Arin’s fifth and last report to the queen

Now he’s sure that she’s reading his letters.

Valdis, three weeks before Midsummer

Dear Queen Raisse,

Even though we have received our money and our job is done now, I wanted to write one last letter because some things have happened since we met and I wanted to tell the Queen how we ended up. Besides, Maile has asked me to write you again, and although we cannot be certain, I’d be prepared to bet, if I were a betting man, that the Queen will read this letter.

It’s just hard to figure out where to begin…

I think I should begin where I ended my last letter — the day after we caught that quack Faran, we went to Master Hinla’s work place and were told that we were wanted at the Palace again. We didn’t know that I would be meeting the Queen, or Jeran Lady Moyri, the mother of my sister’s friend.

So, we went up to the Palace, thinking to put in a good days work among the sausages. Since the Cook now knows what we need, I think this batch turned out to be even better than the first batch; it might be worth it to ask Cook to hang a few dozen in the chimney and have them smoked. Sometimes, eating the sausages fresh is best, but we had some extra-good meat here. Besides, then the King can taste them when he returns. But I forget — we will be having our own butchery by then, and the King can buy our sausages through Master Hinla (not directly, that would be a breach of custom!)

Then, just when Jeran was up to his eyebrows in blood and guts, I was called Upstairs, to see the Queen! Which is when I was told we had done our work well and would be rewarded suitably, and I no longer believe that the Queen is not very nice, because she is!

When I was away, Lady Moyri took Jeran apart, and Jeran was very surprised when she asked him to take her arm and walk with her — he was still as bloody as the freshest steak! But she didn’t care about her gown, only about us and was, Jeran tells me, as gracious as the Queen was to me.

Also, it turns out that the boys we had been teasing and giving knuckles and bladders and small fry are the princes — they were indignant when I called them small fry, and one said, I’m not small, I’m Prince Vurian and this is my brother, Prince Radan, so I believed them.

When we left the palace, we went along Master Hinla’s, to fetch Tyan, who was to come with us and look at the place we were going to get a chance at. When we arrived there, the Order and the Guard and lots of people looking like Priests of Mizran were milling about Yaktub’s house, and Selle, who was still on the roof, told us they were trying to open a sealed chest.

Well! (I’m not sure I’m telling this in the right order, but the Queen is very smart, so she will be able to follow me, I am sure.) I had decided to ask Maile to marry me — or at least go steady with me — that night, and that decision had made me feel like I could conquer the whole world, and I decided to help those poor people a bit.

So I went up to the chest, and after Jeran had examined it a bit and found it was only half-ful, I took my butcher’s knife and with just two cuts (and a lot of semsin), I had forced the seal apart and the contents spilled out! Just papers, but according to the priests of Mizran they were really important. Since then I learned that this was my master’s trial, so I will be a master at the next Guild Meeting at Midsummer, only I won’t stay for the Wake, since I will also be marrying Maile at Midsummer, I still have to ask Master Hinla, since neither me nor Maile has any old women in the family to marry us. But I’m really proud to have been able to open the chest of papers, my last service in this matter for the Queen!

Afterwards, Tyan, Jeran and me went to inspect the butcher’s place, there is a house next door that is empty and derelict, if we tear it down and have a builder make one front for us, we will have a really nice and big shop, with a yard at the back for butchering and a good workshop for cutting and sausage making. We can put our names over front in Valdyan and Iss-Peranian letters! Tyan actually knows some Iss-Peranian because his fiancee was Iss-Peranian, she died of the lung sickness, he is now with Rusla, the saddler.

Jeran has told Selle he doesn’t want to go with her, she is very sad about that, but she has to admit that we warned her! But I asked my Maile to marry me that evening, after she had told me that she will be a Master in her guild when she is done with the current building for the hospital, I think it is going to be a separate house for people with spreading plagues. She told me she was going to be a master first, and I kissed her and then I told her about the shop and I asked her to marry me — and she said yes! We’re very young, that is true, but with all the people who have died in Valdis, there is a lot of work to do, and we’ll both be masters before Midsummer!

So we went to a small jewelry shop and I bought a necklace for Maile, with silver flowers. It suits her very well, and when she is working, she can hide it under her shirt so it will not be too dangerous.

I also want to thank Lady Moyri again because she has given me the money to put my sister Halla into apprenticeship! With all the rewards we have been collecting we have enough to go into partnership with Tyan, Jeran and me, but I had been worrying about that since twelve riders is a lot of money and takes a lot of time to save up for.

We’re not sure where we’re going to live: Jeran maybe in the attic over the new shop, and Maile, Halla and me (and maybe also Jerna, since she cannot afford the room she shares with Maile at the moment on her own) — although I also would like to stay in our own neighbourhood. But we will see!

Maile and Halla give their regards to the Queen and to the Princes.