Written in a little farmer’s village on top of the white cliffs of Idanyas.
It was quite a pleasant voyage, as far as we could tell. Of course, neither of us had ever been out to sea, but Cook and I were a good team, and he even asked me whether I didn’t want to stay around for the whole trip. It wasn’t going to be too long, Captain Sinaya didn’t intend to make a full eight — whatever that might mean. Aldan had nothing more to do than holystone the deck, but I had lots of fun. I felt a bit guilty about that, but on the other hand, Cook also had lots of fun.
The white cliffs, well, they are white. And when they came into ken, as I believe the expression is, after the days and days of marshland, we knew we had almost arrived at our destination. Selday!
Selday turned out to be a smallish town, stuck to a soup bowl like cut into those cliffs like porridge to a toddler’s face. Mostly wood, a castle on top of the cliff, a white villa half-way the cliff, shipyards to the south, and quays in the middle. Sinaya took us to one of the south-most quays, or maybe piers. (Weird… I’m having to think of all kinds of words in Ilaini that I never had to use before, so I’m going all thesaurus-like, but I’m also dreaming more and more in Síthi.)
This is going to be the place where Aldan and I am going to live for the next couple of years!
We had been told to apply to Khapo the Ishey innkeeper, of the Red Cockerel, for safe and secure berth until we found our own place, and — weird coincidence — it turned out that he was right there on the quay, trying to keep his daughters out of the “drink”! I caught the younger one, and then made sure my stock went into a mouse-proof, rain-secure godown
until we could send for it.
But before I knew he was Khapo, I only heard him say, “This isn’t a safe place for brown girls” — and I was so surprised, I thought he was talking about me! And then I noticed his daughters doing their best to fall between quay and ship!
When we were walking up to his inn, we saw a medium-sized house, all empty, and I thought, well, maybe that would be something for us? Khapo knew all about it, and he told us it used to be a brothel, but that it was really empty now since Arni had taken a larger place on the Market Square. That made me think we should go and have a place on the Market Square as well, but there wasn’t one to be had, Khapo told us.
A bit later on, we passed a much smaller house, recently vacated by a dementia-struck old lady. It was too small, but I sort of felt I had to offer to help to take care of her. That reminded me of the conversation between Aldan and Maile in Essle (it went over my head, completely, so even if I listened in, I wasn’t a participant) — Maile asked me, who are you, and I had no answer. So she asked Aldan, and Aldan wasn’t sure, but Maile said, she wants to give… And I guess she wasn’t so dumb. I guess all that fucking around, well, that’s giving, too, isn’t it? Especially with how little Valdyan men know about their business… And I had to think of that again, when I was quite ready to spend the rest of the old lady’s life caring for her. Damn her, Maile is way too perceptive!) Oh, that bracket doesn’t belong there, I need to paint it out when I get some white paint.
The inn turned out to be nice, clean, very clean, and the headquarters of all that is a) Selday and y) not too savoury. So it was quite a good place for us, and Aldan already has got a job as a bouncer. And our room was clean, and only needed a bit of rearranging to make sure I could hold Aldan’s hand when going to sleep. Food was good, drink was good, and chat was good, and we agreed with this Arni that we’d take a good deep look at her former brothel the next day.
Before dinner, we had time to visit one of the two bath houses Selday has; one is little more than a wet brothel, the other one is where all the whores come to wash. We went to the other one, and got the salt crust scraped off our bodies. It wasn’t great, but it won’t be a privation to come here twice a week either, and they have a good deal on buying a “year ticket” or a “double year ticket”, where you pay in advance, but get a hefty discount. So we took a double year ticket, which means we can go to have a bath twice a week!
I was already asleep, having done the prayers on my own, when Aldan came to bed, but he was nice and allowed me to sleep in the crook of his body. He’s so much bigger than me! And now we’re here, where we were sent, I feel so alone… About my prayers… I got the distinct impression that Anshen was pissed off, that children had disappeared, and that the caretaker for the Iss-Perianian sagga up there in the castle knew about it.
Next morning, I made sure there was a good breakfast for Aldan, and he made sure I ate enough, too. Not that he should do that too often, or I will become as bloated as a pig’s bladder in “by the feast of Naigha”, when the kids kick it around to make points.
When we went out through the courtyard of the inn, we found an Ishey boy, well, half-Ishey, Khapo’s wife is Valdyan, working making a knife out of stone. He told us he was going to be fully Ishey, and Ishey man, when he was grown up, with a steel knife, even. But first he has to do his duty with the herds among the other Ishey boys. We told him all about our own, that is, Turenay’s Ishey, and he looked like he was thinking of doing his apprenticeship there.
So, in the morning we went to look at the former brothel. It has quite a few disadvantages, like the front room is too big for a shop, and the kitchen too small for a workshop. There is a cool cellar, though, and Aldan says the upper rooms are fit for purpose. I didn’t go there myself, but I have no reason to doubt him. He doesn’t understand why upper rooms don’t work for me, but cellars are all right…
But it was, all in all, all right, we could live here, I could do my trade here, so we went to the Temple of Micalacuk. There, there was a whole room full of things! A huge copper basin, so suited to cooling down Síthi delight! A very nice statue of Dayati, fucking themselves, another marble statue, probably Ishey, unrecognizable, that I could turn into a rolling pin. Other stuff as well, we won’t need much furnishing! But we still will need builders first, so we agreed to meet with them for dinner.
Then we went up, up, up the cliff, and found a place where I would like to have my herbal/market garden and orchard, and from there to a village, where everybody was friendly, so we sort of agreed to stay…
Halfway the hill, we encountered an Ishey man who was herding goats. He told us that the Iss-Peranian baron was never in the castle, only his steward. He wasn’t very complimentary about the steward, now that I think of it.
And now we won’t be in the Red Cockerel when the builders are there!
(In between, Aldan and I spent hours on the cliff edge talking. He’s weird, and I’m weird, and he’s Valdyan, and I’m not, or sort of am, but… There are words in Ilaini I simply don’t get. Like “being in love” — he says it’s like “you just know you want to stay together for the rest of your life and never fuck anyone else”. That’s not what Doctor Cora says, but she’s Iss-Peranian, and has a girl-friend apart from the Captain. I just don’t know what would move anyone to make a promise like that! I would be fine staying with Aldan the rest of my life, and giving him, say, two nights out of seven, but I am not going to submit to his authority and never be with anyone else! But I still wouldn’t mind being with him, and I am sort of counting on him taking care of me when I go a bit earth-quakey, like having fissures between parts of myself. Damn, this is too long to go between brackets. But it was a pretty deep talk, and I’m only sorry I didn’t get what he really meant. Ilaini words are meaningless, sometimes!)