated, and perhaps a little nervous.

One of the younger Babeester Gori asks Rajar if he would sell a small barrel of beer.

As soon as Varanis hears of the merchant, she’ll be on her way to welcome him.

He is a stolid-looking sort, broadly built, sinking to fat as he gets older, but in the way that says he is still walking routes regularly. He gives Varanis a hail with hand and voice together. “Thane, you do me honour in coming out yourself.”

Yes, Rajar would. The axemaiden thanks Rajar, gives him some coins and goes over to talk with the man doing the butchering.

“Welcome to the camp of the Esrolian Free Company. Lord Kesten is the commander today, but I think he will have no objection to me offering you hospitality.” Her greeting is courteous, coloured perhaps with a hint of hope.

“Of course. I have messages from the Humakti Berra for you, best heard in private,” he notes, but he waves the caravan to an edge of the camp, up towards the Boldhome end.

Kesten arrives a bit later and assures that he sees himself bound by words lady Varanis says for the Free company. He is looking at the mules with interest, as is Irillo, also present.

“Would you care to walk with me, or do you require rest and refreshment?”

“I believe I can walk with you, as there are certain matters which should be dealt with, and the grass will be refreshing after the hard road. I am Ensomern, merchant trader.”

Kesten and Irillo look at the two. “Perhaps we discuss possible trade later then, good trader. Milady.” And they leave her to deal with the merchant.

Varanis leaves Kesten and Irillo to help make sure the caravan is settled and not disturbed. With a small wave, she leads the trader towards the camp perimeter for their walk.1 ((If anyone robs that caravan, I will execute them myself.-V ))

Ensomern says, “First of all, lest I forget, this trifle, a token from her, although she insists you will know if it is a gift or a loan.” Underneath the polite surface he seems to know this is neither, but rather part of a dance of sorts. What he is offering, discreetly, is a purse.

Varanis accepts without comment beyond a simple, “Thank you.”2 after rolling Air and Act

“There are those items I believe you are expecting on the mules, and a few other things as well. The Humakti was in a state of unusual excitement, for a warrior.”

“She gets that way, sometimes. She was well when you saw her?”

“Yes, if in something of a hurry. She was looking into the rumours that were flying around the market.”

Varanis arches an eyebrow, inviting further comment, but not demanding it.

He looks nervous. “She guaranteed my ransom…” That is, he does not want to say the next bit.

Varanis sighs. “I would never blame the messenger and I have given you hospitality. I just need to know how bad it is. But I will not force you either. You are my guest, not in service to me.”

“She had heard that a Rune Lady of Babeester Gor is here – has killed ten men, including a thane…” He looks nervous, just saying that.

Varanis blinks. “What?”

“The market is unsure, lady. But Harmony is Harmony, and so here I am.”

“I see. Thank you for telling me. If it reassures you at all, to my knowledge, the only person that particular warrior has harmed since entering Sartar is a man who attacked her first. But she is going to Boldhome to face the accusations.”

She sighs again and glances up at the sky. “Is there anything else you think I ought to know?”

“I have a little food, but not much,” he says. “Mostly dried things that pack well. But if all goes according to good trading I could return…”

She nods. “We do need to buy food. It would be useful.”

“As I say, I did not bring more than a little, but it is all of the highest quality, including tallow-render, and imported beans and pulses.” Ensomem is definitely in sale mode now.

Varanis looks interested at the mention of beans and pulses.

“Given that much of this is wished for, and I am informed you have funds, shall we deal with that first?”

Varanis considers. “It’s true that we need food, but those aren’t ideal foods for us. It seems as though there are few cook pots in the camp.”3 Simple pass on bargaining


“These are some of the items that have been ordered, of course. I am glad you understand their importance…” He has the appropriate, correct, counter, and the position of being the only person here to make sales, but he also has a caravan full of items that he might not be able to sell if they are not bought by his one customer.4 Also a pass, so it’s going to be list price for things.

As he explains, walking slowly to give his guards time to settle, and get the burdens off the animals, Ensomem brought all he could from Berra’s list, and the Humakti let him know the general situation, so while he may not have guessed correctly at what to bring, he did make a few modest additions himself…

He looks, when he says that, like he is regretting a few things he did not think to bring, or was not briefed on.

Varanis is taking in everything he says, a pensive look on her face.

Varanis lists the things she would like to buy. It’s a close match to what he brought.

There is a price given, after a little totting up of figures on wax, to be sure that they both agree; he does not have the quantity of salt she wants, and what food he brought cannot be given for such a low price in these trying times… but of course between friends he could come a little lower if she would like to promise he will be given the same price next time, even if others come this way… And so on. Haggling turns to dickering, turns to agreeing on fine details, and then he offers his hand, and it is done.

“You, good trader, are welcome here at any time.”

It will take some time to organise unpacking and distributing, of course, but he seems happy with the dealing and the result.

Varanis is also pleased with her success, though she has yet to work out how to properly distribute everything. She decides to start by taking the butchery kit to the man who has been doing the butchery for the camp. En route, she spots @Rajar and waves him over. “Hey big man. Do you know how to smoke meat to preserve it?”

Rajar nods that he does. It takes him a little while to realise not everyone does.

“Think you could teach it to some of these city folks?” Varanis asks.

“Of course. It wont taste right without the Bison Crap but we’ll make do with wood”

“Excellent. I’m off to see the butcher. Come with me and you can talk to him about it.”

“maybe I can dry horse shit and that will work….”

“I’m sure that wood is fine too. Then there’s no need to dry anything before drying the meat? It’s Fire Season. There must be dry wood around. Unless animal dung is necessary to the process?” Varanis looks puzzled though she’s trying to mask it.

“Well it will work but it wont taste right….oh very well”

Together they find the butcher. Varanis gives him the additional tools she has acquired and suggests he consider training someone to help more. Then she tells him about the lack of salt and her suggestion that they smoke the meat. She leaves him and Rajar to discuss how to achieve that on a large scale.

Praxians are used to smoking lots of meat following a raid or come Dark Season.

Butcher shrugs. He likes having extra cleaver and he is of opinion that there are never too many knives. He knows the idea of smoking even though lack of salt makes the product less appealing. He does point out that cattle on hooves keeps fresh too, but if needed he will start smoke drying animals for future use.

Working with Lenta and some of the commanders, Varanis arranges to have cooking equipment shared out where it is needed most. The goal is to ensure that each group around the campfires has the basic tools to prepare their food. People are told that the items are on loan and thus create no debt for them.

There is some initial confusion among commanders, surprisingly and suspiciously quickly making way for agreement that this is an excellent idea. Among the fireplaces, already looking tidier there is simple gratitude expressed in broad peasant Esrolian. Or street talk in some cases.

“I’d like you to consider a quartermaster,” she tells the commanders when they sit down to eat. “Someone who can manage the food supply. Perhaps with an assistant or two. Hungry troops can’t fight and we can’t have people heading out on their own for supplies either. What if we need to move out quickly and people aren’t here?” She presents the idea as a suggestion, rather than giving orders. She seems to have changed her approach somewhat.

There is general consensus on the validity of the idea. There is also a marked lack of volunteers competing for the post.

Varanis — 27.04.2021
She points out that it doesn’t need to be one of them. Somebody trustworthy and with some organizational skills would be ideal.

Lenta nudges Varanis slightly. Without actually pointing at Irillo she does single him out.

“Think on it. It’s an important role. It’ll take someone bright and with a certain amount of confidence too.”

Irillo shifts uncomfortably. “You would need someone who understands amount of food people need every day. Jarste the Butcher could be the man as long you talk of meat probably, but he has his hands pretty full with actual butchering. And what the animals need. But that would not be Jarnste… Someone from the countryside, Haraldes maybe… And tools and whatnot, I don’t think we have any one woman or man who would know all that. “

“It doesn’t need to be one person. One to coordinate and oversee, perhaps. This would allow Jarste to keep doing his work, but also to share his information and ideas with the person responsible. Haraldes too. It needs to be someone who can respect the knowledge and experience of others. Who won’t make snap judgments based on bias.” Of course, Varanis wouldn’t possibly imply anything about people who aren’t here right now.

“Maybe someone who knows people and has a view on who to ask for what he does not?” Lenta asks Varanis.

“Yes, exactly. And the courage to ask too.”

Irillo looks from Varanis to Lenta and back. “That requires some careful thought would it be enough if I… if it is decided tomorrow.”

“Absolutely. While we need this soon, it’s best that whoever takes it on makes that decision for themselves. Which reminds me,” Varanis adds. “I did not mean to coerce anyone into travelling to Boldhome tomorrow. Varaneva must go and one of her axe sisters will accompany her. A witness can speak to what happened at that village, but going means putting yourself at risk of being charged too. As she is reporting to the Temple of Lankhor Mhy, I’m certain that they will be capable of ascertaining the truth, as she sees it. If any go with her, it should be entirely their decision, as it is their risk to take.”

There is nodding.

“You said it would be honourable and right” Esrolakar says and and nods. “But I will consider this.”

“I did and I realised that might unfairly compel people. Like any of us here, I am merely a human, trying to do the best that I can with what the gods have asked of me. I will always strive to do better than I did the day before.” Varanis gives Lenta little smile, acknowledging for the young Ernaldan that her earlier words were heard.

Sound of hand drum and singing in Earth tongue can be heard from a fireplace on the outskirt of the camp.

A young axe maiden approaches the fire where commanders are drinking and offers Varanis a cup. “Varaneva sends her greetings.”

Varanis looks at it curiously, but accepts. “Please return my gratitude to the warrior.”5 Erin: oh crap, oh crap… why don’t I have any BG lore? Wtf is happening now?

Liquid in small ceramic mug smells of beer – and something slightly sweet and salty. Seems to be a rather dark brew.

The Vingan looks deeply into the cup and mutters a quiet prayer. “Are there any customs I should know, before I drink this?” she asks the axe maiden.

“It is a toast – Varaneva drinks to Death of your enemies, liberty of Dragon Pass and blood spilt to Earth for righteous causes.” the maiden who was sent for the errand recites.

Varanis nods. She raises the cup in the direction of the drums. “May Ernalda keep her grounded while Babeester Gor guides her axe. May she shed the blood of Chaos and Lunars in the cause of freedom. And may her cup always be full.” The words are said loudly enough to carry to all at the informal dinner. She then drains the cup.

The beer is good, if slightly metallic in taste. The axemaiden nods politely and collects the emptied cup. 6 Erin Bloodbeer ewww


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A merchant visits Esrolian camp. The other Irillo is pressganged to become Quartermaster.