Midsummer 2617

Dear Bekkah,

I am so glad to hear you are doing better! Thank you for the compliments, but I am not certain I want to be a legendary Dayalan. When you become legendary, people write songs about you. And some of those songs are not the best. Have you heard any of the songs about Thomas Montgomery? My goodness, some of them are so very funny, but I'm not sure I'd be so pleased if I was Thomas Montgomery!

To tell you what I think I have learned so far from watching the Heir, I must begin back at Midwinter. At the Midwinter Festival, the initiates were allowed to attend the festivities at the Castle. This is not something that happens often. It was all very beautiful, Bekkah, with everyone dressed in their finest. The Priestesses and initiates all wore our Temple best... long white tunics, and the beautiful black surcoats with silver edging down the front. The senior priestesses, the Captain of the Guard and Khorall seemed to spend the entire evening talking, while the Heir watched quietly from a corner. I don't even think most people knew she was there. I'm sure I only noticed her because of all the time I've spent at court, and being trained by Kassia to be observant of everything. It was very strange, Bekkah. The moment I spotted Lord Kisa, I seemed to naturally drift to the opposite side of the room, and stood watching everything, just as she did. Some of the older initiates seemed concerned that I wasn't joining the festivities, but I assured them I was enjoying myself quite well just watching everything. And I was, Bekkah! I usually just watch the Heir, but that night I was watching everyone. And I could see... I'm not sure how to describe it... connections? By watching everyone, I could almost see what many of them were going to do next. I think that's what the Heir does during the court sessions. She's watching the nobles and merchants and figuring out what they will do next... and if her mother does one thing, they'll react this way, but if the Khorall does another thing, they react that way. It's almost as if she is play a game of Horses and Castles.

I thought I had not figured out what I'm supposed to be learning from watching the Heir. But when I mentioned my observations to Kassia the next day, she just nodded and said, "Good. Keep watching Kisa." So there is still more to be learned from watching her.

But back to the festival! After I had been watching for quite a very long time, a young man approached me and quite insistently said that I must dance with him. He introduced himself as Tomas, the son of a minor noble from the area around Glacier Keep. Even though I was enjoying myself watching, I do so like to dance! It turned out that he was a fine dancer, and I had an enjoyable time dancing with him. Several of his friends also insisted on dancing with me, and the night seemed to fly by. toward the end of the evening, I found myself dancing with Tomas again, and Bekkah... he kissed me! I have to say that I did not like it, not at all. I was very polite to him, explaining that it would most improper for him to continuing behaving that way since we only just met that evening, but the truth is, I did not like the feeling of his lips touching mine. He was quite courteous, and bowed to me as though I was a great Dama, and said that he hoped that we would meet again. As he walked off, I could see the Heir watching us. When she saw that I'd noticed her, she smiled and just nodded her head... as though I had done something very well. I'm not sure what it might have been... perhaps dancing with Tomas, or being so polite at refusing his advances, or maybe dancing with all his friends. One day, I would like to have the chance to actually talk with our Heir.

Later, some of the initiates were teasing me about all the dancing I did. They said the young men must have all thought I was an Allaine, because of my red hair. I just laughed, because... truly? That happens so often that I barely notice any more!

But the next day, when I mentioned Tomas kissing me -- and my reaction to it -- to Gilly, she just laughed. Then she and Brighteyes exchanged this look, as though they knew a secret and were not about to share it with me. Gilly is turning out to be a very dear friend, despite the fact that she is so much older than I... but sometimes she and that unicorn of hers are completely infuriating!

I still cannot beat Kassia at Doublebluff, but one night it took her nearly until both moons had risen to beat me. She actually smiled at me again, and said, "That was very well done, Daxia." It was one of those times when I almost wanted to hug her. But she still scares me too much to be that forward with her.

Just as you believe I will a legendary Dayalan, I am certain you will be the finest Healer that your Lady Attera has seen walk on the mainland.

Oh! Do you remember long ago when I wondered if the Goddesses and Gods talk to one another? Well, I finally asked Kassia about that. She said, "Of course they do, Daxia! And when they have disagreements, things do not go well for us down here." It makes me glad that Lady Attera is so loved, for surely even Dayala -- the first of all the Deities -- must at least like her.

I hope to hear from you soon, Bekkah, and that you are well and happy when this reaches you.

All my love,

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