More of Raisse being a very effective queen.
This morning we left Tal-Nus early. I know Moyri was sorry to leave again so soon but I want to press on and it wasn’t long before we arrived at Reshan’s estate. Arni had another child, Athal, and everyone wanted to meet me so we ended up spending a night there as well.
The next morning we made for the Khas village that is just over the hill. There they had made a new village. In many ways it was like the one in Essle, but with more space and soil. They aren’t experienced farmers but they had some help and they seemed to be scraping out an existence. What they did not have was a priest. Someone who knew how to burn their dead from the lung plague. They had Kusay who was just an apprentice.
We invited the whole village to dinner as we had done before, and Moyri gave them some advice on making the village more suitable to its surroundings and admonished them to take lessons with the priestess of Naigha in the next village. I handed our spare axe ceremonially to Bar Hal and and we generally were very much at home there. One woman had even married, I think, a veteran. He was the only non-Khas. The whole village seemed to struggle between keeping their Khas identity and blending in. I wish them luck. It’s not easy, but their anie will not be drained by mages at least.
But before any of that my eye fell on Kusay and his apprentices. There was something about them and on studying them closer and talking to them I found out he was their priest. The one to burn the dead, but he did not know the words to say. Moyri almost wanted me to do it for them, but I was reluctant. I showed Kusay what I had done when I sang for the Khas and it immediately connected in him. I guess I got caught up in it, again, because right after that we went outside and performed the ceremony. I could just whisper to Moyri not to leave me alone before he started. I did not join in right away. In part just to reassure myself that I had a choice, but also to let Kusay find his connection and take the lead so he would perform with confidence next time. But I did hold his hand and I did join in.
Perhaps not taking the lead allowed me more perspective and probably my Khas has improved some. But I now have some idea of what the words mean. Most clear was his invoking of all the elements. Fire last, because when he did the fire rose and became much more intense until it had consumed the bodies of the dead. After that the ceremony was over and of course Athal wasn’t there. All though dinner I gritted my teeth. I miss Athal all the time, spiritually, emotionally. But I missed him physically then more then I have in a long time. After dinner I grabbed Vurian and found a quiet place and just hugged him close for a while before we went to bed. After that Athals absence was just generally more acute and I had some bad dreams that I only half remember. That Khas mage I met in Jomhur was there and Athal wasn’t and he was going to do something terrible again and just before I woke up I was in the swamp near Tilis again left behind. It took me a few days to shake it off.
We passed a deserted village and Moyri went to investigate. There were no bodies and most usable things were gone. So it looked like the survivors had gone in search of a better place. And the next day we found it. It was a settlement of about two thousand people, sometimes named Trynyas or “marketplace”, because this was where the market was held around here.
We were welcomed there and we talked to the people of note. For some reason Moyri really pressed for giving this place town rights, even to the extend to saying that I would before I had decided. I know I could have stopped it, but I did not want to do that and after some consideration I believe it was a good idea. I do wonder what made her so eager. Is it some kind of rivalry with this Faran who owns the hunting lodge close by or an aversion to Lenay?
A few weeks back a boy recovered a dog that was left there alone by the abandoned hunting lodge, so we decided to investigate the place the next morning. Giving the people a chance to prepare for the change to a town. We also decided to leave a horse behind, because they had no means to quickly reach a town or a doctor and it could be used by a combined temple of Mizran, town hall and message service.
You might wonder why I titled this ‘New Valdyas’. It is just that I have seen our countryside in a way I never have before. I’ve always had a bit of a privileged upbringing. Though we got to see plenty of work and countryside, it was never so far off or empty and always established and not such a fresh start.