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Keish- March 20, 2004

March 20, 2004

Dear Arri,

Is your friend Aegolius back in Rousha? Because when you see him you must tell him my extraordinary tale!

Since Imato had the entire day free today, we decided we’d go to the Spring Market. (The “Spring” part should not be taken too terribly seriously. We still have patches of snow.)

Gretel wanted to look at silks from Néamh and we had heard a rumor that there were even a couple of skilled beaders this year.

Jace declared that something like that would be an excellent gift for his mother’s birthday next month.

I groaned.

But I went anyway because I wanted to look at horses. I’m tired of just picking one from the King’s stable. Imato insisted offered to lend his expertise on the subject.

And so, in the end we just all went together. We went to the Néamh trader stalls first. Naturally.

We found a gorgeous length of peach silk for Lady Pren. And a Beader who Gretel was very impressed with is going to turn it into a lovely shawl. So it was worth it.

I guess.

(Which all reminds me, dash it all, that Gretel’s birthday is just over three weeks away! And I think her mother is planning a birthday/engagement ball…)

After that we started meandering toward the horse market. Before we got there, however, we met the most interesting woman.

She wore trousers and a bright purple shirt and a huge leather apron. Her dark hair and rough licorice skin said she was Iconese, but her accent was mild.

Her most interesting accessory? Brass goggles with thick lenses.

I am not kidding.

Her name is Letitia and her uncle is a man named… Aegolius.

Her stall was filled with contraptions and chemicals, including everything needed for her uncle’s reflectagraphy. It was fascinating.

We never did make it to the horses.

Instead we spent more than an hour listening to Tish (as she said to call her) explain her various devices.

When we got back to the palace, I went in search of Master Byra.

I found him finally out in one of the buildings we’re converting for classrooms.

“I may have a science teacher for us,” I said without preamble.

He raised an eyebrow.

I explained about meeting Tish in the market.

He thought for a moment. “Would she be willing to give up traveling to the markets for teaching?”

I shrugged. “She could still offer reflectagraphy. Science is going to be a limited class. If we can offer her at least three half-days free from teaching…” I trailed off, thinking.

Master Byra chuckled. “What idea have you come up with now, Lady Keish? I can see you plotting.”

I laughed. “Oh, I never plot.”

He gave me a stern look.

“Okay,” I conceded, “I plot. I was thinking if we could offer her time and a place to do reflections, she could do very well.”

He cocked his head. “What kind of place?”

“One of our possible classrooms, perhaps? We don’t need all of both buildings here on the grounds. If one were for science classes and also a room for her and a place for her to work…”

“People are suspicious of such things.”

I smirked. “Oh but Prince Tulson is quite taken with reflectagraphy. A few well-placed suggestions…”

“And she’d be quite in demand?” he asked, amused. “What kind of suggestions?”

“Oh a comment here or there about Tulson planning to have reflections made at his wedding this summer. A reflection made of myself, or Gretel. Something in the Gazette, perhaps.”

Both eyebrows shot up this time. “Something in the Gazette? I wouldn’t think you would want anything to do with the Gazette.”

“Ah, but the Gazette can be an excellent tool.”

He laughed. “You constantly surprise, Lady Keish. Make her an offer, then. Plant your seeds. See where it goes.”

I gave a brief nod and left.

March 22nd

We spent a lot of the day with Tish yesterday. We looked at reflections, had reflections made, and talked.

“You want me to teach science?” Tish asked, a little unsure that she’d understood me.

I nodded. “To young women. You would still have time for reflectagraphy. We can offer you a place to stay and work as well.”

After a few moments thought she asked softly, “Do you think anyone will want my reflectagraphy?”

I looked over at Gretel and we both grinned. “Oh we’re sure they will. The question is, are you willing to teach when you could be busy all the time with reflections?”

Her laugh was musical. “You are so confident. Alright, yes. I will teach and make reflections.”

I shook her hand. “Welcome, then.”

She nodded, then asked again, “Is anyone really going to want me to make reflections?”

Imato laughed, hearing her question as her came in. “Your uncle’s reflections are the talk of the Rousha court, and he’s not even there. Trust these two to have all of Adya clamoring at your door.”

Gretel smiled up at him. “We’re going to take that as a compliment, I think.”

He shrugged. “As you like, my lady.”

I groaned.

Jace laughed and pointed to Tish’s equipment. “It’s your turn, you know.”

Imato looked around quizzically. “My turn?”

“Of course. We told Tish we wanted seven. We’ve just been waiting for you.” Gretel took his hands as she said it. “Where do you think, Tish?”

I knew that I had time while Tish made reflections of Imato and Imato and Gretel together, so I left them to their arrangements and went to tell Master Byra.

“She accepted.”

“I had a feeling she might,” he responded, looking up from his book. “You have quite a talent for persuasion.”

I shrugged. “I just had a good offer for her.”

He shook his head. “It’s not just Mistress Letitia. You convinced the king to let you do this. You convinced me you were serious. Master Jace left Rousha for you.”

I didn’t know what to say.

He smiled. “Congratulations. This is going to work.”

I returned his smile, but left without saying anything else.

His comment stayed with me.

Not the part about Tish or the king… or himself. I gave all of them something they wanted. Something good and right and important.

Jace and I were alone in the library after breakfast this morning.

“Do you regret leaving Rousha?” I asked him finally.

He slowly put down his quill, looking at me intently. “Why would I regret leaving Rousha?”

I shrugged, looking away.

“Keisha,” he said firmly, “look at me.” I looked up and he repeated, “Why would I regret leaving Rousha?”

“You left your family, your home, your work with your father…”

His eyes narrowed slightly. He came and sat next to me, raising my chin gently with a finger when I looked away again. “What’s this about?” he asked softly.

I sighed, closing my eyes. “Am I too persuasive?”

He was completely taken aback. “What on earth do you mean?”

“Master Byra was saying how persuasive I am…”

“And?” he prompted.

“Am I pushing people? Making them do things? Making Arri do things? You?”

Jace gave a low chuckle. “You are very persuasive. You have a strong personality and you are sometimes very forceful, but you aren’t trying to make anyone do anything. Not Arri, not me. And you certainly aren’t using magic to persuade people.”

Sometimes I think he knows me too well. He saw exactly what I was afraid of.

I bit my lip. “So you don’t regret coming here?”

“How could I regret it? I didn’t want to become the court astronomer anyway.”

I smiled. “I’m glad.”

He gave me a quick hug. “I love you,” he whispered.

I still haven’t looked at horses. It’s high time I had my own.

“It’s alright,” Imato said. “Now you have a few more days to think about what you want.”

What do I want, Arri? In all honesty, I have no idea. I don’t really know anything about horses.

Mar. 23rd

Don’t you dare.

The idea of getting a letter full of swatches and sketches from you is absolutely not funny.

I read part of your letter out loud.

“Poor Phyfe,” Jace said ruefully. “He has no idea what he’s gotten himself into, does he? Courting a Brio, I mean.”

Gretel chuckled. “Probably not. He is being very traditional, after all.”

“There’s nothing wrong with that,” Imato interjected. (I didn’t read aloud the part about Phyfe taking your hands ungloved. I don’t like to think what he’d do with that information.)

“Not if you want to be put to sleep,” I responded, rolling my eyes.

“I suppose it’s good he’s courting a calmer Brio,” Jace said with a mischievous grin.

I threw a pillow at him.

“Well he does want to meet Keish,” Gretel added. “Maybe spending a day with her would show him what he’s getting into.”

“I’m not the Brio who captured a griffin,” I pointed out. “And you,” I told Imato, “do not have that much room to talk about tradition. You really should stop sending her ridiculous letters.”

“I still can’t believe you’ve been taking my letters to Taty out of the post.”

Gretel said, “You can’t?” at the same time as Imato said, “Why did you think I refused to put letters in the post here?”

I just shrugged. “It was only the letters you wrote while muttering darkly,” I said primly.

Jace grinned.

“Really though,” I said, getting back to Phyfe, “you would think having a fairy for a chaperone would give him an idea.”

Gretel cocked her head to one side to consider. “I don’t think he’s really thought about it,” she said slowly.

Imato pounced on that. “Exactly. He’s leading her on.”

I gave him an incredulous look. Really, what he said didn’t even make sense. There’s just no having a rational conversation with him about this.

“He’s not malicious, Imato,” Gretel replied calmly. “He just… doesn’t really know her.”

And that’s exactly the trouble, isn’t it? He doesn’t really know you.

That is precisely the problem with overly formal courtships.

Arri, do you want to go to college?

I know I agreed with Uncle W. and said it was a great idea, but heaven knows I don’t always think before I say something.

Put everything aside for a moment.

Don’t think about Uncle W. or me or the queen… or even your father.

Just think about you.

Do you honestly want to spend the next five to twelve years studying?

Don’t think about Phyfe either.

Just Arri.

Is this something that Arri really honestly wants? Is it something you choose for yourself?

As for your father, I can’t shake the feeling that you will have to be the one to heal him, but it’s just a feeling. For now. I could do some divining, but only if you want me to.

Mar. 24th

Maybe we’re over-thinking this.

If you’re going to be the one to heal your father, it will be using the healing gift and power you have within you already, right?

Maybe you’re trying too hard.


Jace and Imato have been working on self-defense techniques again. They’re planning some demonstrations, so Gretel and I are just watching. I think I may prefer just watching.

Jace has never been interested in army life, though the some of the instructors at the palace in Rousha told him he should consider it. I guess he beat Tulson a lot.

Just for the record, I didn’t say I haven’t started a rumor lately. I said I haven’t started any rumors in the Gazette recently.

And Taty says nothing about your mysterious suitor showed up in the Fly-By. Never underestimate the pull of being in on a secret.

Yes, eloping could have definite advantages.

I have put a strict moratorium on all sketches, swatches, patterns, ribbons, and lace. None of those things are allowed in the tower for at least a few days.

I need the break.

Clara has the right idea. Two choices. Keep it simple.

Rereading this, I’m feeling entirely unhelpful. I’m sorry.

I guess that’s for the best, though. You really do have to decide for yourself.

What do you want?

Love Always,


P.S. Hermes is practically pecking at my hand for me to finish this. I don’t suppose he and Clotho would continue delivering letters if we sent them together?

P.P.S. I wish the weather here were as nice as it sounds there. We should be warming up soon, though.

PPPS Do you want Phyfe to continue courting you?

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