To my elder sister Asa,
Dear sister, the day before yesterday, Dochein Hanre, was the day Aidan had to fight, and I was so miserable all day long that I hardly knew what I was doing. Even yesterday morning I was still making a fool of myself with my silly behaviour. Aidan was very sweet and understanding, which, of course, made me feel worse, and I felt like crying that night, but managed to keep myself from disgracing myself during Ceti and Arin's little wedding celebration -- the big celebration coming after summer, when we, they and Halla and lord Radan are going to celebrate together. But the first class fights produced some interesting wounds, and Ebru got her journeyman's trial, and we had the most satisfying celebration of her victory last night. And I won two riders in a bet!
But enought of that -- let me order my thoughts properly. First, the cases I treated yesterday. These were fencing and long-stick-fighting wounds, mostly.
Among the wounded I treated there was Master Jilan from Turenay, who had a cut along the inside of his lower arm, a slit from the crook of the elbow to the wrist. I had wanted to heal this with my mind only, but the wound was too long for that. I did sew him up very neatly, and he was impressed, which is not something Master Jilan often is. He told me, a little ruefully, that he had got hurt in that place before, it is his weak point. I could see the scar, indeed. It is a strange thing that a Master like Master Jilan, who inspires so much dread in me, is just a patient like any other when I treat them.
Fortunately, Aidan did not have to fight, since the large man (the brother of the man who won the first class wrestling) had beaten him yesterday. Today, this man did not win his first fight. In the end, someone I don't know won the fencing match. In the afternoon, the long-stick-fighting would be happening. Lord Vurian tells me he has instituted this practice when he was young. I did not have anyone else to treat during the fencing matches. I did discover that Valdyans do bet, so I was able to place a rider on Ebru, which would return me three riders if she would win, enough to buy her a nice present.
When we were having our noon meal, we did hear some disturbance and went to look what was happening. Ebru was fighting with some young man who belongs to the Deceiver. He was getting the better of her at first because he was using his spirit and I asked Aidan whether we should prevent him from cheating, but Aidan said we shouldn't because this was Ebru's journeyman's trial, as well as the trial of her assailant. It is very strange that I was able to see this fight without qualms, and not see the match fights. But Ebru suddenly grinned that very superior grin of hers that makes me want to tickle her, and she used her long stick and hit her opponent, who fell to the ground, unconscious -- and Ebru was a journeywoman from that moment on!
She felt very tired and drained, but still wanted to enter the match. During these matches I was just as unable the fighting as I was during the rest of the matches -- but I had no problem watching when Ebru fought a real fight. This is very puzzling.
To my delight, Ebru became the outright victor in the first class, too. She's the youngest winner of the first class, and the first one to climb from third class to first class: but Ebru told me she thought her opponents in the first class lacked, too, and that only the fight with the servant of the Nameless was a real challenge.
We had a celebration that night, and all the wine, sausages and cheeses the winners had won were drunk and eaten. I wanted to dance; and there was a boy with a curious instrument called a shawm. Alyse accompanied him on a kind of drum without a barrel, but with little bells. And when they became tired, there were other dancers.
I saw Lady Rava sitting at the sidelines with her young children, looking at the dancing. So when I felt tired, I asked her whether she would be so kind as to allow me to hold little Radan and Halla for a while, and she graciously gave them to me. Oh, that I had a baby and milk to give! It was almost painful to hold Radan against my breast -- but he slept anyway. Rava is the most graceful of Valdyan dancers I have ever seen. Maybe, when we are in Gralen, she will consent to teach me a little more.
It was very, very late when we returned, and Aidan and I sat down with Lady Rava, Arin and Ceti for a little longer, and then went to our little place near the river, for the last time for at least a year. The next morning we did not get up until midday!
That afternoon, I decided to give the holy priest Rikhi and his wife a chance of an afternoon together and offered to mind their children, together with Aidan. We conceived of the idea to take the children to explore the forest, and Rava's children as well as three of the neighbouring children decided to come with us, too, so Aidan and I led ten children through the vineyards into the forest.
Aine had taken her arrows and bow and shot a dozen pheasants on our way to the forest, and I had taken bread and cheese. Aidan knew a pleasant little clearing near a small river, where we sat down and made a campfire. If there is one thing I love it is making campfires! I drew and plucked the pheasants (there was a carp in the brook who ate the intestines of all twelve pheasants all by himself, the greedy fish, it'll be his own fault if he gets so fat his fins stick out above the water) and we put them on sharp, green sticks and roasted pheasants and bread, and then I showed the children how to dance for Anshen (Timoine would have been more proper, but I did not think of that, then) in the Iss-Peranian way. Then we had a dance around the fire.
When we came home, the children were all so tired we put them next to us in the large hall that is half underground where the wine-maker keeps his wine in very big barrels. I am writing these notes now, but we will go to bed soon, too.
This next morning when I was getting up, one of Pnimah and Rikhi's daughters came to me to look at me. When she saw that I saw her, she ran away, but she came back when I asked her whether she wanted to sit on my lap. To my surprise, she went back to the ground, which was merely a sort of loam on top of the chalk hills, to, as she said, "sit on the ground". She adopted the same posture her father does when he is praying, so I asked her whether she could "feel the ground".
She said yes, and that she couldn't feel it when sitting on my lap. However, when I helped her, she could feel the ground, even when sitting on my lap, although it clearly took a lot of effort. We then went to the holy priest Rikhi to tell him about this. She is clearly destined to become a priest of the earth, too, like her father.
We then took leave of each other, promising to meet as soon as possible, and I went back to clothe myself and do my face and hair -- and to take leave of Halla, Jeran and Arin. Halla was very pleased witht the solid sieve we had bought for her; I wish them all the best in the world.
We have left now, and I am writing this on the cart, we are driving to Gralen now.