Lyse writes to her great-aunt
She has made strange and scary friends…
Dear Auntie Senthi,
I’m writing this letter because we’ve had another adventure! Captain Khushal is bringing it, as soon as they’ve repaired their ship, which got damaged in the big storm. I hope the storm didn’t do too much damage in Sarabal! It was a really big storm.
Now, I need to think about what happened, really. So, we’d left with captain Luli, on our way to Cuytim, Istila and Baraz, with all the children. The first couple of days were great! At least for me, Fekemme isn’t too fond of sailing, but with the wind coming from the south-west, we made really good time! And there were dolphins and purposes and other big fish, and we never lost sight of the coast, either, where there were all kinds of villages. Captain Luli explained that if this had been a normal voyage, she’d be stopping everywhere
I wouldn’t have minded that, but with the children on board, there wasn’t time, not really. So, we went on until there were no villages no more, and that meant we were in Velihas, she said, and Fekemme said so, too.
We kept doing our exercises, though, no matter that there were no gifted people to touch and chat with along the coast anymore. And one evening, one of the children, just as the wind was turning to the south-south-east, he thought he saw something strange, something really big and dark approaching, and they got frightened, so I said, it’s probably nothing, maybe just a thunderstorm, I’ll go and take a look!
And it was a thunderstorm, no, a THUNDERSTORM!!! It was huge and really big, too. As if it had come all the way from Iss-Peran, and the captain, she said, yes, it probably came from there! And she also said, that the storm was big enough to break our ship in pieces and make us drown!
So we had to make for the coast — and that was much harder than you’d think, because although we could sort of see the coast, there were sandbanks and gullies before the coast, and the wind was completely wrong, because it began to turn the moment it began to rain. And we had to reef sail and try to pole the boat to the coast, and we were spinning around like a top.
But with the storm was coming a lot of anea, and I thought, let me try and ask the sea beings, let me try to see whether there were any, and I looked and then I nearly fell overboard, because there was only one sea being, but it was HUGE. And the dolphins and purposes were all playing all through its water body! So I knew it wasn’t evil or of the nameless, although captain Luli, she was praying and all the Velihan sailors were mortally afraid.
And the dolphins showed us where we should go, but it was TOO FAR! We could never make it through to the coast, so I put out my spirit to the Sea Being, and asked him (don’t ask me why a he’s a him, everyone knew it was a him, though nobody could see any man-parts! besides, I’ll also tell more about him later on), so I asked him, can you lift us over the sand bars, and he was surprised and really slow.
So slow I first thought he hadn’t understood me, so I let him see how we’d been dancing with his cousins off the coast of Cuytim, and he nodded and made a rushing sound, as if he approved, and then, with a big heave and a ho we were over the sand bar, into the quiet, and could make our way to the coast.
Well, quiet! The sea was wild enough that it was still very dangerous for the ship, so we all went on shore, and made camp in a hollow in the dunes. It was night by now, so we made tents out of sailcloth, rubbed each other dry as best as we could and prepared food. The Velihan children told each other that this was a good as the coming-of-age-camp — and then Fekemme looked at me and with some surprise in his voice said that he’d expected me to have gone through my journeyman’s trial talking to the Sea Giant, but I thought, no, because it wasn’t hard, only a bit scary.
The next morning, that was scary, though! But I still am not a journeyman… That morning was when I had to make good on my promise. And as you have taught me, and my gran has taught me, a promise is a promise. So I was going to have to dance with the Sea Giant!
The storm had subsided, a bit, but it was still really blustery.
And he was waiting for me, just outside the sand bars, a huge mountain of sea, a wave that didn’t come closer or rolled over, a wave with a shape and a mind. Fekemme really didn’t want me to go, but I promised… So he came with me, with a bucket to give a rhythm to the dance.
And I went out to the breakers and bowed to him, and stepped out and waded to the sand bar, and when I had reached that, I started to bow again, but he took me in his arms, or his waves, I don’t know how to describe it. And he took me up, high, high in the air, higher than the mast of our ship! And… He’s a Sea Giant! A big, wet, wet, wet, salty Sea Giant! His water went everywhere, and that was really scary, and I didn’t like it at all!
But then our minds touched, and I’ve always been close to water, and he liked me, I think… Enough that he wanted to take me with him and show me the seas and the oceans, the deeps and crests of the waves!
I told him, really hard, that I was married to Fekemme and wouldn’t come with him, besides, I couldn’t breathe in the water! But he didn’t believe me, and the dolphins didn’t help, they were all like, why can’t you do like us, and plug your nose? So I had to try again, and showed him how Fekemme and me had been married by pouring water over our hands, and he was still surprised that an earth being like Fekemme could be mine, and I could be his, but with a big, big dollop of sadness, he set me down on the beach again, giving me to understand that I’d gained a friend anyhow.
And this still wasn’t my journeyman’s trial!
But at least I had gotten safely back. But when the Sea Giant was carrying me high up, above his — head? crest? — I don’t know? But well, then, I had seen we were actually in a kind of courtyard of calm? All around us the storm was raging, round and round and round! So I proposed to Fekemme that we’d go looking for ships in the storm, and tell them were they could find the coast, because that’s not easy, in a big storm like this.
Which meant that about a day later, we had another ship’s worth of sailors in our camp. It was quite fun, we made music, they had bacon and we had beans, and fresh water and fat wild fowl, so it was even more like a coming-of-age camp, only most of us were of age already, of course. And the first mate of the ship, Jeran, he was with Anshen, and he also said, why didn’t you contacting me when we were out to sea make you a journeyman, but it hadn’t! Not that I mind, but it was getting a bit silly!
And then I forgot to give this letter to captain Khushal, so I’ll have to send it from Istila or Cuytim! That’s also why it’s going to be even longer!
The other ship, it needed serious repairing, but our ship, it was fine. I was a bit wary of going back on sea again, but you cannot walk from where we’d landed to Baraz and not die from thirst or hunger, so there was nothing for it, and in the end, we arrived at Tal-Havin.
From there, it was close by to Ledu’s and Sesut’s villages — two different villages, that is, so we went on an expedition! All of us, me, Fekemme and all the children, we all went out and climbed the mountain. On the other side, we first found Ledu’s mom, and oh… I was so happy to see them together again! And Shagrog, Ledu’s best friend, only she is from the Far East, she decided to stay there as well, and we had a celebration, of course!
The next village would be more difficult. Sesut had been kicked out of his parents’ farm by his greedy uncle, when he was only ten and his parents had died. His uncle had said that his parents had left a will that gave him, the uncle, I mean, everything, leaving nothing for their son, because the son was too young to inherit.
BUT Sesut had been told by his dad, just before he died, that he’d get the farm. But he couldn’t tell that to the village head because the village head, that was his uncle. And the Priestess of the Mother is the keeper of all wills and other documents, but she was so old she couldn’t even read any more. Not even in Velihan, which is easy as long as you can read with semsin, because everyone writes with semsin, with their own mind, you can always see who has written what, even if you cannot see what they had written.
But his uncle had said, your dad has dictated his will to me, as village head, and that’s why it’s my writing.
Dear auntie! I am sure you’re thinking what we were thinking! So we went to the village and into the farm by surprise, and then took Sesut’s uncle to the temple. He was all rude and denied that Fekemme was a prince of the clan of Sáthafai and the crown prince, so Fekemme had to show himself.
That was enough to produce the original will, from the Temple Chest, and that was enough to learn that uncle Kanzin had been stealing left and right! But he was a big man, and had big people who did what he told them to do, and so he became a big thief. He hadn’t sold Sesut, which is about the only thing he hadn’t done.
So we had to figure out what to do with him… Fekemme thought, he’d have to hang the man, or strike him dead! I didn’t want my husband to have to do that! It would have hurt him deep, deep down, I could already see the hurt coming. But then, I am going to be queen, and queens do law, like auntie Raisse does, so I said, no, I am going to do law, and I took my book and looked for things I’d written down.
And I didn’t really find something, but what I did find was Raisse telling me that laws do two things: they punish, and they repair. Both are needed! So I said, this uncle, he has abused the village’s trust, and he’s been stealing and getting rich and taking the fruit of other people’s work, so people should get back what they lost and he should lose what he gained.
So I ruled that he was going to lose all he had, except for a loincloth in summer and a shirt in winter, and would have to work, and in return for work, the village would feed him and wasn’t allowed to starve him, but that was all.
And Fekemme agreed, and he didn’t have to hang uncle Kanzin, and I wrote down my judgement, first in my own book, then on paper that went into the village chest.
And Sesut got back his farm, and Thampa is going to be apprenticed to the Priestess, because it’s not good that Priestesses grow old and don’t have apprentices so nobody can mind the temple chest.