1626, Sacred Time?
It’s been a couple of days since Mellia and Venlar visited the market and met with Entale. Venlar is off at the Storm Temple, accompanied by a couple of his thralls. Fera is in the common room of the Grape, looking very bored. She’s not even trying to put a polite face on it anymore.
Mellia goes over to Fera. “Want to go to the market? I need to meet with the woman making my wedding dress.”
The young woman gives Mellia a suspicious glance. “Why do you want me to come?”
“I can use a second opinion. Also, do you have a dress for the wedding?”
Fera shakes her head. “I suppose I could go with you.” Her tone makes it clear that she’s only doing it to make sure her big brother’s wife doesn’t make any embarrassing choices. It has nothing to do with the way her own eyes lit up at the mention of a new dress for herself.
Mellia smiles. “Then let’s go to Entale’s stall.”
Fera stands up with alacrity. Yamia peels herself from the wall. It seems the Humakti intends to accompany them. A nod at one of the thralls leads to that woman joining their party too. Thus it is that Mellia soon finds herself accompanied by three Cinder Fox women as she sets out for the market.
Mellia does not mind the company. She brings her medical kit and money. Mellia would point out things of interest on the way.
Fera continues her impersonation of a bored teen. Yamia, for her part, prowls behind them, keeping a close eye on the varied potential threats.
Mellia does not worry. Her white robe is a better defense than Yamia.
It’s a bit earlier than the last time Mellia visited. Despite the earliness of the hour, the market isn’t bustling. There are more people here than the other day, but business doesn’t look great.
Mellia worries about business being bad. She silently asks the gods to bless Sartar.
The gods are silent and the sky is grey.
Mellia was afraid that she would get that answer. Hopefully Entale is open for business.
She is. Her booth is set up in the usual spot. There’s a matronly woman talking to the tailor. The two are engaged in vigorous bargaining.
Mellia waits her turn. Mellia thinks about Irillo and wishes he were here.
Fera is intrigued by the silk scarves. She’s sorting through them, her earlier disdain forgotten. Yamia is maintaining a distance, so that she can continue to guard. She makes no move to stop her sister, leaving Fera to Mellia’s guidance.
“Gently,” Mellia advises Fera. “Try to only touch the edge.”
Abruptly, Fera releases the scarves. “I was just looking!” she says defensively.
“If you damage those scarves, you will be buying them. They are costly.”
Fera glares at the healer. “I was just looking!” she repeats. Nevertheless, she puts her hands behind her back.
Mellia smiles at Fera. “Let’s look at the green fabrics.”
The young woman scowls. “Whatever.”
“White Lady! Welcome back. And who is your friend?” While Mellia and Fera were talking, Entale finished her haggling. The matron has moved on, clutching a fabric wrapped package to her chest.
Mellia says, “Hello Entale! This is Fera, my betrothed’s sister. The lady on guard is Yamia, also his sister. Fera needs a dress for the wedding and Yamia might be interested in fabric.”
The tailor gives the Cinder Fox women a speculative look. “Well, why don’t they start by looking at some of the fabrics I have, while you and I discuss your own gown?”
Mellia says, “A splendid idea. Did you get the sketches done?”
From under her table, the tailor withdraws a wax tablet along with several small samples of textile. The tablet has a sketch of an outfit consisting of what looks like a pleated sheath and then a long wrap, draped artfully around the figure.
“Lovely!” Mellia looks at the fabric scraps.
First, there are 5 small scraps of white linen, each tightly pleated. Looking carefully, Mellia can see subtle variation within the scraps. One is so fine as to be almost transparent when the pleats are stretched out. The second is just barely heavier and more translucent, rather than transparent. Neither would leave much to the imagination, if it weren’t for the pleating, which creates the appearance of opacity. The third, when Mellia peers closely at it, has a diamond pattern woven into it, while the fourth is a herringbone twill. The final sample doesn’t pleat as finely as the others, and as Mellia examines it more closely, she notes that its stripes are textured, as much as they are visible.
“You should pick one of these for the sheath,” Entale tells her. “Each will behave somewhat differently, so it depends on what you want of the dress.”
“I like the diamond weave. Venlar would probably prefer the finest one, but the Chief Priest of Orlanth will be there and I don’t want to shock him.”
The tailor smiles knowingly. “Healer, the Chief Priest has seen Ernalda in her many forms. But the pleating would protect your modesty, as will the green wrap. Just, hope Heler doesn’t choose to share his blessings and you’ll be fine.”
Mellia nods. “Let’s hope Heler blesses us after the ceremony. I still would prefer something on the modest side.”
Entale reluctantly sets aside the two sheerest fabrics. “The diamond, then?”
Having settled on the white, she now presents Mellia with the green. It’s the same green wool that she was looking at before. Finely woven and a lush shade that reminds Mellia of ferns. This scrap has the Life and Harmony runes embroidered in white silk so fine that the runes have a luminous quality to them.
“Oh my goodness. I especially like the runes.”
For the first time in a while, Fera speaks up. “You should have foxes too.” She taps the tattoo above her eyebrow.
“But I won’t have joined the clan yet. It would have to be red poppies and blue trees.”
“But you will be joining, so you need foxes too.” The girl’s chin takes on a stubborn angle.
“If we have poppies, trees and foxes, it would never get done. I think we need to skip the clan symbols.”
Entale intervenes. “I will need to see your clan markings, healer, if I am to integrate them into the design. And I think they should be part of it. The young woman is right. We can include the foxes amidst your trees and flowers very easily. You will wear this after you are married too, so having your new clan be part of it is important.” She adds, “Trust me to know my craft. I have seasons yet. You said Earth Season, after all.”
Mellia says, “Is there somewhere I can disrobe?”
At the back of her stall, the tailor has an area set off with hanging curtains. It’s going to be chilly, but it will not take long.
Mellia ducks inside and disrobes. The poppy is on her chest and the tree is on her tummy and left side.
Entale tsks over Mellia’s scar from last year’s Lightbringers Quest, but rapidly makes notes regarding the tattoos. She nods for the healer to dress. When Mellia emerges from behind the curtains, it’s to find Entale making a quick sketch of Fera’s fox tattoo as well.
Mellia says, “I have considered a Lightbringer tattoo but don’t know where to put it.”
“On your body or on the wrap?”
“On my body.”
“Have you tried meditating on it? What did the other Lightbringers do? You are kin to some of them, if I heard the stories correctly. The Vingan, the Sage, and the Merchant, yes?”
“Yes indeed. I hope they will get to at least one of the weddings.”
“Another wedding?” Entale looks curious. Fera, Mellia notices, has gone back to poking through silk scarves.
“The one in Nochet, for my birth clan. The contract specified two ceremonies. It is probably the only way everyone would agree.”
“Ah yes. For a moment I thought you meant one of the others would marry too.” There’s a hint of what might be disappointment in her voice. “But, if they need new garments, you might mention me, yes?”
“Oh, I definitely will!”
Entale glances past Mellia to watch Fera. “Is there something in particular that you seek, my dear?”
Fera attempts a nonchalant shrug, but can’t help the longing in her expression as she holds a moss green scarf between her fingers. It has a repeating motif of earth and fertility runes woven into it in a lighter shade.
“You are an adult now, Fera. If you have the money, you can buy it.”
“Are you done?” she asks.
“I am done for now and willing to wait until you’re done.”
Fera sets to bargaining with the tailor. The two engage in a rapid back and forth in Heortling, that ultimately ends with Fera handing over some coins. Her scarf is meticulously wrapped for her and before long, she is ready to go. She is near to bursting at the seams with pride as she goes to show Yamia her prize. The tailor smiles when the young woman isn’t looking. To Mellia, she says, “I shall send your gown to Cinder Fox Tula by the end of Fire Season. Where shall I send the bill?”
“You should send the bill there also. I wish the palace was paying, but I must do so.”
The tailor nods. “And so I shall, White Lady. I wish you many blessings on your marriage. May Ernalda smile on you.”
“Thank you, Entale. I suspect Fera will be back later by herself.”
The woman nods and waves them all off.
On the walk back to the inn, Fera offers Mellia a tentative smile. “Her scarves are very beautiful.”
“They are. Once my cousin Xenofos bought one for my friend Berra.”
“The Humakti?” The girl looks very curious at this.
“The Humakti. I don’t know what he was thinking.”
Fera rolls her eyes. “He’s an Esrolian man. He probably…” She trails off, blushing. She probably just remembered that she’s talking to an Esrolian woman who happens to be related to the man in question. “Um… your dress is going to be beautiful.”
“Thanks in part to your suggestion.”
Fera offers a tentative smile.
Mellia smiles. “Thanks for coming.”
The smile grows. “Thanks for asking me to.”
“You are welcome. Let me know if you want me to come with you to get fabric or a dress.”
Fera nods. “Maybe tomorrow. For now, I’m hoping Venlar is back from his temple.”
“I hope so too.”