A Splendid, but Sudden Plan
Rhinla and Master Jeran are back. Or rather, they are leaving
I’ve always known that Master Jeran had wandering feet… But he kept our trips to simply going to Veray, or Doctor Cora’s farm while I was still in school. But I’m done with school, and a couple of months ago, Master had send his girlfriend packing. (A great saving on crockery, that was.) And this morning he said I’m properly a proper journeyman now, given how much I had worked in the past three years. (More than on my schoolwork, and the teachers at the Guild school still don’t see eye to eye with Lesla and me when it comes to the proper way of using light^Wsemsin.
And then he proposed that we should be going on a really long painting trip. Get a cart, a mule, pack our paints and brushes and go… But where?
I proposed the north! First I thought we could travel with Veh and Asa to the North, when they would go to that Temple of the Mother to fetch their next babies, but they travel as Ishey, and as quickly as possible, and we want to be able to sketch and paint a lot, so no. But Halla, who works in the hospital in Tylenay, and who was a friend of us at school, so we still write each other, well, she writes, I send her sketches, she told me the mountains there are really impressive.
So, pretty soon, after I had put away the madder roots that Athal, one of Veh and Asa’s sons, had delivered, we were on our way to the school. I had grabbed a small portrait painting of Senthi, who teaches geography and languages, one where she was asleep on her desk. It was a bit hastily painted, but, honestly the stilted kind of painting like the portraits Khushi and Moyri had with them when they came through Turenay to have Khushi’s dad hanged, well, I think that might be all smooth and things, but for something that just shows someone as they are, instead of at their prettiest, I put some life in it.
And master Jeran agrees, and now he also agrees that he can teach people painting, and not just teach them how to paint like him.
I think I must’ve painted everyone in Turenay by now, or sketched them, and pretty much everyone knows me, I am going to miss them all!
But since I never really paid attention to geography, preferring to sketch maps with little houses and villages in them, and little people and animals, instead of paying attention, I thought I’d need that little bribe for mistress Senthi.
She was in her cubby-hole, at that same desk, surrounded by paper, scrolls and books. She wavered between that really severe told-you-so-you-should-have-paid-attention-when-you-had-the-chance look, and smiling when looking at her portrait. But we did get a map! And it is possible to go from Tylenay past Silver Village, Ruby Village and then towards Nalenay, and then up to the plateau and to Rizenay. And we’d probably have to winter in Rizenay, so we needed money for stores and money for a cart and money for a mule and money to rent a house we could work in. Oh, and money for candles or oil, she said, because the days are very short. But, well, I don’t want to boast but I can make our studio as bright as day with my light, and still sketch, paint, mix paints, grind pigments or prepare panels.
She did look a bit dubious as if I was boasting, but it’s just the plain truth!
From there, to the Temple of Mizran, where Lesla is working now. Though she still goes to school, a bit. She had door duty, and I don’t think she really realized I would be gone for probably a year, maybe more… That’ll come though. First she brought us to a priestess and then went to ask permission for her to write my journeyman’s letter.
Lesla has the habit of taking my purse every Day of Mizran and empty it and put everything in my account in the Temple. You see, since there’s no real artists’ guild in Turenay, there’s no rule that while I apprentice with Master Jeran I couldn’t sell my sketches and paintings. Oh, I give away a lot, too, but plenty of homes in Turenay now have a portrait to keep of a loved one who is gone, plenty of people have given their lovers a miniature locket with their portrait and as for what I’m making by inking people’s skin… It’s shocking!
So, I had plenty, and since Master Jeran had been working steadily, he had plenty in his account — of course, our materials are expensive, but that’s in the price! And even though I’m not good at all with money, I know I should get it for my work, since it’s good! I mostly work by weight of panel compared to weight of silver…
And now I’m offcially a journeyman, and I’ve got letters of credit, and… We’re going to leave the day after tomorrow!
We asked Lesla to mind the house for us, and especially the cat. Currently Lesla and me, we live in a lean-to next to Ferin and Ashti’s house, we started living there when master Ferin had his girlfriend living in. Of course, plenty of nights, Lesla slept at school, and I have worked through several nights in our workplace in Master Jeran’s house, but that’s where we slept.
The priestess gave Lesla permission to go with me when I said I was going to the Ishey to get a good, strong mule, and we went. (Master Jeran went to the Carter’s Inn, to hire a carter to bring us to Veray; we’d buy or have made a good, strong mountain-ready cart by Maile, the best wainwright in Ryshas. When I asked him at the end of the afternoon whether he wanted to come to dinner at Ferin and Ashti’s, he was still there, still drinking beer…)
When we arrived at the Ishey House, we got to talk to Tao, and he showed us their herd of mules. One immediately appealed to me. She looked strong, had big, solid hooves and small socks, a broad back, and, I thought, looked friendly.
This was borne out in the end, when we got her recommended by Tao, and he promised to bring her to Master Jeran’s house day after tomorrow, really early. For free, since I had been doing so much painting for free on the walls in their house.
When we were walking downhill, back home, I suddenly felt a strong sense of impending loneliness, and also nostalgia (see, I have learned long words in the past three years!). I just wanted to hunt for crayfish with Lesla, just the two of us, like we used to, back in Essle.
I’m not hankering after Essle, though I do miss the people over there… But it would be our last night in Ferin and Ashti’s place, so, we caught a whole lot, and brought them to Arni, who now brews together with Raisse, and also does most of the cooking. She was happy with them, and set us to guard Rava, Ashti’s latest toddler, who is always making for the river.
In the smithy, big Rava, Arni’s wife, was working on something, but she had time to chat to us, after we’d waited for her and Ferin to finish what they were doing. They promised us something cool on the morning of our departure. (And it turned out to be pretty amazing: two tins, with a long lid, and a spiral inside, to keep our brushes in the turpentine during travel, without them getting squashed up, the brush hanging by the end from the spiral, and the lid keeping the turps in.)
We had a lovely dinner (master Jeran came, too, bringing some of his store of food), a tearful goodbye (from me, I’m sure Lesla will hang out here often enough!), and then grabbed our stuff from our shed, and went back to master Jeran’s house.
That night, we slept together in a bedstead, for the last-but-one time. We’re not even, probably, physically sisters, but there’s no-one I’m as close with as Lesla.
The next day, we spent preparing for travel. Getting all our tools, pigments, mediums, glazes, fixatives, glues in the right places in the TWO BIG working boxes. Getting everything that was cheaper in Turenay than elsewhere — paper is, but the paper in Veray is better — and packing it. Master Jeran is used to travelling, he’s pretty much the only Valdyan painter with wandering feet, so we knew what to do, and I have always known that if the itch would strike, it would mean leaving in a day or two.
I might be impulsive, but even in that Master Jeran is my master!
Paper books we’ll get in Veray, and I’ve promised to make a drawing a day in one of those books for Lesla, to give her when we come back.
That’s, if we come back! The journey will be dangerous, we’ll go places no painter has painted before!
And the next morning, I hugged Lesla, the carter, her cart, her ox, her dog and our mule arrived. And after we’d sorted out the dog, who hated the mule, and the mule, who wanted to pull that cart, instead of walking behind it, we left!