Vanners and Shadows (Frost Fayre) (Part 1 SA K'synn)
Part 1 (Because I'm too tired to write it all tonight)
IC: AWLM K'synn had done his part in bringing Harper Elowyn up to the Frost Fayre. Not that he really owed Lisilia that favor, but it was still easier just to oblige her. And his father had sent for him anyways, making the need to come up to the Reaches an obligation. Growing up a Vanner was different than the childhoods of most other Pernese children. Without a hold to scurry into everytime Thread fell, you learned to be tough. Everyone was expected to work, and work hard, from just about the time you could make full sentences. It also meant that bonds were tighter than normal, much closer to wingbonds than anything else he'd seen on Pern.
He missed his Vanner family. They were boisterous and overwhelming, but they were home to him, and even after Turns in a Weyr, he still felt like an outsider. Vanners were a strange folk, and not as welcome everywhere they went, despite being the self-proclaimed life-blood of Pernese trade. Most people would look at Lisilia's job, scouting the holds ahead for danger, often by infiltrating and blending in, and think it wasn't necessary. But Vanners knew different. More than once, a stray word dropped on waiting ears had saved lives, livestock, goods, and marks. Pern was not as safe as many liked to think.
Which led his thoughts back to Kashara. It amazed him sometimes that for all her mother had survived, the girl seemed oblivious to the dangers. She had made progress towards taking responsibility for the danger she'd put others in, and yet, despite the attempts on WW Kassia's life, Kashara seemed very naive at times about how dangerous Pern could be. So much time and effort wasted in her class about how things should have been and the ideals of youth. Sheltered youth.
He crossed the last white expanse before reaching the line of caravans that marked the end of the trading stalls. He ducked behind the last row, making his way towards the living quarters of vanners, the giant wagons tucked away. He stopped to briefly chat with one of the guards, this one from a different Vanner family but known to K'synn, before finding the wagons marked with his family sigil. This time, the guard that stopped him was well-known, and K'synn clapped the man on the back. He was pointed in the direction of where his parents would be, and he found them, sitting around a fire with his two elder brothers. His father rose when he saw him.
"Kerl! Shards, boy, you've look positively tan from that Arolosian sun!" his father teased, clapping him across his shoulder and grasping his forearm in greeting. His mother was next, Celynna's long red hair tied in a long braid behind, and she rested her hands on his cheeks before smiling up at him. "Hello mother," he said, leaning down to kiss her forehead. And then Farek and Jakren greeted him warmly, the brothers clasping his arms. "Where's Tiscarth?" they asked, and the next few minutes were spent as families always do when time has passed between visits. They told K'synn about the comings and goings of the Caravan, the luck they'd had in having several kegs of dried klah bark after the blight and the exceedingly good prices they were getting for it. Farek had handfasted recently -- well past time, Celynna had added -- and his wife was expecting their first child. "A little too quickly if you ask me," Jak had joked with a nudge to his brother. Larek had laughed and said he was surprised he didn't already have a half a dozen grandbabies in as many holds with Farek. His brother didn't bother to hide the smirk that followed.
There was comfort in the ease of family, comfort in the way no time had past at all in some ways. Here was familiarity. Before Tiscarth, this had been the center of his world, and always would be in some ways. More familiar faces came and joined them around the fire as the night grew deep and the trading stalls closed. He saw his other siblings, Velissa and Sasrynn, the other Vanner children he'd grown up with like Ursett and Kromwelk. Someone pulled out a lute and struck a tune, and ale was poured and shared. The cold of the Reaches was forgotten around the fire, around the warmth of friends and family.
This was Vanner life, and on nights like these, he missed it dearly....
toggle quoted messageShow quoted text
At some point, he noticed Lisilia had slipped into the group. His younger sister was annoying, intrusive, brash, but intelligent, cunning, and bold. He knew she was courageous in her own ways, knew that she constantly put the family first in her work. But that didn't make up for how purely nosey she could be as well and smug. She was chatting with Elowyn and one of their other sisters, Velissa. His mother was there too, speaking with the harper and Lis. He wasn't even sure when or how Lis had come back to the North. She'd been in the South the last time he'd checked, when she'd randomly shown up in his office. She'd cornered wlg Ambrelli in there, and he still hadn't gotten from either of them what had transpired. He hadn't brought her back North, so she'd gotten back up here at some point. She had her ways. For Turns now, ever since she went off to train with the Guards, she'd been secretive and mysterious. Outside the Caravan and a few friends, no one knew Lis was one of them. Her job was to go into Holds and Halls before the Caravan got there and gather intel. Sometimes, it was about goods that were in short supply. Others, it was about grudges held or malcontents. It could be dangerous, but Lis enjoyed the work, she enjoyed it the way a feline played with a ball of yarn. She shared her information with the Harper Hall, which was likely where the friendship with Elowyn had formed.
His father broke his reverie. "Kerl," he still called him by his childhood name and not his elided rider's name. "Come with me, son. Let's talk..." His father beckoned for him and Farek to follow him into one of the wagons. He felt his mother's eyes follow him, felt her concern like a weight. And he also saw Lis rise to follow them. Whatever his father wished to talk about, it wasn't purely social. They entered one of the wagons, his father moving aside a covering. On the inside, it was plush and warm, nearly gaudy in color. If he hadn't grown up around it, it would have been claustrophobic to him. As it was, the colors, the fabrics, the smell...it was of home.
Larek, Farek, Lis and himself all made themselves comfortable. Larek had some general questions about life, trade opportunities...these were what K'synn expected, and much of the next candlemark revolved around these. Vanners were polite to the point of insult, so K'synn didn't rush the conversation, but rather remembered his manners. Riders tended to be more blunt and upfront, but that wasn't a Vanners way. Even in trade, deals were made after conversing about the Turn's crop of foals, the impetuousness of daughters, the impatience of sons...
Larek shifted. "How have things been as recent?" Larek asked, this obviously being the point of the conversation. His accent was thick, much thicker than K'synn's, his having dulled out after Turns away. But with his family, it came back. "What do you mean, fa?" he asked.
"I mean there's been talk. There's been rumors about the Arolos, the going-ons down there. Rocks falling on eggs isn't good when it's natural. But the rumors that it's something else entirely." He shook his head. "There's stories up here, ya know. People are tired. Holds and halls still hungry after the harvest, still with little to show for their blood and tears. And the idea that someone is attacking the Weyrs..." There was genuine concern in his eyes. "It's worse up here than in the South..." K'synn looked over to Farek, who simply shook his head. He was the Heir, so he was here, but it was plain that the conversation was not his to be had.
It was then that Lis stepped in. "There have always been grumbling. Fort's fall didn't mean that all instigators went away, they just weren't as gathered in one place. So they've been there. But it's worse now. It's more than just people talking in the shadows. There are threats, things spoken that shouldn't be. It's why I'm back here in the North. I've been recalled by the Hall. When was the last time that happened?" she asked. She had leaned forward as she talked, her voice low and solemn. Now that she was done, she leaned back.
Larek spoke again. "There have been mentions of threats against Arolos. We're worried for you..." he said. K'synn looked to Lis, and she just shrugged.
"Weyrlife is dangerous, Fa. Always has been. If it's not Thread, it's something. Tiscarth and I are careful though. We'll be fine. What about you all?" he asked, shifting the conversation away from himself. He'd worked enough marks in his own past to know that Larek was hoping K'synn would reveal something too. Lis nodded nearly imperceptibly in acknowledgment.
Larek was shrewd enough to realize his son was deflecting, but wasn't willing to push the issue. There were a few more questions, a few more uncomfortable moments, before Larek shifted the conversation to his Southern business adventures. K'synn gave a mental sigh of relief. He owed a Blood Debt to his father, and he did not like being asked to spy on his Weyr. And while his father might seem to just be asking out of concern, K'synn harbored no illusions of what Larek was actually asking. After what seemed like half an eternity, they went back to the family gathering, all the Obsidian Vanners present, still enjoying the evening around the fire.
On Mon, Jan 18, 2021 at 11:02 PM TrueTricia via groups.io <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote: