Mellia — Bruises Baths
Season/Week/Day/Time and Notable Context. [[[s01:session-30|Session 30]]]
Sometime after Session 30 and all that wrestling
Varanis slips out of the training ring, leaving Berra and the others behind. She’s pulled her wet tunic over herself and has her armour and trousers in a bundle in her arms.
Mellia was quietly watching, just in case. She smiles at Varanis. “Want a hand with all that?”
Varanis groans. “Yes please. I’m done in.” She’s moving with less than her usual grace, clearly worn to the bone. Her hair is a mess, she has some bruises appearing already on her exposed legs, and to Mellia’s familiar gaze, she looks exhausted, though she seems to be trying to hide it.
“Let me take the armor,” Mellia says. “There. We should hunt up a bath and a drink for you. Perhaps you should eat as well.”
“I had some beer,” Varanis says, wrinkling her nose. “Wine would be very good. And a bath. Oh what I’d do for a bath right now.”
“Let’s see what we can find. There must be something we can find around here.”
“I took on Rajar and survived, Mellia,” Varanis says with a certain amount of disbelief and pride. “But, I wouldn’t have lasted much longer.”
Mellia smiles. “That’s an achievement. Next you’ll be wrestling Billy.”
“Right now, I don’t think I can wrestle anyone else.” As they are walking, through the palace, the occasional person stops to stare. The half-dressed and very disheveled Vingan seems to be an uncommon sight around here. She tries to draw herself upright to muster whatever dignity she has left.
Mellia stares right back at anyone who stares at Varanis.
“What were you doing nearby? It was, I admit, good to run into you.”
“Just a hunch,” Mellia admits. “I thought some of you might be training. Accidents happen. Also, the priestesses can’t see me all the time.”
“Next time, if you want to, you could come in to watch. It’s not usually bloody, though…” She winces. “I hit Berra harder than I meant to this morning. She has a new scar.”
Mellia winces in sympathy. “I should have been there. I’ll bet Berra wants to keep the scar.”
“She healed it before I could offer, so I think so. Humakt’s healing looks painful and always seems to scar. I wonder why he likes to mark the bodies of his followers that way.”
“I do not understand the ways of Humakt,” Mellia says. “Humakt and Chalana Arroy are very nearly perfect opposites.”
Varanis tells Mellia of the various bouts they’ve had in the training grounds. It’s clear that Xenofos was a surprise to her and probably Berra too. It’s a long walk from the palace to the White Grape Inn. Along the way, they are met with the occasional stares, but most people steer politely around the White-Robed healer and her charge. Well before they reach the inn, Varanis has stopped talking and is focusing on walking, trying not to look like it’s hard work. They continue in silence for the last stretch, each lost in their own thoughts.
As they come through the door of the White Grape, Rondrik, the innkeeper approaches, solicitous, as always. Varanis stares at him blankly, seeming to have come to the end of her stamina. Mellia tells Rondrik, “Lady Varanis requires a bath, a bottle of wine and a meal. Is it possible for all those to be delivered to her room?”
The innkeeper looks askance at the normally very elegant Vingan and agrees right away. “I’ll send my girl up with them. Which do you want delivered first?”
“The bath. Thank you. “
The room is upstairs and Varanis stands at the bottom looking up for a moment. Finally, she moves one foot at a time, up the stairs.
Mellia goes up the stairs behind Varanis, calling encouragement.
At the top of the stairs, Varanis turns into the first room on the right. It is, thankfully, her room. As soon as she enters the room, her sandals come off and her tunic is stripped away and dropped to the floor.
“Varanis? Do you want me to stay and keep you awake?” Mellia looks around for an armor stand, which is a great way not to look at Varanis.
A number of small bruises are forming already. On her thigh, a large dark bruise is blooming.
Mellia starts putting the armor on the armor stand. “That one on your thigh looks like it will hurt. You need that bath.” Right on cue, there is a tap on the door. The serving girl enters and almost drops the towels she brought. Mellia swiftly moves to keep the hot water from hitting the floor. “She doesn’t have anything you don’t have, except a nasty crop of bruises. Here, I will help you set up the bath.” The servant girl is clearly off balance, but between her and Mellia, soon Varanis is in a washbasin, getting scrubbed with hot water.
Varanis groans and tries to sink under the water, but the tub isn’t big enough for her long frame by any stretch of the imagination. Instead, she tries to pluck at the mess of small braids hanging dripping from her head.
“Let me do that,” Mellia says as the serving girl leaves to fetch wine and food at the earliest opportunity. Mellia sets to work on the braids with deft fingers.
Varanis, who had been starting to drift off in a doze, snaps awake suddenly, limbs flailing for a moment. Water flies everywhere, soaking Mellia and the floor around the tub. “Rajar used magic! He called on his holy fanaticism. I could have died!” she exclaims
“He did WHAT? Cheater!” Mellia’s white robes are plastered to her, leaving just enough to the imagination to be worse than wearing nothing.
“I admit, but don’t tell anyone, I was scared for a moment or two there.” The expression on her face shows it might have been a bit more than that. Then she starts to chuckle. “I might have thrown a bucket of water on him though.”
“You should have been afraid,” Mellia tells Varanis. “I’ve seen him filled with holy rage. Thank the Goddess I’ve always been able to put him to sleep.”
“You should have seen the look on his face when I dowsed him. I thought I was dead for sure, but then he started to laugh.” She doesn’t mention that he also threw an axe at her.
“It’s good that Rajar has a sense of humor.”
“I wonder if I should just cut my hair? This is such a mess.” Varanis squirms a little in impatience as Mellia goes back to working on the braids.
“I should teach you the braid styles I learned in the Great Hospital. They aren’t elegant, but they’re better than cutting your hair.”
Varanis shivers. “Almost done? It’s getting cold and I’ve suddenly realized I’m hungry.”
“There we are,” Mellia replies. “All done.” Mellia grabs the bucket and soaks Varanis’ head. “You’ll feel better with the sweat out of that.” The serving girl almost drops the food when she sees Mellia in her wet robes. “Easy,” Mellia says. “Take a deep breath. Put the food down. Then go to my rooms and bring me a dry robe, please.”
Varanis splutters in indignation, water streaming over her face. She squeezes the excess water out of the dripping red mass and then rises in the tub, reaching for a towel. “Thanks, I think.”
“You’re welcome,” Mellia says. Meanwhile, the serving girl puts the wine and food down and leaves in indecent haste. She might return with Mellia’s dry robe, or she might not.
Varanis watches the girl scurry out of the room. “Who knew Sartarites were such prudes?” she asks. “You should have heard them when I stripped down to wrestle with Xenofos. It was like they’d never seen a pair of breasts before!”
Mellia laughs. “It must be the cold weather.”
Varanis steps out of the tub, making vigorous use of the towel. “That smells good! What did she bring us?”
“More like what she brought you,” Mellia replies, “it looks like meat stew.”
“Oh dear. I’d offer to share, but…” One naked shoulder shrugs eloquently. “Can you find me something clean to wear, please? I’m suddenly ravenous.” Wrapping the towel around herself, Varanis sits at the table, wincing a little as she bends her leg.
Mellia nods and starts digging through her cousin’s clothes. “How fancy? I’d suggest taking a nap after you eat.”
“I’m good. I feel much better now. But something soft and clean would be appreciated.” Varanis’ bags seem to be a mess of clothing, including a couple of Esrolian silk gowns, and several fine woolen tunics, all with varying degrees of embroidery. There’s white linen under layers, as well. But clearly, she needs some laundry help.
Mellia picks out a white linen undertunic and a blue wool tunic with a moderate amount of embroidery. She holds them up. “Will these do?”
Varanis nods, mouth full of stew. Once she swallows, she asks “Mellia, when do you hope to head back to the Blue Tree Tula? I was hoping to spend some time in Boldhome, but if I can, I will escort you to the Tula.”
“I need to spend some time training,” Mellia says. “I am not yet ready to be a priestess. I can do that in Boldhome, or here. I also need to get construction on the temple started. Do you want to get into these now?”
Varanis thinks for a moment. “Maybe not now, but soon. We should have a plan.”
“I think I am unlikely to collapse into my food now,” Varanis says with a warm smile for Mellia. “Thank you for saving me. If you want to get a dry robe, it’s safe to leave me alone.” She’s not chasing her cousin away, but is providing the opportunity if Mellia wants to go.
“You’re welcome. If you need me, I’m just two doors down the hall.” Mellia puts the clothes on the bed, opens the door a crack and makes certain no one’s out there. Varanis waves her thanks and acknowledgement of Mellia’s words and turns back to shoveling food in her mouth. Mellia hurries down the hall.