Late Fates 2616

Dear Bekkah,

I cannot even begin to imagine how much your heart ached when hearing about Marcus. I, too, wept when I read your words. I did not know him, but I do know he made you happy. How I wish I could have been there to comfort you, though I fear there is little comfort to be had when your heart is so broken. I hope by the time you receive this, you have begun to heal, and that Lady Attera will comfort you. And I will promise you to learn all I possibly can from my arms instructors, and do my best to avoid fights. I suppose there is one good thing about being a Dayalan... most Knights and Squires of Rames, and most Jvrillians do not want a woman fighting at their side in battle. There is a crude word, and forgive me for writing it if it offends you, that they use to describe us -- Swordbitch. Gilly says I should not be concerned about what others say... that it's just a word, and I can take it and own it, and then it won't be a hurtful word.

I should tell you about Gilly. Perhaps this news will help cheer you. Verchovai Gillyflower is to be my weapons trainer when she is in the Vale. And you might not believe this, Bekkah, but it is absolutely the truth: Verchovai Gillyflower has a UNICORN! I have met him, and his name is Brighteyes. His coat is as black as as starless night. Do you remember when I wrote that some of the horses seemed more clever than others, and almost seemed to understand what I said to them? Well, Brighteyes is so much more clever than any of them! He is quite intimidating! Sometimes it seems like he is studying me even more carefully than I am to be studying the Heir, and sometimes I'm quite certain he's laughing at me... not in a mean way, but as if I am actually very funny. Does that makes sense? Well, the stories Mama told about unicorns said they are immortal, and if that's true... I suppose everything could be amusing to someone who has been alive since the very beginning of time itself.

Verchovai Gillyflower is a Wild Dayalan. I still don't understand it fully, but it seems to mean she spends most of her time outside the Vale... like Verchovai Gwynn I mentioned before. She tells so many stories about places and things outside the Vale. I knew that Dayalans protect those who need protecting -- everyone in the Vale knows that, and that is why they are the Temple Guard and why most of the Allaine family's Royal Guard are Dayalans. But there are so few Dayalans now, that most do not stray beyond the Vale after returning from their Duksheviya. But some, like Verchovai Gwynn and Verchovai Gillyflower, only return to the Vale for a short time each year, and spend their time protecting those out beyond the confines of the Vale. And some girls are trained by Verchovai Gwynn and Verchovai Gillyflower outside the Vale! I'm sure it will take me quite some time to completely understand all of this.

Gilly said she would plan to spend most of her winters in the Vale until I am ready for my own Duksheviya. She has already seen my practices with Irina when we work with daggers and swords, and she just shook her head and sighed as if we were the worst students she'd ever seen. But she was smiling and laughing, too. I'm sure I will have many new bruises from working with her, but I have a feeling I will learn a great deal. And I think I will actually enjoy working with her, too.

Bekkah, do you remember the day you left for Lilia's Castle, and you gave me the tiny horse head Papa had carved for Mama? You said you knew that someday I would be a great Dayalan and have a unicorn. I thought it was just all stories, Bekkah... the unicorns, I mean. To think that they are real... though so very, very few... is a humbling thought. And I am so awed by Brighteyes that simply having the honor of meeting him seems almost enough for one lifetime. Bekkah, there is such wisdom in his eyes -- and pain, too, for there are so few of his brothers and sisters left in the world -- that I often feel my simple problems are insignificant, that my pains and worries are nothing. You have such a great pain right now; if I could take some of that from you, I would.

I send all my love to you,

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