An impassioned letter

Note: this is the other Raisse, the one in Turenay who is the queen’s sort-of-godmother.

Raisse started out angry (and I typed the whole thing with angry keystrokes) but the writing made her mood change, I think very true to character.

Hallei Raisse at the Guild school in Turenay to Cynlei Vurian astin Brun in Valdis.


I am trying very hard not to blame you, or even your daughter, for what the gods have inflicted on me. Forgive me if I fail. Please remember that if I seem angry I’m not angry with you, but here I have no one to be properly angry to, without stating all the things I’m angry about outright. Not even Orian, because at the moment he is home for only weeks and off again after the Feast and I want to show him my best side.

I must admit that it was your daughter the queen who wrote the letter that the child –well, the young woman– from Iss-Peran had with her. I should have remembered that Raisse is ever precise and comprehensive, and if she takes the trouble to mention a problem in so much detail the problem is a real one.

But I mustn’t get ahead of myself. She –Khora– came here and threw herself at my feet, literally. It’s taken me weeks to make her not always obedient, and to school myself to understand “master” when she calls me “mighty enchantress”. Senthi tells me that’s a matter of language and she’ll get over it. Enchantress! She is the enchantress; they’ve taught her the art of seduction in Iss-Peran, young as she is, and married her to an old man as his so-manyth wife at the age of seven– I’m not supposed to say which old man, so if you happen to guess don’t tell. I understand that she stayed a virgin almost until she was widowed earlier this year, at thirteen; the old man was very nice to her, he visited her only twice, the first time he read to her and the second time, when he was already doddering, he asked her to read to him. Sounds sweet and chaste, but there’s a lot festering underneath.

I said “almost”; someone tricked her into meeting a young man in secret and she got pregnant by him. I’m practically sure that it was set up– there’s an order of women in Iss-Peran, Khora calls them dandar, who keep a stud-book of people like Ryath Hayan does of her horses. Some– most– perhaps all of them are gifted, and probably can’t only tell when someone is likely to get pregnant, but influence it. Khora lost the baby in the uprising. She says it was the Nameless himself who took it from her, but that would be the first time I’ve heard of the Nameless doing a good deed. For it was a good thing that she didn’t have that baby, even though she saw it as wholly hers and not the unknown man’s.

Sometimes she’s old beyond her years, sometimes hopelessly naive. It’s only now that she’s starting to decide things. She’s taken to helping Leva at the hospital after school, to Leva’s great satisfaction, and has decided that she wants to be a midwife or a doctor. I’m not sure that she isn’t taking too much on herself; even at table, even when she’s at the Apple with her friends, she takes along some handiwork because they’ve taught her that a good woman’s hands may never be idle. I’ve given her the use of the little loom and she’s making splendid things, patterns from her home country, at amazing speed, and –a bit scarily– full of attraction, as my work is full of protection. I took her to Riei with her first effort and of course Riei was all over her with praise, but she didn’t know how to take it. She also embroidered a border on a jacket, and when Riei wanted to pay her for it –as she does all the students who do small jobs for her– she took the money to be polite but gave it to Anshen in the refectory temple. It was as if she was afraid to be paid for the work of her hands. Radan tells me –more about Radan later– that it’s probably an Iss-Peranian thing, and we should try to handle it as giving and receiving gifts. I’ve thought of something, but that will have to wait until the fair at the Feast.

She’s trying to think like a Valdyan, she tells me. The effect that has had on me until now is to confuse me even more, because I can only see it as a double layer of deception, yet another effort to please without sincerity. know the Iss-Peranian effort to please isn’t meant to be insincere (and she says with that sweet innocent look in her eyes “how can I be insincere if I only aim to please you?”), and that Valdyans must look very blunt and crude to her, but that’s something I can’t handle. It’s my calling to teach budding grand masters, and Anshen knows I’m glad to have another one, but this might well be too hard for me. Every time I think I’ve taught her something she takes it and turns it around and shows that what she understands is something completely different. Ailin tells me much the same, and Senthi has noticed that Ilaini words come easily to her but the thoughts behind the words fail to take root.

I don’t know if it’s fortunate or unfortunate that she fell head over heels in love with Aidan before she knew that he was the prince. You’ve probably heard about the row when they couldn’t keep their hands off each other any more– and I sealed them into Khora’s room, the front room that Alaise used to sleep in, to do more than kissing without getting all of Turenay in lust. As it is, Lyse and Leva will have to train up lots of apprentices for the extra work in three seasons. It’s indeed fortunate that they were kissing, not arguing, or we’d have needed the regiment that we don’t have at the moment.

Your son, at least, is behaving himself.

Oh yes, I promised to write about Radan. It will please you that he’s finally managed to peel off, like an onion, all the layers of cannot, may-not, ought-not, with much help from me and Leva, and passed his journeyman’s trial –by declaring himself to the gods and the world as his own man– days after Aidan’s. Aidan is chuffed, both about his father passing and about himself beating him to it, but he’s fully entitled to that.

You are coming to Turenay, right? I’m yearning to talk to you in person.

On the day of Timoine in the eleventh week of Naigha,