Here is the letter Serla found (PDF)
Ysellei Moyri astin Rhydin, Valdis, eighth week after the feast of Timoine, the year 547
To her Mother Ysella
I do hope that you will not mind receiving a letter from your loving daughter that was not written by her own hand. I am shamelessly abusing Kare again. Given that couriers tend to travel faster than noble lords and ladies, even, or especially, if the noble lord and lady travel in order to recover their lost youthful folly (which I trust you are doing!), this letter may well be waiting for you when you arrive in Turenay. Either that, or the courier recognizes you and will hand it you on the way to Turenay. Wouldn’t that be funny?
It’s not that I have much of any urgency to tell you — life is very much as it were in Valdis, except that we’ve got a King and Queen again. Her Majesty has visited the School we have been building up for her and expressed her approval of what we have done. The teachers in the school are all very sorry to miss you — but hopefully they will get reinforcements when Uznur’s lawyer comes over from Iss-Peran. Uznur is donating the lawyer (who has been in the family for centuries) to the school, which also means freeing the poor sod. I bet he’s going to be totally terrified to be speaking for himself instead of his owner for once!
We sort-of solved that thorny problem with the Eraday youths who wanted to become pages at court — in the name of the house they were born with. Well, that’s impossible, of course! And since Father is in no state to be asked about whether he will allow wearers-of-otter-fur to carry the name Nusan, we came up with an alternative: Reshan will be getting his own house-name, something nice to do with lynxes, or with his ancestral seat. Of course, Reshan is in the west, fighting the Khas and having a bloody good time, or so it appears from his — too infrequent! — letters to Valdis, so he cannot decide either, but we’ve delegated that to Arni, who is, as you know, knocked up again and home to await her baby’s pleasure of arrival. The kids have gotten the choice: claim the name Nusan, go to Arni or become commoners. Tomorrow they’ll give me their decision.
Tonight I’m going to have another official dinner, this time with the Mighty Servant Ervan. I am not particularly looking forward to that: he still seems connected somehow to the party of the Nameless and is an altogether too clever and unscrupulous person. Plus, he dislikes children so Bahar and Serla will have to go into the nursery, which they and I hate. The other guests are more palatable: Uznur’s friend Hamza Shukram, the tapestry merchant Dimani ar-Rajul, whom I missed last time she visited because I was laid up in bed, and finally that fine pair, the Yaktub brothers, Sarkash and Geref.
Well, we’ll see. I’ll have Kare write more tomorrow, but I hear the first guest arrive now.
Ah, well, that took a little longer. Dear Mother, we had quite some adventure yesterday. Just as a teaser: it ended with Uznur having three women in his bed (me, Serla and the Great Unknown about whom I’m going to tell you presently). However, I formed an effective buffer between Uznur and the Other, whom Serla has adopted as her “very nice very sick aunt”.
Since I know that only you will be able to open the seal we share, I feel free to tell you all about it. During the dinner last night, I noticed that Dimani ar-Rajul was getting more and more uncomfortable. At first I thought she was being bothered by the Mighty Servant’s lack of manners, and then that she (like me) thought that we’d better let the boys get on with their drinking, so I took her upstairs, to the children’s room. The women’s quarters, you know. She likes children a lot, but after three miscarriages has never conceived again: her husband has sent her packing because she hadn’t given him sons. Of course, his other wives have produced nothing but daughters either, serves him right.
Well, she asked for brush, ink and paper to write a letter. Pretty mysterious, writing letters when you’re a guest somewhere, but I schooled my face into the best hostess impersonation I could manage and told Kare to deliver the letter at the temple. We had our dessert (some lovely concoction with snow from the mountains north of Rizenay, it is incredible to be rich enough to have snow packed in ice that takes more than a month to arrive from mountain to arrive on our doorstep).
When Dimani ar-Rajul went home, Serla picked up a scrap of paper she’d found on the floor and gave it me, proudly pronouncing it to be “a letter by daddy!” It was, rather obviously the draft of Dimani’s letter, written in Court Iss-Peranian, which I cannot read. Well, you can imagine my curiosity!
So, when Uznur came home — he had to go out with the Mighty Servant and the others to drink wine with them — I gave him the letter and told him Serla thought it was one of his. Not knowing he was reading someone else’s letter (or he would have asked Kare to do that), he read it and went white like very weak tea with milk. Which is pretty white for someone of his complexion.
It turned out to be a good thing that I had found a way to overcome my scruples, since it was a letter from Dimani to a very high-placed personage in Albetire announcing that she would no longer do for him what he had asked of her, and would kill herself instead, sparing him the effort. Well, I immediately sent Uznur and some servants out to fetch Dimani and her effects. No guest of mine is going to kill herself if I can do something about it.
What she told us was that the august personage in Albetire wanted to break up the Great Alliance against the Khas — so he could grab back Athal’s chunk of Albetire and claim victory (and Solay, one supposes) for himself. I won’t bore you with the details of our counter-plan — you can imagine we spent most of yesterday working on our spy network, sending messengers to the South and so on. Listen, Mother dear, if you’re in Turenay, there should be this girl called Cora. She’s an absolute master of weaving, it turns out she’s the one who made the cloth for my new dress. Could you be a dear and find out whether she’s still working? I’d be prepared to spend anything on enough cloth to have a little matching dress for Serla made (and a jacket for Uznur, if she can weave cloth suitable for men’s clothes, too). She should be easy to find: she’s the girl who so famously made Aidan into a monogamous model of indecent behaviour.
About Dimani and why she was in our bed: it appears people have been poisoning her for at least ten years, and it took my doctor Roushan and Athal’s doctor Dushtan together to fix her up and make her excrete the poison. That was pretty spectacular: she was vomiting, sweating, pissing and shitting at the same time, full-body convulsions. There was also quite a bit of foul anie-like stuff coming out. Then she was too tired to be carried upstairs, so we cleaned up the big bed and put her up for the night. Serla was delighted: I am prepared to bet that when Dimani sleeps upstairs tomorrow she’ll try to join her. Well, as you know, I’m trying to raise my children in the Síthi way, following your stories of the House of Dayati, so I don’t mind.
Please give my love to Father, don’t hurry, have fun, make love and be happy!
P.S. I am doing really fine: doctor Roushan tells me I’m allowed half a glass of wine at the festival of Anshen again.