Magic, murder, intrigue, missing relatives, secret caves, fantastical creatures, royalty, nobility, romance...
Who ever said our lives were dull?
To follow our story, use the sidebar links and start at the beginning of it all...

Arri-- February 5, 2004

February 5, 2004

Dear Keish,

Keish, how could you? Everyone in Rousha will be convinced I’m engaged to Sean within the week. Even Imato says you went too far. He says it will discourage other young men from wanting to court me. (I’m not sure I care about that, though.) He does acknowledge that people would have started speculating about me and Sean anyway, especially since I danced with him three times. He cut in once to rescue me from a young man named Penrad Natire who was trying to usher me into a private room. Really, I had decided to run for the door in a few seconds anyway, but Sean cutting in was less embarrassing. I don’t think you noticed that time.

I never thought it would be a relief to dance with Mendel! He’s so much better than me and he loves dancing. But he also pretends not to notice when I step on his feet. Keish, there has to be a way for me to get out of attending dances. I feel so stupid at them. It was nice of Mendel to dance with me twice, and to steer me away and talk to me when other young men came over. He says everyone was dying with curiosity to find out why the prince liked me so much. Your rumors were good, but they didn’t entirely take suspicion away from me. That’s why I got asked so much. Maybe now that the whole world knows what a terrible dancer I am, and that I’m not engaged to Prince Tulson, they’ll leave me alone.

Still, you’re right, I danced with six other young men. They were very polite. Phyfe Tecsin was almost as bad at dancing as I was. He was the nicest though. He said the next time we meet, we can pretend to have twisted ankles and just sit and talk. But he comes from Cletus near the Midaeans so we may never meet again. I met his parents, Lord and Lady Tecsin, a long time ago. They were friends of Father and Mother. Phyfe asked after Father’s health and said that his parents wanted me to know that his family was at my service.

Thank you, thank you, thank you again for my dress! Sean said I was beautiful. Mendel said I looked like the meadow where he first met Fairy (as he still calls Aunt Nysa). I’m pretty sure it was a compliment.

Queen Elspeth was very nice and didn’t ask me a single question about Prince Tulson’s engagement when I helped her get ready for the ball. I did enjoy making flower arrangements for the tables, and one of the servants showed me all the silverware so that I wouldn’t make any mistakes at the banquet.

You looked gorgeous, Keish, and you and Jace danced so elegantly! I heard several people comment that you were a lovely couple. I wonder if you should be worried about rumors. I mean you danced every dance with Jace except the one with Prince Tulson. I guess you never worry about rumors though.

Oh, the festival was the best part of everything! Fire dancers, jugglers, puppeteers! It was like being a child again with a bag of cinnamon-roasted almonds and my old stuffed giraffe under one arm. Father and Mother used to take us to at least one festival in Rousha every year, sometimes the winter one and sometimes the summer. Imato took me on the elephant ride and we threw darts for prizes. I still have the little wooden frog that I won at darts when I was seven. This time I got to watch Liop play games. (Thank you for stopping him from using magic to try and win them!)

I don’t know why Lady Pren kept trying to get you alone. Maybe it wasn’t that so much as trying to get Taty and me to be friends, which wasn’t at all difficult. I didn’t really think about it at the time or even notice until you mentioned it.

Aunt Nysa likes you very much. She wishes we lived closer together.

Brynn came and talked with me on the 31st, but I didn’t want to talk much. I know she wants me to study magic and Uncle Winthrop is against it. She suggested that Taty and I could have our lessons together and I said I’d think about it. I’ve been doing an awful lot of thinking lately, and I just feel so muddled inside. I do want to learn magic, but I don’t want to go against Uncle W. Of course, I promised Imato that I would ask Uncle W. for permission to study magic. The King sent a missive informing Uncle W. and me to appear before him one February 15th. I’m obliged to have things figured out by then.

February 10

Uncle Winthrop doesn’t like it that I get up at dawn and walk to the mental home every morning to be with Father. He says it isn’t safe for me to go walking by myself so early. I don’t understand it at all. In Odsreq there were spikebacks and wolves and lions, but Uncle W. was never the least bit worried when I went out. I tried to get Liop to come with me but he says only the birds are bobbersome enough for that sort of thing and that he’d go with me after school but not before. I asked Uncle W. what he was so worried about and he said robbers, but we had those in Odsreq.

So three days ago Uncle Winthrop came home from work with a giant schnauzer, almost as big as a pony! He must have been solid black in his youth, but now he’s speckled with bits of white. Still, he looks very aristocratic with his head set high and his powerful shoulders. Uncle Winthrop says he’s more for looks than anything and that he would rather I just stay home, but I can’t stand being inside on clear mornings. His name is Coulter, and he has to be brushed everyday to keep his long coat sleek and untangled. Kestrel doesn’t like him much. I think she’s insulted because he took her spot by the fire. Anyway, they both come with me in the morning now. Kestrel leads the way as always, and Coulter walks at my side.

Imato has returned to Adya for his training today. I forbade him to come back without his knighthood and he made me promise I would have started my magic lessons. Aunt Nysa overheard us and after he left, she looked at me closely for a while until I began to feel nervous.

“I should like to teach you,” she said finally in her soft, unassuming, voice.

Suddenly everything became very clear.

“Would you?” I asked, eagerly, “Can you? I mean, do you know how?”

Aunt Nysa’s chin came up and she looked insulted.

“We’ll start tomorrow after Winthrop leaves for work,” she informed me. I stared. It was the first time I’d ever seen her assertive about anything and the intensity of her gaze made me shiver.

It seems strange that less than an hour later Brynn came calling. She asked me to go walking with her, and I agreed. I was excited to tell her about studying with Aunt Nysa.

Her reaction startled me. She stopped walking and her eyes seemed to turn gray and serious.

“I think,” she said finally, “that this is as it should be.” She looked down at me with a worried expression.

“But, Arri,” she continued, “you need to be careful. Fairy magic is strong and very dangerous, especially for someone who isn’t a fairy. You need to remember that the spells Nysa teaches you may be difficult to control and that fairies are known for using more magic than is necessary to accomplish things. Be very, very careful.”

“Maybe I shouldn’t…” I began, feeling unnerved.

“No, Arri,” said Brynn, “Study with Nysa.” And she didn’t say anything more.

I was trying to decide if there was anything else I should put in this letter, so I set it aside and pulled out the ledger to figure the budget for the next couple of weeks. It’s a good way to clear my head when I’m nervous. I had my mind buried in numbers, when I noticed Uncle W. standing behind me. How glad I am that I wasn’t still working on your letter!

“Where did you learn to calculate averages?” Uncle W. asked suddenly.

“From you,” I said.

“No, I taught to divide the money to see how much you could spend on each meal. I didn’t teach you to average the cost of produce.”

I though about it.

“Oh, Cook suggested that,” I said finally. Uncle W. had the most thoughtful expression, as though he had just realized something important.

“You would have done well in an academy,” he said finally, and wandered off again.

It was such a strange thing to say. Academies are for boys preparing for college. I bet Liop would do well in one.

I’m just going to mail this now, and start a new letter tomorrow after my first magic lesson.

I hope your trip went well. I miss you already. Tell Uncle Adlen its my turn to visit you, but I really don’t know when I’ll be able to.



Go to NEXT Letter

No comments:

Post a Comment

Leave us a little note-- Hermes or Clotho will be sure to deliver it!