Soon, it’s time to take leave…
Breakfast is good, apprehending miscreants is better.
Midsummer in Selday is pretty warm; we didn’t need clothes all night long, even though we were right out there on the top of the cliffs. All the breeze did was move warm air around, and we didn’t sleep at all — again. But I think we had most of the kinks in our being together worked out when dawn dawned, and we went down. Moyri proposed we’d get fresh buns at the baker before going home, also, putting on clothes. Turns out there’s a whole selection of Typical Selday Breakfast Baked Goods I had no idea about, raisin buns, cinnamon buns, marmalade-filled soft buns, lemon bread… That’s what comes from always eating a cooked breakfast! So we got a representative selection in our basket, and went home…
I knocked on the front door, and Aldan let us in. He grinned… Moyri grinned… And I grinned like a loon. But the offering of breakfast buns silenced everyone, and then it was time to make plans; having liberated the captive children, it was time to capture the miscreants. This was, obviously, a task for Moyri, she still being the Commander of the Order of the Sworn, and therefore the highest ranking person in town, and Halla, the commander of the Town Guard. And it was equally obvious that Aldan and me had to tag along in our best guard uniforms.
It was quite a force that went out to the White House. Moyri took along her journeymen, Jichan and Halla, and the full Town Guard had turned out, including Hadar, the weapons master. We drew quite a bit of attention, and a crowd started following us, until Moyri told them to stay behind. My woman — she can be so masterful!
Of course, Aldan and I, being lowly newcomers to the Town Guard, the newest recruits in fact, tagged along at the very end of the column. When we entered the courtyard, Azireh was in the act of cursing the housekeeper for having let the children escape… It was quite educational, entertaining and pleasing to see the bosses (Halla and Moyri) round up the suspects, bind them and have them sent to the lock-up in the harbour. There were some servants left, and Moyri felt they weren’t involved…
I hesitated a bit and then asked, “Love, dearest love, would it be a good idea if Aldan and me searched the house, instead of us leaving with you? And asking these people whether they know something?”
Moyri was a bit amused, I think, at least, she grinned, and said, “Well, heart of mine, search away! I think that all the servants left are innocent and safe enough, but it’s a good idea, and I’m happy you thought of it.”
This was accompanied by little sallies of semsin-kisses, not all aimed at my face.
Aldan and I were — in our spirit only — rubbing our hands at this chance to be as nosy as possible. I hooked my thumbs in my belt and pulled it down, which meant that the décolletage of my cuirass (and I will either kill or embrace the leather worker who thought about making a deep, round décolletage in something that’s meant to protect me) became deeper, and there was much interested gazing at my tits from the assembled servants.
I proceeded to call on them all, in my best bass voice, which amused Aldan no end, to tell me whether they knew of “any secret rooms, corridors, stairs, passages or similar, used for purposes, nefarious, by the evil-doers just apprehended, and how lucky you are my bunch of attentive menials, that you were not apprehended equally.”
Mostly they looked at each other, sheepishly, like trying to communicate “can you believe how deep that cleavage is?” But… There was one person, a young boy, who gleefully shouted, “I know! I know about the secret passed, the hidden room, the hidden stair, and the hidden iron door! Shall I show you?”
He was about twelve, thirteen, same as my Maile, and he seemed very, very smart. Aldan was immediately taken with him, and I kicked myself that Aldan, (big one, not small one) still hadn’t gone through his master’s trial. I could see them learning — from each other, I mean. If I had been six years younger, I might’ve done the ichan thing with him, only I’m already doing that with someone who is six years older than me. Meh, confusing.
So, I sent everyone else out to gather fruit in the orchards — to the tune of “it’s not the time for oranges, can we gather quinces instead? — a distinction without a difference, when it comes to go away, but not too far. I also took names, parent’s names, village of origin and thumb print from all of these people, in my Naigha’s book.
And after that, this Aldan took us down to the cellars, then through a secret door — that was locked, but Aldan opened it with one of my hairpins, and then we were in a room where there was an iron door. Opening that would have been a challenge, but small Aldan, bless his curls, had secretly watched Azireh open that door, and could repeat it. First, it missed, and when he explained how the various levers should be manipulated, and in which order, I just knew how this lock worked, so when he had opened the door, I took out the music-bar — that’s what I call it, it doesn’t make music — and tweaked it so it had another hole which completely change the combination. Figuring out how this safe — made by Ajay — worked and being able to change it, well, I felt like Moyri had been making me come for half an hour solid, it was such a triumph!
Inside the safe, we found paperwork and money. Lots of both. Knowing myself and Aldan, I asked Aldan to count the money, supervised by small Aldan, for accuracy, and I skimmed the paperwork.
Great flipping Gods.
Koll Konandé, the viceroy of Selday.
In the slave trade.
Of Valdie Sagga children.
Black on white, sealed and all.
Here was the proof.
The King is going to blow his top when he learns that one of his liegemen has been so… Flagrant? Untrustworty? Deceitful? Traitorous?
This is the sort of thing our King will assemble his armies for and march and fight and make great big earthquakes and floods and eruptions. Oh Gods, dear, dearly beloved Anshen — I’m going to have to tell him, don’t I? Well, I won’t shirk my duty…
I put the relevant papers in my cuirass and asked Aldan to seal it with semsin so there could be no doubt, whatsoever, and no chance of losing the paperwork.
The money, by the bye, was worth a detour. But I changed the lock, we put everything inside, and locked the safe, and then sealed it. And went on a tour of the rest of the house. It was kinda fun, it was ant-combed with tunnels and passages and hidden doors, but finally we came into a room where, according to 12-year-old Aldan, there was a hassock with money hidden in it.
Big Aldan could not lift the bag of money inside the hassock, it was too heavy.
I thought immediately, well, that’s enough money to make Ajay give everyone in Valdis access to really clean water. Which, I have been told, is true, but a weird reaction to seeing so much gold and silver. Still, a good idea, no? It was also a real temptation — I mean, seeing in one place so much gold and silver the two of couldn’t lift it, well that’s a temptation, right?
Only, I am more of a tempress than a temptee, and we sealed up the bag and the hassock, and left, and told the rest of the servants they were properly dismissed and should go back to their home villages. I did get two baskets of good quices our of it, too. Aldan, the small one, he stayed with us though. And when we walked back home, Aldan, the big one, was in my head muttering that Aldan, the small one, was so smart and astute and gifted and wakeful and everything else, that I should take him, that is the small Aldan, with us to Valdis, because he deserved better than vegetate here in Selday.
I didn’t mind (small) Aldan, and he is kind of cute, and very smart, and alert, but, honestly, if I were going to take an apprentice to Valdis, it would be Maile. And… Of course! Aldan (small) was pretty much perfect to be Aldan (big)’s first apprentice. We only would need to get Aldan (big) to take his master’s trial.
But first we gave our evidence to Halla and Moyri. It was all locked up between my tits. By Ayran (the big one).
As expected, Moyri blew her top. Halla, likewise. The people in the lock up got locked up double-plus secure, with extra semsin seals. We all joined together to look for Koll Konande in the neighbourhood, since nobody knew where he was, but find him, we did not.
That was, rather, the signal for everyone to retire to the bath house, and we also took everyone in our house, and got clean, and shaved (at least, everyone who needed to, got), and it was lovely, and warm, and clean, and scenty).
And then we had a celebratory dinner in Khapo’s inn, with a goat and two chickens, and soup and cheese and bread and even more guests, including Ram. I managed to sneak some private time with Ram and asked him about making me or Moyri pregnant, and he said, put me on the list. And so did Aldan the next morning… And now we’re waiting for a boat, any boat, doesn’t matter where it goes, if there’s a boat, it’s going to take me, Moyri, Maile (she had to ask her mother, but she’s coming) and the prisoners to Valdis, with some guards, two Town Guards, two Ishey, and Moyri’s two henchmen.
We’re coming back, though, and then Aldan and Aldan can go out and have their adventures in the wide, wide world.