Things since his return had... progressed. That was about as much as Tius could really say about them. The trip back from Tian Xia had been a numbing experience initially, full of worries and frets that he had to put aside one by one as the practical concerns of travel overtook him. They made good time, all told, crossing the sea before the weather turned foul, and the land journey, along with the wagons and various burdens was well under way when the winds came. Yet his thoughts were always far behind him, and so he turned to writing once more, each thought committed to paper lest it fester and consume him, and destroyed when completed lest someone unfortunate discover it. An expensive and quite macabre hobby, he thought, all things considered, but it worked, and when they eventually wound their way across the plains, he was still relatively sane.
He wrote his first letter to her when they made the Pass. He had put it off for as long as he could, and his ramblings had petered off to the point where he felt he could write something legible, and yet he still felt inadequate and dishonest as he penned his wishes. He informed her that he was well, that the trip had been as uneventful as one could hope for, which worried him, and that Changers willing, he would make Marn in good time and be back before she knew it. He sent it back with his love, with a good caravan, and they carried on.
He sent his second letter halfway across the plains, this time informing her that their caravan was being watched, distantly. It was an unsettling feeling, and yet the attack never came. They traded some goods as they went, picking up food and supplies; the coach houses were as he remembered, and they sufficed to rest weary bones. Travelling was both easier and harder on him now that he was older, and he said as much in his letters. Perhaps it was the burden of experience; he noticed more, he expected more, he lent a hand in different places, and no doubt proved an awful headache for Jaden and his people, even as he tried to stay out of their way. Still, they all seemed happy to have him, and he could not fathom why. He said as much in his letter, and wished it to Ivone with all love and speed, trying not to imagine that small spark of life and love between them growing ever more with each day that passed.
He sent his third letter before they reached Marn, on the outskirts of Shim; a reassurance that he had, despite his paranoid fancies, made it back in one piece. This time, he broke his rule and inquired about their child, about how she felt and how they were both doing, It was a risk, he thought; it was tempting fate, but he asked anyway. He missed her terribly, and moreso every morning he awoke alone, but each day dawned, and, as he had before, he carried on. He asked about the gardens, he asked about their friends, he expressed his hope that Xi Ling was not being too critical of her, and he spoke of his fears for the return to Marn. Putting those on paper felt like a betrayal, but they were true. Sealing the letter with love and care, he sent that away too, and steeled himself to return home.
His arrival in Marn was an unremarkable flurry of activity. There was no fanfare; no celebration or cheering, but the right people were there to meet him, and that was what mattered. He saw to business first, of course, to putting away those delicate items and overseeing the trades he had only signed off on while away. Things were going nicely, it had to be said, and money was coming in. The difference was that some of it was now going in a different direction. As it was, he looked into the theater productions and the works Miss Stone was producing, certain that Ivone would want to hear about them. He looked into her business, checking the stocks and the sales, as well as passing on her new ideas to the staff. Samples were arranged and plans were drawn up. He was so exhausted by the end of the day that he barely looked at their home before he collapsed into bed.
The next day, he saw to the gardens, setting out the seedlings from Tian Xia and looking over the arrangements with a critical eye. They had been well tended, but some things needed to be changed, and he saw to it that they would be. He looked over the house, reviewed the performance of the servants, saw to the layout of the nursery for when she returned. Of course, he told nobody that was what he was doing, but he was certain that they could guess. As it was, he had no doubt he established a reputation as a brusque, demanding master, but he was content to let them work. There were not many, a butler, lady's maid and some house girls. They all came recommended, of course, and he made certain of their skill. He doubted it had endeared him to them.
The remainder of his time was reporting to Monetario, or rather to his staff. There had been movements from Raemes, and further rumblings of interest, but they had been kept at bay, and Monetario was keen to know that his time was not being wasted. The news from Tian Xia and the updates about trade from Eyropa were taken in good spirits, or at least the language used was positive, and the more... subtle... purchases were reviewed with a keen eye. The rest would need to be built upon over time. He was willing to work, and as diligent as ever, and the Family were keen to exercise their new asset. More paper and money crossed his desk in that first week than in the month before he had left, and he suspected he was being tested. He bore it as well as he could, counting the moments until he could pen his next letter to Ivone to inform her that all was well.
He did not truly worry until he returned home and found his previous letters waiting for him there. Each had been opened, but not by Ivone, and a new message was inscribed on each. We must speak.
There was only so much he could do from where he was, and each additional letter sent was returned to him in the same state, so he settled into a different kind of routine, and by the time things were balanced again, he had far too much news to relay to his by then heavily pregnant wife. The shop was secure and thriving, though he could not imagine her reacting well to giving creative leeway to the staff. Her gardens were well tended and flourishing, and he had even taken the liberty of purchasing a horse for her. Even Shen had forgiven him for his hasty departure by then, and when he set out to return to Tian Xia, he would make certain to bring those two with him.
He could only hope that his next trip was as uneventful as the first.