Mellia — Being Needed
1627, Earth Season
Late Earth Season, morning of the second day in the Blue Tree. [[[s02:session-54|Session 54]]]
It has been busy in the Blue Tree. Venlar brought Yamia, Yamia brought a wetnurse and an attitude, and the warriors have upped their practice game. With that and the usual efforts of Earth Season, the harvest and the slowly growing chill, people have been in want of a healer, if not in need of one. There are shared rounds, including to the other end of the Tula, and yesterday took its toll, enough that Mellia stayed overnight.
Now, coming back, there is a figure on a bison up ahead. Small, brown-armoured, familiar. And it has to be Berra – nobody else would dismount like that, jumping down and swinging off a tree and running to meet Mellia. Others might run – few would bounce so.
Mellia calls out, “Berra!” and begins running towards her.
Berra does slow down enough to not impact in her brown turtle costume, but only just. Mellia gets a huge hug, with Berra very careful not to squeeze too hard.
Mellia hugs Berra back. “Hello! How are you doing? “
Berra takes a moment to take a deep breath. “We all lived through Alda Chur, did you hear, and yes you must have if you saw Xenofos and yes I’m good and I took ransoms and I’m rich again! I fought a God-Sword! A God-Talker of Humakt! And I blooded him. And… it wasn’t…. yeah. Big. And we met a new White Lady. She’s not like you but she… I should slow down, right?”
“Maybe,” Mellia says with a smile. “I have seen Xenofos. I am glad you have done so well in battle.”
Berra takes another slow breath. “Would you like a ride back? I can walk.” She steps away from Mellia to look at her, and unlike some other people – Sosa is bad for it – does not look at her belly for signs of pregnancy. “We probably arranged a big marriage too. I don’t know if you heard.”
Mellia says, “Thanks, I will walk with you. I have not heard anything about marriage negotiations. Who’s getting married?”
Mellia looks happy, but not pregnant.
“Right. So, we got sent up to Alda Chur to talk to King Argrath of Pavis – and of Alone. He was up there putting it under siege. But it turned out we had to take a load of… oh yes, I think you met them. Some Esrolians. So we had an army, and they needed something to do. So we arrived with an army. You know, you’re allowed to tell me things about here as well? I mean, how’s Sosa and how’s …” She might be dodging a few bits of politics as she hesitates over what to say. “And my family, and things?”
“Sosa is a great blessing and learning quickly, thanks to the Goddess. Your family is doing well and misses you, as always. It has been a safe harvest;no major accidents.”
Berra looks relieved. “I asked, but you never quite believe until you see the granaries. And I haven’t met your other White Lady properly. Tathia. But I will. Anyhow, we got sent to Alda Chur and given that Kallyr wants to marry the Feathered Horse Queen, we also need a way for the marriage to have children. So there are some proxies involved – the Luminous Stallion King, and King Argrath. Kallyr gets children by the horse-king, Inkala…. I think that’s the Queen’s name – gets to marry Kallyr but have children with Argrath as the body stand-in. It’s complicated, but it’s better than arguing. I did wonder a bit how they’d do it in Notchet.”
Mellia giggles at the end. “I am not sure about that either. I hope this means we can look forward to peace for a while.”
“Well, between the two of them, mostly. We were… not vital, but part of the plan, in taking Alda Chur. The Esrolians went in under Varanis, and her banner, to take a gate that got broken apart, and then the cannon… wow. Mellia. I saw the cannon fire. It just destroyed a gate, completely. And the inner fort surrendered. And there were dwarfs in weird armour.” Berra still sounds amazed by it all.
“So this cannon is a dwarven invention ? I am amazed that the dwarves took a side. It probably saved lives.”
“They sometimes hire out. The Dwarf’s… weird, for a dwarf. Not like the ones in Boldhome. They closed up their palace hundreds of years ago, and never come out. But that was the one from Dwarf Mine alright. He wouldn’t let me touch the cannon. And yes. It definitely did. They couldn’t really fight.” Berra is listening, for all that words are still flooding out of her.
Mellia says, “I am glad they got involved, then. Dwarves are said to be very possessive of their tools.”
Berra nod-nods. “I asked politely. I mean, I was a bit excited but I think he could tell that. I was in command but I’d handed over to someone else because I needed to go clear a path up to a wall and get the arrows off where our main – the Esrolian – force was, and then I saw God-Sword Gallem, so I went and tried to hold him back. Did the blue flowers come out on the round hill in time to get picked? Sometimes they don’t dry and then we don’t have winter garlands at Sacred Time, and the winter gods get jealous.”
Mellia says, “It’s been a good year for the blue flowers . I don’t know much about God-Sword Gallem, but I am glad you lived through that.”
“He’s a top man. I like him. And when he put me down, he didn’t take my ransom – he’d proved his point. He didn’t want the fight, but he was there for it. And then the city’s going to be a gift from the King of Sartar to the Feathered Horse Queen. Without any names said, so that nobody has to back down or anything. And Koraki’s going to be King of Alda Chur.” That last bit seems not to surprise Berra so much as give her satisfaction.
Mellia says, “Gallem is a great servant of Humakt, then. Remind me who Koraki is? Anyway, I hope he will rule with wisdom and harmony.”
Berra flexes her hand, giving Mellia a grin. “Remember all that time back, when Lord Eril arrange the HeroQuest for me, and you found the Wind Lord with the silver hand? That Koraki. The one that lifted you on Kero Fin when you nearly fell.” She beams at the memories, or at the idea – one or the other. She is probably not beaming at the idea of falling off the mountain.
Mellia replies, “Oh, that Koraki. Now I remember him. I miss those days sometimes.”
“Yes. I miss not having responsibilities. I got moved to the senior barracks at the Temple. They expect me to stay in just one bed, I think. I don’t know how I’ll manage that.”
Mellia chuckles. “You will adjust to it. I may need to undertake one last quest for Xenofos’ sake, but we’ll see.”
“Can I help?” Berra is quieter suddenly. “I want to help him, but… not if it’s not something he can’t ask.” She looks at her toes as she walks along, examining the slightly scuffed leather.
“I think not only can you help, we may need your help. This all depends on who knows what. I am hoping someone already knows what I need to learn.”
Berra nods her head. “Humakt’ll… is he trying to cut himself off from things?” She suddenly sounds worried.
Mellia says, “No, but I think things need to be cut off from him. I don’t know how much to tell you.”
Berra sighs. “Nothing. You shouldn’t tell me anything, because he would have told me if he wanted me to know. But he’s not a warrior. For all that he tries to be, it hurts him like it doesn’t hurt me. I think he suffers a lot when he kills people, or hurts them, and he has to see it all the time.”
“I agree. Xenofos just isn’t a warrior. This is no problem in Nochet. But he won’t leave Varanis and she is a warrior.”
Berra nods. “I don’t know that I can take that oath from him, but it might be possible. If anyone would know, then the Humakti Temple would. Either Lord Eril, or the Black Sword. But when you work out what you need to ask, let me know. If I can’t help, I’ll find someone who can.”
“Do me a favor, Berra? Make sure Xenofos gets to the temple of Uleria as soon as you get to Boldhome, unless you are not going with him.”
“He’s back there, I think. He didn’t come with us back here, anyhow. We had some business, and-” Berra’s face brightens. “I wanted to see Haran.” The little demon-toddler. Her nephew.
Mellia says, “Haran is a little demon sometimes, bless him.”
“He is. He sat on my head and kept pulling my ears. Yehna looked like she wanted a rest, though, so I wore him as a hat for a while… does Yamia seem to you like she’s getting scary again? The way she looked at me was… it reminded me of before we found the cross.” Berra takes a long step over a hummock so that Mellia can take the easy path around.
Mellia says, “Is she scary, or bored? I honestly can’t tell.”
“That could be … yes, it could be boredom, in her. But we … maybe we could invite her to Boldhome too. I was going to invite my sister there – I’ll be very busy, but maybe she and Haran would like to come.” Berra seems unsure when it comes to people and social gatherings that are more than drinking.
Mellia nods. “Invite them all. I am not going to Boldhome. I want nothing to do with Kallyr.”
Berra sighs. “I’ll miss you. Obviously you were one of the people. But… listen, are you going to stay here now? Be safe and stuff, and peaceful?”
Mellia answers, “I miss all of you. These people need me, though. I admit I sometimes get bored.”
“All…” Berra stops. “No, that’s unfair. You’re doing good, and you do it wherever you go. That’s a fine thing.” She gives Mellia a smile, eyes bright.
Mellia smiles at Berra. “Thanks. I hear you have a White Lady traveling with you. What is she like?”
“Maalira. She’s… not as sharp as you, but more pointed. But she understands us all – that we’re going to go do things and we’ll need her, but they are things worth doing. She got that part pretty quickly.” Berra ambles along easily, just off the path, with Followed on the rein behind. “I think she’s… she tries to go around problems before they happen, I think. Which is good, but she’s also fine getting her sleeves red. So far, no need to follow me into a pit of ogres, though.”
Mellia chuckles. “You sound like you’re in good hands. Are Nala and Tiwr still with you?”
Berra nods. “Nala’s a God-Talker. Bears iron. The iron lord at the Temple enchanted it for her – I don’t know what she did in return, but that’s not something he’d usually do.”
Mellia raises her eyebrows. “That is amazing! I wonder what Nala gave your temple? See, you will be just fine.”
Berra nods. “Yeah. It’s not us I’m … I think you’ll do good anywhere, Mellia. It doesn’t have to be with us, and it’s good that you got a Temple.” She sounds like she means it.
Mellia looks happy. “Thanks.” By now they have reached the village.
Berra might say more, but there is another familiar figure, a rather taller one. Venlar is waiting, pacing up and down, patiently not leaving the village to check on his wife. The Humakti slows her pace a little. “Good to catch up,” she says gently. “I think he wants to check if you’re still as he remembers.”
Mellia winks at Berra, gives her a hug and then runs to Venlar. Venlar gets attacked with hugs and kisses.
Venlar is entirely vulnerable, and taken by surprise.
Mellia and Berra talk about what has happened lately, with Mellia unable to say all