Early Scholar 2613

Dear Bekkah,

I know exactly how you feel! When I spy the courier going to deliver messages and packages to the Castle, I always hope there will be a letter from you, because I know his next stop is the Temple. I am always excited when he brings your letters.

You were right in thinking I would be surprised that you have become friends with Marcus! But if the wine had the same effect on him, forgiving his poor behavior when he apologized was a kind thing to do. I still don't understand what is so interesting about the kissing and hugging, Bekkah, but I will wait until I am older to see if I begin to understand.

I read your description of Marcus trying to teach you to use a dagger, and could not keep from laughing! I have started learning to use a dagger myself, and Verchovai Zasha explains everything very carefully before I am even allowed to stand across from a sparring partner. Irina and I usually work together because all the other initiates are much older and are far, far better than either of us. She and I are well-matched in size, so Verchovai Zasha says we will need to work with the others when we are better. We have also begun learning swordwork, which I know you are not allowed to learn as a Lady of Attera. You should be grateful for that! I never realized how heavy a sword is! It may seem not so heavy at first, but when you are required to hold it up from the time She clears the treetops until She touches the top of the Castle's highest tower, it becomes very heavy indeed. We are not allowed to do anything at all with the real swords now except hold them. Verchovai Zasha says we may not do anything else until she is satisfied we can work well with the wooden swords. She said we will be lucky to do more than simply hold the sword for an entire year!

I made the mistake of mentioning this to Kassia. I don't think I was quite complaining, although maybe just a tiny bit. Of course, she called me a cobble-block and sat me down in the chapel until I could work out for myself why Verchovai Zasha made that rule -- and she stared at me the entire time! It did not take very long, really, to realize that we need to develop the strength to use the sword (that's why we have to stand holding them for so long, it makes our muscles stronger) and that will take time. Then we need to learn the skills (with the wooden weapons, of course) so that we do not hurt ourselves or our sparring partners. I very timidly expressed my thoughts to Kassia, and she actually smiled. "There, Daxia. That's what you are supposed to do. Think before you act." I'm pretty sure she wasn't just talking about wanting to use real swords before I'm ready. I think she meant I should think things through before complaining about something I don't understand, too. But I couldn't believe it, Bekkah! Kassia actually smiled at me!

She really confuses me so very much, dear sister. She's very hard on me, and I understand that there is so very much to learn, and she wants me to learn everything I can. But sometimes she is very nice, and sometimes she's a bit mean. Sometimes I want to like her, and sometimes she just makes me so angry or hurt that I don't like her at all. I don't understand what I'm supposed to be learning from this, Bekkah. The only person I can really talk to is Irina, and she said Kassia is always nice to her. So, Bekkah, I am very confused.

We don't learn too much about plants. Well, not yet anyway. Mostly we've learned how to identify plants that are poisonous, the ones we should never, ever eat. I'm sure we will learn more, though. There is always more to learn.

As much as I miss you, Bekkah, I know you are doing exactly what you should be doing. When I am especially missing you, I just think about how happy you are, and my heart feels better.

I love you,

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