1628, Earth Season, Movement Week, Probably Windsday
Having successfully got away from trouble, Maalira goes to have breakfast. Session SA3.09.
When Maalira wakes properly it is fully light, and there is a bowl, covered by a plate of bread with a cloth over it, on the wooden table by her bed. Next to that is a pitcher of water and a solid earthenware cup. Things in this household are built for Venlar dropping them from time to time.
Maalira sits up and reaches for the food. Her appetite is back with strength and she makes quick work of it.
Outside people are moving about, but in the house all is quiet. That probably means that Hengrast is out.
This place smells totally different to Boldhome. The air is fresher but has more animal smells in it, less of cookery.
Thenaya is good at making even plain food tasty, however.
Still, this brings closer the time when she has to get up.
Maalira stretches her feet and ankles, then puts her sandals back on and wanders back out into the main part of the house.
Thenaya is there, spinning as she watches over a small boy who has fallen asleep in the middle of the floor. Tamakt, dressed in a robe for someone slightly larger than he is, is taking a nap.
“Good morning,” Thenaya says evenly. “We hope you slept well.”
Maalira smiles tenderly at Tamakt, then turns her attention to Thenaya. “I did, thank you. Very soundly and few dreams. Better than I have for a while.”
Thenaya puts together a smile. “Yamia and Hengrast have gone out for a walk,” she says, in resignation. “She tells me she does not need healing.”
“I’ve heard the same from her before. She is… as she is.”
“She is far better than she used to be. Hengrast knows this – they were all healed last time this happened.” Thenaya keeps her spindle moving as she talks, and turns a grandmother’s eye on Tamakt. “I think she is planning something. She was thoughtful last night.”
Maalira winces. “One day, no one around me will be planning anything, and I can… have a really boring day, I guess.”
“Do you know how long you will be here?” Thenaya gives Maalira an amused look, but has nothing snarky or pointed to add.
“No. Until the dangerous bits are over and I’m needed, I guess.”
There is a brief pause, and then Thenaya says gently, “You will probably want to be there as soon as it is done, and not be a day away.”
Maalira nods. “Both Venlar and the lady of my temple thought it was best that I was away, but perhaps not.”
“Venlar is cautious,” Thenaya says. “Do you want to talk it through?”
“Yes, please!” Maalira settles herself onto the floor near Tamakt.
Tamakt makes a little snoring sound.
“Well, let me just finish this…” Thenaya puts her spinning into a bag and goes to get a drink, heating wine and water by adding a hot stone to it, and crushing a clove, then pouring a cup for each of them. As she does, she talks about the harvest and the new houses here and the furniture…
And then she pulls up a low stool and sits down, putting Maalira’s cup safely away from Tamakt, and holding her own in both hands. “What is worrying you most? You could start with that.”
Tamakt mmphs in his sleep.
“I guess… I guess I am worried that I won’t know exactly what to do. Berra was deliberately vague about what she is doing – she didn’t want me to know too much about it, I think, and she had her reasons, but it means I don’t know what to expect.”
“Oh. Well, I can tell you what the whole story is, easily enough. She is going to be badly hurt at the end, but she will live. I am sure you will be able to help her.”
“What is going to hurt her?” Maalira probes.
“Two things. The first will be the marsh, and for that he needs a …” Thenaya gives Maalira a curious look, but goes on. “Someone who can keep him alive when he is very afraid, and very weak.” She might have forgotten she is talking about Berra. “He had a piece of something’s claw stuck in his bone, and it was poisoning him. I cut it out, and I talked to him for two days and a night, whenever he grew scared. He was afraid of what he had seen and also of what was to come.” Thenaya’s worried look vanishes as she looks at Tamakt.
“So I will need knives and draughts and salves against poison, and a lot of clean water, and a warm and safe place. And I will need to be well-rested.”
Thenaya pauses. “Are you thinking you will be me?” she says quietly. “It is strange to even be asking that like I am a hero, or a god, but it is what happened last time, you know?”
“That is the role that Berra told me about,” Maalira says thoughtfully. “She trusts me to care for her.”
Thenaya remembers her drink, and takes a sip. “Yes. She would have to trust you completely. I think it was different for Irillo. You see, he called on a god to help him back. Eril walked. It is not like a Heroquest where you will know the role, where hundreds of people have been part of the same thing before you. You might find yourself in a different situation, but you will have to love him enough to keep going, and he will have to … to trust you enough to stay with you. Nobody else could have saved him, I think. Maybe not even a White Lady. Certainly not anyone else who was there. He has to want to live.”
“That frightens me. I don’t know if Berra wants to live enough.”
“Then you be her reason. Make her promise to come back to you – or be a better healer than I was. A White Lady can manage that, I’m sure. Hold onto her as hard as you can.”
Maalira nods. “I hope I can make her understand.”
“But you should not wait here, if that is what will happen. She might already be setting off into danger.” Thenaya rolls her cup gently between her hands. “The second thing that will hurt her will hurt you too. There is a terrible Heroquest called Ikadz the Torturer. She will be hurt as things she remembers are… are cut out.”
Maalira flinches. “She mentioned something like that, but I didn’t really understand.”
“He took on too much. It was not just the Temple he tried to shoulder, but he had a plan to free Sartar, Silor told me. He needed to be able to move around freely, so he had to forget all he had done against them. I felt him die. I knew he was gone. It was false, but it still hurts. It… for me it has happened twice. The second time was when Irillo was undergoing that horrible thing… but my children are better because of it, so I would do it again.”
“Children…” Maalira sighs deeply but does not elaborate. “I think I had better get back to Varanis’ house.”
“Yes.” Thenaya might get it. “At that point I was Silor’s lover. He never asked who their father was, just acknowledged they were his.” That seems to be as much as Thenaya is saying. “You could ask Yamia for her ideas, but I think it might be best if you went to the Tula directly. It might be important to have that time saved.”
“I don’t understand,” Maalira says.
“They will have gone to the Cinder Fox lands, or be going to go there,” Thenaya explains. “That is where Cavalry Pond is – the marsh. That is where I keep dreaming of waiting for him.”
“What do you mean about having time saved?” Maalira persists.
“If you go to Boldhome, it will take longer.” Thenaya frowns softly in thought. “Irillo set off after a day or two, and you spent time getting here. Just to be sure, I think you should go to where you are needed directly. You can always be useful there.” She looks down at Tamakt, and then offers, “Would you like me to come?”
Maalira considers, then shakes her head. “No, I don’t want anyone else getting caught up in this. I will go there alone.”
“I would have missed him anyway,” Thenaya says. “He is so sweet, and so big now.” Tamakt is tiny in his hand-me-downs.
“He is a lovely child,” Maalira says. “Could I beg provisions and directions?”
“I can fill your saddle bags,” Thenaya says. “I have a few treats, too. And a letter or two for Silor…” she trails off, and smiles. “Just the food. You go to Dangerford and then South to Jonstown and Wilmskirk. Ask at the Cinder Fox house there if you need any more, but by then you will be a day away.”
Maalira nods. “I should go, then. I thank you again for your hospitality.”
Thenaya gets to her feet. “Drink up, go use the outhouse, and make sure your cloak is waterproof. I shall pack.” She creeps away from Tamakt to the kitchen end of the hall.