In Silver Village
It was strange to be without Riei! Though I could still feel her in my mind, that made it less bad. And I was with Venla and Fian and Lochan and Liase. The village already knew we were coming, more than half the people there are gifted! And all the people our age are. That’s probably because so many of them have parents and grandparents from Velihas where almost everyone is gifted and if you’re not it’s like being blind or deaf, missing something everybody else has.
There was a very old grandfather, Jarn, who showed us around in the mine and the workshops and bragged about all the things his grandson (or great-grandson, it could even have been that) had made before he went to Valdis to study with the engineers. I knew it must have been Tarn, but I didn’t ask him until much later when I caught him alone, and yes, of course it was. He knew Tarn was back and living in High Penedin and working there, but I didn’t ask him if he was sad that he hadn’t come back to the village because I knew how unhappy Tarn had been when he lived there. I think only this grandfather understood him, really!
The mine was scary because it was deep in the hill and all dark. Though we had lamps, and there were a lot of us, and we didn’t go into the really narrow passages, so that was sort of all right. I wouldn’t have liked to be there alone! Fian didn’t want to go in at all because he got the shivers even from the first room that was inside the hill, so he went back outside and talked to the people there about the water-wheels they had to wash and crush the ore with. That was useful because he could tell us all about it in the evening!
On the second day, two soldiers came from the army camp and read a letter from Captain Aidan saying that every person who came along with some kind of a weapon or sturdy tool to fight the bandits in the bandit camp (I learned that this was outside the village where the nasty people from Tylenay were holed up, but they were paying the bandits to be their soldiers) would get a hundred and forty-four riders! That’s a dozen dozen, enough to get twelve people apprenticed! And a lot of people went, with their mattocks and picks and pitchforks. Someone told me later that he’d have gone even if there hadn’t been all that money, it was time someone put paid to those thugs, only they hadn’t gone on their own because they didn’t have a captain like the captain. I could understand that! By the way he’d taught Riei and me to use our swords, I knew how he’d make people do what they ought to do even if those people had never learned to do it yet.
Then, I think it was the next day, Riei was suddenly in my arms. It turned out that she was the one who had put up all those hundreds of riders! At first it had been twelve for anyone who went, and twelve times as much if they died trying, but the captain had said “you don’t want to give people that choice, do you?” so she’d made it a hundred and forty-four either way (instead of twelve either way, which the captain probably meant). But she’s actually got all that money and it’s better to do good things with it than to let it just sit in the Temple of Mizran doing nothing.
And she’d also inveigled herself into the kitchen of the stone house where Rayin and Doryn were living, and put something in their food to make them sleep, and wheeled them to the army camp on a donkey-cart. But that was the captain’s business now, no longer her or our business.