Gardener's Delight

The cities and villages of Melrath are as varied and diverse as they come. The capital of Raelia is the the jewel of this western kingdom, playing host to a merchants, artisans, Aesir priests, as well as a cut throat political landscape dominated by the nobles of Raelia. To the south in the depths of the Myrkvior Forest lies Melrath's second largest, and oldest city, Fensalir. Here people have learned to live alongside spirits and the natural world by maintaining their loyalty to traditions laid down the first Melrathi. To the east lies the small fishing village of Noatun, and to the western mountains rests the Mer city of Verimeer, the brewing town of Alivilda and the alpine village Vormund.

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Ashling
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Gardener's Delight

Thu Jul 30, 2020 9:09 am

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Gardener's Delight
20th of Ymiden 720, in Fensalir
To the reviewer
Sol'ange is Ashling's personal NPC (her mother) and can be found in the CS. The player of Tristan has permission to write her.
“So, you will finally let me meet your betrothed.”

Sol’ange’s tone was pleasant and neutral. She kept her face as calm and unreadable as when she was working. Sol never wanted her own feelings to affect the patients. Ashling was familiar with this demeanor as Sol was Ashling’s mother as well as her colleague and teacher in healing. She had seen it uncountable times during her life. Still, it unnerved her a bit right now. There hadn’t been any good opportunities to introduce Tristan. They had been busy, or Sol had been busy. Then, Tristan had been to Raelia. Sol had visited Alivilda and the Svariella Settlement. Time had been flying.

Sometimes, Ashling suspected her mother and her betrothed alike for procrastinating the meeting. But, she told herself that none of them were people who had any troubles with meeting new people. The only reason for the delayed introduction was that those two were busy people.

But deep down a worry gnawed at her. Did Sol dislike that Ashling was going to marry an outlander? Did she think him bad company for Ashling? Did Tristan share the snarky Raelia views on Fensalir healing and science? Did he see it as quacking? Did he find Sol’ange a rustic and laughable “hedge doctor”? (That was what one patient in Raelia had called Ashling and she he hadn’t forgotten it!) Were they both avoiding to tell her their true attitudes to the other?

“You would have met Tristan long ago if you hadn’t been away, busy with work and whatnot. You are even busy today. We had to meet here, at the house of History so you can work at research a bit while you meet him.”

A brief silence followed. Ashling knew that she had almost, but only almost, succeeded to speak without a streak of reproach.

Then, Sol’ange answered, in the same pleasant tone as before. “We can combine benefit with pleasure. I know that your betrothed is an excellent alchemist and you have told me that he takes interest in science. He may like to speak about common interests, don’t you think? It’s always good when people have common interest to speak about. Other than you, I mean. Or would you prefer to have me sit in my kitchen and treat him to stories about things you said and did as a child?”

“It’s possible to speak about common interest anywhere.”

“But, I had to go here today, to read up about solutions to problems in my garden. Nature doesn’t wait. While I was in Alivilda and the Svariella Settlement, insects invaded the garden. I tried all the toxin-free ways I know to get rid of them but it didn’t help any. I need more knowledge and I need it know, before the insects eat up a whole summer’s harvest of medicinal herbs.”

Ashling sighed. She knew this already and she had to admit that it stood to reason to save the herbs. They couldn’t afford to run out of materials for the medicines. But, she felt nervous. Her mother’s priorities might not seem so polite to her new son in law. Duty first, Tristan second. That seemed to be Sol’s attitude. Tristan was such a nice man but Ashling still feared that he would take offense.

Sol ignored the sigh. “Besides, you also have your own research to do. About the ruins and the forgotten old garden located in them, somewhere. You told me about it and you said you have told your betrothed too. Doesn’t he want to know more about your plans and the risks you expose yourself to?”

“Tristan isn’t ... I’m not ... I mean ... we will speak about it later. I’m not taking unnecessary risks. I am preparing well, right?”

Where IS he? Isn’t he coming soon? Oh, Myrkvior ... let him make a good impression!

Tristan wasn’t late. It was Ashling and Sol who were early to the meeting. Ashling felt worried nonetheless.

The House of History of Fensalir held collections of many kinds of items as well as old books, papers and scrolls. Somewhat tardy historians helped the visitors find what they were looking for. At least it was their job to do so. But, as all in Fensalir knew the historians were old people who loved their storytelling. And boy, had they some lengthy stories to tell as soon as you asked them a question! It could take effort to persuade one of those aged sages to focus on what you were there for. They were prone to take the opportunity to have a good time telling you everything! The historians were also testy and disliked to get their tirades interrupted. If you offended them they might shoo you out instead of helping you out.

But, there was Tristan now!

(And oooh, one of those rainbows appeared and she saw him through it! They said it meant marriage! Rumours, but she hoped they were true! )

It felt like a herd of nervous butterflies were fluttering around in her stomach and chest. Ashling composed as well as she could. When her betrothed arrived she would introduce him and his mother to each other. No doubt, Sol’ange would want to enter the House of History right after the introduction. No doubt she would soon speak about her garden and science. She might even rival the historians and expose her future son in law to a river of details about gardening. Ashling could only hope that Tristan would endure it!
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Tristan Venora
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Re: Gardener's Delight

Fri Jul 31, 2020 10:07 am

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Tristan was … well, he wasn‘t exactly afraid of meeting his future mother in law, but he had to admit that he was slightly nervous. In Rynmere, he was the equivalent of a Jarl. He had met more Immortals than most people and been blessed by three of them, and he had even faced the terrible shadow beasts. There was nothing as intimidating as your future mother in law though!

If Sol’ange didn’t like him, she could make his life in Melrath very miserable. If she didn’t like him, it could affect his marriage to Ashling negatively – if Ashling still wanted to marry him. He didn’t want to be the reason for a rift between her mother and her either. He didn’t want to make her choose between her mother and him. He really, really wanted things to go well!

He wondered how much Ashling had told her mother about him. Sol’ange most likely knew that he was an alchemist – he had gained some fame with his creations, such as the anti-winter potion, the combustible ice and the cat-speech potion, throughout the cycles. She definitely knew that he was an outlander (such was hard to keep a secret in the long run). Did she know that the symbols in his face were nothing like an Embla though and that his nails were not a fashion statement, but the mark of Vri? Had Ashling told her mother that her betrothed was a single father? What did she think of that?

He worried as he got dressed (in a traditional Melrathi outfit, in a midnight blue color, with metallic threads around the sleeves and the collar; it might help if Sol’ange could see that he made an effort to fit in with the locals). He worried as he wrapped the gifts that he had picked for his future mother in law (when you met your future mother in law for the first time, you definitely shouldn’t come empty-handed). He worried as he put on his cloak (because it was a little cold). And then he abruptly stopped worrying because worrying didn’t feel good; he preferred to be an optimistic person. The meeting could only be a success!

From what Ashling had told him, her mother was an herbalist of sorts and even grew her own herbs. He grew his own herbs (and alchemical reagents) as well! Maybe they could talk about that! Maybe she would like him if she realized how much they had in common!

(He wondered what his future mother in law would think of his encouraging snails to feast on the salad in his garden. He had discovered that snail slime was an excellent alchemical binder. Sol’ange might disapprove of all the snails in his garden though, and thus he decided not to mention the more unusual aspects of his gardening to her for the time being.)

Having made a decision, he made his way to the House of History, just as a magnificent rainbow appeared right above him. He stopped for a moment in order to admire it, shielding his eyes with a hand as he did so, his mouth forming a small ‘oh’. He had heard people claim that you were destined to marry the person you saw behind the rainbow.

Well, he was definitely going to marry Ashling!

With that thought in mind, he approached his lovely fiancée and her mother. He had been a little nervous before, but he smiled quite happily now (when you saw such a sign, things could only go well!), and he embraced Ashling before he addressed her mother. “Sol’ange, it’s a pleasure to finally meet you”, he greeted the Sev’ryn woman in a polite (and very sincere!) tone of voice and extended his right hand for her to shake.

(He didn’t think that Sol’ange would approve of his being too affectionate with her daughter during their first meeting, and he wasn’t sure what Ashling would think of his kissing her in front of her mother either, so he’d decided to hold back a little, for the time being.)

“Your daughter told me that you are an herbalist and a healer. I brought a few seeds of plants that are native to my homeland as well as a book on the kind of medicinal herbs that you can find in Rynmere. I hope that you will enjoy it as much as I did”, he told her before he handed the small package that he carried in his left hand to her (it was wrapped in pale blue paper and had a red ribbon on it). “Anyway, shall we go?”

As he waited for Sol’ange’s reply, he turned to Ashling again and raised an eyebrow as he wondered what she thought of his gift. Was it a good one – or should he have gone with the more traditional (and lame/boring) bouquet of flowers and box of chocolates, after all?
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Re: Gardener's Delight

Sun Aug 02, 2020 1:01 pm

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Ashling smiled at Tristan. His raised eyebrow was a question she couldn’t answer. Only Sol’ange could tell if the gift had been a success or not.

“Thank you so much, Tristan.”

It didn’t occur to Sol’ange to call him by a title and a family name. That was not done, except for when speaking to a Jarl or so. Ashling didn’t understand what “Duke” meant. She hadn’t told her mother much about Tristan’s social background in a country far, far away. As far as Sol’ange knew, Tristan had been a rich landowner in the Outlands, Rynmere. The outbreak of a plague had made it impossible for him to return. Now he was landless but still a wealthy man.

“I’d like to have a look at this book at once, when we are indoors. I hope you don’t mind that I open it at once instead of doing it afterward. It’s so beautiful that it’s a pity to take off the paper and ribbon. But, I use to say, the wrapping is wonderful but what counts in the long haul is the content.” Sol smiled at Tristan.

“And you must tell me more about these seeds. I must admit that I’m curious about them. I love gardening you see, not only of medicinal herbs but all kinds of plants. You couldn’t have brought me a better gift!”

Ashling knew that Sol’ange spoke the truth. She wasn’t one to lie to be polite. The gift had made a good impression on her. But, Ashling knew that Sol wouldn’t base her appraisal of the new son in law this alone. Nor did she know a lot about him in advance. She hadn’t asked Ashling to tell her “everything” about Tristan. Sol preferred to form an opinion without feeling affected by second hand tales.

The embla on Tristan's face was spectacular and emphasized his unusual beauty. Sol had seen the young man before, at the plants and potions tournament. She already knew that he was extraordinary handsome. But now, face to face at a closer distance, he looked stunning. She also noticed that the clothes he wore spoke of an attempt to conform to the local style and fit in.

His behaviour was so far as perfect as his appearance and his gift. This worried Sol a bit. Nobody was that perfect, except for people who were dishonest.

Then again, Tristan was a young man who wanted to make a good impression on the mother of his betrothed. It was natural that he would put in effort to make Sol approve of him. Of course he would try his best to do and say the right things. That was a common sense. It was good thing that he wasn't ill-behaved.

But, Sol still wanted to know more about who Tristan was under the adorable surface. Not that Sol was going to interrogate him. That would be bad form. She didn't want to come off as a bad mother in law. It was best to only speak with Tristan and let this first meeting unfold. She didn’t expect to learn “all” about a person the first time they met. But, it would be a beginning.

Ashling smiled at her mother, still feeling nervous. It seemed like Tristan’s gift had been very right. “Shall we go in?” she asked, her tone a little bit forced.

She had no reason to rush them but felt an irrational need to move on nonetheless. Every silent fraction of a trill felt like a break to her right now. She felt chattier than she used to be.

“Tristan, take care to be very polite to the historians. Be patient, even if they embark on longer explanations than you need. They love to share their knowledge and they take offense if people don’t appreciate it.”

She pushed her hair back from her brow despite that it wasn’t falling down into her face. Oh, the way Tristan had looked at her when they had seen each other through that mysterious rainbow! It was a sign, it must be! She wanted to embrace him again, but one hug in front of Sol was enough. Constant hugging in front of her mother wouldn’t do. Smaller signs of affection though? She supposed it was all right. The smile she gave Tristan right now, for example, was as affectionate as a smile comes.

They entered the house of history. As it was in Fensalir the interior followed the ideals of the city. It was a little bit darker in there. They kept the window closed. This was to protect the collections from direct sunlight, insects and rain. Instead, a plethora of lanterns kept the location light enough for its end. The decorations were wood carvings, many of them of spirits, some painted, others not. Shelves lined the walls. Some of them were full of books and other readables. Others carried collections of items. Everything looked to be in immaculate order. A few elderly historians were working there this trial. Some of them sat on comfortable chairs at small desks, reading and writing. Others patrolled the collections, armed with feather-dusters.

Sol’ange struck up a conversation about gardening. She had already taken the ribbon off from the gift and was now removing the paper. She would fold it and save it of course, as it could be used again, Fensalir style.

Ashling noticed this with a sudden anxiety about Sol’s impression on Tristan. Her mother was saving the paper and ribbon to recycle them! What would he think? Would Sol come off as a pauper with bad manners?

Oh no! Sol was also already browsing the book and asking Tristan to tell her about the seeds. She wanted to know all about them! Which plants were they? What were they properties? How to store the seeds? How and when to plant them? In which kind of soil? How to tend the plants? How to harvest them and use them, everything! And was there more information about these plants in the book? Did Tristan have a garden?

“Mother ...” Ashling said, not feeling sure how this eagerness would look to Tristan. Sol seemed to have forgotten that it was a son and mother in law meeting. She seemed to think it was a gardening event? And wasn't she chattier than she used to be?

“We will soon have a look at your ruin garden Ashling, but I want to know more about these seeds first. You can wave down a historian while I speak with Tristan! “ Sol turned to Tristan, an interested and expectant smile on her face.
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Tristan Venora
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Re: Gardener's Delight

Mon Aug 03, 2020 6:02 am

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When Sol’ange thanked him and told him that he couldn’t have brought a better gift, Tristan smiled, a sincere, happy smile before he told her in a light-hearted, but nonetheless very polite tone of voice, “I don’t mind at all! Feel free to open it any time! I love gardening as well, by the way! If you want to, I can show you my garden sometime. I grow a few things there that you might find interesting”, he offered. Just like Sol’ange, Tristan was being truthful. He didn’t just tell her that she could visit his garden in order to be polite and make a good impression on her because he wanted to marry her daughter (at least not only); he was honestly looking forward to her stopping by for a visit sometime.

He’d have to temporarily relocate the snails and slugs though. On the other hand, even Padraig had not minded the snail slime binder, but actually thought that it had been a good idea, and Padraig and he had used to hate each other (mainly because of Faith; Faith Augustin, the most famous woman in the world, had been his slave once, and he had loved her, but she had married her tutor – which he didn’t mind anymore nowadays; he would never have met Ashling otherwise). If Padraig had been okay with the snails, maybe there was hope for Sol’ange?

She seemed quite likeable so far, much more likeable than Padraig …

He’d have to ponder the matter further later on, he decided. For the time being, he focused on Sol’ange and Ashling and their current meeting though. He was quite relieved that the first couple of bits had gone so well (in spite of his deciding to firmly believe that it could only be a success), and he was rather relaxed as consequence (which was why Ashling’s forced tone of voice seemed a little strange to him – was she worried about something?).

“Of course”, he replied as Ashling told him to be very polite to the historians. “I’m actually quite looking forward to listening to them”, he admitted before he leaned a little closer to her and whispered, so that only she would be able to hear him, “Your mother seems nice!” He’d been worried that Sol’ange would be some sort of dragon in human (or was that Sev’ryn?) form, but he could see himself getting along well with her.

Having said that, he returned Ashling’s affectionate smile and entered the House of History, walking very close to her, but resisting the urge to embrace her again even though he really wanted to, because of her mother. The House of History was … weird, he decided. It was rather dark and a bit stuffy (the employees probably rarely opened the windows, judging by the look, or rather smell, of it). And even though the sun was shining outside, they had the curtains closed as well, and there were lanterns everywhere. The wood carvings distracted him from the aforementioned weirdness soon enough though. Sol’ange and Ashling would notice that the young noble inspected them with a soft smile on his face (being a sculptor, he was especially interested in the local art).

He didn’t touch them though. That would be inappropriate. He treated the local art with respect.

He didn’t react negatively at all when Sol’ange folded the paper, as if she wanted to keep it. Once upon a time, he might have found her behaviour weird. He had grown up rather sheltered – and privileged and spoiled, and his playmates had been other spoiled nobles. He hadn’t had any real contact with normal people until he had moved out of Sabaissant. Over the course of the past couple of arcs, he had met a lot of people from all walks of life and made a lot of different experiences though. Besides, that paper was too beautiful to just rip it to shreds and throw it into a trashcan! He approved of Sol’ange’s decision!

When Sol’ange started to browse the book, the smile on his face grew a little wider. He was quite happy about the fact that she was so curious about it that she wanted to take a look at it right away. “I don’t mind, Ashling”, he told his lovely fiancée when she interrupted her mother (Was she worried about Sol’ange’s behaviour? He didn’t see anything wrong with it. On the contrary, he appreciated her being so curious – he was curious about a lot of things as well!). “I love talking about such things. Unless …?” he continued and raised an eyebrow again. He realized that she might not be interested in a conversation on gardening, but want to do something about the ruin garden soon.

(Which would put him into a bit of a dilemma. He didn’t want to offend Sol’ange, but he definitely didn’t want to keep Ashling from the ruin garden. Besides, he was interested in it as well. It all sounded quite mysterious, and he had to admit that he loved a good mystery!).

When Ashling went to look for a historian, he turned to Sol’ange, quite an enthusiastic look on his face, and informed her, “I’ve added a couple of packets of seeds, each of them labelled. The first packet contains a few rose seeds – for pink roses, the flowers of my family, the Venoras of Sabaissant. The roses should be planted in spring, after the last frost, and they need well-drained soil in order to thrive. They are a bit sensitive to be honest”, he remarked, smirking slightly for a moment, before he informed Sol’ange in a calm and confident tone of voice, “An elixir made from them has anti-inflammatory and cooling properties and even helps against bug bites.” He was not nearly as familiar with other plants; when you grew up in Sabaissant, it was impossible to not know anything (or everything?) about roses though.

Normally, Tristan had a tendency to talk very quickly (and a lot!) when there was something that he was passionate about; he tried to speak in a measured tone of voice now though (a bit of his excitement shone through regardless though). He remembered how he had scared the poor woman that had tested his cat-speech potion back in Vhalar with his overwhelming enthusiasm. He didn’t want the same to happen with Sol’ange.

“Rose water?” Sol’ange interjected at that point. Ashling’s mother wanted to test her future son-in-law a bit and find out more about how much he knew; she was also genuinely interested though. She was not the kind of person that feigned interest in order to be polite.

“And rose vinegar”, Tristan said and grinned slightly. Rose vinegar was quite useful, and he liked it so much better than apple cider vinegar or the kind of vinegar that was made from grapes. As for rose water, it wasn’t just useful, it also smelled really nice in his opinion.

Sometimes, he used a bit of rose-scented perfume!

“There are also seeds for the Gamble Flower that grows along the Burning Mountains, below snow-level. Gamble Flowers prefer shade and being protected from cold winds. The people of Warrick make an oil from them that strengthens your hair and nails and softens rough skin. In my opinion, it could also be used to make an elixir to treat certain skin conditions”, he continued. His knowledge of medicine was limited, especially compared to Ashling’s and Sol’anges’s; alchemy could be used to strengthen the effects of certain substances though, and thus modifying an elixir like that made sense to him.

“I also have lavender here. As far as I know, it’s not a particularly demanding plant”, he told Sol’ange. At least the lavender bush in his garden hadn’t died yet, even though he’d forgotten to water it a couple of times. That meant that it was a rather hardy plant, right? Or had he just been lucky? For a moment, he doubted himself. Maybe, he should have conducted a bit more research beforehand. He’d always fancied himself a masterful gardener, but now he was not so sure anymore. Sometimes, he had too much self-esteem!

“Oh, and a special kind of chamomile”, he told Sol’ange who listened to him with unmistakable interest “Chamomile likes sunlight and should be planted a little later, at the end of the Rebirth Cycle as it doesn’t like cold very much, same as lavender, from what I know”, he added, furrowing his brow almost imperceptibly as he wondered if he did indeed remember things correctly. Maybe it should already be planted at the beginning of the Rebirth Cycle and preferred darkness! Oh Fates, what if he had been wrong, and Sol’ange found out? What would she think of him? Maybe he could just claim that plants grew differently in Sabaissant!

For now, he decided to be optimistic once more because doubting himself was out of character for him, anyway.

“And how should I store the seeds?” Sol’ange wanted to know.

“In a dry, cool and dark place, just like other seeds”, Tristan replied (that had been an easy question!). “The book has a chapter on each of the plants, including instructions on how to take care of them. What kind of plants do you grow in your own garden, by the way, Sol’ange?” he asked, his blue eyes shimmering brightly, as he was quite looking forward to her telling him.

“And where are Ashling and that historian?” he asked a moment later and turned around in order to see what his fiancée was up to before he faced Sol’ange once more, an expectant and enthusiastic expression on his face.
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