We were very, very eager to get home, after briefly visiting Maile’s mother, Arni, but we first stopped at the White House. It was coming along nicely, the big tower is taken over by the regiment, the Great Hall, the apartments above, kitchens and cellars were being cleaned up for baronial uses. Then came the hospital, which had the Lesser Great Hall (at least, that’s what we call it) and the rooms around it and above it for its use. The Lesser Great Hall will be the operating theatre, it’s nice and light. And the remainder of the building was being converted into school rooms (two, for now) and apartments for the admirals, Arni and Kistid. I knew they were married, but I sort of had forgotten about that!

It was rather urgent that we’d meet Seran, the man we’d put in to manage all four establishments. While Moyri climbed the tower to discuss the regiment with Fian, I hunted him down in the cellars, where he was looking for really safe places to store valuables. I told him we’d wanted to give an official banquet for the upper crust of Selday, and maybe Fian asting Rhydin, since he’s within reach, and asked him to take care of it. He began asking lots of questions, at least, I feared it would be lots, but I didn’t let him finish.

Instead I explained that I wasn’t going to do his job for him; his job was to make sure that what we wanted to happen would happen so I would have as much time as possible to make love to Moryi. Put in that light, he saw it — the light I mean — and promised he’d have food and everything ready, but that Moyri really should have a final say over the guest list. That sounded reasonable, so I gave him a hug and went in search of my wife.

In the meantime, Maile and Moryn had gone down to the Pink House to get it aired, cleaned and food prepared.

I found Moyri still on the roof of the tower, looking out over the sea, thinking deeply. For a little longer, we stood there, looking in all directions, at Idanyas, at the sea, holding hands. And then it was high time to go home, put on dry clothes and see what our apprentices had cooked up for us!

It was so good to be home again, really home, and I didn’t mind that Aldan and Aldan had cleared out. Now it really was our home. After dinner, we cleaned up, did some semsin work, and after prayers and locking up, we all went to bed. Moyri and I were too tired to do anything much. The next morning, she went off to the Guard house to train, together with the apprentices. I guess I’ll have to start training with the regiment, it’s not really the done thing for a Sheriff to train with the guards. One has to keep a bit of distance!

After breakfast, I went out as well, to visit the Temple of Mizran, to ask the headman of the Guard whether there was anything sheriffy that I had to do (nothing, there had been two drunks and disorderlies, but they were already expiating their crime by digging trenches for the water mains). And after a quiet morning just walking around and meeting some people (but not drinking with all of them this time), I went home with a basket full of groceries.

That afternoon, Maile and I started building up a stock of sweets again. Moryn has decided that he wants to go to the Mariner’s Academy and the admirals needed him uphill, to discuss lessons with him, so Maile and I could work just in old times, when she had just become my apprentice. It’s not just good to be home again, but it’s good to be at work again! And when I left Maile to finish sugaring mallow sticks (we were going to make them red), and went upstairs to start cooking. Moryn had just come back and I heard carpentry going on. He wanted to make two bed rooms of the big guest room, a guest room of Maile’s room and a box room from the corridor, I remembered.

That left my love, who was reading a book in the nook in the kitchen. I poured her a glass of wine, and kissed her.

She asked, “Is there anything I can do? I feel lazy, I’m doing nothing!”

And I shook my head, adding, “It’s nice to see you do nothing for a change! You won’t get a lot of chance for that, I’m sure!”

But she insisted on doing at least something, so I asked her to kilt up her skirt and play with herself for a bit. It became a game: if she was done before I was done preparing dinner, she would have lost, and if I were done before her, she’d win — me, obviously, being the the prize. I do think I need to have a talk with Doctor Varyn again, though, because I cannot keep from thinking about Moyri, and wanting Moyri. It’s not interfering, we’re still doing hundreds of other things, we’re making plans, teaching the apprentices, our days are full! It’s just that… I cannot keep thinking of ways to have fun together…

Anyway, Moyri won, but I think that’s just because she’s not very good at diddling herself, she didn’t practice all the time she was in the Order. And then there was me sending her my cuntrait as a diddling-aid!

Before dinner, Maile was wondering whether her friend Arni could come over… And I nodded, and said, “Call her! She was so close to growing into her gift before we left, you should be able to find her.”

Maile nodded, concentrated, and a bit later smiled. “I surprised her so much! But she’s coming. I guess there’s food enough, right?”

Well, there’s no doubt about that, there was more than enough food. And after dinner, we worked through the first principles of semsin. At least, I let Moryn and Maile teach Arni, with a bit of input from Moyri and me.

Then Seran arrived; he had the list of invites with him. We only had a few additions, we wanted to have two Ishey men and the head of the shipyard workers (not the head of the shipyard, he was on the list, but the person who the workers feel is their leader) and the most important brothel owner. The list being decided upon, Moyri started to write invites, while Seran demolished the remnants of the dinner, together with apprentices who were once again really hungry.

And I went to Arni’s house, to tell her grandmother that her granddaughter would be sleeping at the Pink House tonight, since she had her first semsin lessons, and was too tired to go home.

As you can see, full days… And let’s not mention the nights. It was pretty late before we fell asleep, but it was later for the three people upstairs; we heard them talking when we gave each other a last kiss.

The next morning, I was up really early, but Moyri was deep asleep. I wanted to go out and train with the regiment, but not without giving her a morning cuddle. But I also didn’t want to wake her up… All of a sudden I got an idea that made me grin. I went downstairs, to the workshop, and got the jar with bright red sugar goop and a small brush. I wrote on Moyri’s left breast “Gone fighting” and on her right breast “follow the trail to find treasure” and then from between her breasts down to her crotch a trail of mice prints. I was careful! I made a little seal on her skin before each sugary dot. And on her thighs I wrote “be sweet to yourself”.

Now I was ready to go out and fight! It still wasn’t completely light when I started climbing the hill, wearing my real cuirass, not the one with the decolletee, and my sword. The soldiers were already coming out for their pre-breakfast training session and welcomed me warmly! We had a couple of really good fights, and after that, I got a bowl of army sludge for breakfast. These soldiers were as good as sergeant Lysna, and one of them, in fact, knew her from the Ashas campaign and had fought with her.

Then I checked on Seran, who told me he had everything ready but that there weren’t enough servers. A bit miffed because I felt he could have figured it out himself, I asked Maile and Moryn to find a couple of willing servers from the shipyard workers’ children.

And then it was time to start primping. We needed to look our best tonight! Regal, not seductive, more’s the pity. Long dresses, embroidery, stiff panels, long sleeves, high collars… Jewellery, from Koll Konande’s hoard. Paint all over our faces, and nails lacquered red. Bathed, oiled, perfumed… So, with our hair in a braid, we let ourselves be carried up the hill on a couple of donkeys, and opened the banquet.

It was quite a success, but so exhausting! I’m not sure that eating little bits of large amounts of food is the same as having a meal, and I don’t easily run out of things to say, but this evening I managed. Moyri was magnificent, though, and since we have interesting plans to make things better for everyone, everyone left reasonably content.

And when we came home, Maile and Moryi had taken the four temporary servers with them — and it soon became clear why. Three of the four were gifted, and one of the three will grow up into a grand master. He will have to go to Turenay, there’s no doubt about that!

And after that banquet, after an afternoon being bathed and clothed, a morning doing duties and an early morning fighting, we added a night of lessons, too. At long last, everyone went upstairs to find a place to sleep, and Moyri and I were alone.

I was so exhausted, I couldn’t make it to the outhouse on my own, all the food I had eaten was turning to sour cramps in my stomach, and came out, and teary enough that when I saw what I had done I insisted on cleaning up Moyri, until I — I guess — fell asleep, because the next morning, I was in bed, and we were clean, and I was still very, very tired.

The rest of the day, I stayed in bed, and just read and drank tea. I think Moyri likes it when she can pamper me a bit, too…