A letter to Doctor Cora

Hylti writes home. At least, to the only place she calls home except the home she’s made for herself.

Dear Doctor Cora,

I’m writing letters all the time to all the people in our little group of envoys… And I should write a letter to my Mother. But last time I spoke to her, it was clear that the kind of thing I need to share with someone are the sort of things she doesn’t want me to share with her. But I cannot keep it to myself! I need to share it with someone I love, and you’ve been so much of a mother to all of us at Turenay…

You may have heard that I ended up taking a lover with me to Three Hills. She was with the Nameless, but decided to send him packing when it was time for her journeyman’s trial. When we arrived in Three Hills, everything was quite bad, with a local lord brutally tyrannizing the countryside, a leper village where only the Priestess of Naigha would visit, once a year. We settled ourselves in what we called a nurses’ practice, but soon it became clear that we’d need to ask the Queen to get rid of the local lord. When Raisse did that, she brought with her doctor Prithi, who is now teaching both Arni and me to be proper doctors. We did a lot of good already!

For instance, we went through the countryside in two long journeys, first to the east, then to the south. But first, when we came back from our journey through the east (you have had my reports, I guess — especially the paper about the transmission pattern of the clap in one of the villages that we visited is one I’m proud of!), so, when we came back from that journey, it turned out that Arni’s parents had sent Arni’s brother to fetch her back! Arni had sent them a letter.

Fortunately, we had managed to persuade the landlady of the Thirsty Queen that the old people of Three Hills who couldn’t care for themselves anymore needed a good place to stay. This was when we noticed that the lung disease and the wars had struck the young and middle-aged worse than the elderly, and quite a few old people were living close to each other in just a couple of streets with just one or two people to care for them. We got them established in the Thirsty Queen, like I said, where it’s warm, and the food from Lord Faran’s cellars could be cooked and distributed to them easily.

Well, we were having dinner there with some of our friends when we felt that Arni’s brother, who is gifted, too, and with the Nameless, like all her family, was close by! We were so scared that he was sent to take her away that we went straight to one of the oldest ladies, Alaise, and asked her to marry us! She was a bit vague, but with a bit of water from her ewer (when poured out, it flows!) she married us! After all, if Lady Raith can do that, she could, too, couldn’t she? And she agreed.

So when Lydan found us, we could tell him we were just married, and, in fact, having a really nice dinner to celebrate! He was a bit huffy at first, but that changed when he found a nice young girl, and decided to stay in Three Hills, too!

Still, we had to visit Arni’s family in Rizenay, so that was what we did in the summer. A lovely journey, and I’ve added another chapter to my book on Eight-sided Towers — there is one in Valdie Liorys, which is well known, but we also excavated the floor of the Tower in Rizenay, where the shepherds usually celebrate midsummer. The pattern of the floor is exactly like the one Maile described for her Tower, in Essle!

Oh, and we took good care, Arni and me, to get pregnant before going to Rizenay. One of my Three Hills patients, Ervan, had taken a job as pastry cook in the Palace, where he found a friend of himself. He and his friend, Arin, worked really hard for a week or two, three to get us pregnant. It was quite difficult, as you can imagine, because nothing made them lose concentration so much as the idea of two young women. But we managed!

Well, with the children in our bellies, Arni’s mother could only think, really, about the prospect of more grandchildren, so she made us quite welcome. Well… We had something to explain, but after I healed one of Arni’s dad’s apprentices from copper poisoning, they made us really part of the family. The local doctor had refused to treat the boy, he was not important enough!

So, but that’s also in the official report, we went to organize a Doctors and Midwives Guild in Rizenay, with the doctor from the copper mine, the midwives, apothecaries and herb people. But doctor Rayin, though we invited him, he walked out when Arni and me explained how we had healed the lepers of our local leper village in Little Valdyas! He could not accept that using ones gifts for healing was possible — even though he is gifted and with the Nameless! Anyway, that didn’t deter us from visiting Rizenay’s leper village, which was hard work. I’ve enclosed my paper on treating the residue of the lung sickness with semsin, too — as well as the minutes of the guild meeting after we had returned from the leper village.

The Queen, by the way, has agreed to set up a hospital in Rizenay, and we’ve found a good site just outside the town walls, which the leper village people now are building out. They couldn’t stay in their village, it was horrible! We saw so many people with toes or feet or hands or ears that had frozen off — there isn’t wood in the wide vicinity, everything has been cut down for the copper mine, so they can barely make a fire, let alone build strong huts, and they were FORBIDDEN to come near Rizenay to buy bricks! Their huts were incredible!

When we came back from the journey, with Arni’s mum’s (she’s also called Arni) promise to be with us when the babies would come, we only stayed a couple of weeks in Three Hills. Fortunately, Erne, who had been sent to Ildis, was in Valdis when we passed. She’d been hounded out of Ildis by the Nameless! Don’t blame her, don’t even think she’s weak or anything, it was already clear to me when Arni and I visited Ildis that she had the toughest assignment of us all. In comparison, we’ve got it easy, with just a few local tyrants. Even Rath in Rizenay has it easy and is doing well! Well, Erne could take our local semsin and reading class, while Arni and I went South.

We wanted to reach the chalk pits where the Queen had removed another local lord, but we didn’t reach that far! Because that lord, he had a copper mine as well, and, oh! The poison! And my unborn babies, they protested against everything I did to heal them, so we sent the entire village on to Doctor Prithi. They now occupy one of the deserted villages near Three Hills, we’ve got quite a few of them! I have enclosed another little paper on the way copper travels through the body, and the harm it does. It’s quite an interesting subject!

And then we had to go back, because our bellies were growing too cumbersome. We made some more friends, but when we came home, Arni’s mum arrived, and Ervan and Arin…

And a month ago, I gave birth to my twins! Valain and Alaise! And yesterday, Arni gave birth to Ruzyn! And I guess we won’t be traveling for a couple of months, at least!

Your loving pupil and daughter,