Well… If this isn’t bliss, then I don’t know what bliss is! I woke up this morning with not just one, but two handsome young men in bed with me, and with me in the middle! Not that we had done anything but sleep, you know, but it was still a pleasant surprise! (Besides, I don’t think that making love with two men at the same time can, you know, actually work, because everyone has got only one mouth to kiss with.) It was a bit of a pity that Ram was already too late for work, so he had to run. And we’d only slept, because the other man was Aldan, and besides, I was so sleepy after the theatre night!
But I should start earlier. Of course, we were a bit bored, because while our house was being almost rebuilt, we had almost nothing to do. One night, Aldan was working in the Red Cockerel, and I was so bored with hanging around in an inn among drunk or almost-drunk people that I went to visit our backyard neighbour, the doctor. I asked him, did he have any books for me to study, and I spend a couple of hours working through the first few chapters of a surgery manual for shipboard doctors, making notes and adding Doctor Cora’s view on small strips of paper that I put between the pages in the book — written in silverpoint, of course, so there was no ink to smudge the pages of the doctor’s books.
Another night I spent working in the kitchen and in the scullery. The Ishey who had brought goat’s meat was very indignant when I selected the nicest piece for Aldan, but in the end I still managed to smuggle it onto Aldan’s plate, so there! It was around that evening that I decided I really wasn’t afraid of Aldan getting angry at me, or beating me, and I told him so, with semsin, that night, when we were in bed after prayers. He snuggled up closer to me, as if he were glad that I had shared that with him, and maybe he was.
We’ve only been here less than a week! One day, the day before the day of Anshen, we went to the guard house again. In the afternoon, it was our turn to walk the streets (hah! Just wait until my Mother gets a letter where I tell her I’ve become a streetwalker!), in the morning we trained with sword and in apprehending undesirables. Aldan refuses to fight with anything but his fists, but he gave a nice show with Hodar, an Ishey-black young man from Ashas, who fights with a long pole.
Patrolling, as I believe the word is, with Aldan and Halla, our mentor, was interesting. First we broke up a fight between two children. One had won the other’s marbles, all of them! Well, that obviously goes against the Law of One in Ten! I don’t think it’s an actual law, but it’s the rule that the Priestesses of Dayati in Turenay had: the winner doesn’t take all, but gives one in ten back to the other, so the other has a chance of winning again, and more importantly, you can both play again. The children wanted to know if that was a Law in the Queen’s Book of Laws, so I fetched my Laws of Valdyas from my bag, and did some trickery to convince them it was.
We also ordered a new cuirass for me — the one I was wearing is too wide around the middle, and much too narrow around the top. In the leather workshop, we met the same Ishey boy who came to bring and roast the meat to the Red Cockerel: he was bringing cured goat hides. The leather worker, Master Caille, she makes “Ishey bags” from the hides, with the tail, legs and neck still attached to the bag! She charges the sailors outrageous prices… But that’s not Town Guard business, and sailors will be sailors.
On our way through the harbour, we found another bunch of kids fighting. One guild apprentice was fighting to ship’s boys — the youngest ship’s boy was only twelve years old, and she was holding herself. Still, this was Town Guard business, so we separated the combatants, and asked them what was going on. Turned out, the ship’s boys wanted to go into the Tin Can, instead of the Tin Tankard, and the guild apprentice tried to keep them out. One inn is for the guilds people, the other for the sailor people. We resolved this by sending the sailors to the Red Cockerel. The two sailors went, then turned around, and asked the guild boy to come with them as well.
But not before the youngest ship’s boy had mentioned she could pay for beer, had gold in her purse!
That gave me pause, but then it was time to have beer in the Tin Can, discuss this overzealous patron of his with the host, and then a bath! Though only a bath in the tubs in the guard house. Next day would be Anshen, with a real bath in the bath house where we had 104 baths pre-ordered.
In the evening, I mostly did scullery work, but there was a group of theatre players in the corner. They told us of weird things happening on the big ship, of the captain (the one who is having himself heroically painted by Serla) wanting to flog members of his crew on the stage that was built for the play, and of how you could recognize slaves in Selday.
They are wearing a gold collar.
Ajay wears one of those.
I’m sure the Queen is not going to be happy to hear this. This town needs a real Baron, not an upstart not-here Iss-Peran sagga!
We promised to take care of the Red Cockerel the next evening, since Khapo and Lyse wanted to go to the first night. The next day was the day of Anshen, though, so first we had morning prayers. That was in the kitchen of the Red Cockerel. Our new neighbour, the pharmacist, did the prayers. There are, apparently, five or six houses all over Selday where people pray to Anshen, and here, the custom is to have every householder do the prayers in turn.
Then we had a glorious bath, and a shave all-over, and dinner, and then we ran the Red Cockerel. Not by ourselves, of course, and it was quiet, because most of the usual customers were at the play as well. But it was kind of fun, and became even more fun when a very tired and tipsy Khapo and Lyse came home. She’s pregnant, though!
The next day, we heard about something pretty strange going on in the shipyard. Apparently, there’s a part of the new ship that’s being constructed (or laid down? not sure about the right word) where only the retainers (might as well say slaves?) of the Iss-Peranian sagga are allowed to come. The rest are driven away with whips. It looks like a big safe, or a big cage — the stories aren’t clear on that.
Well, I’m going to take a look, making my spirit leave my body like we learned in school, with Ram and Aldan hanging onto me, but first we’re going to do some trials. This kind of thing needs preparing for!
We also met up with Serla, whom I had asked to paint my face and my pussy for commander Moyri — she only needed half an hour for the first sketch, some time to work it up, and then another half an hour with me to finish. Oh! She looks with her eyes and her mind. When she was painting my pussy, I felt all hot and tingly! And Aldan didn’t know where to look — so I told him to look at my tits, which is what most boys look at anyway. And, anyway, it’s not like we don’t know what each other looks like between our legs anyway, we sleep without clothes on, for the Mother’s sake!
The theatre play was very interesting, but a bit hard to follow. There was a merchant who went broke, and had a chest, and didn’t know what was in the chest, because it was an heirloom and the key had gone, and then it was seized by the creditors, and… Well, it was complicated. But there was nice food, and nice drink, and Ram came, too, and we had two places on the first bench, so I got up and gave Ram my place, then sat down on the knees of both Aldan and Ram, and they grabbed my tits, and I could lean into them, and listen to the play, and that was… Bliss.
We also met with Halla, the ship’s boy with the gold, and I persuaded her to meet me at the Temple of Mizran the next day, so we could get her gold safe and well in the temple’s coffers, and her with a named letter of credit. That duly happened, and the Priest promised to talk to her captain about the rest of her gold. She also had wanted to buy a Real Ishey Goat Bag for twenty riders! Well, a sailor and their gold are soon parted!