But still in the “valdis” category, because otherwise it would screw up the sequence too much.
Ysellei Moyri astin Rhydin, Valdis, thirteenth week after the feast of Anshen, the year 347, to Ravei Raisse astin Brun
Dearest, dearest Raisse,
I started missing you the day I left, and that has not changed! But it is very strange: I now realize that Serla and Bahar had never been outside Valdis. We haven’t been away since you and Athal left for Iss-Peran. It is quite likely that Uznur will want to travel back via Essle, to see to his business. What with helping out with the war effort and things like that, it’s becoming necessary that he pays some personal attention to his business interests.
That reminds me: will you be travelling with Athal and the army to Essle? If so, we might meet there and have a nice evening with Rhaye and then you could travel back with us. I am sure Essle wants to see “their” crown prince, too.
We arrived in Turenay today, just in time for the feast. Fortunately, your mother could fit us in, for all the other places to stay were indeed full. I hadn’t quite realized how small my parents’ shop is, nor how busy Turenay is for the feast of Mizran. I haven’t been here for years!
We have had a good, speedy but very wet journey. Fortunately we travelled in style, with three carts and tents and everything, and the children really liked it. Bahar now wants to become a carter when he grows up; we will see!
I have to tell you about our entry in Turenay: it was really too silly for words, Uznur hasn’t gotten over the shame of it yet. We came in through the north gate, but as soon as one-and-a-half cart was through the gate, we realized that we wouldn’t be able to drive through the market square, because the festival fair is going on already, of course. But we couldn’t back up either, so we had to go along the town wall, past the new Síthi bath house to the west gate, where we started wondering where we could put the carts and the horses, so we drove on through the weaver’s street to the south gate, where we left Turenay again!
I remembered that there’s a farmer with a big barn and some large stables just outside the south gate, and he still had room for our carts, horses and menservants. The girls will be staying with me, of course. We then tried to reach my parents’ shop, but! I had forgotten that I’d been sitting in the wet in a cart for two weeks, so we had only just about reached the School when I couldn’t walk on. My legs simply refused to carry my weight anymore and sat down on somebody’s doorstep!
Cynla and Fikmet managed to borrow the hospital cart, which turned out to be driven by your Maile. I think Maile is looking very well! She was carrying a very, very cute little Athal in a sling. The boy will never look much like his namesake: he’s already quite a big, burly child with a big thatch of black hair. Tomorrow, Leva is coming to take a look at me (and at Uznur, Rava tells me that Leva had quite a bit of experience healing old wounds).
My parents’ shop is small, but very pretty and cosy. There was a bevy of noble ladies waiting to be fawned upon by my father — he’s got a lot of his old roguishness back — but as soon as we’d entered, the old biddies only had eyes for the children. Father closed up anyway, and we had a nice, soggy round of embraces. He’s looking really well, but he doesn’t even hunt anymore, and they eat in the Síthi restaurants more often than not. They don’t even keep a maid of all work! How they manage is beyond me, but they are very, very happy. We very nearly lost Bahar! He had been exploring and gone and hidden himself in one of the store cupboards, where Mother keeps bales of ingredients.
I have to admit I really was nearly dead with exhaustion when we arrived at your mother’s place — did you know that in addition to managing the school, she also has evening classes for illiterate adults twice a week? I so admire her! All your little sisters and your little brother are doing fine, and they all want me to give their greetings to you and their brother-in-law.
Before I stop: I have seen Dimani already, because I was really concerned and felt I couldn’t sleep before I had spoken to her. She’d indeed gone and hidden herself in the poor quarter across the river. Leva and her apprentice Cora (who, it seems, has left for Valdis, so once again I won’t be able to thank her for the cloth she made for me), had dragged her out and taken her to the hospital, to be treated by Leva and doctor Airath — apparently everything that had happened to her had become too much of a strain and she nearly broke. There has been a sort of incident where Aidan and his little army troop caught an Iss-Peranian spy or assassin or something who was on his way to Turenay to do something to Dimani, but the poor fool had lost his way and stumbled onto the army summer camp.
So, Dimani still wants someone strong to escort her when she goes out into the street, but she lives opposite the school now, above a cobbler’s workshop. She’s got a sort of understanding with Jilan the painter: she helps him with the negotiations, and he helps her with paint and stuff. She makes beautiful little paintings of flowers, very delicate. And while they don’t have any plans to get married, they do go out and dance together. And Dimani blushed very prettily when she told me about Jilan. Anyway, all is well with her now, and with the boys, too.
Oh, and Serla has managed to wheedle her auntie into letting her stay with her tonight; our first night without our eldest daughter!
Ps. There does seem to be (or have been) all kinds of goings-on in Turenay, ranging from attempts to abduct your Cora, to the capture of that spy I told you about to spies sent out by one Lydan of the Nameless who have managed to evade Raisse’s vigilance for months! I don’t know everything yet, but I’ll ferret it out, this is just the gossip your mother gave me. I’ll write again soon, I promise!
Pps. I’m opening this letter again to tell you about Leva’s visit this morning. Uznur can move his fingers again! Well, just twiddling a bit, but that’s more than he’s been able to do since the day that great mast fell on his arm during the battle for Dol-Rayen. Leva thinks she can make it even better, but she says she wishes that Cora hadn’t gone, because she’s apparently really good in the putting together of shattered bones. Leva had a young Síthi man with her, a certain Kancho, who’s nominally the pupil of one doctor Jeran, but who goes with Leva on her rounds once a week. Together they made me feel stronger than I have felt for months — even my legs felt a bit better. We’re going out to the baths now, as soon as Serla returns from her night with Dimani. I’ll write to you very soon!