Jalao’s letter to his mother
This must have taken a lot of work to write! Especially as they haven’t had much time, opportunity or incentive to actually work on reading and writing.
Note that most Ishey say ‘l’ for ‘r’.
Valdis, ninth week of Naigha of the year 547
From Jalao who was named Tho as a boy
to his Mother Asuye, Chief of Vado Village of Ogayi Settlement
This letter I have written in my own hand in the Ilaini language and is translated into Ishey by Sabeh, clerk to the Mother of Soldiers Ezeh, Chief Builder to the court of Queen Raisse of Valdyas.
Honoured Mother, I write to tell you what happened after I left Vado Village for the Plains Temple of the Gods as you told me to.
As you can see, I have become a man, and have taken the name Jalao. I will also tell you how I came to be a man before I returned to Vado Village.
I am not returning to Vado Village yet, because my wife and I have been entrusted by the Queen of Valdyas with letters to give in the hands of the Queen of Velihas, which means we will travel East and then North to the court of this Queen.
I will also tell you how I became a married man, and that we are expecting our first child to be born this summer. My honoured wife is named Alyse, she is the daughter of Arni, Chief of Tal Nus Village in Lenyas Settlement. I have no other wife and no children with other women.
We will return to visit Vado Village when we return from Velihas, we will take the road along the coast to Idanyas and then along Mera Settlement to Ogayi Settlement. We do not know how long this will take.
Honoured Mother, when you told me to ask the Gods at the Plains Temple to make me a man, I kissed my friend Mazao goodbye and took my sling, my staff, my sebu blanket and went to the North, from the Trade Village. I did not stay in the Trade Village, but I went directly to the Temple.
The Plains Temple to the Gods is a maze where a boy has to find his way to the Gods, and after I had met the Keeper of the Temple and his daughter, I went in and found my way through empty rooms and empty alleys to the centre of the Temple, where Alekahan is sitting around the central fire.
I spoke to the faces of Alekahan and first the dark face, that talks, spoke to me. He showed me the world and told me he would make me mistress of all of it, a life where all would serve me an my desires, but I did not believe him and told him he could do no such thing, and I was not satisfied with his answer.
Then the light face that is silent beckoned me, and he showed me a life full of work for others, when few would thank me for the work, and I asked him why that was, but he did not answer me, but made me feel that I would indeed be satisfied by that life, but when I asked him why I would be, he did not answer me.
I went from the temple, and did not consider myself a man yet, so I did not want to go home to Vado Village. I took my leave of the Keeper and his daughter, and took my sling, my staff and my sebu blanket and went north, to look for the rest of the world, to find the answers that I had not been given.
I walked over the plains and with my sling I caught thetao groundhogs, there were many thetao and I ate of their flesh and drank of their blood and when my sling was tattered and useless, I made a new sling from thetao hide, but I gave the heart and the lungs and the liver and the kidneys and all that was inside the thetao to Mazao, and I walked north, I walked five weeks over the plains, to the North, and saw no women and no men.
Then I saw a young woman trying to catch a horse, it was black. I helped her catch the horse and caught a thetao and we ate the thetao together. She had become a woman when we caught the horse, it did not matter that I helped her catch it. But I did not feel a man for catching a horse, so we did not sleep together, since she was a woman, and not a boy.
But we found a camp of the Khas, and we joined fight and I killed Khas, eighteen, with my sling and my staff, I broke their skulls and they lay on the ground and took no breath no more, there was no soul in them anymore. The woman I had met also fought with me, and her Chief with his men and women, they fought with me.
But killing eighteen Khas did not bring me closer to Alekahan, not to the dark face and not to the light face, so I did not consider myself a man yet, though few men and women from Ogayi Settlement have killed so many Khas in a fight.
I cleaned and purified myself from their blood in a river, and I bowed to the woman I had helped catch her horse, and I took my sling, my staff and my sebu blanket and I walked to the east, since I knew that the country of Valdyas, where the iron comes from, was there, and the Ogulen Chief had told me the Valdyans speak to the Gods as well.
I walked for three weeks and found a village, it is called Tal Clun Village, it is in Ildis Settlement and borders on the Plains. No Ishey had been there before, and I told the people in the village of my travel, but I did not tell them of my search for an answer that would satisfy me from the Gods.
But in the night I knocked at the fire, three times, and spoke to the Light Face of Alekahan, who bears the name Alshen in Valdyas, and he spoke to me and told me to continue and to walk into Valdyas and learn what I could learn from anyone who wanted to teach me. I was satisfied with this teaching, but it was not an answer to my question, which is, why should I serve one of the Gods?
But I took my sling, my staff and my sebu blanket and I walked to the East, to Ildis Village, which is the chief village in Ildis Settlement. In Ildis Village I found a place to sleep with an old woman, she was in her fourth cycle, but she was still a woman, not a Grandmother, and she had no daughters, nor sons nor a husband. I was very sorry for her loneliness, and slept with her that night, but I slept with her as with a boy, and I did not feel it had made me a man yet.
The woman, her name is Aine, teaches many lessons to many young people, women and girls, men and boys, and everyone can listen and learn. I went to listen and learn but it was too difficult, so I left and went to a place where there are horses and donkeys that need to rest from travelling, and I asked to learn to care for horses and donkeys that need to rest from travelling, and I was allowed to learn.
I was also allowed to learn to fight with the staff in Valdyan way, which is better than our way, and the staff is longer and stronger, because it is not carved. But the Valdyan houses are all badly built and damp and dark, and not handsome or light. I learned to fight with the staff, and I also taught Valdyan boys and girls to catch fish with a spear and to fight with a sling, and they had not been taught that before.
I left Ildis Village because I had taken a stallion horse to a mare horse in heat, to cool the mare, and the mare was grateful, but the owner of the stallion horse was not, and asked the owner of the mare for money for the stallion’s seed but he did not get it. Then I slept in the house of Hinla, who taught me staff fighting, but I did not sleep with her, since she had a man of her own, she was not a girl but a woman. She was good to me and belongs to the light face of Alekahan, but she was not very clean, in Ildis there is no clean water to wash.
I visited the Gods in their Temples in Ildis Village, but the Dark Face, he is called Alchan in Valdyas, was very sure I would belong to him and did not even make any reason for me to do so, and the Light Face, Anshen, he was very clear that he wanted me to travel and learn more, and I took his advice, but did not dedicate me to him, so I did not become a man in Ildis Village.
So I took my sling, my staff and my sebu blanket and went East to to Valdis Village, where the Queen resides, it is the Chief Village of Valdyas Country, chief over all the settlements and villages, even the Mera Settlement in Idanyas, Valdyas is a very great country and powerful.
I was allowed by a merchant to travel with him, and in Fresh Fish Village I caught a thief who wanted to rob the merchant, he is called Alin. I was much honoured for catching the thief, but it did not make me a man yet, because the gods were not involved.
In Valdis Village I was pointed to the house of Anshen, where many soldiers live who fight for Anshen and for the Queen of Valdyas, and I was allowed to stay with them, though I could not become one of them, since I was not a man yet, and had not confirmed myself to the Gods.
The king of Valdis went to the war with his army when I was there, and there were more soldiers than I could count, many thousands and thousands, and the sky was yellow with dust as the king took the Queen’s army south and went to fight the Khas.
There was a woman, daughter of a noble woman, who was Alyse to whom I am married, but not then and there, and she went to the North, to visit Lizenay Village, which is a Chief Village, but there is no Settlement around it. I went with her, and we took two mules and a horse and many things I did not need on my own, but which are good to travel with, such as cloth to make a shelter and iron to make food in, and I took my sling, my staff and my sebu blanket and we walked North, to Lizenay Village.
First we arived in Valdie Liolis Village, where Alyse’s grandfather lived, who is very old. I taught the children of the village to catch fish and use a sling and to make a knife of stone and we went hunting and fishing, and there was a herd of goats and a very venerable Priestess of Naha, and there was a Temple for Anshen, and Anshen still told me to travel, and that I should travel with Alyse and learn.
So I tried to learn all I could, and Alyse taught me to make a blanket with my Anea and to see with my Anie and many other things and also to read and write the Ilaini letters, boys and men must also learn to read and write, the Queen insists on this.
And in the villages along the river we made music and I told the story of fighting and killing the eighteen Khas, and everyone wanted to listen.
And one day, when we had to stop and rest the mules and the horse and it was night, we slept with each other and Alyse thought I was a man, but I was not sure yet, even though I was sure I wanted to be with Alyse and be her man and she my wife. But Alyse had taken the herb that means that she would not conceive, and she did not conceive.
There were many people along the road and in the villages, and I learned many things, Ilaini and singing and playing the flutes and the drum and to care for the mules and the horse, and I helped a smith in his forge, where he works with iron.
And the smith allowed me to pray at the fire in his forge, he was dedicated to Anshen, and I prayed, and I understood that I had chosen for Anshen, not Alchan, this was in the village of Tal Clysin, and I went to Alyse and told her my man’s name, and the smith, his name was Layin, he gave my my knife of iron and I gave him one of my mules, and there was a girl, she is called Leva, and she became my sister through sharing our blood.
I was a man now, but Alyse had not decided that I would be her man; Valdyan women are different from Ishey women.
We travelled to Lizenay Village and when we arrived there it at the festival of Mazao, who is sacred in the fox, not the bear. Before we arrived, I had saved a herd of sheep from wolves, that is, large wild dogs, but I caught them and made skins out of them, and those skins were a wonder to the Valdyans.
And in Lizenay Village, it turned out that almost all of Lizenay is dedicated to Alchan, and only a few men and women are dedicated to Anshen, we stayed with them and we fought together with them when the servants of Alchan came on the festival night to disturb us, some were wounded, and I managed to beat their leader, who is called Lyan and who married the next day and invited us, he was very bossy and his wife allowed him to, he had not told her he was going to marry her before that day of the fight.
From Lizenay Village we took the road that nobody travels to Tulenay Village, it is in the Lyshas Settlement. There were some villages with people in them, in one village there were goats with long, drooping ears, those goats were very big and I was told that in season they give plentiful milk, I wish we had a herd of them.
We travelled with Master Aldin, who taught us semsin, that is to use our anea to work with anie, and Jeran who accompanied his wife, Lyse, she is a smith and travels from village to village to work when there is no smith who can work with iron in a village. She taught me to work with iron and I made a nail from iron. This nail I have kept, because I am the first Ishey to have worked iron, and this is the first iron worked by an Ishey.
We also encountered a group of boys from Velihas, they had travelled to Valdyas to camp in the wood, which is the way boys from Velihas become men, but they could not return, the mountain pass had collapsed.
It was winter now, and I taught them to build a long house with a fire place and place for the animals, they had many dogs. And we stayed there when the snow was bad and worked and built a bridge, and I also taught them that, to build a bridge, they could not build a house and could not build a bridge, but were very good hunters.
And we came to Tulenay Village, and found Alyse’s master, Laisse, and she married us after the festival of Naha because Alyse had decided that I would be her man, and that she wanted me to plant a child in her belly, and it will be born this summer.
Later we went to Tal Nus Village to meet Alyse’s honoured mother, who was very happy to see her daughter come home with her man, and we met Alyse’s father. Later, I became a hanie in the service of Anshen in Ildis Village, in a fight with a man from Alchan, but it was a fair fight, and we fought following the rules that exist in Valdyas for fighting.
And now we will visit Valdie Liolis before going East again, to Tulenay, Velay, Glalen, Tal Selth and then past the mountains to Velihas, where our child will be born.
please keep me in your thoughs and my wife also, and our daughter. When we return, we will travel to Vado Village and you will see that I have not been ill-married, but well, and I hope that the wife you had selected for me will not be angry, but will be satisfied with another man.