Too Many Teenagers
The Feast of Timoine starts at dawn, of course, when the children gather to go into the nearest wood, and celebrate Timoine as only they know how to do, and then they come back to town, singing songs. Today the children from the outlying villages also came back to Selday first, because they had heard about what was going to happen at Maile’s mother’s yard…
There Maile, Sabeh and me, and yes, even the Baroness, were waiting for the children with the sweets we’d spent days and days making. That’s not part of the Valdyan tradition, but if you cannot borrow fun stuff from newcomers, how boring would that be?
It was a grand party, and we talked to a lot of young children, who were all quite flustered at the Baronial presence, but the sweets were, rightly, more important!
After the Feast of Timoine, we started planning our journey for real. It was frightening how many people we would be taking! Moyri and me, of course.. And Maile, for sure, but not Moryn, he was full-time at the naval academy now.
But after that! Roushan, the pupil of Lady Samila of the Iss-Peranian brothel, came with us for semsin lessons, and to keep me and Moyri well-clothed, and well made-up. I had a little discussion with her later, when I had already forgotten that that was her job, after she’d done some ace spying for us, and wondered whether she wouldn’t want to take up being a guild runner for us… That got her thinking. In any case, she wanted to get out of the brothel as soon as possible, since she’s sixteen and Samila is expecting her to actually, well, start working instead of just prettying up the other girls.
Then there were the two Ishey boys, Yulao, who is fifteen and his older brother, Mazao, who is sixteen. They sort of chaperon Sabeh, who is my apprentice sweet-maker, and also apprentice in the Guild of Anshen, and Sabeh is fourteen years old.
To make sure there is no stint of teenagers, we also took Jeran, who is already seventeen and almost as old as me, and will help me when there’s doctoring to do, him being, of course, Doctor Valyn’s journeyman. And maybe we can get him to become a master doctor… The main reason we took him, of course, is that he’s Maile’s mostly-hands-off sweetheart. They walk, they talk, they make kissy noises but I very much doubt they’re going further than that. Which is fine, not everyone is like me.
A bit more official is Halla, who is Moyri’s official clerk, even though she’s just thirteen, and so another teenager!
At least Atash, the Cartographer Royal, he’s in his late twenties, about the same age as our beloved Baroness (and if I’d put down here how she has been loved last night, my book will catch fire. There was paint, oil and tickling involved.) He’s going to help draw a proper map of this benighted barony, there are none whatsoever. I wonder how all those Rhydins even know who owns which tracts of land!
And, of course, we needed an escort. With a group this size, we needed more than an escort: we needed an advance party, too, to warn the various White Houses on our route of the impending visitation. That took care of Sergeant Radan and Private Lyase, with the sergeant being seriously pissed off because he had counted on cooking for the whole horde, and now I was going to have his fun… Notwithstanding that it looks like we’ll very, very seldom will be more than one day’s travel from the next White House, so field kitchens are a bit optional.
Captain Ferin and privates Arvi and Mernath were coming with us, though, to protect us from marauding bandits, bears, wolves and from irate smugglers, invading Khas or Rhydin bent on civil war.
Just before we went, I had a duty night in the hospital, and early in the morning we had a new patient. A woman, and she had enormous wounds in her legs, wounds that had already started rotting, even though she’d only been bitten a day or two ago. I was horribly afraid of the mad fox illness, where you can’t drink any more, get fever, go mad and die, but that wasn’t it…
Finally I learned that she’d been bitten by a wolverine. Now our military escort started making lots of sense to me. I’d never seen a beast like that, but apparently they’re big, nasty, with sharp tooth and an unsunny disposition. And carrion eaters, but who liked to take a taste of something still living if they can get it.
Well, there was nothing for it. I had to use the knife; there’s no way you can heal putrid flesh without cutting it away cleanly. So that’s what we did, and if I say so myself, we did it well. We didn’t have to remove the leg, and I don’t think that will become necessary, because we also cleansed the blood running in her veins.
All this meant that I was pretty tired when we left Selday… I actually managed to sleep in the saddle. Our first stop was to be Lord Arin’s White House, where Fian and the daughter we freed lived, too.