1628, Dark Season, Disorder Week, Clayday
Mellia wrote to Varanis with news, and got a letter back. She is worried and goes to see her mother-in-law. Session SA3.12.
Varanis wrote back and Mellia asks the Ernaldans if she can safely get to Boldhome.
“Mother,” she says to Thenaya, “Varanis writes that Berra’s ill and Maalira can’t cure her. Would it be possible for me to safely travel to Boldhome?”
Thenaya looks at the weather, which is dubious but not yet coming down. “It will take two days,” she notes. “But Venlar knows a way that is a day and a half, across the Culbrea lands. A White Lady would be welcome there.”
“Mother, thank you. I’ll talk to Venlar and pack.” Thenaya gets a hug. Mellia then goes in search of Venlar, letter in hand.
Thenaya kisses Mellia’s cheek, and says, “I’ll go get some food together.”
Venlar is in his working clothes, which means light linen, only a little embroidered. He is happily muddy, and there are a couple of medium-sized ducklings sitting by him, on a bench, listening to a story.
“Beloved,” Mellia says after a kiss, “I heard back from Varanis. She said that Berra’s ill and Maalira can’t cure her.”
Venlar looks at Mellia, and for once he just does not get it. “Oh?”
“Yes. They’re in Boldhome. If we hurry we can beat the snow. Mother says you know a short cut across Culbrea lands?”
Venlar nods. “I’ll have Felgia pack for me.” He relies on his freedwoman a lot. “And on the way, I will tell you what might be happening.” He stands, rubs at the scar over his eye, and ruffles one of the ducklings on the head. “I am called away to help a White Lady, little ones. If I do not return, take care of my people, and do not let Yamia do too much.”
The ducklings nod. One pipes up, “Is Berra D’Val’s-dagger alright?” He has a cute little Death Rune drawn awry on his beak.
“No,” Mellia solemnly tells the duckling. “I need you to pray to Humakt to keep Berra with us.”
His eyes go wide, and he nods, very solemnly.
“She has been damaged by a Heroquest, I think,” Venlar tells the duckling. “We will go help.” The other one gets nothing more than a nod, and then he goes to give the orders that will get his household moving.
Mellia stops by the hospital on her way home to tell Tathia and Sosa that she’s going. She hopes they aren’t too upset; disease demons attack in Dark Season.
Tathia is out on rounds, leaving just Sosa there. “We’ll be fine,” she says, and lowers her voice with a smile. “Tathia’s the one who’s really good with diseases. We’ll get by.”
Mellia nods. “Thanks, Sosa. I feel like I keep abandoning the two of you. Goddess bless you both.”
“I knew you were a traveller as soon as I met you. Wrap up well!” Sosa gives her a quick hug and then gets back to sorting dried herbs.
Mellia hurries home to pack. She will take one really good outfit in case she goes to the palace. Packing for a healer’s easy: warm white robes. After double checking her medical satchel and bundling up, she’ll check on Venlar.
As she starts to pack, people come in to help her. Felgia and their Impala children take clothes and utensils, and Felgia tells her, “Just pack your medical gear. The rest will be going on the pack horses.” Horses. Venlar is very rich.
“Thanks, Felgia!” Mellia packs her medical satchel, making sure that it’s fully stocked. The Impala children get hugged and thanked. “Do you remember Berra? We’re going to see her.”
“No, you cannot go,” Felgia adds just in time to forestall questions. The children look disappointed, of course.
“Yes, we remember,” Infara says.
“I wish you could come with us, but Berra is not well. This could be a very dangerous and boring visit. I’m counting on you to help the village while I’m gone.”
Two little nods.
Soon it is time to go. Thenaya presses a saddlebag full of food onto Venlar, who does not need much persuading. Infara and Nyteem dance for the horses and tell them to be good impalas. Venlar, who is nobly setting off without any servants at all, looks to the road ahead.
Mellia mounts her horse and wonders if she should suggest some servants. If they stay at the White Grape, they won’t need any. She decides to keep quiet and follows Venlar.
About an hour later, while they are in the middle of nowhere, Mellia asks Venlar, “What is this about a hero quest?”
“While you were out on the long rounds at the edge of the Malani, my scar began to hurt,” he says. That was a couple of weeks ago. “Berra was caught up once more in our family’s special little problem.” He rubs under his eye, in the way that he does. “My mother had strange dreams, of being young again.”
“I heard that Lord Eril is a Hero now. I wonder if the two are related?”
“He had been for a while, Yamia says. I had wondered.” Venlar steers down a wide horse path. “It seems that Heroquest was his first step, followed by the many things of power he did.” A light rain starts to fall, but almost before it can be noticed, it stops.
Mellia responded, “Thanks. I hope I can help Berra. I’m blessed enough by Ernalda that I don’t want to ask Her for more favors.”
“She is ever-bountiful,” Venlar replies. “And she was playing the part of my uncle. According to my father she was attacked by wraiths, which he says have drained her of strength. She did not do it exactly according to how it was the first time, I heard.”
“Uh oh. Berra’s healing may require a grace I don’t have. We shall see. Chalana Arroy is always merciful.”
“It could be all sorts of things. She went to see ducks, and according to rumour there was a vampire. My father wrote to tell me about the rumour, and was close by at the time.” Venlar twists a smile.
“Vampire?!?!?! This just gets worse.”
“Right. The vampire’s dead. Serala, the Cold Lance of the Sun, pinned it down, and it was destroyed.” Venlar shrugs. “But those things are very awkward indeed.”
“They certainly are. Well, I will do my best and trust in the Goddess.”
Mellia silently prays for insight into Berra’s problems.
The prayer does not give her information, although it provides her with peace. Venlar stays quiet for a while and then adds, “Maalira was going to play my mother. I do not know how that went, but they might be embarrassed over it, or Maalira might be mourning being forgotten.”
“Uh oh. Let’s hope Maalira is in her right mind. I honestly don’t know how to snap people out of the Hero Realms. Remember when I said you were Orlanth and had killed Yelm?”
“That was a strange moment,” Venlar admits. “I saw someone I loved who was green, and then you, and I was very confused.”
“I was so mad because I saw you running off with a green-skinned floozie. I was reliving the myth at the time.”
“I swear I saw your features.” Venlar sighs, almost happily. “I think that the story will be over in Boldhome, however. My father sent to me to say that Varaena’s band had returned. By now they are living the effects, not the parts within the myth.”
Mellia says with feeling,”Thank the gods. I look forward to seeing all of them again. I wish the circumstances were better.”
Venlar sighs, and looks back towards the Blue Tree Tula for a moment. He has been having family trouble lately; Yamia took her little boy, Tamakt, to battle.
“I know, I will miss them too. Mother will keep Tamakt safe if they need to seek sanctuary in the hospital.” Mellia sighs as well. Battle is no place for children.
“Maybe I should have shown Yamia that scar I got from Harrek the Berserk.”
“She knew the danger. She’s trying to make him into a Hero too young. I know the omens were there and the ravens came, but he is so tiny!”
“Some mothers,” Mellia replies with a touch of acid, “are not willing to let their children be themselves. Mine had her heart set on me serving Ernalda. Tamakt needs to be a child before he is a hero.”
Venlar sighs again. “Yet he was made in a Heeroquest. She’s his mother, and that’s that.”
“My love, everything will be fine.”
“We should hurry a little. I do not like the look of the clouds. Chief Dogva said we would have a fine but cold day today, but we will be moving from where we can see. We’ll be stopping at a little village that Tathia helped some time back, and then we’ll be climbing up to the North Gate tomorrow, which will be cold and hard.”
Mellia shivers and picks up the pace. “As you wish. I think I may be cranky if they are not in trouble.”