|A Room of Her Own|
|Summary:||Josse makes good on his promise and gets Avinashi some space in the Sept. Avinashi makes good on hers and answers Josse's many and varied questions.|
|Sept of the Seven — Terrick's Roost|
|The Sept of Terrick's Roost is not a grand spectacle but achieves its power through the feeling of community and peace within. Like any Sept, the mood is generally quiet so people might offer prayers or thoughts without interruption. Along the sides are the seven statues in life-size form of the seven Gods, each in its own particular pose familiar to anyone who knows of them. All but the statue of the Stranger have small offerings lain at their feet or candles lit. At the very head of the Sept is a large window that faces out across the water, the altar rising in front of it. Directly to its front are a few rows of pews and behind that is the standing room for the peasantry. In that area the floor is lain out with a bright seven-pointed star in representation of the Gods.|
|12 September 288|
As promised, in the morning there was a room cleaned out and waiting for Avinashi deep in the back of the sept. Its windows overlook the gardens and the cliffs down the ocean not far beyond, a small door granting entrance and exit into a side street rather than through the front. It's nothing like the Terricks would be able to give her, no doubt — the room is small and spartan when it comes to furnishing, but it is very quiet and has a small desk and some shelves that haven't been used in some time.
Morning service called not long after Josse showed Avinashi where the room itself was, and so several hours of silence have gone by before footsteps can be heard in the hall again, getting closer to her cozy cell.
And it is quite cozy indeed. There is a small, pleased smile as she's shown to the little space, and the window, with its beautiful view, is lingered over for a long few minutes before her bag is set on the little desk and she sets to work. By the time there are footsteps returning to 'her' room, small jars, labeled in an odd script, fill the shelves and a thin rope has been strung from one side of the room to the other, high enough at the drying plants hanging from them don't require too much ducking to avoid. On the desk are a small collection of books and scribbled notes, a mortar and pestle, and a within the desk's drawers are a small collection of empty jars and pouches for as-yet-unmixed concoctions. In the fireplace, currently unlit, hangs a freshly-scrubbed little cauldron. Avinashi herself is hanging the last of the herbs on the stretched rope, though she pauses to glance in the direction of the door.
Though Josse undoubtedly would have the right to stroll right into any room in this sept, his sense of politeness seems to extend to their indefinite guest. His knuckles rap gently on the door — not so much not avoid jarring her as that if one knocks too hard on these doors they tend to fall down. "It's Josse."
"Please come in septon," Avinashi says, lowering her hands and brushing them together briefly to rid them of little bits of green. "I must thank you again. This room serves me wonderfully well."
Josse pushes the rickety door open, slipping inside. He pauses to look around, clearly impressed with the changes over just a few hours of her work. "My…you've been busy." Approving, that. He's rather tall and so is careful where he walks, so his head doesn't knock into any of the hanging things, blue eyes turning up to look around. "I'm glad that it worked out. Shall we get you some wood for the fireplace, then?"
"Thank you, yes, that would be very fine," Avinashi agrees with a small nod. "I have been eager for a small space to call my own for this work. I could not have hoped for better."
"I'll have some here tonight, then." Josse nods, his attention still caught up in all the detail and stuff in here. "What do you do with all these herbs, Miss Ruhi? Do you store tinctures? Or are they for experiments and such?"
"Well, it depends on what they are. These, here," she touches a few plants with small, pointed leaves, the edges of which are just beginning to dry, "when crushed and mixed with tea or soup give relief to cramping stomachs. These here," she taps another cluster of green with little orange buds, "when dried and burned, ease coughing. Each has its uses, though some may need to be boiled or made into a tincture before their help can be unbound."
Josse folds his hands behind his back, the safest thing to do with them so he won't be tempted to touch. "It is amazing that they interact with the body the way they do. That both we and they were made, in some way, to fit together like this." He moves to settle down onto the edge of the spare chair in the room, resting his elbows down on his knees. "Your mentor taught you all this?"
"Yes, until I left my home," the Dornish girl says, peering up at the herbs. "What the plants cannot heal, we cannot heal. I had never seen a churgion until I left the river of my people."
"The body heals," Josse says, with a hint of a smile. "We simply wrap it up and make silly faces to distract until it does." The humor is gentle. "Do you remember I asked you in the kitchen whether healing and spiritual guidance were done by the same person? I was very curious…by the same person, I understand, but the sheer concepts. Do they overlap?"
"Is that a chiurgeon's secret?" Avinashi chuckles. But for the question, she simply blinks in mild surprise. "But of course they do. There is no life to a body without the spirit within. The healer of one is obliged to protect the other, as well. Or how could one respect the careful balance and honor it in such important work?"
"For me the question would be rhetorical, though I've met more than one person who sees the odd schism." Josse glances at a bottle on the desk and then back at her. "Will you tell me about what you believe? I've heard some unusual variations on a theme in my own travels but your particular Dorne is far outside the realm I'm familiar with."
"Even among the Dornish, the people of the river are not much understood beyond our own," Avinashi says. "We follow the old gods of the Rhoyn, the ones that live in the water at our feet. There is power in the tide and the moon, the current and the stones. The river herself and the creatures that live within. As water flows, so flows blood and so the currents of time and of men."
Josse sets his elbow on the side of the desk, and his cheek on his closed hand. "And these gods…are they like our Seven, who really aren't so much gods as they faces of God. Or are they really all different entities, different forces?"
"I would say that they are interconnected but separate," Avinashi answers, "They are not seen as pieces of a greater divine whole, though they are seen as incomplete without each other. They are, too, more greatly tied to nature and the natural things. They are of the world rather than above it."
"It's interesting that you'd say rather than," Josse's thumb scratches absently at his cheek. "Is that what the septs there teach about the Seven?"
"I do not know, in truth. My people had little to do with septs," Avinashi admits with a faint smile. "It was, instead, the impression I have been given in what I observe. So many places, built from stone. Images of these gods as men and women with candles burning at their feet. They are of people, of cities, but none seem to speak of the world beyond the hearts of men. Of the things and grow and thrive without our touch."
"Understandable," Josse replies, with a movement of his shoulder that seems to acknowledge. "I think perhaps it is easier to…" He searches for the word he wants, absently moving his hand in vague circle. "…anthropomorphize the forces we feel, because this is what we experience. We are, after all, beings of nature as well, we're not outside it. Are you gods all of the river or…just mostly? Or otherwise?"
"Mostly, they are of the river. Some belong to the weather or the sky, but they always tie back to water. For us, the water is both life, in truth, and a symbol of it, as well," the Dornish girl answers. "Yes, I can see how that would be so, more in cities and i think, and towns. We may be of nature, but in such places, many seem to forget that."
"I'm not so sure," Josse says. "We are what we are, and plants cannot empathize, for example, through the joy and pain of love. Or, well." His lips quirk into a smile. "Perhaps they can, and I just haven't been payin attention." A soft chuckle. "But what I mean is, our experience is as precious as any being's. How could it not be, if God, or gods, have made all of us? Even saying the water is 'truth'…is 'truth' not a human concept, at its heart? For only we lie, as far as I know."
"And we are also the only ones who worship gods," Avinashi points out with a chuckle, "and I expect, whatever their shape or face, they would be lonesome without us. Plants cannot feel, no, but does that make them less holy? I will cut one down for my uses, and a storm may cut me down to please itself, but only in our eyes are those things so different."
Josse hehs. "And what does that mix say about us, I wonder," he muses, as to her first observation. "What I said was not that they're not holy. No more so than, I'm sure, you would say human life deserves no respect. Which…" He concedes and stops himself. "I guess I shouldn't assume on, as then I'd just be talking to myself. Which happens."
"No, Septon, there we do agree, you and I," Avinashi answers as she pads over to the desk to lean her hip against it. "If I did not feel so, I would not have put considerable time and effort into learning how to preserve such life. It is only that sometimes, a different perspective can provide necessary humbling."
Josse smiles at that. "If the observations are to humble me, they're perhaps better saved for chipping at my own personal beliefs. This is just…observation on the adaptations of local religion. Which I can only make educated guesses about, given there's little way I can fully understand the depths of individual faith within the whole." He motions to the herbs around him. "What I meant to point out was that although aspects of nature aren't in and of themselves worshipped in this iteration of religion, they aren't forgotten. Merely represented, among the Seven, more in symbol. Perhaps somewhat like the flow of water and the flow of blood you mentioned before." His slight uptone at the end invites her to expound.
"Perhaps," Avinashi considers, "though would the followers of the Seven consider this worship?" She lifts a hand to follow his own path, gesturing to the hanging herbs. "Or simply see it as a means to an end. But you have peaked my curiosity, good Septon. Tell me of some of these symbols the Seven offer, that speak of the natural world."
Josse nods. "If you'll keep in mind that the Seven tend to be rather individualized. How one person may view an aspect of God may not be the same as the next. There are some people that are dualists…some idealists…some physicalists. It would be unfair to say that all who follow the Seven view something the same way. To give example: Sailors often pray here. Those who take God as transcendent pray for the Seven's influence over the water — a separation of God and nature. Those who don't instead view the Seven not as controllers of the waters but as synonyms for it. The Mother, for example, is not a force that keeps them safe from the waters but is a symbol of the nuturing sphere of the ocean. They're different mindsets and even within those are variations."
"Mm," Avinashi muses, "that does interest me. I find it interesting, too, that the one of your Seven who reigns over the mysterious and the dead is very greatly feared. Hardly any candles, I noticed, as if your followers did not wish to catch his eye."
The right side of Josse's mouth moves in a way that can't quite be called a smile. "The Stranger, yes." He tilts his head to her. "Tell me your impression of such a thing."
"It only seems to me," Avinashi chuckles, "that if ever a god deserved to be courted and charmed, it should be the one who kept all of the secrets and met you at the gates of death. I should much prefer to see a friend, there, than an enemy."
Josse now does smile, a little, gently scratching his eyebrow with his ring finger. "If you like, perhaps sometime I can show you one of His rituals. There are many…in legend there are as many as there are souls that have passed through his embrace."
"I would like that," Avinashi says, "And if you wish to see a ritual or two of my people… I do not much perform them, these days, as many require the assembly of a community, but there are some I do keep. I would be glad to share them, if you wished."
"I would, if you can find it in your heart to forgive any inevitable missteps." Josse idly picks under one fingernail with his thumbnail, which is well-chewed. "And if they require any dancing, just be prepared to laugh."
There is a warm chuckle for that and the Dornish girl nods. "I shall consider myself duly warned, Septon."
"As you should," Josse returns, gravely. He shifts forward on his chair, as though the thought had occurred to him to leave the poor girl alone. The motion ends up stalled on the cusp, his fingers wrapped around the front edge of the chair. "When you…had that dream you claimed to have had. The eagle. What did your people think of it?"
Avinashi watches as Josse nearly gets up, and for the question, her smile softens into something a little melancholy. "They were not pleased to see me go, but neither could they deny my right to pursue the gift that gave me my place. Still, to leave the Greenblood, the people, is to leave for good. It was a sad parting."
Josse nods, his eyes wandering to a bottle sitting on the desk. Afternoon sunlight spangles unevenly through whatever liquid is inside. "They didn't think it odd, then. I mean…nobody thought you talking mad or anything like that."
"If any did, they would not have voiced it," Avinashi says with a small nod. "The Marahama and her pupil are too greatly respected. She believed me, and that was enough."
Josse turns the bottle with his fingertip. "Mm." The brief silence is different from anything else in the conversation, a stone skipped in some guarded other direction. It's promptly lost as he finally goes through with standing up, eye contact returning along with his faint smile. "Well. It's past midday by now and I'm sure time is valuable. If you're hungry there's food in the rectory…it's not fancy." His apologetic tone for that is sincere. "But it will fill."
"My thanks, then, for the offer and for your generosity," Avinashi replies, dipping into a small curtsy. "I am sure we will speak again, before long."
"I'm sure." Josse smiles again and inclines his head. "Till then." He's careful not to walk into anything hanging on his way out the door, pulling it gingerly shut behind him.