Mellia — Sons And Lovers
????, Earth Season, Season/Disorder Week
1626 Earth Season/Disorder Week/Godday/evening in Jengharl’s bedroom in Wilmskirk. [[[s02:session-2|Session 2]]]
In the late evening, with a crowded courtyard and a great room full of people eating in shifts, Venlar is taking advantage of the full glory of his brother’s offer of a bed, by using his bedroom too. In a casual robe and a waist wrap, he is seated by the writing desk, ignoring the few letters that have come in to the Clan in the past days, and talking with Mellia instead. He has not ordered wine or food, but a thrall brought them when his clothes were being packed to move them out of Jengharl’s way, and he made sure they were all fit for Mellia.
“Thank you, sweetheart,” Mellia says. “I’m sorry I haven’t dared to explain things in my letters. I hate politics.”
“No, no. It’s very wise,” Venlar replies. “Not committing words to parchment means they cannot be intercepted. When I spoke to my father, I also carried messages nobody knew I had – from you and others. Those are much harder to steal, and you have been doing tremendously important things.”
Mellia smiles at him. “At the moment, I wish the things had been a little less important.” She pours herself some wine. “That spear blow nearly killed Berra.”
“Which? Oh, yes. Right. She was smiling an awful lot, though. I think you have someone where who judges on outcome, not risk. Or maybe that was a risk she took.” Venlar shrugs it off. “As far as I can tell from the mood of the city, that was an isolated incident. But moods can shift swiftly. As my brother has over-ruled me, it falls on me to help plan to keep you safe.”
Mellia nods. “If we end up facing an angry mob, even my robes may not protect me. What is it with Leika of Colymar and her people?”
“In Sartar they are known as the Proud Tribe. They led the way in many things, and still do, and they are known for their quick rising to readiness. Queen Leika was greatly missed by many in her exile. Their reputation is for fighting if slighted, I suppose.” Venlar neatly folds a bit of flatbread and dips it in a spicy sauce, making sure it is not dripping before he eats it. So far he has only knocked one bowl, and it did not fall over. His plates and bowls are all wooden, evidence his thralls know what clearing up crockery shards is like.
Mellia listens, nods, and tries some of that sauce and flatbread. “Here I am rattling on and I haven’t even told you I love you yet. I love you.”
Venlar smiles, and blushes, and murmurs, “I love you. I’m happy you’re here, and I’m with you, no matter what.” Even his ears have gone pink.
Mellia goes all starry-eyed. “I’m happy you’re here with me. Did I tell you that I asked Kallyr to preside at the wedding? With any luck she’ll pay for it too.”
“You did. You are very clever.” There is a lot of staring, and then Venlar remembers to eat. “Keep your strength up. We may have a long day tomorrow. I will carry you if I have to.”
Mellia obediently starts eating. “We will both need our sleep, I fear. I wish that were not so. Oh! Did you meet High Sword Eril while you were in Boldhome?”
“I did.” Venlar looks down, shoulders hunching a little, and then straightens and gives Mellia a smile. “He was very forgiving when I could not remember how to greet a Lord. It was a bit strange to see him.”
Mellia smiles. “He’s usually not a forgiving man. He probably felt strange to see you as well.”
“He was different to my expectations, but… people are right. He looks so much like me, I just forgot to say anything. He gave me time, but I was mortified. I had the words ready to go, I knew the correct greeting… and my tongue would not move, nor my lips part. It was terrible.” Venlar stares at Mellia, as if reliving the horror.
“Oh my poor love,” Mellia soothes. “I’m sure he felt the same way. The difference is a lifetime at Court. That and I told him what you look like.”
“I knew. But that is the difference, my love. All of my life, I have had people let me know how I remind them of him. He created strong loyalties and then left, and there are warriors of his age who advise me, and… it can be awkward. They mean nothing by it, for they know who my father is, but still, to see my own features silenced me.” Venlar looks uncomfortable.
Mellia looks thoughtful. She drinks in silence. Finally she says, “Thenaya’s word is law in this matter. “
“No. My father’s is,” Venlar says quietly. “She asked him to acknowledge her children as his. What more is needed?”
Mellia replies, “Nothing,” and adds, “I don’t care who your father is, Venlar.”
Venlar gives a tiny nod. “Neither does his Excellency, or my father. After that, things became easier, anyhow. I did not stay long, but I was able to take a message, and thank him for a thing that was on my mind.”
“That was kind of you,” Mellia says. “The thanks, I mean. His Excellency can be hard to deal with. He’s sent us on deadly missions more than once, yet Berra would follow him into Hell.”
“He was kindness itself. I know what the decisions of command can do, and yet there was little of that on him. Perhaps because I am his kin, but I saw nothing of what I had braced myself against.” Venlar seems puzzled, rather than relieved.
” Hmm. Perhaps the difference was the slaying of the demon, or it may have been reflecting on life and death after that kidney wound, or maybe things got cut away.”
“Perhaps. Mother said he was always kind. You hear stories, though. Maybe he is like that to kinfolk, not to his Regiment?”
“I don’t think Berra would call him kind,” Mellia muses. “He has changed since the ending of that quest. I’m not sure why.”
“As you say. It could be anything there. It could be the same thing that is …” he does not go on.
Mellia nods. “It will take a priestess wise in the ways of demons and the Hero Plane to tell. I don’t know.”
“I should talk to Berra about the demon, though. You said she killed it?”
“Berra slew the demon in fair and honorable combat. The offer of a fair duel got the demon out of Irillo and into its own shape.”
“But she slew it? And is a member of his Regiment.” Venlar shrugs then. “I told Lord Eril you felt he was working too hard. He said he was husbanding his resources sufficiently.”
Mellia snorts. “I doubt it. I am not surprised that he was pushing himself. He probably always has. The day your grandfather threw him out of the clan, he was almost literally dead on his feet.”
Venlar sighs. “Father was much affected by that. He called it one last chance to hit his brother, but he was not smiling like you would expect.”
“No,” Mellia agrees. “The Hero Plane can be a traumatic place to visit even when one knows what to expect. The young Eril would have died if I hadn’t blocked the blow with my shoulder and it had been a punch instead of a slap.”
Venlar breaks apart a bit of bread, shredding it into his bowl. “The Hero Plane is not always what happened,” he says. “There is no record of Tamain Cracks-Rock striking a White Lady.”
“No, that was indeed different. The past stretched to let me in.”
“Then in that time, at least, my grandfather…” he takes a breath and says it, “Did not try to kill his son.” Grimly, the words hang there, even in their denial.
Mellia softly says, “Only the gods know all the heart of a man. Your grandfather went to their judgement. The important thing is that Eril lived. You should perhaps talk to Irillo; he was in the role of Eril during the quest.”
“I will, and I think my father may wish to also. But we’ve digressed. I told Lord Eril that caution is born from concern, and he acknowledged the justice of that. I think it pleases him to know I would defend you, even against the lightest of reproaches. He was pleased to have seen me, and have some reminder of the Clan. Then I went to deliver other messages. The Sambari Mansion knew me, and nobody made a fuss in the Palace, although a few looked twice.”
“I was just a touch worried about you going to the palace. We were desperately avoiding Queen Leika’s honor guard at the time. I’m glad all went well.”
“If I let fear stop me, I would be betraying Orlanth. I am glad all went well also.” Venlar has mashed up sauces and bread and the tag ends of several dishes in his bowl, and now looks around blankly. “There should be an alynx here,” he says. “Otherwise, I’m going to have to eat this.”
Mellia smiles fondly at Venlar. “I am almost tempted to save you from that. Almost.”
“We could look for her. Or I could eat it.” He starts, and considers. “As long as I hold my bowl up and eat like a peasant, I should manage it. It’s surprisingly good. Did you know we have an alynx who will not hunt, and turns up her nose at meat most of the time? If she were white, we’d have given her to your Temple. She lives here, not at the Tula, and is a tiny thing, not much bigger than a kitten.”
“That’s a strange alynx. I think we had best eat swiftly, if we are to put the bed to use again.”
“I’ve finished anyhow…” Venlar puts down the bowl.