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Keish-- February 12, 2004

February 12, 2004

Dear Arri,

Arri, Arri, Arri! You do know I would never do anything to hurt you, right? I know how to run the rumor mill. And while I can understand Imato not completely trusting me (He seems to think I’m very careless. I hope I’m not anywhere near that bad.) how could he think that Gretel would have let me do anything that would damage your reputation? She was there the whole time and insists that she’ll be having a talk with Imato when he gets here about worrying too much and being more trusting. She says to assure you that everything is fine and that rumors can be manipulated to mean anything. We’ve already got some rumor control in place. If those girls say anything, Taty will hear it and spread a rumor about things not working out between you and the mystery man. Or, if you’d rather, we can spread the word that your intended has died tragically and put you into mourning for a while. It’s a very good excuse for turning down society invitations. No one can argue with it. Granted it would probably only last until Imato or Uncle W. found out, since I’m not sure either would be happy about it. But still.

Penrad Natire, huh? That must be who Imato had cornered at the ball. He’s probably lucky it was in the ballroom, not a private room that Imato caught up with him. Imato looked pretty angry. Can’t say that I blame him. In fact, Natire might be lucky that it was Imato and not me. I don’t think my self-control is as good as Imato’s.

Gretel and I are both very glad you liked the dress-- and that you met a friend, even if Phyfe Tecsin lives so far away.

Technically, I danced half a dance with Imato, too. He cut in because Gretel wanted to talk to Jace. Naturally no one will tell me why. I doubt dancing with my cousin will change any rumors, though. But you’re right. I don’t worry about rumors unless I started them.

A giant schnauzer? Wow. How very… large. I guess that makes Uncle W. feel better. Does it make you feel better?

Gretel is a quivering mass of excited, nervous energy-- Imato should be back any minute now, basically. She’s pacing up and down the library at a ridiculous rate. It’s very distracting…

That’s it, I’m sending her out to the gate. She’s going to make me nuts if she stays here.

I’m glad Nysa’s going to teach you. It feels right. I’ve been having those dreams of your father almost every night, and he’s so agitated. I think this will bring him peace.

Imato’s back. He says to tell you his journey entirely uneventful and he’s very glad to hear that you started your magic lessons. He wants to know what Uncle W. had to say about Nysa teaching you. I’m very curious too. Imato says he will write you himself soon. We all hope that your audience with the king will go very well.

Well, now that Gretel and Imato have gone off to stare into each other’s eyes somewhere else… I love them both dearly, but it was really getting to be too much. I’m genuinely happy for them, of course, but watching them makes me sad today.


Funny you should mention academies. I’ve spent the last month of so researching how the schools and academies in Arella are run. (I agree that you’d do very well at one.) Yesterday, probably as you were having your magic lesson, I had a formal audience with King Menion to submit a proposal for a schooling system for girls. My research was extensive and detailed and, if I do say so myself, the proposal was very well put together. I even bullied the Court Treasurer into reading through all my calculations regarding funding such a system. (I knew the proposal would not be seriously considered without a financial plan, but my math skills aren’t as strong as yours.) I’m still waiting for a response, but the King seemed to think it had merit. I didn’t want to write to you about my research until I had actually gone though with the proposal. I didn’t even tell Gretel exactly what I was doing, though she had an idea and helped me with a few things. The king is meeting with his counselors right now and I know my proposal is being discussed. I hope that my being a young woman doesn’t hurt my chances. I hate that that’s the ways things are, but such things are what they are.. Jace says I’m more confident than many young men and I shouldn’t worry too much. Papa will, of course, support me, but he’s my father, so the others will expect that. I’m so nervous.

Feb 13

Arri, it’s been accepted! I almost can’t believe it! I feel… overwhelmed, to be honest, but I also feel like my life has more purpose now.

Master Byra, a former royal tutor who’s now a confidante to King Menion, has accepted the challenge of overseeing such a system. I am to work with him. We have three months to prepare before the daunting task of registering students for the fall. The first year it will only be set up in Adya and King Menion has made it clear that enough of the counselors are not convinced, so we will only have one chance.

I know we can do it, though.

There will be a celebration tonight. I think it’s the first time I’ve ever been really excited about a palace event!

It’s late afternoon now. I had to finish my letter to Jace so that it would go out with the midday post. I have to get ready for tonight, but I wanted to tell you something. I… I don’t know when Jace will be here again, but I realized something. I want him here. To live in Adya. I… I told him… I told him I love him. I know society would call that improper and a letter doesn’t seem like enough, but I couldn’t not tell him. I tell him everything.

I have to go get ready. I’ll write more later. Thanks for always being there.

It’s late, the moon is high, but I haven’t stopped shaking and I know I won’t be able to sleep. I don’t want to worry you, but Imato was there, so you’ll hear about it either way. It’ll be better for both of us if I just write it down.

The celebration was everything they usually are, though I enjoyed it a lot more than normal. The dinner was wonderful and of course there was lovely music. Imato spent the evening teasing me about finally taking life seriously.

When the dancing started I decided to slip away. I wasn’t interested in dancing without Jace.

Just before I reached the door, someone grabbed my arm. I groaned, thinking Gretel had sent Imato to make me dance at least one song, but when I turned I didn’t recognize the man who held me there.

I gave an apologetic smile. “I’m sorry, I don’t intend to dance,” I told him.

“Neither do I,” he said softly, pushing me toward the door.

I stood still, refusing to be moved. “No.”

He pushed harder and I saw Imato starting toward us, but he was across the room and no one else had noticed yet.

I tried to wrench my arm free. “I’m not going anywhere with you,” I hissed.

“You’re not coming of age, that’s what you’re not going to do,” he snarled. “The Master has determined that the Brio that destroyed him shall be destroyed.”

My heart nearly stopped. I narrowed my eyes and they burned into him. Literally. I focused all the power I could muster and burned his hands as badly as I could. He cried out and let go of me.

By now all eyes were on us and Imato had reached us. He pinned the man’s arms, which made the man cry out again.

“What is the meaning of this?” the king demanded.

Recognizing the look of concentration on my face, my father put a hand on the king’s shoulder and the room stilled.

I held the man’s gaze, made it impossible for him to look away, impossible for him to move at all. I pushed into his mind, past his anger and pain, past all emotion. I stripped away his defenses and saw exactly what had happened.

I should have known. I should have felt the twinge of power. Gessair. One of his guards has a little magic-- not enough for him to even be aware of it, but Gessair was. He saw the opportunity and he pulled the guard’s thread of power and sent a message. I was not to live to see my birthday.

The man that attacked me was a Narl with just enough magic to hear his master’s call. He was one of just a few in Adya hoping for Gessair’s release or escape.

The others are being rounded up by soldiers even as I write this. Imato insisted on going and Gretel came up to check on me.

Papa is here now, too. He looks so tired. King Menion wants me to check everyone they arrest tonight for magical abilities, just to be safe. He also asked Papa if I could drain any magic we find, but Papa refused, insisting that I did not know how. I do know, though. I realized as I looked into my attacker’s mind that I could drain his magic and even his wits. I’m too scared of that knowledge to tell my father. I’m not sure what he would think of me. It’s such a terrible use of power, but I can’t say I wasn’t tempted. What does that say about me?

February 14

I couldn’t write more last night, Imato and the others returned and I was called upon to check the prisoners for magic. Thankfully none possessed any. Only my attacker, and his was not enough to bother about.

It was nearly dawn before I was alone in my room and the sun was rising as I fell asleep. Gretel woke me this afternoon with a tray from the kitchen since I’d slept through breakfast and lunch. Imato wanted to talk to me right away, but Gretel told him absolutely not until she had fed me and made sure I was up to it. Imato had been firm about the men being his prisoners and Sir Aoweir agreed, provided Imato didn’t lose his temper.

Gretel finally let him in. He was very gentle. (So much so, in fact, that I finally had to yell “I am not an invalid!”) We’ve never seen eye to eye, but I immediately knew he was doing all of this for me and that he would do no less for me than he would do for you. It was a nice realization.

He wanted me to use magic to find out the extent of the Narls’ surviving organization. I reluctantly agreed. I didn’t want to spend any most time inside the minds of those horrible, misguided men, but I knew Imato was right. We had to know for sure.

I delved into each man’s knowledge and pieced together as much as I could. They didn’t honestly know very much. As far as we can tell, these men were the last holdout, at least in Adya. Probably in all of Arella.

Papa came up for dinner and informed us that a decision had been made. Gessair will be executed tomorrow night, as will the other Narls. I’m honestly relieved.

Imato is insisting on staying here in the tower tonight, just in case. I’m too tired to argue with him.

Other than being tired, I’m fine, I promise. Don’t worry-- by the time you get this it will probably all be over.

Would you do something for me? Will you talk to Jace? Even an express messenger take at least half a day longer to get to him than this will take to get to you. Will you tell him I’m okay? I don’t want him to hear first through the palace rumor mill, since surely other people with carrier pigeons will send news to Rousha. If nothing else, official word of Gessair’s execution will certainly be sent sometime tomorrow.

I promise I really am just fine. Imato is, too. He wasn’t hurt at all when he went with the other soldiers to take the Narls prisoner. He has promised to keep my involvement to a minimum if they end up finding more Narls.

It’s too late to send this tonight-- I’ll do it first thing in the morning.

Love always


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