A Promising Start

Mellia — Aps

????, Fire Season, Season/Illusion Week


Fire Season/Illusion Week/Windsday/evening in Wilmskirk at the Praxian inn. Shortly after Best Laid Plans. [[[s01:session-43|Session 43]]]


Wilmskirk, evening. Rajar is keeping guard over the wagon and the cross, and Berra has taken the swiftest, most biological of breaks, and is now scrubbing her hands with a handful of dust, a little away from the wagon.

Mellia can’t get close to the cross, because she’ll get sick. So she calls, “Berra?”

Berra walks over, shaking dust away. Her left hand rubs at her right a little, getting dust out of the stiff knuckle joints.

“How is your right hand? I’m sorry I keep forgetting to check on it.”

“The feeling in it still stops on the edge of the scar,” Berra replies. “But the thumb started moving a few hours ago.” She holds the hand up, and manages to get her thumb flexing a little towards the palm and back. “It doesn’t hurt. I felt a weird slithering inside, just before, and something that was sharp but didn’t hurt.” She shrugs. “Better, anyhow.” And dusty.

Mellia smiles at that. She looks Berra over while she’s at it. How is Berra overall?

Berra looks tired, but counting back this is probably because she has not slept for many full nights recently. Physically, she seems to be in fine form, but her features show strain. Nothing unexpected, although the fact she is also looking Mellia up and down is an indicator she is well – she does that in her Guard Captain habits.

“You need to get some solid sleep,” Mellia says. “The sooner we give the relics to Eril, the better.”

“Yes,” Berra replies. “The High Sword. I’ll be more relieved to see him than I thought might be possible, and I’ve been three feet ahead of an infantry charge heading for the last gap in the shield wall. It’s almost like knowing if I get there, the sword-champion will fill the spot. Almost exactly like that, in fact.” Her expression gets touched by a smile that could be nostalgia or imagination.

Mellia smiles for a moment, then says, “Irillo says there is at least one more bit of quest. It will be painful. He’s worried.”

Berra grimaces. “I’m sorry for him. I want it all to be over – he shouldn’t have to go through this.” She gathers her thoughts briefly and then says, despondent, “It’s one reason why Humakt guards. To stop this sort of thing getting in.”

“He has suffered greatly,” Mellia agrees. “If I could kick the High Sword, I would.”

“I’d have to get in the way,” Berra says. “He’s my Commander.”

“Argh. Maybe I can yell at him instead.”

“He hasn’t done anything wrong,” Berra says. Then, after a moment’s consideration, “Well, not what forced Irillo into this. I’m pretty sure. It’s not his fault.” She sounds certain, heels already dug in.

“I really do not understand why we keep getting sucked into that man’s past. If it’s not his fault, I want to yell at whoever is responsible.”

“I don’t understand either,” Berra says, “And it worries me. I don’t know what to do, and we need to get that back, but at least we’ll have guards. But if my Darkness Rune just freezes up, that could drop me. It’s done it once, and nearly done it once. And I don’t know how to stop it.”

Mellia admits, “I don’t either. Have you tried talking to Nala?”

“Everyone’s sticking clear of the wagon. So no. Not really. I’ll catch her if I see her.” Berra smiles a bit. “Oh. I’d meant to ask you. That man Venlar.”

“Yes?” Mellia’s expression softens.

“Why did he want to meet me?”

“He’d heard a lot about you,” Mellia answers. “Congratulations, you’re a famous hero.”

Berra laughs. “Right. That makes sense.” She seems relieved, as well as glad and proud. “He seemed to be asking about the High Sword but I got the idea that wasn’t what he really wanted, and I was wondering.” Is that a blush?

“He told me he wanted to hear about the High Sword and meet you. I am thinking of sending a letter to my mother.”

Berra looks confused. “About the High Sword?”

“No, about Venlar. I need to consider the letter carefully, because I think Mother would rather I married an Esrolian.”

Berra’s expression clears. “Oh! Right. Yes. I see what you mean now. We don’t really do it by letters. He’s rich, though, and powerful, isn’t he?”

“Rich, yes and his father’s back-up heir. On the other hand, my mother sits on the Clan Ring of Clan Saiciae and my clan is rich too.”

“Silor is the Clan Chief, so you’re well matched. And he’s on the edges of the Tribal Council. Are you the oldest daughter?” Berra starts to clean out the nails on her left hand, using her right thumbnail. The process is slow and clumsy.

“No, I am my mother’s third daughter. My older sisters are in Nochet, serving Ernalda and learning from Mother.”

“Right. I think I knew that. Sorry. I hope you get married and have fat children who delight you. It would be wonderful to see little Mellias.” Berra smiles at her task.

Mellia beams at Berra. “Thank you! I do worry that I can’t support Venlar in the style he’s accustomed to.”

“He’s… a chief’s son. He’ll have hides. He should be able to support a household if necessary. Where would you live?”

“That’s another sticky part. I have promises to keep to the Blue Tree and Green Fish. Either we’d live in Blue Tree Tula, or I’d have to ask to be released from my promises and give some of that land back.”

“He’ll want something to move. That’s going to be costly. But less than an Esrolian would ask, probably. For the same promises. Can you keep them and be there half of the time?”

“Possibly,” Mellia says. “I told the Wyter I would heal its people.”

Berra nods. “That’s a pretty big promise,” she says. “I think that’s spending most of the time there. Or at least, much of your magic. But really, I think that’s a big one. So he’ll have to move. Do you know that means you might get Yamia?”
Mellia groans. “Perhaps she could spend her time with the Green Fish?”
“Maybe. Or organise having a bodyguard for him, so she can come and go. You can’t tear apart brother and sister, but if he needs guards, he needs guards.” Berra examines her fingernails, and looks mildly irritated.

“I think I’d rather pay a bodyguard. The way the rumors are going, I might need one.”

“YOU?” Berra stares. “In the Heroquest, right?”

“No, in the mortal world,” Mellia replies. “Did you not get the latest hot gossip about Kallyr?”

“Yes, but … it could get messy, yes. But you’re an Initiate of Chalana Arroy. Your best defense is to be out in public where a mob will pull people apart if someone attacks you. Best not to be attacked, I guess…” Berra rolls through accidentally committing violence by mob, to get to the end of what she was saying.

“I don’t want to believe that Kallyr’s dead. If she is, Varanis had better decide in a hurry who she wants to back.”

“Tennebris. Always Tennebris,” Berra says with a sigh. “Although in political terms the strongest King by far is a Queen, Leika. My Queen.”

“I skipped court, so I didn’t meet Queen Leika. She might well be what’s best for Sartar.”

“She… she would need to marry Varanis, I think. Or have some claim to all of Sartar, like remaking it. King Sartar himself did great magical deeds to make the place into a place. She’s a great warrior, but she can’t inherit according to his line.”

“Hmm. Our questing days will continue for a while, I suspect. Do you think Varanis can avoid the throne if we bring back the Flame?”

“Spark, not Flame. But if she does, then Leika would be a good wife for her. She’ll need that sort of political power.”

“Poor Varanis. She seems doomed.”

Berral’s grimace is an odd one. “How about, destined? I mean, we’re all doomed. We’re born, we die. For most of us a good life and a clean death is what we want. For some of us, stout service to our gods. She has the chance to do more.”

“She does, at that,” Mellia agrees. “Thing is, she doesn’t want the throne.”

Berra shrugs. “I was going to take you home with me for Earth Season,” she says. “Then Whitewall happened, and I didn’t get home until almost a year later. And I’ve committed to a different path. I had a plan. Now I have a different one.”

Mellia shrugs. “I usually don’t have much of a plan. The will of my Goddess was always enough for me. Now I have to plan.”

“Oh, yes. Right. I should probably explain High Strategy to you at some point.” Berra rolls out her shoulders.

“You probably should.”

“Not now, though. But … mmm. I don’t know that I can even really teach you the best tool I have. It relies on Separation. Although that’s not always Death.”

Mellia sighs. “That doesn’t sound like something I can use.”

“It’s more a way of thinking, but I’ll try to work out how to put it. I mean, I can use healing, after all.” All that shoulder exercise comes together in a shrug as complicated concepts fail to come together properly for Berra.

“Thank you,” Mellia says. “I should take you to dinner one of these days.”

“Yes. Yes you should. I’m a famous warrior, and you have the chance to be seen with me.” Berra smiles. “I’m going to go relieve Rajar. He was just waiting there while I relieved myself.”

“Stay well, Berra.” Mellia begins to walk away.

Berra turns around, spinning in place elegantly, and then with a step that might be the start of a kata springs off towards the wagon. By the time she gets there she is moving more sensibly.