I'm writing this while I'm waiting for Aidan to wake up. Arin has left the house already -- he's so steady with Arvi now that I have said they can live together even before their apartment is ready. It's strange, having another man in the house. He isn't around very often -- he certainly doesn't sleep enough! He leaves before we get up, might go home for lunch, or not, and gets home after closing time, often around midnight. But as long as Arvi is happy with him, I am pleased. And the first time, in our old house, when I came down naked from the attic to find Arin eating his porridge was quite a shock. But then, he was wearing only a shirt, too, and I was going to take a bath, which makes a difference in Valdyas, as I have noted before.
I have discovered that I no longer dare to go up to our attic! Worse, when I was up, I hardly dared go down the ladder. This big belly of mine is in the way! So we tried to move into Tylse's house, especially since there Khisif needed some place to sleep with us as well, so when Khisif slept in Arvi's little room, Arvi had to sleep with us, and I take too much space for that to be comfortable! When we moved into Tylse's house, we had even taken in Halla, who was far too lonely in the regiment's headquarters (the old fencing school), and who is still very sad about all her losses.
But Tylse's house was not a success! Arvi was fortunate, since she had the use of our attic with her Arin, but the rest of us hardly slept at all. It felt as if there was something completely wrong with the house, as if the Nameless had an influence, but there was no sight of his particular stench.
Aidan, groggy with sleep, went to fetch Tyan next morning, a student who has the same kind of affinity with water Athal has with the earth, and he was shaking as if stricken with palsy: there was a cold spring under the street, near the corner of the house that wanted to come out very badly. Aidan grabbed a pick and started digging and before he had struck the earth three times, the water gushed out and made the streets muddier than they have been since last autumn.
He also fetched Geran the builder who tut-tutted at the sight, and built a sort of rough trough around the well and put in pipes to allow the superfluous water to drain to Market Street. Well! I have got the fountain I wanted! But according to Geran, Tylse's house had suffered some damage I didn't fully grasp and had to be demolished. And when it was demolished, Geran first had to do repairs to Selevi's house and the house of the old lady Sidhan -- and now he's digging a deep cellar, apparently he can build a cellar that is not affected by the nearby spring, but I don't understand how.
But we're going to get our new house: three stories and an attic, with a large, large, large kitchen downstairs, a large room and two children's rooms on the first floor, an apartment with a stair and her own front door (well, side door) for Arvi and Arin, and then a floor for guest rooms, and then the attic. The guest rooms will have sloping walls, since they are to be already under the roof. We will have pillars in front of the house, so we can sit under the porch when it rains or the sun is very hot and watch the children play in the square -- because, with a fountain and a house with pillars, it's no longer a street, but a square, we all agree on that, our neighbours, Geran and us.
But the builders won't be done until after the festival of Anshen, so we have all moved in with Halla in the old Eraday house that's now the regimental headquarters. There are three rather large apartments, one with one room and two with two rooms. We have the largest... But only because our table would only fit in the kitchen of that apartment and everyone is always eating with us anyway. Arvi and Arin sleep in the other two-bedroom apartment, in one room, with Khisif in the other room, and Halla is back in her own room, the one she had occupied before joining us in Tylse's house.
It's very nice to be so close to Aidan when he is working, especially since I cannot do any real work anymore anyway, so I am sewing, embroidering, knitting and peeling turnips. By now, it's warmer, and there is food in the markets again, fortunately.
This winter has been very bad: my buttocks, my first husband exclaimed "has the moon got twins!" when he first saw them, are no longer plump and round, but Aidan doesn't mind and still tries to bite me there, it's the only place I can really stand his touch at the moment, my breasts, belly and other parts hurt even from wearing ordinary clothes!
We haven't had a real famine, I haven't seen anyone die from hunger, but my friends from downtown are very thin. Of course, a lot of grain has gone to Iss-Peran, to feed the armies and the poor of Albetire, and around Turenay the weather has been bad, so the harvest was bad, too. Strange -- it was so beautiful when we married, but shortly afterwards, there was rain and hail and it never was really dry enough to harvest, according to Selle.
I have the following business interests:
I understand that the White Whale is still being used to transport veterans back to Valdyas, so there is no income from there, but we have plenty of money to pay for the building of our new house and to live from. And Aidan has received his bonus, plus, since he is captain, and there is a lot of work for a captain now, he has to visit all the widows and widowers, orphans and bereaved parents, and even with Halla helping him, there's a lot of paperwork, so he earns the captain's salary he gets fully.
When we had moved into Otter House (which is what the people of Turenay seem to call the regiment headquarters, formerly fencing school, also the place where Lady Rava bore her first child, Torin, who is missing, and before that, the town house of the noble family Eraday), I had noticed a locked door in the stairwell. Well! I won't deny I'm as inquisitive as anybody could be, so I asked Aidan where that door would lead.
Turns out that nobody had gone there for ages, and we couldn't find the key. I thought for a moment that we'd have to ask Tiruppuvai to open the door, but Halla finally found the keys in her desk.
The attics are big! And they were filled with lots and lots of things left there by the last Eraday family who lived here -- there was a rocking horse, a large chair, two chests of books and two filled with clothes, more than a hundred years old. One of the chests with books was infested with mice, but the other chests were still solid, possibly because they were covered with copper.
We took the books, the chair, the rocking horse and the clothes downstairs. Aidan looks like a king in his throne in that chair, but we discovered it's actually not a throne, but a birthing chair, part of the bit your buttocks go on (I don't know the word!) can be lifted out. I first thought that that was to place the chamber pot under, but Lyse told me that in that case there would have been a shelf underneath the take-out part to put the pot on, and there wasn't.
I spent a wonderful afternoon with Riei, Arvi and Khisif going through the old clothes, making sketches and patterns of everything that was too fragile to survive folding up again -- but some of the dresses could still be worn, even! They knew how to weave in those days, or had very good thread.
In any case, the cut, the fit, the ornaments -- all these clothes are very elegant and beautiful, and Riei has taken them with her for inspiration for the clothes she wants to make for this autumn. We are going to keep the rocking horse for our daughter!
One difficult task Aidan has shouldered is to visit all the widows and widowers, orphans and berieved parents of the fallen. He and Halla have made lists of certain, probable and possible casualties, and he's been visiting people every afternoon for over a week now. I went with him the first time, because I wanted to meet these people, but it is not my job, and I tire too quickly these days. We did meet some very nice people I didn't know yet, like Caille the seamstress and her three little children.
Note: Lara and Arvi swap on Anshein Hanre, and the night and the next morning. Arvi has to learn how to work in a large household with many servants, and Lara can learn from us how to work in a small household with just one servant and lots of guests all the time.
Today another group of veterans have arrived! About sixty all-in-all. Two veterans have brought an Iss-Peranian wife with them; I will have to visit them, and one Valdyan has married an Iss-Peranian soldier. I will also visit him.
We had a big celebration in the regiment headquarters, after all the veterans had been seen to by the doctors of the town (except for me! Leva doesn't allow me to work anymore!) in the Mill Baths -- seven of them had the Síthi Whore's sickness, and those we have kept for further treatmeant in the attic of Otter House.
With a few women in the neighbourhood we had decorated the streets, and everyone in town had pitched in to help with food, and there was music, dancing, a big celebration! I'm too tired now to write a lot, except that I have minded all the small children with some other women.
I visited today the new Iss-Peranians in Turenay. They are:
All-in-all, we are ten now: Asa (that's me, I had nearly forgotten that name), Dimani, Dorush, Jhavan, Hediyeh, Khahid, Ghamri, Sayeh, Diruz and Hamiz. Next month we will have a nice and busy Iss-Peranian evening! Hamiz can play the twin drums.
I'm almost beginning to feel like a Queen again -- though everybody accepts me as a doctor, they also defer to me a lot, while I would think that Dimani is much more experienced. But then, I know the high and mighty of the town, like my father-in-law Radan.
I expect that there will be more Iss-Peranians arriving with the last group of veterans, but Aidan doesn't expect that there will be many more of them, he and Halla have been speaking with all veterans, expanding and verifying the lists of known fallen, and there are many people dead.
Last night, Khisif's son was born: a really big boy, he will grow to be as big as Geran! (Aidan is a bit jealous of Geran, and maybe also of Cynla, who came this morning to bring a barrel of her and Torin's first-brewn beer, because they are so big, and while he is much taller than me, he would like to be a lot bigger still, but I think he is perfect as he is, also because I would never manage to have a baby as big as Khisif's son.)
Khisif was badly torn, but I could heal most of it, she will need to rest for quite some time, though she will likely return home for the festival of Anshen.
Time to go to bed again for me! I didn't sleep at all last night.
Khisif has named her son Athal! Aidan expects that there will be countless boys all over the country named Athal this year, and that doesn't sound wrong to me, but indeed very auspicious. I am still torn over the name for our daughter: I like Raisse most, but Aidan would really like Alyse, for his mother. But there is also his traitor sister Alyse.
Back to sewing -- it is now lovely weather, so I sit outside the courtyard, on a bench opposite the bakery, and I make lots of baby clothes, but also shirts for Lédu and Jilan, Khisif's lovely twins. And some things for myself: Lyse thinks my turn will be very soon, since our daughter is fully grown now, and nearly doesn't fit in my belly anymore. Besides, I sometimes feel a cramp that Lyse explains as "your body is getting in training for its labour already".
I am so tired I can barely hold my brush -- but I have to write this down: our daughter is born!