Mellia — Fishing
????, Fire Season, Season/Illusion Week
Fire Season/Illusion Week/Waterday/early evening [[[s01:session-42|Session 42]]]
Back at the Tula, Silor takes a while with his son Venlar, walking around the palisade and the warriors, standing some of the people down, but not everyone. The heavily-armed and armoured guard that he had stays within the wooden wall.
Mellia, looking slightly damp, is looking for Xenofos and that man with the cut foot, but will happily settle for Silor and Venlar. She will walk over to them and curtsey to Silor.
As she approaches, she can see Venlar more clearly. Take off the years, somehow scar along his face, and you’d have Eril. It’s uncanny. Even with a long scar going down over his right eye, half puckering it closed, even with the tattoos on his cheeks, the resemblence shines through. He has the same tall frame, the same slim stance, but he stands entirely differently. Silor bows, and says, “Lady. Thank you for your service to my man Geriost. He tells me that you stopped him from rubbing his foot with a frog, among your other deeds.” Venlar laughs, a happy sound, and takes a polite step back.
Mellia smiles. “Clan Chief, it was my pleasure. Geriost is a brave man. Few are they who can face mead in a cut without even a wince.”
“He’d probably rather have died than wince in front of you,” Silor says, with a chuckle. “Venlar, have you met the lady healer? This is Mellia of the White Ladies.” Venlar bows, and apparently off the cuff gives a small verse speech of welcome, ending with another low bow. Silor gives him a sideways glance and a grin. “Venlar is the speaker of the family.”
Mellia raises her eyebrows at the speech, curtseys to Venlar and smiles brightly. “Rarely have I been welcomed with words so fair,” she says. “Thank you. May I join you for a walk? It’s a beautiful evening.”
“I was going to see my wife next, inside. Might I leave you with my son? Say the word and Orlanth will stay with Chalana Arroy, of course.” Silor looks ready to give up his evening in Mellia’s honour. Venlar steps back, trips on his own shoe, and has to catch himself rather than falling.
Neither man seems surprised or alarmed by Venlar’s sudden clumsiness.
“I would be delighted to stay with your son,” Mellia replies. Since neither man is disturbed by Venlar’s clumsiness, Mellia tries not to visibly react to it either.
“I was going to walk around the fish ponds and check them for swimming warriors,” Venlar says after his father has gone. “We have had a few lately.”
“It is Fire Season. May I come with you?”
“My father’s instruction and your desire combine to make it imperative on me. While we go, do you think of swimming as a thing that is often done for itself, or is it that your cousins are water-born? I would hate to offend.”
“In Nochet, it is very hot,” Mellia explains. “People swim for pleasure when they can. Nochet is near a river and the sea, so there is plenty of water.”
“Here, we prefer not to scare the fish,” Venlar says mildly. “Which I infer we should have explained. The children had fun watching, though. But if you are staying, we should find a pool that is designed for such.”
“We wouldn’t wish to put you to the trouble,” Mellia replies. “However, such a thing might be well thought of for the children and the warriors, such as are not strong enough to be swimming in the river.”
“It is not a thought that I would have had alone.” Venlar points the way over a flat green sward, picked of rocks. “That way.” He puts himself on her right, showing her the unscarred side of his face. Against the sky, with that tightly waved hair and the aristocratic profile, he should look like the High Sword. The way he moves is different enough to take away much of the effect.
Mellia smiles at the courtesy and walks where indicated. She’ll take a moment to sense if he’s diseased.
To her inner senses, and to her outer eye, this man is healthy. Half elegant, half clumsy, likely to kill himself if he ever draws his sword, but there is no disease present. Only the symptoms of one, from time to time. He is a little too pale, compared to others here, and sometimes his body just seems to fail him, although he does not get flustered over it.
Mellia ponders this. Venlar may have something in common with Irillo, like over-exposure to that big Death Rune.
There are a few things that are obvious, as the understanding of the cycle of life and birth fills Mellia with the feeling of inexhaustibility. Reminded of her connection to the world, she can look at Venlar in that light. His father says his spirit is weak. That would account for the clumsiness, if there is not enough strength to fill him. But he’s been like this for long enough to get used to the clumsiness, and Silor’s words were that his spirit never grew properly when he was an adult. So something happened before he was initiated, or when he was, that made him this way. The cross is part of it, but it occurs to her that the feeling she is getting from it now is mostly present within the Heroquest, much less now. It might have been strong in his youth, but it was far away. Did he wander into the Marsh? Or was it some omen of the Cross that touched him? And he has a sister too, that Mellia has only seen from a middle distance. She seems frighteningly intense, and her struggle with Berra over who would move the cross was one Berra gave up, looking like she felt there were better struggles to win. Yamia never looks – she stares. She never talked on the journey – she stated things. Everything is somehow a demand, and not a question. Still, getting to speak to her would have meant going near that horrible thing. Something has affected them, and it was because of the power of this thing, and this thing has most power when the Heroquest is happening. Or it had most power when Eril hid it. Even having it in the Tula when they were babes in arms might have hurt them, if it was like this then.
Mellia inwardly sighs. There’s no cure for that, or is there? Perhaps a pilgrimage to the Paps, most sacred place of Life?
The cure would no doubt involve some quest, maybe the cross, maybe High Sword Eril caring enough to undo casual damage he did in passing. The Priestesses at the Paps might be able to help – they would know most of all. Some rededication to Life and Fertility might well be the key.
Mellia will mention that to Silor. Meanwhile, it is time for her to say something. “It is a lovely evening,” she says. “May I ask how long ago you damaged your eye?” Restoring the eye would improve Venlar’s balance, if it is not too late for that.
“I was born this way. I’m told my father performed several rites of divination, and the ultimate result was that it was just me. I can see well enough, but there is no healing to be done – this is the shape I am. Like being clumsy, or remembering songs well.” Venlar takes a few dried crumbs from a pouch as he gets to the furthest fishpond, and throws them in, using the same motion to cast them wide and expose his wrist so he can count his own heartbeat.
“No doubt the Mighty Mother had her reasons and the gods likely have plans for you,” Mellia says. She watches the fish. “Have you ever considered going on pilgrimage?”
“Eleven… twelve. That is a healthy stock. No, I haven’t. I don’t need anything. I have my family, my clan, and Orlanth. Wilmskirk has a splendid temple for when I need a greater gathering than the Clan can provide.” Venlar’s look is happy. “Next pond. I’m checking the numbers that rise to the food.”
“You are a wise and perceptive man,” Mellia comments.
“I try.” The smile gets wide enough to twist the scar, and be twisted by it. “Working out how to give them exactly the same food each time is still beyond me, but maybe a small measure kept in the food pouch would do it.” The next pond, bigger than the last because of how the rocks nearby allow it, gets only a little more food.
“You succeed. Not everyone does.”
“At what?” He waits until he has counted twelve before she gets the puzzled look turned on her, although it was there as soon as she spoke.
“Being wise and perceptive,” Mellia elaborates. “You may be wiser than my cousin Xenofos, who is a Sage. My cousin Irillo is named ‘Goldentongue’, yet you put him to shame. You have gifts and strengths. Never forget that.”
“Permit me to mention I try not to,” he says with a laugh. “Healthy stock here. On to the next?”
Mellia smiles. “Of course.”
Venlar knows his limits, and does not go over the rocky ground, but around a rather more pleasant, less trodden path. “I should plant something here,” he says. “Something that tastes good with fish… Was that a bad thing to say to an Initiate of the Lady of Compassion?”
“Not at all,” Mellia says, “I ate many fish as a child. How about dill weed?”
“There is grass here,” he muses. “I’d like something that can be picked as I walk. Maybe sun-bloom.” Dandelions. Not necessarily an accompaniment for fish, but certainly worth growing. “Although those are low down. Which is why I never get anything done.”
Mellia suggests, “Maybe sun-bloom and rosemary bushes?”
“Rosemary is a very good idea. Bay does not grow here, but rosemary does.” Venlar keeps walking. “I was thinking of making little dolmens to have the sun-bloom on top. I had an uncle, Eril, who had a rock garden. My mother would know how he made it.” More crumbs. The last-but-one pond. More counting of heartbeats.
“That’s an excellent idea,” Mellia says. “You should ask your mother that.”
He might be blushing a little, but the scar makes it hard to see. “It sounds like I would put in a lot of effort once, and then be able to take weeds away when I passed. But is there a better thing I could do with that time? I’ll find out how long it would take, and see if the thralls can be used.”
“There you go,” Mellia agrees. “Do you have other duties today?”
“No, I’m free to entertain you, if you like.” There’s not quite an offer there, but then again, her enquiry was not quite an enquiry. Unless, of course, he read into it.
“I would like that very much.” Mellia blushes a little.
“I’ll get this count in, because I need to check the stock…”
“Of course, but after that?”
“Mm. I should record them? In my room?”
“Naturally, may I come with you?”
“How could I refuse a healer?”
A short while later…
Venlar, carrying Mellia in his arms and midway through a half-stolen kiss, opens the door to his room, and Irillo is there. The young man pauses, obviously trying to work out what if anything to say.
Mellia blushes. Is Irillo awake?
Irillo is sitting on the bed, thoughtfully staring at the wall, as if something should be there.
“Uh, this is my room. And unexpected. But…” Venlar trails off, and then picks up again, bravely. “… you are a guest. Is there anything I can get for you?” He gives Mellia a quick glance and a peck on the cheek, not forgetting her.
Mellia lets Irillo speak before saying anything.
“Ah. Excuse me. I was mistaking me for someone else.” And he slips past the pair.
Venlar puts down his burden so that Irillo can get past. “Of course,” he replies, managing politeness despite confusion. “Do you know where your room is?” He seems concerned, but only in a general way.
Mellia makes herself comfy on that bed just as soon as Irillo gets off it.