Chancellor's Suite A spacious chamber with walls of polished biinwood and arched windows overlooking the courtyard below, this is the room that the Imperial Chancellor Oren Nillu calls home.
The room includes a washbasin, a chamber pot that servants frequently replace for cleaning, a wardrobes for clothing, and a four-post bed with an arched white canopy, polished biinwood headboard, thick beige blankets and comfortable fowl-feather pillows. An angled writing table is provided for the chancellor or his vassals to work on correspondence. A bedroll is provided for a vassal to sleep close by the chancellor's vicinity. High wooden doors lead out into the quarters corridor.
Oren Nillu lowers the book, its title letters slightly faded but still readable as 'The Year of the Cold'. "Come in," he says, waiting. Some color has returned to his skin and, although the bandage around his chest remains, he is no longer as sweaty as he once was due to the feverish dreams once plaguing him.
Entering with face flushed, Rowena balances a bowl of stew cautiously between her palms. Her toe catches the door to hold it open as her hip takes respite and body slips soundlessly through. "I thought it right to serve more palatable food now that your gut seems strong enough to handle it." She says, glancing Oren once-over while letting the weight of the door close itself.
Oren Nillu smiles faintly at the healer. "Rowena, you treat this old soul far better than he deserves," he says, chuckling.
The Mikin briefly rolls her eyes in jest, crossing the room first to the small table where the teas and other odds and ends remain. "If it's any consolation to you then, I'd do the same treatment for the more ragged souls that beg our streets." Arching a brow in punctuation to him over her shoulder, she sets the stew down and steals a moment to check the state of a soaking poultice.
"Good," the old man states. "Will I be able to attend the address tonight?"
Prodding the soaked bundle of herbs with a forefinger to test consistency, Rowena sighs under her breath. "Perhaps, Chancellor...if we find a way to transport you down those stairs with minimal movement and can then to an awaiting cot in His Majesty's throne room. You may sit up of course when there. I'll have extra cushions delivered." Taking up the stew once more, she forces more steam upon her fading cheeks. "Until I'm confident that there's no more risk of rupture or disease, I shall consider you as fragile as glass."
"Well, I suppose you will be rather mad when I tell you I've been walking over to my desk to do some work. A few times only. It was a bit painful and difficult, but age has only made me stubborn," the elderly Nillu explains with a meek smile. "As long as I have help, I can make it down to the throne room with minimal effort. If you will allow it, of course."
Rowena's lips purse tightly to tame her tongue, opinion of his actions having been accurately guessed. "Well I suppose I can't have you bound, now can I? Very well. I'll allow you to walk down those stairs if you wish, but with plenty of escorts to assist. And there are no exceptions to that. I would fail in my duty if you were to live thus far only to fall upon your head at His Majesty's feet." Softening her expression, she lets her lips turn to a small smile. "Now here. May this give you strength." She extends the bowl to him.
Oren Nillu struggles to sit up straighter and greet the bowl with a smile. "Thank you, Rowena. How have things been outside? My ears allow me to catch a few hints of excitement, but no word reaches me about the realm in whole."
"There was a Lomasa man found dead, not long ago. By another's hand, no doubt." Rowena replies, sinking back onto the floor to rest upon her heels for a moment. "Light's Reach remains in the early stages of stone gathering. The refugees have returned in greater number and I've seen some crude attempts of housing beind built for them on the outskirts of the land." Lifting a hand to absently scratch at an insect bite that discolors her throat, she looks aside vacantly. "Little else has reached my ears in great detail. Or perhaps they've been too cluttered with other noise to listen."
Oren Nillu nods slowly, eating the stew and apparently quite pleased with it. "Ah, food. I do hope I get well soon. You have been starving me up here."
Rowena's gaze clears, thoughts redirected. Pressing a palm to the ground, she stands to answer him with a simple bit of wisdom. "As the body heals, it is just as any other thing requiring work. There will be pain before pleasure." A fact that the realm as a whole had come well to know. Leaving him to eat the stew without such close supervision, Rowena steps aside to work further with the items upon the table.
"Such a wise woman," the chancellor notes. "Enough about me, however. How have you been, Rowena?"
Rowena removes the poultice with one hand and folds a length of bandages with her other. Laying the soggy mass to rest atop it, she rubs at her throat again with the heel of her hand. "No different than I have been or shall ever be." She picks up a spoon and begins to scrape the partially dried contents of a discarded bowl into the bucket of waste water. The few curls that have retained their shape in free dangling sway rhythmically against her jaw with each spoon swipe. "Although I've found that a slightly altered form of the lavender bath I mixed for baby Talus does a wonderful job at laying a riddled head to rest each night."
"And is that good or bad, Rowena?" The stew now finished, Oren puts the bowl on a small table beside his bed. "You work yourself too hard. A young, beautiful woman such as yourself should balance duty and leisure evenly. Perhaps, if it is not too bold of me to say so, even nurture the idea of marriage and a family."
The spoon slips as it's jammed too forcefully into a stubborn crust of green and lands in the water with a defiant splash. Frozen for a moment in her hunched stance, Rowena stares at the utensil as it sinks, expression forlorn. "Not so long as I wear this ring," She whispers in vehement response, "For I've already done so once." Stooping lower, she rolls back a sleeve and reaches into the murky contents to fish out her lost spoon.
Oren Nillu watches the healer silently for a few moments before he speaks again. "A ring can also be a prison, Rowena. A shackle that binds you to the past. I am sure you know that, much like I am certain you know that the other person who could open that cell would want you to be free."
"Perhaps a bird becomes accustomed to its cage. For the key-holder of this prison offered far more freedom than would most any other should these wings be clipped anew." Rowena defends, pulling the spoon from the mucky remains of leaves and unused plant. Most foul. Turning her nose to rest against her shoulder she stares at the spoon, uncertain of where it could now sit. Options limited, she soon lets it drop back into the waste water, along with the bowl. Good riddance to it all.
"That would be fine if the caged bird sang," the old man argues. "Yet the bird has lost its voice, holding back its music and harboring the illusion that perhaps the key-holder will one day return to open the cell and release the tunes from her heart." He sighs. "So be it. You are a grown woman and I am far too old, with a life full of mistakes, to dare tell you how to live."
"It's a stubborn little bird with too keen a memory and so she shall stay." Rowena reaffirms, straightening out so she may find something else to putter with at the table. "Besides. There are far younger and prettier birds to be bought. Ones that appreciate the fluffing of feathers and proud struts that their pursuers would exhibit. For if you must have my opinion, such boastful preening is entirely ridiculous to watch." Busying her hands, she stacks up the remaining bowls and scoots them to rest at the far corner of the table. "I'd sooner watch a child play with his toys."
"No one should be forced to go through this life alone carrying the burdens of their pain and suffering the ghosts of their past," Oren replies. "I am rather sure there is someone else out there for you, if you only open the cage long enough to let others try and reach you, Rowena. Just think about it."
Plucking a few small items from the table, she bends to crawl halfway beneath the table and stash them away again into her satchel. "I'll think on it if it would ease *your* mind, Chancellor, but I cannot say that it will be in agreement." Cautiously, she scoots back out, lifting her head at an odd angle to watch the table's edge warily. On a change of subject... "Did your niece find time to discuss family affairs with you, as requested?"
"Some," Oren answers. "She is rather busy lately, after all. She works hard and makes this old soul proud."
"Indeed, she has a sense of great perseverance." Rowena nods, standing to glance for something that isn't there. "The realm would have fallen to its knees by now if she hadn't." A few moments spent peeking beneath cloths confirms the missing state. "Splendid." She murmurs and briskly crosses the floor again, towards the door. "If you'll excuse me, I've to hunt something down. I imagine that Zareef is to blame. I'll send some escorts to help you to the throne room if I've not yet returned."
Oren Nillu smiles. "Thank you, Rowena." He lies back down. "I shall rest for a while."