A hole in me

Poor Raisse; she’s as badly off on land as Athal is at sea.

This morning, on the day of Naigha, Athal and I left for port to make the early tide. The docks were crowded as the fleet made ready to depart. I held him close most of the time and we hugged and intertwined our souls before he boarded the ship and I told him he had better come back. Then we watched him leave and I held on to him with my mind for as long as I could, but eventually he was out of sight and a little later I could not hold on anymore and I had to let go.

Now there is a hole inside me. A hole I am certain wasn’t there before I met Athal. It feels like he took a part of me with him and I hope he did. I did not cry. Moyri thought that was a very queenlike thing to do. I am sad and scared, but even more I feel empty. All I had to do was give in to the emptiness to keep my face dry.

We went back and I must have touched the medallion at least a dozen times. When we were back the doctor, one Faran who had just returned from the war with a crippled leg, was there. I introduced him to Eldan and Moyri explained how we came to know him. Faran questioned Eldan, but seemed satisfied and took him along to look at the children Fian brought over and the woman from the islands. Everyone except the woman seemed all right and Faran wanted to call Alaise, the midwife who brought Vurian into this world. She healed the woman, though she needs to rest and eat properly for a while to come and will be our guest here until she is recovered.

I still had to go and see Naravati at the Order house, so I took a small guard and went there. I talked to Morin, the head of the order there, and he was clear that she had been treated well and that he would love to be rid of her. When I went to her with Jinla to stand guard she was annoyingly deferential, but that is not unusual from Iss-Peranians. She was also fiercely indignant at the same time. And on top of that she did not seem willing, or perhaps capable, of deciding what she wanted to do for herself. It all made her come across in a very irritating way.

She begged me for justice and I told her she would have justice as I saw it. She accused Fian of pressing his attentions onto her, but I don’t believe that is the way it happened. She accused someone of making her a prisoner here, while she is a free person and has done nothing wrong. I’m not sure whom she was accusing, Fian, the Order, the world or me. She did have a point, though. She accused our system of justice of being arbitrary, because people decide who is guilty and how they are punished much more so then rules. This is something I am going to think about more when I feel better, but if the right people are doing it I know they do a better job of it than rules. On the other hand the wrong people would do a much worse one.

We also talked about what dandar do, although her mother goddess forbade her to tell me what that was. I mentioned how I was against their arranging people to couple, but she did not see anything wrong with it. So I impressed upon her how regardless of whether it is wrong or right, it is forbidden here and she gave me the impression she is not too interested in doing that and doesn’t know how to do it. This is one thing where I know she might have fooled me. On my argument that the gods decide who is meant for whom, she almost laughed. She did not feel the gods were any use in that. That is on her head, but I could feel Jinla get angrier and angrier.

I think Fian sending her here wasn’t the best choice, and I think he also feels that way now that I have let him know what happened. He has a lot to learn and very little time. I also probably made some mistakes. After trying to make her see things my way, I told her she had money and that I would have the letter documenting her freedom and the money she is due sent here, because she could not tell me where she would be. I gave her some options on where to go, the Order, the Temple of Mizran, or even to come along with me for a while, but I don’t think it sank in. Outside the gate she looked around in every direction and walked a little testing her freedom, not knowing where to go. She even returned to where I was standing without wanting to, I think. She almost cried, but put on a brave face and headed in a random direction. I put a hand on her shoulder and told her it was all right to cry, but I did not get through to her. Perhaps I would have done a better job of it, if I had not felt so empty inside. I do hope she does not end up in some whore-house or gang.

I asked Jinla to keep an eye on her and she suggested informing Phuli. That is probably best, since the Order can’t keep watching Naravati. Then Jinla was off quietly following her.

Should I have banished her for being dandar? Trained in slavery to do as she is told and to leave the right or wrong of things to others? I could not in good conscience do that. I gave her a chance to make her own decisions, but my methods were too gentle for her, I think. I’m sure that living on the streets in Essle will be a far harder teacher. Should I have peeled off her thin shell of defiance and leave her even more bare and vulnerable? I could not do that and then send her out into the world alone, and I could not make her stay against her wishes and call that freedom. I know she did not talk me into setting her free, because I planned to do that all a long. With freedom come hard choices for me and for her.

On the way back I saw Jinla once more watching over Naravati. Maybe tomorrow I’ll find out what happened to her. Then, to make a good day even better, there was a letter from Khora saying that she and her friend would be happy to translate the books. But it also informed me that there is an infectious plague, some kind of lung disease, spreading in Turenay, coming from Valdis. I was already having doubts about our plan to tour Valdyas and visit the Ishey and other parts that had not seen a royal visit in too long. I stayed behind when Athal had to go in order to show the Valdyans that they still have someone to take care of the country, someone to turn to in the palace. After what Moryn astin Rhydin did in Lenyas last time we left, we just could not both leave for a long time, even if all I can do is to be visible. Now with this plague I have no choice but to return. I just wish I did not have to expose Vurian and Radan to it.

That night we had dinner with Khatar, the second in charge of taking care of the house of Koll Neveshtan. He is probably a spy for Koll Konandé or some such person, but I did not feel like trying to get anything out of him. He seemed not uninterested in the teachers’ guild we were installing, so we mostly talked of that and polite things of little consequence. They drew up a charter and I put my official seal of approval on it.

Moyri has been extra sweet throughout this day, even spending the night with me. I did not cry again, but if she had not been here I would probably still be awake worrying.