Early Poet 2621

Dear Bekkah,

Some days, it seems so odd to me that I have reached my twenty-first year... especially when I look at all the young women I have known here at the Temple, at Dawnview Castle, in the markets in town. So many of them that are my age have children of their own. I'm quite certain that is not a path I can take, but I don't find myself wishing for it either. The children are delightful, I won't deny that... the tiniest babies especially. But whatever joy that might fill my heart at being a mother must be weighed against my responsibilities not only to Dayala, not only to the Vale, but to the whole of the mainland. I know you are asking yourself, "Can one person really make such a different?" Trust me, Bekkah, I ask myself that question nearly every day. My friend unequivocally says yes, and then points to all the men and women in the history of our land who have made such a difference. Gilly's answer is very different, and yet essentially the same: we, the Dayalans who spend our time out in the world rather than cloistered in the Vale, make a difference in the life of every person we meet. There is a song she likes to sing, a sweet and melancholy song, but the words seem to describe her so beautifully: "If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain; if I can ease one life the aching, or cool one pain, or help one fainting robin unto his nest again, I shall not live in vain."

I suppose in some ways, that would describe not only what we, as Dayalans, are meant to do... but also what you, as a Lady of Attera, are doing as well. Each of us strives, in our own way, to make the lives of individual people just a little bit better. If we can make a great difference, all the better for the people involved. But I think the point might be simply to treat each person as special and worthy of whatever protection or care we can offer.

You can see I've been rather introspective lately, can't you, Bekkah? As vital as all this political involvement is, sometimes it wears me to the bone, and I wish I could follow the path that Kassia sees for me... to journey out on my Duksheviya, spend a season or two or perhaps even three out on the mainland, and then return here to spend the rest of my days studying to become a Priestess of Dayala. But I know that is not my path. Just as Hastur has two hands -- the Justices and the Eyes -- Dayala also has two hands -- Her Priestesses and Her Starlords. I have always known my path is the martial one rather than the spiritual.

And yet, despite my role as Dayala's warrior, I find peaceful solutions to be more to my liking. I suppose that is why I have simply not thrown my hands in the air and walked away from the machinations of the Noble Courts. Dayala commands that I stand for Order, for Law... to stand against the Chaos. I have studied the reports of battles, Bekkah, and I can find so little Order there, and entirely too much Chaos. That is not to say politics is completely Orderly, for it certainly is not. However, it is often like an intricate dance; once you see the pattern of movements between the players, the Order is almost self-evident.

I no longer have the trio of younger initiates nattering at me; the two younger ones left shortly after my last letter. Only Fiora remains, and she seems to be at least making a serious effort with her studies now. Kassia will still have nothing to do with her, but Cara is a competent teacher. I have been helping Fiora with her writing; she had never even held a pen before coming to the Temple. Sometimes I look back at my life here and am amazed at how fortunate I am. I was taught reading and writing from nearly the first moment we arrived; and now seventeen years later, I find myself teaching others (oh yes, folks still send their children here to learn a bit of reading and writing... at least enough to be able to recognize their own names and all the Runes, and to scratch out the same on parchment).

There are still some older initiates here, though I have surpassed them in skill with sword, dagger, bow and lance. Gilly seems to think I will be ready to leave the Vale once she finds the right horse for me. Then she laughs, and admits that task could take years. Apparently, she has a notion of the perfect horse in her mind -- this horse may not even be born yet, for all any of us know -- and will not cease her search until the horse is delivered to the Temple. To be honest, I suspect Brighteyes will tell Gilly when HE has discovered the appropriate horse.

As I sit here writing, I wonder where you are... what you are doing... what you are learning about the people out there beyond the Vale. Soon enough, I suppose, I will begin my journey to learn of the world for myself, and I can only hope our paths will cross once again -- or, at the very least, I hear from you -- before I have written so many letters that they could be considered a book!

Oh, Bekkah, there is so much I wish I could say that would be unwise for me to commit to paper! And there is so much to say that can only be conveyed by being able to hug you once again. How is it possible that it has been twelve years since you hugged me and kissed me good-bye on your way out of the Vale to begin your training with Lady Catherine? How can it be that it has been three years already since the last time I received a letter from you? In Her first rising and first setting, Dayala created Order, She created Time... and still today, we mere mortals find Time a concept either so simple as to be taken for granted, or so complex as to be incomprehensible. I am waxing philosophical again, aren't I, my dear sister?

I will be off now, and with some luck be able to spend some time chatting with my friend. We have such precious little of that commodity; duty must always come first for both of us.

I miss you with all my heart, Bekkah.

Love, always,

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