Sad Partings, and a fortune
The next morning, Aldan times two went down to the wharf to properly investigate the mystery ship. We knew Azireh had set his seal on the secret compartment, and therefore had invited us to be as nosy as we could be. I didn’t go, I only went down to the harbour to discuss the little matter of flagging down the first passing ship, no matter its destination to bring us and the prisoners to Essle with Ram’s dad.
Ram’s dad was away for a bit, so I had a nice, cosy chat with Ram’s mum about men, women and the various ways they fit together, and how things are different from shore to shore. When her husband came back we were just commiserating over the stubbornness of Aldan (big). Ram’s dad was a bit dubious, but when he heard about Koll Konandé he turned around and promised to do just the thing I’d asked him to.
That done, it was time for Moyri, Maile and me to start shopping for the trip. We’d need to bring our own food and water and bedding in case the ship came from the south and had already used up most of its stores. And something to give to the captain and first mate to make it okay that we traveled with them.
That segued into Moyri for the first time realizing that she literally owns nothing except for the painting she gave me… Down to her loincloths, everything she wears and uses, including her sword and her pocket knife, it’s all the Order of the Sworn’s. As soon as she’s foresworn, she will have to give everything back. Which meant, shopping! Whee! Only, we’d postpone the real shopping for Essle, on account of more choice, better quality and more value for money. I took 50 riders out of the temple, for the three of us, which should be heaps.
Moyri did take me to Caille, the painter, though, and had her own portrait painted. Like me, she also came, three times, while Caille was painting her cunt… But Moyri had been warned, by me. Caille was a bit indignant — did she think she’d skimp her work and not use semsin? Of course not! But that her gaze and her mastery of her brush would have that effect on women, she had never realized. Of course, she also had never made panels like this, before, most women having more shame than I have. We’re going to get the two panels bound up in leather, like leaves, with silk to protect the inner paintings, but since it’s still wet, it’s likely we’ll have to leave it home, in Selday. Since Selday is our home. I want to come back, I love it here, it’s warm, it’s friendly, it’s full of friends. Moyri loves it; it’s warm, it’s dry, it’s not crowded, she can do a useful job…
(Aldan has hinted that he will leave Selday after we return, and in that case, I probably will have to set him up, or more properly, buy him out. Though on the other hand, the money was given us by Lady Rava to set up a post in Selday, and if he sneaks out of that, he would forfeit his part. And he and Aldan (small) aren’t even going to try to keep the shop open, so they won’t earn anything but what Aldan (big) makes in the Carrack… Hm, this promises to become complicated pretty soon. I hope the King will give us a reward out of the spoils. Which reminds me, this afternoon, we’ll have to go and get the spoils and bring them to the Temple of Micalacuk.)
Then I remembered the worries I had had… That the King would make Moyri Baron of Selday. Selday needs a baron… Moyri has commanded the Order of the Sworn in a city with thousand times thousand people living in it. She’d be — the word is, eminently — suitable. And so very dutiful, too. If I look in my soul, I admit she would be the best candidate the King can interview personally, not being Duyen Valdie Sagga, smart, dutiful, a local hero, determined, young enough to have babies (and that’s also something Moyri and I have discussed — babies. We can both have babies!)
But, Baron, oh great and bountiful gods!
When we had bought more or less everything we’d need for the voyage, for me, Moyri, Maile, two Ishey and two town guards, two witnesses and three accused, the Aldans came back from their investigation. They had figured out that there were five bunks in the secret compartment: four small, one big, for a eunuch keeper. It’s an interesting fact that slave-smuggling has become so dangerous that you need to build ships with secret compartments from the ground up, instead of just picking up the merchandise in deserted cove, and landing it there.
Anyway… Aldan breaking through all the layers of concealment, closedness and warnings had made him Master! I hugged and kissed him enthusiastically, which made him blush adorably…
Aldan and Maile started a very teen discussion on masters who kissed too much, so I unclenched Aldan and took Maile to my bedroom for a very frank and open talk on, in the first place, the likelihood she would be wanting to kiss people pretty soon (if she hadn’t already started feeling the urge), which made her blush, on the wisdom of not doing that in Essle, except on Maile’s island (long digression into who this namesake of my apprentice is), and the wisdom of always ending a fleeting flirtation with a souvenir gift. Also, to tell me when she started offering to the Mother.
We then packed up my stores of perishables and brought them next-door. Alaise, the apothecary, can probably make use of all of it, the only difference between medicine and sweets is the dose, the ingredients are pretty similar. That is, the pharmacopeia has more things in it than my recipe book, but everything in my recipe book is in the pharmacopeia. Sweets are medicine!
Then the Town Guard, including its two most junior members, Aldan (big) and me, went out, together with half a dozen Ishey boys and men (probably just for the adventure) and went to collect the loot and bring it to the Temple of Micalacuk. It was a great procession!
In the Temple, I called for Arin, my favourite priest of Micalacuk. He’s really cute, and I wondered, loudly, why I had never tried to make love to him before Moyri came to Selday. He had a very good answer, though, which was, because he was married and had three children. But Moyri and I did get an invitation to dinner out of him, for when we were back.
There were at least 100 kilos of gold and silver in the hoard. That means 2 and half times Khushi, Moyri was quick! Pretty soon, everyone was using that as their unit, and there turned out to be one Khushi of gold, and a Khushi and a half of silver, the gold mostly in big Iss-Peranian wagonwheels.
When we went into the mountain — there was a long corridor from the temple to a room inside the chalk cliffs — Arin grinned and told me, “think you can get that door open?”. I grinned back. He offered me his set of lockpicks. I refused… And send him back to the temple on a flimsy pretext. Taking my hairpin out of my bun, I bent it slightly, and had two of the three locks open before he came back. Locks are easy! The semsin seal on the door had been harder to crack, but I was in. Arin and I spent some time throwing money at each other, or coins, because down here in this vault, it was inconceivable that these little disks of metal were worth anything, there was just too much of it.
In the evening, it was almost too warm too sleep. Maile and Aldan (small) slept outside in the garden, where we had also had our dinner. The two Sworn journeypeople slept on the veranda, which left Moryi and me no choice but to sleep inside. I put a basin of cold water near our bed to cool off the room a bit, and we had quite a bit of fun splashing cold water on each other, but ended up soaked in sweat at at the end of it, of course. Moyri decided to start drinking the no-babies tea as well, because of the convenience during a long travel, not because she was afraid I would be making her pregnant, of course.
That led to the discovery that we actually hadn’t done a lot of semsin together… Other than a bit of kissing and praying, and I proposed with join forces to look for nearby ships that could take us to Essle. Maybe strange, maybe not strange at all, but her anie feels so familiar to me, as familiar as her body.
We did find a ship, coming from the west, so on its way to Essle, and managed to contact the first mate with semsin. He said they had not intended to stop in Selday, but would for us, and when I told him about the number of people he’d have to take in he was a bit shocked and warned that it would be very packed. But he had enough irons to clap the miscreants in, and a cabin with a door, normally for important people, where we could put the witnesses in. Well, witnesses, they knew it was wrong what was going on, so I would say, accomplices.
Next morning, first light, we would have to get on board… So we, once again, wouldn’t sleep, or not much! I went upstairs, into Aldan’s room to give him the news, and we had a bit of a cuddle and a bit of making plans, and a bit of goodbye, and some more misunderstandings and a few unspoken regrets — and I told him not to come and wave us out in the harbour, but to keep sleeping.
Moyri had a similar, I imagine, conversation with her journeypeople.
In the morning, I put on my sailor’s clothing, to Moyri’s delight, who had never seen me in trousers before, and woke up Maile (and Aldan (small)), who did come with us to the harbour. I really like that boy, he is always cheerful, always curious, always handy and always diligent, and I’m wondering what’ll become of him, now that he is really Aldan (big)’s apprentice. It won’t make him lazy, that’s for sure!
In the harbour, a small pinace was waiting for us, and we first shipped out Moryi and the prisoners and Maile, and then me and the “witnesses” and then the extra stores. Maile, Moyri and I got a small spot on the poop-deck to put down our stuff and make ourselves comfortable, and then the anchor was hoisted, and we were on our way. Maile went off to see whether she could help someone, somewhere, anyone with anything, because she is also not lazy, and I started doing my duty.
Which meant holding Moyri close to me, lending her my stability, not minding that she was puking all over my all the time, and making sure she drank at least some water, sometimes. I don’t think I’ll be eating any of those stores we bought… But I will make sure Moyri has a better crossing than she had coming out to Selday.