Turenay, twelfth week of Naigha

Aidan had told me a woman had come with him, the daughter of a Khas officer and a Síthi whore, and her brother. She has consented to stay in Veray for a week, when Aidan had promised her that Raith and Ayneth would take her to us when they came through Turenay on their way to Valdis.

Today she arrived.

She is called Tiruppuvai: Tiruppuvai is a none-too-pretty girl who has followed Aidan from Solay. Her Síthi is very accented, partly because her mother was a poor whore and I have learned the court and temple accents, which are also spoken by most Síthi in Valdyas, and partly because she mostly speaks Khas, so I have a hard time understanding her and making myself understood.

As far as I can make out, she is the daughter of a Khas officer or mage and a Síthi whore. She has grown up mostly in the Citadel, doing chores, speaking Síthi only with her mother and the other slaves. When her mother died giving birth to her brother (called Bhadri, he is very clever and learns new languages really quickly), four years ago, her father took her instead of her mother as his concubine! The Khas truly are barbarians without any sense of propriety! She is now pregnant, either from her father, or from a Valdyan or Iss-Peranian soldier who was dying in the hospital and whom she, as she calls it, "made happy and peaceful before dying". Although at first she wanted everyone, including Aidan and me, to believe that the child in her belly is from Aidan!

Well, she is quite ill in her mind! Overmore, the place where she grew up has led her to believe that a woman needs a strong officer to protect her from the others, and when she had escaped from the women's quarters to the Valdyan hospital she picked Aidan as her new protector, since she heard Dushtan call him Prince Aidan in Síthi!

From that moment, she cared for my lord husband, together with her brother. Aidan and Raith have tried to leave her behind several times. Aidan has received my letter in which I expressly ask him to bring anyone in need to Turenay, so I probably would have been displeased if they had succeeded in leaving the poor girl to herself in Essle! But she managed to follow them without any trouble, and it has become clear why: she can go through any semsin seal, and even through a locked door with her brother, without bothering to open the door! Raisse and I have never seen something like this.

I immediately asked Rhanyn to look at Tiruppuvai, she is much more trained in sickness of the mind. Rhanyn spent a day and a night with her, and managed to get Tiruppuvai to confess that her baby was not Aidan's child -- something at least! It's not even that I am jealous -- it's impossible to be jealous of someone who is clearly even more absurdly out of the world than I was when I arrived in Valdyas. But I don't like having her in our bed. And Bhadri keeps sleeping at our feet! When it was clear that Aidan was never going to marry her as his second -- also something Rhanyn finally made her realize -- she offered to become his concubine, our slave. I don't want slaves anymore! Besides, both Raisses would not approve.

For now, she stays with us. She asked me whether she would be allowed to watch when Aidan and me are making love -- the poor girl wants my husband so much. But I still think just because she feels that apart from him, nobody will protect her and she fears she'll become a whore in the streets, prey to any passing soldier who cannot control his lust, and not because she really loves him for what he is.

With Tiruppuvai came Raith and Ayneth -- the presence of Raith is one of those mistakes that occur so often in a real war. She tells me she was knocked unconscious from the effort of removing a second wall of souls, this time protecting the palace in the citadel of Solay, and when she woke up she was on a ship (our ship!) to Valdyas with three hundred other wounded veterans! I guess there wasn't enough room in the lazarets, so a doctor who knew about the empty ship simply ordered it to be filled with wounded with a good chance of living and then sent it away from the battlefield! Fortunately, they did have a doctor on board, but the poor man or woman must have been terribly overworked with so many patients. Raith is so angry, although she is terribly happy about being with Ayneth again, and after visiting Valdis and Raisse, they will be going back to Solay immediately.

Raith is very nice, although she thinks she isn't at all, but I think she is. (But Raith says I think everyone is nice, but I know that's not true, because I remember that horrible man who knocked down Doryn, as well as that man who raped his ex-wife, and I don't think they were nice. Also, the Mighty Servant in Valdis doesn't seem very nice.)

Lord Vurian is to Valdis again: the news Aidan brought about the possible death of his eldest son, Torin, was a great shock to the family. While Lord Vurian is to Valdis to be present if any news reaches the capital, his daughter, Aine, who is such a marvellous rider of horses, is off to Essle and Idanyas to inquire after Torin.

Poor Torin was just engaged to a Hayan girl. He was always a soldier just like my lord husband, it's Lara's Jichan whom Lord Vurian is educating to succeed him as the master of all his business interests.

Leva has given me another week off -- but after the Festival of Timoine, I will really have to work hard again. At least until we go to Gralen for Midsummer.

Aidan really wants our daughter to be born in Gralen, but I am a bit anxious. I am very young and very small -- and if something goes wrong and I lose consciousness, there won't be anyone but the women of the brewery and the Priestess of Naigha to help me. And their skills aren't as good as Lyse or Leva's. If we go, we will take the nice cradle I have ordered at the carpenter's with us: he has promised me to let his eldest journeyman make it as a master's work, and I expect the journeyman (or journeywoman) to visit us directly after the festival of Timoine.

For now, Aidan and I have another week in which to spend the afternoons and the evenings together, visiting friends, inviting friends home, picking up threads. I love my husband so -- I am getting quite shameless. We have been kissing on the bridge, we have been secretly making love downstairs, while Arvi was cooking and Tiruppuvai feigning sleep, I only dress so Aidan can undress me -- and sometimes, I don't even get a chance to dress.

But all this fury is, I think, just a way for our passion to spend itself so Aidan can find the peace to tell me about the war. He is not saying much about it beyond telling me he feels ashamed for being wounded in the very first battle -- as if there is any shame in being the first to encounter the enemy!

I have a plan to give him this release -- first we will have a night in Venla's Iss-Peranian room (she has made all kinds of nice, special rooms in her brothel, but this one I helped design!), where we can make as much noise as we want without waking Tiruppuvai, Arvi, Raisse or any other neighbour -- and without being spied upon by Tiruppuvai! (She doesn't mean it badly, but it's not pleasant.) And then I will spend the afternoon with him, just letting our spirits be together.


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