Seeds of Doubt

Mellia — Seeds Doubt

????, Earth Season, Season/Fertility Week


1626 Earth Season/Fertility Week/Godsday/late morning, in the Great Hospital. [[[s02:session-9|Session 9]]]

The lead up from Mellia’s perspective: [ Songbird Wakes]

The lead up from Varanis and Berra’s perspectives: [ Shattered Songstrel]


The lay member opens the door. There’s Varanis, Berra and Yamia.

“Five minutes, Varanis,” Mellia says sternly. “Do you want me present?”

“Vahnfar! What happened to you?” Varanis shoots Mellia a quick glance. “Stay, it’s fine.”

Berra stays by the door, hunkering down in an infantry squat with her back against the wall, and watching.

“Several puncture wounds, any of which could have killed him from blood loss and a smashed cheekbone,” answers Mellia.

Berra lifts her brows in surprise and maybe respect.

“A duel.” comes the answer from a blushing man, after a small pause, in hoarse voice.

“A duel! That sounds like a lot of damage for a duel.” Varanis looks worried.

Vahnfar is not looking at Varanis or anyone else.

“A lot too much,” Mellia agrees. “You nearly went to Humakt’s halls, young man.”

“That’s a lot of first blood,” Berra opines.

He is starting to say something angry, but fails to get voice out of his throat and answer is drowned in coughing.

“Shhh. Breathe, Vahnfar.”

At command of Varanis’ Vahnfar breaths steadily, but does not offer further information.

“Who did this to you?” Varanis asks gently.

“The wounds looked like they’d been made with a rapier,” Mellia says.

Berra looks around the place, and then examines her own fingernails for dust. “And a hilt, or a knee,” she adds.

Vahnfar looks at Varanis with pale blue eyes resembling the Yelmalian Oriole and then turns his gaze and just shakes his head.

“This is Nochet, Mellia. A lot of people carry rapiers. I need to know who did this, Vahnfar. It matters to me. Please?” She gives him a worried look

There is a tear on his check. He closes his eyes and shakes his head again.

“I think,” Mellia says, “the patient needs to sleep and eat. You can visit him again later, Varanis.”

Varanis sighs. “You leave me little choice but to try to find out on my own. Before I go, at least tell me what to do to help your little songbird? He suffers with you.”

“Just… keep him close.. to you.” There is little left to remind of the beautiful tenor you heard less than a week ago.

Berra sighs. “You got beaten up by an expert,” she says. “There’s no shame in saying who, and you might be protecting someone else when you do. Be brave, huh?”
Varanis steps close to the bed and rests her free hand on his, for a moment. “One more time – please, who did this to you?”

He looks back to Varanis eyes and lifts her hand to his cheek. “My word…”

Mellia rolls her eyes.

“If someone made you promise…” now Berra sounds threatening.
That threat does not seem aimed at the singer.

Varanis nods her understanding. “Then I will investigate and I will punish him.”

“Or her,” Berra says lightly. “But if you’ve been told not to tell, that’s… suspect.” She stands up. “So you should be able to tell us how that happened, at least.”

He closes his eyes, failing to meet Berra eye to eye.

“Mhmmm…” Berra sounds less than impressed.

“That’s it,” Mellia announces, “everybody out. I will leave too, just to be fair about it.”

“Good,” says Varanis. “Because I want to speak with you.” There’s an undercurrent of anger in her voice, though she keeps it soft for Vahnfar’s sake.

Berra looks down at Vahnfar, and nods just once, then with a scrape of bronze against wood, she is out of there, half bouncing off the door frame on her way.

Berra will hang around to walk Varanis back if required, but otherwise is going to take a walk to find out if the other bird should be brought back to freedom.(edited)

As soon as both Mellia and Varanis are clear of the door, the taller woman turns to her cousin. Quietly, but firmly, she demands, “why are you mad at me?”

“I’m not mad at you, Varanis,” Mellia says quietly. “I may be mad at Xenofos. I am definitely mad at whoever didn’t just walk away after first blood in that duel.”

Berra gives Yamia a look, and directs her to one side of the discussion, at the same time as Yamia directs her to the other. There is a bit of glaring, but they both go to stand in the corridor so nobody will walk down casually.

“Duels don’t need to be to first blood, unfortunately. It’s entirely possible that the young fool agreed to a duel to the death. Or to submission. Or unconsciousness. Or any other such nonsense.”

“Nonsense is right,” Mellia agrees. “I think most of all, I am mad at myself for not finding Vahnfar before this happened. I wanted to prevent something like this. I get so busy, I always get so busy… “

Varanis is vibrating with barely suppressed rage. “Tell me what you know.”

“Not much. I told the truth about his injuries and the narrowly averted result.”

Mellia continues, “I wasn’t sure he was behind the gifts. The rumor in here is that you did it. I don’t really believe that.”

“He sent me a pair of songbirds.” Varanis indicates the cage. “One of them is a spirit songstrel. It’s tied to his spirit.”

Mellia is visibly astonished by the gift.

“I tried to return it to his House, but his mother refuses. She says it’s between me and Vahnfar. But he is in no shape to have that conversation. Where was he found? When was he found? I need facts if I’m to find out who is behind this.”

“His friends brought him in Windsday evening and ran,” Mellia tells Varanis. “I don’t know where they carried him in from, but he’d nearly bled out when I got to him. It took the power of the White Lady to save him and even that almost wasn’t enough.”

“Is he ever going to be able to sing again?”

Mellia looks sad. “He’s dehydrated, so there’s hope, but only the White Lady knows. Maybe not.”

Varanis looks stricken. Then something dawns on her. “You said you don’t really believe I attacked him? That means you do believe it to be possible though!”

“You have a temper, Varanis. You didn’t want to be courted.”

“I’m not cruel! And whoever fought that duel with him clearly is. There was deliberate effort put into maiming that boy.” Varanis is deeply offended. “How could you believe it of me?”

Mellia looks at the floor. “No, you are not cruel. I am not as good at reading injuries as you are. I am sorry for it.”

Varanis shakes her head. “I should hope so.” Then she sighs again. “Listen, find out what you can for me, please?”
“I need as much detail as I can. Who brought him in? Where did they find him? How did they find him?”

“I will try,” Mellia promises. “I have two thoughts on this, but you may not want to hear them.”

“Tell me.”

“Jealousy makes people cruel,” says Mellia. “And Xenofos sometimes gets strange when you’re involved in something.”

“What?” Varanis looks startled, then thoughtful. “He has been acting a little odd recently.”

Mellia slowly nods. “He didn’t want me to find out who was courting you, but was looking for that man himself.”

“There were three, I think. Vahnfar, Lenta Hulta, and Garin Merelt. Garin seems to have given up. I think I’ve persuaded Lenta to stand down. I’d hoped to dissuade Vahnfar, but I need to be gentle with him right now.” Varanis considers. “Xenofos has been helping me read the notes I’ve been receiving. But… he knows about Serala. I told him about her.”
She considers again. “At least, I think I did…”

“That doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you,” Mellia points out. “For a worshipper of Knowledge, he’s got quite a knack for avoiding self-knowledge. I didn’t know about Serala. I hope you two can be together again someday.”

A cloud passes through Varanis’ expression. “I’d like to hope so, but I do not dare plan for it. Grandmother will have other plans for me, I think. And if not her, then Kallyr will.” She sounds resigned and resentful at the same time. “Even if I loved Xenofos as you suggest he loves me, surely he can see that such an alliance gains nothing for either of my Houses and therefore would not be permitted?”

“People love others that they can’t possibly have all the time,” Mellia says. “Xenofos may not have admitted to himself that he’s in love with you, too. That wouldn’t surprise me at all.”

Varanis shakes her head. “It’s a moot point, anyway. Xeno would never be this cruel either. It’s not him. What is your other suspicion?”

“That was all,” Mellia answers. “I wish you better luck than I have had, Varanis.”

“So let me get this straight. In all of Nochet, you believed either me or Xenofos capable of maiming and possibly killing a man in a duel?” Disbelief wars with hurt and anger. “And you stopped there? With those two possibilities?”

“You’re both good with a rapier,” says Mellia. “You both have, or had a motive.”

“Mellia! It’s Nochet. Most of the nobles, at least the men, carry rapiers.”

Mellia throws up her hands. “Vahnfar wasn’t courting them, or their sisters, recently. I hope you find someone else with a motive, I really do!”

Varanis gives Mellia a slightly disgusted look. “If you think of anything else, let me know.” Then she turns and walks out, carrying the wicker cage with its sorry little cargo with her.