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Keish- March 13, 2004

March 13, 2004

Dear Arri,

I seem to have fully recovered from my trip to the cave. I spent all day yesterday relaxing in the library, which was honestly kind of nice.

Work progresses on setting up schools. Master Byra brought me an update yesterday afternoon. One of the palace tutors agreed to teach History of Arella, but we still need a science teacher.

I went into the city today with Master Byra. We’ve managed to attach our schools throughout the city to the public boys schools. Some will need extra buildings. So we had to approve sites and arrange for builders to get things done quickly. Luckily there aren’t too many.

Gratefully, this also cuts down on the number of teachers we need to find. We’ll end up leaving a lot of it to administrators , once we fill those positions. Master Byra is doing most of the preliminary interviewing, but he wants me to be more involved in the final stages.

In the meantime I’m still working on the curriculum I’m going to teach.

And helping Gretel choose a wedding dress.

Imato and Jace both seem to mysteriously disappear anytime sketches or swatches come out.

Sometimes I wish I could too.

As much as I love Gretel, the sketches are sometimes overwhelming. At least she finally has it narrowed down to two.

I think…. I hope….

(I quite like the one.)

March 14th

This afternoon Gretel and I went down to the training yard to watch Imato and Jace spar with some of the other squires.

It’s interesting-- this isn’t a side of Jace that I’m used to seeing. I know he grew up learning to fight alongside Tulson and the others at court, but it has never been something he did around me. I’m proud to say he’s quite good. He almost beat Imato.

Kaplan asked to be remembered to you. He came and watched with me. Luckily Imato was sparring and didn’t hear. I’d hate to give him anything new to growl about.

Do you think Uncle W. was like this when our parents were courting? (I can’t really picture him that young.)

Mar. 15th

I have you letter. And Uncle W.’s. I’m not sure where to begin.

I’m sorry you had to find out about the Fly By that way. It’s really not worth worrying about. I suppose it must have come as quite a shock, though.

Adya has three gossip rags. I guess I’ve never thought to mention them. I don’t pay much attention to them, unless of course I started the rumor they’re reporting. But I haven’t done that in at least a year.


I remember hearing about that wedding! That was Phyfe? How absolutely fabulous!

He’s right, you know. You can’t let it bother you. The Palace Gazette here was printing raging lies about Imato not all that long ago. (You remember the rumors about how many dragons he’d slain? Absolutely the Gazette.)

Some people really just need more to do.

I actually don’t think it matters to Jace that Master Jemond isn’t courting Taty. Though maybe it will make him stop writing her ridiculously stern letters. I’ve already taken two out of the post-- he shouldn’t send something he’ll regret later.

I think the concept that Taty might be courted is upsetting to him.

Big brothers must just come that way.

Uncle W. seems determined not to tell anyone anything.

I’m glad you asked Trena, even if it is a sad story.

Well, most of it is sad. I’d love to hear more about your mother rejecting the Houndings.

As for the wand… that was very foolish. Mother and Uncle W. were young, but they should have known better. It’s terrible that two people were killed, though they were probably very lucky that it wasn’t worse.

Papa didn’t know.

“I suppose it makes sense,” he said softly. “The only really big magic I ever knew your mother did was the spell with the water pitcher. She was far more cautious about major magic than you would think, given her personality.” He gave me a crooked smile. “Far more careful than you.”

“I would never attempt to make a wand.”

He shrugged. “Perhaps not. But you are not careful about using large amounts of power.”

I couldn’t exactly argue with that, so I kept quiet. (Clearly I must be maturing.)

“It’s true, though,” he continued, “that your mother never blamed magic. If you burn your hand, you don’t blame to stove and stop cooking.”

“You just be more careful in the future.”

He smiled at me. “You are nearly as cautious as Winthrop, in your own way. You’re certainly just as stubborn. Arri is sometimes even more like him, though. I hope she doesn’t give up.”

He finished his meal and got up. At the door he turned and said softly, “But you can’t bully her into continuing any more than Winthrop can bully her into stopping. It must be Arri’s choice.”

“I do not bully Arri,” I said, even though he was already gone.

I don’t.

Do I?

I don’t mean to.

Uncle Winthrop sent me a list of people who’ve managed to kill themselves while using magic.

I’m entirely tempted to send back a list of people who have killed themselves during scientific experiments.

But I won’t.

I can act like an adult even if he won’t treat me like one.

(Though when he pointed out your age, he did refrain from including mine.)

What I don’t understand is how he can insist that you’re “only 17” when he left home at the same age. Not to mention that my mother was only 12 when he got her involved with the Landbreakers.

But I’m behaving and not pointing any of that out either.

(Jace says he’s very proud of me for “taking the high road”. Imato just rolls his eyes. Gretel is too busy comparing her sketches.)

Mar. 16th

Out of curiosity, I picked up the Palace Gazette this morning.

Apparently, Gretel and Jace eloped last night. Odd, you wouldn’t think they’d have come back for breakfast.

I’m sure if Imato and I weren’t cousins there would have been some bit of rubbish about us turning to each other for comfort.

“Absolutely ridiculous,” Imato huffed. “It should be an arrestable offence.”

Jace laughed. “It is one of their more far-fetched stories.”

Gretel shook her head. “Completely insane. I wonder how many will believe it.”

“Well, that depends, I suppose. What shall we do about it?”

“What do you mean?” Imato asked rather suspiciously.

Gretel caught my meaning and laughed. “Well, Imato, I imagine she means we can either go out and about as couples to discredit the story…”

“Or,” Jace picked up, “Gretel and I can stay out of sight and we’ll see how far it goes.” He shook his head ruefully.

Papa joined us at that point and said, “In other words, behave like affronted young people bent on proving something… or behave like Ellean. Your mother probably could, and quite possibly would, have dragged a story like that out for days.”

I laughed merrily, as did Jace and Gretel. Imato looked positively stricken.

“You can’t all be serious,” he practically spluttered.

Of course that just made us laugh all the more.

When I regained my breath I said, “Don’t be so stoic, Imato. Life isn’t a funeral.”

I don’t think he appreciates my advice.

He rolled his eyes and muttered something about having more important things to do.


Really, if Gretel doesn’t choose a dress soon, I may scream.

After Imato’s departure from the breakfast room, we decided that perhaps it would be better to act as your mother would have and ignore the situation entirely.

Jace is working on his History of Elcaro curriculum. I’ve been trying to finalize my literacy curriculum.

And Gretel is in grave danger of being buried alive under her fabric swatches.

I had never before fully realized how hazardous fashion can be to one’s health.

Later Still

I wonder if I should make the Palace Gazette assigned reading. Heaven knows they’ll be reading it anyway.

Mar. 18th

I told you I was going to scream.

I just couldn’t take it anymore.

Gretel has rejected BOTH of the sketches she was supposed to be deciding between. She has commandeered my sitting room and started over.

I screamed when a pile of swatches tripped me up as I came into the room.

I cannot live like this.

Mar. 19th

Heaven be praised, she’s made a decision. (Yesterday was a very long day.)

Gretel finally chose something traditional from NĂ©amh.

Why we didn’t start with that idea, I don’t know.

But it’s a good thing she’s decided, because fabric will have to be imported and the beading is apparently very complicated.

Imato made all the appropriate noises over the final sketch, including pointing out that she would, of course, look lovely in anything.

Gretel has also declared that you and I are to have slightly less complicated versions of the same. (And it is gorgeous, don’t get me wrong.) She wants to know if you want to be inundated (my word) with sketches and swatches or if you want us to decide for you.

I asked her to define “us”, but she just laughed. I, apparently, am to be inundated whether I like it or not. (Again…. Or still…. Whichever.)

I am not exaggerating when I say inundated, so please, choose wisely. You won’t be able to say you weren’t warned.

I am including two of the basic sketches with this letter, so that you have an idea of the style.

For now, I am sending this off and going out to ride. I must escape this madness.

Though with my luck someone will want to show me sketches and swatches for a new saddle blanket.

Love Always,


PS Next Gretel must assemble a trousseau. I seriously may not survive the experience.

PPS You may tell Tulson that I refuse to dignify his latest prank with a response. It simply wasn’t worth any effort on my part. Pathetic.

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