I like Raisse’s tacit assumption that Khora’s former secretary/spymaster is a her. (Though she’s writing in Ilaini, of course, and she’s likely to have written epicene lea for someone whose gender is unknown and/or irrelevant.)
The next morning Orin came to us. He is the private secretary to the Mighty Servant of Essle and he had Koll Neveshtan’s will with him. It turns out that Athal was named in that will. Perhaps that is why he avoided my question yesterday. Most of his trade empire will remain in the hands of his family. Some part he will leave to his adopted children here in Valdyas. One of which is already part of the war and the other, I expect, will come to Essle at her earliest convenience. But his personal belongings here in Essle he left to Athal with the stipulation that he only gets it when the war is won, so he will spend it on the recovery instead of the war.
That was very generous of him and also a sure way to keep it out of the hands of Koll Konandé. When he had explained the gist of it Moyri suggested that we involve Fian as a way of preparing him for the trip to Albetire. At this point Fian did not know anything about the plan, though, so we made the priest wait and called Fian to come to us as quickly as possible. He half expected to be scolded for his pursuit of Halla so he was quite surprised by our plan. It’s a completely life-altering plan, so it is not unreasonable of him to want to think about it for a while. He was enthusiastic about overseeing the estate for us until it was really ours.
Technically, I think it’s Athal’s, so it might come to pass that there will be a Velain on the throne married to a Brun and be the richer of the two. Wouldn’t that be something new. I don’t think it will matter, though.
So we went to have a look. It was as busy as a beehive there and we made Fian get his feet wet by finding out who was in charge. Koll Neveshtan had had a lot of slaves, and those could not be left there to wonder what would become of them while the war lasted. The priest has already considered this and the slaves were being freed and paid from the estate. That was good, but they might be a bit lost after that, and they might still prove very useful. When looking around Moyri and Athal heard about the music room and were off to look at the instruments, while I looked over the library. It was an impressive library at that, almost the size of the school library. I browsed it for a while, looked at some ledgers just to see how large the sums really were, and looked for a history of Albetire and some writing on worldwide trade theories.
Then Moyri contacted me and reminded me of what I should have been looking for. She is just full of good ideas: without her we would have missed out on a lot. And there were maps there. An impressive map of Essle and even one of Solay. And that is something I’m sure Athal will need. There were quite a few, and she suggested that he must have had a cartographer, so we sent for him and employed him on the spot. He still had a slave mindset, so I did not want to employ his two apprentices that he dearly wanted to keep around, but told him to employ them himself according to our custom. They can easily pay the apprentice price from what they were paid when they were freed.
Meanwhile Moyri went to investigate Koll Neveshtan’s private rooms for the private notes I could not find in the library. And after some time and with the help of a carpenter she found two small books. One was about Albetire and the other about Essle or Valdyas. We let them know we took the two notebooks and left the house. I want to study the books and I did read some of the one about Albetire. They were not in code, but written in the Iss-Peranian court language, and I am sure there were more layers of hidden meaning than I could decipher. Moyri suggested getting Khora to explain what they meant, but I don’t want to involve her in political issues with Iss-Peran; she needs to concentrate on being a doctor. She would probably be much better at it than I, though. Then she told me there was someone in the hospital in Turenay who used to work as a kind of spymaster for Asa back in Albetire, so I sent Khora a letter asking about her. That way, if Khora wants to do this she can offer, and if not, perhaps the other person can help.
When we returned there was some trouble about getting enough slates, until Moyri suggested asking the schools here. And Aidan was there. His and Khora’s ship has arrived and safely disembarked, so he was elated and was going to send a letter to Khora right away. I suggested sending both our letters, but it turned out he had already sent his when I had written mine.
Soon after that, four prospective teachers turned up to be interviewed.
- Lysna is an experienced older teacher at the trade school in Essle. She was born in the slums of Essle herself and is driven to make things better. There should be a guild of teachers set up, so they can meet and support each other, and she seems to be the right candidate for guildmistress.
- Faran is in the guild of the Nameless and also from the trade school. He was sent by Radan, but he seemed genuinely interested.
- Riei and Arni are very young, privileged and currently in a class taught by Lysna. They are capable enough, but here mostly because they have a crush on Lysna. Time will tell if they can stick it out or run back home. We decided to keep them together to give them a better chance to deal with a class full of unruly children who are sometimes only a few years younger.
Since we need at least three teachers we don’t have much choice and these will have to do. All I can do is support them and hope they make it.