1628, Dark Season, Harmony Week, Freezeday
Irillo returns to a noisy household Session SA3.13.
“The door? But… Ore… wait.” Varanis swears under her breath, sets the tea tray down carefully, and grabs her sword from the table. Then she heads to the door.
Berra nods. “If taking all of it kills the plant it is a vegetable.” She fails to look at the door.
“Don’t drink the tea then,” Varanis calls over her shoulder. To the closed door, she says, “Who is it?”
Down the stairs comes a heavy tread – someone seems to have heard there is tea going spare.
Lord Raven crosses the room to pick up the unclaimed drink.
“Irillo!” After fumbling with the bar set in place after Maalira’s return, Varanis finally hauls the door open.
Berra gives Maalira a slight smile.
The trader gets a once over, as if Varanis is checking him for injury.
From inside comes the comforting smell of hot drinks.
He appears unhurt but dusty amd dirty, “Hello. Waiting on your own doors now?”
Varanis tackles him with a hug, despite the sword in her hand. “You’re safe! I’ve been worried!”
Her usual attempt at dignity is entirely absent.
Berra stays by the hearth.
He returns the hug. “That’s a coincidence. I’ve been worried about you lot. “
Behind Varanis, an ominous figure looms. A dark, shadowy figure with a golden scar marring his right eye. The dread figure is translucent, not made fully of darkness, but still recognisable. Something like the spirit that once briefly inhabited Irillo. The fact it is sipping at a hot drink may or may not mar the effect.
“We lost the housekeeper and her husband,” Varanis tells him, ushering him inside. “But, come in. Warm up by the hearth. I’ve made mint tea and I think I managed not to burn it. Don’t wake Maalira, I think she dozed off. Berra’s not well, so if she says something weird or doesn’t recognize you, don’t fret too much. I’ll explain later. Oh, and that’s Lord Raven, he’s Eril’s Wyter.” She’s chattering at him with the wild pace that he likely remembers from a much younger Ranie. There are dark circles under her eyes and her plaits are beginning to come undone.
Maalira stirs, and her gaze falls on Berra. She smiles a half-smile.
Berra is looking into the fire, but returns the look, nervously.
“How are you feeling?” Maalira asks softly, eyes only for Berra.
Berra thinks about it for a little too long, as she watches Maalira’s features. “I’m getting better,” she says. “I had forgotten things. People say I’m starting to remember them.”
Lord Raven stares at Irillo. Either it is thoughtful or the spirit is trying to work out how to gut the merchant. That could be the same thing.
“Maalira, you’re awake! Look, Irillo is here and I made you tea,” Varanis grabs a mug and shoves it at the healer after propelling Irillo towards another bench. “Drink this and warm up. I need to go make something Berra can drink.” She vanishes into the kitchen again without waiting for replies from anyone, potentially leaving people feeling as though a whirlwind just flew through.
Irillo walks in. Rather stiffly, it might be noted. He picks up a goblet of the tea and warms his hands. “I hate Sartar in the Dark Season”
“Nobody asked you,” opines the Wyter. “But your opinion is noted.” The voice is upper-class Sambari. Silor’s accent, say.
“You can have apples, right Berra?” The question comes from the direction of the kitchen.
Maalira holds the mug tightly. “Play nice, you two,” she says to Irillo and the Wyter, using her talking-to-ducklings voice, still looking at Berra.
There is a pause before Berra replies. Those in the Praxian room may note it is because she nodded to Maalira first, and then remembered to say, “Yes. Thank you.”
“I wish I could forget some things,” Maalira says tiredly. “I’m glad you are remembering though.”
Irillo puts a hand to his chest in a ‘what, me?’ way and steps in to claim a seat. He is bundled up to proportions not un-Ernalda-of-Willesdorf. “I hope you got my presents?” He is maintaining harmony against provocation by just totally ignoring it.
The Wyter steps to the kitchen to note, “Your kinsman took the last drink. Make yourself one too.” It seems matter of fact rather than pointed.
Insight, should Irillo choose: The dark figure seems very amused, as if it likes either the situation, or Irillo, and cannot make up its mind.
“There’s more in the covered jug,” Varanis points out. “On the tray.”
“I’ll get you a cup.” The smoky figure does just that. “I have not had mint tea in what is subjectively years. Probably about two seasons.”
From his position in the doorway, Lord Raven may be able to see that Varanis has put an entire apple in a pot of water on the cooking platform. Just an apple and water.
The Wyter leans on the door in a position familiar to anyone who has ever been at court, watching the cooking process with a smile.
The water has barely begun to bubble at the base of the clay pot.
“I discovered I liked mint tea when I was carrying Berra. The baby, not your priest.”
“Indeed. She has a little more maturity than that.” Lord Raven peers at the pot. “Far be it from me to comment on matters of the hearth, but you do seem to be attempting a more difficult recipe. Perhaps you could ask the White Lady for help?” He is almost certainly concealing a grin.
“I’m trying to make her apple cider,” Varanis says. “Not the fermented kind, obviously. But hot apple juice.” She frowns. “Maybe I should crush the apple? But then how do I get the mush out after?”
“A mystery of our age,” Lord Raven notes. “Or of Ernaldans.”
“Hey, Raven,” Varanis says staring at the pot, now uncertain. “Do you remember your family? As if you grew up with them?”
The merchant is curled around warmth.
“My past is not only my own,” Lord Raven replies, “But also my… High Sword’s.” He manages to pronounce it with respect and distaste together. Now as well as amused he looks ready for action. Something in the set of his shoulders is like Berra getting ready for a fight, despite how he is casually propping up the doorway with his drink.
“Was it happy? Your family life, that is. And before the falling out with your father, I suppose.”
Sound of very small silver bells descends the stairs. Lenta looks at the Praxian room, nods at Berra, walks past Maalira and squeezes her shoulder before stopping by fire. “Welcome, lord Irillo. What tidings do you carry?”
“Perhaps you did not hear me clearly,” the smoky figure replies. “However, I can make this more clear; unless there is an urgent or even cogent reason that you should know, my past is private.” He looks lazily over his shoulder towards Lenta, and then back to Varanis in the kitchen.
Berra is watching Maalira, who is dozing gently. She might not even have heard Lenta, for she does not react.
“I’m sorry,” she says, poking at the apple with a wooden spoon. “It’s just… things weren’t great for me growing up. Those people out there and a few others besides… they are the family that matters to me. That’s why I’m standing in a kitchen, trying to figure out how to take care of their needs. I may not be good at this, but I need them to know that I love them and that I’ll always do my best to take care of them. They are the family I chose.” She stares at the apple, tension in the way she’s holding herself, as if waiting for a blow but refusing to flinch from it.
Mellia staggers into the room. She is wearing a sleeping robe. Her hair is a mess. “It’s too noisy to sleep.”
Lenta moves a few pieces of coal a bit too close to Irillo’s boots a bit further away and removes puts the hat that was falling from his hands to the bench. “Irillo seems to disagree lady Mellia.” She says quietly. “Would you like to have some tea, chamomille perhaps?”
“Hello, Lady Lenta, Cousin Irillo. Chamomile tea sounds wonderful. Thank you, Lady Lenta. Irillo, guess what?”
Lenta waves her hand before her face and vanishes into the kitchen.
Lord Raven moves politely aside for the lady like that is automatic for him. He says nothing in judgement of Varanis, for or against.
Mellia waits for Irillo to wake up and comment.
If he doesn’t, she’ll sit down somewhere.
In the kitchen, Varanis is boiling an apple. An entire apple.
“Oh, hi Varanis!” Lenta makes a detour over to the storage area. “I am making tea for Mellia, do you want some too?” She sounds quite uncertain.
“I made a pot of mint tea,” Varanis says. “Did they drink it all? And I’m making apple tea for Berra,” Varanis says.
Berra keeps on staring at Maalira.
Lord Raven watches Varanis and Lenta and the cooking pot.
“Mellia is awake? I thought she went to bed,” Varanis says.
“Mellia did not say” Lenta glances at the smoky figure. “she said it was too noisy to sleep so I asked if she wants chamomille tea…”
The smoky figure sips at its own drink, and gives Lenta a quick glance in return. Its right eye is covered by a golden scar, like bright embers, just where Venlar’s is.
Mechanically Lenta pours boiling water into a pot and adds the leaves.
Mellia listens to Irillo and Maalira snoring for a bit and then slowly gets up and walks into the kitchen.
Lenta looks at the apparition glancing at Varanis for explanation.
“Lady Lenta,” the smoky figure says in a voice akin to Venlar’s, “Perhaps you could… help Varanis with her apple tea recipe?”1Insight: Lord Raven is waiting for people to notice what Varanis is cooking up.
The Wyter makes room for Mellia but keeps on watching the scene.
“Lenta, this is Lord Raven, Eril’s Wyter. He does look like Mellia’s husband, so I can see why you might have been confused,” Varanis says.
Mellia says,”Thank you,” to the smoky figure.
“Mellia, I thought you were asleep,” Varanis says, greeting the healer. “Lenta is making you chamomile tea. You didn’t want the mint tea I made?”
“Lord Raven…” Lenta nods politely “Apple tea? Are you sure that is the way?”
Lord Raven murmurs, “The honour is mine,” like the well brought up noble that he is.
“I don’t know. I’ve never made it before. I didn’t realize that mint was a vegetable,” the Vingan says, beginning to sound flustered.
“It’s a kind gesture, Varanis, but I need to sleep if I can.” Mellia blinks a bit.
Lenta looks at Raven thoughtfully. “You did know my name before lady Varanis made the introductions, lord Raven. Have we met before?”
The Wyter smiles. “No,” he tells Lenta, “But I have been told about you.” There is a small bow, polite.
Irillo opens a lazy wye, “Mmmrmph?”
By Irillo, Berra makes a little surprised noise.
Lenta nods back at the spirit. Politely.
With Lenta’s advice, Varanis fishes the apple out and cuts it carefully, trying to avoid burning herself. She throws it back into the now boiling water. Before long, the smell of cooked apple is in the air. There is tea for those who want it – mint, now cooled down, chamomile made by Lenta, and apple flavoured-hot water for Berra. People sip at what they want and everyone eventually drifts to bed. Maalira and Irillo can both have pallets by the hearth.
When poor Yehna wakes, it’s to find that someone made a bit of a mess of the kitchen in the night. There are cups with the dregs of tea. A browned apple core, various clay pots left sitting out. At least the fire was properly banked.2Lenta would like it known she would have tidied up.
- 1Insight: Lord Raven is waiting for people to notice what Varanis is cooking up.
- 2Lenta would like it known she would have tidied up.