My Sister -- my lord and master has thought about a new name for his devoted servant. He proposes Ranaise, after a Queen of Valdyas who came from Velihas and reached the noble age of a hundred years, which is auspicious. But she only bore one child because her womb was poisoned by her enemies, which is inauspicious. The Valdyan people do not see that in this way. I will have think on it.
This morning of dochein hanre, Raisse let me kindle fire. I was very much afraid of burning down the house and the school -- I can feel that there is a strong power of the spirit in me that is all fire, and it feels close to the art of pleasing men I learned in Iss-Peran. She instructed me most wisely to stroke the kindling as a kitten, with the tip of one finger (although the black-and-white kitten prefers strong application of four fingers to its belly, which makes it claw at my hand, but with soft paws, which is very kind). The kindling did take fire and Raisse promised to take me to the swamp, where I would be allowed to make fire with all my spirit. I am looking forward to that, for I have the feeling that setting fire to assailants might well be the most effective way for your humble servant to defend herself. And I am not Valdyan -- yet -- so I will not feel guilty if the agents of Koll Konandé die a horrible death.
My dear Sister, true to my resolve, I did attend the history lesson this morning and paid attention even though Kheti was writing a letter in response to the sweet letter her lover Arin had sent her and which had finally arrived -- the man whom Arin had entrusted with the delivery had forgotten the letter for five days! I am surprised that he still dared to deliver it!
This afternoon Leva and your humble servant went to the poor quarter for the last time until after the next festival, that of the Most Holy God of War. I think that your poor servant has learned more during these afternoons than ever before. Whether your humble servant has learned to like and love these poor and cheerful people, or whether her exuberance is merely the effect of being so very much love that she wants to kiss and embrace everyone she meets is difficult to say. But we treated children and adults all afternoon long.
At the close of the afternoon a limping girl came by, called Lyse, who was extraordinarily dirty. My Sister, I swear that I believe she had never washed in all the ten years of her life! She came because her jaw was aching, but she was limping because a donkey had trod on her foot. I called Leva's attention to this and Leva decided we'd take her to the hospital to treat both ailments.
Leva allowed your humble servant to set the broken bones in Lyse's foot, after thoroughly scrubbing this girl, rubbing her hair with louse-killing oil, paring her nails, and making her drink cudweed and gentian. The first bone went without problems, but, my dear Sister, I am ashamed that setting the second broken bone did nothing but cause the poor girl agony, and Leva had to finish my work. The eagerness with which Lyse drank the foul-tasting cudweed and gentian infusion was amazing: the worms must have been causing her much trouble.
During the fighting this evening, a young man was cut in his sword-hand by Alyse and since Leva had chosen to remain at home, your humble servant had the opportunity to try to sew up the man all by herself. I decided to also use spiritual power to make the wound heal, and judging from the effect on the flesh, embroidering his wound with thread wouldn't even have been necessary, a simple sticking plaster might have sufficed. I also mentioned the fire to Master Jilan and he agreed that I could use it on opponents if they meant lethal harm.
True to my resolve to behave more properly, I only gave my beloved lord and master a kiss and embrace when we arrived home. But tomorrow is the night he will be in my arms again. When I think of that, I can do nothing but put down the pen (vile scratchy, blotchy, spattering instrument of illiterates!) and kiss his shift and start dreaming.
This morning, Raisse took your humble servant through the poor quarter to go to the swamp, where I would be allowed to use my spiritual fire without causing the town of Turenay to burn down. Valdyans use a lot of wood in their buildings. But before we arrived at the swamp, I saw a donkey who looked very much like Lyse's description, as well as a girl tending two toddlers. Remember that Lyse had told me that her sister tended their neighbour's children, I thought that this perhaps was the elder sister of Lyse. I made bold to ask Raisse whether I might go down to her, and Raisse graciously allowed me to do so.
This woman turned out to be at least four years dirtier than Lyse and was called Lara. She was very afraid that she would have to pay for the hospital and was very incredulous when I told her the rich nobles of Turenay and Valdyas gave the hospital money to care for the poor. She was also very afraid of Raisse, whom she described as a blindingly bright light -- then I realized she must be "gifted" with the powers of the spirit, and called Raisse to my side anyway.
Lara turns out to be an orphan, the daughter of a servant of the Deceiver. Her father had gone to Veray answering a call to arms by his lord, the father of the husband Raisse, to participate in a treacherous plot against my beloved lord and master's mother, Queen Alyse. Naturally, the plot failed and Lara's father died without leaving his children anything. And, of course, the neighbours could not care for the children, being tainted with rebellion and the Deceiver as they were. It is not wise to consort with anyone associated with foul treason!
Raisse, however, has the ear of the mighty King, having trained him herself, and could invite Lara to our house with the certainty of impunity. Having held Lara when she was frightened and sad, and cuddled and kissed her charges, I needed a bath before the lice and fleas would settle on your humble servant permanently. I am so happy to have found the admirable and dexterous Sinaya! Like your humble servant in the hospital is never dismayed by dirt, Sinaya was not dismayed by our state and cleaned us most competently.
That afternoon, Lara came to us, bringing also Lyse's beloved, Erian. Raisse invited Lara to stay with us and learn to become a maid from Hinla. She and Lyse have received permission to use the small attic room at the back of the house, which they liked very much. (Note on money: I am resolved to give Erian, whose head I shaved to get rid of the lice, as well as the heads of his two little brothers, the apprentice price soon.)
I took Lara, when she was clean, to the Temple of the most Holy God of War, where she fell down in a properly prayerful attitude and seemed very happy. She already had tried to use her spirit to tell her neighbour she was staying with us, which had failed, so I had to take Aidan and Ayran astin Brun, who is a soldier, to the poor quarter to bring her message. On the way back, I decided to look into their house to see what they wouldn't want to lose to any nightly thieves, and brought their money (in a jar and a pouch), a letter, three eggs and half a cabbage. The letter happend to be the summons that led to the death of their father and Lara, who had believed that the letter was one from their father to them, burned it in anger.
When we left the temple, Lara paid your humble servant a compliment unlike any your humble servant has received in Valdyas yet. She said she suspected I was so weak compared to her strength because I had never done any work (actually, she almost didn't dare say this) -- which is of course true, and it means she recognized me for what I am.
My Sister, I feel so guilty -- I feel I took their last link to their ancestors from these girls. But they will learn their letters and would have known if I had lied to them when reading the letter.
My Sister, I also like Lara and Lyse very much. Lara is a bit shy, although the villagers tell me she's got a sharp tongue, and very strong -- she used to gather brushwood for the tradesmen, for one penny a basket. But we had so much fun preparing her pallet, filling it with straw and dancing on it -- and she never squirmed when I cleaned her from her filth. And Lyse isn't shy at all and very warm and bright-spirited. I love having them in the house and meeting them at breakfast.
But tonight, after the fight, my beloved lord and master all mine! And tomorrow, on Anshein hanre, we will dance again.
Lyse and Lara seem settled in the house. Yesterday morning and this morning I inspected Lara for vermin, and while she wasn't completely clean yesterday, this morning I didn't find anything anywhere. We did clean out their bedroom once more yesterday afternoon, new straw in fresh pallets and so on. And the rest of the day of the most Holy God of War my beloved lord and master took possession of me and didn't let me out of his sight. We walked through town, danced in the Unicorn and ate a pie, just the two of us, in a tradesmen's inn down-town. However much we had wanted to be just together, the people all over Turenay are starting to recognize me and pay me their respects when they meet me as the doctor's or midwife's apprentice.
This morning Raisse took me to the swamp after all where I set fire to a living tree; it was most satisfying. Raisse then tried to summon clouds to make lightning with, but she did not succeed. Later she told your humble servant that she was not angry enough. I endeavoured to tease her by telling her in the Iss-Peranian manner that her humble servant was very sorry for having failed to incur her wrath, knowing that she felt irked with me when I did not know any better, and trusting she would see this for what it was, that is, a harmless tease, which she did.
Note: I have promised 10 riders to the mother of Erian, the friend of Lyse. Erian has saved 2 riders all by himself running errands for tradesmen. His mother has saved 3 more riders, but since her husband is fighting for the king in Iss-Peran, I felt I could ask her to save those for her other sons and let me pay the full 10 riders Erian hasn't saved himself. Erian will visit us tomorrow. He visited today, too, but I was away to Lady Hayan's estate.
My Sister, I am surely becoming more proficient in creating seals with the power of the spirit. This whole morning, Raisse had me make seal after seal and I was hardly tired afterwards. Indeed, neither Aylin not Leva told me today that I was too tired to follow lessons or help out in the hospital. With Aylin we visited the ramparts of Turenay, that are rather weak-looking wooding walls which are however strenghtened with many and strong spiritual seals. Master Aylin (who indeed has made the aquaintance of a man with whom she is going to dine tonight -- she looks very good now and very happy, this man is a clerk in the Temple of the God of money, and according to my beloved lord master about forty years old and of a very pleasing disposition) had spent the morning with the advanced pupils strenghtening these seals.
During the noon Erian called for your humble servant and we went to the master smith he had chosen for himself, none other than the husband of Serla who is in the hospital because of the stones in her bladder. In the temple of the God of Money where we went to sign the Apprentice's Bond, I had once again the use of that brush that is so much nicer to write with than this pen. When my ship, which is called the Swallow, returns I will buy brushes of my own.
In the afternoon, the wonder-working doctor Leva took your humble servant to visit the heroic Mernath. The heroic Mernath is doing very well: he is still tired, but thinks of picking up work as a smith again, pulling the bellows first to regain his strength. The spiritual work Leva did on Mernath, which your humble servant was allowed to witness, did tire him out, though: it was as if we were repairing the insides of a house gutted by fire. As if his spirit had bathed in quicklime. The wonder-working doctor Leva tells me that if we put down the ground-work, his spirit will heal itself.
I asked the heroic Maile, whom I consider as my trusted friend now, whether the heroic Mernath had already regained his virility. She told your humble servant that Mernath did show much desire, but was still too weak. I made bold to propose to teach her some of the lessons I have learned when we were still Asa, princess and prospective Queen, that are useful when ones husband is too weak or too old to be masterful. I have often noticed that the Valdyan women are not educated in these matters. My beloved lord and master tells me that the only women who have even a little education are the whores and that most Valdyan men learn their craft from them, and then teach their wives. This is surely barbaric!
But Maile readily agreed -- and my beloved lord and master is sweeter, kinder and nobler than I had ever thought before, for he allowed his devoted servant to take Maile in the spirit and show her my memories of my nights with him, instead of showing her the lessons as we learned them from the lady Haluwa, our teacher. That might easily have soured Maile on the prospect of pleasing her heroic husband and herself through other means than plain penetration. As it is, my lessons were a great success, I am led to believe both by her giggling during the lessons, as well as the state of passion we left Maile (my beloved lord and master came to Maile and Mernath's house to bring me home from his war training and even had left off washing himself so I could do that for him). I am very anxious to speak to her tomorrow morning in the hospital, to find out whether she has been able to wake Mernath, after all. We, my Sister, did nothing but chastely kiss at Raisse's door.
|-10/-/-||Erian's apprentice fee|
Oh Sister, today my beloved lord and master will visit me again -- your humble servant confesses she did not sleep at all well last night, after coming home from visiting Maile. Today I will be with Lyse, but I hope it will be a consulting day, not a rounds-going day, since it rains, rains, rains. Not as badly as a proper monsoon rain, but it makes me feel sombre and easily irked all the same.
Yesterday morning Maile did indeed show me a very satisfied smile. We did not have time or place to talk, but I gather that Mernath is much better, and even shows clear signs of a return of his masterfulness.
My Sister, your humble servant wonders, though, whether her ardour for her beloved lord and master Aidan is cooling. For last night, when we had leave to be together in order to test our seals against our love-making, we did not break through the seals once, though we tried three times. And then it was your humble servant's greater desire to go down and drink some wine with my beloved lord and master and Raisse, Lara and Hinla than try a fourth time. Raisse did compliment us because we didn't breach the seals, though according to her it was very close the last time. Lara asked your humble servant about these matters, and confessed she had felt very attracted to a man the night Aidan and I kissed each other the first time. I told her to make sure not to make love before she actually met a man she really loved: speaking from experience, there is no joy in making love out of mere curiosity. I do hope Aidan and I are not setting a bad example of licentiousness and impropriety.
Yesterday it was raining all day and only one woman came to visit Lyse. Lyse told me much about problems with pregnant women though, so I learned a lot. But then we became rather silly and started talking about men, so Lyse sent me home early. I had the time to prepare something special for my beloved lord and master's visit last night: I had painted myself with henna like I had painted Ebru on the festival of the most Holy God Timoine and knitted new stockings. I feel he had deserved it, for his generosity with Maile.