This is the notebook of Khora, that is, me, who lives in the house of Master of the Guild, the mighty enchantress Raisse, next to the school of the guild in Turenay. It will contain my notes about school, about my lessons with the wonder-working doctor and the wonder-working midwife and is not to be read by anyone but herself.
In front of the mighty Queen Asa of Albetire, who is herself the servant of the most Holy Gods, her miserable servant Khora prostrates herself and begs leave to present her greetings to the beloved of ten thousand heroes, the sweet fragrance of the south, the bedewed rose whose every petal is counted an ounce of gold, her in whose presence the tired and dejected look up in delight and feel restored.
Your majesty, my Sister, your humble servant begs leave to write you this letter in her notebook in order to not forget who she is and whence she came. Her efforts to please the Valdyan enchantress Raisse are crowned with success and she has been complimented on her improvements through the phrase "you have grown such a lot" -- surely a compliment to your servant's miserable spiritual attainments! But growing means forgetting, too, it seems.
My Sister, your humble servant does not wish to seem ungrateful or miserable, for she is neither. Truly, she did not tell a lie when she told the mighty enchantress Raisse, in whose presence she has to strive hard to guard her tongue in order not to use too familiar an appellation, such as aunt, mother or sister, that she is thrice happy: when in the presence of the enchantress herself, when we take our tea in the evenings, when in the presence of her beloved, and when in the presence of the wonder-working doctors Leva and Lyse.
But every step your humble servant takes is a step further away from you, my Queen and Sister, and every step your servant becomes more and more aware of the contempt her teachers and her friends feel for all that your servant was, their contempt for what she learned when she was still you, and their contempt for the customs of her parents' country and the country of which she was Youngest Queen.
My Sister, your humble servant is ashamed to report she is forced to sadly neglect her weaving, always the weakest among our miserable accomplishments. The days seem to fill themselves: your servant spends the morning and the early afternoon at school, learning history, semsin, and now also demeaning you and herself by learning to fight, contrary to our upbringing and all that is proper.
The late afternoon is taken either by lessons in healing from the wonder-working doctor Leva or doing the rounds with the wonder-working midwife Lyse, who is the daughter of the mighty enchantress Raisse. In the evenings your servant is not idle, for she is sewing clothes, at this moment for the heroic Maile, who is here together with her hero-husband Mernath, who has fallen with grievous wounds fighting for the all-conquering King of Valdyas and his Queen, the flower of the North, the most wise Raisse. The heroic Maile is forced to work in the hospital from poverty -- she is no doubt too proud to accept a hero's reward. Your humble servant prostrates herself in admiration!
My Sister, we often dreamed about life outside the Women's Palace, but we never suspected leaving the palace would leave your humble servant looking like a gibbon from the palace gardens. Only last week your humble servant went with her friends and her beloved to the town of Veray, where there live many Síthi people, and where there is a proper bath house. The attendants are not as accomplished as our two dear slaves, Bihana and Kampani, who taught us so much. But the attendants were pleasing and competent enough to make your humble servant feel clean for the first time in weeks. Your humble servant also prayed at the Síthi Temple of Dayati where the presence of the most holy Goddess is very strong. Your humble servant's friend Ebru served the Goddess by bringing her milk from a mare that had just foaled: the customs of the plains are very devout.
My Sister, we often wondered whether outside the Women's Palace friendship as described in books and songs would in fact exist and whether it would be different from what Bihana and Kampani meant to us. In truth, there is a difference, but it is not a difference in kind or type, but in depth and breadth. Your humble servant is proud to have inspired so many people to call themselves her friends, and for whom she holds the warmest friendship: Kheti and her beloved Arin, Ebru who wants to become a Sworn Servant to the Most Holy God of War, whom we all serve, the noble Alyse and the noble Jichan son of Lord Vurian. It is good that there are so many who feel such friendship for your humble servant, because a first attempt on your humble servant has been made already: the mighty sergeant Lyase, who is now training your humble servant's beloved and many other students the art of arms, killed two footpads who were on their way to abduct your humble servant. Your humble servant fears very much that they were sent by the to-be king of Albetire, Koll Konandé, may his name be cursed through all ages. But your humble servant's friends have sworn to protect your humble servant from all harm, so she was able to go out with the wonder-working midwife Lyse on her rounds as agreed upon.
Stitching up: bent silver needle, not too fine a stitch. No infusion of semsin needed, but it is allowed and not considered improper to seduce the stitchee so they do not feel the needle.
My Sister, had our life and position been different, we would have been mother of our daughter by now. But if you, my Sister and Queen had remained in the Women's Palace, what would have happened? The child would not have been born, and the mother would not have lived. It is not due to your seeking refuge with the mighty Queen Raisse that we have lost the child, but the blame lies with the Deceiver. Is your humble servant's delight in helping the women of Turenay to bring their children into the world merely because every child reminds her of our lost daughter? Your humble servant is confused and does not know what to think. But she is proud and delighted to have helped a woman with the birth of her fourth child, a son, and another woman, not much older than us, with the birth of her first, a daughter. My Sister -- your humble servant is not allowed to be with child yet, but that will come soon enough, I promise.
Hinla of the pottery shop expects a child; the heroic Maile expects a child; the lady whose name your humble servant has forgotten expects twins.
|-10/-/-||cloth, needles, yarn|
|-10/-/-||Síthi shop (twice) (Need to take the gracious master and teacher Aylin so she can see what else is available? She is much happier when painted in the civilized way.)|
|-5/-/-||paying for dinner in the apple|
|-5/-/-||spent in Veray|
|610||balance (check what Valdyan coins rest in your humble servant's bag. Also check whether more yarn is needed again).|
The Father of the King (and Aidan), Lord Radan astin Brun has a beloved: Hinla, she is an apothecary and has very courteous manners. Lord Radan fell in love because of your humble servant's inconsiderate behaviour, but this not an artifice and to be censured, but occasion for gladness. My beloved lord and master approves of this match.
My Sister, your humble servant is forced to admit that the nightmares that used to plague us so much have returned now we have started fighting at school. Adhering to her promise to the masterful teacher of fighting Jilan, your humble servant made bold to speak to the mighty enchantress Raisse about this topic, but she feels she is too too stupid to make herself understood. The mighty enchantress tells your humble servant that your humble servant is simply not willing to fight and be fought. Maybe she is right, but your humble servant swears unto the most holy God of War that she did try -- but it feels so very wrong to be touching who doesn't want to be touched, and so contrary to our training to disallow touching us who wants to touch us. And I'm afraid I will do something irreparable and improper again. The mighty enchantress has decided to teach your humble servant the art of defense personally; she has not started with that, but allowed your humble servant to miss one lesson already.
(Sinaya -- Síthi bath attendant, one shilling per bath. Check with her mother about bath house plan. (Oh! To be able to go to a decent bath house whenever it is needed -- once, twice a week or every day! Also, the bath house owner is a horrible drunk, but he did pay your humble servant the compliment of admitting being attracted to her: gave him a shilling in gratitude.)
Note: Reserve 200 for bath house plan!. Check whether your humble servant can buy a part in a ship's voyage, too. Money is going too fast and it is needed to be thrifty to gather a suitable marriage portion.
Sister, is your humble servant not Sakatimara's wife's equal in all respects? Of the wealthy son of the dean of merchants Sakatimara it is said that he decided never to suffer the disgrace of a useless and unworthy wife. Going out into the world clad as a priestly beggar wearing only rags and one little bag or rice, did he not find Kaveri, who was poor and unadorned, living only with her old wetnurse. Has your humble servant not been compared to Kaveri, of whom Sakatimari thought when he first saw her:
Her limbs are surely not to fat and not too thin, not too short and not too long, but well-proportioned and smooth of skin. Her hands have palms and nails as red as the drowning sun, and are in their lines as auspicious and gracious as a goldfish, as millet, and as a water-lily. Her ankles are straight and her feet small, her thighs flow into her round buttocks, round as millstones. Her thighs hide a rose-bud whiter than snow. Her navel is beautiful, symmetrical and deep. Her breasts that expand beyond her biceps promise a multitude of sons (although your humble servant would like daughters, too, and her beloved lord and master Aidan does not seem to prefer sons to daughters). The nails on her fingers and toes are like polished rubies, shining with light, rounded like a grain of rice and her fingers are straight, supple and long, but not too long. Her shoulders are round and from them her shell-like neck springs up, bearing her head. Her chin does not recede and her face is as a water lily, with round cheeks that never sag. Her eyebrows are curved like willow-leaves and do not meet. Her nose is like an barely-opened sesame-flower. Her eyes are large, wide, dark, white, red in the corners, gleaming, soft and cast down. Her forehead is more beautiful than the waning moon and her dark hair is gleaming like a sapphire, long, and even the ends are not bleached out. This comeliness only mirrors her proper interior -- which is not the case with your poor and incompetent servant.
My Sister -- your humble servant wishes she had time to write poetry. We used to be very accomplished in that! But here is no-one who can appreciate it -- and poetry in solitude is worse than useless. Your humble servant must be very vain to dwell on the least important part of the famous story of Sakatimara for so long. But she does not wish to forget the proper form of complimenting either.
Would your humble servant be able to prepare a meal fit for her husband out of only one handful of rice? She must work on her thriftiness in order to be worthy of her beloved lord and master. At least with Valdyan men it is a certainty that they will not, when they have taken their wife home after a proper marriage, marry a courtesan and, like Sakatimara, never look at their Kaveri again. Valdyan men even forgive their woman when they fail to do their duty to them and fall asleep in their lap in the middle of the one night in the week that is given to them to be together, as your humble servant did. Your humble servant is very happy to be in Turenay!
My Sister: about the dancing lessons: the 8 positions, the 8 derived positions and the 16 transitions should be enough for Valdyan women to please their husbands and keep their position in their households secure after marriage. To dance for the Gods is surely unachievable for them! But Valdyan men are easily satisfied: but they assume their wives are soon satisfied, too, or so it seems to your humble servant, especially Oryan. Is assiduity artifice, too?
Your humble servant is honoured that the gracious teacher Aylin, who has also consented to be instructed in the art of womanly appearance, wants to join the dancing lessons -- but your humble servant hopes devoutly that this will not frighten the other women, like my beloved lord and master Aidan used to be frightened to take his dinner in the presence of the mighty enchantress Raisse. Although the Valdyan women wear many clothes, they do not seem afraid to undress for dancing, which your humble servant feared they would. But then, what use is dancing if it is impossible to the form of the dance and the skill of the dancer?
Aylith's request to give a lesson about the history of Iss-Peran, or rather, the kingdom of Albetire. Or should it be about the empire, its kingdoms and institutions and the statecraft that artfully orders Iss-Peran so everyone finds their ordained place? Your humble servant has crossed out all her notes again.
My Sister, I am beginning to understand the problems your humble servant has with her lessons -- it is strange, for the power should not be present that early in a child -- but the working with semsin is starting to feel like we felt when we were still living within our Father's palace -- when we were punished whenever we didn't inhibit ourselves to the satisfaction of our teachers. And now your humble servant learns that our prized competence in the womanly arts and the art of seduction is another branch of semsin -- the only branch that did not bring us punishment when we exercised it. Inspired by the most holy God of War, the mighty enchantress Raisse has sent me to Lord Radan, who had problems with the proper use of semsin, too, and the lord Radan gave me this idea. The mighty enchantress Raisse wants to continue teaching me the proper use of semsin; your humble servant promises she will fight against our nightmares.