Veray, Mizrein Hanre, first week of Naigha

I'm writing this in a guest room in the hospital Ayneth built in Veray. It is a beautiful hospital, just across the river from the town, all new, all clean, roomy, and with everything in place! I'm almost jealous because our hospital is hemmed in between houses and the school and some people find it hard to find.

I am a little bit nervous -- tonight Ayneth and Ebru will help me get rid of those nightmares that never plague me when I sleep in Aidan's arms, but do haunt my nights whenever I am alone. Raisse wanted to work on me herself but I was so afraid for our child -- and she thought that Ayneth, being of the earth just like Aidan, might provide a sounder base.

Today was a bit of a holiday: Arvi and I went into Veray. Arvi wanted to buy a silver ring to give her Arin -- she is very serious now and was ready to spend the four riders she had saved on it, I only had to add one rider and ten shillings. She selected a beautiful ring shaped like a lizard -- whether that is an auspicious thing I do not know, but she tells me Arin is very fond of the little lizards you see in the countryside and thinks they are cute.

For Arvi, we should have an apartment in our new house, with a door into the house and also a door outside, so if she keeps Arin, they can live together with each other while Arvi can still live with us, too.

And I have finally bought a lute! Ayneth had recommended Jamileh, who actually happens to be the adopted daughter of Koll Neveshtan, and who builds Valdyan and Iss-Peranian lutes in Veray. She is hoping, by the way, for some of the instruments from the collection of Koll Neveshtan, and she also hopes that Athal will have, one day, time to visit her workshop.

She had just the most perfect lute for me: originally made for her nine-year-old niece, Nasrin. It is small enough to fit my hands and it sounds like honey, so sweet. It is not loud at all, but seems to fit my voice. I don't really know how to play it, but it is not hard to get sound out of it, and besides, I've learned to play the 30-stringed Iss-Peranian lute years ago.

When I was playing with it in a corner in an inn, trying notes and chords, singing a little, I had quite soon quite an audience! Also a nice boy whose voice had just broken. He had hoped to join a troupe of itinerant musicians this summer, but I don't think he'll have regained his voice by then. But he could accompany me on a bucket, and I even danced a little, for Timoine, and we got the meal for free from the innkeeper!



I don't even know how much I needed to pay for the lute: it was such a beautiful thing that I felt it would be rude to talk about money. So I gave Jamileh a letter for the Temple. No doubt I'll discover how much I have paid, and whether Jamileh is honest. If she wants Athal as a customer, she'd better be!

This night Ayneth and Ebru helped me get rid of the nightmares... I hope, and trust, and am sure of it! Ayneth closed the chasm, and Ebru killed the spider! They were so strong, so magnificent! The chasm was unendingly deep, I now know it cut through the very world, and there were stars visible on the other end! And when Ayneth closed the chasm, the spider came crawling out, and Ebru didn't hesitate for a moment, but hit it with her staff, and hit it -- and killed it! And she became a master -- we foreign girls are quick learners, it seems.

I went to sleep immediately afterwards, and when Arvi came to join me, I asked her to wait for half an hour, and I dreamed of Aidan and touched myself -- and it felt good, and familiar, as if I were with Aidan again.

Turenay, fifth week of Naigha

I am so miserable! All day long I'm thinking of Aidan. The people of Turenay must be thoroughly fed up with me -- I cannot do anything without thinking of Aidan -- and too often my mouth walks away with me and I start talking about how much I miss him. This will not do! I must care for my patients and be more cheerful with my friends. I haven't been out for ages, I haven't danced, I haven't visited friends to eat with them... And I've neglected my books, even my notebook, although many things have happened that I should have written down. Tonight, Arvi is away, and I have eaten with doctor Jeran, but now I have time to write down my thoughts.

That didn't work! No soon had I put the ink and pen on table, or I was called away by Lyse. Kheti was giving birth and wanted me to be present. At least three weeks too soo, but it was very easy for her. Only an hour or so of labour, and a beautiful girl was born, clearly the child of both Kheti and Arin. Arin should, by now, be on his way back from Valdis with Orian.

But poor Kheti doesn't have any servants of her own, and she lives in the attic of Halla and Radan's house Halla has two maids, but they also need to work in Halla's house and in the apothecary, and Kheti cannot even stand for long enough to change her daughter's nappies. So I have sent Arvi to Kheti. Arvi agreed with me that this would be very useful on two accounts: Kheti and her daughter will have someone to take care of her, and Arvi will get some experience with caring for new-born babies and bed-ridden new mothers, which will be useful when my daughter is born.

So I am eating at the school again, at the table with the other doctors from the hospital. And Raisse's Hinla is washing my hospital clothes.


Myself: I am now over four months pregnant. I can still do any work I want, I'm not even a little bit tired. It feels even as I tire less than when I wasn't pregnant. No longer sick in the mornings, either. After the Feast of Timoine, I will go to the joiner and order a cot, and I'll start making baby clothes and all the other things Selevi tells me I will need. I won't have to make nappies: I got a basket-ful of the things for our wedding from the Iss-Peranians in Valdis.

Halla: Halla is from Veray, when I was in Veray to visit Ayneth and Ebru, I made myself useful and visited all the brothels, like I did in Turenay when Erne was gone. Most of the girls and men were quite healthy, although there were a number of cases I had to send to the hospital or prescribe salve. But Halla was quite sick, even though she hadn't noticed anything: after a miscarriage, a growth had established herself in her womb.

Well, not exactly in her womb, but I'm not sure what to call those bits. Since Leva had told me that pigs are much like humans inside, I went to Ardan the butcher to ask him whether I could be allowed to open up a sow myself and investigate the insides. He allowed me that: pigs are very big, though, bigger than the largest patient I ever had, and I had to stand on three stacked crates to reach for the belly of this pig (it was on a marble worktop). However, I figured out where exactly in the body of a woman could be the thing I had seen growing inside Halla.

I had to wait for Leva to return from her native village before I dared do anything, but Leva let me do the work. It was quite easy: I disentangled the growth just as I had done with Rusla's, with the help of female students from the school (because of decency, although Halla is used to various young men seeing her naked, of course), and then I made her courses start, with the technique Imri in Valdis had taught me.

She started bleeding copiously, I was soaked through, but the growth came out with it, and now she is getting her strength back.

Rovan: Rovan is completely healed. His legs are straight now, and he is working for Arvi's mother now. And it seems that he and Amirthi are getting an understanding, so I hope we'll see another Síthi wedding soon.

Not a case: Faran: I met Faran when I playing with Selevi's daughters and some other girls of the neighbourhood, it was my turn to -- what is it called? turn I think -- turn the skipping rope, when Faran came to me. He is about twelve years old and the son of the miller from Veray who has come to Turenay to help Jilan set up the old paper mill that has been restored completely now.

Faran doesn't want to become a miller like his father, but a doctor. He can read very well and is very nice. I introduced him to Leva and Torin and he has started. He lives in one of the small rooms over the hospital. I think Doctor Torin wants him as his apprentice. I was thinking at first that I would be jealous, because now I'm no longer the only apprentice in the hospital, well, journeywoman, but I don't think I can be jealous of Faran. If Leva would take him as her apprentice and make him her successor instead of me, then I would be jealous, but I don't think that will happen.

Anyway, we went to the paper mill to fetch his stuff, and I met Jilan again. His mother doesn't want to come and live with him at the mill, she prefers to stay downtown near the cheap market and her friends, but Jilan's girl, Valyn, she has come to stay with him, and they will marry at Midsummer.

Just like Arvi, by the way! She has decided that she and Arin will marry at Midsummer -- I think it's a bit too early, but who am I to say such things? Arvi is only a little bit younger than me... But it makes it all the more important that the house we'll build in place of Tylse's will have a nice apartment, with at least three rooms, for Arin and Arvi.

I will wait with tearing it down and building until Aidan is back, though.

The weavery is finished now; only some things are being done still to the roof, and the new loom from Veray hasn't arrived yet. Jeran and Khahid are already living there, and the seem very, very happy. Their neighbours are friendly and pleased that the workshop is being used again and that there are people living here.

Note: there will be an opening celebration in a few weeks' time, and all of the weavers' guild will be there, and me, too, of course.


I have agreed with Tylse that she can buy the shop in the street opposite Riei's shop, it will be sixty riders. Another sixty riders and Geran and his men can repair it and replace the last wattle-and-daub wall with brick, and then about twenty riders and she can move in. I will be sorry to lose her as a neighbour, but I am looking forward to building our own house for our children to grow up in. I feel so good now, I want to be pregnant at least every other year!

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