A hasty letter to the king

Written after the two letters to Ayneth and sent with the same ship. It should reach King Athal before he leaves Valdyas, but with the stormy weather we’ve been having lately it’s not entirely clear how long it will take to get to him.

Jomhur, just after the feast of Timoine

Hallei Lenye Raith to Alysei Athal astin Velain, king of Valdyas. In haste.

Athal,

I’ve been writing to Ayneth a lot, and she ought to get all the news in two letters I’m sending with this one –you can read them as far as I’m concerned, nothing in there that’s not suitable for a king unless you mind a bit of sappiness– but I remembered just in time that there are things I want you to know before we go to battle together, so you won’t have to do all your preparation the moment you set foot on dry land.

Those Khas have real mages. I’ve seen some; I’ve fought one hand-to-hand, and one from a distance, and they’re not to be sneezed at. They can do lightning at the very least. I must admit that I didn’t give the second a chance to show what he could do, because we were quicker with the lightning that time. Once you take out a unit’s mage, they lose morale and will surrender the moment you assert your authority. It does help to be a man– they don’t think much of women, and they can tell the difference even in splint mail. I can do the precision hitting, you and Beguyan will have to do the being-surrendered-to.

There are so many Valdyan soldiers here that I suspect that you hardly have an army left, but you don’t have to worry: it will of course look good if you arrive with a substantial guard, but I think we have quite enough troops to take Solay even without another Valdyan battalion. It is true that the Valdyan troops are reckoned to be braver than the Iss-Peranians, probably because they’re all volunteers fighting for their king and the Iss-Peranians are conscripts, or at least driven by necessity.

Oh, and if you see Ayneth after you read this, please reassure her that I do not intend to bring my dandar apprentice back to Valdyas, however much she (my apprentice, not Ayneth) may want to. I admit that we have become a sort of friends, but certainly not lovers, and anyway nobody can take Ayneth’s place with me, not even for a short time while I’m far away from her. I think it might be best to try and find the woman a place in Solay once we’ve taken it, where she can be useful out of the way of her enemies.

I’m longing to see you, to fight side by side with you, and to get the whole thing over with. It’s exhilarating to work with such big stuff, but it puts me in a very awkward position –the great mage that everybody is a little afraid of– and I’m looking forward to being merely the baroness of Lenay again, solving trifling problems like “what shall we live on now that our house and vineyard have fallen down the hole where Erday used to be?”