Magic, murder, intrigue, missing relatives, secret caves, fantastical creatures, royalty, nobility, romance...
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Keish-- January 4, 2004

January 4, 2004
Dear Arri,
I thought I knew what to expect, I really did. I insisted on an audience with King Menion last night even though it was after dinner. It’s one thing to stay with you for a few days while divining to make sure Gessair is still too weak to travel (or anything else), but it’s quite another matter to spend the night in the same castle with the wretched man-- even thought what happened in the cave broke his magic and nearly killed him.
I wasn't at all prepared.
We took the time to freshen up and change into more formal attire, then went to King Menion’s smaller audience chamber. I was grateful he would see us at that hour. After the formalities, I stated my accusation and story as concisely as I could. It is all a rather complicated mess. King Menion frowned as I spoke-- Gessair has been one of his most trusted advisors for many years. (I can’t bring myself to use his title-- the man doesn’t deserve the courtesy.)
Father spoke when I finished. "My Lord, I have full confidence in my daughter. I have also spoken to my nephews and niece whose participation Lakeisha has described."
I felt myself blush a little at the pride in his voice.
"And the Lady Arrietta has recovered?" the king asked.
"The full effects on her magical ability have not yet been determined, but she has recovered physically, Your Majesty," I answered.
He nodded thoughtfully. "And your role in this?" he asked Jace. "You witnessed the events and confirm Lady Lakeisha's words?"
I winced inwardly at my title, but smiled at Jace as he replied, "Yes, Your Majesty."
The king commanded that Gessair be brought, regardless of his condition. The guards had to support him when they returned.
When he saw me, Gessair's face became even more white. He looked ghostly. Then his eyes narrowed and he started a hissing chant. You could feel the hate in his eyes-- that is what I was not prepared for.
I stepped back and flicked my wrist instinctively, even though I could tell there was no real power in his words, just malice. He slumped.
King Menion stood. He practically roared out the charges brought against Gessair-- leading the Narls, treason, attempted murder, murder, intrigue. It seemed like too few words, but they carried a great weight. "If I had had any doubts," he finished angrily, "they would certainly have vanished at your attempt to attack Lady Lakeisha!"
He waved his hand and the guards hauled Gessair away.
The king looked very tired. "Thank you, Lady Lakeisha. I am sure this was not an easy task for you. Gessair will be dealt with appropriately, you have my word."
I curtsied deeply and left the throne room.
I started sobbing as soon as we reached the tower. Father had remained to consult with the king before going up to his observatory. Jace helped me to a sofa in the library and went to see about getting me a cup of tea (chamomile-- you'd have been so proud of him).
He sat with me until I had calmed down, then asked, "Why do you think Gessair seemed so surprised to see you?"
I thought a moment. "He may have thought it would take us longer to return. After all, it took us much longer to reach the cave than it did to come home, even with spending a few days in Odsreq. He probably thought he would have time to recover and escape."
"I would have thought his followers would have helped him," Jace commented.
"I thought of that, but how many were his followers by choice?" I asked, thinking of the spell I'd broken over the men in the forest.
He nodded. After a moment he got up. "You're exhausted. Go to sleep. I‘ll go keep your father company for a while and see you in the morning."
It wasn’t very late yet, but I was to drained to argue as he walked me to my room, gently kissed my hand and left. It took me some time to fall asleep, though, for I kept seeing Gessair's hate-filled eyes.
Jace gave me your letter at breakfast this morning-- it’s a good thing Hermes has gotten so used to him, I was in a sorry state last night-- even if I had been awake when he arrived.
I also have a note from Gretel-- she went to Rousha, so I guess maybe you’ll see her there.
Speaking of Gretel-- you may want to have a talk with your brother before she skins him alive. Her note says he actually wrote her a letter saying he was sorry but he wouldn't be seeing her again! Of all the camel-headed… What was he thinking?!? Actually, he probably wasn't thinking, was he. Anyway, Gretel's hurt and furious and hurt (and did I mention she's just a little upset?) and Adya has enough storms this time of year without adding her tears!
Anyway, maybe you can talk to her, or better still, make Imato talk to her, while you’re all there. I do hope she’ll return soon, though. Even with how upset her note sounds, I miss her.
Christmas was wonderful! It was so nice to relax and see everyone. You can tell Liop that I've been wearing the scarf he gave he and the waterproofing and warmth spells he used work very well. Jace says the same about his hat.
Father had such a good time. He wishes we could be together for every holiday. He's more relaxed than I've seen him in quite a while. He's worn the hat you got him constantly and he got out his entire beetle collection to display, adding the ones Liop gave him. He was very excited! Like a child with a new set of blocks! He was still at it a little while ago when I made him eat breakfast.
Did Imato really like the talisman I got for his birthday? It reminded me of the one you described that your mother made for your father. I know he liked the boots-- Jace told me they'd be the perfect practical present-- but I wasn't sure about the talisman. I couldn't really tell from Imato's reaction.
Tell Tulson “thank you” for the invitation to the ball. (Okay, yes, that's slightly sarcastic but only slightly-- I must have been more homesick than I thought.) I see that he sent Gretel one, too-- they came together, so I’ll give it to her when she returns. We'll come, of course, though I'm only doing it for you (well, okay, and Jace). I hope you'll weave the ribbons I gave you through your hair, unless they're marking pages in the Chronicle. I know that's what I told you they were for, but they would look very nice in your hair and the silver bells at the bottom would jingle as you danced. (I'm talking about hair ribbons… help me! What did being away do to me? And to make matters worse, Gretel told Vanessa I would be “thrilled“ to come to lunch as soon as I returned, and wouldn‘t you know it, Prince Euan‘s dear betrothed has already sent up an invitation for lunch today and even with Jace here I apparently have to accept since Gretel said I would. Drat!)
Tulson, Tulson, Tulson. I told you you couldn't stay away from her. He owes me a large rich chocolate cake. Please tell him I expect it my first night it Rousha. We'll send all the boys away and eat it, just you, me, and Gretel. (Well, maybe Jace can have a piece… he's pouting).
I can't believe Tulson didn't mention the present Jace and I left him! He had to have found it. Unless he hasn't changed his clothes in days, but even he's not that bad.
Well, I guess I have to tell you about it since he didn't. Jace and I spent more than half a day planning it while we rode to Odsreq. We rigged a skin container filled with honey above his armoire. (We thought about a pot, but decided it would break on his hard head.) It was a fairly large container-- we wanted to cover him as completely as possible. Then, and this was the real feat of engineering, thinking that he would turn to his water pitcher and basin, we rigged a thin string from the pitcher to a large sack of feathers. (It had to be a feat of engineering, because Jace says using magic would be unfair since Tulson can’t. I said that since Tulson’s a prince he has extra resources and that isn’t fair, but Jace insisted it would be bad form. We debated the ethical ramifications for nearly two hours.) Anyway, are you picturing this?
There's no way it didn't work. We had it all set up and Jace made sure that the servant that cleans Tulson's rooms wouldn't touch anything. I wish I could have seen Tulson all covered in honey and feathers! (And in the end, the only magic we could agree on was a spell that made the room clean itself up. It didn’t seem at all fair to foist such a mess on the innocent maid, especially after she promised not to interfere!)
Let's see, I'm answering your letter all backwards. I'm glad Uncle W. wasn't bothered by my being there, but only he would consider having a vase thrown at his head by his yelling niece a "discussion"!! Granted, I did pull it back before it hit him, but there's no way he didn't see it. Oh, and you can tell him that I hope he'll think more closely about what I had to say about magic! If he's going to remain convinced that it's bad just because it can be used for evil, then he may as well give up everything that can be used for evil! Like knives or Alchemy!!
On a lighter subject, Mendel's letter sounds quite funny. I'm so glad they found Nysa! I'm sure Lady Westridge is pleased. I can't wait to hear from you about Nysa! What does she remember? How is Uncle W. going to react? What does she think about what happened in the cave?
You'll have to tell me everything! Oh, but drat, I have to go to lunch..

Ugh, I just got back from lunch. Next time Gretel says I'll go somewhere, I'm refusing! Two hours, two hours! And there were endless wedding dress sketches, at least 100 possible menus, and, much to my horror, a very large pile of fabric swatches. I sat there thinking "this is it, this right here is why I hate living here!" I thought I was going to pull my hair out! This is why pushing the prince toward a girl from a foreign kingdom would have been a good idea. Then she wouldn't be here to torture me like this! Luckily, Jace and I are going out into the city this afternoon, so I was able to make a graceful exit. Right now I'm just waiting for him to get ready.
Has Brynn tried the spell with the crystal again yet? I think she said she would do it after you had done those exercises for ten days. How did those go after I left? You were really making progress with making those herbs grow.
Did Imato let her try it on him? She told me she would if it was okay with him. I just don't feel like I have the experience to make as accurate a determination. With Liop my results were pretty vague-- which is fine with a young child whose magic may shift and change as he gets older, but it didn't seem helpful with Imato.
I know Brynn feels like your magic has changed a lot since the cave. I wonder how many other people were affected. Do you think Flora's family would be affected by it? Not all of the magic the Narls stole was Brio magic. I'm still trying to sense how large of a shift of power has occurred.
Has Uncle W. become resigned to Brynn's visits yet? He may as well get used to it. She's pretty well connected to our family now.
Oh, what does Brynn have to say about Nysa? Can she help her with remembering things? It's harder for Brynn and I to communicate now that things have changed and since I'm home there's not as much need. When she came to Odsreq, we severed the connection we had formed.
Here's Jace. He says to tell Liop he's sorry he couldn't show him around when you were all in Rousha. He has to go back in a couple of days, though, so if you go back to Rousha after the ninth he'll be there. We're going out into the city now; I'll finish this tonight.

So, what did King Trunsle want? Was it a formal audience? Were you in Rousha long? Was it about your father?
Has Uncle W. made arrangements for moving to Rousha? I forgot to ask you when everything would be ready while we were there.
I‘m preparing the menu for a farewell dinner for Jace. This time I won't see him in just a couple of days and I'm miserable. It seems so natural to have him around. I feel like a part of me is leaving and I don't know if I can keep saying goodbye to him like this. (I'm sure if Gretel were here she'd be teasing me mercilessly.)
That story from the Chronicle is rather odd, isn't it? I don't see how you can accidentally steal a dragon's egg, either. Maybe some parts of the story were lost over the years? I also didn't realize "Damar" was a common name.
I plan to spend much of next week in the library doing some research. Now that I know some of the things I don't want to do with my life it's time to figure out what I do want and how to go about doing it. (Plus it should help keep my mind off Jace's absence… maybe.) I receive my inheritance on my 19th birthday, so I will have the resources to do what I want. The problem is I never thought a lot about it until recently.
Blaze keeps trying to steal this quill, never mind the fact that I gave him one already. He was very happy to see me. I keep waking up with him right on my stomach. I don't know how, but Gretel convinced him not to attack the herbs she hung in my room to dry. (Maybe Liop convinced him?) She finished getting my garden ready for winter after I left and there are herbs all over my room. The scent is heavenly.
I should close, it's time to go down to dinner. Gretel’s note said she wanted me to send something, but I can‘t find it. No doubt whatever it is will be tearstained-- I tell you, this has got to stop! Oh, here it is.
Love always,


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