Mellia — Home With Venlar Iiii
1627, Sea Season, Disorder Week
Sea Season, Disorder Week, Windsday. [[[s02:session-31|Session 31]]]
Mellia will supervise the packing. Bring the children, or not?
Venlar thinks so – otherwise, their Tradetalk is limited and they will not know what is happening.
The children get to come.
Now munchies- bread, wine and cheese?
That, of course, is a thing that a son of the household can do trivially. Venlar had that seen to while the packing was going on, and while there was a runner going off in a hurry on horseback. He does get Mellia to taste all the things they are bringing, in case they are insufficient, but now that he is ready for action he seems very ready, as hasty to move as an Orlanthi Thane should be.
Mellia hurries. Off they go!
The journey out to Venlar’s lands is swift enough. The roads are in good repair despite the winter, and he appeals to one of his clanmates to send the rain away for the journey. It is dry, and pleasant, and if the wind is cold then at least Mellia has a warm woollen cloak to wear, and Venlar makes sure that he is to the windward side, and there are only half a dozen guards and thralls with them – he is travelling light. For a man who rode alone to see her at the hint of trouble, it might be considered he is taking too much care now, but nevertheless, he seems happy to be in a crowd.
It is a pleasant evening, rainy to either side, but the people with them take turns to clear the weather.
Mellia seems to be enjoying the ride. She thanks those clearing the rain. “I don’t melt, but neither do I like the rain.”
They all seem pleased to help, most of them citing that she is Venlar’s soon-bride, or that they would do anything for one who has saved their chief.
The path goes across a river first, and then up between hills, and then there is a tiny wooden bridge over a ravine about a foot wide but deeper than light will penetrate. Venlar says, “This is mine now, thanks to the generosity of Ernalda,” and he gets off to take a skin of wine from his saddle and pour some onto a stone by the roadside.
Mellia will offer a piece of cheese to the stone and a prayer to Ernalda.
The others offer nothing, except respectful nods. Venlar smiles slightly as Mellia steps back. “We’ll go see mama now,” he says. “The house is not far.” He has marked himself on the forehead with an Air Rune in muddy dust. It goes well with his henna tattoos. “Just a little up the road. You look good as an Earth wife.”
Mellia chuckles. She does not put dirt on herself. Disease demons love dirt.
Venlar helps her back onto her horse, and it is not a long ride. There is a small building complex, a couple of longhouses and a sprinkling of out-buildings with a stockade keeping them together. The only way in seems to be through one of the houses, although as they dismount in the courtyard outside, it turns into a way out. Thenaya and half a dozen people come to take horses and give greetings. They look like servants and farmers. She looks like a well dressed Ernaldan woman.
Mellia dismounts and gives Thenaya a huge hug. “Hello, Mother! I hope you don’t mind us coming so late. We come bearing gifts.”
“I am delighted to see you at any time,” she says. “Bringing a break from the rain, and yourselves. Family is doubly welcome.” She gives Mellia a kiss on the cheek, as to a daughter. “You have not seen your lands yet, have you?”
“No, I have not. We spent the afternoon going over Venlar’s books.”
“Then you will know what you are looking at. Come sit by the fire, under your roof.” Thenaya ushers Mellia through the first house, which is mostly a stable, with a place for grooms to sleep, and through the courtyard, which is full of herbs and the smell of manure-rich soil. There is a porch there with climbing plants on it, and Venlar smiles widely at the leaves that are wet with the rain that magic is now keeping away. “In summer, this whole courtyard is wonderful. Just waking now,” he tells her. “But it’s one of my favourite places – mama planted it with all of the plants from around the lands so that we could encourage them.”
“It’s beautiful,” Mellia says with a smile. “I can see I have much to learn if I am to properly care for this place.”
“You’ll have to stay a season every year, then,” Thenaya says almost instantly. “At different times. See how it is.”
“Mama – we can plan our own lives,” Venlar points out.
“Yes, dear. Of course you can,” she replies.
Mellia chuckles.”That would be delightful.”
Thenaya ushers everyone in as the last of the magic keeping the rain away vanishes, and Orlanth’s love for Ernalda comes down. Venlar delightedly shows Mellia around his hall, which is big enough for about twenty people to sleep in.
Thenaya tells him, “Show her the rest in the morning. Your sister’s sleeping.” She seems happy, but underneath that is a touch of worry that she is not mentioning.
Venlar nods, and then offers to Mellia, “I can show you my first shield, and mama used to measure us on a door post, every year, and the post is still there.”
Wick lamps are all over the room, so even though the light is fading outside, she can still see the bright decoration and the paintwork on all the carved wood, so different from Silor’s black and red and grey accents on all the fox heads in the main house.
“I would love to see that, if we can manage not to wake Yamia up. Did she have a good journey from Nochet?”
“She was with us for Sacred Time,” Thenaya replies. “But there is a lot of detail she needs to settle with the Blue Tree clan. They stayed here a short while in Sea Season. She will have to visit them soon.”
“We should be heading to Blue Tree in a few weeks. She could come with us.”
“That’s a splendid idea,” Thenaya beams. “But for now, I made cress soup and you should eat, and I think Venlar is looking hungry too, and with what you brought we can have a good meal now and a feast tomorrow.”
Venlar settles down to be looked after by his mother and his household. A fanciful person could say only his scar stops him smiling so wide he sprains his cheek.
Mellia thanks Thenaya and settles down too.
The evening passes with some good harp playing, and of course Venlar sings, although he keeps the volume low and uses his songs to tell stories, including the Lightbringers’ Quest of Mellia (and some other people) which he has composed.
Mellia sings a little bit. She loves Venlar’s ballad. Mellia would thank Venlar later.
Morning dawns and finds them still asleep. Once more, breakfast has to be left for them.
Venlar’s room is the biggest here, and smells of Thenaya’s perfumed hair. She is sleeping elsewhere, however.
The room has a window onto the courtyard, with a bench by it for looking out, or for sitting by to work. Everything is bright, mostly blue where it is painted, often with touches of gold. Venlar even has a blue leather seat on his favourite chair, made out of woven strips that have formed to him over years. It is very bright and exuberant and suits him as an Orlanthi more than the scribe he sometimes seems to be.
Mellia loves the room. She just wishes it had a couch inside. Mellia only says the bit about the couch to Venlar.
“We can get one,” he says. “Like an Esrolian one, with a padded seat on a wovenwood base to hold it?”
Mellia is delighted with the idea .
“I’ll order it done,” he says. “The padding may take a while – it will have to wait until shearing season.”
“No rush- we can snuggle on the bed or the bench in good weather.”
“Oh, for that?” He thinks. “I was wondering if the bed frame could be made so the mattress was part of it, but I never got around to working out how. The bed could have a back… but it’s too long. Maybe sideways, though?” He motions folding up the bed in a sort of futon action, and then shrugs. “I’ll think on it. Shall we have breakfast and see if my sister is awake?”
“Breakfast sounds great.” Mellia gets up and starts eating.
Venlar lounges around, and dresses slowly, and stretches in his room. “It’s always hard to adjust to that bed.” Then he looks at it, perplexed. “I always used to fall over a lot for the first few days after coming here.” Even that realisation does not make him do more than wobble a bit, and steady himself on a wall.
“That’s odd. I wonder why you did that?”
“I used to find any change a strange thing, and although it’s a comfortable bed, it would take time to get used to it. And then, of course, I just forgot where I put my hands and feet a lot, because I couldn’t always feel them. The rubbing feeling’s much better now, although it’s still strange. Did you know people can have ridges on their fingernails? I never knew!”
Mellia smiles. “That’s right, love. Would you please help me with my robe?”
“On or off?” But he helps to dress her and settles the seams just right, and kisses her hair. “You should have golden crowns.”
Mellia kisses Venlar’s chest. “I heard those make one’s head ache.”
“Then maybe one made of silk to keep your hair in check.” He puts an arm around her so they can slip from the room.
Mellia snuggles. “Oh that’s nice.” Mellia slips out.
People greet Venlar and he introduces those who do not know Mellia. There are farm hands, a cattle drover who is here to talk about calving pasture, and then a very young woman who barrels up to Venlar and almost knocks him over, squealing in happiness. “You came! Yaaaaaay!” He manages to swing around and put her back on her feet. “Fera! You’re in green!”
“Yes I know it happened just before Sacred time and you were not there you terrible brother!” She is hugging him even as she makes such an accusation.
This must be one of Silor’s younger children. A brother and a sister born to Aelna.
Mellia says,”Hello Fera. I am Mellia, the reason Venlar was not here. Congratulations!”
Fera stops to look at Venlar, who says, “I will be marrying her. We were in Prax, on a journey to the Paps that may help me.”
Fera’s look at Mellia is still faintly suspicious. “You kept Yamia away as well.”
“Sort of. That is more the fault of my family.”
“And mine,” Venlar says. “Our lord-father started the negotiations again by putting the Blue Tree on equal footing. They were captured and Mellia’s family paid their ransoms, and… well, you should not negotiate like that. So he had to get money down there, and then things were complicated. It was all of us. But how you’ve grown!” He stands back, and Fera twirls in her dress and then stands so he can see the fox tattoo over her left eyebrow.
“Fera is my little sister,” he says finally. “Just one left for adulthood now.”
Mellia smiles at both of them.”Again, congratulations.”
Fera gives Mellia a scowl, even so, but brightens up when Venlar offers her a hand.1Mellia fumbled Charm.
Mellia smiles anyway.
“Is Rald here? How many of us are there?” Venlar asks.
“He’s still a child,” Fera says. “He’s with his fosters. But he’ll be a man soon. Did you know Aelna is having another child?”
Venlar stops partway through a step, stumbling to a halt in surprise. He manages not to tug Mellia about, but he is definitely having a clumsy moment. “Yes,” he says quietly. “Yes I did.”
Mellia is surprised also. She does not stumble. “I should congratulate her as well.”
“Um,” Venlar says. “That’s… a difficult problem. She’s divorced. And there’s talk.”
Mellia says, “Oh my goodness.”
Venlar looks around, and looks at Fera, who is suddenly looking very interested, and says, “Yes. Fera, you’re smart enough to work this out. Tell us.”
Fera looks briefly proud, but then after a couple of moment says, “I don’t know enough?” Venlar ruffles her hair. 2INT roll for Mellia: Aelna’s timing of divorce makes it an interesting question over who gets the child.
Mellia says,”You may know more than you think.”
Fera looks miserable, and shakes her head, the light gone out of her.
“It’s fine,” Venlar says. “People are probably not telling you all of this. Your mother’s timing of divorce is causing gossip. Who does the child go to?”
“Her, if she didn’t know,” Fera says blithely, thus showing that she cannot work out what the gossip is about; it must be that people are saying Aelna knew she was pregnant, and stole a child.
Mellia just says, “Hmm.”
Fera looks blank, and Venlar says, “I will talk it through with you later. Have you seen Yamia?”
“Dancing with her sword.” Fera indicates the direction of the courtyard. “Like she always does.”
“Let us talk to her, and then I’ll find you?” he suggests. Fera nods and walks away, further into the house, leaving Venlar staring after her.
Mellia comments,” I hope Yamia is happier to see us.”
“Yes,” Venlar says. “Fera is usually a lot happier than that.”
“I wonder what has been going on in our absence?”
“She’s a woman, and I missed welcoming her?” Venlar guesses. “But… Her mother just divorced our father.”
“That is enough to upset anyone.”
“Indeed.” Just for a moment the thoughtfulness and the turn of his lip is not Silor, but someone else entirely. He watches where Fera was. “We should provide her with reasons to be happy here.”
Mellia nods. “Meanwhile, let’s find Yamia.”
“Right.” He pulls himself together and is his father’s son again.
Yamis is out in the courtyard, which is now only a few steps away. She is over by a wall, practicing a series of sword blows against a wooden dummy, apparently aiming to break practice swords against it, for three lie at her feet, in pieces. A fourth is in her hand, and a fifth behind her, still unscarred.
Mellia says,”Good morning, Yamia! You look well.”3Mellia gets a Critical First Aid roll as an augment to Scan…
Yamia turns to Mellia, and smiles her brief, sharp smile, and something in Mellia’s head says, ‘two or three seasons pregnant’ even though she is not showing yet. The softness in her cheeks and a touch of puffiness in the eyes…
It is possible for someone physically fit not to show until late on, and if Mellia is right, then that is what is happening.
Yamia bows slightly. The movement includes a little indrawing of the ribs to make room, but it mostly looks like she has poise, rather than being short of breath.
“White Lady.” She slips into Esrolian, although her accent has reverted to Heortling. “No doubt you will have questions.”
“Yes indeed; are you a Sword of Humakt yet? What news from the negotiations?” Mellia is planning to ask Yamia about the pregnancy in private.
Yamia compresses that smile into place again. “I will not be a Sword for some years, if at all,” she replies. “I am a bodyguard, and an advisor. I will, however, be your sister within the year, at some auspicious date – gods willing. The precis, I can give you now; on your marriage day, a noble of the Blue Tree Clan will offer Lord Venlar estates, in exchange for his hand. A noble of this Clan will give him gifts equal to the price of eight hides, to distribute among his new kinsfolk. Thralls and private property may be transferred freely as wished. Favoured trading status along any roads that the Blue Tree maintain – including water routes – will be with the house of Saiciae. Lord Silor warrants his own ransom, which is to be recovered by the clan. Lord Venlar’s lands here return in great part to Lord Silor, with two hides as a gift to the Earth Temple, and the profit from three to be turned over for the next five years, no matter how the marriage goes.” She looks ready to go on for a while.
“Some precis,” Venlar says.
“My my. It sounds like everything except the day and place of the wedding has been settled. You have done well, Yamia.”
“Day and place are likely to be in mid fire season, with a ceremony in Nochet followed by a ceremony at a place of your choosing, the final ceremony to be considered a blessing. Naturally, those who attend the first may not be at the second, and should it resemble a full but foreign wedding ceremony itself, could not be offended.” Briefly, Yamia looks pleased. “Some of the Esrolian party will be unable to travel. Travellers make their own security arrangements and there is a schedule of gifts, but those are for the most part uninteresting.”
“Hmm, now we need to decide where to hold the second ceremony. Kallyr should be presiding over it. Maybe we should ask her about the location.”
“That is, indeed, one of the reasons why it is not yet decided, and why the double ceremony is in itself agreed.” Yamia stands, poised, polite. “A tentative suggestion is that Fire Season in Esrolia and Sartar would be the best time, but this does require some Sea Season travel. Equally, the Dark in Esrolia is a pleasant time to guest and gossip.”
“So it is. I need to think about this and perhaps write to Kallyr. At least the wedding doesn’t need to be scheduled tomorrow.”
“No. It is contingent on my lord brother choosing or being allotted lands, and agreeing to them. We can perhaps let the Prince know on the way to the Blue Tree.”
Venlar puts his arm around Mellia’s shoulders, gently. “I look forward to it so much.”
Mellia leans into Venlar. “So do I. That’s a good idea, Yamia. Will you be coming with us to Blue Tree?”
“Almost certainly,” she says. “I intend to, and I should be remiss in my duty were I to fail of it.”
Venlar’s chuckle is held carefully, probably because Mellia is nestled against him. “If you do not do your duty, you would not be doing your duty. What do you really mean by that?”
Yamia notes, “The place may be under siege, in which case my duty would become to advise you to leave.”
“Oh.” Venlar takes a moment to think about that.
“Let’s hope Blue Tree won’t be under siege. Is there anything else I need to know right now?”
“Any gifts that you give personally, to your husband or others, are considered outside the contract. ‘Or others’ includes guest-gifts, which may be to anyone. The House of Saiciae and the two Clans of Sartar are to provide those other gifts that may be required, but of course, you may both wish to have a say in them – it is up to you how deeply you invest in those matters. I think that covers the main points. Oh, and Lord Venlar will never be required to have goats on his land.”
“No goats? That’s interesting. Thanks, Yamia. If you want to see me in private, just let me know.”
Yamia considers briefly, and then says, “No need, I believe. Nothing I would tell you should not be said before Lord Venlar.”
“Me too,” Venlar says. “If… well, if father tells me things, I suppose.” He might not have got it.
Mellia smiles. “Take good care of yourself,Yamia.”
“I’m not leaving yet – separation is a process for which one must be prepared.” She salutes with the wooden sword, and turns around to get back to her practice. Venlar steps back, possibly in case of splinters.
Mellia decides to let Yamia have the last word and indicates that they should go.”