1628 Year, Earth Season, After Harmony week Clayday
[In Boldhome ] Session 3.25.
The way back into Boldhome is easy enough, and very low on traffic, Lenta wonders why Varanis looks so cross. But then the group enters into the middle of the Earth Temple, and Lenta is not invited in – there are many filters and levels and layers of invitation, and she is not on every list. She has the option of polite cakes and food, or going back to the house, or going… well, anywhere in Boldhome, to be honest.
“Hmmmm. Summons was for her… But I was sent on mission by Kalis. I should wait and report when she has time to see me. But she did not tell to report? Do I want to look at Varanis looking at me like I am waiting for her here? No… The house?… “
Around her, the Temple bustles, giving her no help at all.
Lenta leaves the temple with a serene nod to attendants talking of cakes. It does not mask her thought. 1 fail manage household She leaves with scarce attention to hustle and bustle around to leave her mount to it’s usual stabling.
The usual stabling swallows her horse, and then the house awaits, with its cook and its attendant comforts. The city lies quiet, with its subtle, roofscaped beauty, nothing to the brilliance of the paint in Nochet.
Lenta does not linger under the roof of Praxian house, but walks out with brisk steps.
As she does, footsteps follow her. The groom catches up. “Lady Lenta. You have a tablet.” 2A letter, but Esrolian.
“Thank you, Heleris.” He has to run back for it, but after a moment of expectation, does just that. She takes the tablet and continues walking without so much as glancing at it. It has a big mark at the bottom, but not one she needs to look at. And Boldhome is ignoring her, and from up here, where Varanis likes the view, she can see most of the city. The North Gate, the Temple of Yelmalio, the Flame of Sartar, re-lighted by a heroine… It is a good place to vanish into.
She lets her feet take her first one direction than other on the winding alleyways the barbarians call streets until she finds herself by house of Uleria. She looks at the veiled face of the Winged One and enters through the gate of baths.
A serene attendant gives her a soft smile, and a bow. He is rather taller than her, but makes it look like he enjoys being down at that level for a moment. Rather than asking questions, he waits to be addressed.
“Greetings. My name is Lenta. I have been on the road for some time. I would wash the sweat and dust of that journey off my skin.” She smiles to him, politely.
“Greetings, Lenta. You are welcome here.” He turns to offer a place beside him as he walks. “Will you want someone to help you?”
“A maid to help with my hair would be welcome… ” Her tone suggests she would like to hear his name.
“Chrimnos.” It’s an Esrolian name, but he is not Esrolian in looks. “We have hair experts.” He looks like he thinks that is only the mildest temptation, yet one he has to offer.
She nods. “Wonderful.”
“And if you have been on the road, a massage?” Chrimnos suggests.
“That might not be out of place, Chrimnos” She looks at him. “Thanks for the suggestion. But first- getting properly clean.”
He flicks a bit of dust – entirely imaginary – off his eyebrow, and looks away, almost blushing. “Then in here, on the left. Have you been here before?”
“Couple of times, Chrimnos.” She looks at him “First the washing, then the tub. Haruza – the Carmanian one helped me with my hair at that time.”
“Then you know where you are. I’ll see if Haruza is free.” He stops by the door to the undressing room.
She nods and enters. Quickly and efficiently the short Esrolian undresses and moves to the washing room with pails of cold and hot water on long benches.
By the time she is there, a young woman is waiting. Dark-skinned, curvy in a way that says she dances; not Haruza. “Lady Lenta. I’m Coema. I’m here to help.” She is in a short dress, easily taken off, but not presenting any sudden potential rivalries of the body. “If you need me.”
“Thank you, Coema.” She tries the warmth of the water in the pail. It is perfectly blended for comfort. “I would appreciate your help with my back and hair”, she adds, sitting down and starting to lather her arms.
Coema is very good at taking hints on when to move and when not to, and makes polite small talk, but she does finally add, “…I should apologise. With all the warriors marching, Haruza is not available.”
“No reason to apologize Coema. I can’t expect always meeting same people here.” She says with a quiet smile resting her head at the edge of the tub. “You said warriors are marching, did you?”
Coema picks up a comb to start on the tangles that water has not managed. “Everyone is saying so. I didn’t think it would happen, but the Green Woman – that is, Lady Kalis as Ernalda – has given her blessing to her champion. Such a fine marriage, that one – it solves so many problems.”
The little Ernaldan does not open her eyes. “A big host then? Where are they headed?” 3A special on intrigue at this point
“North, my dear.” Coema’s hands work gently. “But it’s not set off, only in the strangest way. They say everyone’s going to get into order on the road. It sounds like that will be a strange march to me.” And indeed, it would be. It sounds like it will be one massive argument. But North, and a host big enough to get into order, but small enough to get into order on the road… Odd indeed.
“North? Dangerford and then Tarsh? Or somewhere else?” She moves her head enough to make the combing easier. “Or is that a thing they have not told publicly yet?”
“Oh, nothing’s been told in public of course,” Coema says, “So I could be entirely misleading you. But I’ve heard a few times now that Tarsh is going to war, or that we’re preparing to help our friend Koraki. I have two ears and one mouth, so the first two times I hear such a rumour, I say nothing, but the third time, when it is already in the air, it does no harm to sing it loud.”
“Prudence is good when talking of affairs of war and princes….” Ernaldan says “And who is the champion? You did not name him?”
“Prince Kallyr, in guise of the Luminous Stallion King,” Coema says, “Although that, I’m afraid, is still held in one ear, and I’ve also heard that Kallyr herself is the champion. Either way, though, it’s that marriage.”
“Our lady Kalis is wise. I am sure her champion will prove to be worth it.”
“She recalled the cousin of the Prince as…” Coema pauses. “Oh.” She may just have worked out who Lenta is, which is an impressive leap from a standing start.
“Yes? Do not leave a story hanging, dear Coema.” Lenta eggs her on when she pauses.
Coema sighs. “You’re right. I shouldn’t. She called a cousin of the Prince who fought the Bat, to be sure that it does not come to Tarsh.”
Lenta opens her eyes and looks at the ceiling quietly for a while “She is wise, Coema. And Varanis… She is devoted to saving Sartar from the Lunars. “
“Entirely so. Lady Kalis has a good understanding of champions, and who should be where. It’s a valuable talent.”
“Quite so” Lenta assures her “Why would you hesitate to tell me that, Coema?”
“You might worry,” Coema replies. “And it’s our task to wait and keep the house.”
Lenta shrugs. “I will worry, but if she is doing what she must, then that is best for her. She is Orlanth.”
Lenta stretches her neck. “Did you get the tangles?”
“All but one…” Coema lets go. “There. Done.”
The little Esrolian leans forward and splashes some water on her face. “Thank you Coema. For your service and for the news.”
“Will I be plaiting it and putting it up?” she checks.
She shakes her head. “You can just tie it up this time, please.”
There is a brief, efficient bit of knot-work, and then Coema suggests, “You’re ready for a long soak now, if you want one.”
“Thank you, that is just the thing I was looking for.”
Coema arranges for water to be warm enough, and for someone to be ready to take kinks out of muscles, and makes pleasant suggestions about foods that will be delicious yet relaxing.
Lenta floats on the relaxed edge of wakefulness and sleep. Her answers to Coema are mere sounds of well being and acknowledgment of hearing the other person.
After a while, she comes to herself to find that her head is gently on a folded towel, that she has been asleep, that she is alone in a warm place. Echoed sounds trip through the Temple, mostly the sounds of songs.
Slowly and catlike she sits up and takes the towel to finish any required drying.
There are a few lights in the room, oil lamps in niches so that there will be no flicker of torches, no noisy replacing of tapers. The dimness is warm, the towel a roughly-made soft wool.
She stands up. Her eyes seek the mirror. For a while she looks at the serious young woman with no makeup looking back at her from the surface of polished silver. Then she smiles at the visage and with light steps walks to the door of the chamber.
The door opens onto the washing and dressing room, where Coema is asleep on a little mattress on the changing bench. Waking her would be an option, but is not required.
Lenta smiles at the other woman and silently walks to her clothes.
Coema is either really asleep, or she acts well. It seems like a lot of time has passed. Yet there is the tablet from Kalis, by her neatly-folded clothing.
Quietly and efficiently Lenta dresses into her bodice and long pleated skirts. She shakes her head relishing the feel of hair not tied into formal plaits. Small silvery tingle echoes in the room.
It is not enough to make Coema stir. Lenta is still, in a way, alone and in possession of the room.
She sits down and picks up the clay tablet, bringing one of the oil lamps closer.
The writing is clear. My very dear, I would love to see you tomorrow or the day after. We have much to talk on. Bring this and you will be given entry to my chamber at any time. No name, but it was obviously written by a good scribe or a high-class lady.
Lenta shrugs and rises up. Deftly she slips a silver coin to Coema’s hand, strokes the back of her hand gently when raising up and quietly mouths “Thank you”
Coema smiles up sleepily. “Go well,” she says, “With our love.”
Lenta smiles and nods. “Love to you, too.” Esrolian turns and walks out of the room. On the way out she stops at the open doors of the main chapel and looks for a while at the Goddess.
The goddess, clothed in new robes, smiles down on people there, one hand holding a gift made of gold, the other extended in friendship.
- 1fail manage household
- 2A letter, but Esrolian.
- 3A special on intrigue at this point