And out of Essle, again
That same evening, Rusla came back with another prisoner; a woman from Ashas. Her accomplice, a certain Vurian, also from Ashas (where the Order of the Nameless took Valdyan names when the emperor went crazy) was held by Prince Uznur. The Prince wanted to hang him in the morning, but I convinced Rusla that we should take both prisoners with us to the King. Fortunately, Prince Uznur agreed, and the second prisoner would be delivered to the Order House the next morning.
After that, what Moyri and I did was go through my clothes, to see whether there was something that could fit Moyri. My feast day clothes, the ones I used to keep in the School, and that I had last worn for the Feast of Anshen, those fitted her pretty well! A wrap-around skirt made from cloth decorated with all kinds of colors, that came from the East, and a blouse with a deep decollete and lots of ribbons to make it wider or tighter. Together with a shirt — Moyri did not want to show off her navel yet — it made a completely different woman of her.
She immediately felt ten years happier!
And she had never, really never, had any cosmetics on her face, so we played a bit with that, and then made three heaps out of my clothes: needs cleaning, needs mending, fine-as-is. The Ishey clothes I wore today to Prince Uznur probably cannot stand another month of travel in a pack, I’ll give those to Maile of Essle.
I took the laundry, and went to the laundry room. I found a very young journeyman, Laran, busy doing laundry. I grabbed a pail of water and heated it with semsin. He whistled, and said, “Can you teach me that?”
I nodded, thought a bit, and asked Maile — we can reach each other dependably now, with only our mind — to come to the laundry room and to bring Moryn. It’s not certain that Moryn is gifted, but the earlier we let him see semsin work, the better. Then I told Moyri that I was going to give a little lesson, and told her she was free to come down and join, if she wanted. She needed to finish the hem of a shirt before coming, but I could feel she was interested.
So I first demonstrated where the anie comes from, and that power and heat and semsin are really close together. I’m beginning to suspect that Maile has a strong affinity for fire, because she picked it up pretty soon. Laran had a bit more trouble, but that might be because just before we started on the practical part, Moyri came into the laundry room, still wearing my clothes — our clothes now, isn’t it great that we can wear each other’s clothes? — and that knocked Laran off his equipoise. Even Maile was taken aback a bit!
Then Moryn asked, “Is it normal that you can see the heat?”
And that can only mean that he is latently gifted! Yay, another apprentice for us!
Of course, the pupils were really hungry after all this hard work, and went off to the kitchen, with us following. I think Moyri is worried that I don’t eat enough, because she heaped a plate for a thick soupy stew, fortunately not too meaty, for me, and wouldn’t let me let Moryn eat half of it.
While we were in the refectory, Rusla came in, or at least, she tried to, but when she saw Moyri she came to a stand-still, then beckoned me. She whispered in my ear, “Khushi… I’m so happy for Moyri… She was so desperately unhappy. Thank you!” So I didn’t know what to answer, and hugged and kissed Rusla instead.
Moryn has already — we only met this afternoon! — noticed I’m rather a kisser and hugger, and has given me explicit permission to touch him.
On our way to the guest room, Moyri had the best idea of the day: that the four of us could travel ahead by horse, and that the greatly expanded prisoner transport could go by boat. That means only two people present when Moyri and I make each other happy. I had been a bit worried that we’d have to go weeks without love-making.
And we proceeded to make each other happy…
The next morning, we would go to the market to get bags, purses, cloth, leather, travel pharmacy, needles, shoes, riding boots… And meet with Maile from Essle. I was wondering whether she would turn up with a baby in her arms, or still in her belly!
She was still as round as the sun, and Lyase-Ledu punted her boat. So first we went to a pastry vendor where we had lots of different little sweet pastries, Iss-Peranian style, and a large pot of mint tea. Lyase-Ledu and Maile hit it off immediately! (We’d left Moryn back at the Order House, not being sure whether having him out and about in Essle would be a good idea.)
And Maile from Essle wasn’t surprised when I told her of my money needs, and promised to take me to the Temple of Micalacuk as soon as we’d bought everything we needed.
Well, we managed to get almost everything we needed, and had everything brought to the Order House.
While Lyase-Ledu punted us to the Temple of Micalacuk, I asked Maile from Essle whether the Sithi Sagga lady who had wanted to talk to me would at the island, that evening. She said she thought not, but she could ask Torin to come and bring his wife. I said I’d — not like, but appreciate — that, since I had to apologize for the way I couldn’t speak with her the last time we met. This time I had my fiancee with me, too keep me strong and resolute!
The boat trip to Maile’s island was, I thought, another opportunity for my apprentice to learn something new. So first I asked her, who had never seen anyone from the Nameless close up, to count the adherents of the Nameless we passed. And afterwards, when we came through the filthiest part of Essle’s waterways, I asked her to use her mind to figure out where the water became capable of supporting spirit again. And that went well as well.
The first thing I saw was little Moyri, the lovely girl with the broken mind and retarded body, walking. She actually walked! And she hadn’t been able to do that the first time I visited the island! She’s still as fond of cuddles and kisses, though, and I think, but I’m not sure, that she actually remembered me.
The conversation with the Sagga lady was uncomfortable. Even though she had worked as a whore in a dock-side brothel for a couple of years when the Khas were masters of the City, she still never had really met us, the invisible people of the City. It’s all foreigners that came to that brothel, and one of them was Torin, then the Commander of the Order fo the Sworn in Essle. He’d bought her out, freed her, made her pregnant and taken her home. And then dropped out of the Order.
So she just didn’t get it… I guess that it was already amazing that we spoke together, in Sithi, and told each other about ourselves.
That evening, we packed our packs. I gave Moryn his new clothes, riding boots, shoes (too big, but that’s what straw is invented for), pack, purse and a quarter of the riders I had gotten from Maile — twenty-five. I divided the money among us four, for safety. He had never had so much stuff, he said, and I don’t doubt that for a moment. You couldn’t even use his clothes for rags.
And then it was time for dinner, a chat with Rusla, a chat between Rusla and Moyri, so I went out to the temple to pray, making love — and sleep.
The next morning, we took off, soldiers, prisoners, witnesses, us and Ajay.
We passed the Guild School of the Guild of the Nameless, which was scary, islands full of the richest and most elaborate houses, slums — and then it was time to do something educational again, so I asked Moryn to teach Maile how to pick my pockets. I wrapped five pennies in five pieces of cloth, and hid them in various places on my body. I reached over and started rubbing Moyri’s belly, but she wasn’t getting sea-sick on the river.
They got all but one, and for that one, Moryn asked, “To get that one, I have to slice open your shirt…” So I gave him permission and the promise that it would be him who would do the darning, and that Maile would teach him that.
We had food, we had sunshine, soon we had siesta, and then we had left Essle, and were passing endless marshes. The birds! And just before we got out of range, Lochan told me that Maile had given birth to a big, red, loud baby daughter!
It was quite late in the afternoon when we reached Tilis. I really hadn’t expected to be here so soon again. Last time Aldan and I lodged with the basket weaver, but we were more official now, so we got a four person guest room in the posher part of the castle, after we’d told the Lady Baron everything. There was a way to divide the room with a curtain in two parts, so Moyri and I could make love without disturbing the apprentices too much, but… They will have to accept that we’re lovers and fiancees and deliriously happy and cannot keep off each other. I suspect that when we’re in Valdis, both will have a very sound understanding of the way a woman’s body works, and what works when lying down with a woman. I am sure Moryn will, later on, be very grateful for that knowledge. Since he blushed when he told me he thinks my body is very beautiful, he’s not someone who will only like boys. And in the meantime, Moyri and I will allow the two of them to giggle, now and then.
Food, and then we found a nice and light room where we could do our mending, knitting and sewing.
And that was actually rather rather nice. All four of us working on something as domestic as this, and it was an opportunity to chat, too. About the inevitability of seeing Moyri and me make love — and the behaviour of dutiful apprentices when they witness their masters in that activity — and praying as a Valdyan, a Sithi and an Iss-Peranian (I prefer the latter, because it involves dancing), dancing, which Moryn had never done, and Moyri hadn’t done for more than ten years, about food along the road, rough sleeping and hunting your own food (not feasible for us…), about happiness, and about how glad I was that we would be just the four of us.
And then it was time for having sex as silently as possible, to a chorus of giggles and sleep.