Late Scholar 2610

Dear Bekkah,

I know you're right about doing chores. Everyone has to help. All the initiates have chores and even the priestesses have chores they do. I do all my chores the best I can. I like to help Daneel in the kitchen. She lets me punch the bread dough after it rises. That's fun! Mostly, I help her clean up, but I like to watch her cook. It's so interesting that she can put all sorts of things in the stewpot that don't taste very good by themselves, but when dinner time comes, the stew tastes so good! I keep watching, but I can't figure out how she does that. Cooks are pretty special.

I am learning how to take care of the horses, too. One of my chores is to fill up the water troughs (I had to ask Verchovai Darra how to spell that) every day. I like the horses. And I am learning how to ride them, too! At first, it was a little scary because they're so big, but Darra is a good teacher. The horses are friendly, even the really big war horses of the Verchovai. They all like apples and carrots, and most of the Verchovai and all of the initiates let me give their horses one treat every day.

I am the only one here now who isn't an initiate. And I'm still the littlest. But the initiates are very nice to me. One is named Feria and she is teaching me how to sew better. I even sewed up a tear I made in my tunic all by myself! They like to take turns brushing my hair, but I will tell you a secret: nobody is as good at it as you are.

Maybe Kassia isn't mean, but when I don't get a lesson right, she tells me I'm as dumb as a cobble-block. That feels mean to me. It makes me want to cry, but then she gets upset at me for crying. So I don't cry anymore. And I try really, really hard at my lessons! I really do! But some of it doesn't make any sense. I can name every one of the constellations, but it seems silly to draw them all with my eyes closed. If I close my eyes, I can see them in my head, so why would I want to draw them? I hope it will make sense when I'm as old as you are. You are better at studying, but maybe that's because you're older. Since I get older every day, maybe I'll get better at studying every day. I sure hope so. When I do get my lessons right, Kassia seems happier. I can't tell if I make her really angry when I don't get things right or if I make her really sad. I would rather see her happy, though. She's nicer to everyone when she's happy. And she doesn't tell me I'm as dumb as a cobble-block.

You will make friends soon, Bekkah. I bet by the time you get this letter, you will already have lots of friends! And of course I am happy for you! I miss you so much, and wish I could talk to you every day, but I know you will be the best Healer Lady Attera has seen in a long, long time. Since it's something that makes you happy, then I am happy for you. I want you to always be happy, Bekkah! And since you are going to be the best Healer since the Empire brought Lady Attera here, that will make Lady Attera happy, too. I think that's really nice.

I miss you a lot! Some days, I wish I could have gone with you. But I don't think I would be a very good Healer, Bekkah. It's not that I don't care about people enough, because I do. But I think maybe I'm supposed to stay here and learn how to protect people so not as many of them need Healers. Does that make sense? I still remember some of the stories Mama used to tell us, even though it was so very long ago. The ones about the unicorns were always my favorites, even if they were just stories. But the story about Jeminy Kilkenna and her Dayalans, and little Kisa Allaine keeping the promise to protect Risha's people was a good story too. It makes me feel good to think about helping people like that, except for the part about getting dead. That's not so good. But I'm still too little to be an initiate anyway.

Did you know that the Heir is named Kisa? And she's the same age as me! I'll bet Khorall Linnell named her after that story that Mama told.

Love you always and forever,

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