The Heart of the Matter

Mellia — Heart Matter

????, Earth Season, Season/Death Week


1626 Earth Season/Death Week/Waterday/late afternoon, up on the roof of House Saiciae before a dinner party. [[[s02:session-5|Session 5]]]


Mellia goes looking for Berra before dinner (in case Berra has to attend a dinner party). Mellia tries the roof, then Berra’s room.

The roof has multiple hatches, and different levels. However, a little bit of walking and asking around identifies the correct ones. Berra and Yamia are meditating in a charcoal cross, in the shadow of the tallest rise of the roof. Both are out of armour, with Berra in loincloth, chest wrap, and blue silk scarf. Yamia is in a simple dress that lets her sit cross-legged. Both seem calm, and neither seem to notice Mellia’s approach.

Mellia carefully approaches that spot on the roof without actually climbing around on it. Her hair is up in braids, held by jeweled pins and ribbons. “Berra? It’s almost dinner time. May I speak with you in private?”

Yamia’s scabbard is empty, with her sword laid in front of her.

The roof is flat enough to walk on – the step-pyramid style was in vogue when the building was created, and indeed it still is. Several squares for fertility, stacked on top of each other, make for a solid structure. Mellia is well outside the charcoal cross when she speaks, however. Such a thing is probably a temple.

Berra looks up, and looks to Yamia, and nods. “I’ll be a few moments,” she tells the older woman. To Mellia, she gives a brilliant smile as she rises. She steps out through a break in the cross, made by smudging her foot over the end of the sword shape, where the point would be.

Yamia nods, and continues with what she is doing, breathing slowly, eyes closed.

Mellia’s steps are careful and slow, with her shoes off. This is because she’s dressed for a dinner party, in a lovely dress in Venlar’s favorite color. She smiles at Berra. “Thanks,” she whispers. “Are you willing to leave the roof?”

“No, but we can find somewhere downwind,” Berra murmurs. “If I am outside this, I’m protecting my Temple. Yamia is in it, keeping it. I’ll take her to Battalion grounds soon.” She points around the corner as she walks. “We had some of Venlar’s guards there earlier, just making sure we would not be disturbed, but that’s done now.” The roof area is big enough that if they talk quietly they will not be heard. Berra takes up the stance of a guard on watch, and looks out over the other roofs.

Mellia nods and settles down. “Berra, I had a horrible thought earlier. What if Yamia’s current connection to Humakt is actually as strong as a normal initiate’s connection?”

Berra considers that, and her motile features show much of her confusion and her wrestling with it. “It… I think she is probably Separated from him, which is in itself a Humakti mystery,” she says carefully. “And she can’t feel that, because of the Separation. But if she was, that’s… interesting. Are you saying you think she was … what you would think of as too much connected to Death, and now she isn’t?”

Mellia nods. “All three of the triplets were deeply marked by Death. Venlar is marked in body and Hengrast and Yamia are marked in mind.”

“Hurrrhhhh.” Berra continues to look out over the city, but after a moment longer says, “I think that could be right. If she is not marked, and suddenly started being of the world, that could feel like everything is suddenly important. I think she would know if she was connected to Humakt, but the Separation, and then not having Death… I don’t know how that works, but it’s definitely…. it all fits.”

Mellia frowns. “I was hoping I was wrong. If we’re right, will a heroquest help at all?”

“If we’re right – if you’re right – then time will help. But a Heroquest could set her to finding Death, or could send her back to being what she was. That’s something we should probably ask her. But yeah. Maybe a Heroquest wouldn’t help. The question would be what effect we want to have.” Berra chews her lip as she scowls out at the streets.

“I know Venlar wants his sister to go back to the way she was,” Mellia says. “I want her to be comfortable with her current state. Mother is going to kill me if the heroquest has no effect. The clan is paying for it.”

“So… I want her to be able to serve Humakt, to bring endings cleanly. And I suppose I want you and Venlar to both be happy. She shouldn’t be hurting when she sees harm. But how can we make it so she can react to it instead? Without reacting too much?”

“I honestly don’t know,” Mellia says sadly. “Sometimes I wonder if Yamia would be happier serving my Lady, rather than Humakt. Would Humakt let Yamia go, though?”

Berra considers only briefly. “Unlikely. The spirit that would come for her would be very good at killing things. She promised herself, and I don’t think he’s finished with her. Maybe she wants her old feeling back, where she could calculate instead of being pushed by the world. It’s like she’s gone from being female to male, and suddenly become emotional. That’s got to be really awful to have happen to you.”

Mellia nods. “Healing her mind is well beyond me. I may ask for lessons in this from the Great Hospital.”

Berra drums her fingers on the waist-high wall at the edge of the roof. “Well. We have until we set off for the hospital to find out if there’s a quick way, or anything that we can definitely do. But I think Yamia’s getting better. She hasn’t been so badly affected today, I think. There have been a few disturbances, and she didn’t deal with them well, but she didn’t panic either. So… I think you’re probably right. She doesn’t have the full knowledge of being around Humakt she had, but I don’t think she’s cut off by him. And I think it’s probably up to her to change somehow and I don’t know what that is.”

“It’s always up to the patient in these cases, I’m told. If she’s getting better, I’m glad. I wish I knew more about these things.”

“The gods can speed it up, I’m sure.” Berra rocks onto her toes, and back to her heels. “And I’d like her not to have to go through it. But let’s say she can’t comprehend Separation so much as she could. So she’s feeling the world and feels cut off from Death…” The Humakti looks back to the makeshift cross where Yamia is still working. “He can be reached through Truth as well.”

“He can,” Mellia agrees. “Has she tried that?”

“Not as far as I know. But she’s honourable… so it’s in her. The question is how. She told me she was… when someone tried to measure me up for a dress earlier today she understood Separation for a moment, or at least, said she thought she felt him. We were meditating on that. Maybe we should leave that and look to Truth instead. What is Truth, as people know it?”

“Many say Truth is knowledge,” Mellia says slowly. “The Truth of Humakt might be holding fast to your knowledge of yourself. I’m just guessing.”

“Knowledge of the self is an illusion, if you think it’s the real Truth. Otherwise, it’s fine. Acknowledging who we are means knowing we are only ever facets of the Truth that the Grey Sage has. It’s a torch that lights the way for us. So… if she can accept that in her, and know it hurts and still go on?” Berra takes a moment to look back at Yamia again.

“That may be the best healing we can hope for,” replies Mellia.

“But can we do it quickly?” Berra sweeps her eyes over the city again. “Two become one,” she mutters, and then says a little louder, “This is a mystery too. It could be Hero-danced, so it could be Quested. Humakt separates from Kin on seeing he must. That’s a possibility. Because he’s honourable, and won’t let Death be used wrong. Some say his mother was Truth.”

“Hmm,” Mellia comments. “I agree we don’t have a lot of time.”

“I can lead her through meditations on Truth,” Berra says. “But I can’t make a Heroquest happen. It needs worshippers and power.”

“That means another talk with the Great Sword,” Mellia points out.

“Well, we’re going there anyhow. Maybe it’s a question of which Heroquest to use. Humakt Separates needs Vadrus, Urox, and Orlanth. We’ve got two of those ourselves. It’s a smaller, less dangerous quest than Humakt the Champion, but Death does still exist in it, so people could die. Maybe she needs to realise WHY he cuts off. So the cutting isn’t important. Knowing why is.” Berra pulls her blue scarf over her shoulders, which have a touch of sunburn.

“I agree,” Mellia says. “Do I need to weasel out of this dinner party I am supposed to attend?”

“It depends. When will it end?” Berra looks down at her hand on the scarf, thoughtfully.

“Mid-evening, I devoutly hope. You could always send a messenger for me. Healers are prone to leave to handle emergencies,” answers Mellia.

“I’ll probably not be involved, so I can always act as a runner. I know routes through the city pretty well. Where will you be?”

Mellia says, “Over at House Thisera, probably in their new garden patio. The men of Thisera are very proud of the patio and plantings and set this party up to show them off. Too bad their cooks aren’t as good as their gardeners.”

“Oh dear. Still, food is for marching on, right?” Berra gives the smile of the infanteer. “I should get back to the Temple. If you go see the Great Sword without me, let me know afterwards what happens.”

“I will,” Mellia promises. “Luck to you, Berra.”

Berra nods, and goes back to the charcoal cross, bowing before she crosses its threshold, and unscuffing it behind her using more charcoal. “Yamia,” she says once inside. “I want us to think about Truth, now. All things are one, and all are different, and these two things are the same if the Torch shows it to us, for our eyes are fallible, but Truth is eternal.” She kneels in front of Yamia, with the sword between them. “Sunhilt away. Standing meditation.”

Mellia tiptoes away, wishing she didn’t have a party to go to.