She’s at her ancestral estate, which she left in her early teens and hasn’t seen for a long time.
Ysellei Moyri astin Rhydin, Tal-Nus, Mizrein Hanre, third week of Naigha
To her Father and Mother
Dearest Father and Mother,
Look at the superscript! I am in Tal-Nus now! Only for the night, tomorrow we will go on to Valdis. We left Essle just two weeks ago, so you can see we are travelling as fast as we can, with a two boats, four carts, twenty-five guards, all our children and plenty of servants. We are in such a haste because the news from Valdis is very worrying!
Father, did you already know about the village Eldan has helped found to the south of Lenay? It’s called Moreyn Zelay, and the people living there are most of the non-gifted people from Erday. The gifted people from Erday have crossed the river and are now living in Lhayen, around the Black Swan.
We arrived in Moreyn Zelay two days after leaving Tilis. There are about fifteen houses, no smithy, no mill — but there is a small Naigha temple and a (very young) priestess. When we arrived, the villagers were plowing, they intend to grow wheat, rye and spelt, and of course vegetables. Vineyards will come later! We shared our food with them and had a very pleasant night. Serla made friends with a seven-year-old girl and wanted to stay the night in her new friend’s house! The next morning, Raisse promised to send a set of millstones from Rizenay, so they can build their mill. As with our work in Essle, it’s making sure that beginning is possible, the people will take it from there! Dear Father, you may be proud of the village that carries your name, they are good people and work hard, and the Queen praised them in one of her very rare speeches.
The roads were very quiet, with more people going to Essle than in our direction. Among them was a woman from Lenay and her two daughters — we invited her to our boat and asked her for the news from the north. She told us that the lung epidemic has been very bad in Lenay, not as bad as in Valdis, but she had lost her son. Her husband had died in the war, and she was making her way to Essle to her sister, and to collect her widow’s bonus from the chancery. Seeing Uznur’s seal on her official documents made me silent for moment! It’s weird, she never realized she was drinking wine with the Queen, nor that her children were playing with the Crown Prince! She was the first to tell us about Moreyn Zelay, so we must have met her before we went to Moreyn Zelay — as usual, I’m writing all confusedly!
Next stop was Lenay. We were welcomed by Hallei Ardin, who does Raith’s baronial duties while she’s away, and does it very well, too, I think, as well as the mayor, the sheriff, the High Priestess of Mizran and some other notables, but nearly no Eradays. You two know the drill as well as we: banquet, speeches, toasts, mingle, chatter-chatter. However, it was clear that the lung sickness has scarred Lenay, too, and Raisse desired to speak to the dean of the doctors’ guild, who turned out to be an old woman in the Guild of the Nameless.
In Lenay about two hundred people have died from the sickness. They had commandeered a barn just outside town and turned it into a temporary hospital. I think Leva did the same in Turenay. In any case, Turenay (and now Veray) have a proper hospital, so I suggested to dean Mialle that she start a proper hospital for Lenay, too. She agreed, but complained that the town council, though rich enough, didn’t want to provide the money — something weird about profit.
Well! Raisse and I properly went off then. In the end, we agreed that the Kingdom, that’s Raisse, will pay for making the temporary structure permanent, the town council will pay for two doctors and four apprentices, their salary, food and clothing. And I went to Auntie Halla with my secret weapon, Serla. Serla completely enchanted Aunt Halla, who invited her to sit on her (Halla’s, not Serla’s) lap. I then wheedled her into organizing the Eradays and merchants to pay for nurses, sheets, food for patients and so on. How about that!
Erday really is in a sorry state. The pit is now full of water, and some grass and weeds have started to grow around it. But all the people now live on the east side of the Valda, in a new village called Lhayen, around the old Black Swan inn. They still have their vineyards and fields, but many men are off to the war, and the sickness has been really bad here. A nice surprise: Fian (I have written about him, he’s off to Albetire now) had sent the two nearly-eunuch boys to his mother, and it turned out that his mother is head of this village. We had a nice chat, but since almost everyone here is in the Guild of the Nameless, we felt we wanted to reach Tal-Nus before dark, because staying there would be beyond endurance!
I got a good tease out of our queen, because when we entered the fields of Tal Nus, I saw Alyse, who, together with her friend Jerna, were the first to make love to Athal. But then I noticed that Alyse still felt, not jealous, but she is still a bit wistful that she couldn’t have married Athal. I got the feeling that her husband isn’t what she had expected — maybe he isn’t faithful or lazy. But we were cheerful enough!
And meeting Lydan, Eldan and Grandmother after so many years — I couldn’t keep my eyes dry. But everyone in Tal-Nus has had the sickness. Fortunately only two or three people have died, other villages have been hit much worse. That’s no doubt due to Eldan’s good care!
Dear Father and Mother, I have proposed that Lydan will go to Veray for a year, to learn about viticulture in Ryshas. Either at one of Lord Vurian’s estates, or at Lord Orian’s estate — he needs to see something of the world before settling down in Tal-Nus. Eldan tells me he is getting a real feel for vine and wine. And maybe he’ll be able to find a nice girl in Ryshas, his attempts at seduction in Valdis weren’t all that successful, perhaps because he was too busy ogling Cora to give any girl the impression that he was really interested in them. My little brother — I have missed him!
Your loving daughter,