Goose grease and pheasant fat

Lysna knew I was facing a fight without an end, because even if I’d married the man my father would have selected for me, the fight would not have stopped. And she taught me to fight that fight the best she knew. But now the fight is over. It seemed over when I was sent out to Selday. It felt over when I was married to Moyri. And now that I’ve left Turenay, it’s completely and finally over.

It’s over.

After my last fight with Lysna, and I’m not sure I’ll fight ever again, not unless I really have to, I felt sort of empty. I’m still madly in love with Moyri, and our apprentices are awesome, and the I have plenty of things to do, but it still feels weird. And I guess it will feel weird again on the day that father is executed.

But it is over.

But don’t think think I spent all my time in Turenay moping! In return for their hospitality we did plenty of work in Ashti and Ferin’s house, we joined the Ishey in one of their hunting trips in the forest, there was plenty to read in the library and plenty of people to fight in Otter House — though I mostly stayed on the right side of the river, that is, the side where my sister and her friend has her shop (now she’s officially married to Dayati, mom is really only helping her) and where we were living.

It’s so busy, though, this house, and so full of people, that Moyri and I really had no chance for leisurely making love, and it’s getting too chilly to go out upstream and make love out in the open. We didn’t go further than surreptitiously stroking each other under the sheets. At least Moyri isn’t afraid of getting her fingers bloody, so my cramps hardly bothered me.

The big night out was dinner with Lord Vurian and Lady Rava. Lord Vurian is easily the richest man in the country, but even though he’s a Brun, he started out as a pot-boy in an inn in Ildis, doing guild-runner work. He was born in Tal-Crun, west of Ildis, and his parents had an unprofitable stud farm there. And now he’s the father of the Queen… And Lady Rava is of course the head of the Guild School!

So this was a moment for all of us to dress our best, and I put make-up on Moyri’s face. I think Maile is too young for that, Valdyan girls of that age don’t need anything to make them look fresher than they already look. I first got kohled and rouged up when I was four years old, though.

We had a special reason to be glad of this dinner, because a few days earlier, Moyri and I had been discussing Selday, and how scaling back the shipyard to only making fishing smacks and doing repair work would harm the town’s poorest labourers.

Of course, especially at first, they would be busy enough building the guard towers that Lord Ferin wants along the coast, and that would give us time to figure something out, set something up.

Some would also be taken up by the enlarged fishing fleet that we want to bring fresh, wholesome fish to Essle, instead of the puke-and-shit-fed eels that are a staple in that miserable place. We noted that down, too.

And then I got a brilliant idea!!! A nautical school! A school where people can learn everything about navigating, ship’s doctoring, trade regulations (the most boring class ever in the Guild School), ship handling. A school for captains and first mates — but one where during a slack season seamen of all kinds could to learn more about their trade and climb up. If we have the first nautical academy in the world, it could mean Valdyas could become the biggest trading nation! That would help put Selday on the map! And if more ships stop in Selday, there will be more trade, more warehouses, more transshipping — and Selday is infinitely safer than Essle, so it would make so much sense!!!

Ildis has the law school, Valdis the trade school, Essle another trade school and the Guild School of the Nameless, Turenay the Guild School of Anshen — Veray has nothing, but there are a lot of smiths there, so maybe they should setup something about working iron and so on. I know that Albetire is gaining on us in that respect, most iron from Tylenay these days is sent out as crude iron knives that are in all but their name ingots.

And since Lady Rava is an experienced headmaster, we could ask her everything about setting up and running a school!

She and Lord Vurian loved the idea!!! Lady Rava promised all the help, including a copy of the school’s rulebook that she would had made for us in one day — just by having all the clerks in the Temple of Mizran spend the whole day working on it. That’s when I learned that being rich makes you different, not just richer. I’d never thought anyone could make the Temple of Mizran stop all their work just for one person’s project.

And the work was done in time for the day of our departure.

Another work that was done in time, but only just in time, was getting Moyri’s flame tamed. Every master in the order of the sworn has a winged flame painted in ink under their skin, on the right shoulder. And when Moyri had seen Ashti’s beautifully painted body, she had said she wanted that as well. But we only remembered in the middle of the night, three nights before we had to leave.

Rhinla and Lesla weren’t asleep, we could hear them giggle, so I got them out of bed and took them to our corner of the kitchen. Rhinla agreed that there wasn’t time to paint all of my wife, but that an eight-sided wall with a closed gate around the flame was doable, and so she started sketching with a bit of charcoal from the kitchen fire, while Lesla made the proper ink and prepared the pricking brush.

Doing the painting took all night, and in the morning, Moyri’s shoulder was red and had to be gently touched with sage grease, which was my task. It’ll take a week for the redness to disappear, so we can see the blackness again.

And then it was time to leave. It’s been fourteen years since I had entered Turenay by the East Gate! And I’d never gone back, not even to visit my mother’s parents. I think we won’t bother to do so this time, either, though we might want to pray in the Temple of Dayati.

It’s a pretty enough road, to Veray. Green, leafy, well-kept, busy, forest, fields, farms, shady dells. And it didn’t rain, which is good luck in this time of the year.

The inn at half-way — it’s two days by horse, unless you make the poor animal run all the way — the inn was full. We could get four places in the hay-loft, where at least a dozen other people were sleeping as well. No chance to be alone together… And there was such a queue for the baths that we simply washed in a nearby stream, even though it is getting colder now that the feast of Mizran is a month ago.

Still, my thighs were sticky with blood, and I really want to treat the irritation, so we couldn’t put off washing ourselves. In Veray I’ll start drinking the tea again. Moyri has decided to wait until we’re back in Selday for her sacrifice to the Mother. And Maile has made hers, but it was only a little bit and next to no cramps.

And now that we’re entering Veray, we had to decide whether we would first go to the Baron, or first to the best inn in the town and get two rooms — but our first call was the Order House. We had to go there because Lord Vurian had sent his daughter with us, Ruzyn, who wanted to enter the order as a journeyman. And we definitely were not going to sleep in the Order House. Maybe when we’re back in Essle, waiting for a ship to Selday, but not now!

Maurin, the commander in Veray, told us the best inn is the Queen and the Hanged Man — and that again, was NO, NO, NO. Today, at dusk, that is about now, my father is going to be the Hanged Man.

The second best inn, apparently, has better beds, but no food. Food can be had in the Pheasant and Grapes, next door, so that wouldn’t be a huge hardship. We repaired to the Golden Tun, and it looked good.

We could get two rooms at the end of the corridor, nobody opposite us, and a broom cupboard between the second room and the rest of the corridor.

At first the inn-keeper was a bit surprised at my insistence that we wanted rooms where we could make a bit of noise without hindering other people, but when I explained to her that we had just been married and hadn’t been able to have a room for just the two of us for weeks, she smiled and nodded and had these rooms for us.

I’d also ordered white wine, clotted cream, the last strawberries and the first blueberries, sage ointment, a bath filled with water (cold is fine, I can heat it up), a stack of towels and a bunch of pheasant tail feathers. Oh, and some rose oil. And a stack of spare clean bed linen.

This made the inn-keeper, who was making a list on a slate, come down with a nearly uncontrollable fit of coughing which could, I’m honestly not sure, have been masking laughter. But when I am going to get my Moyri all to myself for the entire night, I don’t mind what people think. Let them laugh, I’m going to kiss.

First we had dinner with the neighbours. The dish in this restaurant is pheasant. Grilled, broiled, stewed with cabbage, stewed in grapes — but always pheasant, whole, not even cut up into small pieced and put in pies. With the pheasant, there will be turnips in butter. Turnips are very nice with butter, and I could also get bread and butter.

I’m probably not completely Valdyan yet, because the others tore into their pheasants, tearing of strips of meat and getting completely greasy with pheasant fat and butter. I felt sort of reluctant… Though I am looking forward to licking the fat from Moyri’s face when we are in our room. And tonight we’re opening the Iss-Peranian black box.

The apprentices have leave to explore Veray tonight, with the strict, strict rule that we’re only to be called in case of emergencies, and that emergencies are strictly forbidden.