Lydan’s letter to Raisse and Moyri
Lydan must have had a clerk to write it for him, because there’s no way that he could have been schooled to write in this style himself. But the sentiments, and the facts as he sees them, are all there.
To her majesty Ravei Raisse astin Brun and the noble lady Ysellei Moyri astin Rhydin, from Ernei Lydan
Your Majesty and my lady,
It pains me to have to write you that your servant Fian has been assassinated on the day of his arrival in Albetire. I will try to assemble my thoughts — they have been sadly confused by the loss of my friend, Fian — and tell you what I think you need or desire to know as orderly as possible. I remember that your majesty and my lady were interested in the fate of the dandar Naravati, too, so I will account for her as well in this letter.
Let me first account for the situation in Albetire when we arrived, then give account of the death of my our friend, follow up with the current situation, and then close with the particulars of our journey here, those are more private, but your majesty and my lady will want to know of them, I think.
When we arrived in Albetire, in the middle of the first month after Timoine, our number had been increased with an Iss-Peranian garrison and a ditto tribe we had found in a state of perpetual strife on the coast of Iss-Peran. The garrison had been forgotten, apparently, decades ago. Fian had brokered a peace between the two parties, and they had begged your servant to be allowed to serve him as troops and servants in Albetire.
Something very strange happened on board of our ship, the first night all were aboard: everyone was struck with a desire to make love, maybe even, everyone felt they were in love. This lasted until the ship nearly floundered for want of a helmsman. We suspect that Naravati finally admitting to herself her love for Fian caused everyone on the ship to feel what she felt, either that or there was some other mystery underlying the animosity between the garrison and the tribe. I am not a learned man and have not delved into this: Fian intended to, but never had the time.
In Albetire, we found ourselves attacked by Koll Konandé’s ships and harbour defences. Despite the guidance of several semti from the Valdyan quarter, we could not get to the harbour we control fast enough, and our ship sank, taking with it all the presents for the noble ladies Zahmati and Roushan, except for the chest of books, which I managed to save from the wreck, and our letters of introduction.
My admiration for Rhanion, captain of the Order in Albetire is enormous: he managed to save everyone who had sailed with us, using fast row boats, and his divers have recovered most of the cargo by now. We were brought to shore and apprised of the situation. There is still a stalemate, but the countryside around Albetire is now either neutral in the conflict, or on the hand of the Coalition. (We call it the coalition, Valdyans, Síthi, Iss-Peranian merchants and more and more of the shopkeepers, artisans, farmers, even some of the smaller local noblemen are joining: the only article of faith all share is a believe that the great King will visit Albetire again and make everyone come into their own — I might be translating this wrong, my Iss-Peranian is still horrible, but I think it means that they want Valdyan laws, as well.)
The King controls still a fair part of the city, does not lack for soldiers, and is provisioned from his estates on the eastern coast through the harbour he controls, mainly because he is still master of the islands in the bay, and so controls most traffic. He had publicly denounced Beguyan as a traitor to his crown some time before we arrived.
This is then the situation when we arrived.
We were welcomed with all due regards by Cynla astin Brun and Captain Rhanion of the Order of the Sworn, who thought we were merely bringers of reinforcements and news from the north. The noble ladies Zahmati and Roushan had apparently heard something about our true purpose and were very unfavourably inclined to Fian, but after having given him the sharp of their tongues, they seemed prepared to give him a chance to help them get rid of Koll Konandé.
That evening, Naravati decided to go out and gather intelligence in the Iss-Peranian part of town, while I went to do the same in the Valdyan Quarter. Our friend Fian went to bed quite early, he was very tired, both from the official meetings after our arrival, as from his exertions helping Captain Rhanion rescue everyone on our ship. He used to boast about his swimming prowess, and I often made light of his claims, but was more in than out of the water after the fatal blow was struck to our hull.
We still do not know how the agents of death had been inserted into his bed, but when we found him next morning, he was dead from more than a dozen scorpion stings, they were still crawling over him and over the bed, more than twenty of them. After they were removed, a maid tried to clear the bed, and she died from a cloud of poisonous dust that arose from the pillow when she picked it up.
This is then how Fian died: Naravati and I curse ourselves daily for having gone out, instead of having kept Fian company. She, because she had become his lover and had promised, even before that, to keep him safe in all the dangers of Albetire, dangers Fian was completely innocent of, me because he was my friend, and I should have been there!
The situation in Albetire as it has developed since is as follows:
Most importantly: Koll Konandé has fled Albetire. The noble ladies Zahmati and Roushan had ordered their spies to find out who had murdered Fian. They only managed to reach inconclusive results, but all the evidence of suspicion pointing to Koll Konandé — who else could gain anything from the death of a Valdyan envoy? — they convinced me, as Fian’s adjutant, and Captain Rhanion that the time had come to mount a definitive attack on the palace.
There have been two weeks of intense fighting, and part of the western quays are still in the hands of the traditional Albetirian bandit factions, the reds and the blues, but the palace and the quarters surrounding it are ours, as is the big thoroughfare from the palace to the sea. Koll Konandé is now hiding in the mountains with a small army of followers, and Captain Rhanion tells me to tell you that there is a strong element of the Nameless among them, though not Valdyan, but Valdyan-taught Iss-Peranians.
The noble ladies have declared the throne of Albetire vacant. Effectively they occupy it (or maybe their aunt, who is terrible), but they seem to prefer to have either Beguyan or our King take the crown. The palace was in a very bad state, nothing seems to have been repaired since the earthquake you, your majesty and my lady, have told us about in Essle.
Naravati tells me there are all kinds of undercurrents of negotiations about power and influence going on, but since I am a rather stupid man whose mind has been shattered by the loss of the friend he had loved since they were boyhood friends, I have not the illusion that I understand her concerns, except in this one particular: Naravati has begged me to beseech you, your majesty, to allow her to return to Valdyas and present herself to Fian’s mother as her as-it-were daughter-in-law.
Naravati and Fian did never marry, not in the full sense of the word, both because old women are hard to find on board of a ship and because that would not have been expedient, but after what happened to her in Essle, Fian had nursed her back into health and sanity, and they discovered that they were not just best enemies, but more than that, that they actually had — well, this is complicated. It’s that guild stuff that Fian was always going on about. It wasn’t plain being in love, or even liking each other, he said they had found on the ship that they — I’m not sure how to say this, and Naravati is no help either.
In any case, they had made love, and Naravati declares she’s pregnant, though how a woman can ever become pregnant after what happened to her in Essle is a mystery, my wife, doctor Vauri, tells me, so maybe that’s just because she wants to be — and I don’t blame her. We are staying in Albetire, there is a lot of work for us still, since the regiment Fian brought is still in very active service.
Albetire, feast of Anshen