Early Scholar 2612

Sweet Dazi,

I don't know if you can imagine the joy I feel when Carlton, the courier who comes here most often, calls my name and hands me a letter. Without looking at it, I know it is from you and it makes my heart soar. There are times, I curse bad weather for the delays it causes in getting letters back and forth.

I worry about Leila. We were very close. I know she missed her family, but no more than I miss you. I hope that she really did just return home, but to be honest little sister, I have my doubts.

On the good news front, and I know this may well surprise you, but I have become good friends with Marcus Dallenback. He apologized profusely for his behavior and said he had drunk far too much. I knew the feeling all too well and I forgave him. He thanked me for not mentioning his name and getting him in trouble. He really is quite charming and I did admit that I actually did enjoy the kiss. That brought a smile to his face and I'm glad I didn't have a mirror to look in, because I'm certain I would have looked as red as a tomato. He could tell and he said I looked even more beautiful with my cheeks afire. I taught him Doublebluff and he taught me Horses + Castle, a game they play here. We're both getting better at each game. He trains a lot and when he gets hurt, he allows me to tend his injuries. They're always minor and I can usually handle them with bandages. Lady Catherine has taught us a bit about healing with herbs and plants. There is nothing funnier than the face Marcus makes when I make him eat one of the plants. He usually tells me that a kiss would help sweeten the taste. I usually laugh and tell him how improper he is. Lady Catherine would probably punish me if she found out, but last night, I surprised Marcus and bent and gave him a quick kiss. The look on his face was precious and I'm surprised that my face didn't burst into flames from the heat on my cheeks. I have to admit little one that kissing is everything your initiates say it is. You're still too young so don't even think about it, but when you're older and when you find someone that makes you smile first, you may find out that they were right.

Marcus took me out the training grounds yesterday and tried to teach me how to use a dagger to protect myself. Goodness, I was bad at it, Dazi! We practiced with wooden daggers and at first he laughed at me. He said I moved like a wooden footed ogre. Do you believe that? But I couldn't stay mad at him, for it was true! He is no more graceful than I am and I can move my hands as fast as he can, but I swear, Dazi, that before I even started forward, he would knock the dagger from my hands. Or I'd try and attack him and when my dagger found nothing but air, he'd be behind me with his pretend dagger at my throat. I think he really just wanted to have his arms around me. He says I have a lot to learn and he is correct. He's not a terribly big man, Dazi, but with one of his arms around me, he could pin my arms to my side where I couldn't move at all.

He says I need to not think about attacking with my dagger, but simply keep it between me and an attacker. I still wasn't very good at it, until he said it was like a dance. It was like the room suddenly went bright and I understood. Dancing I can do! Now, I can flick it at him as I step and it's much more difficult for him to catch me. Just between you and me though, I let him catch me sometimes, just to feel his arms around me. (And if you could see me now little one, you'd see my cheeks all aflame again.)

I've been in Lady Catherine's good graces lately. It seems I've been doing well with my studies. I think it helps my case that I'm still the youngest one here. So take advantage of your situation little one. Although for the life of me, I cannot imagine what Kassia is trying to teach you with the two buckets. Certainly precision is important, but her actions baffle me. I suppose you'll learn in time. When you do, you must tell me.

A lot of my lessons these days involve identifying almost every plant there is and knowing if it has any healing benefits. We have to learn what it can do, how to prepare it and the correct amounts. I was quite surprised to learn that some plants can heal, but too much of it and it can kill. I don't like to think about how someone learned that the first time. For obvious reasons, we're not allowed to experiment away from the keep or alone. That's a lesson that is easy to remember.

Well, Tessa is here, telling me that lady Catherine wants me downstairs immediately or sooner. That's never good and keeping her waiting will only make her mood worse. So I must rush off. I will send this off now.

I want you to know, little one, that I never stop thinking of you. I'm just so glad that you're doing well and that you understand why I had to do this. It pains me to be away from you, but this is what I was meant to do... of that I have no doubt.


© Nivek
The Heartwood and all characters not otherwise expressly stated are © Kh'Lyh'ra Press / Mike Naylor