The bossiest woman in the world
The next day, after going over a mountain crest, we arrived in Tal-Borin Parva; a village consisting mostly of a joiner’s workshop, a smithy and two or three other workshops. The smith is Rava, and she’s in the Guild of Anshen. The joiner, that’s Lochan, his wife is called Lara, he’s with the Nameless. From here, it’s about an hour to Tal-Borin Magna, that’s where the Temple of Naigha is, the old Tavalyn keep and the rest of the village.
Well, given that it used to be independent from Valdyas, “governed” by the Tavalyn Duyin family, maybe we should call it “capital town”?
In any case, we first stopped in Lesser Tal-Borin, where we were warmly welcomed by Rava, and much more coolly by Lochan.
We first announced that Tal-Borin from now on was part of Idanyas, that the laws of the Kingdom held without any additions, such as forbidding certain people entry to the barony, and that Moyri was the baroness and that the castle would become garrisoned by the Army.
We had a slap-up noon meal, presented by the villagers, and decided to stay here until the next day, so Rava, Moyri and Ferin would have a chance to talk about Tal-Borin’s inclusion in Idanyas, and so I could have a good talk with Lochan, Lara — and, yes, also Perain. Because, of course, I wanted all of them to work with me, not just to prepare Perain and Maile’s Journeyman’s trial, but also work out how we could make it possible for them, their children and others like them to live in Idanyas, in safety and peace.
Because I’m getting more and more convinced that having a barony where only Anshen is allowed is like having a village with only women. It might cut down on unwanted pregnancies, boy fights over girls and rape, but it’s awfully one-sided, boring and sterile.
They could agree with me on that, so we took it from there, and decided to make the Journeyman’s trial a big, formal affair like you only read about in books and hear of in stories these days. Lenay, Ildis — there’s too much of the Nameless there. Essle is just too mean. In Veray we’re too much real enemies. In Valdis and Turenay, the Guild of the Nameless is mostly invisible.
Let’s see whether we can restore the tradition.
Everyone from Lesser Tal-Borin joined us in the move to Greater Tal-Borin. There we repeated our performance: everyone was collected in the “town” square and we announced the annexation. Here, people were less immediately enthusiastic than in Lesser Tal-Borin, but in general, people were in favour of it; in favour of having the laws of the Kingdom and even the Army in the keep (though even here, most people describe it as having the Queen’s Law and the King’s Army).
And then… We lazed about for two weeks. Minimal instruction in the mornings, after making love and having a good breakfast, some special lessons for Perain and Maile, in the presence of masters Lochan and Rava, then noon meal, often out of a basket in a meadow in open place in the woods, followed by making love all afternoon. It’s only a month until the Feast of Mizran, but the weather was pleasant, the water in the springs cold and clean tasting, and we, and everyone had deserved a bit of a rest.
One day we discovered Erne spying on us in the afternoon… She told us she was curious how two women could make love, since her uncles were two men and her mom and dad all woman and man.
Besides, she was of the opinion that we were cute. So our cute-not-shameless campaign is still working!
At that point we put on our clothes and asked Rani to be Erne’s older sister and keep her from doing things that one shouldn’t do! Rani had no problem with it, she likes Erne, and if she’s always being tagged by a “younger sister”, then the boys (and occasional) girl from the village or our travelling school wouldn’t have so much chance to come on to her.
She’s fourteen, Rani, and really pretty, and inside, neither boy nor girl, or a bit of both, and completely and supremely uninterested in having someone kiss her.
And in the evenings… There would be dinner, sometimes game caught by our Ishey, but less often than you’d expect in these pristine forests, because the Ishey, the soldiers, people from the village and our band were busy fixing up the castle.
Because when Parande, Zendeghi, Veh, Tao and Mazao had liberated the slave children in its dungeons, the villages had burned the Tavalyns out of their home and chased them off.
A decent keep doesn’t burn very well, though, and it was mostly roofs and doors and floors that had to be replaced, but there was a fair bit of cool stonework to be done as well, so a great time was had by everyone!
I guess it counted as a break for all of them, as well, and I know how great it feels when you are making something!
So one afternoon, we returned early, and I made sweets for after the evening meal, with Maile helping me, and Moyri looking on, well satisfied, because we had chased everyone out of this kitchen, and I was only wearing an apron. Maile is used to that sort of thing, by now, and apart from that, we were most chaste.
Then it was time for the formal journeyman’s trial between Maile and Perain. We made a circle, we had seconds at the four points of the compass, a spectator stand… Originally, Moyri would be a spectator, but she took South. After all, she is experienced in Guild Fights, even though she hadn’t seen many, or any, formal ones either.
Perain was much older, of course, but less well trained, stronger, but less nimble than Maile. In any case, they were making a very sporting fight of it, both fighting fair, to the extent of their abilities and with lots of inventiveness.
And then I noticed Anshen and Archan watching from the sidelines. Since I didn’t have Moyri with me I crooked a finger at each of them and beckoned them to sit next to me, me in the middle.
They complied! I must be the bossiest woman in the world!
But when they sat next to me, I gave both a kiss on their cheeks. Anshen is used to that now, Archan was rather surprised! And I put my arms through theirs, and sat down with them to enjoy the duel!
And then it was over. Both had clearly made the step from Apprentice to Journeyman. Maile might have won on points, but Perain on style when he held up his hands and said, “we’ve now both become journeymen — this isn’t about winning, so let’s shake hands!”
At that, I pushed Anshen and Archan out of their seats and told them to “give them your blessing right now, you dummies!” I came out before I had started to think. I could have sunk through the ground.
After the banquet came the real reaction, when people started joking about me being even bossier than Temeh from Hokaji. It had felt good, when the three of us were there together, witnessing the duel, but now… I fled to our bedroom and the rest of the night Moyri had to spend comforting me, a quivering heap of jelly.
A few days later, we left. We passed the Bandit Village, where we spent time pulling down the house and barn; Ayrin protested, but I explained that this was to make sure the Ishey they sold their spoils to wouldn’t install another group of bandits here. I also gave a demonstration fight with Sergeant Radan, a nasty one, to show everyone that if we came up to the next group of bandits, things might turn out to be dangerous, and what dangerous means.
But in Hokaji, after a lovely, lovely, lovely bath, we had a long discussion with Temeh and Fasal, and they promised they would start hunting down the Ishey fence.
And then it was time to go East again. We’re on our way home!