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Keish- October 24, 2003

October 24, 2003
Dear Arri,

I’ve told Imato as much as I dare… Which is more than I would have liked to tell him, but he actually took it surprisingly well and may turn out to be very useful. After all, he is older, and may remember things that we cannot. Of course, I did not tell him about your Father’s sword and I’ll make sure I am careful about letting him read your letters. Don’t worry, I know a good editing enchantment so I can show him the letters while keeping a bit from him.

So, while I’m giving him almost all the information, Tulson, Gretel, Jace and Liop are getting it all. Yes, I know, Liop is very young to be so included, but I can’t use enchantments as effectively around him and he actually is very helpful. The swan formation! Liop remembered it and I went back through your letters to be sure… it’s from the reflection of your father! I’m not sure what this means. Do you know the identity of the hooded man yet?

The king has begun again to pressure me about omens. I know now that he must be looking for something in particular. My mother’s death was almost exactly ten years ago. I fear that he is searching for something to come again that came then. I search for this omen in the present and the past, but I do not know what I am looking for, so how will I know when I find it? The king is also making strange inquiries about my health. Not to me, of course, it wouldn’t be proper, but he is asking Gretel’s parents and even Gretel herself. And the questions don’t just concern me, but Jace as well. He is still here along with Taty, and Brynn, of course. I think the King is questioning our relationship but it almost seems as though he’s disappointed that there is nothing to question. Imato just came in and said one of the King’s heralds has been to see him to ask after me. I am growing concerned. Arri, I feel a vision coming on. I will continue writing later today.

Since writing the above I’ve learned a little. I’ve also spoken with Brynn, who knows something but says that there are things I must learn for myself. I am shamed to admit that I yelled and threw a bit of a tantrum, but she assured me that she knew nothing about my mother’s death and that what little she knew about Pricille was no more than what I now know myself. She left my mother a little before Pricille came and so could not tell me any more.

Yes, I’ve had a vision about Pricille. She was a Cledara, which explains much. She was not our mothers’ sister but she was a distant cousin. As you know, the Cledara are another powerful magical line and it seems that a child is missing from each generation in their family as well. Actually Pricille herself was that child. She never completely forgot her family, though, and so left the ring, becoming a house fairy. House fairies have very little fairy magic, but it seems that the fairies generally take the child with the strongest innate power. I wonder if this is because they are the most fairy-like or if it is to protect the child and those around the child from the extraordinary power. Anyway, even stripped of most of her fairy magic, Pricille’s magic was strong and she helped my mother a great deal. My vision about her showed me her life, or a summary of it. Some things I felt rather than saw, such as her grief throughout her time with the fairies as she never fully forgot her former life and childhood. I did not, however, see her death, though I did have the strong impression that her young son (he would be nearly 11 now, I suppose) did not die and I am beginning to believe he is the child the fairies took from this generation, from that line anyway. It still does not solve the mystery of why a child was not taken from our generation in the Brio line.

Oct. 25

It’s morning now. After writing the above, Brynn made me retire. Do you remember that dream I had of my mother? It had been some time since I’d had it, until a few days ago. It’s coming regularly again. Last night it came more forcibly than ever before, but I still could not get into her room. I do not know what to do, except to keep trying, to not resist it. Brynn says even she cannot force it. I think it holds the key. Or at least a key. Perhaps no one key is enough for this tangled mess we’ve made. Or that I’ve made, rather. You just got caught along with everyone else.

We have made a search and found copies of the censuses Tulson told you about. There is really nothing more to them. We also found the book he mentioned, but it doesn‘t seem helpful. It is full of Brio legends, but I don’t feel like I know what to look for. They’re all so old. I got special permission to remove it from the library here, so it is safely locked away where only I can get it. I dare not say more, in case somehow my enchantments are broken and this letter is read by anyone but you. I could not enchant it for the eyes of Uncle W and would not even if I could, for I fear that broadening the enchantment would make it easier to break.

I am sending you some enchanted paper. Since we have the second bird (Clotho) that Tulson said he would get, we can send more. He hadn’t gotten her yet when he wrote you, so he brought her along to Adya. Keep either Hermes or Clotho with you all the time in case of an emergency. I worry about you being out there with no way to get word to us.

Tulson and Jace and Taty have all found excuses to remain here for a time. They are helpful. Even as I write Tulson is continuing to search the library and Taty and Jace are looking through my mother’s books.

We found something! Well, Taty did. (oh she says to tell you she hopes to see you again because she always wished you hadn’t moved away before you two could become friends) Anyway, she found mother’s fairy tales. I found the tale that would correspond to the one you told me from your book.

“Once there were three sisters who loved each other more than life itself. Elidel was the oldest-- born one spring morning under the sign of the unicorn. Rowena was the second-- born on a fall evening under the sign of the griffin. The youngest was Mariel-- born in the bright midday of summer, under the sign of the Fairy. (isn’t that interesting? I hadn’t thought about it before, but that is the sign of July)

“One day, when the girls were 9, 7, and 3, they discovered something extraordinary. A fairy ring had sprouted in the woodsy area behind their home. Rowena wanted to see if the stories were true-- if the fairies truly danced there in the light of the moon. On the next full moon Elidel and Rowena took their blankets out near the ring and watched the stars. Soon they heard a gorgeous music, but it was not the music of their mother, which was like the sounds of birds, rather it was like a thousand tiny bells. The girls looked to the fairy ring and saw that curtains as fine as spider webs had been drawn around it.

“Soon the east began to lighten and Mariel, looking for her sisters, came running from the back of the house. She spotted them and changed directions as Elidel called to her. Rowena leapt to catch the baby as she saw that Mariel would cross the fairy ring to get to them. She underestimated the danger and was too slow. In a flash, the baby was gone.

“A small frog sat in the midst of the ring instead. ‘Please tell us where our sister is,’ the girls pleaded, but the frog would not speak to them. In anger, Rowena destroyed the ring around him. Soon they went to beg their brother to help them. He spoke with the frog and learned that Mariel had been taken to dance with the fairies. The only way to reach her was to find a winged lion to take them. The brother, troubled and upset that his gift gained him such sad knowledge, refused to go with the girls, but he gave them one small enchantment so they could speak with the winged lion should they find the one that was rumored to live near the woods.

“The girls set off, taking nothing but their small ponies and a small mirror. They traveled for days eating what they could find and finally came to a large cave. A winged lioness was lounging in the mouth of the cave. The girls, using their enchantment, asked her to take them to the fairies.

“’I will take you,’ she yawned, ‘if you give me your mirror.’ The girls gave her the mirror, pleased that they had brought something the lioness liked.

“They climbed on the lioness’ back and held tightly to her as she stretched her wings and lifted them to the sky. They flew through the clouds until the lioness landed lightly in a beautiful garden. She led them to a mushroom castle that was guarded by an army of ants. At the girls’ request, a black spider led them to speak with the queen. ‘Where is Mariel?’ Rowena demanded of the beautiful queen. Elidel put out a hand to calm her, but was too awed to speak herself.

“The queen considered them for some time before responding, as though pondering what harm could come of telling the girls the truth. Finally she answered, deciding that they could be little danger at such a young age. ‘Every generation,’ she said so softly the girls had to come closer to hear, ‘we dance in the ring of fairies. Once a generation we call to ourselves the child that is most like us-- the child who can join our dance.’

“’Well, Mariel danced with you, you’ve had her for days. Let her come home now,’ Rowena said.

“With a sad smile the queen responded, ‘You must love your sister dearly or you would not have given up the mirror. For that I will let you see her, but Rowena, your sister is one of us now. She cannot go home with you.’

“With a few notes like bells, Mariel came running and Elidel caught her up, noticing sadly the wings the child now bore.

“’Why can’t we take her? We would take care of her,’ Elidel said, finally regaining the power to speak.

“’But child, she can only go where there is a fairy ring,’

“The older girls cried and begged the queen to give them a new ring, but she said she could not. She told them, however, that they could call to Mariel from any ring they encountered.

“The sisters spent the day together but when night came the lioness took them back home without Mariel. Seeing the tears in the girls’ eyes, the lioness offered to visit them, though she could never take the place of their sister. Elidel asked if she would take them to see the fairies again, but she sadly explained that humans could only visit the realm once in their lifetime, and that was rare in and of itself. She did promise, however, to take them to other fairy rings. Then she left them for a time, though she kept the mirror as a token of friendship.”

I had forgotten this story, though I have read it before. Strange that I didn’t remember it when you told me your mother’s version. Mother never told me this story. I remember now that I found it not long after she died.

I think the differences in the tellings are interesting. The most obvious is that your mother named the girls after flowers, while mine used the names of stars they were born under. Considering their respective lives and personalities, this comes as no surprise. It’s interesting though, that each takes the blame for destroying the fairy ring, as though neither is willing to blame the other. Also, Rowena is much more bold than Aster is portrayed. Actually, she sounds more like me.

The only illustrations to mother’s story are small sketches, I haven’t had a chance to really study them yet, but I will. I don’t know that they’ll reveal anything though. It almost looks as though she didn’t get a chance to really illustrate it, like these are just the sketches she was going to work from. I think she may have written it near when she died. She didn’t have time to finish.

It’s interesting how much is the same between the two stories. I got your letter out for comparison and the words of the fairy queen are almost the same word for word in both. What the girls say varies, but the queen’s words don’t. Also, my mother says nothing about the winged lion coming to serve later. It could be that that was unique to your mother’s life, since we never had one but you remember one. Also, Mother’s mentions Uncle W. Or a brother at any rate, who can communicate with animals. She also gives a reason for why the girls could talk to the lioness and possibly why Uncle W avoids magic now.

Please respond soon, I worry about you. I know you can take care of yourself well enough, but still… You have Glory with you, right? Imato is here and he wants to be sure she is safe. He sends his love and says if you get yourself back in one piece he may not even lecture you about it. You know that’s his way of showing that he loves you and is worried. In all honesty, I think he’s jealous that you get to go off and have an adventure.

Liop sends his love as well. As does Gretel. Tulson says not to get yourself killed, because he’ll need your help with new traps next summer. I told him that sounded callous, but we all know he’s concerned.

May your roads be safe…
Love always,


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