Aule really doesn’t know what she’s done wrong. Perhaps because she doesn’t know Lyse’s history. And why did nobody ever tell Lyse that more than one person in a family can be gifted? (And I spell the name of the town “Cuytim” but that’s just how the Valdyans hear it, of course.)
I don’t mind people making jokes… I make jokes a lot! I learned that from my brother, making jokes and being silly is fun!
But people shouldn’t tease other people about things that are really important! I don’t tease Fikmet about that she hasn’t got a mother, and I don’t tease Aule about that she’s got broken knees and has trouble walking around!
So they shouldn’t tease me because of that I really want to belong with Anshen while I’m not going to become a semte because I’m not gifted. Like, I know I’m not going to be gifted, right? Ferin is already gifted, so why should I be gifted too? I’m smart, I know that. That’s enough — I might be ugly, big, clumsy and I won’t be semte, but I’m smarter than people think. I’m not asking for more than that. It’s enough.
But they shouldn’t tease me.
It was like this, we had come to Pái’s home village with the other girls — wait, I haven’t said anything about that yet. Well, that will come later. So we were there, and when we arrived in the village, there was this Valdyan woman! She was Aule, she’s of the Order of the Sworn, and they have a new Order house in Quitim, or however you write that down, most of the time I speak Velihan I cannot imagine what kind of letters go with their words!
So, there was a feast because all the girls who had been on camp (I’ll explain that later) came home, with their parents waiting for them, and there was Aule, and she hugged us, because we had nobody to hug us, and she seemed nice. And that night we we slept in her house, under the loom, because she was teaching the Velihans how to weave, which they didn’t know yet so their Priestess, of the Mother, not Naigha, she was wearing beech bark clothes! And Aule has shorn their sheep and the Priestess is all against it.
But we had the feast, and we had washed in warm water, and there was plenty to eat, and we told stories, of the King of Valdyas and of the King of the Khas, of Veray and of the Ishey, and especially of the abandoned children of the North.
Pái and her boyfriend decided then and there to go and search whether there was a place like that in Velihas, next summer! And I said, you must do that, but don’t go just the two of you, take your friends, it’s very scary!
The next day was quite lazy, I fetched water and helped kill a sheep and did some more work. But Fikmet went to the Temple, to talk to the Priestess of the Mother about that she didn’t have a mother, and when she came back she had been crying, so I cuddled her like a sister. And then we got talking with Aule about the Gods, and that Fikmet was with Timoine, and I said I was with Anshen, even though I was not gifted, and they began to make fun of me! They were laughing about me, even Aule, who is old and should have known better and Fikmet who I just now had cuddled because she had been crying!
So I went away and played with Wolf and the village dogs and did some work and helped to kill that sheep, and I thought, shall I sleep in Aule’s house? But I did, all my stuff was still in there, but my Ishey blanket was dry again, so I wrapped myself in that. But I am still angry with Aule and Fikmet, they should have known that this is important to me. They are gifted!
And now we’re walking north with the rest of the girls, their parents and Fikmet and me. First to Mizna’s village, then to the temple of Timoine. But Fikmet, I’m still not, I don’t know what to write! She’s still not said sorry. But then, she’s only nine, so how can she know better? So we walked together anyway, even if she has been stupid.
And I had a long talk about the Gods with Mizna’s Father, and he said that Anshen and the Nameless were one in Velihas, but then we talked about their Rhanion who tried to conquer Valdyas, and my grand-dad has fought him, and he was really of the Nameless. And I know what the difference is: the difference is, if you’re with him, you never do anything without expecting something in return, that’s worth more than what you did or gave, and with Anshen, you give and do what’s needed, without wanting something back and putting people in debt.
And he said I was right, and so I am, don’t say I’m not, because I am!
And we didn’t bring Mizna home to make her into our debt or get something back, but because she went, and couldn’t have gone alone, and also because it was fun, but that wasn’t what we gave her or what she gave us back.
Oh — and about what went before. It was like this! We had a real adventure! So, we left Ruby Mine Village and went eastwards, and then we got caught in a rainstorm! And thunder and lightning!
It was such a muddle! We got to a cross-roads and didn’t know which way to go, but down there was a river, or at least, a stream, and I so wanted to wash! So we went down and washed and caught trout and ate trout and them smoked trout to have them ready for breakfast, but then it started to rain!
And we were so wet and miserable and then it was morning and we were still wet and miserable and had nowhere to go but back and find the right road, and it was still raining! So we walked along the path, it was overgrown and there were broken trees and we saw burned-down trees, as if they had been struck by lightning.
And then the rains got really scary, and we huddled on the path, there was a huge abyss, and we almost slid down, but Mizna, she started praying to ANSHEN, and the storm went to another place, we saw it go, and Mizna, she said, she had felt Anshen listen!!! And he shoved the thunderstorm aside, like that.
So we could walk on, but it was so miserable! Even my Ishey blanket was wet-through because I had tried to wash it, and we had nothing, nothing dry to wear! I was marching along in my, well, what I wear when I take a bath. And that’s when we heard noises…
And that was another bear! And its young! And they were eating something in the middle of the road, and Wolf, he was growling in that really scary way he has, when you just know, he’s scared to death himself! So we took a detour, and when we did that, we went over the mountain, and looking down at the path, the bears were eating offal. Who-ever puts offal on the road for bears to block it while eating, that’s what I wanted to know!
And then, some time later, we saw smoke. That was scary, too! It could be anyone! So we put on our wet clothes, and they chafed like nothing in the world!
But it turned out to be a girl’s camp from Velihas, girls become women not by marrying but by leaving their village at Midsummer and returning for the feast of Mizran, and in the meantime they have to take care of themselves and each other, and boys do it too, but boys have it easy, they go in Spring, from the feast of Timoine to Midsummer, they are wimps and stupid besides.
But the girls were really nice, and we got food, and dry clothes, and shelter, and stuff to do, and could wash and everything. Mizna even got her hair cut, so that this would count as her camp, and now she’s a woman! And Fikmet learned how to make Velihan clothes, and I learned how to skin a dead animal, but practical-like, instead of what I had figured out myself. And we had lots of fun, and told stories and made music and Pái makes really good houses.
And then we went away, because the camp time was over, and Pái’s village was the first. After that we’re going to Mizna’s village, then the Temple of Timoine, then the King of Velihas and then to Istila and Quitim.
And it was in Pái’s village that we met Aule.