Jandar Varan and Priestess Olenna
“It’s just Jean,”
he introduced himself when she called him by his title. At the old lady’s directives, Jandar nodded, though privately wondered whether there were some other reasons for her living so far away. It did not escape his notice that the townsfolk clearly knew the woman. They seemed both wary and respectful of her, but clearly mistrusted him, the stranger. The woman shrugged them all off with a smile, and the Warlord couldn’t help but wonder what her short inspection of him might have told her.
She was clearly intelligent, the old age not at all blunting her mind, it seemed. “It’s busy n’ rushed here, ain’t it?”
he commented neutrally. When they were a bit of the ways out of Winton proper, making their way to the lady’s house, Jandar thought it was a good moment to ask another lightly prodding, though innocuous question that had been on his mind. “Are you an artisan, then? Couldn’t help but notice these,”
he gestured to her various bagged materials.
“Most of the towns are like that. Not too many as wants to be out and about any more.” The old witch sighed, almost wistfully. “Those that do tend to keep in the company of the Queen, or wanting to catch her attention. Not always a wise thing.” She remarked with the immunity of the old who had live long enough lives they felt safe speaking freely. Giving him a slightly crooked smile, she guided him down a side road slightly overgrown along the sides and the stones were cracked and uneven. Signs of disrepair and no maintenance, tasks she could no longer preform or others no longer saw the value in.
“Those? An artisan? Hm, perhaps, but no. It passes the time and the shrines always need candles. The Dark Gates always need their candles.” Jandar would indeed know what the Dark Gates were though he had not heard mention of them yet in Terreille. They were the Gates between the Realms. From Terreille, to the Shadow Realm of Kaeleer, to Hell. To open the gate one only needed to put the candle in the proper place, recant the proper Craft and usually under the guidance of the Priestess who kept the Dark Gates under close watch.“‘Tis a shame,”
the Warlord remarked, though his tone was fairly neutral. He chuckled lightly at her next remark, agreeing, “Not all attention is good attention.”
His steps briefly stuttered when she revealed the next tidbit of information however. “The Dark Gates?”
he asked, tone low, reverential, and yearning. “You must be a Priestess then,”
he concluded in a whisper. “I had no idea there was such a thing nearby,”
he muttered, his speech reverting to its usual fluid grace in his excitement. Jandar swept a hand through his hair, and frowned. What he was contemplating was risky, but he couldn’t ignore something like this. “Ma’am, say that someone wished to cross through the Gates…what would it take?”
he questioned, still in a carefully quiet voice. He had stated the inquiry as a hypothetical, but he was certain the lady would know that he was the one who needed it – Hell, she may even guess that he wasn’t by his lonesome, and would bring others with him.
It was a good few minutes before the old crone answered with a good-natured chuckle. “My you are full of questions!” While for some this would be something to be wary of the old Summer-sky Witch seemed more amused than anything. “I am. Priestess Olenna. Though my younger assistant went to the Queen’s Circle. Lady Alice was certain she needed the wisdom of someone so clever.” There was a less than amused snort as the older woman gave a disapproving frown. “The chit was in her middling years, true. But it seems a bit odd to me that she’d want the assistant and not the teacher.”
Grumbling to herself, the woman hobbled along the worn road. Up ahead was a dignified building that held one wing which looked akin to a cottage. The rest of the back wall was solid stone, a sandy brown color that was mined from Pruul. The front was a row of columns and ancient-looking wooden doors interspaced and left open between them. “I like it to have a bit of air. Keeps things cleaner.” The witch declared as she crossed what now was an overgrown garden. Weed throttling the useful plants and the grass taking over where flowers were. Setting her bag on the worn step, she cast a speculative eye on Jean. “If someone were wanting to go through the gate, it’d take a black candle. One of the special ones.”
Jandar blinked, and smiled wryly at the Priestess, shrugging a shoulder at her observation. He was curious, that was true. “Perhaps she is fonder of youth rather than experience,”
he commented mildly. “Though I do not know her Ladyship well enough to claim so,”
he added. The Warlord wondered at her house’s design, and sniffed at the air. “It is fresh ‘round here, you can smell the sea,”
he said appreciatively.“Special?”
he murmured. “A black candle per person?”
he sought to clarify. “How special are they?”
he asked, a glint in his eye. He didn’t know if Olenna intended to charge a fortune for one, or if there was some special and difficult to procure material he would need to get. Perhaps it was something else entirely.
Olenna sighed with a weary air. “You young people are always so impatient. Always wanting grand over the simplicity of life. The last candle burned out a time ago, I needed to get the materials to make more of them.” She gave a pointed look at the bags he carried. “It would be easier in my youth, but I can do it just as well now.” Chuckling she sat on the stone steps that led to a golden and worn looking candle holder inside. Prongs for other candles coming off of the center stem.
Jandar nodded. “Good to know. Unless you need help with anything else, I’ll be off. But I may pay you a visit at a later time,”
he added with a wink. As the Priestess did not want anything, he departed, and headed back towards the inn.