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Voted Best Garden in Brilight (Ellowyn, Sunrise, Marta)

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[Continued from here.]

Marta's home was close to the border of the west side but most definitely on the sun district side of things.

Its white wash walls broken up by dark lumber frame provides a wonderful blank canvas to allow her garden sing.

Ellowyn and Sunrise make their way through 2 honeysuckle archways to another path that leads down the side of the house. Every available bit of soil has some kind of plant except for a small white wooden box like structure that is humming as they approach it.

Looking closely Sunrise can see large bright orange and black fuzzy bees docilely buzzing back and forth from a small hole in the box.

Ellowyn beckons Sunrise around a corner and suddenly their path opens out and before them is a glass and wooden structure that takes up about half of the back garden it joins to the house in the same dark style lumber.

Through the glass all that can be seen is a wall of green with fleck of bright colours condensation gathers in the corners of the glass panes. Outside the structure is a small formal garden with plenty of shaded area a table and chairs surrounded on 3 sides by small interconnected  ponds.

Ellowyn turn to their friend and smiles brightly.

"Isn't it beautiful?'

Suddenly from the door way of the glass structure Sunrise and Ellowyn hear a voice proudly say.

"Voted best garden in brilight Four years running dontcha know?"
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Marta Agosti is small for a human, her stature betraying the halfling lineage in her blood, but she stands straight as a rod in her doorway. The first thing Sunrise will notice is the complicated harness of straps and metal which makes it look like she's wearing a metal corset outside her clothes; the second, the cane in her hand.

"Come in," she says to Ellowyn, motioning with her free hand. "The sun is too bright today; you're going to burn, child. Who is your friend?"
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"Sunrise," she introduces herself with a smile. "Your garden is lovely, ma'am."
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"This is Sunrise the famous tiefling signer I told you about, she's my friend. She was at the meeting you sent me on today" they follow Marta in her greenhouse taking up a seat on the floor in what appears to be their favourite spot under a collection of large bromeliad like plants that's seem to be croaking with life they begin unscrewing their cane down into its constituent parts the tools coming out.
They pull out from a cubby just next to them some other tools and polishes various accoutrement of their job.

"Sit down and pass me your cane you seem a bit lopsided again. You know your not meant to be hitting things with it. I can tell when you do. Loosens the clasps."

They stand once their work space is prepared and walk over the the small table and chairs inside the greenhouse on top of which sits Marta's afternoon tea and waits for Marta to give them the cane.
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"Marta Agosti, a pleasure," she says to Sunrise, her lips twitching.

"I didn't hit anything that didn't deserve it," she adds primly to Ellowyn. Handing over the cane, she carefully sets out more cups and plates for the guests and gestures for them to partake of her tea spread as they please. Then she settles into her chair with a sigh that is only slightly tinged with pain.

"So. How is Laerdya doing?" she asks in a gentler voice. "Sleeping at all? Or. What is it those elves do? Meditating?"
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"She is if she's at all capable of following instructions," Sunrise says, her voice low but firm. She accepts a cup and sips it delicately. "We accepted the job on the condition that she take a nap. Or, well, a trance."
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Ellowyn chuckles at sunrises tone.

"Laerdya hopefully will at least know that some folk are out there working to help her and that may well lead to rest... Hopefully."

Ellowyn is quiet for a while enjoying the silence feeling at peace in this lush oasis surrounded by chosen family and nature.

"Marta I trust sunrise with my life as much as a trust you. I need some honesty from you as best as your able, when you gave me this job I could tell there was something wrong, was it just that Laerdya is so upset and the girl is missing or have you heard something else? Any information you have even through some of your more dubious contacts could help. Because honestly the plan Laerdya came up with sounds like suicide with more steps and if we don't find something else well..." They trail off not sure what else to say looking at Marta

They aren't sure this will work but they are tired and emotionally overwrought. They sigh and for the first time let the true extent of their drained energy show like taking off their public mask. Both sunrise and Marta had seen this before but even still today was a long day that wasn't over yet

(Insight to tell if Marta is lying or hiding something 19+2=21 Ellowyn has spent so much time in this greenhouse that it's like zone of truth and they just know this adorable old woman so well)

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Marta chuckles softly and nurses her tea, looking into the far distance. "Oh, goodness. Well. I suppose I was upset because Laerdya is an old friend of mine. You wouldn't think so, would you? Important wizard like her, ha. But we met through friends. She... had a difficult time conceiving that girl. And I had a difficult time conceiving at all. Never did, actually. But our circumstances were similar and we met and found we had a great deal in common. Visit her a couple times a year for tea and reminiscing. Elves are so delightful; they remember the people we lose and don't want to forget." She trails away, her misty eyes faraway.
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Ellowyn nods satisfied with Marta's response not wanting to push further due to the nature of it all.

"I hope you understand I had to check. Any lead is better than what we have right now. I promised laerdya and I promise you now I'll do what I can to help your friend."

With that messy emotional line of questioning done Ellowyn puts on their business face because apparently there's no rest for the wicked.

"Marta do you know anything about or if not could you keep an ear to the ground regarding a family known as the Redfangs, 2 particular members korogur and betreygis." Ellowyn pauses looking at sunrise. " Those are Their names right? The pirate and the cleric?"
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"Korogur is the pirate," she agrees, "and Betreygis - and isn't that an ominous name - is a cleric of Olidammara." She snakes an arm around Ellowyn's tired shoulders. "Or has his temple done anything unusual lately?"
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Marta chortles easily at this, sipping at her tea. "An orc, yes?" she guesses. "The names are supposed to be menacing, dear. It's all part of the whole masculinity 'thing'." She waves a careless hand. "Sort of a preemptive 'don't mess with me and I won't mess with you' salvo."

She chuckles, giving Sunrise a friendly look. "With the tieflings, it's so unfair because you never know, do you? A boy named Forbearance might be the most patient person you ever met, or he might have bodies buried in the garden but he's really trying to do better. Such a delightful gamble."

At the question of the temple, she raises an eye. "No? I don't think so, anyway. Mind you, I only visit Olidammara a couple times a month and then only out of fondness for one of my dearly departed. Ahhh, she was the prettiest rogue you children would have ever seen. Could charm the pants off a dragon." Her voice trails away, distracted from the temple question.
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Ellowyn stills for a moment distracted from their mission.

"Marta, sunrise is my friend. I don't understand why the comments. She's a tiefling and that isn't her fault and she is not responsible for any bad teifling you've had the displeasure of interacting with." They faintly and sadly say.

"I brought the two most important people in my life together because if I should die again I want you to know that someone else will miss me too."

Ellowyn looks on the verge of tears.

This day was too much and they just wanted to sleep.
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Sunrise smiles. "No, it's okay - it's true, we often choose our own names, and the reason isn't always immediately apparent. I didn't take it as an insult." She nods to Marta. "And it's an honor to meet you, ma'am."
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Marta gives Ellowyn a very sharp look and is quiet for a while, just nursing her tea.

"It is a pleasure to meet you, dear," she responds to Sunrise's greeting, recognizing that she is not the cause of her hurt. "I do not believe my garden has ever had a famous singer in it before. I do enjoy collecting firsts. You could say it's my last hobby since gardening has become too painful for me to do myself. Now I sit and watch and wait to join the loved ones who have gone before me."
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At the look Ellowyn realises their mistake and they can hold back the tears no longer.

"I'm sorry. Im reading everything wrong today." They whisper

"Everything is wrong.." they have run out of words and just crumple into sunrise tired beyond words they feel raw.

Marta has only ever seen this when the pain was too great for them to bare but she knows there should be no pain with this new body.
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Sunrise hugs Ellowyn, offering comfort while trying to guide the conversation onto safer ground.

"You must have found someone who's very good at following your instructions and your vision, then," she says warmly. "A garden like this takes years of work; it's very impressive."

She leans in, her smile turning affectionate. "A pretty rogue who followed Olidammara, hm? I wouldn't have guessed you liked the bad girls. Did you have adventures?"
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Marta softens at Ellowyn's crying and presses a plate with a slice of cake into their hands, giving comfort through food and sustenance and sugar. Then, following Sunrise's lead, she takes the offered distraction and gives Ellowyn privacy to compose themself.

"Oh, my dear, you wouldn't believe the adventures," she says with a warm chuckle. "She was my first wife, you know. A 'sailor'." She winks to convey that 'pirate' is more like. "Always had the taste of sea salt on her lips and wind-tossed hair. She could talk her way out of any situation, you know. I couldn't travel much--I've always been rather house-bound, I'm afraid--but in the summers she'd take me out on their shorter merchant runs, and oh the fun we had on the sea. It goes on in every direction, like the sky."

Her expression clouds with an old pain she's learned to accept. "She died many years ago, bless her soul. She's in Olidammara's arms now, and I know he's taking good care of her. I don't have much use for men, but old Olid has always been one of my exceptions. 'Course he's not exactly a 'man', as his priests keep reminding me when I visit."
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If Ellowyn was telepathic sunrise would be having her praises sung in all 3 languages they know.

They wipe their eyes on their sleeves. And look at Marta sheepishly smiling at the cake she offers.

"I didn't know she was a child of olidammara, I always enjoy the stories of you both getting up to mischief." Then a thought occurs, "Marta do you have any advice on how to endear myself to the priests of olidammara? I may be paying them a visit soon and you know I'm not as good as you at the social graces side of things"

They devour the cake as they realise they realise that they have only eaten a muffin today and are absolutely ravenous.
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"A visit to Olidammara?" Marta raises her eyebrows and looks thoughtful.

"Well, first of all, you children need to understand that Olid isn't evil. People get to thinking he is because he's chaotic and puts up with a lot from his followers, and then some follower wrongs you and you're left thinking their god is the worst of the worst. But he isn't. He's not good like Pelor or Ehlonna are good, but he has a sort of... hmm. How do I put it? Faith. He has a sort of faith in his followers that if he gives them enough room to grow, they'll make him proud or even surprise him. It's almost a gentle naivety, his belief that we mortals can be better--or at least more--than our natures would seem to be."

"So that's the first thing," she says, raising a finger. "Those poor priests are used to folks storming in and demanding they 'do something' about a follower who stole their ring or seduced their wife or otherwise got up to some mischief. They're not a feedback box for complaints, and they're a little jaded from so many over the years. If you're polite to them, they'll be pleased to have someone who isn't there to belly-ache."

"Second of all, he likes novelty. Shiny things. Liminal things, that aren't all one thing or the other. His own nature is shifting, constantly moving from male to female to a thousand other options that aren't either. It'd be right and proper to bring him a gift like that. Nothing fancy, but something. A coin with two-sides, maybe, or a scarf with the two ends knitted together. Anything which isn't what it's supposed to be."

She shrugs and smiles. "If you were one of his followers and not just a visitor, it would be appropriate to bring a tithe of your earnings, ill-gotten and otherwise. But such things are not expected of visitors, so you should be fine there."
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Ellowyns inner workings begin to whirr to life as their brain fire suggestions as to how to solve this part of the puzzle.

They are suddenly very still calculating a route and a plan

they stand up quick as a flash and pass Marta her cane offering their hand to help her from the chair.

"Does olid have any particular affinities for particular creatures at all? And sunrise does veshti have somewhere she would be fine with me doing a small amount of tinkering?"

They check to see if the cane is back to level.
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"I'm sure we can find you a place," Sunrise agrees. "Got an idea in mind?"
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"Creatures?" Marta chuckles and shakes her head. "Not that I know of. Raccoons, maybe. But he loves music."
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"As do I," Sunrise remarks. "We have so much in common."
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Marta chuckles again. "There's a tiefling among the priests, you know. Well, several--the temples all have so many priests. But one who looks important."
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"do you by chance have a name, a little salacious gossip maybe?" Ellowyn perks up.

Then they realise they hadn't answered sunrise.

"Well not so much a plan as a piece in the ever evolving puzzle whoever goes to olidammara needs to make sure to be endearing themselves as much as possible just for ease of mission and the best way to please gods and priests with the same thing is interesting offerings. I think I'm going to build something as an offering. Something unique and novelty and definitely shiny." They exclaim listing off some of the suggestions Marta had offered they pause listening to their idea for the first time and fall silent

They shrug then realising how small this piece was in the greater scheme of things but they had this nagging sensation that in all the kerfuffle that no one had asked for any gods help directly with this kidnapping/running away/Redfangs situation and if Ellowyn knows only one thing as a cleric it was gods can't give assistance they haven't been asked for.

Perhaps olidammara was the best place to start and then make pitstops afterwards to the others they had enough coin to spare 18 gold as offering.

Ellowyn explains their reasoning to Sunrise and Marta and then blushes.
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