Magic, murder, intrigue, missing relatives, secret caves, fantastical creatures, royalty, nobility, romance...
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Keish- March 10, 2004

March 10, 2004

Dear Arri,

Well, I know one thing about this water pitcher you sent me-- it doesn’t break.

Blaze and Zest have decided to test everything in my rooms. Thankfully, I’d already enchanted several things to not break. I think they were disappointed.

Oooh, you’ve been to the opera? With Phyfe? And he asked to call on you? This gets better and better!

Why are you so shocked at that? You’re pretty and smart and fun to be around, why wouldn’t he want to call on you? Honestly.

I’m sorry it was awkward when he came. Sitting there with Winthrop does not sound like fun. Why doesn’t he just leave you alone? Nysa was there, right? She’d make a much better chaperone.

Gretel and I are very happy for you, but Imato and Jace are growling.


Jace is entirely stuck on the fact that Taty went to the opera with a young man. I don’t think the identity of said young man has sunk in yet.

Imato is growling about you attending the opera with a young man. Again, I don’t think he even heard me say who.

Kisses on hands are also being growled about. I think I’m glad I don’t have an older brother. They’re being entirely ridiculous.

I think I’ll send them off to growl elsewhere. I haven’t finished reading your letter.

You spoke to the lioness?! While I was stuck dancing at a wedding. I’m entirely jealous.

I guess I’m glad that Winthrop hasn’t been lying all along. But it doesn’t change the fact that he’s doing magic now. He should have my letter by now. He had better respond.

I want so badly to ask Papa about mother knowing that the fairies would try to take you. Did they want to take me? He’s sleeping, though, so I can’t. It will have to wait until later.

I’m glad you found the lioness. She sounds wonderful.

Did she say anything more about how Nysa and your mother prevented the fairies from taking you? I’m not sure that kind of thing has been done before. It would take an incredible amount of magic.

I guess she’s been looking out for us all this time. I shouldn’t have assumed Winthrop had done all that, but I was so angry I couldn’t see straight. (I’m still angry.)

I did survive the wedding, barely. I was considering turning Euan into a newt just to get out of it; he really would be an excellent test subject. But it’s likely I would have been arrested.

Possibly by your brother.

That may have been awkward.

I suppose I should tell you all about the wedding, but I just don’t have your attention to detail. Gretel looked lovely, even though the bridesmaid dress was awful. Really, I know Vanessa was the bride, but couldn’t someone have pointed out how wretched those dresses were?

What made the whole experience bearable was having Jace there to whisper observations to the whole time.

Like when Euan nearly forgot Vanessa’s name while saying his vows. Or how very very much wine Lord Schnauzer drank.

Imato was even amused-- reluctantly. Though he did insist that we promise to have better manners at his wedding.

I said I’d think about it.

It finally occurred to Jace and Imato to come back and make sure they’re growling about the right young men. For all of Imato’s talk about courtships (that lecture he gave you wasn’t that long ago) he’s sure having a hard time.

“We fought as children,” he muttered darkly.

“When?” Gretel laughed. “All the time?”

“Once,” he admitted grudgingly. “When we were eight. I don’t remember why. But we did fight.”

I’m not sure Gretel and I have ever laughed so hard. In the abstract, Imato doesn’t have a problem thinking of suitable matches for you, but when it’s real… no one is good enough.

Jace is just as bad.

“Jemond Telesforo?” he asked in disbelief. “Why, he’s only 19. I think he’s Father’s new apprentice.”

“What do you mean ‘only 19’? Taty’s 16,” I reminded him.

“You’re right, he’s far too old for her,” he said bleakly.

“Could be worse,” Imato rejoined. “Phyfe is my age.”

“Which we all know makes him positively ancient,” I teased.

He looked like he wanted to throw something at me.

“They both sound like fine young men,” Gretel decided.

And then they both looked like they wanted to throw something at her.

We sent them away again and told them not to bother coming to lunch if they were going to continue scowling.

Mar. 11th

I have a letter from Uncle W., but I’ll get to that later. I have to tell you what I did after lunch yesterday.

First I went with Jace to a little vocal recital. Have I mentioned how well he sings? The King’s Singing Master asked Jace to perform for some students. He was wonderful. So much so that I had to take his arm quite possessively when he was finished.

When it was over we went back to my sitting room (which I almost never use) to try something.

I wanted to visit the lioness.

Considering how many times I’ve ended up unconscious trying to do things like that, Jace has decided he needs to be present whenever I try. I have decided I need to have lots of pillows.

The first thing I tried was looking at my mother’s pictures through a magnifying glass. All I had to go with Nysa’s story were the sketches that I found a few months ago, though. This was the first time I’ve really studied them.

Nothing happened. So I needed a new idea.

I brought the mirror in and stared into it for a while, trying to think of something.

“What about the water pitcher?” Jace asked finally.

I stared at him. Why hadn’t I thought of that?

I jumped up and ran to get it. (It took a minute to find it, because Blaze and Zest were making sure it really is unbreakable.)

Back in the sitting room, (surrounded by pillows) I turned it over in my hands. “So now what?”

Jace shrugged. “I’m not a Brio. You’re on your own as to what to do with it.”

I glared at him playfully. “Thanks a lot.”

He grinned. “Always happy to help.”

I rolled my eyes and turned the pitcher over to trace my name.

And suddenly, I was there. And in front of me, just as you described her, was the lioness.

I curtsied. (Yes, I do occasionally curtsy.) “Trena of Solotuns,” I greeted her.

“Lakeisha Nerys Leilani, I presume,” she responded in a deep rumble.

“Keisha,” I said with a small smile. “My mother named me Lakeisha so that ’Keisha’ would be more personal. She wanted me to have a refuge.”

She nodded slightly. “And you’ve brought a friend,” she said, looking past me.

I turned. “Jace!”

He came to stand by me, shrugging slightly at the question I had not asked. “Jace Garen Pren,” he announced with a bow.

“Very pleased to meet you,” she purred. She turned back to me. “I was wondering when you would find your way here.”

“I didn’t know how,” I explained. “Then Jace suggested the water pitcher.”

“Ah, I thought it had been removed. Arrietta gave it to you.”

I nodded. “Why does it have my name on it? The enchantments on it are very strong, but all I know is that it doesn’t break.”

She gave a low growl that sounded like a laugh. “You know more than that. It brought you here.”

I bit my lip, thinking. “It is connected to the cave,” I said tentatively.

“Only by association,” she replied, shifting her wings. “It is not very comfortable here; follow me.”

She led us through the winding corridors to the chamber you described and moved stiffly to the quilts. “Much better,” she sighed.

Jace spoke up. “You said the pitcher is only linked to the cave by association?”

“It has been here many years-- since you were quite young, Keisha. There is a residual link. That is all.”

“But if it’s not linked to the cave…”

“It is linked to you.”

My eyes widened at the possible implications. “Would you mind starting at the beginning?”

Her expression reminded me of Blaze when he wakes me up at dawn. I suddenly wasn’t sure I was going to like this story. Or maybe cats just always look smug.

“When you were very young, your mother knew that if she wasn’t careful, she would lose you as she did her sister. She had always blamed herself and so she was quite protective of you.

“She did not want to travel with you very much, afraid that it would expose you to danger. She knew, though, that if the fairies wanted you, they would not wait for you to leave your father’s tower. They would come to you.”

“She brought me here? Like Aunt Jesse brought Arri?” I didn’t mean to interrupt, but you know me.

“Jezreel and Ellean were very different,” she said thoughtfully, “but yes, Ellean brought you here. As I told Arrietta, these caves are neutral territory. Your mother felt that if she could link you to these caves, you would be safe.”

“So she used the water pitcher to anchor me here,” I said, suddenly understanding. “That’s very complicated magic. No wonder I couldn’t determine the nature of the enchantments. She’d have had to disguise them.”

Trena nodded.

We were silent for a moment as I thought this through. “Did it work?”

Now she really reminded me of Blaze early in the morning. “They didn’t take you, did they?”

“But they wanted to?”

“More than that, they tried. They put a ring practically right outside your door. You ran into it before your mother even saw it. She was terrified, but nothing happened. You kept running, right out the other side of the ring.”

“And so they wanted Arri,” I said.

She nodded. “Your mother had the vision of them taking her that night.”

“But Arri didn’t find anything here with her name on it,” I said, looking around.

The lioness chuckled. “As I said, Jezreel and Ellean were very different.”

I decided to let it go. She should really tell you, not me.

“I’m no longer anchored here, though, am I? That would have ended when the pitcher was removed.”

“No, you are not, but the time has passed. You no longer need to be. It is right for you to have the pitcher. Who knows, maybe you’ll have a need for it one day. You are a Brio, after all.”

Something still didn’t fit. “If the pitcher is linked to me, why is Jace here?”

“You know the answer to that already. The enchantment would only have brought him if he was a part of you.”

I blushed and Jace took my hand.

I swear the lioness grinned.

“I’m sorry I thought Winthrop was the one who planted the Chronicle and the mirror.”

She shifted in what could have been a shrug. “You are young and angry. You feel betrayed by him?”

“He is using magic.”

“He is a Brio also,” she pointed out.

“He lied about it.”

She laughed. “He’s Winthrop.”

I sighed. “He will tell me what’s going on.”

“I am sure he will. You are as forceful as your mother and he never could tell her no.”

I looked up in surprise.

Seeing my expression, she said softly, “Didn’t you realize that everything he does is out of a deep love? He lost his sisters. Nysa has finally returned. In Arrietta he has regained Jezreel and in you, Ellean. He cannot bear the thought of losing anyone else.”

My head dropped and a single tear trailed down my cheek.

After giving me a moment, she said, “Enough. Tell me all about you.”

She was looking at me, but Jace started telling her about himself and about us. After a while, I joined in, and we entertained her with tales of pranks and my various unladylike escapades.

I don’t know how much time passed, but I was starting to feel very tired.

Trena noticed. She sighed. “I am afraid you must go.”

I nodded slowly. “I’ll come back…” I started.

She cut me off. “Your link to the cave is gone, my dear,” she said sadly. “Even if the pitcher were still here, coming here requires a huge amount of effort and you are not a fairy.”

I wanted to protest, but I felt so drained. And I knew she was right. I had used the residual link to enter the caves, and even if I could have used the pitcher while it was still in the cave, it would have required a vast amount of power and energy. With the residual link, I think I used more power than I realized I had. It’s not something I’d be able to duplicate.

“But how…” I tried to ask how I could see her again, but I couldn’t finish. Everything was starting to look blurry and I was vaguely aware that Jace was holding me up.

“You’ll find a way… when you need me again. You are a Brio, after all.” Her voice was an echo in my mind.

I woke up near midnight back in my sitting room. Jace was leaning over me, looking worried.

“Are you okay?” he asked softly.

I closed my eyes again for a moment before answering. Oh, I had a headache!. “I think so.” I grinned, or tried to. I was very weak.

Jace’s grin was much stronger. “I told you I need to be around when you try things like that.”

If I could have, I’d have hit him. Instead, I said, “You seem to have pulled through fine.”

He shrugged. “There are times when it’s beneficial to be completely non-magical. I was just along for the ride.”

“I’m glad.”

His smile widened. “So am I. Now, you’re going to bed.”

“Yes sir,” I replied, raising my hand in a mock salute. Well, trying to anyway.

He just laughed and scooped me up, carrying me to my bed and insisting that I stay there at least until noon (today).

Gretel came up with a lunch tray early this afternoon, not trusting it to a servant. She also had Uncle W.’s letter, but she wouldn’t let me read it until eating everything she brought up and proving I was strong enough to stand on my own. Which I was. (Barely.) Then she left me to read it alone.

I think he might be upset with me. Maybe that’s an understatement.

Actually, his letter is a lot calmer than I expected. I suppose that’s because he’s more mature than I am. He says all he’s been doing is putting wards up to protect you all. Apparently you’re leaving a “haze of magic” from your spell-casting. Actually I think it’s more Liop and Nysa, since you tend to confine your magic use to the cave. He thought Nysa knew about the wards.

I’ll write back to him tonight. He still doesn’t say much about why he thinks magic is so dangerous, but I thought it was interesting how he phrased this: “More than one magician has been killed by her own magic…” Is there something we don’t know? My mother was killed, but not by her magic. I guess it was related, but it was more indirect. It had more to do with her being a Brio than it did any specific magic she was doing.

One day he is going to have to learn to trust us. Though I don’t suppose we’ve shown him much trust of late.

I shouldn’t have been so mean.

Papa came in while I was reading it. “I hear you’ve had another adventure.”

I nodded.

He sat next to me on the edge of my bed and put an arm around me. He pointed towards my desk. “May I see your pitcher?”

I smiled and started to rise. He pushed me gently back down and retrieved it himself. “It’s just as your mother described it.”

I looked at my hands, fighting tears. “It was a dangerous and complicated bit of magic.”

He set it back down and sat again, sighing heavily. “Your mother was the strongest person I’ve ever known. She had to be, for she carried terrible burdens.”

“She blamed herself for what happened to Nysa.”

He nodded. “And for not being able to get her back. She was so scared she wouldn’t be able to protect you. But she was strong enough to do what needed to be done. Then you ran through the ring. She had nightmares for weeks.”

“But nothing happened. She protected me.”

“Yes she did. But that wasn’t all. She blamed herself when Winthrop left too.”

My head jerked up.

He nodded. “They had been close as children. After he left, she was so hurt. She didn’t like to talk about it. Things were never the same between them.”

He gave me a hug and turned to leave. Stopping in the doorway, he said, “I’ve waited years for you to ask about these things. Maybe if I had just told you things would have been easier for you.”

When I was sure I wasn’t going to cry (any more, at least), I went to look for Jace, Gretel and Imato. They were in the library… Down the stairs… Naturally.

I made it to the library and stood outside for a moment to catch my breath. I could hear Imato.

“How many times does this have to happen before you put your foot down, Jace? She’s going to hurt herself.”

Gretel laughed, just barely loud enough for me to hear from the hallway. “As if anyone could put their foot down with Keish.”

Jace was serious. “I’ll not ask her to change who she is,” he said firmly. (I knew I loved him.)

“But one of these days…”

I pushed the door open, interrupting. “Imato, if you are going to yell,” I said, rubbing my forehead, “I may have to smother you.”

Jace jumped to my side and helped me to the sofa.

“Are you feeling better?” Imato asked, sounding slightly guilty.

I shrugged. “Well enough.” I handed him Uncle W.’s letter.

He read through it and whistled softly. “Better you than me,” he said, handing it back.

I gave him a crooked grin. “You‘re so helpful.”

“What are you going to do?” Jace asked, glancing over the letter.

“Respond, I suppose. I think I understand him better now.”

He nodded and got me my lap desk.

I decided I’d finish this letter first.

Now, however, I’d better close. I’ve already had to enchant the paper to make it lighter. (Actually, I made Imato help me. It’s small magic, but the trip to the cave left me pretty well drained. He wasn’t thrilled about the idea, but he did just fine.)

Love Always,


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