1627, Dark Season
Mellia is wrapped up in a white cloak and peeks into the common room.
Varanis is sitting in a corner, off by herself. She’s nursing a cup and has a small platter of food in front of her that she is picking at.
Mellia tiptoes over and quietly asks, “May I join you?”
“Of course, cousin.” Varanis signal Rondrik to bring more mulled wine. He comes with a cup for the healer. It steams lightly and smells of spices.
Mellia thanks Rondrik for the cup. “I am sorry I shouted at you the other day,” she says to Varanis.
Varanis shrugs. “It’s a thing between us, I think.”
Mellia says, “I shout at Xenofos too.”
There’s a laugh. “So you do. I do sometimes too,” Varanis admits.
Mellia says, “I am really worried about him this time. I hope he follows instructions this time.”
“What’s wrong? Is he sick?” Varanis asks, a sharp note of concern in her voice. “He didn’t say that!”
Mellia sighs. “His dreams are haunted. I think I know what to do but not how to do it.”
Varanis echoes her sigh. “He’s often prone to them. I wish I could help him, but…”
Mellia says, “If I knew how to enter his dreams, I would kick the ghosts out myself. Maybe the shamans of Prax know something.”
“He has ghosts in his dreams?”
Mellia nods. “To him they are very real. I told him that they have no just cause to haunt him, but they probably still are.”
“I’m not sure that’s how ghosts work, Mellia.” Varanis chews her lower lip. “I think they are usually tied to a place or a thing. If he’s being haunted, maybe he picked up an item that has a ghost.”
Mellia carefully says, “I think his mind is producing the ghosts, but in order to help him, one must treat the ghosts as real. It wouldn’t hurt to check out his battle loot.”
Varanis scowls. “That’s hard to do. He’s en route to Prax.”
Mellia shrugs. “I hope he gets his research done soon. If I find out he is just taking the herbal medicine I gave him and isn’t working on this, I will really shout.”
“I think he’s mostly interested in finding Neela, to be honest. Meeting his child.” Varanis sips at her wine, then sets it down. “They’ll be the same age…”
Mellia smiles at that. “Is the food not tasting right?”
“It’s fine. I just… things feel strange. Sometimes there’s a feeling. Like butterflies.”
Mellia soothes, “These things happen. Just stay clear of the palace healers. They would feed you gruel.”
“I don’t need healers, cousin. I’m not sick.”
“And if you listen to me and the Ernaldans, you will stay that way.”
Varanis glowers. “You’re not still trying to cage me, are you?”
“I care, therefore I worry.”
Impulsively, Varanis leans into Mellia, throwing an arm around the smaller woman in a half hug. “I care about you too. Now… let’s talk about something else. Did that husband of yours tell you that he’s meddling in women’s affairs?”
“No he didn’t. What is he up to?”
“He decided that Berra’s sister needs a husband and took it upon himself to find one for her.”
Mellia rolls her eyes. “Of all the stupid things to do. Who did he pick?”
“He’s got a handful of possibles, all Colymar. One of them looked mildly interested in me instead of Yehna, so your husband decided that meant he wasn’t suitable.” She rolls her eyes. “Frankly, he might be the best of the lot, but Venlar figured Yehna would dismiss him after a single meeting all because the fellow wants to go climbing with me.”
“At least they are Colymar. Argh. Does Yehna know about this?”
“I told him to talk to her. It was kind of obvious, but I think he needs to explain his reasoning to her.” Varanis grins. “You should ask if he’s done so. Also… you might want to check him over carefully. The way Berra was looking at him.I think she wanted to feed him his own ba… um. Jewels.”
Mellia groans. “Just great. I suppose I had better find Venlar before Berra challenges him to a duel.”
“He’s likely safe enough just now. I left him at the Sambari palazzo and came back here.” Varanis grins again. “Berra’s cross, but I’m not sure she’s cross enough to go all the way back there just yet.” She waggles her eyebrows at Mellia. “But I bet he’ll appreciate you looking him over, just in case.”
Mellia giggles. “I will go to the palazzo and hopefully get things settled down. You stay warm and dry.”
“Help me eat some of this before you go? You’ll need your strength.” Varanis shoves the picked over plate towards Mellia. There are some bits of cheese, bread, nuts, and dried fruit. A few pickled vegetables. It’s her usual snack when Rondrik has any say in it.
Mellia says, “Thanks,” and picks at the food. The dried fruit goes into a pocket for later.