1627, Sea Season
At Blue Tree Tula. Takes place directly after something from Mellia’s logs!. Time roughly corresponds to Swim Roles (Session 2.32). Continues in Cup Of Life. Spoilery for those who don’t know about Finarvi’s life
A cutting wind has sprung up by the time Mellia and Finarvi have rejoined Venlar, and by unspoken agreement they head back to Blue Tree. Finarvi is quiet and thoughtful on the ride back. At the longhouse, they dismount and some of Venlar’s household take their horses while they go inside to get warm.
To Venlar, of course, having people take care of him seems reasonable. He does not ask what Mellia and Finarvi did alone, but he does ask if there are any hot rocks to hold, to warm her hands up.
Mellia smiles. “Thanks, love. Finarvi and I need your help. He wants to do right by his son, but neither of us know the customs here.”
“Oh?” Venlar looks interested. “Well, of course.” He looks to Finarvi. “What is the problem, then, if you have one?”
Finarvi looks between the two of them, uncertain. “Matila said if I declare Antoril is my son she will confirm it in front of the clan,” he says “but I do not understand the ramifications of that, for any of us. I do not want…” he gestures helplessly, not finding the words he needs. He tries a different tack. “In my clan, if one is hungry they are fed, if one is cold you give them shelter. It doesn’t matter if they are blood or not, so long as they are clan. It does not matter if you do not like them, or if they don’t behave appropriately, they still have a place. The laws require it.”
He goes on. “Here, though, it’s not the same. This is Blue Tree, Matila is Blue Tree. I am part of Blue Tree Clan, so I have to be told how I should act. But I am also a Grazelander.”
He pauses, choosing his words carefully. “I want Matila to understand my family do not have a claim to her son. He is not one of the Pure Horse People. And I… I don’t have any claim over Matila’s choices. She is free to choose whether or not she wants me to see the boy. It makes no difference. I will see they are sheltered and fed. Because they are clan, and because I am Grazer.”
Mellia smiles approvingly. “I don’t know Sartarite customs, or those of Blue Tree. Maybe we should all go talk to the lawgiver.”
Finarvi nods. He looks unhappy.
Venlar nods, taking that in. “It is easy enough,” he says. “Much as you are a Grazer, she is of the Blue Tree, and her clan are around her. But at this point, you decide if you want the boy to be known as yours. We don’t have to go to the lawgiver on this yet, certainly. You’d be a name-father, and there would be an expectation you would contribute to her household, but that already seems covered. As a name-father, you would not have claims over her choices.”
Mellia looks thoughtful.
“And the boy’s? What would it mean for him if I am his name-father?”
“About what you would expect – people would know him as Finarvisson, son of a Grazer. If Matila is happy to declare that, it’s a fine name to have.” Venlar says. “I think you are over-thinking this. The boy will be part of her household until he is grown, so choices she makes are for them both.”
Fin makes a gesture of assent. “Perhaps you are right. A trader makes a poor father, an adventurer an even worse one. I will not visit if Matila does not desire it. Make sure she knows that.”
“So…. other than Mellia and presumably Matila, have you EVER talked to a woman?” Venlar takes up a pose of polite enquiry.
Finarvi looks offended.
“I ask because you are doing a terrible job of it, and she is not even present.” It is easy for Venlar to look down on short people, but the slightly grave expression says he is trying not to show it all.
“Your humour is missing its mark with me, Lord Venlar,” Finarvi says gravely.
Venlar gives Finarvi a flat look. “Then I will be plain. A woman has just asked you to stand as father to her son. Telling her that you are happy never seeing him is not the correct thing to do here.”
“No indeed,” Mellia agrees.
Finarvi’s expression chills. “Those were not my words. Of course I want to. But I will not force my presence on one who has tried to avoid me these three seasons past.”
“Words or not, it is how she will hear it. These further negotiations are best done by women, for this reason; they consider quiet words better than men do.” Venlar sits back, having leaned forward to make his point. “Tell her you want to. It is her decision – and if she wants to keep you away, she can stand up and say so.”
Finarvi looks doubtful, but he nods.
More gently, Venlar says, “All of these things that worry you have worried others already. There is precedent, and there are those in this hall, I am certain, who have faced this already. So send to her and say yes, and that you would like to give gifts to the mother of your child from time to time, and that you are happy this has happened. And find one of her friends and find out what she is thinking of you. Yamia would never forgive me letting someone undertake a campaign without intelligence.”
Venlar gives Mellia a glance that might have been to get her to stop that, but turns into him just staring at her.
Mellia just beams at Venlar.
“Thank you for your advice, Lord Venlar,” Finarvi says quietly. “I will make the offer.”
“I can speak for Finarvi, my love, but I don’t know who Matila’s friends are.”
“You speaking for him is a good idea, but take someone who knows the customs. This clan is Orlanthi and therefore I know most of the law, but almost none of the precedent. And none of the Ernaldan side.” Venlar nods to a knot of women. “The best-dressed among them, or else Sosa, who has been here longest of the White Ladies, should suffice.” He picks a tiny miscoloured thread from the cuff of his embroidered tunic.
“I will get Sosa to help us,” Mellia says.
Venlar says, “Traditionally, we now get drunk together,” to Finarvi. “And stay out of the way.”
Mellia goes in search of Sosa.
Finarvi casts one last despairing look at the departing Mellia and says, “Perry. The beer here has teeth.”
“Well. Let us see about biting back?” Venlar, confident, has never yet had too much of the local pear drink.