1628, Dark Season, Disorder Week, Wildday Eve
Mellia and Venlar have travelled at speed through the Culbrea to get to Boldhome. Session SA3.13.
There’s a knocking on the front door.
It takes a minute for the door to open, although a muffled voice does call out, “Coming!”
The door is opened by Mehrim, Yehna’s husband. He takes a moment to realise who is there and then smiles widely. “White Lady! Venlar! Come in!” Which would leave the horses out in the street.
“Mehrim! Can we get the horses to a stable, or some sort of safe haven? They’ve had a rough time getting here.”
“Oh, of course. You go in.” Mehrim steps outside and then pauses and tells Venlar, “Go around the wall that way? I will open the back gate. The staff quit on Clayday.”
Venlar wisely does not ask questions. He just leads the horses, poor dejected things, on their way.
“Yehna will get you something hot,” Mehrim says to Mellia, as he hurries through the house. The big room behind the time entrance hall is wide and long, decorated like a Praxian yurt. To the right is a big fireplace, which opens into the kitchen as well. Mehrim goes to the kitchen as Yehna comes out, and they pass each other with a brief kiss.
Mellia starts greeting and hugging people. She sits down afterwards. “Ah, it’s good to see all of you. Yehna, how have you been? Varanis wrote, but focused on Berra.”
Yehna is there, and her cousin with the long name who tends to go by Rebba instead, and Haran, but the house is oddly empty otherwise. “Let me get you sitting down and warmed up,” Yehna says. “Come into the kitchen. It is smaller so the same fire does more. Rebba, can you take Haran to have his snack upstairs? I hear that if people have snacks upstairs they are allowed poppyseed sprinkles…”
With Haran out of the way, Yehna says, “I am well enough. We have not even been here a week. Travel was slow because Haran kept being sick.”
Mellia happily walks into the kitchen. “I’m sorry to hear that, Yehna. Do you want me to look at Haran? He seems well enough now.”
“Oh, he was doing it because we were travelling. He is fine.” Yehna already has hot water on, and mixes up a paste of herbs in a few moments, adding honey and an incredibly expensive ingredient, a twist of lemon peel. The mix smells almost Esrolian. “There, you drink that. The stable here is a bit stretched but we can move animals out that have not spent all day on the road.” Yehna looks out of the window into the darkening gloom. “Berra and Varanis have gone to Temple.”
“Thanks.” Mellia sips her drink. “Ah, this reminds me of home. I’m not exactly welcome in that temple, although it may be the best place for Berra right now. I take it Maalira is at worship?”
“I have not heard her about,” Yehna says cautiously. “White Ladies are welcome everywhere, I’m sure.” She sits down at the table, taking care as she does. By now she looks heavily pregnant. There is probably a season to go.
“I am tempted to let Berra wait until morning. We made for the North Gate. How are you holding up, Yehna?”
“I’m better than I was earlier today. Varanis is helping Berra. Her Wyter scares me, though. She’s my sister and she’s a Priest – but I can’t love what she worships.” Yehna shrugs it off. “I will probably stay here to look after her. It’s too late to be sure I can get home now.”
“Berra made Priest? That’s great!” Mellia drinks her tea. “I think we just barely beat the snow. We left so quickly that we didn’t bring servants. You tell me if you need help, Yehna.”
“I know how to run a household,” she says. “And Berra is at least back on her feet, but we do need to sort out the house. Rebba can do most of that. We’ll be in such a big place for the season that I hardly think we’ll go out much.” Yehna has in theory been to Nochet, and even lived there for a short while, but she has never known a truly large house.
“I know. I’m sorry if I offended you. I’m hoping Kallyr doesn’t find out I’m in town. I don’t want to deal with her.”
“Kallyr?” Yehna sighs, and gets up to start making the men their drink. “Tell me about it?”
“Kallyr,” Mellia explains, “isn’t good at paying her debts. She owes me a wedding and never did it. I love Venlar with all my heart, but I got swindled out of two big weddings. I think missing out on the wedding my House was throwing hurt more.”
“You should let her know that,” Yehna says stoutly. “I’m sure she would feel terrible about it, and make it up to you somehow.”
“Kallyr’s been spoiled by my cousins. They usually refuse boons. Still, I could ask for an audience.”
Yehna nods. “I’m going to take these out and send Venlar in,” she says. “He can take your things upstairs. I’ll be better at looking after the horses than he is.” She pours hot water into not two but three cups, and picks up two of them. “Would you get the door for me?”
Mellia gets the third cup and opens the door for Yehna.
“Leave that one there, it’s for Venlar when he comes back,” Yehna says with a smile. “I put extra honey into it, and some salt. Travelling is hot work.”
Outside is a small garden and a decent size of courtyard. It is not quite snowing temperature, but the rain may well freeze at the coldest part of the night. There could be frost or ice in the morning.
Mellia will put the cup back as soon as Yehna gets through the door. “This is quite pretty. Hurry back; I think we got here just in time.”
Venlar comes in a few minutes later, laden with bags, and dumps them down on the table and the floor. “Mehrim will bring the rest,” he says. “And I’ve seen there is a kiss tax for coming into this kitchen. Do I pay it to you?”
Mellia grins and smooches him.
After a while he remembers where he is. “We will be in the room downstairs but Berra’s gear will need to be moved. She is well enough to be in the big room or to use the stairs now.” He looks around, spies Mellia’s cup, and searches for his own.
Mellia hands him his cup. “I am going to sit down. Berra was too weak for stairs?!?! Varanis should have written to me earlier.”
“It cannot have been much time between them returning and us being here,” Venlar notes. “Most letters take two days, stopping at Jonstrown. We probably beat your last one to get here.” Of course, he tends to know the fastest ways to send information.
Mellia calms down. “Sweetheart, do you think now is a good time to remind Kallyr that she’s supposed to officiate at our wedding? We’re already wed and the harvest was bad.”
“It depends on how busy Storm-Voice Tennebris is,” Venlar replies, sipping at the drink. “Oh, this is nice. A little salty, but well balanced.”
“Yehna said that you need the salt. It’s nice; it reminds me of Nochet.” Mellia drinks some more of her tea.
“She uses spices from down there a lot,” Venlar says. “I asked her once and she said that her initial learning was in Esrolia, and it has stuck. Apparently the staff here have just left because the Wyter that Berra found can take a human form, and they thought it was a ghost.”
Mellia groaned. “Well, I will do my best to help out. I will have to tell all of Blue Tree about this before I go in search of a Wyter.”
“Maintaining one requires a lot of worship,” Venlar observes. “You’ll have to ask… probably Mehgrim’s mother, to be honest.” The Ernaldan Priestess, and chief Dogva’s wife. “The Ernaldans will have to be lay members of the Temple.”
“I will do that, when we get home. I think we just barely beat the snow and there may be ice by morning.”
“We did climb considerably,” Venlar agrees. “We are probably not leaving Boldhome unless we go by the South Gate in the next day or two.” He stretches, threatening the shoulders of his coat, and then shrugs it off to leave it folded on the pile of luggage.
“I don’t think we’re getting home until Sacred Time, or later. Maybe Storm Season won’t be too bad this year.”
“Cold downpours do not block the road, but they do sometimes wash out parts of it,” Venlar says. “Still, we said goodbye. People will not worry about us.”
“Good. Tathia is better with disease than I am. They will be okay. I hope.”
“There are two of them, and my mother is a herbalist.” Venlar sighs. “I know I should not miss her, as a young warrior, but I do.”
“You love her,” Mellia points out. “Your mother is a wonderful person. Of course you miss her.”
“I can miss her more tomorrow,” Venlar declares. “Tonight I want to drink this and warm up and fall into bed.” He still moves with ease to put more wood on the fire and find some snacks for Mellia, and then as he is there, for himself as well.
“That sounds wonderful,” Mellia agrees. She will finish her tea, devour the snacks and then get the luggage to their room.
Venlar not only helps, but makes a decent attempt to make up a bed there. The place has low work benches which have been pressed into service as sleeping platforms, and he busies himself with finding more blankets and moving the one bench that is not built in so that they can be together. It is not the worst bed she has ever had, although she will be up higher than he is. “We can decide if we move to the White Grape in the morning.”
“Yehna will be hurt , but maybe we should go there. It’s that or we find more servants for her.”