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Keish to Brynn- August 1, 2004

August 1, 2004
Dear Brynn,

I swear to you, I was being completely serious when I said that whoever wrote this spell was trying to drive me mad.
You may laugh and call that arrogant and possibly paranoid, but why else, I ask you, would you devise a spell that can only be completed on an odd-numbered day, but neither a Sunday nor a Wednesday?
I should hope after all of your lessons that I am not at all ignorant of the power of days and dates, but in this it seems just a contrivance designed to make my life difficult.
I do not, of course, quibble with the importance of sunrise, moonrise or a waxing/full moon.  I did, however, feel for the parents of the youngest Brio-- only a year old-- as they had to keep him up late Wednesday night and then get him up early yesterday.  I suppose we should just be thankful his presence wasn’t also required Friday night.
It is really too bad you had to leave so immediately after Imato’s wedding.  Not that Darius’ request didn’t merit your attention-- I’m sure he will benefit greatly from your presence and naturally the visit couldn’t be put off indefinitely.
Your departure means, however, that you were not here to advise me on Wednesday.
As we had discussed, I had contacted those older relatives who, being unlikely to have children, were not to take part in the spell.  (With, of course, Arri’s help, though it had to wait until Tulson was satisfied with his infernal reflections.)  Everyone agreed to meet Wednesday morning in the little courtyard well-back on the palace grounds that Jace had secured for our use.
(I must also say that you were of course correct in insisting that I not show you the place.  The spell’s sensitivity is such that if the courtyard hadn’t been restricted for days before we would have had all sorts of trouble.)
You can well imagine, I’m sure, the tension once everyone was gathered.  Omaha Brio in particular was still concerned about Winthrop, which made Winthrop tense in turn.  I took an immediate liking to Great Aunt Filomena-- just as you said I would-- though, and despite Arri’s concerns she was quite lucid throughout.
Which is good-- the spell was tangled enough that we needed all the lucidity we could get.
Once everyone was gathered and I began an explanation of everyone’s roles, a rather glaring problem became apparent.  I had presumed that Isidro Gray would simply be held by his parents, but as I was arranging everyone into the correct pattern according to the spell’s parameters it was obvious that this would not do.  The arrangement had to be precisely by age (of the direct Brio/Whiteleaf descendant) and there was no way around it.  I had briefly considered this possibility but hadn’t realized how seriously the effects of the spell would be crippled if the child stayed with his mother!  This was compounded by the fact that the child cannot talk and therefore cannot repeat the lines of the incantation.
Luckily the parameters of the spell (after some checking with Winthrop and Nysa) would allow for a non-participant to hold the child and act as a surrogate of sorts.  Since I had several non-participants at hand the matter was resolved fairly quickly.
With his grandmother taking charge of him, the next matter was the four-year-old Liop (heaven help us, another Liop!) whose parents expressed concern about his remaining in place as well as his ability to repeat the arcane lines.  We decided he was young enough to have someone take him in hand also, and a cousin declared a willingness to do so.  Which meant some slight rearranging, but it was all managed fairly nicely, if I do say so myself.
Of course all this made be wonder about the other young ones, but I was assured that they would be able to follow all instructions as long as I kept them simple (the instructions, not the children).
With everyone suitably arranged, I then turned my attention to the nine relatives not actively participating.  (Yes, nine.  I decided in the end that the parameters would be unaffected and including Papa would, if nothing else, steady me.  Including any other non-Brio parents couldn’t hurt either.)  The next thing to do, of course, was to arrange them around the perimeter, but counter-clockwise, so that their presence (and magic where applicable) would strengthen the spell with further crossing lines of power, rather than create faults.  But we also had to ensure that they weren’t close enough to be an interference.
In the end, we assigned everyone a number and marked everything out on the flagstones.  (Once I’d made sure that the blue chalk wouldn’t interfere with any of the other preparations.  It’s usually the best inert marking medium, as you well know, but with a spell this old and complex everything made me twitchy.)
I’m including a diagram for you.  You will, naturally, immediately notice the six-pointed star the arrangement creates overlaying the diamond-shaped table that Tulson procured to my exacting dimensions.  (His resourcefulness sometimes impresses me, even if he is a prince… excuse me, duke.)
Anyway, once the arrangement was set I gave a brief explanation of what would happen that night and Saturday morning.  Once we’d agreed on meeting times for both everyone drifted off to their own amusements, leaving me with just my more immediate relations.
Imato was starting to look overwhelmed by the enormity of it all.  “Keish, I…”
I held up a hand.  “You’ll do fine.  Tonight you’ll read the first incantation; Friday Jace and I will make the necessary preparations; Saturday we’ll perform the final spell and it will all be over.”
“Until someone else gets married,” Liop reminded us.
I am sure he was trying to be helpful.  I am equally sure Imato didn’t see it as such.
With everyone gone, we arranged the table.  It felt strange.  After all, the Chronicle is Arri’s by right, but Imato had to read from it.  The spell dictated that much.  (I did make Imato memorize most of the incantations, though, just in case.)
Luckily, however, the parameters did not require any object to be tied to it’s keeper.  The mirror took it’s place in the center of the table, the Chronicle and the stone (with the ring fit into it’s place) in line above and below.
If none of us were married, it would only have been four around the table-- Imato, Arri, Winthrop and myself.  As it was, Gretel and Jace needed to be near Imato and me, respectively.  We quickly realized that, while I had put Jace next to me when I worked it all out in Adya, a cross-wise arrangement would be best.  (In keeping with the lines of power-- it’s almost like weaving, isn’t it?)  Hence Jace and Gretel’s placement in the enclosed diagram.
By moonrise we had everyone in position and Imato began the incantation precisely on time.  Being Imato, he can’t help but be precise, but in this instance it was more heartily appreciated!
I believe it will never cease to amaze me how long a spell can take.  An incantation that was a mere half page written out took a full hour.  I know it stems in part from everyone having to repeat the words, but still.
I’ve never felt such power, Brynn.  Even the spell I performed in the cave was not like this.
Truthfully, I feel rather badly for doubting Imato’s magic all these years-- now that he has come into his own he is a force to be reckoned with.  Heaven help any future army that may face his wards in battle.
Obviously, he was drawing from Arri and me, but not as much as I expected.  It was almost as if having so many Brios gathered tapped into a hidden reserve that wasn’t any one of us.  A strong ancient reserve of POWER.
Interestingly, the aura of that power lingered on everyone at the end of the incantation.  Rather than being drained, Imato seemed strangely refreshed.  Arri and I, also, felt as though we’d done nothing more strenuous than hold a spirited conversation.
When everyone was out of the courtyard I made Uncle Winthrop ward it.  Omaha looked askance at that and Winthrop looked as though he’d almost like to argue, but I stopped him with a look.
“I can’t risk Imato,” I told him quietly, “even if he doesn’t seem at all drained.  The final spell should draw the least on you.  So unless you’d rather I have Liop ward the courtyard…”
He shuddered visibly at that and brought wards into place quickly and efficiently, keeping them attuned to Jace and me so that we could return Friday without disturbing them.
I reviewed the incantations with Imato Thursday, but told him in no uncertain terms to not even think about the spell Friday.
Friday night Jace and I returned to make the final preparations-- again at moonrise.
There is something very soothing about the ritual sweeping and marking the lines of power with wax.  So few spells require such mundane intricacies anymore.  It’s almost too bad.
But only almost-- my back lodged serious protests the next day.
We couldn’t have asked for a more brilliant sunrise and I could feel power building as everyone took his or her place.  This time that hidden reserve was tapped almost immediately and it had an elemental feel to it.
Imato began the incantations and I could feel the power building-- expanding and wrapping itself around all of us, then contracting into us.  At each phrase a new layer seemed to descend and we all pulsed with light.  Arri says she could see the magic entering veins and capillaries, but you’ll have to get a more detailed description from her when you return next month.
As the spell reached its peak, I swear I heard a lioness roar.  Did we somehow tap into Trena’s power?  I do not know and Arri has had no chance to visit to ask her.  I am curious though.
There was a great flash of light and I felt as though I’d been plunged underwater for a moment.
Then it was over.
We stood there blinking at the sudden brightness.  Somehow it was noon-- the sun high overhead.  Everyone was too stunned to move for several minutes.
Finally one of the younger teenaged cousins spoke up.  “So, did it work?”
I looked to Imato and he nodded.  “I do believe it did.”  He looked almost surprised.
Arri was completely intrigued with looking at everyone’s blood and trying to see the wards physically.  Though she couldn’t quite, she said there was a difference between those who participated in the spell and those who hadn’t.
We were slightly more tired then Wednesday night, but there was still that odd feeling of being refreshed.  Imato looked elated.  He nearly glowed with the spell-casting.
Relatives slowly began gathering children and saying their goodbyes.  Once they had all left, Jace and I sent everyone else ahead of us and carefully cleared away all physical and magical remnants, rendering the courtyard usable again.
Later yesterday, we looked through the Chronicle, but as I suspected all we could find was the shorter spell that we’ll need at future weddings.  Now that this spell is set, I doubt the other will pose much of a problem.  The parameters will seem simple by comparison and recasting should require far fewer people.
For now, though, we’ve done what we set out to and that is a very satisfying feeling indeed.
I must close now, as it is Arri’s birthday as well as our final day in Rousha.  We’re lunching with Jace’s parents and Taty before joining Arri and everyone else for birthday celebrations.  Tomorrow morning we’ll see the newlyweds off and then be off for home ourselves.  (Where a staggering pile of work awaits me, no doubt, since our carefully planned schedule for the summer fell apart.)
I’m sure I’ll hear from you if there is any detail which does not satisfy.   Until then, I am still of course,
Your faithful student

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