A letter from Parandé
Read aloud by Thulo, who wrote this letter in return. “Myravid” is Merain’s Iss-Peranian name.
From Parandé, to Anusheh
Hi Anusheh, love!
Love from your sister Parandé! Sweet Gods, I bet, I just bet that you’re more surprised at getting this letter from your old platoon-mate than I was writing it! Have you learned to read yet? And can you read our language, but in Valdyan letters… Anyway, I knew where you’d gone, and I know that that Narwhal is going to anchor in Dadan. Oh Gods, sweet Gods…
Remember — do you remember? When we were in the Palace? Together? Sold on the same day, by our parents. It was a famine, if I remember correctly, but it might have been something else… There was a glut of girls, and the King, he was too old to notice girls anyway, and besides, we were only six, anyway. Though later, it’s said he visited that poor Asa in her bedroom. Ew!
And then the Valdyans came, and the earthquake, and their king and everything went down the drains like vomit after a eunuch orgy. Oh Gods, sweet Gods, how happy I was to meet you, to find that you, too, had found a nice Valdyan to keep you, just like I had.
Anusheh, love — remember the march? Remember the promises that were made to us? And then we came to Kushesh, and the same thing happened to both of us. I bet because both of us had gotten men from Yildiz! Men from Tulenay are much better, everyone is agreed on that! We got sold… And I got bought by Dushtan, and you by a Valdyan pimp, what was he called — Yeran, I think. Yeran As Din Ryiydim. You were lucky…
Even though everyone in Kushesh knew that being snapped up by Dushtan was lucky! Oh, Gods… She’s been selling me ever since, prettier than kohl or rouge could make me, by her Dandar ways. Then Ktab came and bought you out, for four shells, and a few threats. Hah! He had learned from his girlfriends, hadn’t he? That as soon as he’d report your slavery to the guards, you’d be freed? Does he love them still? More importantly — Oh! I guess I don’t have to ask, I know he loves you, and he always seemed a man with a BIG heart. You’re so lucky, sister, so fortunate, but I don’t grudge you!
Because I’ve met a man, a man — a man I really love, too! And I don’t think he minds my past, or anything, but that he likes me for who I am and what I look like, even, when Dushtan is dead tired. He’s on the Narwhal, too!
He’s so sweet — I first saw him, he’s the apprentice of the Commander of the Sworn of Kushesh, a really scary woman, she’s called Syedih. They got themselves involved in some scare in Kushesh that ended with Myravid’s workshop being blown up. I saw my man first at Dushtan’s place, and he showed himself to be shy (isn’t that adorable? Compared to the average sailor?), and NOT A DRUNKARD at all — he didn’t want to drink the brandy!
He is Síthi, and he belongs to Khopai, I guess that means he’s a murderer or a thief, or a pimp — but I cannot believe any of that, actually! He’s just too honest for that, believe me!
Oh, I know, I fuck four, five, sometimes ten men a day. It’s only thanks to Dushtan that I haven’t died from a fucking sickness! And then… After that place burned down and all the confusion had died down, and I had my evening off, I was there… At the market square, you know — Fadhri’s place. The wine is fine, the food is fine, and Fadhri knows that I don’t want to be bothered with men on my evening off.
And HE came out of General Dishab’s palace! And he went straight to the place where I was sitting, and he was so absolutely completely utterly tongue-tied that it was so adorable! And I said, sure, come, and sit down, it’s my evening off, so…
And he said, do you like to dance?
And I have always loved dancing. As YOU know! So we danced… And he was so much not trying to get under my skirts, but trying to get to know me, and, you know, talking. I got all weird! And I told him a lot about me, and he told me a lot about him.
So… Despite it being my evening off, we ended up in his bed. Gods, sweet Gods! Mother! I must’ve fucked with a thousand men — but he made love. Yes, that’s what I‘m writing here — he made LOVE. (Weird word if you put it in big letters, but it was BIG.)
So, love, Anusheh, I’m in love. In the morning, I gave him one of my hairpins, as a gift, the first I’ve ever given, and then went off to take a bath. I needed it! I’d been sweating more than him, he wasn’t filthy or dirty — it was mutual. And then I thought, he’s going to leave, I’m going to pick some flowers, you know where, in the little vale on the hilltop, something that perishes, so he knows he has to come back for me before I’ve perished!
And I met him there, he had the same thought! Really! So we spent all day near the little brook, giving each other flowers and kisses.
He also gave me a poem, but it was one of the ones from Koll Arin, the fill-in-the-blanks ones, but I don’t care he cannot write poetry himself, he thought of it, and that’s what counts!
So, sister, sister — I’m in love, like you! If my Thulo ever comes back to Kushesh, I’ll bag him, wrap him up and keep him!