He’s really become a much milder man in Turenay. Exactly whose good influence that is I can’t say, but it’s probably a concerted effort by Ysella, Cora and Anshen.
Turenay, Mizrein Hanre of the sixth week of Anshen
Serlei Moryn, to his Daughter Ysellei Moyri and her Husband and children,
First and foremost my congratulations to you and Uznur on the birth of your son and daughter. The paintings you sent us are amazingly lifelike, and your mother and I look at them very often.
I do hope you will be recovered completely by the time this letter reaches you and that the worries over the political situation in Valdis and in Albetire are not exhausting you nor drawing your husband in a position that will be either too dangerous or too likely to lose him the trust of either the Iss-Peranian community in Valdyas or of the King. Please do not worry about your standing with the noble families either: I realize that my unequivocal choice for the King and the Kingdom will have alienated all that is not worth knowing from our own family, while, indeed, as you say, being the confidante of the Queen will make most Hayan duyin wary of you. If you will accept the advice of one who is both older and more foolish than you, please remember that it is better to know true friendship than be drowned in acquaintances of convenience.
My dear daughter, I do feel that you were wise, so very wise, to send your Mother and me to Turenay. The town holds many pleasant memories for us (and some less pleasant memories, since it was here that your Mother was poisoned with kalesh by agents from a rival faction in the Guild of the Nameless in Essle). I am relieved to be able to report that there were no traces of the Nameless in our house, even though I was still a misguided follower of him at that time and must have left my spiritual dandruff, so to say.
But apparently an energetic third form from the Guild School was asked to clean up before we arrived, led by Prince Aidan, whom I am sure you will remember well, he being not that much younger than you are. The house was also spotlessly clean in a material sense, but I have not yet been able to discover who was responsible for that, for I must surely thank them immensely for having carried what must have been an unbelievably great task at so short a notice. Our house, shop and workshop are now quite comfortable, the more so since we have bought the backyard of two neighbouring houses and have begun a small garden.
The town has changed, but not for the worse, I find. There is now a Síthi quarter and your Mother has already made the acquaintance of a shopkeeper who can keep us stocked with Síthi delicacies, as well as those items of toiletry your mother no longer makes since she has decided to pursue her greatest strength: the manufacture of pleasing scents. And, even more a reason for her to rejoice: there is a Síthi seller of herbs, spices and exotic ingredients, a certain Ram, who used to live in the House of Dayati when we were there, too (although we probably never met). It appears, to my great satisfaction, that this Ram deals with Aldin in Essle, and not with the accursed scoundrel and misschief-maker Radan of the Dawn.
It is a great pleasure to your Mother to speak Síth Kura again, and I am looking forward to that, too. The Síthi community, helped by Lord Radan, apparently, have built a bathhouse in the Síthi style in Turenay, and intend to build a Temple to Timoine, too, as soon as they have gathered the funds through subscriptions. I admire their practical attitude: one has to be clean before one can pray, and I indeed have subscribed, too, to the foundation of the temple.
My dear Daughter, it is not proper for a father to tell his daughter about those things in his life that are properly only shared with his wife, so I will only tell you that I have noticed that the bridge leading to the poor quarter is much busier than twenty years ago, and that I fear that the Town Council will have to widen the Nysa in order to find a reason to make the bridge longer. Was it already usual to share the bridge with eight other kissing couples during your time in Turenay?
But maybe this is just the influence of Aidan’s bride, who, your mother thinks, may have inadvertently touched more hearts than she herself is aware of, that day when she and Aidan declared their love for each other.
There are markedly more pregnant women in the street than I would have expected, and there is still, in the height of summer, a new, spring-like feeling around in Turenay that is difficult to describe but which is quite apparent to the new visitors. There are certainly a good many lovers, affianced and newly-weds everywhere. Very soon we will be celebrating the wedding of no less than five newly-wed couples, in a grand style: Cora and Aidan, Radan Brun and Halla and three couples who are friends of Cora and Aidan, but whom I do not know personally.
Khora, who visited us yesterday, told us she expects all the Síthi to turn up, everyone from the school, hospital and doctors’ guild, many nobles and the apothecaries’ guild, nearly all the whores, her own neighbours and many people from the poor quarter.
The poor quarter, by the way, is still the same as it was. Very poor, in a sense divided from town by more than just the Nysa. Something must have gone terribly wrong when Turenay was built after the discovery of the hot springs, that the descendants of the builders and the farm labourers still live in poverty, while the nobles and the descendants of the farm owners are doing very well, as well as the many new arrivals over the past century. As far as I am aware, the poor and the town only touch each other whenever something needs to be built or rebuilt (for most of the builders and bricklayers still come from the poor quarter). In what way Khora has become acquainted well enough with the people from beyond the river to invite them and expect them to come, I do not know. Probably she just smiled at them!
But it will be interesting to see whether all these groups will stay apart or mingle at the wedding celebration. Your mother has ordered a new dress from Riei especially for the occasion. She has met Radan’s wife Halla there, during a fitting session. According to your mother she is a very pleasant and charming woman, an apothecary originally from Ildis, who left Ildis because of guild-related unpleasantness.
I hope that you will forgive my laying down the pen now, and that you will give my love and greetings to your husband and to Serla and Bahar and your twins. I am sure your mother would write, too, but she is busy preparing scent to give to the five brides.
Ps. You ask after your friend Dimani and her children. I am afraid I do not have any news: either she has not arrived yet, or she is hiding. Or maybe she has not arrived yet. Your letter, dated Midsummer, only arrived in Turenay last week. As soon as we have more news I will write you again and your Mother will ask Leva whether she knows more.
Pps. You also wrote about Khora. I did not know that Raisse had asked her to make cloth for you — you are right that it did cost her something, since Aidan told me in Veray that Khora had been up for some nights at a stretch to weave it, her days and evenings being occupied with school and her apprenticeship to Leva. I do not think that they will be suffering any lack in their household: they have many friends and at their wedding party will no doubt receive a rich bounty in useful presents. What she might appreciate is silk cloth or silk yarn, or indeed, as you suggest yourself, jewelry, because she has lost all hers in Iss-Peran.