We had a couple of quiet days after the Feast of Naigha. That lasted until we had more than twenty pupils to learn Semsin from us in our kitchen, every night of the week. Not always all the same people, either. I felt like Moyri and I were teaching the entire youth of Selday!
The Day of the Counting was so busy… Halla and our apprentices had collected a bunch of other smart and eager people. Despite having had only day to prepare, they had paper notebooks to write down everything, they had a system and a plan. It just shows what you can do with delegation! And by the end of the day, we had more people in our kitchen than ever before, and most of them stayed for semsin lessons… The day after the counting was done, on the day of the eve of the Feast of Naigha, I most spent my time preparing for the feast. A lot of it was working in the workshop with Maile, and our new apprentice, Sabeh, an Ishey girl, gifted of course, who wants to learn a craft. We’d have Coran with us, and he had a date with Cynla, one of the two priestesses of Naigha who teach in the school. Tylse was busy cleaning the house, making new sacks for the beds and getting fresh straw in. I went out shopping, and in the afternoon, all of us went to the baths. I even got a little bottle of scented almond oil for […]
The Feast of Naigha — Nahasagga — is close. It was already close when we had the Banquet in the White House, of course, but it’s closer now, and between then and now, it feels like there’s been weeks! But it was only days. Still, we’ve managed to get into a routine, a rut, a schedule — what do you call it when you just know what you’re going to do, and know why you’re going to do it, and have managed to fit all your duties around three healthy love-making sessions a day?
The town was all full of people but everybody was busy! Where the ramshackle barracks had been there were several large tents, each with a sign in letters so clear that I could read them: BOUNCERS, WHORES, and so on. Kehendaki wanted to talk to soldiers, and I wanted to talk to someone who wasn’t a soldier but was working with them, but we couldn’t find anyone who had time to talk. Until we got to a place where some men in soldiers’ clothes were sorting through the rubble of a burnt house, and we went to help them for a bit. I picked up a bit of charcoal that looked good for writing or drawing. “Can I keep that?” I asked the nearest man, but he didn’t know, “you’ll have to ask the sergeant.” Well, we’d find the sergeant later, because Kehendaki had got talking with the other men. One was from Nalenay and another from Turenay, and all I know about those places is that they’re in Valdyas. They told him things about where they came from and that hurt one of the men so much that he had to go away for a bit, and his friend […]
We were very, very eager to get home, after briefly visiting Maile’s mother, Arni, but we first stopped at the White House. It was coming along nicely, the big tower is taken over by the regiment, the Great Hall, the apartments above, kitchens and cellars were being cleaned up for baronial uses. Then came the hospital, which had the Lesser Great Hall (at least, that’s what we call it) and the rooms around it and above it for its use. The Lesser Great Hall will be the operating theatre, it’s nice and light. And the remainder of the building was being converted into school rooms (two, for now) and apartments for the admirals, Arni and Kistid. I knew they were married, but I sort of had forgotten about that!
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…