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To Miora si Beldran, Lady Velreisan [13 Aug 2005|04:48pm]

Most gracious lady, my betrothed, after my most sincere compliments--

You will forgive me, I hope, if this letter betrays some distraction; Inenmar has just received unexpected guests and I cannot be sure of finding any amount of time uninterrupted in the next days. Do you know the Lady of Julti? She and her husband are traveling to take the waters at Summerspring, and have honored Inenmar by choosing to break their journey here for some days to recover from the rigors of their journey thus far.

With themselves and their retinue, we may have to open some of the rooms in the oldest wing of the keep. They are not comfortable rooms, but they are spacious.

My aunt and the Lady of Julti are great friends; they have already taken over the central courtyard, where they sit even now in the shade of the arcade and discuss I know not what--nor do I wish to know. Have I told you that my aunt is pregnant? It makes her more critical than ever; I am glad of this visit if only for the fact that it gives her someone else to talk to, and keeps her from criticizing my arrangements unduly. But I feel that something more may come out of this visit. I will speak with the Lady of Julti tomorrow, or perhaps the next day, and we shall see what will come of it. For now, I can only observe that there are many more convenient stopping places on the road to Summerspring, which leaves much room for speculation.

I have hopes that my guests will stay at least until the Feast of Flowers, which is only a little more than a week away. It is always best to celebrate the feasts with friends.

Curse the vagaries of the winds. There is much I would say to you concerning your meeting with the Empress; however, as the meeting is today and even the wind does not blow so quickly as to allow you to receive yesterday what is written today, I will refrain until I receive your next letter, in which I hope you will tell me everything that passed. For now I will only say, though I know you know my opinion already, that I would not trust the Empress nor anything she has to say for any longer than the time she was directly within my sight.

Do you think that your father will remain steady in his choice of Thanael? In truth, it is all one to me--to my mind, there is little to choose between them. The evidence of Lady and Dragon may be telling, but there is more to leadership than to games playing. I do wonder if your father's frequent changing of his mind may not lead to trouble later, however.

It is no use attempting to write more now--I am called away to settle a dispute over which rooms should be given to house our guests. The young Lady Julti, the Lady of Julti's daughter, has opinions on the matter. It seems that for reasons of her own she wants a room that is already occupied by one of my cousins, and though this particular cousin is not currently in residence, I hesitate to give away the room.

I shall anticipate your next letter eagerly, for I am all concern as to what the Empress might want with you. I bid you take care, and trust only those who are worthy of trust.

From Inenmar on this bright and most busy 21st day of summer,
I remain yours most assuredly,
Aldvar s'Endrin

To Aldvar S'Endrin, Lord of Inenmar [05 Aug 2005|04:26pm]

Dearest Lord, my Betrothed,

I hope this letter finds you in better health than when last you wrote. I expect the familiar environs of your home have done much for your rest and constitution. For my part, I am happily established here at Wintercourt. To my great relief, the fashions here are not so different from those in the middle provinces, and it took my waitingmaid only a day to alter my wardrobe for court. This lady begs your forgiveness for the late reply to your epistle--one can only blame the winds so much.

Thus in exchange for your continued good opinion, this lady is prepared to lay out all the dealings she has had to this point at Wintercourt. To date, I have still not met privately with Kornan Olvendi, but I have seen him about court. He conducts himself much as a Mage should, and I receive good report of him from my godmother. It pleases me to hear that you have written her. There has never been a lady of quicker thought and wiser mind than the Countess. It is only through my grandfather's association with her that I am fortunate enough to name her kin, but the dear lady is all courtesy and sound advice when we meet. Twice since my arrival at court, we've broken fast together--a Wintercourt custom that surprises me, though I understand that all the most sensitive matters are settled over the morning meal.

All this news can hardly compare to that which I received two days ago. I had scarcely risen from my bed when my steward--all apologies for intruding--entered my chambers with an important letter. I must admit, from his countenance I expected any number of urgent messages from my acquaintences. It was a shock then to see the Imperial Seal on the parchment. Understand, I had barely seen the Emperor and Empress but to present myself at court. The letter was from the Empress herself, inviting my company on an outing four days hence with Her Grace and her Lady-Companions. I had no proper appreciation of its significance, but that morning was scheduled a meal with my lady godmother, so I brought the message with me to ask her counsel.

The meal itself was most elegant, and the conversation so diverting that I had almost forgotten the message. Fortunately, the Countess mentioned one of the Lady-Companions in passing, and I recalled it suddenly. "Godmother," I said, showing her the letter. "Is it not extraordinary that the Empress should want my company? I've barely arrived at Wintercourt! I should think Her Grace would have no regard for me."

My lady godmother read the letter, all calculation. "Really?" She fixed me with a most impressive gaze. "Miora, you have a far sharper mind than that. Surely you know of the trouble your betrothed caused?"

I confess, and it shames me to admit it, it had not occurred to me that I should so soon be caught up in intrigues. "Forgive me, Countess, of course. What do you suppose it means? I cannot decline the invitation."

The Countess laughed then, not unkindly. "Certainly not. As to what it means--" at once she was again all calculation. "I will make a few small inquiries on a few small matters. You have four days...in four days, we will know exactly how you should comport yourself."

With that, she changed the subject to more commonplace matters. I have not heard from her since then on the subject, but I am confident I will on the morrow. I have made my own small inquiries--it may surprise you to know that there are still whispers about the duel. Though the Lord Pendrin is ostensibly in good favor with the Imperial family, my inquiries tell another story. When next I write, I hope to send you more than vague impressions, but for now, I can only say that many more courtiers speak well of you than of Pendrin.

The Heralds of the Realm announced yesterday--among all the other notices of succession--that the line of House Velreisan has again changed. This can only mean my father has made Thanael the heir again in place of Theoren, but I do not yet know the circumstances of it. I have written to Thanael about it, and hope to write more of that as well. It is this lady's opinion, however, that Thanael was ever the better choice. Twinborn and identical they may be, but Theoren never played Lady and Dragon as well as Thanael.

Velreisan at Wintercourt, Summer's 17th Day
In her own belated and apologetic hand,
Miora si Beldran, Lady Velreisan

To Kornan Olvendi, Summer Mage [31 Jul 2005|03:29pm]

My friend, my recommendations to you and to Isavelle. I am glad to hear that you are well settled at House Quire; it is by far more comfortable than Inenmar House, though of course I must stay at the latter in all my attendance at Wintercourt for political reasons. It would not do to be seen to be too comfortable with what is only mine by the sufferance of the emperor and the will of the assembly. Speaking of politics, by the by, I would never claim politics to be perfectly necessary, but rather perfectly unavoidable--which does come to the same thing. I do hope you can avoid hitting anything--or anyone--while you are at Wintercourt, where I fear politics are even more unavoidable than most places.

A fine pair we make! Rest assured, if you do have the misfortune to be caught in a grave infelicity, there will always be room for you here at Inenmar, so long as you do not mind never hearing the end of it. I myself have heard a great deal from the sharp tongue of my aunt about my own stupidity in allowing myself to be exiled from Wintercourt. Speak not to me of pride; I have been fully rebuked from my failings in that area, and while I will freely admit to deserving most of it, 'tis never pleasant to be attacked by my aunt's words, however apt. There is a reason I left her at Inenmar when I planned to spend the season at Wintercourt. Even the best of plans may fail. Her pregnancy is, however, progressing well.

I am sure I heard something about the sixth year of mages while I was traveling. I did not realize that Beren was in the sixth year now, or I would have listened more closely. As it is, I am left with the impression that the conversation I vaguely recall touched on the east, though there may be no connection. If that is where she is, I am sure she is well pleased by the fate that sent her there. She was always pining for her home, all the years she was at Inenmar.

How I wish the year were still here at Inenmar. The high table seems empty without our mages; though in truth, with my cousins at Inenmar the high table is more full than it ever was. However, you must not worry unduly about the land; it is still early in the season and the summer may yet be moderate. Yes, even at Inenmar summers may be so. I am supervising the construction of irrigation canals to the western orchards and other areas that seem most likely to be harmed by the coming heat. And while we cannot muster a full year, it is possible that something may be done by those few with some skill at weather magic who yet remain at Inenmar.

But enough of Inenmar; I shall progress, however reluctantly, to write of Wintercourt. I am surprised to hear that Lord Pendrin has captured the attention of the court for so long as a week; he may be a favorite of the emperor and his wife, but he is hardly a general favorite, nor a true power about the court. It causes me to wonder if someone is guiding the attention of the courtiers. A simple duel would usually be barely a few days wonder in Wintercourt, however lofty the participants.

Perhaps it is that he came near to death; death is always interesting. But whatever the plot, or lack thereof, I cannot believe Lord Pendrin's death was intended. Had I not slipped, I would have scored the polite coup and in all politeness he would have had no choice but to drop the issue.

I am glad to hear his case is not without hope. It could only go the worse for me were he to die.

My mind runs in circles, trying to encircle the truth of the matter, but everywhere I turn I find something incomprehensible. Perhaps the only solution is to wait, and see what further actions are taken against us, and draw the pattern from that.

I do not wish to give you the wrong impression; I do not doubt Lady Velreisan. We will be married at the turn of the seasons; I have no doubt of that. For my part, it is money; for hers, it is influence. House Velreisan has declined since the days of her famous grandfather, and Velreisan is in the same case as Inenmar with regard to the emperor's policies, and so the alliance must go forward. And still there is some good will remaining from the days when we were children together; we will do well enough together.

Even so, if there is anything in your dealings with her that you feel I should know, my attention is all yours. Letters are my lifeline of late.

I received a letter from Lyrani; she will be in Wintercourt some days before the 26th, most likely the 21st or 22nd of summer. It eased my mind to hear from her; she is all joy at the prospect of attending the Academy, and I know she will do well there, for she has always been a promising child, and surprisingly wise for one her age. I hope that all my children will be so promising.

I am sorry to hear that you are troubled in your mind, though of a cause so vague I scarce know what to say; if there is ever anything I can do, you will of course write.

I had written to the Countess of Doumcen at the same time I wrote to you; I am glad to hear that it seems she is at least considering my proposal.

I have read your notes regarding the seal, and will attempt to follow them, though I am not convinced that my poor skill will suffice. You forget that with all the will in the world, I am but a poor student of magic.

I look forward to hearing more from you, though affairs in Inenmar are keeping me busy enough. It is amazing how people who would have been perfectly able to run things for themselves had I not returned must now ask me about every little detail of their plans. I suppose I encourage it; I would not want the irrigation done badly, nor the plans for the Feast of Flowers to be mishandled, nor a million other details to go wrong. Even so, as I said before, my mind is in Wintercourt more often than not; write when you can.

Inenmar, the 20th of Summer,
Ever your friend,
Aldvar s'Endrin, Lord of Inenmar

To Aldvar s'Endrin, Lord of Inenmar and Protector of Quire [26 Jul 2005|03:55pm]

Aldvar, Lord of Inenmar,

Well wishes to you, my friend, with all the heat of Summer coming upon us. I find myself as well as can be expected when a Summer Mage must reside in the cloak and dagger world of Wintercourt. Already, I can hear you admonishing me that noble politics are perfectly necessary, and that I am well aware of them as you are, but you know I find small amusement in it. Perhaps I have some status amongst Mages, but really, the politics sit ill with me. I’m far too tempted to hit something. The House of Quire received me quite well, and I can imagine I only have your forethought to thank for it. The upper terrace receives the most wonderful sun in the early morning, perfect for my preparations for the day. Isavelle wishes you well and sends her thoughts, though seems rather disenchanted with the whole idea of being here. I cannot blame her in the least.

You’ve not heard from Beren either? It is not like her to remain so closemouthed, even if she is out of season. Last I heard she’d been placed in the sixth year of Mages, and they’ve all been sent out on some mission no one wishes to speak of. All I know is the sixth year has disappeared for some weeks, which even in ordinary times would alarm me greatly. Such silence from her speaks ill, though I dearly hope nothing has befallen my fellow Mage.

I was looking forward to speaking with you, Aldvar, though paper must suffice, and I miss the lands of Inenmar as much as your company. How fare the orchards on the west side? They’ve always been rather delicate about high heat, and Inenmar’s current weather concerns me more then you may imagine, after having spent so long tending to her. The land is not intended for being baked in an oven, and such ignorance as has been shown by the court speaks ill of things. It truly pains me to think of the green fields scorched clean by the Summer sun without my mild presence to convince it otherwise. I will do what I can, with your hands tied up in the golden tape of unspoken protocol. If I find an assignment that lands certain Mages near Inenmar, I may be able to find a way to shift a few rain clouds in your direction without anyone the wiser. With your current dismissal from court, I fear would be too obvious a move for me to approach anyone directly on the matter, being such a close friend of yours.

I knew that your pride would get you into trouble eventually, though from your letter I can just imagine what the scene must have been like. No fault of yours that words can become deadlier then poisoned swords in a duel. It is said that Lord Pendrin may indeed recover, and I swear to you, I hear his complaints echoing all the way here in House Quire. He certainly talks loudly enough, even if it was a close thing for him.

However, how closely he came to death is rather curious, wouldn’t you think? Being a member of the Royal family, and favoured as he is, I doubt that he believed he would actually nearly die from his attempts to rile you. People such as Lord Pedrin prefer being in one piece, otherwise they would not keep to words as they do. No, this speaks of deeper waters and wefts, I’m afraid. If this truly (and it seems to be so) an attempt to remove you from court, there is of course the question of why? And, if Pedrin was so drafted into such a foolish thing, why arrange it so that he’d almost certainly die when he is indeed so well favoured?

Speculation aside, I will be more then pleased to act as your eyes and ears within the court, with you so well removed for the time being. Especially on the matter of your betrothed, Lady Velreisan.

I received an urgent letter from your betrothed scarcely a day after I arrived. She seems quite eager to listen to your council, which may only be for the best. I have not had much time to gauge her likeness, my friend, much to my chagrin, except for a passage of polite notes from I to her, and back again. The past week the court has been caught up in Pedrin’s uproar, leaving little time for polite conversation. With the need to watch the West Wind of late, I’ve been much busied by my duties. Much too strong for this time of year, even for summer, and the ships off-shore have been complaining of sudden squalls for weeks before I even arrived.

I’ve been careful in my words, of course, and reserve my judgement on Lady Velreisan until I can measure her nature. Until then, I will be all helpful warm winds. I can already hear you laughing, but I can indeed be charming when I wish to be, Aldvar.

Even if I cannot serve Inenmar as a Mage directly, the very least I can do is help out a dear friend as I can. I will be sure to watch her leanings closely, though I am sure she will approach me soon in a more official capacity, restless about your very nature. From what Isavelle tells me, these things tend to be very important to Ladies alike, if only to know what they find themselves attached to for the rest of their days. I will be careful about my words around her, especially about Lyrani.

Speaking of the girl, I will be certain to visit Lyrani when she arrives here. She has a way of rising to an occasion no matter what he situation, and I feel the Academy will receive her well. Though I wonder at the timing of it, with you, such close family, suddenly gone.

These days, very little good news seems to be out weighing the darker tendencies. I do not wish to overwhelm you with my own troubles, for you seem to have enough of your own, but something very dark lingers on the edges of my thoughts. The feeling very much resembles the depths of Winter, that itching chill heralding the Season. I do not know what it means, but I do not think it means well.

One strange incident, though, I feel should be related. In the past day, I found myself approached by a Countess of Doumcen, whom I faintly recall being quite good friends with your Mother, may her spirit rest well. She’s a very respectable lady indeed, though she did ask me a few queer questions. She seemed very interested in my relations to you, though I do not doubt she already was aware of our friendship. A very sharp woman, though I feel that she’s been keeping an eye on you for some time, my dear Lord Aldvar. Whether this speaks ill or no, I have not the least idea, but when a woman such as herself becomes interested in anything, things seem to happen with alarming speed.

Your Seal, I’m sure you will be pleased to note, came out in a perfect fashion. Bless your memory, Aldvar. I will continue sealing our correspondences in this manner, but I will attach a note or two about how to make it a touch less obvious. You know as well as I no thing tempts more then a locked door, and if anyone talented enough should get a hand on letters purposefully sealed, their curiosity may overwhelm them. Even if this particular variation would very much discourage such tampering.

My well wishes to you and Inenmar, my friend. I will write to you about the climate of affairs once I’ve had more time to become accustomed to the flagstone chill of Wintercourt. Please write back quickly, and keep yourself well. I assure you, I will keep my temper well to myself and out of trouble unless absolutely necessary, even if we sometimes disagree on what necessary is.

House Quire in Wintercourt, the 17th day of Summer, in the 1034th year of the First Imperial Year,
Kornan Olvendi, Summer Mage

To Gerana si Faltora, Countess of Doumcen, Lady Parsi [22 Jul 2005|07:19pm]

Right honorable and my singular good Lady, my humble commendations to your ladyship. Perhaps you will be surprised to receive this letter, for we are not regular correspondents, but before I come to the purpose of this letter, I wish to tell you a story. This tale takes place when I was but a child, when my mother, then Lady Inenmar, was the old empress's lady in waiting. My father being away in the wars, I was in my mother's charge, and she kept me very near her--I think she knew my father was very soon to die. It was no secret the emperor had sent him away in hopes he would not come back, though in such cases one may always hope. My mother hoped, and knew it was in vain, and so kept me close to her for safety and for comfort.

It happened that a woman came to see the empress, and I was playing in the antechamber by myself. This had never happened before, for my nurse, a dour young woman from the country, held fast to her duty and rarely left me, day or night. This day, she had left her post for a moment only because she had some sickness of the stomach.

As I said, a woman came to see the empress, and as the empress made a point of being difficult to obtain audience with, she was left in the antechamber to wait. I said to this woman, "Will you play statecraft with me?" Statecraft was a popular game of the time, played with tiles. I had a beautiful set of tiles that had been given to me by the empress herself.

The woman said, "Who are you?"

"Aldvar s'Endrin."

"s'Endrin. I shall play statecraft with you, no doubt, when you are older."

"I want to play now! I'm good at statecraft. Everyone says!"

The woman laughed. "Very well. What will you do for me if I do what you want?"

I stared, and she laughed again. "The first rule of statecraft. Never expect anyone to do what you want just because you want it."

"That's not statecraft!"

"It's the only kind of statecraft I play."

"I don't understand." I fear I whined.

"You will."

My mother came into the antechamber just then, from the empress's chamber. "Where is your nurse, Aldvar?" she asked. "Don't be bothering--" she looked at the other woman and her eyes widened in surprise. "Lady Parsi? Here?"

Lady Parsi nodded to my mother. "Indeed, Joelle. Will the empress see me?"

"She would have seen you immediately, had she known it was you." She ushered Lady Parsi toward the next room, pausing to say to me, "Go find your nurse, Aldvar."

Lady Parsi said as she left the room, "He is getting old for a nurse, Joelle. Have you thought? You have left him to grow untended, and that will never do if he is to survive at court."

"His place will be at Inenmar, as his father's was and will be."

"Don't be a fool! His father may return from the war, but he will never return to Inenmar. And even were it not so, would you limit your son to provincial dealings? Think on it."

She did reconsider, when she was Lady of Inenmar, after she lost and then found herself in the true game of statecraft. And so it is that I write you, to ask once again: Lady Parsi, would you play statecraft with me? I offer my mother's legacy, Inenmar's influence. I want my mage year back, and under my control. Inenmar is too far from Wintercourt to depend on the emperor's whim for its magic. What do you want?

From Inenmar this 15th day of Summer, in the 1034th year of the First Imperial Year,
With my enduring gratitude for your pains, your ladyship's assured friend,

Aldvar s'Endrin, Lord of Inenmar and Protector of Quire

To Kornan Olvendi, Summer Mage [22 Jul 2005|07:17pm]

My friend, my most hearty regards to you and to Isavelle. Have you received anything from Beren? I have not, and I worry that something is amiss with her. True, it is not her season, but even so I would expect something.

I was sorry to miss you in Wintercourt; I would blame the emperor's temper, but perhaps I must first blame my own. I was in the palace seeking the chancellor to discuss the latest news, or lack thereof, on the year assigned to control the weather in Inenmar, when the emperor's wife's wastrel cousin, Lord Pendrin, accosted me. He considers himself a jester, but he must learn that jests are never funny to the one who is set up as the butt of the joke. In the space of five minutes he was able to insult myself, my father, my mother, Inenmar, and Quire, and all this without once seeming to realize the depth of his rudeness.

If it was a trap, I fell into it without hesitation.

Imagine it, if you will. Me, swearing crude insults while his verbal darts pricked me from every side. I blush to think of it. I challenged him to back his words with cold steel, never expecting him to trade his forte for mine, but he did with scarcely a murmur. He was not so laughable as I would have expected, he with his jeweled court sword and his silks and velvets. Even so, the duel went quickly enough. I set myself to defend, and did so with such precision that he soon grew angry and attempted half-learned tricks to get past my guard. I say half-learned because I know the tricks, but I know how to do them without leaving my left side entirely open as he did. Seeing the opening, I meant only to cut the tassel from his sash, but I slipped and his forward momentum was greater than I expected, and you know the rest.

I have considered this many times as I traveled and since I have arrived home, and I cannot come to any conclusion that accounts for his behavior, and the way he fought, that would be in accordance with a minor duel. He was not attempting a polite coup. He was fighting to kill, and that I cannot understand. I am not boasting when I say that no one would think to injure me in a duel. The sword is for me as magic is for you, and while it is never wise to be overconfident and chance is always a factor, I have not met the man or woman who could reliably best me in a duel. What then did he think he was doing?

And whatever he may have thought, could there have been someone else behind him? What did this hypothetical plotter want? I fear it is to remove me from Wintercourt, and in that he or she has succeeded, though perhaps not as well as was intended. I am asked to leave, I am desired to leave, but I was not required to leave. You must keep me informed; if I am needed I will come; remember too the journey is long.

All is well in Inenmar, barring the weather. It is too hot, and it only the beginning of summer. I would you were here, or I were not here to see the ruin the emperor's decree is bringing on this land. But if I do not think of the dessert always encroaching, the days have been pleasant. The sun is bright, the sky is blue, the air is clear, and the breeze is pleasant in the mornings, before the heat of the day, when I sit on the terrace and look out across the land. It is still green from the spring rains, but with the heat I fear that will not last.

Lyrani will be arriving in Wintercourt to attend the academy. It galls me to admit that my aunt and uncle arranged for this without my knowledge; Lyrani deserves no less, but I should have been informed. She left Inenmar the day before I arrived, so even if she travels only half as quickly as I, she will be there by the 26th of summer. If there is a time when you are not overly busy, I would be grateful if you could visit her and make sure she is reasonably happy. I am sure she will be glad to see a familiar face.

I have given your address to my betrothed, Lady Velreisan. I would ask you not to mention Lyrani or Inessa to her. I do not know her as well as I would wish, and cannot predict how she would react.

I pray you, keep well.

I plan to seal this letter as you showed me. If the quality of the workmanship is sufficient, do the same when you reply. It is a relief to write to a friend without worrying about every word, and better to know that one's unguarded words will not be read by someone who was not intended to read them.

From Inenmar this 15th day of Summer, in the 1034th year of the First Imperial Year,
Your very assured friend,
Aldvar s'Endrin

To Miora si Beldran, Lady Velreisan [22 Jul 2005|07:06pm]

Most honorable Lady, I commend me unto you. I arrived at Inenmar yesterday to find your letter here days before me, such is the speed of the imperial post. Would that I could ride as fast as the wind. Even so, my journey was as speedy as could be expected of one traveling on horseback or by carriage, and if any doubts remained in your mind of my entire good health, a journey at such speed must force you to dismiss them.

It is good to be back at Inenmar, however inauspicious my departure from Wintercourt may have been. Indeed, I was so eager last night to spend the night under my own roof that I pressed on past sunset, only to arrive here unexpected and unlooked for, the man I sent ahead to warn of our arrival having been delayed. The sight of the keep in the moonlight--I wish you had been here to see it. Could you see such a sight--and there are many more even more beautiful--I know you would love Inenmar as I do.

But although I look forward to welcoming to you to Inenmar when the time comes, I regret to hear that our betrothal is so well known. You are right to think that it is Inenmar's influence, the old and the new, that is most likely to draw attention to you, especially now that I am gone from Wintercourt. This alliance of Inenmar and Velreisan will strengthen both of us, but until it is consummated both our positions are more precarious than otherwise.

I have considered writing to your godmother, the Countess of Doumcen. She would make a worthy ally, and I believe her positions are not so far from our own. I have been considering as I travel, and I can think of no one better suited to help us in this uncertain climate. Unfortunately, she is so well positioned that I cannot think of what to offer her in return for her favor. Perhaps I must look to those more ill-positioned in the current regime. Discontent and ambition breed a useful sort of person, though perhaps not the best company.

Do write soon and tell me all the news of court. I will need to remain well informed if this exile is not to be the undoing of many plans.

Before I close this letter, I have not forgotten that I promised you an account of the proceedings from my duel with Lord Pendrin. I will not sully your eyes with a precise recounting of the insults he gave me, nor bore you with an account of the duel itself. Instead, I will begin at the end of the duel. Hardly was the man injured when the younger Lady Temornar, his sister, appeared with a group of courtiers. She took one look at her brother and rushed off, no doubt to bring her tale to the emperor's wife, and thence the emperor. The others of her party remained, complicating my attempts to bring a physician to Lord Pendrin's aid. Those with any claim to skill with a sword seemed to wish for a stroke by stroke recounting of the duel, while those without such skill concentrated on bemoaning the ruin of Lord Pendrin's costume, which was excessively grand, and his person, which seemed a more apt concern to me.

For all this disarray, a physician arrived in a timely manner, and shortly thereafter I received a letter from the emperor, delivered by the captain of the imperial guard, informing me that the emperor no longer welcomed my presence at Wintercourt. I therefore left most hastily, the temper of the emperor being notoriously uncertain of late.

If there was a plot, and the timing was neat enough to make such speculations appropriate, I consider it to be without doubt that both Lord Pendrin and Lady Temornar were involved. As for the rest of the party with Lady Temornar, I cannot suspect Lady Asliske, though she was the most vocal of those asking about the duel, nor Lord Julti, who I must applaud for showing more presence of mind than most in tending to Lord Pendrin before the physician arrived. The rest were simply the usual run of courtiers, overexcited by the novelty of an affair of honor being settled in the lantern gallery of the palace rather than one of the more usual places.

Thus ends the tale of my disgrace. I have no doubt that you will fare more cautiously in the fickle climate of Wintercourt. I am glad to hear that you have contacted Kornan. He is the best of men, the best of mages, and makes a useful ally, especially now as it is his season.

I submit that your childhood quirks are more likely to be useful than mine, though terrifying people is no small talent. I am reliably informed that the wine steward at House Inenmar is still terrified of me.

I beg you, take care and write soon.

From Inenmar this 12th day of summer, in the year 1034 of the First Imperial Year,
I remain your ladyship's most assuredly,
Aldvar s'Endrin, Lord of Inenmar

To Aldvar s'Endrin, Lord of Inenmar and Protector of Quire [18 Jul 2005|11:34pm]

My lord, most noble and gracious sir,

What whisperings met me upon my arrival at Wintercourt this morn! How surprised I was to be greeted by only his letter instead of my lord himself. I would scarce otherwise give credit to the whisperings, but your letter put to light the happenings behind them. I was most relieved to learn that my lord remains well--to hear the courtiers speak of it, you were wounded near as terrible as the Lord Pendrin. Of course, had I not been weary as I was from travel, I would have remembered my lord's skill with a blade and worried not.

As our betrothal is known through court, I will take your warnings to heart. House Velreisan is not near as strong as it was in the days of my father's father, and I can little risk being the target of subtleties. Do not think, however, that I regret in any way my association with you. My lord has ever been honorable and kind to this lady, and I think fondly of the day we may meet again.

I will keep my wits about me and my senses sharp. At my lord's suggestion, I have contacted Kornan Olvendi. As I write, I await his reply to my hasty message. Be assured, my lord, I shall ask him many questions--at times one must loose one's childhood quirks. Does my lord take this opportunity to again hide in the cellars and terrify the wine steward at House Inenmar? This lady supposes not, but she hold the image yet in her mind--what years have passed since then!

My waiting woman reminds me I must soon present myself. I hope this letter finds you well.

House Velreisan, on Summer's 8th Day
In her own hand,
Miora si Beldran, Lady Velreisan

To Miora si Beldran, Lady Velreisan [18 Jul 2005|08:12pm]

Right honorable lady, after my most wholehearted compliments--

I write to you in haste to advise you that the emperor has desired me to leave Wintercourt by first light. I am most sorry that I will be unable to meet you when you arrive in three days time; I know that letters are a poor substitute, especially when we are to wed at the turning of the seasons, and have yet to meet as adults. We must trust to our own self-interests, which pull us inexorably together.

I will tell you the whole tale of my disgrace with the emperor in a later letter. For now, suffice it to say that I was, perhaps injudiciously--though I swear the insult was more than any man could bear in silence--this morning engaged in a duel with Lord Pendrin, the emperor's wife's favored kinsman, and it is feared that he will not live. I was not hurt.

I beg you be careful when you arrive in Wintercourt; I believe there is more going on at court than is obvious at first glance. But when was it ever otherwise? Take especial care in dealings with the emperor's wife and her kin. I suspect--I know not what, but they are too near the emperor for my liking, of late. Their influence has led to too many decisions that hurt our interests, and the emperor's own.

My friend Kornan Olvendi has recently arrived in Wintercourt and will be staying at House Quire; he is a mage and will be joining the emperor's fifth year, in accordance with the emperor's decree banning private mage years, may it soon be repealed. Though he is no longer timeless in my year at Inenmar, he still acts for me in mundane matters; if there is anything you need, however small, he will be happy to oblige you in my name. My steward will also remain at House Quire for some time. Inenmar House will be shut up until I return.

It is not official exile; I cannot say when I will return to Wintercourt. Do not expect me before the first day of autumn.

The carriage is waiting; I must bid you farewell. I will write to you from Inenmar.

Inenmar House, this 5th day of Summer,
Your ladyship's own assuredly,
Aldvar s'Endrin, Lord of Inenmar and Protector of Quire

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