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Arri- October 19, 2003

October 19, 2003
Dear Keish,

I’m glad to hear that you’re father is feeling better. He works so much—Mother was always telling my father to slow down and he was never listening. I guess you have the same problem. Talking to the King might be a good idea. By the way, is the King still obsessed with omens? It seems to me like we’ve had a lot of them lately, if we could only figure out what they mean—your dreams, for example.

What do I expect you to tell Imato? I’m not very sure. You see, it’s going to be very hard to keep my disappearance from Odsreq a secret. For one thing, I missed my carriage and Treany was going with me. She’s probably very worried and asking people if they’ve seen me, so it’s a pretty safe bet that all of the village knows I’m missing. Imato won’t believe every rumor he hears, but he will want an explanation, and since he knows about Hermes, I’m sure he’ll come to you to get it. You might as well tell him the truth. He’s going to get upset no matter what you tell him I did, and I still don’t know where I am, so he can’t come after me. Please tell him I’m okay. I’m with the griffon, and we’re still traveling. Imato’s exhibition was yesterday. How did it go? Tell him I was thinking about him and hoping everything went well.

The things you found about fairies are very different from what I’ve been finding. I’ve never heard of house fairies. Do you think there are two kinds of fairies? Or more? Perhaps house fairies are the fairies who left the fairy rings and can never return. Did they leave because they never lost their memory, or maybe they regained their memory when they left? Or maybe the rules aren’t that straight-forward.

In Elcaro censuses are only taken every five years. We could ask Prince Tulson to look at the others, but I’m not sure that it would tell us anything. I think the prince didn’t look at all of them, or didn’t find anything else in them worth mentioning, but you can ask him. I expect you’ll get more information out of him than I did, because talking to someone in person is almost always better than using correspondence. Lady Clara was good at getting Prince Tulson to tell her about things—much better than me.

Thank you for the magnifying glass, and I did bring Mother’s book, although at the time it didn’t make sense to bring it. Now I’m glad I did. When Hermes caught up with us last evening, I first read your letter very carefully. Then I sat for a while with the book and the magnifying glass. The first time, when I looked through Uncle Winthrop’s magnifying glass, I had only expected to see an enlarged view of the painting. This time, since I sort of knew what would happen, I was nervous. My heart pounded against my ribcage as if I were still leaping with the griffon. Finally I opened up to the page with Iris, Aster, and Marigold holding hands. I held the glass firmly over Iris, took a deep breath, and looked in.

The painting of Iris smiled, and her green eyes looked right into mine. She opened the little book in her right hand and held it up, childish handwritten pages facing me. The magnifying glass zoomed in on the book, and suddenly I wasn’t in the cool, evening forest any longer. I was sitting cross-legged on a hardwood floor in a warm, sunny little room. Facing me, also cross-legged, was a green-eyed little girl with a large heavy book open in her lap. She looked about five years old, bright, and excited. She wore a pink nightdress, and her light brown hair was still tied up in ribbons to make it curl (although the ribbons were coming out). I think it was early morning.

“Who are you?” the child asked, looking right at me.

“Arri,” I stammered, “who are you?” But I already knew who it was.

“Jesse,” said my mother, “are you from the past? Or the future?”

I hesitated. “The future,” I said.

“Oh!” She clapped her hands together joyfully. Then she recited this poem:

“Spirit of sunrise
Bringer of hours
Answer this question
Of my future bowers.”

She leaned forward, tossed a handful of pale pink powder into my face and whispered: “Tell me if Judy’s foal will be a colt or a filly.”

I was so startled that I didn’t say anything for a minute, though I knew very well the answer. Judy was Mother’s pony when she was a child.

“Tell me!” cried the child impatiently.

“A filly,” I stammered.

“I knew it!” she declared in triumph, “I thank you, kind spirit.”

The last thing I saw was her slamming the book shut. Then everything went black.
I woke up the next morning with a pounding headache. Kestrel was asleep on my chest, purring softly. Nozama started screeching in a nearby tree. Disoriented, I tried to sit up, but wasn’t strong enough. My efforts attracted the griffon’s attention.

“I wish you hadn’t done that,” he mourned, “we’re going to lose a full day’s travel while you recuperate. Don’t you know better than to answer other people’s calls?”

“What?” I asked in complete confusion.

“You’re lucky to be alive,” said the griffon in a tone of disappointment.

“What happened?”

“Brio magic, poorly executed,” said the griffon, “but you should know better what happened than I do. You were there. I only saw you fall over.”

“I saw my mother!” I shouted, “I saw her as a child.”


“Jezreel Brio,” I told him about the vision. “Do you think she remembered seeing me?” I asked.

“I doubt it; most people have poor memories,” said the griffon skeptically.

“Do you know how I can control the magic better?”

“Training, maybe,” said the griffon doubtfully, “but it takes years and years, and unless you have talent…”

“But my mother could do it when she was five,” I interrupted, “Can you tell me how it works?”

“I only know griffon magic,” he said indignantly. A minute passed. He frowned, “Show me the page.”

I sat up slowly, keeping my eyes shut against the pine trees spinning around me. I still felt light-headed. Feeling around I found the book, opened it to the first page and held it out to him.

“It’s upside down,” the griffon informed me. I corrected it, opening my eyes briefly and then closing them again. I wanted to go back to sleep.

Several minutes of silence followed. I felt myself sinking back to the ground. Kestrel mewed.

“There’s a link between this book and the Chronicle, probably to the life of Jezreel Brio.”

“What’s the Chronicle?” I asked, trying to concentrate, but feeling faint.

“The history of the Brio Clan, their record, passed down through generations. It has great power.”

“My mother had it,” I whispered, “where is it now?”

“The Lioness has it,” the griffon responded.

“The winged lioness? Why?” I lay back down; my head felt like it would fall off if I didn’t. Is this how you felt when you tried the divination spell? I don’t have the gift of divination. Maybe that’s why I didn’t learn anything useful. The griffon answered that Mother must has given it to her, but it was hard to concentrate, and I fell asleep before I could ask more questions.

The griffon was right. It has taken me all day to recover from the vision. I slept most of the time with Kestrel curled up against me, helping me stay warm. The days are getting cooler and I didn’t bring a blanket. That was foolish. I was more worried about weapons. I took Father’s sword because it makes me feel safer—not that I know how to use it. But it used to protect him, so I guess in a way it makes me feel like I have his protection. I know that’s not a good explanation. Don’t tell Imato.

I keep thinking about my fairy book, but the griffon told me I have no control over the spell and next time I might kill myself, (“drop yourself into a battle and die” is how the griffon put it). He’s not very talkative anymore tonight. I tried, but he just turned his back and went to sleep. Actually, I think he doesn’t know very much more, but doesn’t want to admit it. I tried asking him about fairies, but he said he didn’t know any. I wish I could talk to Brynn about things. You make her sound so understanding. I hope she is a fairy. I hope she answers all of your questions. Maybe she just knows fairies, like our mothers did. Our mothers knew so much about fairies. I wish I had paid more attention to them.

About the bridle, there are several magical creatures that wear golden bridles in stories. Elephants, unicorns, griffons, and reindeer are a few. I expect they all require different kinds of bridles, but until I found this one I had never thought about it that closely. I wonder where mine came from.

October 21, 2004

I was going to send this letter last night, but as you will see, I got distracted…

I was feeling better the next morning, so we left early. Traveling with a griffon gets easier once you know what to expect. I tried to keep my eyes open and watch where we went, so I could tell you, but whenever I faced forward the wind got in my eyes and made them water. Also the ground moved beneath us so fast that it was hard to look at anything directly under us. All I can tell you is that we traveled mostly north and a little east. On the last jump I thought I could see a desert directly east of us, and countless mountains to the north. The griffon landed in a scrub forest with short scraggly oak trees, desert brush of all kinds, and stands of short pine trees. I don’t recognize very many of the species. I don’t think there’s very much water here, but the mountains are almost at my feet. After we landed, the griffon lay panting for several minutes and refused to answer any of my questions. I tried to be patient, but my muscles ached and I was tired. I think the griffon was too. I asked him if we were going to leap over the mountains and he snapped at me, saying we could walk the rest of the way. I looked around quickly, expecting to see something, but all I could see was scrub oak standing just higher than my head. I climbed up an incline and scanned the treetops. Some distance away I saw a trail of smoke rising steadily into the sky.

“I see a campfire,” I cried running down the incline. The griffon turned his left ear toward the smoke.

“Probably a forest fire,” he muttered grimly, “your uncle must be caught in it.” I felt a stab of annoyance.

Nozama climbed up on my shoulder and chattered angrily in my ear, brushing gray dirt and yellow sand from his fur. I don’t think he likes this place. I let Kestrel out of my sack. She immediately rolled around until her pretty fur was thick with dust and her lavender stripes looked very gray. She purred. I could feel my heart pounding inside me as I looked up at the traces of vanishing smoke in the sky.

“Well,” said the griffon finally, “come on.” He pushed his way into the scrub oak with the animals and me following close behind. Scraggly branches scraped against my arms and caught my dress. It was slow progress. Eventually we came to a burned place where the under brush was ashes and the hiking easier. I kept looking at the sky and saw that we were coming closer and closer to the source of the smoke. Finally we were moving slowly, not because the going was difficult, but because we wanted to stay unnoticed. Then the griffon stopped.

“Wait here,” he said firmly. I didn’t argue. I gathered Kestrel into my arms and waited. For several minutes all I could hear were bird sounds and branches shifting in the breeze. My heart beat faster and faster within my chest and Nozama squirmed on my shoulder. Then we heard the sounds of the griffon returning. He pushed out into the burned area and glared at me.

“Did you see him?” I asked.

“He’s in the next clearing,” the griffon responded, but his voice was low and angry.

“What’s wrong?” I asked in a hushed tone.

“He’s with them,” said the griffon frowning, “griffons have nothing to do with them.”

“Who?” I asked.

“Narls,” said the griffon, snapping the word. He walked back in the direction we had just come.

“What are Narls? Where are you going?” I asked.

The griffon stopped and looked at me. He ruffled his feathers.

“I did my duty,” he snapped crossly, “you ought to have warned me it was a matter with them. You really should have been more fair.”

“I didn’t know,” I apologized in confusion, “Where are you going?”

“Home to Mother,” said the griffon, “to tell her I’ve learned my lesson.”

“Wait!” I chased him back through the brush, “How will we get home?”

He didn’t answer. He didn’t turn around and look at me again. When we reached the place where we landed, he leaped suddenly. I shouted after him, but he was gone, a tiny black speck in the sky that quickly disappeared among the clouds. Everything, even Nozama, was silent.
Oh, Keish, I was so frightened! I don’t know how long I stood there. I remember thinking that you were probably going to have to catch a griffon to come rescue me. I realized that I wasn’t doing myself or Uncle Winthrop any good. I felt ridiculous. Finally, I stood up and started following the trail the griffon left in the direction of the fire. I thought that I could make things no worse by trying to find Uncle Winthrop. I carried Kestrel, and Nozama held onto my shoulder. He chattered constantly, so after a couple of minutes I grabbed him and stuffed him in my bag. He let out one angry screech and was silent. I held still for a few minutes after the screech, listening for any reaction, but I didn’t hear anything. I followed the griffon’s path until it ended abruptly and I decided that he must have jumped a little to see into the clearing and then turned back to tell me what he saw. The brush was thick and dry and crackly. I left my bag at the end of the path and crawled through the trees on my hands and knees, trying not to make any noise. Fortunately the wind started up at that moment and all the trees started creaking in it. It took only a few more minutes and then, suddenly, I poked my head out of the brush into another clearing. Seeing a group of men, I pulled back in quickly and then waited to know if they saw me. I put my hand on the hilt of father’s sword, but the branches were too thick to draw it. I didn’t hear any kind of reaction, so I relaxed a little. The wind died down, and I heard voices.

“If we turn back for Quarter Way, we’ll lose two days traveling,” said one man’s voice. I didn’t recognize it.

“Yeah, but we don’t have enough provisions for us and the prisoners to last till Outguard,” another man’s voice, slightly whiny, responded. Chills streaked through me when I recognized this voice as that of one of the men who stole Glory.

“You’ll survive,” the first voice replied.

“We could sell the mare in Quarter Way,” the horse thief pleaded, “then no one’ll ever know about it. We’ll have money for supplies too.”

“We could turn it loose to the dusties. That would be wiser,” said the first voice, “It was bad luck to steal it; it’ll be bad luck to sell it. We’ve lost three men to dusties already, and I refuse to be next.”

“I won’t do it! That mare’s worth as much as the ones in the King’s stable.”

“Yeah, and these prisoners are worth more.”

The wind picked up again and muffled out their voices. I took the opportunity to move a little closer along the edge of the clearing and find a place where I could see without being seen. Soon I could see a small campfire with four men hunched around it. One was Uncle Winthrop! I could see him almost facing me. He was dirty and his blond beard so long and scraggly that I almost didn’t recognize him. I wanted to shout or try to make him notice me, but I didn’t dare, so I just lay low against the ground and watched. He was tied up to another man wearing a dark hood over his face so that I couldn’t see it at all. Their captors, the two men talking, were facing away from me. One of them played with a stick in the flames; he had long dark hair pulled back in a ponytail. The other man’s hair was short and uneven, like maybe he cut it himself with a knife. Nearby I could see three horses tied. One was Glory! I was so excited that I could hardly sit still.
I lay there unmoving for a long time, cloud shadows creeping in around us, and a warm, wet wind threatening to storm. Most of the time I couldn’t hear what anyone said, but what I did hear was mostly arguments about Glory. It seemed that they weren’t supposed to steal anything except the pictures, and the long-haired man thought it was bad luck to steal a horse. They’re working for someone they call the Master, but I don’t know whom. The other man, the horse thief, sounded afraid of this master, but I don’t know why. The horse thief wanted to sell Glory, but the long-haired man wanted to release her. I heard the word “dusties” a few times. Have you ever heard of such a thing? I couldn’t tell if they were talking about animals or people, but they sounded dangerous. At least the horse thief was convinced that they’d kill Glory. I listened as hard as I could, but I only got occasional phrases and sentences through the wind. Maybe I misunderstood them completely.

And all the time it got darker and windier, and Kestrel tried to hide under me to get out of the wind, and I was worried about Nozama, but I didn’t dare move. Finally, when it was completely overcast and the wind was blowing very hard and making a huge racket, I crawled back to where I left my bag. I dumped everything out of it and stared for a long time at my supplies. The water bag was almost empty. I thought that if I was going to rescue Uncle W. that I would have to do it that night, because if they left in the morning, I didn’t think I could follow them without being seen.

Finally I decided to circle around to the side of clearing where Glory was. I picked out some good landmarks and started walking. The sun was setting. Soon it wouldn’t just be dark from the clouds, but also from the night. It was hard finding a way through the brush, and I tore my dress, but when I finally reached what I thought must be the other side, I stumbled into a large patch of chalk-like powder. My shoes sunk into it like quicksand, and I tripped. When I looked up I could see that I was at the beginning a huge, round boulder left over from a glacier. The powder was white and very fine. I dug myself out carefully. As I ran my fingers through it, an idea started to form in my head. I tore a piece of fabric from my petticoat and made a kind of pouch, which I filled with the powder. Then I continued walking.

Finding the horses was harder than I thought it would be. Everything around me was pitch black and I kept making circles and ending up back at the glacial stone, but finally, I heard a whinny from a direction I hadn’t tried yet, and I oriented myself to it. I think it took hours to find the horses, but maybe that’s an exaggeration. But I did find them. There was a pale gray gelding, a sway-backed bay mare, and Glory towering like a queen above them. It was so dark and windy that I had no difficulty slipping Glory away from the other horses. I don’t know if anyone noticed. Then I mixed the chalk powder with some water. I put white circles around Glory’s eyes and painted her sides to look like a skeleton. While I was working, there were several flashes of lightning. They reflected off the wet, white powder. When I was done, Glory looked like a demon horse. I put circles around my eyes too. Then I climbed on her back. My dress was so ragged I thought it completed the costume. I unsheathed Father’s sword and held it in front of me with my left hand. In my right hand I had a mixture of Uncle W.’s green fireworks powder and a little explosive powder. I kneed Glory gently and rode her into the clearing. My idea was to cause enough confusion for Uncle Winthrop and the man with the hood to get away.
Everything happened really fast after that, so I can’t describe it very well. I can only say that as I entered the clearing, there was a terrible flash of lightning that struck really close and made the air hum all around us. Glory whinnied and reared up so that I had to throw my arms around her neck to hold on. Then there was a lot of screaming. I found the fire and threw the powder in and it exploded, but not as much as I wanted. I kept looking around and calling for Uncle Winthrop. I couldn’t see anything for a while, just flashes of light and dark. Glory reared again and this time I fell off; I don’t remember hitting the ground. The next thing I remember is Uncle W. grabbing me by the shoulders and shouting things that I couldn’t understand. He pulled me into the trees and put a rope in my hand. I looked over and saw that it led to the hooded man.

“You hold him,” Uncle W. ordered. Then he said something about the horses, but there was too much thunder and I couldn’t hear him. I did hear him tell me not to let go of the hooded man or take off his hood. He seemed to think this very important.

“Understand?” he shouted.

I shook my head, but then the lightning flashed again. Glory screamed, and Uncle W. disappeared. I was terrified; I couldn’t move. I just stood there holding that rope so tight that my fingers ached. Then it started to rain, and the hooded man pulled on the rope and I followed him—I don’t know how far or how long. He stumbled and bumped into things a lot, but so did I because it was so dark. I didn’t think to try and stop him. I didn’t think anything at all, except that I was cold and all my muscles were full of knots. Then there was a place under a rock and the hooded man crawled under it, and I sat down on the lee of a stone with the rope in my hands and rain streaming down my face, and everything like a nightmare that wouldn’t go away. I don’t remember much after that. Maybe I slept a little.

It’s evening now, Keish. I can see the hooded man crouched under the stone, and I’m sitting a little ways away from him against a tree. This morning I tied his rope to another tree, and left him so I could walk around for a couple of hours. It stopped raining a while ago and the land here is so dry that there are hardly any puddles. The dirt and vegetation just soaked everything up like a sponge. I found Glory trembling near the glacial stone. I tore some more of my petticoat under my dress and rubbed her with it until her trembling stopped. Then I climbed the glacial stone and looked all around me. In the distance I could see a huge rock formation shaped like a swan with a long curved neck. I think I’ve seen it before somewhere, but I don’t remember for sure. Nothing else looked familiar. Then I got scared that the thieves would see me, so I climbed down again. I went back to the clearing where the griffon abandoned me and found the sack with Nozama. Kestrel is missing. I hope she’s okay. Then I came back to the place where I left the hooded man. I don’t dare call for Uncle W., because I don’t know where those thieves are, and I’m worried they’ll come looking for me.

I’m frightened, Keish. I don’t know where I am, or what I’m supposed to do next, and I’m scared of the hooded man. It seems cruel keeping him tied up, but I don’t know what else to do. Uncle W. said not to take his hood off. He hasn’t tried to do anything; he’s just crouched there with his head down, and all his muscles tight like a trapped animal. Earlier, I gave him some water. His hands are tied together, but he could still hold the water bag, once he figured out that was what it was. He spilled most of the water, drinking it through the hood. I tried to talk to him, but he didn’t answer. I really don’t know what to do. I’m lost. I think Uncle W. must be recaptured and I don’t know how to follow him, especially with the hooded man whom I can’t abandon. He seems rather helpless.

I’m out of paper, despite my smaller writing. I hope Imato’s exhibition was perfect. I hope that your father is getting plenty of sleep, and relaxing. I hope that you’re having good luck finding information about fairies. I hope that you and Liop are safe and having a wonderful day. Give everyone my love.


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