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