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Keish- February 26, 2004

February 26, 2004

Dear Arri,

What have I gotten myself into?? I’m ready to run away and join a band of Numaries! Four days, I’ve been meeting with Master Byra, Jace and the others for FOUR DAYS and I’ve decided I’m in over my head. We haven’t accomplished much of anything! I’m starting to seriously envy you. I think I’d rather be studying it all than trying to plan and teach it all! My head is spinning . I’m not even sleeping enough to have nightmares.

Speaking of nightmares-- I think taking the square root of the General of Greste would probably be far more interesting than reading about him!

One thing that makes planning better than studying is that I don’t have to actually do any math! It’ never was my best subject (hence my having to have the treasurers go over my figures for the funding!). I definitely won’t be teaching any math!

I don’t suppose your studies could get you out of society invitations? My meetings certainly are. I’ve barely even seen Gretel. It does get me out of seeing Vanessa, thankfully. With the wedding coming up in just a couple of weeks, she’s more insufferable than normal. Poor Gretel is with her almost every day! I think Vanessa is even annoying Imato.

I’m glad Liop is becoming comfortable at school. You can tell him that I probably won’t be allowed to teach anything interesting, se he shouldn’t feel too disappointed that I’m not teaching in Rousha. (Okay, so you shouldn’t really tell him that. It’s a little too disillusioned. It’s how I’m starting to feel with all of this ridiculous debate, though. And if they try to make me teach Feminine Politics I’ll… well I don’t know what I’ll do. I’ll have to learn some good curses. Turning them all into newts just doesn’t seem like punishment enough.)


Jace says I’m not qualified to teach Feminine Politics. I’m not sure if that’s a compliment or an insult.

Feb. 28th

I almost had to fight a duel today.

I guess I’d better start at the beginning, right?

After what I wrote the other day I fell asleep reading in my chair in the library. So yesterday I woke up stiff and rather disoriented. In bed. Which was decidedly confusing. Apparently, Papa and Jace found me when they were finally going to bed (the sky had clouded over) and carried me to my room.

Anyway, I was stiff and in a rush, so I wasn’t very patient yesterday.

We were debating literacy.

(Can you see where this is going?)

“I fear that literate servants would jeopardize privacy,” whined Lord Schnauzer for probably the eighteenth time. (No, Schnauzer is not really his name, but his face reminds Jace of your dog. His name is really Lord Salazar.)

“Reading has to be the basis for any education we can provide,” Jace replied-- again-- with one hand firmly on my arm since he could tell my temper was quickly boiling to the surface.

“But how could we send servants to deliver private messages if they might read them?” This time it was Lord Pastile. I honestly don’t even know why he’s involved. Lord Schnauzer is a Lord of the Treasury, so his presence makes sense. I don’t like it, but I understand it. Lord Pastile, though, does not seem to have a purpose. I think he’s there to help us find somewhere on the grounds to hold classes, but I’m not holding my breath on the “help” part.

“That,” I said in the most even tone I could manage, “is what sealing wax is for. Besides, who says the servants even care what it says?”

“I’m sure my wife’s maid would read any private missive she got hold of. She’s a useless gossip,” he sniffed.

“Then it doesn’t sound as through she were a maid worth keeping, literate or not,” Master Byra responded. Amused, if you can believe it. “I think we should adjourn until tomorrow. King Menion has asked us to end early because of the state dinner.”

Which I thankfully did not have to attend.

I told Jace I needed to get out of the palace before I exploded, so we went for a long horseback ride. Then had a nice quiet dinner with Gretel and Imato. (Papa was with the king, of course.)

So this morning-- the debate started all over again. Finally I stood up (almost knocking over my chair, but Jace caught it).

“If we aren’t going to teach them to read, there’s no point in educating them at all!” I yelled.

“Marvelous,” replied Schnauzer, “then we won’t bother.”

I started to splutter. “You… pompous… BULLY!” I practically shrieked.

Lord Schnauzer stood also. (His chair did fall over.) “If you were a man…” he began dangerously.

“You’d challenge me to a duel?” I asked hotly. “Please, don’t let that stop you. My magic against your sword-- anytime, anywhere.”

“It would be unfair to fight a woman,” he replied disdainfully.

“You’re right,” I shot back, “you’d better bring a couple of friends with you to make it even.”

Jace was standing at this point too, ready to jump in, but knowing that I could handle it.

“In my day, a man would have dueled anyone who insulted his lady so,” Lord Schnauzer sneered at him.

“I don’t believe Ancient History is the subject under discussion,” Jace said quietly, effectively distracting me from my desire to lean across the table and throttle the blasted man.

Master Byra banged his fist on the table. “Enough!” he roared.

Jace held my chair and I sat down with a dignified nod. Lord Schnauzer was still blustering.

“Sit down!” Master Byra ordered. “That’s enough. We’ve wasted nearly two full days on the subject of literacy. Lady Lakeisha is correct-- if we’re not going to teach the girls to read, it’s pointless to be teaching them at all. We teach reading and writing,”

I gave a sigh of relief and Jace relaxed next to me. “I will teach those,” I said, daring Schnauzer to contradict me.

Master Byra nodded. “Agreed. I believe young Master Jace mentioned history--” he said, his eyes twinkling merrily, “where do we stand on history?”

“Everyone should be taught the basic history of Arella,” I said decisively.

“It’s similar to literacy,” Jace added. “History should be part of the base.”

Even Lord Pastile agreed with that. “I suppose if we’re going to teach them, we ought to do it correctly.”

“I know of three tutors of history who I am sure would help us,” Master Byra said. “I will speak with them tomorrow. If one agrees to teach at the palace school we can have the others work in the city.”

“Would you teach Mathematics?” I asked him. “Here at least?”

He smiled. “Certainly. I always enjoyed teaching mathematics.”
Lord Schnauzer grumbled, but we ignored him.

“I’d like to teach basic astronomy and navigation,” Jace put in. “Just a short course. Everyone should know the basics.”

“I have another request for a short course,” I said, turning to him. “The history of Elcaro. With such close ties between Adya and Rousha, it would be prudent to include their history as part of a basic education.”

Jace looked to Master Byra.

“I was going to suggest it myself,” the older man replied. “If you would teach those two short courses and one more…” he trailed off, looking at Lord Schnauzer. Clearing his throat, he said simply, “I would like you to teach basic self-defense.”

I nodded quickly. “Very wise. It may be the most useful thing we teach, especially in the city.”

Lord Schnauzer started to protest, but I cut it short with a lethal glare.

“I may require an assistant from the guard,” Jace replied, “but I’d be happy to teach the basics.”

Schnauzer was starting to look like he was going to throw a shoe. (You know that dangerous look horses sometimes get!)

Master Byra must have noticed, too, because he said “Lord Salazar, I believe you can cease troubling yourself about these meetings. Lady Lakeisha’s funding estimation seems more than adequate. If we need further funding approved, we will of course let you know.” And with a smile my nemesis was firmly dismissed.

We aren’t meeting tomorrow because Master Byra is going to speak with some tutors about teaching positions. It’s not really a break for Jace and me, though. We need to start preparing a curriculum. I think we’re taking the next day to work on them, too.

Gretel is going to help, though, and Imato said that if Jace will leave the self-defense stuff until the afternoon when he’s free, he’d love to help. I think they mean to make us try our their lesson ideas. (Since my run-in with that Narl, Imato has become quite the advocate of women learning self-defense. Jace has already shown me a couple of things, too.)

March 1st

Oh, Arri, I may never move again! Your brother wasn’t kidding about making Gretel and I try out the lesson ideas they came up with! It took them a few minutes to get used to the idea that the only way it would work would be for them to play the part of the attacker. Once they overcame that trepidation, however, they really jumped right in.

We spent FIVE HOURS learning just three moves. Jace was pleased with our progress after just a couple of hours (so was I, frankly) but Imato was insistent that everything be perfect! However did you get such a taskmaster for a brother?! Absolutely relentless!

“They won’t do you any good if you don’t do them correctly,” he kept saying. I think even Gretel was ready to hit him if he said it again.

So Gretel and I have decided we deserve an honest-to-goodness day off and once I’ve finished breakfast… I’m going back to bed. Utterly lazy of me, I know, but I’ve earned it. We told Imato and Jace to practice on each other today and leave us out of it!


I am officially Gretel’s favorite person! Okay, not really. Actually, I think it’s your father who’s her favorite. I dreamt of him again when I went back to sleep this morning. He is so calm when I dream of him now-- so much more like how he used to be.

I told him you were studying hard and he beamed with pride. Then he said simply, “Tell Imato to marry the girl already!”

I laughed and the dream faded as I woke up. I rushed to dress and ran into Gretel as she came looking for me.

“The boys have tired themselves out finally and come for lunch,” she said. “I was just coming to see if your were going to join us.”

I grabbed her hand without a word and nearly dragged her back down the stairs.

We burst into the breakfast room (really it’s where we always eat) startling Imato and Jace. They were giving us decided odd looks as I pulled Gretel in and sat her down next to Imato.

“I dreamt of Uncle Quin again,” I began, “and this time the message is for you, Imato.”

He squirmed a little. I don’t think he’s really comfortable with the idea of your father coming to talk to me in dreams.

“What was it?” Gretel asked.

“He said, and I quote, ‘tell Imato to marry the girl already.’” I sat down by Jace in triumph and began to eat. Jace was laughing and Imato just looked kind of stunned. I think he’d have looked less surprised if I had walked in and used one of the self-defense moves on him. Gretel was looking down, blushing.

It just confirmed what Gretel was saying the other day-- now that Imato is so close to having his knighthood they can’t put off choosing a date forever.

“So, you’ll get your knighthood in July when you go to Rousha for Tulson’s wedding, right?” Surprisingly it was Jace who finally broke the silence.

Imato nodded, not entirely confidently. Gretel seemed to be holding her breath.

‘Well,” Jace continued, “my mother has always said that the south garden would be perfect for a wedding the last week of July.”

I must say, even I was surprised. Who’d have thought it would be Jace, of all people, who would give them the final push they needed.

“July 26th,” Gretel whispered.

Imato looked at her thoughtfully. “The beginning of the week for the beginning of a new life,” he said softly.

She looked up at him, her eyes asking more eloquently than words ever could. He nodded simply and she threw her arms around his neck.

Jace squeezed my hand briefly and we wandered out to my garden to let them talk.

And, no, there’s not much to see in my garden this time of year. Honestly, there was still a tiny patch of snow in the corner that we cleared away. It will be a few weeks at least before there’s a whole lot to see.

March 2nd

Papa heard about the almost duel.

“What were you thinking, Keisha?” he asked at dinner last night.

“He started it,” I said petulantly.

Naturally, Gretel and Jace were laughing. Imato just shook his head. I think he sometimes wonders how we could possibly be related. “You do know dueling has been illegal for years, right?” he asked.

I rolled my eyes. “Of course I know that. Like I said, he started it. He’s a bully. He even mocked Jace for not jumping right in to defend my honor.”

“Well, Jace knows better,” Gretel said. “If he had done that, he’d be in trouble with you too.”

Papa sighed. “I should probably be scolding you, but you’re right, he is a bully. Did I hear it right? You said your magic against his sword?”

I nodded. “I’m not stupid. I know I wouldn’t stand a chance with a sword.”

“And he wouldn’t stand a chance against your magic,” Jace said proudly.

Papa just shook his head in a way that said “Where did I go wrong?”

I like the idea of pushing or pulling an object between us with magic. It sounds like an excellent challenge. I wonder if we could pull at it three ways and include Nysa.

I told Imato about it, but he cut me off by saying, “Don’t even ask. I don’t even have enough magic to lift something, let alone try to pull it away from you.”

Jace received a note today from Master Imkell. He says you are a very promising student (which we already knew). After just one lesson, he seemed very impressed by what you already knew. He seems very likable.

Oh! Thank you for sending the pitcher! It’s so lovely! Sadly, I haven’t had time (or energy!) to try to figure it out. It’s quite a puzzle. What other fascinating things have you found? (I feel like you’re getting to have all the fun!)

I had better close. This is getting quite long and will be too heavy soon!

Oh, but Jace is pulling me away, insisting that there is something in the library that I must see. I suppose I will go see and then finish this up. He says you’ll probably want to know all about it.


A DOG! Jace decided, after seeing yours, that I needed a dog also. She’s a lovely soft-coated wheaten terrier. At a year old, she’s still practically a puppy-- full of energy. So naturally, I named her Zest. She’s very sweet and has curled up at my feet. Blaze isn’t quite sure what to think, but he isn’t hissing at her, so I suppose they’ll get along.

Anyway, I promised myself I would send this off before going down for lunch, so I’m closing now.

(Aren’t you glad Gretel and Imato finally picked a day?!)

Love always


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