Mellia — Maid Measure
????, Earth Season, Season/Death Week
1626 Earth Season/Death Week/Windsday/dusk in Varanis’ room, just before all the parties. [[[s02:session-7|Session 7]]]
Someone is knocking on Varanis’ door a bit after dusk on Windsday.
The door is yanked open by a stern-faced woman. Marta is part servant, part artist, and part spy for Grandmother. She’s been Varanis’ keeper when she stays in House Saiciae for a very long time. No one is really certain what she does when Varanis is away from home. “Yes, Lady?” she asks, the words courteous, if abrupt.
“Good evening,” replies Mellia, “is Lady Varanis in to callers?”
“Lady Varanis is getting ready for this evening, Lady Mellia.” There’s an unspoken “as you should be” at the end of that sentence.
“Oh Marta, let her in!” Varanis calls from within the room.
Marta steps aside to allow Mellia through the door, should she wish it.
Mellia politely nods to Marta and enters the room. Mellia’s hair has already been done and she’s dressed for the evening.
Varanis is seated on her stool, wearing a robe and a pained look. Her hands are held out awkwardly, each nail meticulously gilded. Her toenails have had the same treatment. Her hair is partially up, but it’s obvious that’s what Marta was working on when Mellia knocked.
“Hello Mellia! Have you come to distract me?” Varanis says hopefully. “There’s a chair over there you could use.”
Mellia goes and sits in the chair. “Yes,” Mellia replies. There are subtle cues that only Marta, perhaps, might pick up on. Mellia’s hair is held in place with pins and ribbons, but isn’t as elaborate as it could be. Mellia’s nails aren’t gilded. Her dress is slightly askew. Perhaps worst of all, Mellia looks a little bit drained.
“Are you alright, cousin?” Varanis asks, looking concerned. “I was going to ask if you could mix me up something to keep me awake tonight, but you look like you need it more!”
Mellia gives Varanis a wan smile. “I’ll manage,” Mellia says. “I just hate losing patients. Did you thrash Xenofos?”
Varanis shakes her head. “I might have raised my voice, but he was not really in any decent shape for a sound thrashing.” She ignores the disapproving tug on her hair from Marta as the older woman goes back to work. “Maybe later.”
“It’s a good thing I was there,” Mellia comments. “Maybe later, indeed.”
“It was a nasty cut. I don’t want to think about what would have happened if he hadn’t had a shield.” Varanis shudders then winces as Marta ruthlessly twists a plait into place and jabs a pin into it. “Marta! I’m not a pin cushion!” The servant ignores her and moves on to the next section of the unruly mass of hair.
“Bad things,” confirms Mellia. “Xenofos could have bled out, or lost the leg. Did you see a glow around his opponent?”
Varanis nods. “He used his magic, whatever it was. It’s common enough in duels to do so.” She shrugs and has an instant look of regret. Another plait is pinned into place.
“If you don’t hold still,” Mellia says with a smile, “Marta will kick me out of here.”
Varanis rolls her eyes but manages not to move. “Do you want your nails done?” she asks. “I’m sure Marta could do it for you.” It’s hard to tell if Marta is pleased by the expression. Another twist, another pin.
“No, thank you,”replies Mellia. “It would only get in someone’s wound.”
“I’m beginning to feel like the …. what was the expression Venlar used? Stalking horse? Some kind of bait to confuse the prey anyway.” Varanis manages not to shrug this time. The last plait is twisted into place and Marta steps back to admire her handiwork. She grunts in satisfaction.
“Was there something I can help you with, Mellia? Shall we plot how to escape out varied relatives this evening?”
Mellia carefully nods. “I don’t blame you for feeling like bait. Let’s think up a way to get out of the party after dessert.”
Varanis smiles but shakes her head. “You know we can’t. Or I can’t anyway. You might just be able to get away with it, given you had to heal our cousin earlier today. You could plead exhaustion… and well, I’m sorry Mellia, but you don’t look like you’ll need to pretend.” She studies the Healer closely. “Marta could apply a little make-up. Something to make you seem a little less like you’ve not been getting any sleep. Everyone will think it’s Venlar keeping you awake.”
Mellia laughs. “He made sure I slept this afternoon. If Marta doesn’t mind the extra work, I’ll take the makeup.”
Marta simply nods and gestures for Mellia to rise. She moves Mellia’s chair over to a table that has a stool and a set of little pots and brushes.
Varanis rises from her own chair to cross the room where an ornate box rests on a shelf. Opening the lid she begins to withdraw varied pieces of gold jewellery.
Mellia sits down again once the chair is in position. “Let me know when I’m allowed to talk.”
It’s some time before Mellia is given the ok. During that time Varanis shucks her robe and dons a silk gown constructed with different shades of teal and green. Since Marta’s hands are busy, Varanis wrestles with the front fastenings herself, tugging the gown into place. The deep vee at the front reveals the top portion of the Blue Tree tattoo on her abdomen, as well as the Saiciae tattoo and her air and movement runes below the collarbone.
When Marta announces herself satisfied, she hands Mellia a mirror of highly polished bronze.
“I should steal your tailor,” Mellia says. She inspects herself in the mirror. “Much better. Thank you, Marta.”
“You look transformed, Mellia. And more than a little mysterious. Marta knows her work.” Varanis studies her cousin closely. “Much better. But, don’t you have any jewellery?”
“Very little,” Mellia admits. “My vows keep me poor and rings get in the way.”
Varanis shakes her head. “We’ll have to do something about that. For now…” She goes back to the box. Marta, in the meantime, gestures for Mellia to rise.
Mellia rises, then moves to where she can see the jewelry. “You don’t need to lend me anything, Varanis. Although I’ll gladly take something on loan.” Mellia is wearing white, as usual.
While the Healer is standing relatively still, Marta efficiently adjusts her dress, making the fabric drape just so.
“Are your ears pierced?” Varanis asks absently as she pulls things out of the box to consider the options.
Mellia’s neckline is high, just barely showing her House tattoo. “They were pierced,” Mellia answers, “but they may have grown shut.”
“Marta can fix that if you want. You’d look lovely in these.” Varanis holds up a pair of gold earrings depicting two bees together.
“Oh, how beautiful!” Mellia exclaims. “Did you make those?”
“Perhaps with the fan necklace…” she murmurs thoughtfully. “Oh no. Those are beyond my meagre skill. But I did make this.” She holds up a necklace comprised of a series of tiny gold fans.
At a gesture from Varanis, Marta approaches Mellia. “Would my Lady care to sit again?”
“They are all beautiful and I will be glad of the loan – are you sure you want to lend them out?” Mellia sits back down.
“Of course! I wouldn’t offer if I wasn’t willing.”
“If my Lady would just stay very still for a moment,” Marta warns. Before Mellia can even blink, her right ear has been re-pierced. There’s a sensation of heat and then an immediate cessation of any discomfort. Marta, it seems, has a touch of healing.
The left ear is managed in much the same way. And then the earrings are carefully put into place. There’s a subtle weight to them; a gentle tugging on the earlobe and the sensation of minute jingling as the little discs suspended from the earrings move in response to Mellia’s own movement.
“Oh, Varanis,” Mellia says as she gets up. “I would hug you, but I might get makeup on that gorgeous dress.”
“Wait! There’s still the necklace and some bracelets,” Varanis says, indicating the rest of the jewellery she’d placed on the table while Marta was busy with the earrings.
For herself she has chosen a pair of cunningly wrought earrings with spirals and small semi-precious stones. At her throat and across her chest is a series of three gold necklaces with tiny spirals and stones. She wears Kallyr’s armring on her right arm, and cuffs of gold encircle each wrist.
“You have lovely taste and look wonderful,” Mellia tells her cousin. Mellia slips the bracelets on. “May I have some help with the necklace?”
Varanis comes around behind her and drapes the necklace into place. She hooks the last links together with a little hidden clasp. “Venlar will not be able to take his eyes off you tonight, Mellia,” Varanis warns.
Mellia sighs. “Venlar is going to be at the temple, I think. His father told him to stay out of the way this evening.”
“Oh no!” Varanis laughs. “Well, perhaps it’s for the better. We wouldn’t want your lad tripping over his own eyes tonight.”
“Perhaps,” Mellia agrees. “I love him anyway, but he does trip a lot. We had best be going,” Mellia suggests, “before we are more than fashionably late.”
“I’m never late to a party,” Varanis says with a grin. “I always arrive exactly when I mean to.” Marta rolls her eyes but does not argue. Instead, she shoos the two women out so she can tidy things away.
Varanis offers Mellia her arm. “Let’s take them by storm, shall we?”
Mellia takes Varanis’ arm, smiling.