They don’t know how lucky they are. And they don’t know how dangerous it is. It’s a fortunate circumstance that Timoine looks after children and fools.
And then Fikmet spoiled her nice Khas clothes! They were made out of leather and she says you have to piss on the hide and then pound it and scrape it and rub it in with mashed brains and then piss on it again, and it is all yuck! But it looks beautiful because it is embroidered with all kinds of thread and feathers and things, and those things tell the story of where she has been!
And then she put it in the tub at the Síthi baths before I remembered that you cannot wash leather, and it went all stiff like a plank! I could hit myself that I had not warned her, because of course, she didn’t know, Khas don’t have water so they never wash their clothes, Ferin has told me he could write on Tamsin’s belly with his finger and a bit of spit, she was so dirty!
But we had washed and were clean and we borrowed an old dress from the girl at the baths for Fikmet and then we went to the Ishey house.
The Ishey house is awesome! It is very big and made out like a square on a slope, with the stables to one side. And there is a waterfall under the house, and a pool in the middle of the square where you can wash, and the Ishey are going to make a mill out of the waterfall, they have the millwheel already, but not the stones. The stones come from Rizenay, and the King and Queen have given them to the Ishey and they should come soon!
And if you’re looking at the house there is a an open place in front where everyone sits, you get there by long wooden stairs. And on the left is a big hall with stone hearthplace, that is the kitchen and long room, with room for all the Ishey, and then the mill room, and then there are rooms for the married couples, but the couples are very strange: there are Tao and Mazao, and they are two men, and then Veh and Asa, and they are two women, but Veh says he is a man, but his body is a woman’s body, and then Venla and Amre, and they are two women, the only Ishey woman who wants a man is Sabeh, and there seems to be no Ishey man who wants a woman! And Sabeh makes eyes at every man in Turenay who isn’t married yet, and she is going to have a baby. But they are all very nice and they don’t mind what you do or how old you are, just that you do your share. I almost wanted to stay with them…
And over the stables, there are two lofts, one in front, one in the back, separated, and one is for Ishey boys, and the other for Ishey girls, and you cannot go from one side to the other without going down and crossing the stable floor and passing the dogs, and the dogs are huge, so I didn’t mind sleeping at the girls’ side, even though the boys were on the other side and we could hear them whisper, that night.
When we arrived, Asa was sitting on the open place in front of the house with lots of children. They were all cute, but four were especially cute! Two of them were about a year old, the other two just a month or two. A boy and a girl, and another boy and a girl, with really flat noses and weird black hair, almost as straight as mine or Fikmet’s but it felt like strands of hemp rope.
Asa told me she and Veh went up to Rizenay and beyond to a frozen city where nobody lives but where people come every Midsummer to bring a baby boy and a baby girl to offer to the Mother! They leave them to die! And they discovered that and go there every year to fetch the babies and make sure they don’t die, and it is very dangerous because that place, that temple is very evil and makes you go to sleep if you are not very strong!
And there was a lot of food and then after dinner Venla and Amre came from the hospital, they were very tired and went into the pool to bathe, they had worked all day. And when they heard we were going to travel to Valdis, they said, they would give us a bag of doctor’s stuff for travelling, bandages and medicine and so on.
And Mizna was here too, she is the cousin of Lathad, and she’s the sister of one of the boys at Lady Hayan’s estate, the boys from Velihas, and she wanted to go home. That means Velihas, and Fikmet said, why shouldn’t we go there all three of us, so we said we’d come with her. And we were double happy with the bag of medicines for travelling Amre and Venla had given us!
And we had a lot of things to do, like write to Rovin in Veray to say where we were going so I went to the school, with Mizna who wanted to talk to Lathad, and I went to the principal’s office to ask for pen, ink and paper, because this is a school, they have pens and paper at schools, don’t say they haven’t.
And the principal, she is Lady Rava astin Brun, she looked at me like she was asking me, what else? But there was nothing else, just pen, ink and paper, and she asked what else, but what else? I just wanted to write a letter, she has no reason to look weird at me, it’s a school isn’t it? And I was right and she was stupid, because there was pen, ink and paper and I could write my letter.
And we played in the Ishey pool, and helped with the animals in their stable and helped clean out their cellar and workplace and prayed to Anshen in the temple, but that is in the school and we did that before playing, it was the day of Anshen, and there were so many people, like thousands!
And then we went on our way, Mizna, Fikmet and me, and we had gotten our clogs, and our sticks and everything, and we walked first towards the forest to the north-east, because that was the way Mizna and her stupid little brother and his stupid friends had come, they are stupid because they were all making eyes at me and at every girl they saw, they were stupid, even if they had really nice red hair, they were stupid!
The forest, it was awesome! We found tracks and rabbits and things, and we found a little stream with a pool, there were trout in it, and they were really easy to catch, and good to eat!
And then the next day, we had slept in the forest, like real wanderers, we came to a village, and the people in the village were real nice and we helped them with their work and they had a waterfall with a pool to wash in, and also a priestess of Naigha, she told us the way to the next village towards Velihas, and she gave us boots, they used to be her daughter’s, and they fit me and Fikmet, Mizna had boots already, and lovely bread.
And then it was real hard to get where we wanted to go, because the tracks went up and down and left and right, and when we were real dizzy, the track stopped! Because the mountain had fallen down, there was only half a mountain left, and we thought, where are we going to go now?
But I took Wolf, and took him down, down the broken mountain slope, and Fikmet and Mizna followed, and then we found the track again, but it was late, and we found big fat birds with silvery little tips to their feathers. Those were easy to catch!
And we took our catch and Wolf caught a rabbit and brought it to us, only a bit nibbled, and Mizna promised to make me a sling out of its skin so I could catch silvery-wing-tip fat birds, too. He is really learning how to be a hunter’s dog! Only he had ticks, and those are tricky to get out a dog’s shoulder blades’ skin!
And we made camp, and ate the birds, and they were lovely! Fat and juicy and nice! And we forgot to eat the mushrooms that old Jeran had given us, he is a charcoal burner we had met coming down from the broken mountain, and his pig, she is called Blacky, came to greet us and we had fish together, then we went on, but he gave us mushrooms.
And they were black and spicy, and we ate them next morning because we had no bread left and no birds and the fish in the pool were like _tiny_, just big enough to bite me when I wanted to wash.
But a big fat old bear had come to our camp in the night! It must have smelled the bones of the fat birds I had tied up in tree, and I woke up, saw eyes and then heard a GROWL and took a branch from the fire and waved it front of me, and it went away.
We followed it, and we saw, it was too big for a deer, and besides, it was too broad and its eyes weren’t far enough apart! It was a big old bear! And I found a hank of its pelt on a thornbush, and gave that to Fikmet, but she gave it back because it belongs to my story!
So it was early in the morning and we were awake, so we ate the mushrooms anyway and then went on, carefully! Because a bear, that’s dangerous! And we found the track and went on to the Cup, but first we passed a place that looked like it was the bear’s lair! Fortunately it wasn’t a boar, because boars are really dangerous.
And the Cup was really awesome, there is a river going in and it ends in a little lake and then doesn’t go on! And we came down the path past a lot, a whole lot, of berry-bushes, and we ate all kinds of berries until our faces, hands, necks and everything was red, blue and black! They were so sweet, and we had only had the mushrooms for breakfast.
And when we came to the lake, we thought, let’s wash and swim, so we’d be clean when we’d arrive at the little village at little further down, and we went in, and it was cold, brrrr! But unlike the stream where we’d camped, there weren’t fishes that tried to eat our toes, but there were carp and bream and trout and everything else, even pike.
And a boy… He came upon us when we were in the water, and he was carrying a net and a fishing spear, and when he saw us, he said, hey. And we said hey, and come into the water to swim, too? Because he looked really nice, so he said, sure, you’ve scared away all the fish anyway, I wanted to go and catch fish for breakfast.
So we swam, and he is called Lan, his father is from Velihas, his mother is Valdyan, and I tried to talk to him in Velihas, but the words were really old-fashioned, because Mizna has only taught us songs to walk to, yet, but those are very long songs. And talking in Velihas gives me kind of a headache, a strange one.
And then we caught some fishes, with the spear and we went to his father and mother’s place, and they were nice and we got porridge and bread! So we stayed the day, and did some chores, I cleaned out the dung heap and helped with fixing up some fences and things and then we went to swim again, and I crossed the lake, in the center, it is even colder and very deep, and then I came back.
Lan really is not stupid! He just went swimming and talked sensibly about the gods and so on, and the next morning, he brought us to the other side of the Cup, and we went out and on to Velihas!
Only when we had found a place to stay for the night, a nice hollow, near a stream, stupid Fikmet threw a javelin into a bee’s nest! And we fled, and then we were stung, all of us, only Mizna got really sick, so we tried to help her, and I got food for the night.