We didn’t play this bit so I worked it out in my head, mostly while swimming.
Now Mother Cora is off to the east with the king and the queen! It’s because Aidan went there with the army and he saw a lot of people in villages who need a doctor, and there’s also a town full of iron mines that make people ill and they don’t have proper doctors there, Aidan says. (It’s strange that we all say Mother Cora, but it’s always plain Aidan, because Father Aidan sounds silly. It’s not because he isn’t a real father, because he is: he’s little Raisse’s father.) Mother Cora has taken little Raisse who still needs her milk, but Jeran is big enough to drink milk from a cow or a goat and eat porridge. He loves porridge, but he can’t really eat it by himself yet, he throws it all over the kitchen. Then Dayati laughs at him because she can eat properly with a spoon.
Aidan is still doing the practice with us every night, it’s different without Cora because none of us are so strong, but it’s still fun and we learn a lot. I think Halla is the best of us young people, perhaps her mind learnt to work better because her legs don’t work, like blind people who train their ears more so they get to hear better. She’s clever at school too, she only started learning to read just before I came to Turenay and now she can read to Sedi and Rani from a book. I can now read from a book too! But not aloud so well as Halla can. Senthi says that she’s taught me so much that I can go to the ordinary school with Master Fian, together with Alaise and Lyse, but Alaise isn’t going to school any more because she’s started as an apprentice with Master Halla. So I’ll probably go with Lyse after the Feast of Naigha, even though I don’t want to stop going to Senthi’s classes at all because of all the languages. I’m almost sure that I don’t want to be a doctor or a herb-woman, but learn from Senthi to do what she does– Senthi says that’s kind of being a Guild runner, and I’ll have to go to the Guild school for that and have lessons from her and a lot of other people. All kinds of lessons, doing things with my mind and fighting and learning about the stars and the world! But first I’ll need to get very good at reading and writing and figuring and history and all the rest with Master Fian.
Oh, and Alaise is sweet on Arin and he’s sweet on her! Only they’re a bit worried because they now have the same parents, so they’re sort of brother and sister, but Doctor Leva says that it doesn’t matter, it’s just that brothers and sisters shouldn’t have children together because if there’s some illness in the family it’s more likely that any babies you have will get it. It’s not that the gods don’t like it or something like that. Anyway, if the gods didn’t like it, would they make people fall in love? I don’t think gods want to make life difficult for people on purpose, except for the Nameless or the Deceiver, the one we’re not talking about. And Arin and Alaise were born in different families with different parents, so that shouldn’t be a problem.
When Mother Cora comes back we’ll have such a surprise for her! Aidan thought of it, and we talked to Dimani across the road who is married to Master Jilan the painter, and she talked to him (it’s hard to go and talk to Master Jilan oneself, because he’s always busy, but she can talk to him in bed late at night or in the morning), and then all of us children went to his workshop so he could draw a picture of us together, Halla in front with Sedi and Rani, and the rest of us big ones behind her, Alaise carrying Jeran and me carrying Dayati, and Halla had Dimani’s baby Aram on her lap because he’s about the right size and colour but we’ll get Raisse to Master Jilan yet when we’re minding her so he can do it right. And now each of us can go when we have time after school and let Master Jilan paint us one by one, because he’s already got the picture of where everybody is. That way, Dimani says, he can pay enough attention to everybody’s face without making the other people wait. It won’t be ready before Mother Cora comes back because of getting Raisse in, but Master Jilan says he only needs a hour to paint her and a then a few days to let the picture dry.
Alaise said that Aidan ought to be in the painting too, but he said that in that case he’d want Cora in it as well and then it wouldn’t be a surprise for her. He’s right of course. And Alyse and Arni aren’t really Cora and Aidan’s children even though Mother Cora does some mothering of them too, so they’re not in it either but I saw them talking to Serla who draws pictures of women and children and cats, so perhaps they’re planning a surprise of their own. I want Mother Cora to come back so much so she can see it! It will be hard to keep secret because she always sees everything, but there’s a lot else to tell her and of course she’ll want to tell us lots of things too, so perhaps she won’t see it this time.