This journey promises to be so much more important than even the journey during which I married my wife. We’re so many people, we’re so much more important to the people we visit… I had hardly realized how important until we arrived at lord Rovin’s White House. That’s where Fian lives, and his daughter Aini, the one we rescued from slavery.
Well, obviously, Lord Rovin was very happy to see us, and so was everyone else. We arrived early enough that Moyri and Halla could spend the afternoon with Lord Rovin and his steward, and I could walk around in the village. Of course, my first port of call was the Temple of Naigha. The priestess was pretty old, and has daughter nor granddaughter, so I put this village in my book as one that needs an apprentice.
Later that evening, after dinner, we had a long talk with Lord Rovin. He was going all “it’s so good we haven’t got any of the Nameless here, of course you’re used to them”, so I told him that piety doesn’t consist of wishing your opponents away, but of being aware of the Other, and that all the time.
It’s like they think the Nameless is kind of a theory, a construct of the mind over here? And that’s this close to thinking the Nameless and Anshen are one, with two faces, or even one, point, dot, full stop. The real difference is a bit clearer, there’s a lot more contrast, in Turenay.
Like I told Lord Rovin, when he told me, “You do allow the Nameless and his servants in Turenay. I’m not sure I would approve of that!”, “Yes, sure. Of course. If you want to learn to fight with a sword you have to have an opponent. All you people here in Idanyas do is waving your swords through thin air!”
Well, after that the conversation became a bit sharp, but we got friendly enough already, and, yes, this is also one of the places where there are so many young people that there are not enough masters to train them all. Whether for a craft, or for the Guild, that doesn’t matter. But Something Has To Be Done, that’s clear enough!
We also learned that there was a fishing village and a chalk pit village nearby. Moyri and I had a lovely bedroom together, with a lovely bed, so we once again indulged in our weirdness… We talked shop while making love. Would there be smuggling in that village? Would there be adequate precautions against dust lung in that other village, what had Moyri and Halla learned from the books, what had I learned during my stroll through the village.
In the end, we decided we are thoroughly strange, and fucked each other silly, and then we slept, after talking shop in a sleepy way for a bit, again.
Our first stop, that morning (after making love, washing, pissing, breakfast, taking leave and all that sort of thing, of course, duh) was the fishing village. Village! It’s almost a young town. There must be at least five hundred people living there, they have a dozen boats, salt flats… The works. We left our escort up on the cliff and descended the foot path, me, Moyri and half of our our teenagers. Atash was doing things with instruments, so he was best left to himself.
(He’s a eunuch, and one of the completely everything cut away kind. He’s not only got no balls, he’s got no bird any-more either, and he told me to keep an eye on him, because sometimes things get infected, and then he needs an absolutely unshockable doctor. To test me, he let me insert and hold the silver tube he pisses through. I was kind of floored by the trust he gave me! But then, he told me Raisse had told him about me. Now I’m not sure what to think.)
Like I said, this isn’t a small village… We first visited the Priestess of Naigha, who is a hundred years old if she’s a day! Moyri stayed with her to talk about the village, and who bosses who and so on, while I went for a walk with the official village head, who, I guess, is one of the priestess’s grandsons. And the mob went to hobnob with their counterparts, in this village.
We talked about the advisability of having a Temple of Mizran here, to regularize trade, and he demurred, saying that trade was so very limited to just having south-bound ships buy barrels of salted fish, and I told him that better ships, better catches would lead to more prosperity, and did any of the passing ships ever unload cargo for the Idanyas trade here? And he told me about the salt flats, and the chalk pit up on the cliff, and I asked him about guild stuff, and did he know any places along the Idanyas coast where things were unshipped only to be traded down to Essle?
Well, you get the idea. Verbal sparring on both sides, do-not-worry-my-good-girl on his side and doe-eyed-are-you-sure-sir on my side.
It was only when we were climbing the cliff that it turned out that Roushan, being Iss-Peranian and therefore naturally grafty, had been offered lots of wonderful things from the South for a very, very fair price… That’s when I told her about being our spy, like I wrote earlier.
Anyway, so, yeah, Lord Rovin, Moyri, me and our intuition had all been right. Time for a Temple of Mizran to keep an eye on trade! And I added another potential town to our list of places-to-grow-and-make-Idanyas-prosperous list.
After consuming the wildlife the Ishey and Maile had caught, we went on…
Our next stop was the chalk pit. And when we approached it, I felt like a lead weight was sinking in the pit of my stomach. At least three dozen people were sawing off big blocks of chalk without wearing any neckerchiefs over their mouths and noses. The dust made all of us cough as we went up the way to the village. Damn… We’d never make our next stop, Lady Jerna’s White House, this evening. Doctor Cora would stay here for a week, but if we’d stay a week, our advance party would have everyone prepare their welcome weeks in advance!
Just that thought alone made me panic quite a bit, but fortunately, the innkeeper himself had dusty lung, so I could assume my doctor personality, and start bossing people around. Bossing people around always helps when panic comes, I don’t know why.
Within half an hour, we had the forewoman of the pit, all the workers, young and old, all the pensioned-off workers and the rest of the village — why not give them the once-over for communicable disease and other ailments — in a queue in front of the inn.
Jeran and me, with the help of all our gifted teenagers, who begged, cajoled and tricked Anshen into giving them power to give us, Jeran and I took care of everyone.
That’s forty-four people whose lungs we cleaned, healed and patched up. In one afternoon, one night and one morning. Twenty more people whom we checked for illnesses, and were necessary, prescribed for, or even healed. A bunch of kids we checked for malnutrition or parasites. All of us were completely done in.
Note: helping people with dusty lung isn’t easy, but it’s mostly the amount of work. Make the lungs produce wetness. Make the wetness viscous enough to contain the dust. Make the patient spit it out without choking. Heal the abrasions, soften the scar tissues, lessen the lesions… The hardest thing is convincing them to wear a well-wetted cloth over their nose and mouth!
Jeran took the left lung, I took the right lung, and together we took every villager, in an afternoon, an evening, a night and a morning.
I don’t think Doctor Cora would’ve done this. She might be able to, but she would be too wise.
This was madness, it was outrageous.
The tales of the wonder-working doctor Jeran and sheriff Khushi will spread through Idanyas like pancake batter on a cleanly-scrubbed kitchen floor.
Moyri borrowed a cart from the village, and all of us, teenagers, sheriffs and doctors were heaped into the carts, and the cavalcade wended its way to Lady Jerna’s White House.
I don’t remember too much of the travel, though…