Mellia — In Nochet Viii
1627, Fire Season, Disorder Week
Fire Season, Disorder Week, Freezeday, in the courtyard of the Saiciae. [[[s02:session-41|Session 41]]]
The place is full of the powerful and rich – many of Mellia’s closer cousins, Kirse’s allies within the house, a space where Grandmother Aranda will arrive… And all around on the rooftops are not exactly people casually jostling, but certainly people casually enjoying a drink in the heat of the afternoon. Kirse walks her daughter into the middle of the courtyard, and says, “Send for Grandmother whenever you wish. She is waiting to greet the guests, but she is NOT coming until you ask. The one time in your life you get to bid her as you will.”
Outside, there are hoofbeats.
Mellia says, “Let’s have her come maybe five minutes after the guests arrive.”
“Good, but you have to call for her. You’re Ernalda today. The house. She will come out for you, not for them.”
Then there are people arriving. Horsemen have stopped outside, and the first figure in past the gates is Venlar, wearing woad and nothing else, the dust of walking the last half mile on his feet. He sings out a call for hospitality, in a strong voice. Behind him are a dozen or so warriors, all clad in bronze, headed by Jengharl.
The correct thing to do is to extend hospitality. Incorrect would be running to him squealing.
Mellia looks thrilled, then composes herself. She tries to sing a response, but she is not a good singer.
Mellia then sends for Grandmother.
This does not seem to matter to Venlar, who calls in his companions and advances on Mellia right up until the point where she calls for Grandmother. Then he waits with every evidence of patience except for the looks he keeps on giving her.
Grandmother comes out of the house within a few minutes to ask Mellia, “Yes, my dearest one?” She is wearing more gold than most people will ever be able to hold in their lives, but she has little make-up, and what she has accentuates her bones, a reminder that she is a representative of Ty Kora Tek, and not Ernalda.
“Grandmother, Orlanth asks for hospitality.”
“By all means, my dear Ernalda,” Grandmother replies. “Walls, fire, food, are all his.”
She nods very briefly to him, and despite the heat of the courtyard, stays still as he recites the names of those who accept; the formalities are perfectly performed on either side. Then that is done, and she turns to walk back into the house, and Orlanth grabs for Ernalda to kiss her.
Jengharl at least manages to keep a straight face and the look of a polite guest.
Mellia grins and kisses Venlar. Not too much of a kiss.
He does of course try to wind his arms around her. “You look amazing…” For young Orlanth at least, the world has nobody else in it.
Mellia tries not to get woad all over herself. “Thank you, my love,” she murmurs. “The dress is Mother’s. You look splendid in blue.”
Reluctantly, he lets her escape. “I should probably not stain it. Will I meet you again, sweet green woman?” He has faint green and gold smudges on his lips.
“You will, lord of air.”
He sighs, dreamily, and turns to his companions. “Aaah, brother! Fetch my cloak for me, that I won for a song!”
Jengharl already has the horse-hide cloak to hand, and now that Grandmother has gone he passes it to a young warrior to hand to Venlar, who drapes himself in it. “Then let us explore this hospitality,” he tells those with him, “Walls, fire, and food are ours to share and defend. Give no offence, but take it when it is offered by the enemies of our hosts. Celebrate the bounty and the peace that they offer.”
Jengharl finally dismounts, so that Venlar can introduce him to Kirse.
Up on the roofs that can see into the palazzo there is a general movement to get more wine, rather than to go in. It seems that the meeting has made a good impression; nobody wants to be the first to leave. Across the road is a tenement block where there are a few veils at higher windows. A LOT of people were watching, and still are.
Mellia remains on her best behavior, then.
Venlar bows to Kirse as if this is a first meeting, and Jengharl bows like the son of a chief – deferent, but calculated to just the right level of deference that it is a formality. It’s rather well done.
Kirse suggests, “Perhaps, little green one, we should bring these fine warriors inside, out of the sun?”
Venlar tries to sneak his hand into Mellia’s.
“Indeed we should. Our guests look hot and thirsty.” Venlar gets a teasing smile and a finger waggle.
Head held high, Venlar ignores Mellia, until he sneaks another look at her moments later.
Jengharl offers Kirse a hand, palm up. She touches it briefly with her fingers, but then leaves him behind, walking into the house without anyone beside her. The other warriors, less sure of what they should be doing, are offered hints by the grooms – or at least, by the guards currently pretending to be grooms. There are a lot of high-ransom people in the courtyard, and a lot of hidden protections.
Mellia follows her mother. “Come, we have cool wine and proper baths.”
“I should clean away the dust of travel, and the weariness,” Venlar says. Where Jengharl is concentrating only on Kirse, young Orlanth does pause to check that his men are doing well, before he follows Mellia into the house.
Mellia whispers in Venlar’s ear, “We are not to be alone until after the wedding, which is a bother.”
Venlar mutters, “Try to stop me…” and looks suddenly very determined.
Mellia whispers, “I must, little as I will like it. At least we’ll see each other.”
He turns a yearning look on her, wordless for a moment.
Mellia welcomes Venlar, her groom