The town does have a name (and I know it) but it will not actually be named until the next session, so I’m keeping it to myself. Moyri knows, of course, but the players don’t.
Ysellei Moyri astin Rhydin, Mizrein Hanre, fifth week of Naigha
To her Father and Mother
Dearest Father and Mother,
I bet you have never even heard of where I am now! I’m in the youngest town of Valdyas — Raisse has given it its rights only an hour or so ago. I’ll tell you all about it, after I’ve told you about our journey until now.
My last letter was from Tal-Nus; we left the very next day for Uncle Reshan’s manor at Byrsinay. Arni has given birth, a beautiful little boy. We spent the night there — everyone in the village wanted to see Raisse and hear about the army going south.
Over the first hill is the Khas village — I think you both know about it, but I’m not sure whether you’ve ever been there. It’s too weird! Their priestess of Naigha is a man! He’s got two apprentices as well, but he admits he never was taught properly. It turns out that Raisse knows large chunks of the Khas priestly chants — something weird happened in the South that she doesn’t want to talk about much — and she helped Kusay with burning a victim of the lung plague. They burn their dead instead of properly interring them.
Even weirder: we’ve taken two Khas boys and a Valdyan girl (Jinla) with us, the girl wants to join the Temple of Naigha in Valdis, and one of the Khas boys wants to study there, too. I’m not sure what High Priestess Maile will make of that…
I admit we lost our way then. We thought we’d make a short-cut to the Valda again, but following the road we came closer and closer the mountains in the west. For about a week we were completely alone: no villages, not even isolated farms. The first village we arrived at was completely deserted, and not so long ago even. There was no evidence of panic: most the houses were empty of anything usable.
Not far from there is the the place where I’m writing this letter now, it’s quite large. A market town for a bunch of villages. The survivors of the deserted village now live in this town; apparently more than half of their number died from the lung plague, which makes me worry a lot about Valdis, but this is the worst affected place we’ve encountered. In the town itself, the lung plague hasn’t been that bad.
Officially, the town, the area around it and the mountains all belong to Faran astin Eraday — the headman told us that old Fian used to come and hunt here but that they hadn’t seen anyone for over twenty years. Which suited them fine: no lord, no taxes! But it’s a nice, big village and the mountains look like they are full of ore. Raisse decided to give the village its rights and wrote out a writ making it a real town, with council, sheriff and official market rights!
Tomorrow we will visit the Eraday hunting lodge in the mountains, and then we will go on. The headman Mayor tells us that the local stream flows into the Valda only four days away, so we did make good progress despite our detour. I won’t seal this letter yet, I might have more to add tomorrow.
Your loving daughter,
About the children: I’m more and more convinced that it was a good idea to bring the children and not leave them in Essle or send them to you in Turenay. Essle still has to suffer from the lung plague, but is unhealthy enough anyway, and the combination of Serla, Bahar and Vurian is like a secret weapon: they are making friends everywhere.
And as soon as the women and girls of any village we visit see the twins, there’s nothing that cannot be said, they trust Raisse and me immediately and tell us everything. We’re got quite a large retinue, servants, soldiers, maids, grooms, even a cook, some children we picked up along the way, but people still feel we’re two women travelling alone with all our children!
We really are getting to know Valdyas in a way that, despite not having grown up at all protected, we would never have learned in any other way. I grew up in Tal-Nus two days from Lenay, but I feel like I’ve never really been in the countryside. There has never been any danger that Tal-Nus would be depopulated, and we’ve had it bad enough, but we’ve never had famine. But even here, in a village town nobody has ever heard of before, people have gone off to the war.
Ps: We have finally arrived in Valdis! All of us are sound and well — nobody in the Royal Progress has died from the lung plague or anything else. However, it pains me to have to write to you that your erst-while travel companion Faran, Kamari’s husband has died of the lung plague — along with, some doctors think, one in ten people in Valdis. I don’t think either of you were really close with Faran, who to his last was somewhat eccentric and not as astute a businessman as he thought he was, though his elephants are flourishing, but Kamari s truly sad about her loss. He was the man who gave her her freedom, allowed her to do the work she did best and always defended herself against all the despicable gossip that never stopped in some circles in Valdis.