The next morning, Moyri and I had a headache which needs to be felt to believe in… And we both nearly puked in our bed, but we managed to reach the privy in the back of the yard in time, and, hand in hand, puked out our gullets, guts and everything else. Whew! And dizzy! Our apprentices had toasted old bread for us and soothing tea, and were in general very nice, and quiet, and we were properly thankful.
We have so many plans! For the shipyard to start working on better, faster fishing boats, so the fishermen can start selling their catch in Essle. For the big slave-ship to be finished and placed at the baroness’ pleasure to patrol the coast. For the shipyard workers to learn other trades, so they won’t all be out of a job and hungry, and in the meantime, to let them build the waystations for our guard patrols.
After we had the high-and-mighty meeting with Prince Uznur, Maile-from-Essle, Commander of the Sworn Rusla, Moyri, the Baroness of Selday and little me, the Sheriff of Selday, Moryi and I were shown our bedroom. Of course not Moyri’s old room (and I so would have liked to see it), that’s the Commander’s bedroom! But we had a nice guest room in a corner at the end of the corridor, where we could make as much noise as we wanted.
We found a sharp stone to cut open the beast we’d caught and ate as much of the meat as we could. There wasn’t much on it and it was hard to get it off the bones, so we had to leave most for the foxes and we were still hungry. “Now let’s go to Lady Mialle’s house,” I said, but Kehendaki wanted to scout out the house first to make sure it was safe. We found another spot where we could see the back door, and look into the nearest courtyard, but nobody was moving where we could see them. There was smoke coming from a chimney near the door, though. “They’re cooking,” I said, “they must be alive!” We knew that Lady Mialle hadn’t been seen for two years, that she was probably sick but not dead because there’d been no burial. And if you’re sick and not dead, you must eat or you will die, so someone must be cooking for her.
Moyri’s village, Two Bridges, is on the South bank of the Rycha, and when I asked about the nearest leper colony, they pointed at the North bank. Might as well have been in Rizenay, for all that. We’d have to go west along the South bank until we reached a place opposite Ferin and Tamsin’s inn, and then ask someone to ferry us over. It would only be about a week by foot, and no, Two Bridges doesn’t possess a single boat, not even for fishing! They make baskets from reed or willow branches, and once a year, their stock is collected by a merchant — like the one we travelled with from Three Hills to Tilis. There’s a Temple of Naigha, but that serves a number of small villages. There are about three families here, that’s all, and nobody is gifted…
The Rycha is beautiful, even in the middle of autumn. Around Nesh it starts getting wide, before that it’s not that wide. There aren’t many villages or even farms, and there are so many birds, and as soon as Veray is out of sight, it also smells clean and fresh.
We didn’t stay awake for too long that night, but there was time to be together and have fun… After all, in a couple of days we’ll be leaving for Tilis and it’s very unlikely we’ll be able to find a boat with a private cabin for two of us. That sort of boat you only find on sea! In the middle of having fun, Moyri suddenly started talking about the school plans.
(Note: this starts about six months after Khushi and Moyri visited Valdis.) When I came out of my mother’s belly I was the colour of cinnamon bark so she called me after that, Sinkauli. It’s a pretty name! I’m glad I’ve got it. There are lots of worse names to give a kid, like Kehendaki, that means something like “what we got as a surprise”. He’s okay though, we’ve been together all our lives like we’re brother and sister. But neither of us has a living mother or father or any family except each other. Sometimes when I’m almost asleep I dream of my mother, but that’s only a pair of soft arms and the smell of sandalwood and spices. We’ve been living in Ma Doryn’s house longer than anyone else, even Ma Doryn herself, she only came here a couple of years ago. We started out as rugrats, like the little kids crawling around now, but when we were five or so and could walk and talk we got to do some of the easy work, and got real clothes instead of a bit of rag, and real food instead of what happened to fall off the table or […]
We woke up late… Our apprentices were already in the Order House, apparently exercising with stick fighting. Good… That way they didn’t have to see our red eyes, pasty complexions blue rims under our eyes, or our frightful hair that we couldn’t get fixed no matter how much water we used. Cream, fruit, honey, oil and a lot of me in Moyri’s hair, and a lot of her in mine made us look like complete frights! Also, the honey has made my lips itch a bit.
Lysna knew I was facing a fight without an end, because even if I’d married the man my father would have selected for me, the fight would not have stopped. And she taught me to fight that fight the best she knew. But now the fight is over. It seemed over when I was sent out to Selday. It felt over when I was married to Moyri. And now that I’ve left Turenay, it’s completely and finally over.