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Arri- February 10, 2005

February 10, 2005
Dear Keish,

I met with Master Grant for the first time this morning. We spent an hour going over the article in Troilubus Iconetha and discussing how we would recreate the wards on bacteria. Master Grant is very intelligent. This is his final year as a master’s student. After this he will have to work for a while to raise money, but eventually he would like to get his doctorate and become a biology professor like Dr. Ecrue. I told him some of the things that Duke Tulson and Lady Clara told me about their honeymoon in Iconei. Master Grant was very interested. He would like to visit Iconei someday.

Since Captain Stoddart (who I found out is a cousin of some sort to Dr. Stoddart) told me about the attempted abduction on Father, there has been again been no news of any kind. The regular newspapers, however, have reported the burglaries. They have not reported the abduction. I wanted to bring Imato home to put up wards on the Mental Home, but the captain is convinced this would interfere with their ability to catch anyone when a second attempt is made. He promised to keep me apprised of any changes and I promised to let him know if I got any ideas about what the Grestians might be trying to find.

February 11th
Gretel received Imato’s response to her letter today. It contained absolutely no information about how he is doing or the weather or border skirmishes. Nothing was said about the letter he must have received by now from Captain Stoddart about the attempted abdution of Father. Imato’s letter consisted entirely of admonitions for Gretel to take care of herself and for me to take care of Gretel. He recalled absolutely everything he could remember about Mother’s expectancies and the things Father did to take care of her. The letter was several pages long and concluded with instructions for Gretel to send weekly updates and for me to let him know as soon as possible whether they were having a son or daughter.
“Can you do that?” asked Gretel, looking up from the letter.
“I don’t think so,” I said, reddening, “at least, I’ve never thought about it.”
“Good,” said Gretel, “I’d rather be surprised.” She paused, “I don’t want you to know before me, either,” she added.
“No,” I agreed, “I’ve had enough of knowing things too soon.”
Later, thinking about it some more, I wonder if maybe I could tell something like that. Mother could. I won’t try since Gretel doesn’t want me to, but maybe someday I could try on someone else…

Uncle Winthrop received a request today from Captain Stoddart to use Liop as a translator for some documents intercepted from Greste containing a mention of Queen Elspeth. Uncle W. is refusing. Liop is too young to be involved in war. I agree. Hopefully Captain Stoddart does not take this to the King. There must be some other way to get the documents translated. Considering what happened when Liop tried to translate the science article, it may not do any good for them to have him anyway.

February 14th
Your letter came this morning.
Gretel has been using the ginger Caden sent her. It certainly does help her feel better. She finds it ironic that Caden seems to know almost as much about her condition as she does, but after seeing you letter, she understands why.
I’m glad Cass can take over your classes for you. Most days I like my classes a lot, but with all that I have to do this week, it seems like having someone take over my classes would be nice. Especially Elcaran History and College Writing.
Imato’s wards are all more complicated than anything I have ever attempted, certainly more complicated than the security ward around the Westridge Manor. I can break that one easily.
Uncle W. would like me to say this to you about Bradford:
“You might want to keep in mind that attempting an assassination of Queen Elspeth in the middle of the Princes’ Joust, on a platform in front of thousands of spectators, surrounded by royal guards, would have been basically suicide on the part of Bradford, whether or not he succeeded. I’m not saying he’s completely innocent, but compulsion spells can be very subtle, and I don’t think we should rule out the possibility entirely. He may very well be a spy, but he’s not an idiot, and assassinating the Queen may not have been his idea. We don’t have the whole story yet.”
I hope this divining spell turns out to be easier than you anticipate. I wish you could just come to Rousha to do the divining. You’re still recovering from the Princes’ Joust.

Today Uncle W., Nysa, and I spent the evening at the Central Rousha Bank going through everything in the Etautca safe item by item and testing them for magic. There wasn’t really that much to test, since only things of sentimental value were kept after Father’s disappearance and the rest was sold at auction.
“What about the things sold at auction?” I asked. After they brought back Father’s sword and helmet, I was told to go through the town house where we were living and gather up anything that belonged to me to take with to Odsreq. I also gather up Liop’s belongings. Then, as instructed by the will, Imato, Uncle W., and I went through the house and decided what would be placed in the family safe and what would be sold. Imato and Uncle W. made most of the decisions. I didn’t want to deal with any of it. I paid most of my attention to Liop who was only four years old and didn’t understand anything that was going on.
“Your family moved so often,” Uncle W. recalled as we searched, “that they weren’t in the habit of holding onto things they didn’t need. All of the furniture was purchased in Rousha after Jesse died. I didn’t authorize the sale of anything that was old.”
“Did you test what you were selling for magic?” asked Nysa.
“I looked at it all,” said Uncle W., “but no, I didn’t perform any specific tests. If we sold something with magic, it was a subtle variety.”
Nysa frowned at him and muttered something. Uncle W. bristled.
“I really doubt the rugs, couches, and chairs were enchanted,” he defended, “I’m certain I sold nothing of real value.”
“What about clothing?” Nysa asked.
“You think clothing would be enchanted?” Uncle W. asked incredulously, “All of Jesse’s jewelry is here, as are Quin’s cufflinks and watch. What else might be enchanted?”
“The bird talisman on Father’s chainmail,” I said, remembering, “but he would have been wearing it in battle. It was never recovered.”
“Was the enchantment unusual?” asked Nysa, interested.
“I don’t know,” I admitted, “Mother did it.”
“Okay, that makes one enchanted object unaccounted for,” said Uncle W., but I could hear the discouragement in his voice. I don’t think any of us believes that the Grestians were after a safety talisman.
Uncle W. opened a file drawer containing all of the family documents. He rifled through them and finally lifted a small stack of loose papers bound with twine.
“I think you should be the one to read these,” he said softly.
I looked at the top and saw a journal entry in Father’s scratchy print, so much like my own. It seemed like an awful violation of privacy, but I didn’t see much choice. I set them down in a corner of the safe by themselves.
“I’ll look at them later,” I said quietly.
Uncle W. nodded sadly.
We tested every scrap of paper for magic in addition to reading it. About one third of the stack contained recipes collected by Mother to give out whenever we moved and by necessity hired a new cook. The remaining two third were financial documents. Obviously, we found no magic.
We left for the evening no wiser than when we started. I wished I could take Father’s journal out of the safe, but I can’t. I will have to go back to the bank for an hour or two every night until it’s read. I think three or four nights will be enough.

February 15th
There does not seem to be enough time in the day for everything I need to do. Gretel told me today that she hardly ever sees me during the week because I am on campus studying or at the palace studying with Master Ujifil or at the Mental Home visiting Father or at the bank reading his journals. I have turned down every social invitation since the Winter Festival. She says I am burning my candle at both ends and it will go out soon if I’m not careful. Keish, I don’t know what I can do about it.
I met again with Master Grant today. Master Grant is always polite and soft spoken. He handles each lab instrument as if it were made of delicate crystal. He even speaks softly to the white mice when he walks by their cage. The white mice are part of another student’s experiment. I don’t know what they’re used for. Master Grant prefers to work with cells.
Today Master Grant had a book of simple warding spells. Together we paged through it looking at the different types. He was very interested in my opinion, whether or not I thought I could perform the spell, whether or not I thought the spell would work on something so small as bacteria. He has been studying magic in his spare time, much like Taty studies with Brynn. He doesn’t practice, because he has no innate magic, but he is interested, at least interested in how magic might be used with biology to prevent disease. Master Grant believes that all diseases are caused by infections. The infection might not be bacteria. They’re might be smaller things than bacteria out there. If we can ward people against infection all illness will cease. It’s a nice hypothesis. I hope he is right.
The problem is that I have only ever created a few very simple spells in my life. Together, Master Grant and I found a spell that we would like to use. This weekend I will practice it until I feel confident about my skill. Then we can begin the experiment with the bacteria.

I spent an hour reading Father’s journal entries today. The first was a travel log of everywhere he and Mother went on their honeymoon. They traveled all over Arella together exploring villages. The next was a description of when Imato was born.

February 16th
Master Ujifil has begun letting me come with him on visits. He has me examine the patients and then describe to him their illnesses. After that he examines them and tells me if I missed anything in my diagnosis. Then he describes for me what spells he will use to treat them. I watch the treatment. It is all very interesting, but I wish he would allow me to help. I also wish that I could sit in on visits by regular doctors, because I would like to see how the visits and treatment are different. All of Dr. Ujifil’s patients are very wealthy, because healers are so rare. Most people use medical doctors. Master Ujifil considers that magical healing is always superior to medical science. It certainly seems that way most of the time, but when I talk to Master Grant, I wonder if that is really always true. Master Grant is not a medical scientist, but he still knows a lot about medicine. Originally, before became interested in cells, he wanted to be a doctor.

February 18th
I have finished reading all of Father’s journal entries. They consist entirely of travel logs of family vacations, descriptions of children’s birthday parties, logs of Imato and my academic successes, and descriptions of Imato’s and my births, but not Liop’s birth. Tomorrow I will report to Captain Stoddart that there is nothing in the Etautca Estate that could possibly interest the Grestians, unless of course they wish to take Father’s travel advice and avoid certain roads at certain times of the year and camping in the Yolan woods in May, because there is far too much rain.

I am exhausted and Gretel says if I don’t put out my bedroom light now, she will put it out for me. She’s as controlling as Imato sometimes. I still have a ton of homework and I can’t help but wonder how your divining is going tonight. Gretel says I must wait for your letter.

Please be careful. Don’t over exert yourself. You’re going to need a lot of energy available when Liop comes to visit.


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