Magic, murder, intrigue, missing relatives, secret caves, fantastical creatures, royalty, nobility, romance...
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Keish- June 26, 2003

June 26, 2003

Dear Arri,

I was so pleased to get your letter! Sorry, it’s taken me a bit to respond, but I find myself rather busy these days.

Lessons continue and Brynn is wonderful. We’ve moved past palms and tea leaves for the most part as I’ve read nearly everything written on those aspects and they are almost 90% theatrics, which Brynn does not think I need help with. But, she does think I should practice and that has given me access to people and information I’d never dared hope to have access to, but I’ll return to that later.

I don’t think you should ask Liop about the cave. I believe he could, but I don’t think he realizes it and I wouldn’t want to put ideas into his head. I also think you’re quite right about that not being something you should have lying around. There are too many dangerous people in this world. As for my interest, I’m not entirely sure either, but it calls to me, like something beckoning out of a memory.

The deepest desire of one’s heart is difficult to see. One thing I’m learning is that we are somewhat different people when all the distractions are stripped away. Liop was able to have his deepest wish granted because he was too young and pure to have things go horribly wrong. I have been looking into the reversal of wishes, however, and trying to reverse a wish like Liop’s would cause far more trouble than it would be worth. As it’s not really causing problems, we’d best leave it alone, though we must continue to teach him to use it with caution.

Prince Euan is a problem. I like your ideas, but I’m not sure how much effect they would have. I think the king knows that he is being awful but isn’t quite sure what to do about it. After all, he is the youngest son and the queen is terribly attached to him, so the king can’t just send him off on some quest. I think the king is hoping that encouraging my studies will prove a means of distracting the prince from me as an object of marriage. After all, a proper princess simply does not read palms and tea leaves! Perhaps I shall start arranging for him to run into some of the silly girls that are always mooning over him but are too dull to realize they might do something to meet him. Honestly I can think of one or two with whom an alliance would be looked on as favorable… and the girls are such that I firmly believe they would deserve each other. I'll have to talk to Gretel; surely we can think of something.

As for Imato, I credited him with more sense! Doesn't he realize you're smarter than that?! I mean, really, it's not as though you're going to make a habit of taking in strange men.

Aegolius has a picture of your father?! You must find out when it was taken, Arri! After all, as I recall the story of his death was filled with many unanswered questions. Perhaps this old man will be able to answer some of them.

You killed a monster? I’m very proud of you! I’m not surprised something went wrong when they tried to create an oracle, that’s a very complex spell. Honestly, what surprises me is that things didn’t go wrong more horribly. There are a great number of dreadful things that could have happened. Let us be grateful that nothing more did, though you may want to watch for signs of poison mushrooms springing out of the wood around the house. They aren’t harmful unless eaten, but if I’m guessing correctly at what spell they were attempting, I’ve read mushrooms are a common side effect. I’ve been reading about oracles since I got your letter and I can see many things that could have gone wrong, though I can’t be sure without talking to Liop. Of course, I’m not an expert by any means, and, to be perfectly open with you, I’d never dare attempt something so complex! I would never tell Imato! It’s not my secret to tell, and frankly I wouldn’t tell him even if it were. I don’t think Imato would take the news well.

Back to the subject of Gretel, I was with her on the day Imato told you about. I suppose I must have forgotten to write you about it, I had intended to. Oh well, not important. It was quite funny. It seems though, that your dear brother is not being entirely forthcoming with you, for he has seen much more of Gretel than that! In fact, I think it may be a hopeless cause to try to keep them separated for long, not that I would want to try, I’ve no objection to them being together. Speaking of which, Gretel was hoping to come to visit while Imato is home, but would like to surprise him. Of course, she wouldn’t want to come if you wouldn’t want her there, so I told her I’d mention it to you. What do you think?

Also speaking of the two of them being together, I mentioned earlier that practicing palm reading has definite advantages, right? Well, I suddenly have access to all sorts of people and I have a perfectly plausible reason for asking them odd questions…. So…… I took advantage of this and asked to read Gretel’s father’s palm. As I told you, he is an influential knight, but he allowed me to. As I was doing so, I mentioned his daughter and a possible “blossoming romance” (90% theatrics, remember-- the other 10 is half skill and half what you already know about the person). At this he laughed and admitted it was true and that he had absolutely no objections to the match. He seems to be actually hoping that they will marry. Thought I’d pass that along in case it came up and Imato was worried about her father’s reaction.

My magic is progressing. I’m picking things up very quickly actually, though I’ve decided that I’d best not dabble in curses until I’ve gotten a bit better at controlling my temper. I’m sure that if I were to learn any I’d do something positively horrible to the next person who referred to me as a “young lady of nobility”-- it’s ridiculous. I nearly bit the head off one of the king’s advisors the other day for saying it. Caught my tongue just in time, though, which is good because he didn’t even realize I was listening.

The king has been very helpful in furthering my lessons with Brynn, and I finally realize why. He is obsessed with omens. It seems he wants me to learn as much as I can so that I can prophesy the meaning of omens my father sees in the stars. I’m a bit apprehensive about this. After all, omens are wrong enough that one shouldn’t rely too heavily on them. I wonder what has gotten the king so interested in them.

Oh, I learned the most useful spell! It allows you to see what spells have been cast on something (or someone) in the past. I used it on Aron and can see where Liop went wrong with his growth spell and how to fix it. Granted I don’t plan to, I like Aron just the size he is, but I thought you could tell Liop that I will teach him the proper spell if he agrees to use it only under the guidelines I give him.

I have some new kittens! I’ve changed them all so they look like flames, but different enough that I can tell them apart easily enough. I have three, and I am planning to send one to you. I would have sent it with Imato, but they aren’t quite old enough yet. If we can arrange for Gretel to visit maybe I can come along!

It’s morning again. I had to put this down last night, it was terribly late, but I shall finish it and send it off this morning. I wasn’t planning to tell you about this, not yet at least, but I’m so unsettled this morning that I can’t possibly not tell you.

I keep having this dream, and it’s really disturbing me. It’s awful too, since I’m learning to interpret dreams and so I’m analyzing to no end. Okay, yeah, I realize the irony of that statement; if I weren’t learning dream interpretation I’d be digging up all of the information on dreams in the city and simply driving myself insane.

Well, here it is. I’ve dreamt the same thing five nights in a row now, and I dreamt it three nights last week as well. Recurring dreams are nerve-racking, don’t you think? Anyway, I dreamt about my mother, about the morning she died. She’s talking to someone, but I can’t quite make out what’s being said. I’m hiding outside her door, anxious to see her, but knowing that the healers will shoo me away if they see me. I was only eight and they tended to either think I was in the way or I shouldn't see how sick Mother was. Every night I dream it, I come closer to seeing her and closer to hearing what is said, but it’s still just outside the range of my senses. I keep waking up crying. Half of me wants to push further in the dream, get closer, but there’s something holding me back, like it’s something I don’t want to discover. From what I can tell, the dreams bear all the marks of suppressed memories, which just makes me more confused and more anxious to figure it out. I’ve requested to be allowed to read the palace records from the time when Mother became sick and the king, hoping I’m looking at omens, has allowed it, but it’s slow reading. I haven’t told Father; he’s very busy right now as he has to prepare for the meteor storm in a month or so. Frankly, I’m not sure how well he’d take it if I told him. Especially if I told him my theories…

Arri, you mustn’t tell anyone this, but I’m beginning to think that my mother’s death was not simply an illness. I fear it was very deliberate. Mother interpreted omens, like the king wants me to do, and I am starting to think her death may have stemmed from some prophecy made. What this means for me, I do not know. The king’s advisors have been here since before her death, so if my suspicions are correct and it was one of them, the murderer is still here. If I begin interpreting omens, will I become a target? I’m more frightened than I care to admit, but I also know that I can’t give this up. I will read these records until I find something. Don’t worry about me, as of yet, I have learned nothing and there is really very little to fear.

Oh, one more thing before I close (which I must, for I’m to begin learning the meanings behind different positions of Jupiter). Father discovered that I have been practicing magic again. I hadn’t told anyone, not even Brynn, though I’m sure she knows, but Father came into the room suddenly while I was changing a teacup into a frog and back again. He left the room again and we haven’t spoken since really. Don’t be alarmed, that’s actually a very good sign. With how busy he is, I rarely see him and if he were upset he’d have made a point of talking to me about it. The fact that he hasn’t said anything is comforting.

I must close. All my love to Liop and Imato (and you may as well include Gretel’s to him as she has appeared over my shoulder and is stuttering about telling Imato hello for her).

May the stars burn clearly and light away troubled nights.

Love Always,

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