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Keish- February 18, 2004

February 18, 2004

Dear Arri,

I never thought I’d say this, but I think I might actually agree with Uncle W.! (I don’t know that you should tell him that, though. It might go to his head.) I think medical school is a wonderful idea. I think it would accent your healing and with Aunt Nysa teaching you I don’t think it will slow down your magic training much. (Though, yes, that may be Uncle W.’s motivation.)

Speaking of Aunt Nysa teaching you, I think I’m jealous! Spending the day in the Brio Caves practicing magic sounds fabulous!

What do you think happened that surprised Aunt Nysa? It sounds as though you did just what she said. Did you ask her what she meant?

I would love to explore the treasure of the Brios. It sounds so amazing. A quill that never runs out of ink? We could both use one of those! I wish we knew the stories behind each thing. Maybe Uncle W. or Aunt Nysa know at least some of them? Are some of the objects mentioned in the Chronicle?

Maybe Aunt Nysa will remember more about being in the cave as she spends more time there.

I only did that strengthening exercise once. It’s very frustrating at first, trying to figure out how to hold a spell in the air. My magic was already starting to spike uncontrollably, though, so I don’t think Brynn thought I should be trying to strengthen it! Brynn is also very uncomfortable with using fairy techniques. The strengthening exercise is really harmless, but she was still hesitant. (I wonder if we’ll ever get her to tell us her story.) I should try it again. It would be good practice.

I’m very impressed that you turned the air particles green! It made Papa laugh-- Mother used to send colored clouds to block his telescope when she felt he was working too hard. I’ve only done it once. It gave me a headache. No wonder you were so tired. All of that would be enough to exhaust anyone.

Gretel has read “The Lady in the Forest”. Imato called it sensational trash, too, but Gretel told him not to be stuffy.

Papa says your father would probably just laugh and that it’s the kind of thing our mothers used to read and then write to each other about. (In case you were wondering-- Gretel and I picked committing suicide by jumping off the warship while Imato [answering under duress] would rather be hung… Papa refused to choose saying that he hadn’t chosen when Mother tried to get him to years ago and it didn’t seem like any more reasonable a choice now.)

Feb. 19

Thank you for talking to Jace! I forgot to write that when I started this yesterday. With Gessair gone, I feel fairly safe, but also more cautious. I pay more attention to what’s going on around me, especially when I leave the castle.

Do I feel grown up? I don’t know. Imato says it’s not likely, Gretel just laughs, and Papa says if I don’t feel grown up yet, I will in a few days when we really get to work! I’m glad Uncle W. approves (you definitely shouldn’t tell him that-- it would go to his head!).

As for going into mourning-- we could get you a black dress, of course. But you’re right, I don’t think Imato would like the idea. You definitely wouldn’t have to go to tea though!

I’m a little surprised at King Trunsle’s reaction to Uncle W.’s proposal. Especially after my own experience with King Menion. I think you could pass the exam. I’m glad Queen Elspeth was there. She seems to have more sense.

The cause of women is just a grand way of saying women should have opportunities just like men do. Sometimes I think people take it too far though. They want grand pronouncements from the king declaring women equal to men. Frankly, I know I’m equal to any man without needing the king to say so. I’d hate to think I needed his permission to be equal.

The chalk and erasers are wonderful! Thank you both so much! (And yes, Liop did get the spell right, though it may take a little longer than 15 seconds.) You are both wonderful!!!

Oh, I dreamt of your father again last night. He was much more at peace and said only “I’m so proud of her. She is so like her mother.” He may not be able to respond to you when you go to see him, but he hears you.

Feb. 20

It’s a conspiracy. They are all conspiring against me! I specifically said NO BIRTHDAY BALL! That’s pretty clear, right?

Gretel burst into my room this morning, dragged me down to breakfast, and then dragged me to a fitting!

“Gretel, this is not a quiet relaxing morning,” I growled. (I am simply not a pleasant person first thing in the morning and being dragged about on my birthday is just not appealing to me!)

“Just be grateful I didn’t wake you at first light,” she grinned. We have to check the fit on your dress.”

“What dress?” I groaned.

“The dress for your birthday ball.”

I stopped dead in the doorway to the dressmaker’s. “No, no NO!” I said. “No ball. There is no ball!”

“Oh but we couldn’t let you come of age without a ball,” Gretel said, prying my fingers off the doorway and pushing me into the room.

Okay, so the dress is beautiful. Very beautiful. It has a full green skirt and cream floral sleeves. And the fit is perfect. Of course.

But why a ball? Gretel knows I do not want a ball! Imato knows, Father knows… the whole castle knows! And apparently the whole castle conspired against me!

I had to sneak away after lunch to get a quiet moment to write this. Gretel has the whole day planned! We went from the fitting to visit Marie to lunch and any minute now Gretel’s going to burst in again to drag me to the baths and then to see her mother’s personal maid to do something dreadfully fancy with my hair.

Here we go again.

I insulted the maid.

I didn’t mean to, really. What she was doing with my hair was ridiculous, though. I swear she tried to use 800 hair pins! After sitting their for nearly an hour, I couldn’t handle it any more.

So… I’m going with my hair down with only a simple tiara… And Lady Aoweir is mildly disgusted with me… And her maid will “never be talked into dealing with such a petulant child again.”

At least I think that’s what she said. She has a very thick accent.

Well… off I go. I guess.

Just for the record, since I know that Imato is writing a slanderous letter, I did not throw myself at Jace. I ran to him, yes, embraced him, yes (Gretel says “fiercely” is the word for it) but I did not throw myself at him. Just to straighten that out.

Did you know Jace was coming? Was everyone in on this?

Jace entered (rather dramatically, I must be rubbing off on him) during the first song. It was such a wonderful surprise! It almost made it worth having to go to a ball… and stay the whole time… almost. Having him come into a quiet dinner would have been good too. I suspect the ball was really Gretel’s doing.

The first faint rays of sunlight are starting to glimmer and I haven’t been to bed yet. I’ll add more after I get some sleep.

Feb. 21

What is it like to be in love? Jace said something last night that really struck me. “I just wasn’t myself without you.” I’ve decided being in love is being incomplete without the other person.

Gretel highly approves of this definition and Imato’s exact words were “You’ve managed to be eloquent, simple and correct all in the same breath.” I think that’s a compliment. Though sometimes with Imato it’s hard to tell.

Jace just smiled.

About your upcoming exam-- Master Imkell should be contacting you soon. He was one of Jace’s tutors and Jace says he’s the perfect person to help you prepare. Jace says those exams are only given the second week of each month, so you have some time even if you want to take it in March. Everything has been completely arranged-- Jace contacted him using a Palace carrier pigeon this morning and is certain Master Imkell will love the idea. Apparently he knew Madame Athica before she died. Plan on him coming to see you the morning of the 24th.

Jace had more surprises for me today! He’s not returning to Rousha-- he’s going to live here! He’s already talked to my father about living in the room at the base of the tower that he always uses when he’s here. Imato is moving in too, something about that making it more proper. I think it’s really just because he spends so much of his spare time here anyway. (Probably still a reaction to finding those Narls.) Papa is just overjoyed at “always being surrounded by such vibrant young people.” Without my knowing it, Jace has also been in contact with Master Byra about taking a position in our new school system. (See, conspiracies abound.) He’s been accepted and will help us put together a curriculum. We meet the day after tomorrow to start working. I expect we’ll be at it all day… probably all week really.

All of the girls that work here in the palace will have special sessions to attend on the castle grounds. Jace and I will be teaching around the clock to accommodate their work schedules. We’ll definitely need more teachers!

Feb. 22

How did you live with Imato for so long? After one day he’s proving to be quite a pest.

Gretel and I have been looking through wedding dress sketches for ideas for her. Her mother is convinced the dress needs to be started even without a date. Jace provides an opinion if pressed, but would obviously rather be left to the book he’s reading. After I’d glared at him a few times he said, “My dear, I promise that if you were looking for such a dress for yourself, I would have more of an opinion.”

Imato has not stopped snickering to himself since! Gretel must be insane.

Gretel just brought in a stack of fabric swatches. I groaned. “You know how I feel about fabric swatches.”

She smiled that impish grin that I’ve seen so much of lately. I do not trust that grin. “Don’t worry, there are only about a hundred options here.”

On the up side, it stopped Imato’s snickering. “I think that must be Sprigs giving the stable hands a hard time,” he said, rising quickly. “Join me for a ride, Jace?”

Jace looked between his book and the fabric for a moment. “Yes, I think I will,” he said.

They made a hasty exit and Gretel and I dissolved into laughter.

When we finally regained some control I said, “Imato must have excellent hearing to have noticed Sprigs from this high in the tower!”

“It’s worse than that,” Gretel responded. “Sprigs is with my father’s horses at our private stable. There’s no chance he heard Sprigs from here!”

Thankfully there were really only about 50 fabric swatches and without a date it’s almost impossible to choose a fabric. There was a gorgeous white satin, but if they have a winter wedding Gretel will freeze.

How are Tulson and Clara’s plans coming? Have they picked a date yet?

Oh, Jace just reminded me. He was hoping you would go see Taty. He’s a little worried that she’s mad at him for leaving. She didn’t act mad, but still… She might need a friend.

I should send this off. I’ll try to write all about our work on the school system in a few days.

Love Always,


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