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Arri- February 24, 2004

February 24, 2004

Dear Keish,

I think I have never been so busy in my life! In the early morning I visit Father, but I mustn’t linger because Aunt Nysa is making breakfast and she expects me home in time to eat it. I finally worked up the nerve to tell Uncle Winthrop about the magic lessons and he took it very calmly (at least while I was still in the room). So after breakfast Aunt Nysa and I go to the cave and spend the rest of the morning practicing magic. Lunch, if I’m lucky, is brief and simple. But sometimes there are invitations to tea which Imato and Taty say I mustn’t neglect. Eventually, I’m sure I will run out of people to embarrass myself in front of and then maybe the high society of Rousha will leave me alone. Oh, Keish, it’s not that I don’t like people, I’m just not very good at talking to them! In the afternoons I review what Uncle W. taught me the night before so that he can quiz me on it when he gets home, and then there is so much more to learn! I am forever poring over books and charts. I had no idea the world had so many countries and I don’t know if I will ever keep the names of all their leaders straight. And the math! I thought I was good at math, but now I realize how much more there is to it. My head spins just writing this paragraph, and last night I had a nightmare about trying to take the square root of the General of Greste, whose name I can never remember.

Liop is no help. He has a new friend named Clive who follows him home everyday and the two of them make such a racket that I send them to the park if it isn’t snowing, which it usually is. One good thing about Clive is that he prevents Liop from doing magic. Uncle W. told Liop that if he and Clive ever tried a spell, Liop would have to switch schools. It was a very effective threat since Liop is only just becoming comfortable at the public school.

I do wish winter were over already, but we still have a few more weeks, at least.

As you have noticed, I sent you a water pitcher. Aunt Nysa found it in one of the cave chambers. I was practicing magic and she was wandering around looking for objects that might stir her memory of Mother and Ellean. She found this. It didn’t bring back any memories, but look on the bottom: your full name, Lakeisha Nerys Leilani, is etched into the glass. That’s why I’m sending it to you. Can you feel the magic in it? It almost pulses, it’s so strong. Magic is flowing through the swirled blue pattern. It’s beautiful. Aunt Nysa says it’s very old. She can’t tell what the enchantment on it is meant to do, but she believes it has been there for centuries. If that’s true, how did your name come to be there?

Tomorrow Aunt Nysa and I are going to look to see if there’s something with my name on it. There are parts of the cave that Aunt Nysa remembers as clearly as she remembers the land of the fairies. But the caverns are so vast and intertwined that it would be impossible for someone to explore them all. Listening to her talk, it sounds like the whole mountain range is practically hollow.

Aunt Nysa’s magic lessons are different from the way Brynn taught you. The first part of each morning is spent using the strengthening and precision exercise that she taught me the first day. Then yesterday, she added an exercise that is less about precision and more about strength. First she taught me to suspend an object in midair. It’s the same spell you use when you throw things at people that annoy you. It took me all morning to master it, so we had to wait till today to use it in the exercise. For the exercise, both Aunt Nysa and I cast the spell together on the same object (a rock). Then we try to pull it towards ourselves and away from each other. It’s like tug-of-war with magic. Then we switch and push the object toward each other. It’s exhausting. Aunt Nysa says I should try the exercise with you next time we see each other. Brynn couldn’t teach you this one, because her magic isn’t strong enough to give you a challenge. When two people of greatly unequal strength try this exercise, only the weaker person gets stronger. Two people closer matched, however, can strengthen each other with it. I guess that means Aunt Nysa, you, and I are all closely matched.

Practicing magic in the cave is a lot safer than practicing in the apartment. I’ve noticed that a lot of the spells Aunt Nysa knows don’t work the way she expects them to the first time. She says it’s because she still isn’t used to being outside of the fairy ring. The atmosphere is different and the spells have to be adjusted to compensate. The cave has the same atmosphere as a fairy ring. After the first day, she hasn’t jerked my arm while taking me to the cave. She also says that my body is very resistant to foreign magic and that Gessair must have performed a very dangerous spell when he tried to drain me.

As I wrote this, I just realized that since I’m learning fairy spells in a magical cave, I’m going to have to adjust everything I learn so that I can use it outside the cave, the same way that Aunt Nysa does. I wonder if Aunt Nysa has thought of that…

I have been reading in the Chronicle. It’s a difficult book to read. I can never be sure when I open it that the same stories will be in the same place. I have been trying to find mention of a water pitcher, but no luck so far. The last page I read contained a list of Brio people who have made wands over the centuries and the dates they made them. As you would expect, it’s not a long list and at the top is Brio of Thalthin. I didn’t recognize any of the other names on it. The last wand made was over a hundred and fifty years ago by a man named Abuk Reddox. I didn’t know the Reddoxes were related to the Brios. I don’t think any of them have magic now, at least not that I’ve heard about. Old Mr. Reddox is a butcher. He has seven grown children scattered and married throughout the city. I buy a chicken from him once a week. Maybe I should ask him about his ancestor some time.

Liop and I are so glad you like the chalk and erasers! Liop says you ought to come and teach in Rousha and then he would attend your classes. I asked him how he would like to be the only boy in a class of all girls. He said if I could do it, (meaning sit in a college class with all boys), so could he. I suppose he’s right, but I don’t think I want Liop studying Feminine Politics.

Your dreams about Father are comforting. I wish I could have them too.

I did not find out about your birthday ball until the day of your birthday. Taty told me as we were having tea with Lady Hiro and Lady Clara. She’s known about it for a while, but she couldn’t tell me, because no one trusted me to not tell you. They’re right. I would have told. Taty said that Jace intended to dance with you all night on the balcony under the stars, until dawn if you let him, and the band would keep playing. I think that you probably enjoyed yourself more than you’re telling.

Master Imkell arrived this morning and left his card in the door, because I was at the cave and no one answered. It was my fault. I had your letter, but I got the date mixed up (there are too many historical dates that I’m trying to remember right now). Anyway, he left his direction, so I sent a note of apology and invited him to dinner, which he accepted. Uncle Winthrop interviewed him very thoroughly and I will start lessons tomorrow afternoon. It’s just not possible that I can be ready to take the test in March. Uncle W. wanted me to try in April, but that’s when Glory’s foal is due and I won’t miss that! So I’m going to take the test in May, which is the latest I can take it and still be accepted to medical school in the fall.

Jace is going to teach too! Taty is disappointed that he is going to move to Arella. She had counted on you moving to Rousha. I think it’s wonderful, and Taty is thrilled to have you for a sister and already begging her parents to let her spend her summer vacation with you.

Prince Tulson and Lady Clara will be married on July twenty-fourth. Lady Clara says I am to be her maid of honor, but I don’t have to look at any fabric swatches because she’s going to wear her mother’s wedding dress. (Her parents died many years ago, but Lady Westridge saved a chest of their belongings to give Lady Clara when she came of age.) She says the rest of the wedding plans will be decided between her and Queen Elspeth, who sees this as a chance to get to know her better.

Lady Pren is surprised at how quietly society has accepted Lady Clara. She thinks it’s because there aren’t any secrets to uncover. Lady Clara makes no effort to pretend that she’s anything more than a servant, “and in doing so, she behaves with all the dignity of a queen.” Those are Lady Pren’s words. She’s very impressed and says no one can say anything except that Prince Tulson made a good choice.

I think everyone loves a fairy tale. And this is just like one.

Uncle Winthrop says Queen Elspeth would whip anyone who spread rumors or made snide remarks about her future daughter-in-law (the choice of her flawless youngest son). Queen Elspeth is not a woman to be crossed.

After they marry, the King will proclaim Prince Tulson the Duke of Lake Lowell. He and Clara will be Duke and Duchess Trunsle and they will move to that city. Clara says I must come and visit her. She says I can continue to call her “Lady Clara” if I like, but that I must never call her “Duchess”. She says she will help me set another griffon trap so that I can catch my own prince this time. I’ve never been to Lake Lowell, but I hear it is very pretty.

I’m so sleepy that I’m going to end here. It’s not a very long letter, but I’m going to send it anyway, because I want to hear how your work on the school system is going. Tell Jace not to worry about Taty. She’s not mad. She just misses him.

I hope you’re getting more sleep than I am.



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