A letter from Ayneth, probably unexpected

This will arrive soon after Athal returns to Valdis.

Kept it in the “taking the fort” category because it’s a natural consequence of those events.

Alysei Ayneth astin Velain, in Aumen Síth, to Alysei Athal astin Velain, king of Valdyas, in Valdis.

Dear brother,

I’m confident that letters travel faster than kings so perhaps this will even reach you before you’re back in Valdis, and if not, in time to save you from doing something foolish. Though in Valdis you have Raisse to save you from doing foolish things; I may be worrying too much.

What you need to know is first of all this: Don’t worry about the succession for Aumen Síth, and especially don’t go bargaining with other kings about marriage for any children of yours before they’re grown, because I’m taking care of it myself. Raith assures me that it’s a boy, due sometime after the Feast of Timoine Dayati. (Though I think what they celebrate here at Midsummer is the Feast of Dayati; I must find out what they celebrate when we have the Feast of Timoine.)

Before you ask: Shishe Namak, of course, and it was even quite pleasant, the natural continuation of an evening of talking and drinking, becoming friends, all three of us. Yes, we did drink from your special jug, and so did he, for most of the evening anyway. I haven’t accepted his proposal of marriage: I thought it more fitting that he should take that up with you. I assume he sent his letter with the same ship, so if all goes well you should have it practically in your hands. He is actually serious about marrying three or four wives: me for the succession, Raith to keep me happy, one to look after his estate, and one that he’s in love with! I don’t think he’s met the third and fourth yet, because he told me he’ll let us approve them. I do hope he’ll give the other two some children, too. I have to get it into his head that I’m not jealous that way. (Or indeed at all, it seems, though I don’t know what I’d do if someone dared touch Raith.)

I understand that it won’t change much about the way we’re living if we marry Namak, because we’re living in the women’s quarters already and a governor’s wives are expected to have their own household. The only thing that Namak finds strange is, not that Raith and I are together, but that we don’t have a household each.

Oh, and you should say yes, of course. We’ve practically said yes already. And otherwise, the offspring would be only my heir, and by extension yours, and not an heir for the whole city.

Do you think you (or possibly Raisse) can find an adventurous midwife or two who want to move here and work with the midwives we already have? Not that I am worried, I trust Grandmother completely with any birthing of mine, but everybody seems to think that the Valdyan midwives are the hummingbird’s private parts and I don’t want to disabuse them of it because I know that we do have some very good ones. And if we pretend they’re there for me, people will probably want to listen to them, and learn from them, and most importantly teach them and share what they know.

Because after my madcap expedition, as Raith graciously calls it, it turns out that everybody listens to me. This would be a good thing if it didn’t mean that I have to be perfect all the time that I’m in sight, because people remember what I say even if I don’t. Is that what being a king is like, too? It never bothered me when you were off to Iss-Peran and I was your regent.

They do listen to Raith, too, but it’s very clear that as far as the people are concerned Raith is the great mysterious mage and I’m the person to talk to. It irks Raith sometimes because she’s uncomfortable on a pedestal, but I don’t mind much because if everybody wanted to talk to her as much as they apparently want to talk to me, either she wouldn’t last a week or I’d have an insane amount of work keeping everybody away from her. Keeping them away from myself is easier, because most people do as I say, and I’m getting rather good at sending people to who they really need.

Please hug Raisse for me, and cuddle your little red-haired scamps from their auntie, and if you see Faran tell him that I blow him a kiss so you can see him blush.

Raith sends her love, and so do I, your sister and half-a-viceroy