A departure and a ducking
And now it’s my turn, Arnei Riei’s, to write down what Leva and I are up to. Right now, that’s a trip along the Rycha. That means, Gralen, Tal-Serth, Tal-Rayen and Tylenay. Leva and the other students at her school are going to measure the incline of the Rycha river, with a view to figuring out where to place the water-powered looms they are inventing. Now if they would also invent something better to spin wool and flax than a distaff, that might help. I don’t think there’ll be enough yarn, but that’s not their concern. They just want to make things that go clickety-click-clack really fast!
The Rycha was in spate, so the low-lying north road wasn’t passable, and we had to take the high, or south road. We were quite a lot of people! Six from the school, including Leva, me, Senthi and Arin, Prince Aidan, Doctor Cora, their retinue, including a squad from the Turenay regiment.
Progress was slow, because of the measuring and triangulating going on. I played at clerking a bit, looks like the sums aren’t that hard, though the discussions about how much power how much water would deliver were intriguing.
Not so intriguing that Fian, that dumb idiot, managed to appreciate that for the warning it was, and got into the water himself! As he explained later on — yes, he survived — he had only put one foot wrong!
But great Mizran, this was a sticky situation! He held himself against a half-uprooted willow tree on what must be the original riverside, but couldn’t reach the shore. Leva called on me for a rope and one of the big mares. I didn’t understand what she wanted, but we made it down the steep incline with the poor mare and the rope, and she grabbed one end and swam towards Faran. She didn’t even drown. I nearly fainted when I saw her doing that. And then the mare pulled them back to dry ground. In the meantime, because of the steepness of the incline, we needed to use another half-broken willow tree to keep the line horizontal.
I was SO pissed off that I gave these students sums to do: calculate, please, the power of water coming down so fast, on the human body. And then I showed Leva, mostly to distract her from how cold and wet she was, even though wearing my Khas jacket, that I would have dropped the line through the branch of a big oak tree so it would have reached Fian, with a loop so he could just hang in there.
I hadn’t thought about how to get him back on the road from the tree, though.
There is always something…
Fortunately, we were pretty close to Gralen when this happened. Gralen is one huge brewery with countless outhouses, and a small village, too. We were staying in the brewery, Leva and I even were given a room for ourselves! And there was already warm water, so I could wash, warm and clothe Leva. I have to admit, I didn’t spare a thought for Fian, but called Doctor Cora, too look whether the debris carried by the Rycha had hurt Leva. She said, just bruises, and gave the bruises a caress that made them a bit better, didn’t make them go away. As Doctor Cora said in my mind, best leave some trace of the punishment, that will drive the lesson home all the better.
And then it was time for food. Even in Lord Vurian and Lady Rava’s household, the food hasn’t been this glorious! Of course, of course, that was still closer to the end of winter. There were greens, eggs, mutton stew, smoked pheasant… Look, I know I like my food! I’m a Priestess of Mizran, for Mizran’s sake! I won’t get fat, though! It gave me a good idea for the next day, though, when Leva would be occupied by school stuff.
I wanted to join Doctor Cora when she made her rounds through the village, and ask the old people we’d meet whether they had any good recipes to share, so I could bring great-granma Alyse new Ryshas recipes! Or at least, try to and show her that I had thought of her.
I feel so at home staying there…
Mom’s place in Essle was home, too, but not like this, not with lots of friendly family.
Argh! That thought brought back a bunch of memories I could have done without, and even though Leva is kind of beginning to get more and more interested in kissing… I couldn’t do a thing.
This is getting seriously annoying, but Leva gives me all the time I need, she said, and besides, we’ve got heaps of time yet.
By breakfast time I had gotten used to there being just people of the Nameless at the brewery. In the village were two people of my guild, but they gave off such an unfriendly, sour mental stench that I didn’t go out to meet them the evening before.
After an excellent breakfast — though again, outside, sitting at long tables in the cold, cold, cold, cold, cold morning air — we went out. Doctor Cora explained what she was going to do, and I told her I wanted to chat to the people, make notes, and that I wouldn’t interrupt when the doctor was telling them something, but that I would distract them when she was doing stuff to them.
Doctor Cora grinned, and told me to call her plain “Cora”.
So the first people we visited were the people of Archan. A brother and sister, one year or so apart. Bound together in jealousy: if one would go away to find happiness somewhere else, the other would get their farm and house, which would be unthinkable, and it would be just as unthinkable to allow the other to go away and find happiness. They had never married, and now were giving off something I didn’t like at all.
I told Cora about that, and she started out all like, “well, if they want to do it together, who am I to interfere?”. But I didn’t think there could be any mutual wanting each other in that household. I would go and tell the village head, or the priestess of Naigha, or the baron even. But that’s the same with Khushi’s story that I heard when doing the forgery lessons in Selday: sheriff Radan thought at first that her dad only needed banishment, not hanging. There’s something in these people who belong to the Nameless that quails at meting out judgement and punishment.
And judgement and punishment there must be, because impunity makes people think they can do whatever they want.
Oh well, Cora is a doctor as well, and they tend to think at the world from a strange angle.
I started collecting recipes in the next few houses. Finally we ended up with two sisters, in their eighties, a bit arthritic, but that was soon set to rights. I got a lot of recipes from them, and it turns out they both have sweethearts in Tal Serth, but that they never had married, because that would have been putting themselves forward. So meek! So self-effacing! Well, maybe it’s my ancestry, take that however you want to take it, but I did grow up in one of the most important trading houses, but I would never be able to do that!
So I jollied them along a bit and told them to grab their men and never let them go again, and they were all giggly at the idea of finally doing more than just dancing at the midsummer fair!