This explains why she didn’t arrive in Turenay until nearly the Feast of Mizran when she arrived in Essle in spring.
When the cart came it wasn’t only me and Dayati and Jerna travelling to Veray, but another veteran too, a man who had gone to war because the woman he loved had become a priestess of Naha instead of marrying him. Then when he came back to Veray she wasn’t a priestess any more –Jerna disapproved very much of that– and she was clinging to him horridly so he wanted to get away from her. When we were about to leave I saw her, a ragged-looking woman in a garish skirt and shirt who hung herself on the soldier’s neck like a necklace and screamed at him. Jerna rolled her eyes and looked the other way at first because she was so ashamed, but later she went to talk to the other woman and the other woman screamed at her, too, but Jerna kept cool, and eventually we could all get back on the cart and leave Lenay. The carter said to the soldier, “Women! Better stay unmarried, I say. I can only stand it because I’m on the road so much.”
This was a very pleasant journey though very slow, we had only one horse mule to pull the cart and she had to rest and eat, of course, and then I played with Dayati in the grass or Jerna taught me about herbs that grew here. She wanted to have a village of her own, she told me, where she’d be priestess and herb-woman and teacher for the little kids, and that was why she wanted to go and learn more about doctoring. Perhaps she’d ask the high priestess in the temple in Turenay to teach her for a bit because she was very good at things. I hadn’t realised until then that we were going to Turenay before we’d come to Veray. I could go to the soldiers’ headquarters there and tell them about their troop. “That’s Prince Aidan’s regiment,” the soldier said, and I’d seen that prince, the king’s younger brother, the strong-looking pale young man with hair like fire in Kushesh. “Turenay’s a good place to be,” he said, “perhaps I’ll stay there in the regiment or find honest work again.” I wondered how being a soldier wasn’t honest work, after all Erian and Captain Rhyn and most of the others had been honest enough! But he meant making something, as Erian had been a barrel-maker before he became a soldier.
We came to a village just before the Feast of Ansah, wo is called Anshen in Valdyas. It was a different kind of village from the ones back home, more like one big house with a few little houses around it. Here the carter’s wife lived, at least one of his wives, it turned out that he had wives everywhere who all thought he was away working all the time when he was really staying with one of the others! She was a very nice woman, though, and she let me help in the kitchen and look after little kids and weed the vegetable garden. Dayati ran around naked with the other little kids who were running around naked, and the pale little kids got almost as brown as she was so it would have been hard to tell them apart if the pale kids hadn’t had pale or fire-red hair. There were lots of nice berries and tree-fruits and vegetables that didn’t grow back home so I could learn about those, too. The nicest berries are called “raspberry”, when they’re really ripe you have to eat them straight from the bush, because they fall apart in your hands and you’re all covered in juice.
I think we stayed there for two moons after the feast, but I wasn’t bored one moment. Jerna did get a bit impatient because she wanted to go to Turenay or Veray, but the village priestess taught her things, and when the carter’s wife’s old uncle died they buried him together. I ought to have been impatient too but I was having such a good time! But finally we were on our way again and got to Turenay. It had a wall made of wood around it, which made it look a little like an army camp, but inside the houses were made of wood or stone and didn’t stand in neat rows like army tents, but more like in Lenay, as if the place they stood was where they wanted to be, not where they’d been put.