Khora writes to the queen
Or rather, she dictates to Aidan, because she’s overstretched herself and that wreaks havoc with her coordination.
That her mother is called Dushtan, like the king’s Síthi doctor, makes one think that there’s Síthi blood in Khora’s ancestry; either that or it’s one of those names that span half a world.
Dushtanei Asa Cora astin Zameshtan, in Turenay, to Ravei Raisse astin Brun, in Valdis.
This letter is written by Aidan because, as he says, “I am as weak as a kitten” and cannot handle a Valdyan pen as well as I would wish at the moment. Also, Aidan wanted me to say “Dear Raisse”, but I said I wanted to say “Great Queen”, which is a form of address the teacher of languages Senthi approves of in the Valdyan style, but we couldn’t agree, so I have told Aidan to write “Elder Sister” instead.
Dear Sister, do not get the impression from the foregoing that your servant Cora I am very ill. I am not even a little ill, Leva tells me, but very tired. Working with the spirit is very exhausting to me because I haven’t yet trained enough. When I came back from lessons with Erne, who heals the improper women (Aidan wants to write “whores” but I think that that is an improper word and not to be used in a letter to the queen) I felt very tired, which was not because I had drunk too much of Erne’s Síthi wine, although I had done that, too, but because I had tried to heal Maile, not the heroic wife of Mernath, but one of the women given to improper behaviour, and who has a sickness of the lungs.
I will be able to leave my bed within some days, but for now even embroidery or knitting is too complicated. Aidan says that that probably is because I also use the spirit semsin when embroidering, knitting, weaving or sewing, and your ser I have now learned to recognise that Aidan is right.
My Sister, I have to admit that I am still not following all the lessons at the school because I do not dare to fight and to defend. But with the help of Lord Radan, Aidan’s Father, I have discovered why this is so and until we have found a solution, Raisse is teaching me herself in the mornings. Aidan tells me you will want to know why this is and tells me he wants to know too, but I am not sure whether that is a proper subject for a letter.
I am learning many things with Raisse and also with Aylin who now is in love with a clerk from the Temple of the God of Mizran, and who is called Meran. I have learned how to make seals, how to remove seals made by others, how to call up fire softly enough to kindle a firepot and strong enough to burn down a living tree, how to see where everyone is, how to speak and listen in the mind (but that is hard if the other person does not think in the same language I think in, which is more and more often Ilaini these days) and how to enter somebody else’s spirit and allow others to enter my spirit. Aidan is grinning now, and I know why. Aidan tells me that you are interested in the fate of the hero Mernath and the hero Maile and that you will want to know about that which he is grinning about.
Mernath is still very weak, so Maile is working in the hospital as a nurse. We have become friends and she has taught me how to make men’s shirts, because Aidan has forgotten most of his shirts in Valdis and only had two. Well, three, but I am using one of his at the moment. I have visited Maile on many occasions and talked to Mernath, who is steadily getting better, but still hadn’t recovered enough to please his wife as is his duty and her desire. I therefore have allowed Maile in my spirit and taught her how she could best please her husband using the arts I had been taught myself to work upon my husband, but which I now use on Aidan (who definitely has no problems with his manliness, he asks me to assure you). The reason Aidan had to grin is that I used my memories with him to teach Maile, not my memories from when I was taught myself. Those might only have served to confuse Maile.
Mernath is doing very well now and thinks of going to a master smith to ask whether he can start working, pulling the bellows. That would be very good for him, he will get his strength back that way as well as his self-esteem. That reminds me: the old man in the hospital who went on living because he was so pleased to see me has finally died and left me a bag of money to give to people who needed it. I have already apprenticed Erian (who had two riders of his own and is the friend of Lyse, who came to live with us with Lara) to a smith and Erdan to Rodan the cobbler. As well as Ferin, Erdan’s friend, to Perain who keeps the books for your Father, but I didn’t need money for that.
I have also learned the working and preparation of many herbs and have assisted Leva with healing broken bones and a woman who suffered from stones in the bladder, as well as embroidering suturing people with sword and other cuts. Aidan is being taught fighting by sergeant Liase (who is expecting twins) with a group of other students and apprentices from all Turenay, and it often happens that someone is not careful enough with a sword or staff. I have also helped healing the spirit wounds of Mernath and a girl who had high fever.
The wonder-working — Aidan says I shouldn’t say that. Lyse, the midwife, has taken me with her on her rounds, too, and I have seen the birth of two babies already and I have learned many things about being a midwife. Aidan and Raisse tell me that while a midwife is almost-a-doctor, I cannot be both a midwife and a doctor and that I have to make a choice. This is very difficult. (Especially for someone who has only just learned to want something by herself (added by Aidan)).
The people of Turenay are all very nice and friendly to me, and when I walk through the streets, either here, or across the bridge, I make very slow progress because everyone wants to greet me and to talk to me. This is very pleasing. We have also made the acquaintance of two girls, orphans of a man who was complicit in the uprising against Aidan’s mother but who seems to have done no actual harm. Aidan tells me that there is no custom of putting the surviving relatives of traitors to the sword, so I feel safe in telling you this. The girls now live with Raisse and me, the elder girl, called Lara, is being trained by the maid Hinla to become a maid, but Raisse suspects she may well be a grand master in the spirit, too. The other girl had her foot crushed by a donkey, but Leva and I have healed the broken bones (one of the bones I’ve done all by myself, using my spirit!)
This is what I have been doing since we came back from our pilgrimage to the temple of Dayati in Veray.
Written by Alysei Aidan astin Velain for Dushtanei Asa Cora astin Zameshtan on the day of Timoine in the sixth week of Timoine.
ps. Aidan reminds me that I wanted to be bold enough to ask his brother whether he will allow us to marry as soon as we can. Which I do ask you to ask the King, Raisse and Radan being in agreement that the King’s permission is necessary. Raisse tells me that I do not need a dowry according to Valdyan custom. But I have invested in a ship and also in the building of a Síthi bath house in Turenay that should open before the feast of Anshen, so we will not be very poor.