Mid Yrick 2611

Dear Darling Dazi,

I've seen even more of Lady Attera's grace since I last wrote. Every day, I'm more certain that I made the right choice. I will be a great healer. Even Lady Catherine grudgingly admits that I have great potential. She gets frustrated with me at times with simple chores, but there are just as many times where she praises me for the things I've learned. She'd never admit it, but I can tell she cares for me, more so than as just another student. She spends extra time with me and I love every moment of it. I never tire of learning when it comes to Lady Attera. Lady Catherine probably wishes I had the same zeal when it comes to cooking and cleaning, but we can't all be perfect, now can we.

Again, you make me jealous little one. Although I suppose you're not so little anymore. You'll be close to twelve by the time you're reading this. I wish I could see you; just thinking of you growing up without me makes my heart ache terribly. I can only imagine how pretty you've become. Lady Catherine commented often on what a pretty woman I've become. So like you, I have mother to thank for that. Just as often though, Lady Catherine also tells me that it's a curse I'll have to live with. I did not understand that, but I think I do now, but I'll get to that later.

I know this will sound unbelievable to you, but I have not ridden a horse since I've been here. Not once in two years. I fear I won't remember how.

Instead of learning to ride and other fun things like that, we're taught silly things like how to curtsey properly and the proper way to address varying levels of nobles. It all seems so silly to me, but to some, it is of great importance. If you ask me, the people who care the most are usually the worst of the people we meet. They believe they're better than everyone else. The way they strut and talk to others, it's awful, Dazi, but Lady Catherine says that is the way of the world. I tell her that people don't act like that in the Vale, and her response is always the same as she reminds me that I'm not in the Vale any longer. As if she has to remind me of that.

We have decided that cooking isn't my strength. I don't know why, but no matter what I do, food just doesn't taste the same when I make it. I have however become a good seamstress. Lady Catherine tells me that it's an important skill. It helps us pass the time when things are slow and repair our clothing. I also pass the time by teaching Doublebluff to some of the other girls here. My, they are bad at it! But it helps pass the time. Lady Catherine disapproves. She thinks that girls waste their time with play. But she allows us free time each day and I just play anyways. Some of the girls play the flute or other instruments, but as you know, I have no skill in that arena.

I'm learning more about plants and herbs. While I can't cook, it seems I have some affinity for mixing ingredients for healing. It does get me out in the countryside at times, which is nice. If it wasn't for that, I'd probably spend all of my time inside the keep. Now, if we only had a horse I could borrow so I could travel further.

I have a couple of pieces of bad news. I can picture you standing up in alarm, running your hand through your hair as you read that, so sit back down and relax, it's not anything terrible. I'm fine. The first thing that happened this past year is that my best friend Leila left. She was always unhappy, and I think she wanted to be home with her family. So one day, I woke up and she was gone. She had always talked about the two of us going on our own to see the world together, but I never really took her seriously. I think she knew I was devoted to my studies, so one morning I woke up and she was gone. Nobody knows where she went and I worry about her. I pray that she is okay and that one of these days, I'll get a letter from her.

Well, that leads into the other thing that happened. It was at the Midsummers festival. Being older now, I was allowed to partake without supervision. I should have been there with Leila and the two of us would have had the best time. I still had a good time for most of the day, but I learned some lessons that day... lessons I want to share with you so you don't make the same mistakes. First off, I drank far too much wine. I know why we're not allowed to have more than a single cup with our meals. It makes you do things you wouldn't normally do. I didn't realize it at the time, as I was having so much fun.

Like the year, before I never stopped dancing and I lost count of the number of goblets of wine I had. Somehow I ended behind the mill down by the river with Marcus Dallenback. He was a nice man, a caravan guard, I believe, who comes through from time to time. Well, he said he wanted to show me something, so I followed him down. He's a bit older than me and quite handsome and a very good dancer. I was wondering what he wanted to show me, when he pulled me around so that we faced each other. I think the wine was getting to me then for everything seemed a bit blurry.

Well, he kissed me, Dazi! Just pulled me closer so that our bodies pressed together and he kissed me without warning. I was so shocked that I didn't resist and he kissed me again. I won't lie to you little sister and say it was unpleasant, but it was quite forward and terribly unexpected. He told me how beautiful I was and that he had to have me. I think I said something about dancing with him again and he said something about needing much more. He pulled me close to him again, but this time his hands squeezed in the most inappropriate places and he didn't seem nearly as charming. I tried to push him away, but I was starting to feel a bit ill. It was the wine, Lady Catherine would tell me later.

Anyways, I tried to get him to stop, but he wouldn't. I think he was trying to lift my dress of all things when I think I slipped and fell. After that I didn't remember anything. I woke up in my bed with Lady Catherine and one of the other girls, Darlene, looking down at me. They looked relieved when I opened my eyes. This is embarrassing, but when I looked at them, the pair of them and the room began to spin violently and all I could do was to be sick on the floor. For some reason there was a bucket there and I hit that. When I looked back at Lady Catherine, she was smiling. Later, she told me that was the wine as well. So I can honestly say that I will never have more than one glass of wine again.

She then told me that Marcus had told them that he had seen me moving toward the river and he had been concerned. He saw me slip and hit my head and that he had saved me, pulling me from the river. She said he carried me all the way back to my room and probably saved my life. I know that isn't what really happened, but I didn't say anything to anyone. I don't think any good would come of it and I wasn't hurt. He certainly hadn't made me drink too much, that was all my doing. So learn from my mistake, little one. Dance, have fun, but drink little wine and keep your wits about you at all times. I still think of that kiss and the first one did taste sweet and I won't forget it, but I think my real love is Lady Attera. That's enough for me.

I also had extra cleaning duties for a month for my embarrassing display. Yet another reason not to drink.

With Leila gone, I feel a bit lonelier now. It makes missing you all the worse.

I love you, little one,

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