A letter to Nalenay

Dear Grandmother, dear Mother, dear replacement-who-sleeps-in-my-bed-and-who-I-will-call-my-Sister,

I should have sent my letter to you all months earlier, but then I thought, well, nobody can get letters to Nalenay in winter anyway, so who not wait until spring? And so here’s this letter…

My dear Sister, first a word for you: Grandmother told me she and Mother had taken in a girl who wanted to become an acolyte, who was now sleeping in my old bed. I do hope so very much you are still sleeping in my old bed and helping out Grandmother and Mother. Though live in the service of Naigha means poverty when it comes to food, furniture and other fussy things, it brings rewards that I know and feel I’m missing. And that I will feel missing from life the rest of my life.

Because, Grandmother, Mother, Sister, I have to be honest and truthful, and the honest truth is, I am not going back to the temple. There was not one day, one moment, when I decided to stay with Ferin and the children, here in Turenay, but it came gradually, and then, there was one moment where I decided how I would tell myself, my body, my Goddess, my lover, my children and the world that there was no chance of me returning to the Temple.

I recalled hiding the snakes inked on my hand and lower arms through the use of Semsin and that hiding, that made me disgusted with myself. I decided to go to a young painter’s apprentice, who had made a small portrait of me and Ferin before, and ask her to draw on my whole body, apart from the neck and face, fill it up with things that would crowd out and make part of me, those snakes, those snakes that will now never grow.

Arvin, when he saw the leaves and rings of water Rhinla had with the most artistry inked around my lower arms, he shouted, “The snakes cannot grow anymore! We’re going to stay all together with Da Ferin forever!” And he was right…

And that’s the second-most important thing I wanted to tell you all.

The most important thing is that I’ve given birth to my second set of twins. They popped out like peas from a peashooter, we were all done and I was suckling them in twenty minutes from the moment my waters broke. The girl, I will name Lysna, the boy I will name Doran. They are small, but hungry and very healthy. And so am I! Like I joked to the neighbor, what do you expect? I sleep with Ferin every day, and, well, Ferin has grown so much. I can sit in his lap, and I’m tall for these southerly people, and I am three or four years older, too. This life would make anyone healthy, and besides, after sleeping with Ferin so much, two small babies aren’t any challenge anymore for my pussy (Rhinla made it so there’s the head and front paws of a cat on my under-belly, the back paws inside my thighs, and the tail twists out of my buttocks.)

The children came on the Feast of Timoine, and Ferin tells me that late the night of the day they were born, he saw Timoine sit next to them, stroking their blonde hair.

Ferin and I are both journeymen in the Guild of Anshen. Our master is Mernath, the master smith who is also Ferin’s craft master, and his lessons are very demanding. Mernath used to be with the Nameless as well, and came to Turenay as Doctor Cora’s guard. Doctor Cora, in case you didn’t know, used to be the Second Queen at the court of Albetire, she was called Asa back then.

We do have a Queen Asa here as well, she’s the Queen of the Ishey, a strange community of people who have more or less decided we belong with them because we’re not your average Valdyan town dweller. But they are nice, and helpful and their King has a letter from King Athal that he’s to be King in their own lands east of Turenay.

Life here is good: there’s hardly any winter, we had eggs until the Feast of Naigha. We’ve set up house with a young widow in the poor part of town, but it’s a large house, and the Ishey are making it larger and more solid. It’s next to the river, so there’s swimming and bathing in summer, and even a forge: the widow’s husband was a master blacksmith, but he died in an accident before it could be used.

The widow is our landlady, but it’s more like she’s living with us. She’s turned brewster, together with Raisse, our Valdis daughter.

Ferin has a master and learns a lot, every day, and I’ve got a job as school mistress, and teach a lot, every day. The Guild School has a huge library, where I read and read and read, and I’m also getting acquainted with people from the Hospital and the Guild School. I have to admit I haven’t visited the Temple yet…

There’s a temple for Timoine, called Dayati here, and this Dayati is Timoine, but the statue in the temple is of a boy and a girl all mixed up into one person, and well, that’s fitting, isn’t it?

Dear Grandmother, dear Mother, dear Sister,

I’m Ashti, your granddaughter, daughter, sister. Be happy for me, because I am happy in my life, with my family, and don’t be angry with me: I think of you all, every day, with love and care.

Ashti