A letter from Dimani

She is writing to Moyri at last; including a small skillfully executed painting of flowers.

To Moyri astin Rhydin in Valdis.

Dear Moyri,

First of all, let me congratulate you on the birth of your twin children. Your parents have shown me the drawings and they are absolutely charming.

Forgive me if I am too forward in this letter; writing in Ilaini makes it hard if not impossible to observe the propriety due to you, my friend and benefactress. So much has happened that I cannot write it all, but I shall try to give you a faithful account so you will know what has befallen me and the boys.

I kept to myself in Turenay for a long time, too despondent to take the actions you encouraged me to take. I did send Dorush and Javan to school, and they did the shopping for me, even cleaned the house –I’d taken a small house near the river– when my worries impaired me too much. I thought I could have held out like that forever, but the sadness and worry must have overcome me, because I found myself in the hospital without really knowing how I had got there.

I assume that you know that the Enshah-that-was’ youngest widow, Queen Asa, is living in Turenay and studying to be a doctor? Especially as she is married to King Athal’s younger brother. She calls herself Cora, which is the Valdyan way to pronouce the word khora— you ought to ask Uznur for all its overtones of rejection and denial, because that would be too much for a mere letter. But ‘Cora’ sounds like an unremarkable Valdyan name, and it suits her well, though it does not seem to do justice to her beauty.

It is this Cora who is making me feel myself again. And her teacher doctor Leva, who is as good, I think, as your doctor Roushan. They have also referred me to doctor Airath, who specialises in ailments of the mind. He lets me talk about my life and how it has scarred me, and astonishingly telling it to him makes it hurt less, not more. I should of course have gone to the doctors the moment I arrived in Turenay, but I was too afraid and ashamed, without a single person I knew and could confide in except for my adopted sons, who are too young to be burdened with that.

Now that I am climbing out of the dark pit of despair I have taken up painting again, which I didn’t even do while I was married. I have made the acquaintance of Master Jilan, a painter who makes all the inn and shop signs in Turenay as well as painting portraits, and he lets me work in his workshop, though I am about to set up a workshop of my own in the house I have bought opposite the school and the hospital. Also, I have been doing some of the negotiations with his clients, to our mutual benefit. Much as I would like to be a painter only, trade gets in the blood– and it does not even have to be actual blood, because my elder boy wants to become a trader, and I will try to get him an apprenticeship in the Temple of Mizran. The younger is more interested in military matters: Prince Aidan, who has set up a sword class for young boys and girls, is his hero.

I wish I could see you face to face to talk to you, because I have many things I cannot write for fear that they will become heavy, and fall, and break. Until that is possible, I wish you all the best for you and your family.

P.S. Please accept this small painting as a token of my gratitude and friendship.