Mellia — An Unexpected Visit
????, Fire Season, Truth Week
Fire Season, Truth Week, around Clayday. [[[s01:session-44|Session 44]]]
Spoiler Warning: PLANNING and things Venlar/Silor are doing and politics in general
Kissing warning: contains an inordinate amount of young people being madly in love with each other without directly advancing the plot
It has been some days since Varanis agreed to die, and still no word from Eril. The streets are tense, political discussion is hushed, but there are whispers. Kallyr is dead, they say. They say that the next Prince will be chosen from the Tribes. They say many things.
It is evening, and at the Temple of Chalana Arroy, a young lay member is waiting for Mellia as she comes in. “White Lady?” she suggests tentatively.
Mellia looks a little tired. She’s been bandaging and dispensing all day. She smiles at the young lay member. “Yes? Good evening. How may I help you?”
“There’s a messenger for you, ma’am. Letters!” The young woman’s eyes go wide at the word.
“Letters? Wonderful! May I have them?”
“He’s in the third waiting chamber, ma’am. He would not let them go but to your hands, he said.” She bobs a tiny bow, nervously.
“Thank you! May the White Lady bless you!” Mellia hurries off to the third waiting chamber.
There is, indeed a messenger of a sort. On a stool that is too small for him, back against the wall, fast asleep with his hand still on a travelling pannier, is Venlar.
Mellia shines with joy! She hurries to him and tries to awaken him with a kiss.
There is a splutter, and he does not really know what he is doing, but he gently pushes her away, eyes still closed. “No. M’gonna get married.”
“Venlar? To me, right?”
He blinks his eyes open, one slower than the other, and gives Mellia a big smile. “Hello.” He reaches for her hands.
Mellia hugs him instead.
He accepts that, with a serious effort at pulling her onto his lap. After a few minutes he says, “I have a letter from my father. And one from me. And then I thought, as you’d have to find someone to read it, I should come and save you the effort.”
Mellia will happily sit on Venlar’s lap. “Oh, my dearest dear! Do you feel up to walking to my inn, the White Grape?”
“Of course, although I have a horse here, and that might be easier. Would you like to ride, and I’ll lead her?”
“I can do that, or we can ride double and go slowly. I’m used to riding double.”
“Let’s,” says Venlar, but he does not move to let go, just keeps holding on. “I love you.”
“I love you,” Mellia replies. “I want you to remember that if something should go wrong.”
“Mhmm…” He looks at her for a moment. “Something you can’t tell me?” Big eyes. Scar. Besotted, worried look.
“Not here, I can’t,” Mellia admits. “We had better get going.”
He lets go, finally. “In that case… yes I can.”
Mellia nods, gets up and gives him another kiss.
Progress out to his horse is slow.
Mellia doesn’t make it any easier, since she keeps kissing him.
He does not seem to mind this, although finally he gives her the pannier to hold and picks her up, so he can both kiss and walk.
Progress becomes faster, but less sure in direction.
Mellia will finally say, “As delightful as this is, perhaps you should put me down.”
He does, a little closer to the stables now. “I was aiming for the ward with babies in,” he says, “In the hope you’d get the idea.”
Mellia laughs. “I’ve been out in the poor part of town all day. We can discuss childbearing once we get to my room.”
“That’s a start.”
At the White Grape, towards the end of the day, Mellia turns up with Venlar in tow.
Varanis greets Venlar with a smile and no cheeky comments.
Venlar, looking very happy to be in Mellia’s company, greets everyone with rather more distraction than good oratory. He is making sure Mellia, who knows the place, has a stool. Generally making himself in the way while trying to help.
Mellia is just beaming, calling for a meal for two to be sent up to her room, um, later…..
Venlar decides to go get settled. He has a bag to unpack, he points out. It’s a pannier. It may take him some time.
Rondrik makes sure the adorable couple gets fed well. They might need their energy.
Mellia’s expression says they will…
“I have a letter from my father to read her,” Venlar explains gravely.
Varanis buys an excellent vintage of Clearwine, in case they need to fortify themselves for the letter. She sends the bottle with them and stays firmly planted in the common room.
Mellia gives Varanis a grateful smile.
Some time has therefore passed before Venlar reaches for his pannier, and from a reinforced pocket within, pulls out several sealed notes. He reads the labels on each carefully, and then says, “You should, I suppose, hear from my father first. In that at least, the messenger can be trusted not to take advantage of your blushes.”
“Let me hear from your father, beloved. I hope it’s good news.”
Venlar cracks the seal with his thumb, and looks the letter over. “His handwriting is good but plain. No flourish. A warrior noble, not a poet. So….
“From Silor Cracks-Rock, chief of the Cinder Fox Clan, to Mellia Saiciae, let respectful greetings flow.
“I have received your instruction, which to me is as a command. I have a few matters to set to rights within the Tula, and will travel to Nochet with the sum commanded by custom and my Tribe.
“I send to you a scribe to read this, and ask that you find him hospitality. I know that he will wish for a warm bed, and hope you will provide. If there is anything you want to say to him, he is discreet and can carry word as you will.
“Then his seal, for his name and Clan.”
Venlar grins. “And you are very hospitable.”
“Oh, you are definitely getting a warm bed,” Mellia says with a grin. “There are more letters?”
“One from me. The rest are to people here – father would not waste a messenger. He was very particular about sending someone he knew would be eager to go. But I left my thralls behind, so they and Yamia will probably be catching up in a day or two, when he remembers to tell them where I have gone.” He looks resigned to that, but also amused.
Mellia chuckles. “I hope she isn’t going to tell the Emeritus High Sword she knows how to kill him.”
Venlar freezes in a moment of horror. “She really might. Is he a bad-tempered man?” He looks genuinely worried.
“No, but he’s already jeopardizing a remarkable recovery by sitting up too much.”
“Oh. Better not have her disturb him then. But I have business at that Temple too. I have a letter from my father to … to High Sword Eril. But tell me, when you say Emeritus, who do you mean?” The answer is dawning in his eyes but he does not speak it. Rather, he waits for confirmation.
“That’s him. He’s on sick leave. I had to do surgery on him and he insists on doing too much instead of resting.”
Venlar nods. “Well, a letter to him, anyhow. And I should in that case certainly see him before Yamia can find me. Will you show me where the Temple is, this evening or tomorrow?” He puts the opened letter down on the floor by the bed, and toys with another.
“If you insist,” Mellia says with a smile, “and promise to come back to this warm bed.” She looks at the letter Venlar is toying with.
“I believe your letter said something about resting in my arms,” Venlar says happily. “I cannot do that unless I return.”
Mellia beams and snuggles close.
Venlar breaks the second seal, and with some effort as Mellia is lying on his arm, opens the letter flat. “I happen to think this handwriting is both beautiful and elegant,” he says, “But others might call it florid or over-worked. It begins with the most shocking intimacy…
“My dear love. Is that not entirely too much to ask a scribe to read?”
“Depends on the scribe. My cousin Xenofos could manage it.” Mellia kisses Venlar.
“Well, the words are short, but it does require a definite belief in yourself to say it. Onward, anyhow. Your letter caught me in Wilmskirk. I am determined to fly to your arms that you may rest easily. My thralls will follow, and my sister also, once they know where I have gone, or father informs them I had a letter from Boldhome…” Venlar trails off. “Of course, when I wrote this, he had not yet called for me to ask me to take his letter. I was pleased to find he was of an accord with me, that I should go, but still. He has had entirely too much practice at whatever it is that lets him know exactly what his children are thinking.”
Mellia chuckles. “Your father is a wise man. Is there more?”
“Indeed. Let me see…
“Still, I send myself, to read you this letter which brings you the hope that is a well-spring in my heart. I was probably reading poetry when your letter was delivered to be honest. We’re halfway through, and if you would like to refresh yourself with some Clearwine, I will understand. We’ll have to get up for that, though.”
“I think I’d rather stay here,” says Mellia.
“I’ll go on, then…
“If you have cares I will hold them for you, but when you return you may find I have frittered them away with worry for your sweet self and there is nothing left to return. I will think about you as this letter is taken by a man I trust as I trust myself – reward him in any way you think fit, my love, but recall that while we are not yet married, I can think of nobody but you. All other women – pleasant, lovely things – have slipped away and the white cloak of peace beckons me ever onward.
“I kiss your hands in absence, and send the kisses to you. Which I suppose may have arrived before me. I think someone kissed me while I was sleeping. And then I signed it with my name, not just a seal, indicating intimacy that might again make a scribe blush. I must have run out of ink, or patience. I am sure I had more to say.”
“Oh, my love,” Mellia says while blushing, “that’s wonderful. Naturally, the scribe and messenger should be rewarded.”
Mellia sleepily murmurs, “Venlar, love? There’s something I should tell you and you should tell your father.”
“Hmmggng? I’m awake.” He turns over, proving it.
“Kallyr isn’t dead. She’s missing. We’re going to try to get her back.”
Silence, for a long moment, and then Venlar relaxes slowly, showing how he had tensed up. “Oh. That sounds… dangerous?” Already close enough to reach out for her, he does that.
Mellia snuggles close. “It is. That’s one reason why I’m so glad you came.”
After a little thought, characterised by a tiny curious sound in his throat, he says, “If I am going to tell Lord Cracks-Rock, I will need to leave you. He will be going to Nochet shortly.” He holds Mellia more tightly.
Mellia hugs him back. “It’s something he should know. I never want to let you go, Venlar.”
“Those two things cannot happen together. Shall I stay and help?”
“I wish you could, Venlar. Unfortunately, I love you so much that I couldn’t possibly focus on being Chalana Arroy. Can you tell your father and come back?”
“I can. But I should deliver my other letters first. I could do that tonight, and still sleep here, and leave in the morning. My Lord Chief ordered up his baggage from the Tula – he did not go back. He’s been talking to many of the chieftains and the Tribes, I think. I know. He might be setting off tomorrow, but I can probably catch him. It may take some days, though.” Venlar sounds almost like he is thinking aloud. “A day to Wilmskirk… I can’t ride fast, but he is in no hurry.”
Mellia nods and reluctantly lets go of Venlar. “Hurry back, my love. I miss you more than I can say when you aren’t here.”
“I need to know the way to the Temple of Humakt, the Palace, and the Sambari Tribal Mansion,” he says, rolling out of bed and landing in a way that will reduce clumsy falls. “And I should probably eat.”
Mellia throws on a nightgown and checks the hall outside her door for food.
There is indeed a table there, with the best that Rondrik could pull together, set in a pot of hot water, to keep it warm. Venlar is getting dressed, hurrying enough that he tears his shirt and remembers to slow down.
Mellia brings in the food, moving with extreme care. “Bless Rondrik,” she begins, then stops when she sees the rip in the shirt. “Do you want me to try to mend that?”
Venlar grimaces at it. “I do not think I have time,” he says. “I’ll put something over it. As long as I move carefully and do not get flustered, nothing will get worse. It is not a bad tear yet.”
“As you wish,” Mellia answers. “Come and eat while I tell you the way to the Temple of Humakt and the palace. You might have to ask Berra how to find the Sambari Tribal Mansion.”
Venlar does that, taking care over his movements. He is slower than he should be, even with the care he is taking, because he keeps on reaching out to take Mellia’s hand, or brush her cheek, or try to feed her something he likes. All vegetarian – Rondrik knows Mellia.
Mellia happily reciprocates all the caresses and feeding. “At this rate, you might not leave,” she warns.
“I have to, or I can’t come back,” Venlar replies. “And you should not be associated with these letters, I think. My Lord Silor is… well, I think he’s almost regretting that he will miss the next few weeks. Better if he does, though. He can come back and be innocent of all politicking. For once.”
“Probably wise of him. You’re right, I promised Varanis I would be careful wandering about town. Be careful – Leika brought her full honor guard.”
“Well, that letter is not for her. Berra, you say? For the Sambars?” Venlar looks down at his bowl, now almost empty.
Mellia will feed Venlar some of her food if there isn’t any extra. “Berra knows Boldhome best. If she doesn’t know, ask at the Temple of Humakt.”
There is plenty, but after a bite of herb bread, he shakes his head. “I can’t stay more. I want to. I shouldn’t.” He stands up, and goes to his panniers to take out the letters, and an expensive-looking armless jacket to go over the torn shirt. By the time he has fastened it, and belted his sword on, the tear down the side is covered.
Mellia gets up. She gives Venlar one last hug and kiss for the moment. “Be careful out there, my love. I will be waiting.”
“I’ll be sure to return.” After one kiss for the road, he turns, takes a deep breath, and walks out without tripping over his own feet.
It’s late by the time Venlar gets back down, having left Mellia up there. He goes over to Berra for a quick conversation, which is low other than the part where he compliments her armour and she looks really pleased. He heads for the door.