Raith’s letter to Athal

By now it’s restrained fury.

Hallei Raith to Alysei Athal astin Velain, king of Valdyas, in Solay.

Athal,

You’ll know by now that Dushtan sent me off with the wounded while I was out, and you’ll have guessed that I was furious. On hindsight It’s all for the best, though. I could take your sister along myself instead of waiting for her to come to me. Also, your brother needed a bit of protection against — well, I’ll be charitable and not call her a leech, but she does stick, like one of those little fishes that swim in the wake of a big fish to be safe from enemies and eat the crumbs it leaves. A girl of fifteen or sixteen, daughter of a Síthi whore and a Khas commander, who sneaked on board our ship with her little brother. Sad but all too common story: her mother died when the boy was born, officer took her instead. It did give her protection, and the protection of the most powerful man around is what she craves, paying for it with the use of her body. She’s been hanging on to Aidan ever since he was in the hospital, it seems. Pregnant, too, but not by Aidan though she claimed so; we’re sure of that now.

This girl is really something– she can get through closed doors. None of us realised at first that she was gifted at all, but Cora had her in the house for a few days (she has now fobbed her off on the Temple of Dayati) and discovered it. Seals don’t keep her in any more than locks do. We tried to leave her behind several times but she kept coming back to Aidan, convinced that she was his second wife (or at least his concubine).

Anyway, we’re in Turenay now, about to come your way again. I suppose you’re staying there for a bit to clean up? (Yes, I’m assuming that you’ve won; what else?) It would be such a disappointment to miss you at sea. I realise that I’m still pissed off that I didn’t get to finish the work with you, but to keep Solay for you and kick it back into some semblance of order is good compensation. Ayneth is already talking about finding gifted children, all of them, Síthi, Khas, half-and-half, you name it, and setting up a school to get some knowledge into them so they can live together as people rather than as enemies. Perhaps it’s precipitate, but she was livid when I told her what the Khas do with gifted children and wants to avoid that at all costs.

We’re staying here for the feast (of Timoine, in case you’ve lost track of time; it happened to me when I was down south) and will travel by Valdis in hopes of seeing Raisse. And I do like being able to reassure myself that Lenay is still standing before I leave it perhaps forever. Better so than to have stayed away without ever unequivocally having left.

I hope this reaches you earlier than we do; expect us by Midsummer.