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Keish- April 2, 2003 (The Second Letter)

April 2, 2003

Dear Arri,
It was so fun to hear from you! Father is doing well, though sometimes I think he works too hard. After all, he is up all night most of the time and then he has to report to the King and sometimes that takes all day. I wish he’d take better care of himself, and I tell him that, but you know how he is. He just smiles and pats my head like I’m still 10 and tells me he’s fine.

I hope Uncle W is okay. That would be dreadful if something happened to him! What would you and Liop do? Where would you go? You could come here, of course. Father wouldn’t mind a bit. I do hope he comes home safely and soon though.

Hmm, attracting griffins? Boiled rosehips would probably work better if you added some pennyroyal to the mixture-- just a pinch right as it began to boil. Pennyroyal is strong and also strengthens the scent of whatever you boil it with, but your timing must be perfect. Oh, and don’t worry if you don’t get it right the first time, whether your timing is exact or not, it makes an excellent morning tea, so don’t throw it out. I’m not sure what to tell you about the golden bridle. I’ll see if I can find anything about it in the library though.

Liop sounds like so much fun. I envy you, you know. I have little to keep me occupied with my “studies” complete. What a laugh, all I’ve learned to do is sit still and keep my mouth shut-- no easy thing to teach me, I can assure you. I think I’ll have another go at convincing Father to let me learn something useful… maybe fencing, that would be fun. I’m sure it would be more useful than sitting very nicely at dinner. I shouldn’t complain, I suppose. At least I’ve also been taught language. I read everything I can get my hands on, but I still feel so useless.

I had the most awful experience the other day. Prince Euan, who I swear is not all there, made me sit for a portrait! He’s a terrible artist, but you know how royalty are. I was working out in the little herb garden I talked my father into. It's just a little patch of ground below the tower, but it's something to do. Technically, I'm just supposed to oversee the servants (I don't let them touch it without me) but when no one's around I put on my least ladylike outfit and work the dirt to spite them all.

Anyway, no one was around, I thought, so I was wearing a pair of trousers and a tunic and was covered in dirt when Prince Euan came up and demanded I come sit for him! I know he's royalty and all, but what nerve! I tried to tell him no, but he was insistent, so I said "If you would like to paint me now I can sit under this tree." I said it ever so properly and sweetly, innocently smearing more dirt across my face.

He frowned as if suddenly realizing what I was doing and how I was dressed. "It's all set up in the small ballroom," he informed me. "If you could please put on the ball gown you wore last week…" he left the sentence hanging, failing, I'm sure, to find a proper way to tell me to wash. Finally he finished with, "And if you wish I can see that someone is sent to arrange your hair."
Translation: make sure your hair is well dressed. Don't you love commands that are phrased as requests? I could think of no way out of it, so I smiled very tightly and replied, "Of course, Your Highness. If you'll be so kind as to give me half an hour?"

He gave a slight bow. "Of course. I will meet you in the small ballroom."

I curtsied, then glared at his retreating back. It's probably good that looks can't kill.

I trudged up to my room and washed, thinking it would be amusing to leave a streak of dirt in my auburn hair to see how flustered the prince would get trying to find an appropriate way to say something. I decided to see if I could get away with it, but then the girl came in to help with my hair and she noticed.

She clucked her tongue. "Now, My Lady, let me get that out for you." She's new enough to still try to use a title with me, but has heard enough to not be surprised at the dirt.

I ground my teeth in an effort to keep my mouth shut. She finished and helped me with my dress.

When I realized I couldn't get out of the ball (which was last month, not last week… I told you the prince isn't all there) I decided I may as well have a dress I actually like. It's a shimmering sage green with simple white lacing down the back of the bodice. The pattern is very simple and I managed to get a bodice one can actually breathe in and a loose, light, flowing skirt, so it wasn't too dreadful to wear for hours on end. (It's long too, so I got away with wearing plain bedroom slippers that wouldn't hurt my feet!) But none of that made me want to put it on to go sit in the blasted ballroom! It was just the right time of day for the sun to make that room stifling. Even my sheer flowing sleeves were too much after a while. (The prince, of course, was in a loose painter's smock that was obviously much cooler.)

Prince Euan made me sit in a wretchedly uncomfortable chair and put my hand on a table as though I was about to eat a grape. It took at least a quarter hour just to get everything arranged to his satisfaction; then he started painting.

It took FOREVER! I wasn't allowed to move or speak or anything! (I guess my "studies" were good for something.) I missed lunch (I wasn't actually supposed to eat the grape, just look like I was going to) and the heat was making me feel faint by the end. I spent the time thinking up things I could do to get back at the prince and whether they were worth the trouble I'd get into for carrying out each plan. Blech!

On to a better topic! Why doesn’t anyone believe in winged lions? I’ve always wanted one myself, but I don’t think they would like the climate here. Too much wind and rain. Besides, I couldn't keep one in the tower and I don't think the stable hands would like having one out there.

Imato is an interesting character… what a story to tell someone! “Pussycat’s Wedding” indeed! The legend is that if you rub the nectar of a peach blossom on your eyelids and sing “Moondragon’s Love” your eyes will turn gold and the next man you lay eyes on will fall madly in love with you. I don’t know that I’d try it if I were you; gold eyes would be interesting, true, but from what I’ve read the second part causes some dreadful problems. Men that are entranced with you are always difficult. Or so I’ve heard, at any rate. I’m lucky enough not to have that sort of problem.

You can tell Liop that I did find that frog he left. I named him Aron and he is quite happy in the small pond in my garden. And no, he's not the size of a cantaloupe, but that was a nice try on Liop’s part, I’m sure. Tell him not to be discouraged. By all accounts I’ve read, growth spells are terribly difficult to pull off.

Do let me know if you figure out what Liop is hiding. He’s getting to be quite the little scamp. I must close, but in my next letter I simply must tell you of the horrible plot I fear my father is hatching. (Don’t worry too much, you know how dramatic I can be.)

Love Always,


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