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Keish- April 2, 2005

April 2, 2005
Dear Arri,

This week has felt like a bit of a whirlwind, Arri.
Keaton managed to get his brooder all set up in what must have been record time and dragged Master Zart (and Dylan) off Wednesday to get his chicks-- assuring me that none of them would be roosters.  I appreciate that-- Blaze waking me up at dawn is quite enough without accompanying crowing.
The chicks are nothing more than multi-colored balls of fluff for now, but Keaton seems confident that all four will be excellent laying hens.  Eventually.
King Menion re-instituted the Gazette, with the stipulation that Lord Schieving step down.
So not only is the Gazette being printed again, but Caden is now in charge, at least for the time being.
Heaven help us all.
Last night, after Caden had everything set for today’s grand edition, we had a bonfire burning all of the old paper.  Caden laid in a completely new supply of paper, and convinced me to lay a light charm on all of it protecting the identities of the writers.  I didn’t want to, particularly, but it seemed better to do the enchantment myself and be completely certain what it was.
Today’s Gazette is a special royal announcement-- ALL FIVE young royal couples are expecting.  The number of royal grandchildren will double by the end of the year.
When Caden told Jace and me yesterday, I couldn’t quite stifle a groan.  Thus far I’ve managed to completely avoid one of my mother’s main “duties” at court-- divining royal births-- but given how far my magic has progressed in just the last two years… I didn’t see how I could possibly escape it with FIVE impending births.
Jace gave my hand a sympathetic squeeze.  “Maybe they won’t ask,” he said optimistically.  “And two of them don’t even live at court.”
“Funny you should mention that,” Caden said, handing me an envelope.
I took it quizzically.  “Now you’re interfering with my post?”
He laughed.  “Only when a letter for you is in a package for me.”
Since Caden doesn’t want anyone to know where he’s staying, he’s receiving all of his post at his club.
The letter was from Raquel, which I’d guessed already since it came through Caden.  There was a request for the divination and a glossy lock of dark hair.
I sighed, but since I’d already decided that I quite like the Duchess of Orullian I didn’t really mean it.  “Well, she already has an idea when the baby will be born, but she likes the idea of having me narrow it down.”
Jace cocked his head to one side.  “The moon is waning.  Are you going to wait until full on the 24th?”
I thought about it a moment.  I could perform the divination at any time, of course, but full moon provides the best clarity.  “I think so.”
Caden nodded.  “Maybe everyone will make a request by then and you can do them all in one night,” he said brightly.
I stuck my tongue out at him.

I also met with Master Byra this week-- so far we’ve handed the other Adya schools over to the administrators who are going to work with the boys’ schools they’re attached to in order to standardize a curriculum for graduation.
The palace school is going to have slightly different requirements, due to our need for greater flexibility, and also offer an option to take a reading and skills test to receive a diploma without attending all of the classes.
As of next year, we will also officially be a school for ALL palace servants, boys as well as girls.
This goes hand in hand with King Menion’s new announcement.  Rather than announcing Euan’s Prince Regency, the king announced a series of new educational laws.  Boys’ education is now mandatory until age 14, like in Elcaro, and girls’ education is required up to age 10.  All boys’ schools throughout Arella are now scrambling to accommodate female students as well, and the royal treasury is covering all costs for mandatory education.
I’m thrilled, Arri.  We’ve done so much so quickly!
We’re also altering the courses offered here slightly-- Caden has agreed to teach writing (provided everything he’s doing for the king is settled, of course) and Cass will be taking over some of the more basic classes-- reading and handwriting.  This leaves me with a higher reading course and a literature course and hopefully a little more time for magic, since Ryland and Malia have requested more formal magic instruction.
Jace is going to focus on Elcaran history, while continuing to teach defense with Kaplan, who has agreed to take on the bulk of physical fitness requirements.  Jace has enjoyed teaching astronomy, but it’s not really practical at this level.

And then there’s Keaton.
He’s doing well.  Very well.  His magic is progressing… I have no worries about any further flaring.
But I’m not ready to just say he’s done and send him home.
Jace and I have been talking about it a lot lately.  We both feel that Keaton needs another year here with us.  Another year to develop his magic.  Another year to develop his confidence.
I think he just assumes he’ll be returning after the summer.  After all, his hens won’t begin laying until they are around 5 months old.
I have a letter from his parents requesting an update and Jace and I plan to respond tomorrow, requesting another year.  I hope they agree.  Certainly living at the palace is a wonderful thing for his future.
It might be time for the Leilanis to stop ignoring the Adyan court.

April 3rd
Tish ate lunch with us today.  She and Caden attempted to take reflections of cells through the microscope yesterday, along with some other experiments.  She was going to write to you of their results, but asked me to convey her apologies instead, as they learned nothing conclusive of which to write.
“I do not believe it is possible with my equipment,” she said, “but that does not make it impossible.”
“We just need better lenses,” Caden put in.
“And to spend less time making reflections of chickens?” Jace asked with a smile.
Keaton blushed.
Jace laughed.  “I’m teasing, Kea.  The reflections are marvelous.  And your idea of using a spell to keep the chicks still worked perfectly.”
“Yeah, that could catch on,” Caden said with a grin.  “Don’t you think children’s portraits could use that kind of creative thinking, Jace?”
“Just what every parent wants-- a spell forcing their child to sit.” I said it sarcastically, but Tish laughed.
“You might be surprised,” she declared.
I thought about Liop and how much trouble in manages in such short periods of time.  “No, actually I don’t think I would,” I replied.
“Now you’ve given her ideas,” Jace teased.
“Nothing new, I’ve just never thought of using such spells on children,” I shot back.
Caden grimaced, remembering the time I’d used such a spell on him.
His expression made Tish laugh and soon they were off to the drawing room for a writing lesson, with Keaton in tow.

Jace and I sat down to write to Keaton’s parents, but after I had crumpled several sheets of paper into balls (which littered the floor) I gave up and left it to Jace.  He’s better at that sort of thing anyway.

Caden was finally contacted by his “Grestean friends”.  He’s attending another meeting tonight.

April 4th
Caden has met six people at the meetings so far.  The three from the first meeting were joined last night by a valet (to Sir Ceto), a palace footman, and, the apparent leader in Adya-- the stable master for the Aoweirs.  I’m sure that will be hard for Gretel to hear.  We’ve sent a letter to Imato and Queran already, though of course it will take a few days to get to them.  And there’s nothing they can do anyway.
Caden feels confident that he’s met everyone in Adya now.  Last night was mostly introductions, but he’s to meet with the leader, Ma’ile (Martin Cobbles, as the Aoweirs know him), again tonight.  He thinks he’ll be given an assignment.
Hopefully nothing terrible-- or the king will have to intervene before he wanted to.
At the moment, we’re just relieved none of them is a magician.

April 5th
Something feels odd today, Arri.
Perhaps it’s just worry about Caden…. He stayed at his club last night and the only word we’ve had is that he is fine.
Jace is concerned, both about what they may have asked Caden to do and about him missing a sparring session.
I don’t think that’s the source of this strange feeling, though.

April 6th
After spending a second night at his club, Caden paid us a formal call this afternoon.
To say that Jace and I were both astonished is possibly an understatement.
Once the three of us were firmly ensconced in our library, Jace demanded an explanation.
It took Caden no fewer than three false starts before he actually got talking.
By the time he was finished, it was me who was speechless.  I stared at Caden, utterly dumbfounded.  Caden was staring steadfastly at the floor, his ears decidedly pink.
And Jace, my dear mostly-reserved Jace, was laughing.  Heartily.
The gist of the situation is this: Caden has been given the assignment of befriending us to gather information.  The irony was certainly not lost on any of us.
More specifically, however, Caden is to befriend me and use whatever charm is required to learn all he needs to learn.
When I finally regained my ability to form coherent thoughts I demanded, “Am I to understand that you are to seduce me if no other means of gathering information presents itself?”
This made Caden’s pink ears turn red and only made Jace laugh harder.
Finally, Jace put a hand on Caden’s shoulder.  “I wish you all the luck in the world,” he said.  He had stopped laughing, mostly, but still couldn’t keep a straight face.  I think half the laughter was relief that Caden’s assignment is so harmless.
Really, I don’t think we could be more lucky.  They could have asked Caden to do something far worse.
Caden finally chuckled a little.  I’m not sure he completely trusted Jace’s reaction, because when Jace suggested they get some sparring in Caden looked slightly panicked.
I rolled my eyes.  “Jace isn’t going to hold it against you,” I told him.  “You should be more worried about having missed a session.”
Caden still looked skeptical.
Jace clapped him on the back.  “Come now, Caden.  Even if I thought you were serious, it’s Keisha you would want to be afraid of,” he said with a smile.  “I’ll just go change.  Meet me in the drawing room.”
Somehow, Caden did not seem relieved by this bit of information, but he headed out to change anyway.

April 8th
I feel strange again today.  It’s as though something is pulling at me, but I can’t see it…  can’t tell what it is.
It’s driving me completely to distraction which I do NOT need right now.
Caden has another meeting tonight.  I thought I’d enjoy all of this subterfuge, but it’s grating on my nerves.

April 9th
I’ve sent yet another letter to Imato (by pigeon again, though I haven’t gotten a response to my last one yet).  I don’t know what to make of what Caden learned last night, but Imato should at least know.
Caden has learned the identity of Mic’o.  Oh, Arri, it’s White, Imato’s valet.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen Jace look so stunned.  We just stared at each other, eyes wide.
“But… I was the one who engaged him for Imato,” Jace said in a hoarse whisper.
Caden looked confused so I gave him an extremely condensed version of the search for valets.
“Where did you find him?” he asked Jace when I was finished.
I looked at Jace expectantly.  I had never heard the full story behind his hiring of White.  Too much was going on and eventually we all got used to White and forgot to wonder about it.
Jace rubbed one hand across his face.  “After a few days it was pretty clear to me that Imato was never going to be able to choose because none of the valets we’d interviewed were quite right for him, so I had Ryland do some checking.  He found three candidates and I interviewed them.  White had a glowing character from his previous employer, plus a letter of reference that he said he had shown at every interview for more than a decade.  I was the first to ever show interest in it.”
“Well who wrote it?” I prompted when Jace paused.
I was now even more confused than Caden.  “But White’s not… there’s no sense of magic about him.”
Jace nodded.  “I know.  He’s not like most of the people Darius finds, but Darius found him under similar circumstances.  Not a fairy, but wandering and confused.”
“Did your friend know he was Grestean?” Caden asked softly.
Jace shook his head.  “Darius though he was Yugliv, though White didn’t know so it was just guesswork.  It took Darius more than a year to work with White.  When White was ready, Darius gave him two letters-- one to a friend who could help him find a position and a more general one that White was to keep until he found an employer who showed interest.”
Jace left the room quickly, returning a few minutes later with a worn piece of paper.  He handed it to me.  “I offered it to Imato when I told him how I’d hired White, but he said I should keep it since we are the ones who have actually met Darius.”
I felt the magic before actually touching the paper.  The words on the page were simple enough, nothing special.  “It was the magic Darius expected to attract attention,” I said.
Jace nodded.  “Imato said there was some sort of magic in it.  It caught my attention because of Darius’ name, of course.  I imagine Darius thought that eventually White may find an employer who recognized the magic and could help him recover something of his past.”
I looked at Jace quizzically.  “And should we have, when he was still here?”
Jace shrugged.  “Imato and I asked him” (by which, of course, Jace meant he asked White in Imato’s presence) “but White is content with his life.”
We were silent a moment as we considered the possible ramifications.
“So what does all this mean?” Caden asked softly.
Jace sighed.  “I don’t know.”
We wrote to Imato, as I said.  And of course Caden made a report to King Menion.
What could they want with White?  Darius found him some 13 or 14 years ago-- what could he possibly have to do with what’s happening now?

April 10th
I know why Imato has not answered my letter.
Caden came tearing into our sitting room earlier with the report of Imato’s capture and the ransom demands.  I felt ill and Jace looked like he did too.
“But… how?” Jace asked.
Caden shook his head.  “No one knows anything.”
I was biting my lip in concentration when Jace put his hand on mine.  “Keisha…”
I shook my head sharply to quiet him.  The odd tugging sensation was back and this time Imato’s wards on Jace and I both flickered.
“Imato!” I gasped.  I all but ran for my study, wanting my mirror.
I could hear Caden asking Jace what was going on as they followed me, but I blocked out their conversation and focused on Imato.
“Keish, thank the heavens!” Imato’s voice was muffled and I couldn’t see him well.  “I’ve been trying to use a calling spell to reach you on and off for days.”
There was some kind of shield or ward interfering-- I couldn’t make the connection open properly.
“Imato, what happened?”
His response was almost garbled.  “Misunderstanding… caught off guard… White’s not….”
“Imato!” I yelled aloud, using all my will to restore the calling spell.
“I’m fine for now,” I heard as the spell cleared a little.  “But I’m in Aitero and I think they lied about that.”
“The ransom note said the capital.”
Imato nodded.  I could barely see him.
“I’m losing you!” I cried, fear making my voice tremble slightly.
“Tell Arri not to come.  No one should come.  I’ll find…”
And I lost him.
I tried for hours to call him.  I used every calling spell I knew and a few I’d never tried.  I tried using the wards he left on Jace and I.
I tried everything, Arri, but I can’t reach him.
Caden has offered to get a pigeon to send you this letter immediately, but I want to see your letter first.  If the ransom note was seen in Rousha the 9th then I’m sure I’ll have a letter from you soon.

April 11th
After Hermes took my last letter, I found a feather on my desk and gave it to Keaton.
After spending most of the morning pacing (having sent Cass to cover my classes) I went to borrow it from Keaton and did some divining.
Seeing Hermes and Clotho together and nearing Adya made me both calmer and more impatient.
Finally your letter was in my hands.
I’ve read it several times through now and as no one is home with whom to share it I think I must be mercilessly disciplined in answering everything in order.

Certainly we could all do with fewer distractions, but not going to Marobury has certainly proven to be the wisest course of action.
It is nice to have the garden.  Or it will be nice once it’s completed.  I would think Malia could enter a fairy ring.  I’m sure she would love to see your mother’s garden, as would I.
Caden’s ball was certainly interesting.  I don’t think a ball has ever been so talked of after the fact.  Caden refusing to talk about it has only added to the drama.  (You’ll notice that I’ve said not one word of Euan’s birthday ball.  It was last week and so entirely unworthy of comment that it seems everyone forgot all about it the moment they left the ballroom.)
As Liop hears all about raising chicks over the next several weeks I rather expect his requests will be renewed and get increasingly creative, even if he already has animals enough.  Though perhaps other circumstances will prove distraction enough.
Lord Macario does seem to be Caden’s most likeable immediate relation, though I don’t suppose his other brothers are too terrible.  It seems that nothing he has uncovered for the king so far is anything you don’t already know, though.
I am of the firm opinion that Dr. Kondamuri deserves a personal visit from Queen Elspeth.
Though letting Brynn have at him may provide more entertainment.
Perhaps I’ll just have a word with him myself the next time I’m in Rousha.  Or several.
Possibly of the magical and unpleasant variety.
Of course it’s entirely unfair, the man is clearly a fool.
At least Mendel is a master of distraction-- riding is a perfect diversion.
Gretel’s latest letter includes a full page bemoaning her inability to retrieve anything from the floor.  I’m too afraid to ask how she laces her boots.
Her study of magical theory has been fairly thorough, it seems, based on her response to your partial spells and her letters lately.  I’m glad she has become so interested-- she’s certain to provide excellent advice.
It is probably good though also terrible that you were with Captain Stoddart when the ransom note came.
You have already read how we learned of the matter-- and what Imato himself said.  Of course I won’t tell you not to go-- I don’t know what he was thinking-- but at least you know he says he’s in Aitero.

I would demand a copy of your amazing spell, but somehow I doubt I would understand more than half of it… and I’m certain I couldn’t use it.  Still, you will have to show me next time I see you.
I wish I could make the calling spell work, if only to tell Imato about Moonstone.

Brios are known for making history with magic.  Imato performed a Bellington ward.  Now you have done what no one could-- and done it in a way many would have thought impossible.  But of course, you are a Brio.
I hope you’ve made a detailed account in the Chronicle.
I’m sure if you haven’t you will.
I am so glad you have your father back.  I’m excited to see him when we can.

So the mystery of Ta’y has been resolved.  I’m glad.
I’m baffled, however, at how a healing stone could be used as a weapon.

Gretel must be taking her archery very seriously of late.  It’s not a hobby I ever joined her in.  I felt that if I were going to learn it was certainly not going to be on a little lady’s hobby bow.  I wanted a real bow.
But even Gretel, though good at it, never took it seriously in Adya.

I’m not sure what to make of the information about White, but since I’ve already written about that it seems silly to cover the same ground.  I agree with your father, though-- we should not jump to conclusions.
I don’t think we need to worry about Emily.  She lived here for months, sharing a room with Malia.  If something were amiss, surely we’d have seen it?

While I would never tell anyone not to go on a quest, you do all realize what Imato’s reaction will be if Gretel shows up in Greste?  He’s going to be angry enough about any of the rest of you going.
I’m glad Mendel and Liop aren’t being left behind, though.  It’s high time they were included-- from the beginning and intentionally.

Finally, Jace returned from his classes and I was able to have him read your letter.  (Papa and Caden will have to hear about it at dinner, for I’ve still seen hide nor hair.)
Jace shouted and spun me around when I told him you’d healed your father, then sat to read the entire letter.
When he finished he looked slightly puzzled.  “You spoke with Sir Quin in dreams.  He knew about Gretel, about the wedding.  Why…?”
I shook my head.  “I don’t know how much of that he’ll ever remember.  I had hoped…”
I trailed off.  Not even Jace knew what I had attempted.
“Keisha?” Jace asked.
“I haven’t even mentioned it to Arri,” I said, my voice barely audible.  “I didn’t want to get anyone’s hopes up.”
Jace pulled his chair closer so that our knees touched and put his hands on my shoulders.  Anyone with less than Jace’s seemingly inexhaustible reserves of patience would have shaken me until my teeth rattled.  “Tell me,” he said simply.
And so I did, and now I tell you, Arri.
Since Imato’s wedding, I’ve been using magic to enter your father’s dreams the way he has entered mine.  Well, not the same way, exactly.  They haven’t been conversations.
Basically, once every week or two, I use magic to open a connection and feed your father my memories.  Imato’s wedding.  Liop being taken by the fairies and your rescuing him.  My own wedding.  The spell in the cave, that I performed what feels like forever ago.  The spell we all performed in Rousha.  Your birthday.  Liop’s visit.
Little things, big things.
I knew you would find a way to heal him soon, and I wanted to try to give him back some of what he has missed.
I guess it didn’t work, though I suppose those memories could surface as he grows stronger.
I don’t really know.  It was an experiment.
I’m sorry I didn’t tell you.  I should have.
Jace was quiet when I finished my explanation.  He looked at me thoughtfully.  “Even if it didn’t work, you could still do that.”
I furrowed my brow.  “What do you mean?”
Jace seemed excited as he thought more about the possibilities.  “You could sit down with him and open that connection-- show him all those things.”
As I saw what he was saying I felt my face light up.
I could, Arri.  I could give him not only my own memories, but if we were all together I could give him yours.  Liop’s.  Gretel’s.  Imato’s, once we get him back.
Not too many.  Not enough to overwhelm.  But I could do it.

I’m about to go down to dinner, where I’m sure there will be much celebration, as there should be.
I hope you have already told King Trunsle, because I doubt I’ll be able to keep Caden from informing King Menion.
I want to send this now, though.  Wherever you are in your search for Nuicui, I hope Hermes and Clotho find you swiftly.

Love Always,


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