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Arri- October 18, 2004

October 18, 2004
Mendel has hired a valet, a very dignified middle-aged man named Lorenzo whose sole purpose in life seems to be walking the puppy around whatever building Mendel has a class in. Gordo says that Mendel does not really have a valet, the puppy does. I must admit that Lexie/Spot (I’m not sure which) is the cutest puppy I have ever seen. You did an excellent job of picking her out. Her long black silky ears and curly white coat shine like any show dog. The one brown and one blue eye are a little odd at first, but they grow on you after a while. This puppy must always be carrying something, usually a stick or pinecone. Mendel says it’s the spaniel in her, and she has more energy than any ten puppies. Lorenzo has quite a time keeping her on the leash. She spends a lot of time trying to dig holes like a terrier. Then she stands over the hole in emotional turmoil trying to convince herself to bury the valuable object she is carrying. So far she has not buried anything. After slipping her collar twice, she now wears a shiny red leather harness. Mendel has ordered an engraved name tag. No mutt was ever more spoiled.
We have all taken to not mentioning Master Calibri’s proposal, not that this is hard to do.  Lady Pren has asked that the Fly-by not be brought into the house for the next month or so. That’s an easy order to follow. I’ve managed to avoid the Fly-by entirely since Miss Minn told me about the duel. However, I think that Miss Minn learned of the proposal through the Fly-by. Strong as Master Calibri’s voice is, it wouldn’t have carried through all of Rousha. Or she might have heard about it through servants. All of the Prens’ servants would have heard and most likely some of the neighbors. Why did he have to propose so publicly? We still haven’t seen or heard a trace of him. Imato tells me not to worry. On Jace’s behalf he paid Master Calibri a visit and he’s honestly heartbroken and doesn’t want to be seen. Imato thinks he is a complete idiot and doesn’t blame Jace for being angry, but he’s also rather sorry for him.
Just for clarity, I don’t think Corey Gray has any intentions toward Taty. He invites other young ladies to do things on occasion as well. He’s planning to attend college next year and is generally very busy. We had a lovely party at Mrs. Rania Brio’s. Taty did not perform and there wasn’t any dancing. Mostly we played board games with the family. I like these kinds of parties.
Your cousins, Brinden and Demeka sound interesting. Most of the upper class in Elcaro visit the palace at least every few years. I get the idea it is part of maintaining their status as upper class. Lord Tecsin and his wife come every other year to make an appearance in court. I guess things are done differently in Arella.
Having Keaton to tutor will certainly make things more interesting. I suppose he couldn’t attend classes at the girls school, because you’re not doing magical training with them. This adds another subject for you to teach. Liop is excited to hear about Keaton. He is already searching for excuses for us to come visit and meet him. Christmas maybe? But I’m sure Keaton will want to be with his family for Christmas. Uncle W. says he will think on the matter. Perhaps there will be a good business reason to make the trip to Adya. I wish I could go. I guess it depends on my school schedule.

October 19th
Cells are so small that when you look at them under a microscope they look like tiny opaque bubbles. There must be smaller things in them, but the microscope is not powerful enough to see them. Plant cells have a kind of shell around the outside that binds them together like mortar between bricks. I don’t know how animal cells stick together. Some are free floating, like those in blood. I have looked at all of them under a microscope, but I didn’t really begin to get a sense of them until I started looking at them using Master Ujifil’s awareness exercises. If I concentrate hard enough I can see that there are blood cells flowing through my veins. I can see that there are lung cells absorbing air when I take a deep breath. I can see that there are stomach cells absorbing the food I eat. And I can see that there are brain cells sending signals to the rest of my body. I talked to Master Ujifil about this, but he has never heard of cells. He took a biology course when he was young, some forty years ago, but cells were never mentioned. It must be a part of modern science. Unfortunately, he does not see how watching cells can have any impact on my ability to heal through magic.
I did well enough on my midterms. My highest grade was in biology, nearly one hundred percent. My next best grade was ninety percent in algebra, then eighty-eight percent in literature, and finally eighty-one percent in carpentry. Considering my coffee table (which now sits in Uncle W.’s apartment), I am very pleased with my grade; it could have been much lower. My scores were almost high enough to make the honor roll, but not quite. I saw Gordo’s name almost at the top, and Mendel was also on the list. Master Donald says I shouldn’t concern myself with grades so much. He retakes most of his classes at least once, and after school is over, no one ever remembers what your grades were, only whether you got your diploma. I suppose he has a point, but I would like to see my name on the honor roll.

October 22nd
Dr. Kondamuri made me retake the midterm. He believes there was a mistake with my test. He won’t specify what it is, but insisted I retake the test in private. He ignored my question when I asked if anyone else had to retake it. When I told Mendel he frowned and shook his head. Then he grinned: “I bet you get a perfect score this time. Come on, Gordo and I will help you study.” We studied together the rest of the evening and Mendel was right. When I retook the test my score was perfect, despite the fact the Dr. Kondamuri and his teaching assistant made me nervous by sitting on either side of me to watch me take it. The test did not have the exact same problems to work out. A few of them actually seemed harder than the first test, but I made it. He seemed very surprised.
Afterwards Taty met up with Mendel, Gordo and me and we went to the university cafĂ© to eat the season’s first batch of ice cream. It was excellent. We gave some to Lexie/Spot, but she shivered and whined in disappointment at how cold it was. October has been a rainy month. They’ve been able to ship larger quantities of ice down from the north than usual. Imato says we’re in for a rough winter.
Our next project for carpentry is a bird house. Master Soloway is introducing us to small piece carpentry which he says allows less room for error. I’m relieved that I won’t have to be handling large heavy pieces of wood, but the precision part worries me. I had hoped that my trap-making skills would be useful, but so far we haven’t had any use for rope or knots.
It is safe for me to enter fairy rings. I had been rather worried about this since the fairies are so angry with me. However, Trena pointed out that our mothers continued to enter fairy rings without any significant danger for years after they performed the spells to prevent us from being abducted. I asked why this was so and Trena told me that it is in the fairies’ best interest to allow me to enter and leave the rings unmolested. I can’t do so without a small exchange of magic occurring and this helps to maintain the ring. Rings that are never used will fade and die. Both magical humans and fairies must use them to keep them active.
“But the fairy queen used a ring to try to attack Keish,” I pointed out.
“I will teach you a spell to warn you if a fairy is in or about to enter a ring,” said Trena, “Even then I doubt there will be much danger. The fairies are just a bit afraid of the Brio family right now.”
She taught me the spell and I am enclosing the instructions with this letter so that you can have them too. It ought to come in handy.
I was glad to learn the spell, because I had been wanting to visit the prairie and Mother’s garden again. The first day I tried to visit, it was pouring such torrents of rain that I was drenched within seconds of arriving in the prairie and had to return to the cave posthaste. The second time I brought an umbrella, but it was still too wet and rainy to enjoy myself. Yesterday, I had better luck.
The sky was cool and cloudy, but it wasn’t raining. I held up my skirts to avoid as much of the wet grass as possible and entered Mother’s garden. You can tell winter is coming. Only the pansies are still in bloom. The trees and bushes have lost about half of their leaves and everything was wet and draggled. I surprised a fox that exited quickly through a hole dug under one of the stone walls. I cleared off a bench made from rough slate and sat down to do my homework. It was very peaceful.
I had been at work for maybe an hour when I heard the crackling noise that Trena said would indicate an approaching fairy. I quickly gathered up my books and headed for the entrance to the garden. Then I stopped and turned to see who it was. I do have a couple of friends among the fairies.
“Girl, don’t go!”
It was the fairy boy, the old healer’s apprentice. I was glad to see him, though I would have preferred the old healer.
“Hi,” I said, moving back into the garden.
“Have you come to tend the garden?” he demanded, flying forward.
“No,” I said, “Where is the old healer?”
“Why do you want to see him?”
“To thank him for helping me,” I said.
“He helped you?” the boy laughed and turned upside down.
“Yes, you remember, with Liop,” I said.
The boy rubbed his forehead and looked at me. He looked disturbed for a moment.
“The old healer never leaves the land of the fairies,” he informed me, “you would have to go there to meet him.”
I stared. He didn’t remember. He looked as he had the first day I met him.
“Where is the Lady?” he demanded suddenly, “When is she going to tend the garden?”
I backed away, disturbed and a little frightened.
“I have to go,” I told him, “I’ll come back another day.”
“Bring the Lady with you!” he demanded as I hurried out of the garden.
It was only when I was back in my room looking out at the falling rain on the Prens’ garden that I remembered how Mother and Ellean chased Nysa from one fairy ring to another and most of the time she forgot what happened. It was disturbing to see that reality in the boy fairy. Did the old healer forget too? No, surely he wouldn’t forget…
I’m going to end this letter here. It’s late and I want to take Sprigs out for a good run tomorrow morning. He hasn’t been able to run for days.
I hope all is going well with tutoring Keaton. Give my love to everyone.

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