Ferin writes to his mother

Dear Ma,

First I didn’t dare write because there were still people around who wanted to catch me, and then I was too busy to even think of writing, but now I have news that I must write to you: you are a grandmother! Twice over! Because my and Ashti’s daughter and son, Lysna (called after Ashti’s grandmother) and Doran (called after Da), were born on the Feast of Timoine. Yes, that’s not a day that priestesses of Naigha’s children are born, but Ashti isn’t a priestess any more and we’re getting married at Midsummer. We also have Ashti’s other children, Arvin and Sidhan, and Raisse, a little girl we adopted in Valdis when her mother and sister died of the measles, so we’re the parents of a large family though Ashti is only eighteen and I’m only just fourteen.

I don’t know how much of the news from Nalenay reached Ashinay but I’m sure you know that I haven’t been with Master Rhanion for a year now. I think the queen had him hanged! Because he and his sister and some other people did a lot of horrible things. They made kids younger than me who should really be going to school work in a workshop all day, every day, without any breaks, not even on the Feast of Timoine. And they had the queen’s envoy murdered. The envoy was there because Master Rhanion’s other apprentice Halla and I sent a letter to the queen about the workshop, and the queen got the letter and thought it was a bad thing and sent someone to take care of it but they got murdered!

I am a journeyman smith though. You know Mialle, the girl from Tal-Polsen I met when I first went to Nalenay? She and I and Ashti went to Valdis to tell the queen about the bad things that were happening in town, and to bring her the ring of the envoy that we found, and then Mialle went to be apprenticed with a foreign goldsmith and became a journeyman, and I learned from the smith of the Order of the Sworn of Anshen and she made me a journeyman.

Now I know that you’re going to bristle! But the Order of the Sworn isn’t the enemy, and you should really learn about Anshen too, I think we’ve all been learning really the wrong things because we didn’t know any better. You did teach me all the right things about smith-craft or I wouldn’t have become a journeyman so soon.

I’m now in Turenay learning from Master Mernath who is a very good weaponsmith, he made a sword in the Iss-Peranian style for a lady who is more than ninety years old to use in the fencing match at the Feast of Mizran. And we all got to help with it, the other journeyman and the two apprentices and me! The old lady (she’s Senthi, the baroness of Sarabal in the south) had a match with another swordmaster (Lord Vurian astin Brun who is the queen’s father) (Ashti tells me I should be precise, she’s a real schoolteacher) and it ended with both of them hitting the swords out of each other’s hands and then they embraced because they’re old friends. I’d make a drawing of the sword for you but it would just look like a sword in the drawing, I can’t draw the blue sheen of the steel or the sharpness or the way it sings when Lady Senthi swings it through the air.

We’re living in a house that has a smithy in it because it belongs to the widow of a smith, and when I’m a master in a couple of years some of the Turenay masters will come to the house and light the fire for me, because that’s the way it’s done here, with ceremony and prayers. I don’t understand the half of it but we did it on the Feast of Mizran and I knew it was right. And Ashti is teaching at the school for poor children but not now of course with the little babies.

I’m sorry that I can’t come home to talk to you but if you want to talk you should go to Nalenay and talk to Ashti’s grandmother, or to Telhynay and find the smith Layse who taught me a lot of things I needed to know and helped us get away when people were after us.

I don’t know how to end this letter but I’m ending it anyway and wish the blessings of the gods on you.

Your son, Ferin