Life in the Fast-Swim Lane

S02 — Session 11

1626, Earth Season, Stasis Week, Windsday to Wildday Eve

Dramatis Personae


Nala and Tiwr


Venlar Silorsson
Some people who did not think Mellia would marry a barbarian
Yamia Silorsdottir
Some people who suddenly realise why one might wish to marry a barbarian
Grandmother Saiciea
Some servants
Some guards
Some gossips
Garin Merelt, finally
Lenta Hulta, maybe for the final time
Serzeen Saiciae, Babeester Gor
A fisherman
A hand bigger than a troll’s


This week, we are pleased to introduce Doktor Forrest Oldman, noted expert on Xenofos, as our guest lecturer. @@[[@@His commentary will be denoted thus.@@]]@@

@@[[@@Euh, thank you. We start with … ‘Extract from Berran Jarangintyttären runo’. This extract of “Berran Jarangintyttären runo” is stylistically slightly different from some other fragments that have survived. The narrative is introduces a narrative of revenge at any cost, even truth it is hinted. Motive of the actor remains unclear but she is referred to as orphan.@@]]@@

Verkkaan virkkoi Berra, sommitteli sotarauta
kuinka julkihuudan julman surman
kaadan kuraan kieron katraan kunnian?
luki lakia lukenut, kohtuuteen kehotti kirjuri,
Kysy en totuutta tahi seikkoja sanoi soturi
kostoa, ei kohtuutta kuulutan kalmosta
Orpo orjan kohtalon omakseen omi.

@@[[@@And ‘Nala Tiwr saga – Yksisarvisnoidan runo’.@@]]@@

Noita nurisi noita yksisarvisten, saneli emon tyär
Kutsuu aavikko autio, virta verkkainen viekottelee
Kolkko on koti kivinen, poloinen palatsi potrakin vieraan
Akka anna mulle se koria poika ja anna se sovinnolla
otan minä sen kuitenkin enkä anna poikana olla.

@@[[Yksisarvisnoidan runo is interesting because it seems to combine elements of epic form to clearly dance inspired song fragments. It is plausible that separate traditions have been combined to compose the surviving version. It is clear that the protagonist is not happy in her current enviroment, in house of stone and wishes to return to the desert. The almost mocking stanza adressing the crone and demanding a boy however, is not in line with reputation Unicorn riders have in other poems. So, on to @@Rajarin kuolo…@@]]@@

Löylyä lissää,
löylyä lissää, eihän se
entinen tunnu missään

@@[[@@For understanding the larger picture this ditty is pretty useless, it is almost as someone had just written down a bathing song with no context whatsoever. A problem common to any student of fragmentary sources.@@]]@@

@@[[@@ Moving on, ‘Tuulentytön laulu’ probably refers to a famous Vingan Varanis though it does not name her explicitly. Again sources are lamentably brief but refer to conflicts arising from a wooing situation. In this context such ambiguity is much more typical than in case of Unicorn riders – compare for example to collection of ribald songs on Kallyr.@@]]@@

Pyörteenä pyöri punatukka, yöt päivät ylinnä
suikkasi suuta neitoselle, sulhon sorean torjui
Ompeluksen orvokkisen permannolta noukki
neidon nuoren lämpöisen, jäljiltä torjutun sulhon
koolle kutsui soturit, purteen punaiseen puikahti
sorsana soudatti meriorhin ulapalle usvaiselle.

@@[[@@The basic song is probably only a part and follows the epic trochaic meter to some extent.@@]]@@

@@[[@@The song of White maiden, ‘Valkoisen neidon runo ‘ is dated to same period but seems to divert from the epic tradition totally. Both subject matter and the way it is treated veer towards lyric, almost pastoral themes. The poet may clearly be suspected of being of romantic persuasion and less interested on actually telling us events of the time. [In this he might be compared to Garin – no… not related to your Prof Garin – who has left a corpus of rather striking erotic poetry interestingly enough partly dedicated to Varanis.@@]]@@

Silmiin katsoi hetken, katsoi toisen
unohtui ympäriltä muu maailma
kaksin olivat Mellia ja Venlar
keskellä suuren joukon
Salin lattialla tanssivat
kuin lehdoissa Sartarin
käyneet he olisivat
vehreällä nurmella
varjoissa omenapuiden.

@@[[@@Finally we have some hexameters of my old favorite Xenofos. Not really useful in clearing the narrative but declaring intent of casting aside passive and reflective mood. You might notice the reference to shining of the moon. In this context that may refer to approaching madness or be a premonition of some kind of doom or a crisis.@@]]@@

Astuos ylös Xenofos, aseisiin tartu
aika kirjoittaa oli, nyt aika on töiden
Kupeilles vyöttäös kalpasi vaskinen
kun loistavi kuu, meren yllä punainen.

@@[[@@Now grading of this part. I will probably not be here at the end of the term. And Dr Tomm is not expert on this specific corpus of matter. So your old friend Garin will be grading the papers you will write on these specific poems. I wish you all luck in your continuing studies of this most fascinating of topics.@@]]@@

[‘Thank you indeed, Doktor Oldman. We are all grateful to you for your kind attendance, and your fascinating lecture. Everyone else, you know the drill – five hundred words each on any two poems, including the Rajar, on my desk next week.’]

Nala had a meeting with Grandmother Saiciae to pay her respects and tell Grandmother that she would be going to Prax. She mentioned that Xenofos had been told to go there. Whatever answer Grandmother gave seemed to lead Nala to believe this would happen, because Nala then went and told Xenofos’ servant to pack all his stuff. The packing did not happen.

Windsday afternoon found many of our heroes preparing for another of Nochet’s elite social events, on Fireday Eve. Varanis wanted Berra with her, as she was tired after Temple and not always making good decisions. Berra warned her that she was stirring up trouble with the Hulta and might prove an embarrassment to the Saiciae. Varanis decided to risk it, but invited Nala and Tiwr to the party too, in the hopes that they might prove more of a novelty and distraction. Mellia and Venlar were in attendance and caused no little stir, especially as it was painfully obvious to anyone observing them that they were helplessly in love. Irillo spent some time explaining how Venlar’s father was a Clan Chief and his uncle was the recent High Sword of Boldhome. Saiciae did not ally itself with just any foreign barbarians.

Varanis spoke to Irillo, asking him to keep his eyes and ears open for any news of Garin Merelt. Xenofos attended too, but found himself rather distracted, presumably by a woman, though the gossips suggested other possibilities too. Varanis noticed Lenta Hulta, and went for a quick talk. Lenta was not in a talking mood, and just kissed her and walked away in triumph. The party was rife with gossip, much of it about the Saiciae and their guests, but the name Merelt was murmured here and there. Irillo gleaned enough information to determine that he’d find better answers by seeking out those who held the Merelt lines of credit. Apparently, and in defiance of all norms, the Merelt Palazzo was up for sale or auction.

The Saiciae and their guests returned to the palazzo and took what rest they could before Yelm’s rise on Fireday brought some of them out to train in the courtyard. Varanis interrupted her training to accompany Irillo, after spotting him on his way to the market. He took her first to Trader Princes who spoke about anything other than the Merelts. He then decided to try the slave market, as it might be possible to purchase or at least identify slaves that had been sold by the family. None were present in the market, but several had been sold recently, including a cook that Irillo claimed to want for himself. Inspired by Irillo, Varanis tried to pretend that she was in the market for a new lady’s maid who would travel well. Thankfully for her, her expectations were considered unreasonable, and she did not have to buy anyone.

Fireday brought a letter from Kesten Hulta to Berra. She took it to Xenofos, who read, ‘Slave sold to galleys. Alive when left Hulta possession.’ She set off to go look at galleys, stopped halfway across the city and went back for Nala, to ask if being on the galleys was worse than being dead, if you were a slave already. Nala told her it was effectively a cruel death sentence. They looked for a slave who had just been sold from the Hulta, but could not find one.

Irillo attempted to use Divination to find out if Garin Merelt was entirely without funds, hoping to get a hint over whether he was kidnapped. The god told him the correct interest was a fifth part of the sum – weekly. Irillo remarked this to Varanis, who needed a brief lesson in what happened if you did not have enough money to buy what you want.

On their return to the palazzo, Varanis met with Venlar and Mellia to show them their wedding torcs. Venlar was nervous about handling his, especially as he didn’t trust his ability to refrain from putting it on Mellia immediately. The torcs met with approval and were put safely away until the wedding. Varanis also told them about the Garin situation and asked Mellia to see if she could learn anything more at the Great Hospital.

Mellia did some poking around at the Hospital, which turned out to be something of a dead end (not for Garin though, as it turns out, he’s not dead yet). There were no records of his presence and no Dormal Does who matched his description. Alas. Janina showed what was either a cruel streak or her usual attention to detail by offering to let Mellia read all of the records. Later, Venlar showed up with dinner for Mellia and could find nothing to indicate Garin had been there.

As Yelm set on Fireday, Berra and Yamia were going to worship at the Temple of Humakt. The Saiciae had yet another party to attend in an endless stream of parties. This one was at House Oraneao. It did not take long for Varanis to catch a glimpse of the worn orange silk from Garin’s cloak. She cornered him and words were exchanged. The sort that are best not repeated.[footenote]mostly because I forget already[/footnote] The main gist of Garin’s side of the conversation was that sooner or later, he always got what he wanted. He left, but not before dropping a handkerchief. It took Varanis a moment to respond to the bait, but when she did, she nearly panicked, as it smelled of violets. She knew it was his way of telling her that he had Lenta Hulta.

Varanis followed him briskly, collecting Irillo and Xenofos on her way, and forgetting to take the palanquin. They lost Garin in the crowd outside the palazzo and decided to return to House Saiciae for reinforcements in the form of Serzeen, Nala, and Zinat. Nala, who had been busy brewing and being entertained by the Enlo chorus, graciously agreed to rush around Nochet like a madwoman carrying hastily written notes for Lady Hulta and Kesten.

When Nala arrived at the Hulta palazzo, she was granted admittance after identifying herself as a Lightbringer. She was eventually given an audience with a Lady Hulta, rather than the Lady Hulta, but that worked out, since the one she met was Lenta’s mother. Initially lady Hulta was dismissive and thought this was Varanis harassing her daughter, as the note Nala brought was very short. However, Nala mentioned that Varanis thought she had been kidnapped, which alarmed the lady and perhaps alerted the house.

Nala next went to the Humakti Temple. This too was a bit problematic, as most of the Humakti were busy worshipping. After some conversation, the message for Kesten Hulta was accepted and Nala was essentially shooed away. She made it back to the palazzo in time to join the hastily assembled rescue party.

Serzeen and a handful of guards accompanied the group back to the party. Zinat got a whiff of the hankie and took off, leading them through the streets of Nochet to the sea shore, where incredibly enough their palanquin had ended up. In the distance, they could just make out a fishing boat disappearing around an island. Irillo did his best to persuade a sleepy fisherman to take them out in his boat. He was notably disinterested, citing an incoming storm as his reason. They probably should have listened. Instead, Varanis turned her charm on him while Serzeen rested her axe on the side of the boat, and he relented, for a hefty sum.

Tiwr agreed to stay on the shore to guard Varanis’ palanquin. They persuaded him it was a difficult task but Tiwr was up to it. Everyone else piled into the boat, rowed by the guards under command of Serzeen. The weather got worse and worse, almost certainly through magic. There was a sudden thump that nearly stopped the boat, then a hand grabbed at the side and tipped it over. They were deposited into the water.

To Nala, Berra has something to ask. It’s just, “Will you be around tomorrow?”

“I don’t know. I don’t have anything to do until the wedding except hate this city and the dinners that could feed an entire tribe back home.”

“I might need to go to the Ernaldan Temple, and have someone help me speak there.” The Humakti looks oddly focussed, even given that it is her talking, and her look of concentration can scare the faint-hearted.

“What do you need?” – Nala

“Um, I shouldn’t tell you yet. Just… that I might need to have someone speaking for me. I’ll tell you if I need to, or if you want it.”

Nala frowns then shrugs. “If you want me do something formal, I’ll need to practice.”

“Right. Then I probably do. How much trouble do you … um, the Hulta killed someone, I think, to save a secret of theirs. And I want to rip that open. But they’ve got a chance to stop me, if he’s alive. But if I tell you under this roof, then you know. We could go for a walk.

Nala looks as if she gets that the last sentence should be telling her something, but she’s not sure what.

Berra takes Nala out for that walk, and asks Tiwr to guard them and go around them. Then, regardless of whether he does or not, she says, “Lord Rillo, the man you don’t like because he’s a dickhead, has been having an affair. Don’t tell ANYONE that yet. Because silence might help. We sent the slave of that woman to the Hulta. And I think they killed him to keep the shame secret. That’s pissing me off.”

Nala checks, “Can’t you just ask Kesten? He’s supposed to be all Truth and stuff.”

“I did. But they wouldn’t let me speak to him alone, and he can’t comment. I pretty much told him that he had a couple of days to get the slave back. But if not, I want to make sure the Ernaldans know. And everyone does. I’ll be accusing them of slave-stealing or assisting a slave in escape. And I’ll want to give evidence of why.”

“Will you need the body?”

Berra replies, almost with a laugh, “I don’t care about that – I just want to be able to say in public that Lord Rillo was fucking someone who wasn’t his wife.”

“I think I know the Earthtongue for that!”

“I have to go to Prax, and Xenofos has been sent by the Great Library with me.” – Nala
“No, he has not told me…” – Grandmother
“I thought he might not. He was a bit distracted.” – Nala

“He is being a bit forgetful so I might need some help in getting him packed.” – Nala

“As if anything dangerous could happen…” – Xenofos GMs

“So my charisma’s only 20.” – Nala

“Venlar is politely hanging on the arm of Mellia and occasionally staring into her eyes and loving her.” – Berra
“Mellia will stare into Venlar’s eyes too.” – Mellia
“They are lovely eyes. Pale brown, dark flecks, tiny green and blue bits. It’s like he can’t make up his mind what to be and is being all of those things.” – Berra

“I have no social skills.” – Nala
“You have a social skill: not being Berra.” – Berra

“Who *is* she?” – Men smitten by Yamia
“Oh, she’s a Sartarite noblewoman. Sworn to Humakt, of course.” – Irillo

“Venlar fails to trip up catastrophically.” – Berra
“I know those words, but together?” – Nala

“Shall we get wine, my darling?” – Venlar
@@*@@horror@@*@@ – everyone who did not realise Berra was being Venlar

“Some of my best friends are men.” – Berra
“Oh, I’m sorry!” – Nala

“I suppose the news that Xenofos is going to Prax will have reached Xenofos by now.” – Nala

“Slave sold to galleys. Alive when left Hulta possession.” – note from Kesten Hulta to Berra

“Xenofos, I didn’t ask you to tell me the facts, or the truth! I don’t give a damn if I’m guilty, I give a damn if they’re guilty as well.” – Berra

“Irritable Berra is irritable.” – Varanis
“Of the irritable brigade.” – Nala

“I shouldn’t take it, because then I should put it around her neck, and then we’d be married. So…” – Venlar
“I’ll open it for you.” – Varanis

“I will pay the Enlo a clack not to eat the barrel and drink the beer, and vice versa.” – Nala
“By which I do not mean ‘Give the barrel a clack not to eat the Enlo’.” – Nala
“They would like a bolg each, not a clack, please.” – Berra
“And they don’t Maths.” – Berra

“No one can make you do anything, yea right.” – GM
“Duty can.” – Varanis

“I shall try the easy way first. Ha ha. Ha ha. Ha ha.” – Irillo goes to talk to the Merchant Princes

“Will Venlar—no, let’s do this properly–will Mellia let Venlar write a note for Nala?” – Nala
“Yes.” – Mellia
“Brilliant. Nala wants the following written: Dear Xenofos, I understand you are a man and don’t understand honour, but I have given my word. I can, of course, spread the rumour that you refused request from a senior female priest of Lhankor My and the daughter of my mother. Your choice.” – Nala

“I’ll look at Mellia. Now do I pay him?” – Nala
“No payment is required. This is the act of a friend.” – Venlar
“I’m looking at Mellia.” – Nala

“Then off to Temple, because it’s now late. Where I will give Kesten a ‘sorry but this is going to hurt and I’m not sorry enough to stop’ look if I see him.” – Berra

“Venlar will read through the paperwork, and put in notes about Mellia the Lightbringer, for when Janina finally gets the hint.” – Berra

“So, did Irillo get Serzeen to look after his beard for the whole evening or is he going to the party?” – GM

“Xenofos has been collared by a blonde and is failing to extricate himself.” – GM
“Is that fails to extricate himself from the blonde or fails to extricate himself from the conversation?” – Nala

“More discreet.” – Irillo
“Well, with someone else discreet might be the word…” – intriguee
@@*@@tells Irillo about Garin Merelt@@*@@ – Berra and Nala as partygoers
“Of course, it was a mallard! The males have… certain depravities…” – Bala
“No, my dear. You mean proclivities.” – Nerra
“Oh, proclivities is it? I thought we were saying habits this year.” – Bala
“No, no. Proclivities.” – Nerra
“Ohhhh…” – Bala
@@*@@broken@@*@@ – Varanis
@@*@@broken@@*@@ – Irillo

“Do I look like someone who would brutally cut down a youth?” – Garin
“Yeah, you do.” – Varanis

“Was it you who sent that bloody poem through my balcony door?” – Varanis
“Yes, it was.” – Garin
“You know that’s not normal, right?” – Varanis

“He reminds her of Dormal.” – Mellia
“No, I actually like Dormal.” – Varanis

“If we ruled the world, EVERYONE would have proclivities.” – Nerra
“They do. But everyone would mention them.” – Bala
“Of course, darling.” – Nerra

“My dear. My very dear. Did you see how Varanis ran after that… person?” – Bala
“Such Orlanthi behaviour.” – Bala
“So very titter masculine,.” – Nerra
“So… emotional.” – Bala
Virile.” – Nerra
“Oh?” – Bala
@@*@@eyebrow@@*@@ – Nerra
“I see. She is Vingan.” – Bala
“Oh, yes. Simply delicious.” – Nerra
“But so flighty. Flighty, gettit?” – Nerra
@@*@@titter@@*@@ – Nerra

“And who are you?” – Guard
“I am Nala Lightbringer.” – Nala chooses the nuclear option

“This is my life partner. Would you leave your wife in the stable?” – Nala

“You’re putting your spear you know not where?” – Varanis

“You get introduced to a well if hastily dressed matron…” – GM
“Why are they in bed so unfashionably early?!” – Varanis
“Because they do not have to find husbands.” – Berra

“I am sent because I am fastest, not because I’m best with my tongue.” – Nala
@@*@@expressions@@*@@ – everyone
@@*@@radiates innocence@@*@@ – Nala

“Some people guard and do it during the day, other people worship at night – Berra

“This time of night, you pray for boredom.” – Mellia

“Every time I don’t wear my armour, somebody dies.” – Nala
“Let me volunteer Garin at this point.” – Berra

“I don’t think Serzeen counts Irillo as a viable sword.” – Irillo
“Mostly she just values his Goldentongue.” – Irillo

“Is that our palanquin?” – Varanis
“Yep.” – GM
“Oh crap.” – Varanis

“Irillo has an appropriate boating skill. Bargain.” – Irillo
“Varanis is giving voice to a lot of Grazelander curses.” – Varanis

“I will go and yell at him.” – Irillo
“Yes, that’s the gist of it.” – Irillo

“Did you get a bargain roll?” – GM
“Ahem… That would be a double zero.” – Irillo

“Over my dead body.” – Fisherman
… – Serzeen

“There is a warm breeze from the east so you have to row quite hard.” – GM
“No, they have to row.” – Varanis

“I have Troll Lore!” – Varanis
Slo motion: “Don’t roll troll looooore!” – Berra