Another letter from Cora to Raisse
Even though she isn’t telling about the war, she manages to tell rather a lot.
Turenay, First week of Timoine, the year 548.
To Ravei Raisse astin Brun, from Raissei Cora
My beloved Queen and Elder Sister, I have so much to tell you and so little time to write my letter to you, since Raith and Ayneth are on the verge of departing for Valdis, and I wanted them to take my letter to you with them. Of the war, of the news about Athal, I will not have to write you anything, Raith will bring you as much news as I ever knew.
You will also have gathered that my lord husband has been restored to me, in time for the birth of our daughter. My lord husband was wounded at his very first battle, when he stormed the citadel together with prince Dhamir (who died heroically). He has a scar from arm-pit to hip! But apart that scar, which will surely trouble him a lot until his death, he is fine, and has already taken upon himself to regroup Turenay’s Regiment — he is acting captain now, since both master Jilan and Captain Rhyn have fallen.
Of course, as with all veterans, Aidan’s mind is very troubled about this great and cruel war, and after we had sated our lust for each other (we even went to a brothel where we rented a room for the two of us so we could make love with as much noise as we wanted, it was a room done up in the Iss-Peranian style by my friend Ruzyn, whom I have lent the money to make her house nice, we also we went there because we had a guest who was far too much interested in Aidan, but more of that later), after we sated our lust, we spent an afternoon just regain the peace of our minds, and Aidan could finally share with me all he had experienced in the war. Being semte is very useful in these matters!
In any case, as I said, Raith will tell you all about the war, and I want to spend the precious moments I have to compose my letter to you telling you about me and about Turenay!
About your friends in Turenay, Dimani, Dorush and Jhavan — they give their regards and warmest greetings to you and the noble lady Moyri. It will please you both, no doubt, that Dimani is expecting a baby: she and the painter Jilan have an understanding — they are not married and do not always live together, and, most importantly, they both have their own workplace — but they do like each other and eat together, most evenings, and, obviously, also love each other! Jhavan is destined to become a cook and now works sometimes in the inn my friend Doryn has started, while Dorush works in the Temple of Naigha. Both still attend classes, of course!
There are two things I think you might especially be interested in. The first is the celebration of the Festival of Timoine in Turenay. I remembered from last year, when I was still such a ignorant innocent that all the Valdyan children of Turenay went into the forest to bring dhavat to Timoine. All the Valdyan children — but not the Iss-Peranian children nor the Síthi children! And this year we also had a half-Khas boy.
I am sure that my Elder Sister will agree with me that the first step towards a harmonious household is to make sure all the children are friends of each other and are used to each other, and what is a town like Turenay but a very large household?
So, for weeks I have been slyly influencing parents, teachers and first and foremost the children: every Síthi child I met I told about the way Dayati wants to be honoured by the children in Valdyas, and about how much fun it is to go out to the forest with all the children, and how much Timoine but also the Valdyan children would like to have them join in.
And all the Valdyan children I regaled about stories of how the Síthi celebrate the Festival of Timoine in and around the new temple: with sweets, candy, pasties, eggs, dried apples and sweet drinks. And how the Síthi children would welcome the Valdyan and how good a place the Temple is.
Of course, I also told all of them to make sure and be welcoming to each other!
And, sweet Elder Sister, it worked! We had a wonderful festival of Timoine. Early in the morning, I watched the children leave the town for the forest, Síthi children, Valdyan children, Dorush and Jhavan (the only Iss-Peranian children!) and also my neighbour Halla who was maimed in her body and cannot walk, and Bhadri who is half-Khas.
While they were away, I collected all the pregnant women in the neighbourhood, all my friends — that is Dimani, my neighbour Varyn from Veray, my neighbour Selevi and also Tiruppuvai (about whom later more) and some others, and first we went to the Síthi Baths to clean ourselves, and then we went to the Temple of Dayati to pray for our born and unborn children. And when we had done that, we started laying out the feast for the children!
I had bought a lot of food and sweets — and, of course, the Síthi parents had prepared much food, too. And when the children came back, they celebrated in and around the temple. There was some, but not much sticking to their own tribe, and most children mingled freely. A good sign!
Also a good sign is that Rovan, a boy I found in a hidden and isolated village dedicated to the Nameless has a Síthi girlfriend now, and that the Síthi midwives and doctors (well, that’s just Kancho, but the midwives is quite a victory!), they have joined the Valdyan Doctors and Midwives’ guild. Some Síthi are also joining the guilds belonging to their craft, especially the tailor’s guild has received applications.
The only mishap was that quite a few children from the other side of the river, the poor quarter, had been told to return to their work, instead of celebrating, so I took some of my best friends, and we crossed the kissing bridge and visited all the children that had not been allowed to partake of the feast, bringing them their share of the feast. Some parents were just too ignorant, some children had felt themselves unwelcome — their imagination, no doubt! — and some parents or bosses were just too greedy for the children’s labour. But sharing the festival — is that something to consider for Valdyas, too? I don’t doubt that your and Moyri’s children will love the idea!
The second thing is related to the war, and mainly to the Khas. With Aidan came Tiruppuvai, a half-Khas, half-Síthi girl, and her little brother. The situation is a bit complicated, and Raith will tell you all about that. She wanted to marry Aidan, or be his concubine or whore, or anything, as long as she could stay with Aidan — but upon visiting the temple of Timoine, she felt that Timoine had reached out to her and decided to seek refuge in the temple
However, the matter of what to do with Khas and half-Khas who will flee from Solay to put themselves under the shield of the King is something that worries me — the Síthi are not friendly to people like Tiruppuvai. Could my elder sister please give her younger sister advice about this matter?
About me: I have bought, had demolished and reconstructed a weavery in Turenay. I own it; a veteran of mine and the man I have written you about before run the enterprise. We specialize in fine linen and I hope that soon we will be able to buy cotton thread from the South again, too. And your cousin from Gralen, Torin, he has moved to Turenay! He has actually married my friend Cynla. You don’t know her, but she used to bring vegetables from her father’s farm to the Palace in Valdis with a cart, and she accompanied Arni, Ebru and me to Turenay. None of us could drive a cart… All in all, what with my bath-house, the weavery, the Temple to Dayati and the brewery, Turenay is certainly building again! The town feels very lively. Oh, and our new house, of course! We do need something bigger.
My dear elder sister, I am so happy now that Aidan has returned. I am not sure where our daughter will be born; Aidan prefers Gralen, but I am afraid to be away from Lyse for my first. I have ordered a cot: it is going to be a masterpiece for a journeyman joiner.
Ps: about Shab Hafte: not only do we have Dimani and Master Jilan now in Turenay who are anxious to meet him, but there is also Serla, who used to work in a brothel, but who now lives with Dimani and specializes in drawing women with charcoal. She has a nice practice drawing children and pregnant women. Please find enclosed a drawing of me with my big belly. Do you think Shab Hafte could come and visit Turenay this year? They will very much enjoy the instructions of such an accomplished master.