Early Dragon 2618

Dear Bekkah,

I know you won't get this letter for a long time; however, I will keep it with any others I write until I hear from you again. That way, you'll know a bit about what I have been doing while you were away on your journey. Know that your last letter to me made me laugh and made me cry. The threat of raising me from the dead should I ever get killed just so you could chastise me... oh, how that made me smile! And I know you would do it, too! So I will do my very best not to get killed. I most certainly do not want one of your tongue-lashings, my dear sister. And to say I sound like a spy! That, too, brought a smile to my face. In truth, Bekkah, I simply enjoy watching people. They are all so different, they are all so interesting. I know the Heir must think differently simply because she is the Heir; she cannot watch people for the simple enjoyment of it. Too much depends on her keen watchfulness and sharp thinking. I have learned that much, at least, in all my sessions in court (of which I will write further). Sometimes, I wonder how she must see the world. That, dear sister, would be a conversation worth having!

But I did cry when I realized it could be many years before I hear from you again. I am already missing your letters, and hearing your voice in my head as I read them. I have kept every letter you've written, and I know I will re-read them over and over. I always feel closest to you when I read your letters... almost as if you are sitting beside me. Just know that when you finally do read this, I will have missed you every day since the day your last letter arrived in my hands.

Perhaps I will be able to write in the future about love; but for now, I think my heart is not yet large enough to hold more than the love I have for you and the love I have for Dayala. But should the day come when I find room in my heart for yet another, I will write of it first... I will tell you... before I whisper a word to another person.

I have had further talks with Kassia about the nature of the Deities, and their relationships. I think it pleases her when I seek out new information on my own, and she readily provides what information she has. I suspect she would not be as accommodating if my interests were frivolous, but as I am training to be a warrior, I should be concerned about the consequences of the Deities' disagreements. For instance, Dayala often quarrels with both Jvrill and Lord Rames. This, in turn, leads to difficulties with their followers... Knights and Squires of Rames do not care for Dayalans, though I have heard from some of the Verchovai that some Knights are more tolerant than others, and most Knights are less single-minded in their purpose than the Squires. Jvrillians, too, are not fond of Dayalans, though New Jvrillians -- the mercenaries -- are more apt to be accepting. Old Jvrillians? Well, it think it would be wise to avoid them entirely.

While the machinations of the Deities do not hold much interest for me, I find their relationships to be of great interest. Though I know Kassia's greatest desire if for me to become a Priestess of Dayala, I have never dared to presume I might attain such a high rank. But if these are some of the things Priestesses ponder... at least Dayalan Priestesses... it is a path I might consider walking. Of course, that is still so many years in the future! I am but an initiate, and have so much more to learn!

Beginning this month, I have begun going to the court sessions without Kassia. I still dress in my Temple attire, I still stand off to the side, I still watch Lord Kisa exclusively. The only difference is that it seems Kassia trusts that my mind and my eyes will not wander away from their appointed task. And they do not, Bekkah! And yet, though my attention is completely focused on the Heir, I find that I am also noticing all that goes on in the chamber. I am sure this is another lesson to have learned, another skill for me for me to hone. Most court sessions are rather ordinary... farmers, shopkeepers, ordinary people coming as ask a boon of the Khorall; merchants seeking trade agreements. Some of them, in fact, are extremely dull. However, widening my field of vision, so to speak... taking in more information than provided by only the Heir, even the dull sessions can be interesting.

Court becomes far more intriguing when the nobles come to court. The nobles seem considerably more disconcerted by the Heir's presence than the ordinary folk and the merchants... with the exception of the other Vale nobles and the Kierkegaards, of course. In fact, when Khorall Kristof visits, he seems genuinely pleased to see... well, everyone. He greets everyone as though they are dear friends, including lowly Dayalan initiates!

While still the youngest of the initiates, I am no longer so small that I cannot work with some of the older initiates, and even some of the Verchovai. You were right about Irina reaching the limit of her potential, it seems. Since studying with Gilly, I have surpassed her with every weapon we have in our armory. I think Irina is beginning to realize it, as well. Lately, she has been talking of leaving the Temple to live with Derek Bakerson. While I do not know her past, I have the sense that it was not a happy one. She seems content at the Temple, but I have seen her and Derek together on Restdays. I imagine that is what love looks like, Bekkah. She has asked me more than once what she should do. I tell her only what you have often said to me, "You must follow your heart."

I will end this missive now, but will continue to tell you of my life, my lessons, my adventures, my trials and tribulations as the years go by until I hear from you again.

All my love,

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