All done with a day's work, at last, and nothing for it but to pick up this strange little tile again and start tapping. My fingers have itched for it for days, but we've been busy here at the Stag and Lion, so you really must excuse--
What are you doing, Jarem? Apologizing to the thing like it's not just close kin to a printing press.
But it's a relief to have somewhere to turn after the week we've been having, Light but it's so. Min will laugh at me like a Dragon-taken fool, but truth is, if paper were cheaper and easier to come by 'round the inn, I'd've started writing my thoughts down long since. I only worry what will happen when I run out of ink, 'specially if I've grown accustomed to this release by then. Well, more the fool I, but there you have it.
I should stop wasting what's in here already.
There's anxiety abroad in Baerlon, and it's not just at the Stag and Lion. I was home to see Mother and Da three nights gone, and it's on everyone's lips, though Mother tried to keep the talk to lighter things, but that's heavy going when there are Whitecloaks within the walls.
Aye, the Light-blinded, trouble-stirring sons of spavined goats. I just spat, as I wrote that, as it seemed the proper course. But that don't change it a hair. Oh, they come through now and then, it's not like we've not had them in our city before, but even more than ever they're strutting around like bantam roosters, looking down their nose-pieces at us. There's just a different feel about the lot of them, like the tension in an arm before it shoots out to grab. My Da's practically up in arms already, but I don't see what can be done. The Whiecloaks don't break any laws, and it's been since my Da was my age that we last saw a Queen's Guard in Baerlon. Not that Morgase, the Light illumine her always, ever stints on the tax collectors, so my Da says.
I don't see how you could expect anything else. We're fairly well-off hereabouts, as a rule, with the ores coming down from the mines and all the fine wool and tabac from down south and the trade between Saldaea and Illian, so of course the taxmen aren't going to forget about us. But with the Mountains of Mist to the west and the Manetherendrelle down below us, and the bulk of Andor guarding us where we're not hemmed in by old forests, we're not exactly a dewmelon ripe for the plucking--so why waste any soldiers to stand over us? The queen probably has all sorts of trouble on her other side, with those Cairhienin blackguards, and never knowing if a horde of black-veiled Aiel'll come swarming across the Dragonwall again. I don't much blame her.
Course, we're kind of perfect for the sort of trouble the Whitecloaks like to deal out. Whispering in the corners of taverns, turning decent folk against the poor sorry beggars or the herb-women and Wisdoms, saying they might be Aes Sedai or worse. It's gradual, that kind of war, but soon or late it works. And for all we stay Andor on the map, we end up bowing and scraping and praising the Lord Captain Commander under his Dome of Truth, a fine fiefdom for the bloody Children of the Light. We wouldn't be having this trouble if we weren't such a flaming backwater.
On top of that, there's talk of strange shapes moving in the night beyond the gates, but I hardly credit that kind of muttering.