Mellia — Dirty Laundry
????, Earth Season, Season/Death Week
1626 Earth Season/Death Week/Clayday/early afternoon, in the guest room given to Venlar. [[[s02:session-6|Session 6]]]
It is early afternoon, just after Yelm has begun to slip from his throne. Venlar’s door opens and in comes one of the house servants, bearing pots and bowls on a woven rush tray. The young, dashing, handsome Orlanthi is still asleep, blue shadows here and there on his skin where the woad has not come off. One of his thralls comes to take the tray but gets a head-shake instead, and is asked to set up a table for it.
Mellia must have thrown on a sleeping robe, for she is not at all embarrassed. She thanks the servants and tries to wake Venlar without kissing him, for once. “Dearest,” she murmurs in Venlar’s ear, “food’s here.”
Venlar stirs, and tries for a sleepy kiss, then opens his eyes when Mellia is not as close as he thought, and looks around, and finds her there. “Two things that are good,” he says. “Food, and you.”
Mellia gives Venlar a loving look, then asks the servants, “Have we missed anything today?”
The expressions on most of the faces show that people have been hanging around Venlar and his room, but the woman who brought in the tray is entirely different. She SAYS nothing, but her eyes indicate she has a story.
Mellia looks at the woman with the tray. “What is it? Is someone ill or injured?”
The woman’s eyes glow as she sets out food. Venlar shuffles over in the bed to suggest, “Shall I dismiss my people, or do you think she wants an audience?”
Mellia replies, “I think everyone can stay. What is it?”
“There was an argument at a ball yesterday ma’am! At the Thisera house. Before…” She lowers her voice and looks at Venlar. “Before you were stolen!”
Venlar, just getting up and running his hands through his hair to try to get it into enough order it will stay out of his eyes, smiles widely at that mention. He slept in his tattered clothes, an exhausted godling.
“I remember some sort of noise,” Mellia answers, “but Dormal and I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Did you figure it out?”
The servant replies, “Many people know now. Lord Horfrai… I think that is the name. Of house Deleaos! He sent a friend to call on the House this morning.”
Mellia does some arithmetic in her head and begins to turn pale. “What on Glorantha did my cousin Xenofos do? Is this Lord Horfrai of House Deleaos any good with a sword?”
“We don’t know,” the woman says, “But they says he duels a lot. He ARGUES.” That is, he enjoys duelling. They say.
Mellia rolls her eyes and looks through her clothes for either some money or an expensive trinket to give the servant woman. “Has anyone told Xenofos this?”
Venlar, right on cue, offers Mellia a couple of silver coins. “Don’t give too much,” he says. Obviously he guessed what she was after. “Captain Serzeen talked with him,” she says.
Venlar adds in a low tone, “Praise for coming to you is better than cash.”
Venlar gets a “Thank you, sweetheart” and a kiss on the cheek. The woman gets a few coins and “I am VERY glad you warned me. You may just have saved my cousin’s life. You did if I have anything to say about this mess, anyway.”
The servant glows, and Venlar gives Mellia the proud smile of Venlar watching Mellia. “Of course! And there are so many presents for him in the Courtyard. We think he’s brokering a marriage!”
“Oh my Goddess! White Lady, have mercy! Varanis doesn’t want to marry!”
“Not that it is Varanis, of course,” Venlar says, although the servant – Talisha, perhaps? – has obviously picked up on that. Venlar adds, loud enough to be overheard, “No known plans for Varanis in the house.”
“I had better find her too,” Mellia says, “before she sees that pile of presents and explodes. “
Venlar smiles, and steps up to the table. “Food, first. You did a lot yesterday.” He pulls a chair out for Mellia as he goes around the table to seat himself.
“Food,” Mellia agrees. “Food, a wash and some clothes I can work in. We have much to do today. Thank you, Talisha.”
She drops a little bow and for a moment straightens the table. Then, bustling with her own happiness, off she goes. Venlar watches with amusement. Beneath the smile he seems thoughtful, oddly so. Something is troubling him, although not a thing he finds worrying enough to mention.
Mellia waits until the rest of the servants leave. “Venlar, my love, what troubles you?”
Venlar does dismiss his people after a moment, leaving them alone. “There is a breeze that is wrong here,” he says. “About marriage. Your grandmother is very competent, and yet things seem to be going wrong. Xenofos and gifts? It… is might be an Esrolian thing that seems wrong to me, but I get the idea he is not the sort you go to, when you want a marriage arranged.”
“No indeed,” agrees Mellia. “One would go to Grandmother. So why the pile of gifts? I’m sure that if Xenofos was approached, he’d warn them off, then tell them to talk to Grandmother.”
“She is the decision-maker,” Venlar replies. “But I would expect if gift-giving happens that it would be someone like your mother, or… I do not know enough. But it is wrong. For one, that girl, Talisha… she did not know it was Varanis until you said so.”
“Do you think they’re all for Xenofos?” asks Mellia. “Varanis is still likely to jump to conclusions.”
“Not at all. I think someone thinks Varanis is available, even though she is not. Or is testing things out from in this house, but that would still… well, it would work because Xenofos is deniable but the House would look silly afterwards…”
“Hmm, you think someone wants Grandmother to look silly? It’s hard to say whether that’s more likely to be in this House or outside it. The thing to do would be to find Cousin Dormal and ask him. He’s good at this sort of thing.”
“It would be good if you did, I think. No doubt others are already looking into it, but he is another person, and they might not be using him.”
Mellia nods. “Dormal can be hard to find, but I’ll try.”
“You should eat. And I will ask father about what I am thinking. And Yamia. I have Yamia back!” He is suddenly joyful.
Mellia beams at Venlar and eats. She’s happy that he’s happy.
He seems entirely recovered from the deep exhaustion that sat on him. If Mellia had not seen it she would have no clue it had happened.
After emptying his bowl, and while he is refilling it, Venlar says, “She will be going back to the Temple later today. The Humakti, it seems, report how each Heroquest has gone. I should ask Berra how it went, too. And Urox. Rajar made a good Storm Bull.”
“Rajar is wonderful,” agrees Mellia. “Berra may need to go with Yamia. I don’t know. Do you need to go to the Temple of Orlanth?”
“Tomorrow, yes. Today I am free.” Venlar gives Mellia a look with a bit of a blush in it.
Mellia’s eyes twinkle as she gives Venlar a grin. “If I didn’t have cousins to sort out, I’d come up with a proper reward for you. Think we can sneak out of tonight’s parties?”
“I have nothing official to attend,” he replies. “But if I stole you again there might be trouble. I am going to write to Mama today, to tell her what I did.”
Mellia smiles brightly. “Give her my greetings, please and tell her that Orlanth approves of the match.”
“I will. I’ll compose it while walking. I do my best thinking then. Outside.” But then Venlar digs in again, eating like he was up all night and stealing Ernaldans.
Mellia finishes her lunch too.