A very confused letter

Turenay, ten weeks after the festival of the most holy goddess of Death

In the informal style

Elder sister, I have been trying to more and more think like a Valdyan and I have made bold to ask the teacher of languages Senthi to teach us how to write letters in the Valdyan style. Despite having attained no success in that endeavor, I will try to send you this letter in that style.

In the Valdyan style

Great Queen, this letter is written by me who is Khora and who is in Turenay and will contain an account of what has happened since my last letter to you, that is, I learned things at school and made a nice skirt and jacket for Kheti and a skirt for Alyse, too. But your humble servant, that is, me, I, I’m not sure how to begin, because a lot of things I should tell the most mighty queen of the three countries and the five peoples are of a delicate nature and because while I started this letter when the blackbirds began to sing, I am finishing it when the bats have long since stopped flapping around my bedroom window.

Your humble servant has a confession to make to her most mighty queen and king of Valdyas. Unbeknown to her, the young man of whom your humble servant has told the mighty queen in her previous, he who pleases your humble servant beyond measure, Aidan, turns out to be the younger brother of the most high and mighty King of Valdyas, Velihas and Idanyas. Your humble servant begs you to believe that she was not aware of this before she first made him look at her. Your humble servant has confessed to the mighty enchantress Raisse, too, and the mighty enchantress has expressed her belief in your humble servant.

However, your humble servant was prone to misgivings on three counts: in the first place, she had promised your majesty not to intentionally try to seduce the prince, in the second place, the prince had given your humble servant to understand that he desires greatly to become a mighty general and fight for his king in Iss-Peran, whence your humble servant is afraid to return, and thirdly, that he is known to engage in improper behaviour. On all three counts the mighty enchantress Raisse has reassured your humble servant and allowed your humble servant to refrain from banishing her feelings for the young man.

Your humble servant has promised the mighty enchantress Raisse that she would not only not use “semsin”, but also as little of the art of pleasing as she can. The mighty enchantress Raisse asked this of your humble servant when she learned from the free admission of your humble servant that the taking of dancing lessons with Alyse was in some sense a way of getting to know Aidan and Arin — your humble servant having realized that if Alyse was to give the three of us dancing lessons she would very likely ask some of her friends to help her. Your humble servant also executed this simple stratagem, not just to further her own purposes, but also so her friend Kheti could meet the very noble Arin astin Hayan, with whom Kheti is very much enamoured. Your humble servant succeeded beyond her intention, since the noble Alyse formerly astin Eraday also invited us to dinner, which we took in the Apple with the three young men. It was there that your humble servant discovered that the most noble prince Aidan was a prince.

Your humble servant had also with much pleasure painted her face and those of her friends in the Sithi style. The mighty enchantress Raisse however has kindly asked your humble servant not to wear the paint at all times, especially when her noble husband is in Turenay. Besides, I should try to look more Valdyan, which should help me to think more Valdyan.

The thinking of Valdyas is very strange to your ignorant servant. Dancing like a wife dances for her husband, but for strange men is permissable, and the behaviour of those men who watch is not inappropriate, but using the four rules of the art of pleasing behaviour in order to please someone is not appropriate because it is an artifice and thus dishonest. Your humble servant will have to think deeply about this and promises to carefully observe the Valdyan people she meets at school and elsewhere. Your humble servant has promised to restrict her teaching of the womanly art of pleasing to the art of painting one’s face, although a Valdyan girl had already asked her to teach her how to –in her own words– “catch a noble man when the season is open”.

The simple stratagem I had deployed was executed with success, and during the course of the week your humble servant felt sure she had managed to catch the eye of the most noble prince Aidan. However, a more pressing matter than her own trifling affairs of the heart pressed upon your servant, for I had noticed that my friend Kheti was not only very enamoured of Arin astin Hayan, but also learned at the noble master Orian’s return that when the noble master Orian would leave again, he would take aforesaid Arin astin Hayan with him for further lessons.

This being so, I wanted to make sure that Arin would not forget Kheti during his absence. I therefore spent the part of the week that was not occupied by lessons and chores –I helped Hinla cook for the mighty enchantress Raisse and Orian– by making new clothes for Kheti. I might be repsonsible, most enchanting majesty, for a new fashion in this town, that is, the cutting short above the knee of skirts. But how else would people see and enjoy the work spent on stockings, as well as the shape of the legs inside the stockings! Surely the Valdyan peope are much swaddled!

Kheti did look her best when we went to dance on the day of Anshen, and the gracious merchant Riei has done me the signal honor of promising to use my designs in clothing for such of her customers as ask for it. I also had to cut off the skirt of the noble Alyse — or did I write of that already? The Valdyan style is new to your humble servant, so please forgive her.

This afternoon we will go dancing again, and I intend to have Kheti’s hair done up in the southern manner, which, together with her clothes (to which the mighty enchantress Raisse did not object, so I must have been careful not to infuse them overmuch with semsin), should show Kheti to Arin in the best possible manner, presenting to him all her best qualities uncovered. I am sure that the result will help my friend Kheti to retain her equanimity and bring her the happiness for which she devoutly prays to the gods.

During the lessons your humble servant not only made good progress in the Ilaini language, but also managed to gain a little more proficiency in the Valdyan magic. I can see the affinities of my friends now, allied with the elements pure or mixed. By the way, your humble servant is proud that she has not started thinking in the Iss-Perianian way, but managed to control herself in a certain matter, namely this: when we were eating out the day before the day consecrated to the most holy god of war, we went to eat in a small place known to the girls who are in my semsin class. I noticed that Jerna made eyes at a certain boy and endeavored to introduce them to each other. However, someone said to me (or was that only the voice of the conscience of your humble servant?) that I was turning into a dandar after all –bringing people together like this– and I squashed that thought and only thought of the happiness of Jerna (and her friend, of course). I would have begun my studies in witchcraft at the feast of the most holy god of servants, children and all that is full of life, but with the help of the most mighty enchantress Raisse I will be able to withstand any reversions to the Iss-Perianian way of witchcraft.

Your humble servant, that is me, Khora, finishes this poor and confused letter in the town of Turenay, ten weeks after the feast of the most holy goddess of Death, it is meant to be read by the mighty queen and king of Valdyas.