Mellia — Angling
????, Fire Season, Season/Illusion Week
Fire Season/Illusion Week/Clayday/near mid-morning and in various locations at Cinder Fox Tula. [[[s01:session-42|Session 42]]]
Fluff warning! Fluff warning!
1626 Fire Season/Illusion Week/Clayday, mid-morning
The rain falls on the fish ponds, blattering down without vigour or malice. The surface of the water looks like fish are rising up towards the biggest, best crumbs. It is not cold, at least, and a good cloak of woven grass will keep the worst of the weather at bay.
Mellia watches the rain from underneath her cloak of woven grass. This is a peaceful place.
There are footsteps behind her, on one of the easier paths. Splashing through puddles, which might be deeper than someone realised.
Mellia turns to see who it is.
It is Venlar, the water running off a cloak of oiled leather. He gives Mellia a worried look, and pauses a little way short of her.
Mellia walks over to him, smiling. “Venlar! Is there anywhere we can be out of the wet and watch the rain?”
“No buildings where we might not be found. I have just finished advising my father.” He steps close, and then pauses. “Is a hide cloak acceptable to Chalana Arroy?”
Mellia nods and comes close. She will even hug him. “Out here it is, I suppose.”
He wraps her arms around Mellia, and gets the cloak around her shoulder. “There is no precedent. If he was mad, then he did nothing wrong, but must pay a penalty. If he invited Lord Irillo to Heroquest upon his Tula, then he is liable. I do not think this has ever been judged before, with the case exactly as it is. Nothing the Ring or the Elders knew held it. There is, however, precedent for Chalana Arroy stepping between warriors, and healing Humakt when he was wounded. In that case, however, he was trying to stop her from healing another, not himself.” His voice is gentle, soft, pitched exactly to carry. The cloak keeps most of the water off his face, but some runs down the scar and he wipes it away with a gesture that looks like old habit.
Mellia tries to rest her head on Venlar’s shoulder. “I told him I forgive him. He was in the Heroquest. I’m glad I kept whoever he was from killing the young Eril.”
He is too tall for that, but his chest is good enough. His wiry strength is considerable, mostly hidden by his height. “He was Tamain Cracks-Rock. His own father. I don’t know what he felt in there, but he’s an honourable man. He wants to make all things right. Forgiveness is a balm for all, but if a splinter caused that wound, it should be smoothed away.” He puts his arm around her. “You are adorably short. I can’t rest my head on yours.”
Mellia kisses his chest, so there. “You are just adorable,” she tells him. “If making some sort of reparations will ease his heart, I will accept them. Did I remember to tell you I’m noble?”
There is a blank look, as Venlar tries to work that out, and then the scholar in him takes over. “If he was mad, then reparations are due as to anyone being wounded by accident. Nobility does bear on that, yes. If he was responsible, it will probably be a donation to the Great Hospital, if that is where you are based. A suitable pilgrimage would give him time to mull over what he was responsible for. Likely on foot to show humility, but he can be accompanied. He would not be lonely.” If a competition were held for missing the point, Venlar would arrive with flintless arrows.
“I have no home temple,” Mellia says, “but if I receive that money directly, half of it will go to building a temple for me. ” Mellia snuggles close. “It’s been a busy morning. This feels so good that I am almost tempted to send a letter to my mother, who sits on the Clan Ring.”
Venlar makes a strangled sound and gets his arms properly around Mellia. After a while he says, in a slightly choked voice, “You can’t write.”
“Forgive me. I keep wanting to rush into things today.”
“I’ve been handfasted before. I’m twenty years and three, in age. I wouldn’t mind.”
Mellia looks up at Venlar and gives him a glowing look.
After a brief moment which might contain a calculation on how to do this without getting anyone too wet, he kisses her.
Mellia kisses back!
After a while, it turns out neither of them are fish, and they need air. He holds her for a bit, looking out over the fish pond. He has a little smile on his face.
Mellia is happy to be held. She’s beaming.
“Right now,” he says after the ponds have been smiled at for some time, “I can’t ask. It could be taken as me trying to bring you into my father’s kinfold for forgiveness. But someone else could. If you wanted. Only there are things we should talk about first. If we did.”
“We should talk first,” Mellia agrees. “For instance, I should probably ask formal permission to court you. My head keeps telling me to slow down, but my heart…”
“Mhm. But if we’re courting… do you want children? I’m afraid I don’t know if I can have them. And that’s really important. My spirit, you see…” A little tension comes into him. “You should think about that. And about political advantage too.”
“I think you could be healed,” Mellia says. “The priestesses of Ernalda at the Paps would be the ones to ask. It would be difficult, of course.”
“I’d do that. A good marriage is a good reason.” He sighs in slow time. “I’d happily share a household, but I don’t think I could be Esrolian about it. I wouldn’t want concubines.”
“We’d probably want to negotiate a contract that makes us equals. Mother may have something to say about that.”
“A husband-and-wife marriage here would do that. Is it true that women in Esrolia take lovers when they’re married? Different husbands?”
“Some do, some don’t. I wouldn’t feel the need.”
“I might have to visit Ernaldans sometimes. Not often. But if I end up as Chief, something has gone wrong anyhow. You know I get ill sometimes? I should probably list that. The Air goes from me and I have fits of shivering. It’s alarming, but not a problem.”
“Your body is deeply touched by Death, Venlar. I need to talk to your mother, but I may know why.”
“I was born in Death Week. Windsday. Changeable omens. There were three of us, so I don’t think the soothsayer knew how to read the birds and the lamb-blood, to be honest.”
“No, it’s worse than that if I’m right.”
“Mm? Should I know? Or best not, if you’re wrong…” He stays where he is, arms comfortably around her, mostly speaking to her hair.
“I think your mother spent too long near that huge Death Rune while she was carrying you and your sister.”
“Oh.” He nods slightly. “And Hengrast. Yamia has separation in her. He doesn’t.”
“Yamia is deeply touched by Death in her mind.”
“I know. Maybe part of my spirit can’t be un-separated. She’s happy, though. We all are.”
Mellia snuggles again.
Venlar makes a happy little growling noise. A fish rises in expectation, grabs a raindrop, and sinks unsatisfied.
Mellia seems content to snuggle until someone comes to fetch her.
After a while, Venlar himself says, “Father is getting ready to go. If you want to talk to mother now, you should go find her. Or later. We should not rush, and this would not be a solution for now.”
Mellia sighs. “I had better talk to your mother.” She will give him a good-bye hug and kiss, just in case she doesn’t get the chance later.
He holds onto Mellia as long as possible, and then tells her the easiest way to get into the Thrall House, and watches her down the path.
Mellia goes down the path, once again the healer.
The Thrall House is what a longhouse usually is in Sartar, mostly full of women right now. Some are sewing or weaving, and there is the sound of grindstones working. Thenaya is working by a table full of herbs, cutting up medicines. She is the only woman in here not in a stiff leather collar, until Mellia comes in.
Mellia will go over to Thenaya’s table and wait until she is at a good stopping point before saying, “Mistress Thenaya, may we speak in private?”
The woman is good enough at reading people that she simply cuts to the end of her root and finishes that task before looking up, and is already ready to step away. “Of course.” And she has a little room, and beyond that a slightly larger one. With a bed and a stool and a few shelves, it seems more like a sick room than her own private quarters, but it is comfortable enough. “Will you take the seat?” she asks. “I can have a chair sent for.”
“Thank you.” Mellia sinks into the seat. “I hope this won’t take long. Do you remember the time when you were carrying Venlar and Yamia?”
“Yes,” she says quietly, and sinks down to kneel politely. “None of my clothes fitted, from very early on.”
“Did you spend time near a cart the late Eril brought from Boldhome?”
“No. I was not pregnant then.” She smiles. “But it was all long ago. He’s gone.”
“Hmm. What about that large Death Rune? Did you end up near that?”
She shakes her head. “I never saw it. He came in with Silor, and whatever he was hiding, they hid away.” Some emotion touches her that makes her look down. Perhaps somewhere out of sight of Mellia is the past.
“Then I have an idea what happened to Venlar and Yamia, but not why.” Mellia gets up and goes to one knee in front of Thenaya. “If today were a happier day, I would ask your permission to court Venlar. I wanted you to know that.”
Thenaya blushes. “Oh, it’s his father you should ask,” she says. “But thank you. He is a lovely boy, even now he is a man.” She leans forward for a hug, despite the disparity in rank.
Mellia gladly hugs Thenaya.
She is very good at hugs. Perhaps explaining it, there are three lines in charcoal, tattooed at the base of her throat.
That makes sense. Mellia will eventually get up and offer Thenaya a hand up. “I had best let you get back to work. Thank you.”
Thenaya rises, and gives Mellia a happy smile. “Let us see each other in other times.”
“I would like that, very much.”
Thenaya walks Mellia out of the door, bowing deep to her there, like a free woman to a noble.
Mellia nods in reply and goes to pack her things before anyone else catches up to her.