Boys who are soldiers
Raisse is still spelling “Khora” even though Cora isn’t; I think that’s a feature so I’m leaving it that way.
We had a little something to eat and dressed up like any old noble to go to the temple of Dayati. Of course it’s hard not to be noticed with six soldiers around you, but that can’t be helped. We went to a jeweller, Perain, whom Halla recommended so that Khora could sell some of the presents she had received. It turns out she promised herself she would donate the proceeds to the temple of Dayati and she got 300 riders for it. But even if money for her was tight, she kept her promise.
I had not intended to buy anything, but he showed me some medallions that bore the symbol of Anshen and there was a pair made together. He seemed to know exactly what might interest me so he must be a good salesman as well as a good jeweller. I intend to give one to Athal and keep the other myself so that we can be close in a way. They feel right and have a subtle form of protection in them. When we were about to leave he had a smaller version for Vurian and Radan as a gift, so they should be included when we share them out, perhaps even at the Order temple. I borrowed the money from Khora, so she wanted to go to the temple and get it back to offer to Dayati. I picked up 200 riders for the temple as a gift, but I waited until my business with Garmi was over before giving it to her. It was not meant to sway anyone.
I say gift because it wasn’t really an offering for Dayati or Timoine either. I don’t think I’ve felt close to Timoine since Dol-Rayen fell or even before that, but it was for the priests to do good work with. And I wanted to show her Vurian and Radan. Of course they were immediately at home there.
Having talked to her, I trust Garmi to be discreet about Asa if it ever matters. So many people know. When I asked her about the dandar she was reluctant, but she did suggest healing in a temple or hospital with sick children. So the idea is risky, I will have to see how things turn out with Khastana and Parandé, but I still believe it’s worth trying. Khora wants to come along, though, and I think she will not agree when I say “You either stop being dandar and become something else or you leave Valdyas.” And I’ll only believe that they can become something else if they come up with the idea or if I can see that they have changed inside.
On the way back I asked Khora if she would invest some money for me in this paper mill. If she handled that for me she can pay herself a fee for the time she spends administering it and give the proceeds to the hospital. That should help a little if she gets in trouble and will be good for Turenay and the hospital. When we returned Athal and Aidan were on their way, so I hid the medallions until we have some time alone so I can surprise him.
Then Khora invited Athal and me for dinner and dancing and since we could we gladly accepted. We had dinner in a nice quiet place and then went dancing by the mill. It was a bit like old times, some people I knew and more that Athal knew. We danced and mostly I sat with Radan and looked around and talked to friends old and new. Khora came to me, concerned that she was wrong keeping Aidan from this war. I tried to get her to talk it out with him and in the end I think she did or started to. I told him that he was a man now and that he had a decision to make. And that he could not let Khora, or his promise to her, or Athal, or anyone but himself make it for him. He called me a meddlesome big sister and that was exactly right. And in the end he said he’d think about it on the way, so Khora will have to come too to make sure the army or indecision don’t make the decision for him. Naturally, as a big sister, I had to have the last word. Big sisters are annoying like that, and I told him that did not sound like a decision and left it at that.
So I know Khora is a doctor inside and Aidan is a soldier. I think Athal is a musician in his heart. I would probably have been a librarian if I’d had the chance. Things are easy, like Khora said about being a doctor, when alone in a quiet library with a stack of books. Being a queen is something I have to work at. Maybe king or queen is not something that you can be born to be?
Things I need to do
- Share medallions with Athal
- Learn to dance like that
- Talk to Hediyeh about leaving Valdis and watching Koll Neveshtan
- Invest in paper mill
- Talk to Lyan and fix marriage decree
- Note down my personal finances