We’ve seen the elephant!

What is it with good food that it makes me so playful? Even though I was rather brooding over Moryn’s idea of staying in Valdis, by the time we had reached the Palace after our dinner at the Three Kings, I wasn’t worrying about it any more, but rather looking forward to asking for a jar of honey and a pitcher of white Lenyas wine, towels and some clean bed linen, because I had plans with that jar of honey. Also, water to wash ourselves with before making the bed again.

Moyri with honey is, I think, my favourite desert!

The next day, I first gave our apprentices their lessons in the Palace Library; library lessons, to be exact, that is, learning how to work with a library, how to find books, how books are ordered and how to handle books — that is the first beginning of scholarship. They were fascinated, but it was dusty work, and after a morning like that, I felt we all needed an afternoon with more physical activity. (Though books can be heavy, too!)

So, having ascertained that Moyri was already training at a nearby fencing school, I took us there, for their first lessons in fencing. There’s no teenager who doesn’t dream of swinging a sword (except for Aldan, of course), and pretty soon they were having fun with one of the teachers.

And I was having fun as well, and that’s when I decided not to stop with just one or two bouts, but also make this something of a test for us all: a test of endurance. Moyri agreed when I proposed to just continue until it was time to go and take a bath for dinner, and we kept fighting, fencing, wrestling until we were ready to drop, with only the briefest of rests.

Some of the others in the fencing school fancied the idea, too, so we had a very instructive afternoon during which Moryn and Maile learned that a) swords are heavy b) when your opponent doesn’t stop, you cannot stop either and c) that they were capable of much, much more exertion than they’d ever dreamed. I have to admit, the same held for me… I did win a couple of bouts, too!

I took everyone who hard participated to the Sithi baths — because soon we’d be gone, and I don’t think we’ll be visiting a Sithi bath house ever again. Certainly not in Turenay — and we were very, very sweaty. I revelled in the touch of Moryi’s dripping hair against my head, and to put my hand between her soaked shirt and skin, well I felt that in the depths of my belly. But soon enough we were clean, had been massaged properly, then had clean clothes brought, so we could go back to the Palace. (I almost wrote home…)

This was the first evening we ate in the Great Banquet Hall, at the bottom of the tables, of course, among the pages and maids, but that was fine. I pleased my neighbour, the young girl who had brought us fresh washing water in the morning, by heating up her pottage for her. It was a nice, thick soup, with lots of vegetables and no discernable meat or fish. I did the same for Moryn, but Maile wanted to try her hand at it herself.

In any case, since food is plentiful, but always cold by the time it reaches the end of the table, she had warm soup for the first time in ages!

In the meantime, Moyri had seen her — no, no longer hers, Rusla’s — sergeant, which meant the prisoners were going to arrive the next day. Which meant that we probably had to get some finer, second-hand, clothing in the morning, as well as other stuff we’d need for the journey to Turenay.

This evening, we were too tired for playfulness, and the moment we had dropped our shirts and skirts and stepped out of our clogs, we were down, out and asleep. And we were up early in the morning, as were our apprentices.

So we went out into town, to see the Temple of Mizran, the Royal Academy. We saw a building site where an elephant was lifting beams with his nose, and we stopped to make drawings of it in our Naigha books. I still call them Naigha books, because that’s where we got the idea from. That reminded Maile that she’d seen boxes with colour cakes meant to paint with in the market, and we got those, too.

And then it was time to go back to the Palace, to await the arrival of the prisoners, witnesses and motley guard.

Oh, and the King hasn’t made a decision about a Baron for Selday yet…