It is a kind of jealousy all right, but Ailin doesn’t want what Tamsyn has– no component of envy.

Ferin thinks I’m jealous of Tamsyn. Nonsense! It’s not as if I want him to fuck me instead, far from that! He thinks it because I’ve started feeling so comfortable around him that I don’t mind if he touches me, brotherly-like, teaching me to wrestle and things like that. Only I was stupid enough to tell him. On the other hand it’s annoying to see the little limpet clinging to him all the time, I thought he was a nice guy but when she’s around he starts thinking only with his pecker. Oh wait… Well, perhaps I am jealous.


We went off north, and found not only Bakmet and her kid –I’d expected a toddler, but she turned out to be older than Fikmet, perhaps ten or eleven– but also four women who were hammering iron out of the mountain. And I almost cut another mage’s throat, but fortunately Makane did it so I didn’t have to. (Do they really die so easily? Aren’t they used to Valdyans and Síthi and some of their own people who take initiative for a change?) I talked to the girl, because they’d been “taking care of the men”, not only the mother but also the daughter, and gave her some of the salve for tender skin and said to tell me if she bleeds when she thinks she oughtn’t, and also if she doesn’t bleed when she thinks she ought (though she may be just too young for that). And she cried, a lot. I told her that I know, and she believed me.

Gods, I’ve learnt so much. Not only to kill people –I never had until that first mage, though not for lack of opportunity– but also a handier way to skin animals, cut meat from skin instead of skin from meat, Tamsyn did that with the cow-thing we caught. If it works with cows it must work with goats too. And to hunt, I helped catch that cow and almost caught a little leaping-goat too but Mar stumbled on a stone next to me and cursed so loud that they all startled and ran away. And then Fikmet took my hand and said “will you teach me to hunt? And to throw knives like you?” Well, I’m still learning to hunt myself, but I’ll gladly learn as I teach! That’s the way I taught the little girls from the next courtyard to cook, too. She needs a shorter and lighter knife than me, but they have all sorts of knives in the village so I’m sure we can find one.

The women from the mine came to me –I think Ferin sent them– and said that they’d figured out what they want: to talk to the king of the Khas and convince him that women are people too. “Where does your king live?” I asked, and the answer was “everywhere!” — which didn’t help much of course. But the king is with the army, there really is an army, they say it’s the last one because there used to be lots of kings and lots of armies but there’s only the one left now. The women say they can find the king, wherever he is.

I’m teaching them all knife-throwing, the four miner women and Fikmet too, and as soon as Ferin is fit enough to travel we’ll first go to the fort and get them all armour and weapons. (Well, no armour for Fikmet I expect, only a better knife than she’s got and perhaps a leather jacket. But Ferin wants to outfit the miner-women as a private little army.) And then we’ll go to see this king. I just hope I dare, I don’t really feel like walking into a whole army of Khas soldiers…