Letter 9 - Kei to Gin
My dearest immured Gin,
What your parents have done is unconscionable. What Prince Auron has done
is merely ill-advised. I hope you do not mind, but I read Adda portions
of your last letter, and forced a long overdue confrontation with the
eunuch. I think he's always had a soft spot for you, and he was
horrified. He does not like the palace. The women scare him, the men
confuse him, and he says that I am grown more distant with every day. He
wanted only to communicate his impressions honestly, but as he was not
honored with the chance to attend the prince as I was, his information all
comes third-hand, and was mostly inaccurate, I believe. You are the only
one I have told of my true feelings in the matter, or the true words
spoken by the prince.
I have some idea of what tales Adda has been spreading, and it is pure
embellishment, I assure you. Unless you yourself have been
over-enthusiastic in relating my confidences to you, this should all blow
over by the time Adda returns (with this letter.)
I have also written to your master. I am asking for his support in
consolidating the Prince's favor in true Rombellian fashion, though I was
sufficiently vague as to what the Prince is to be convinced against. I
pointed out that from a purely practical standpoint, it is unwise to
alienate the one political entity that can shatter the peace of our
enclave, or preserve it in perpetuity. I do not think the Archprelate of
Fire will refuse my request. His old rival, the Archprelate of Wood, is
the bosom counselor and tutor to the Prince, and as was confessed to me
recently, the inspiration for this mad scheme he intends me to carry to
It is my hope that he will send one of his Deacons as support for my
intellectual wooing of the Prince, or perhaps one of the Lesser Mages who
attend him. I furthermore suspect that shortly after the time this letter
reaches you all misunderstandings caused by Adda will have been cleared
up, and you will have a bit more liberty. Adda himself is determined to
campaign on your behalf.
In case this is not so (or takes longer than I anticipate) I have appended
a quantity of blank sheets to this missive that you might return a letter
on fresh paper. If you are still confined, I have left it to Omin's
judgement whether or not to supplement your rations with the preserved
sweetfruits I intend to send along.
My one comfort during this time was thinking happily on how little trouble
can crawl through a passage two inches in diameter. But, knowing
you, that was sufficient. What new trouble have you found?
Whatever Prince Auron's notions, the resources for his scholarship are
sublime, and I have been given full liberties to roam his collection. It
is hardly his fault that he has been monkey-led through the garden of
learning, seeing only what his guides have pointed out to him. His
library has fascinated me. Moreover, he has fascinated me. The
Archprelate of Wood has an able (if naive) student in Prince Auron.
Thus far, I have found no support in the Prince's library for the actual
existence, or even the practicality of a star-flying boat. I suspect that
this scheme is the Archprelate of Wood's political ambitions attempting to
find a hold on the Prince. He chose an item from myth that particularly
sparkled in Prince Auron's sight. By proposing to recreate it he can both
distract the Prince with scholarship and divert a goodly amount of
resources into a project that will not suffer from skimming a little off
the top for the Archprelate's own benefit, and meanwhile, use the
unpopularity of this vanity project to break Auron's hold on the hearts
and minds of the people, taking the mantle of "most favoured" onto
himself. See the inanity of political ambition? It is never about
creating worthwhile things, or doing useful good. All politics is vanity,
except where that vanity is used as a mirror up to the people's desires to
better serve them.
I have held myself aloof, thus far, but Prince Auron confides that he
hopes "Woody" and I can coordinate our efforts on this project. (I do
hope his nickname for me is more dignified.) I managed, with all due
respect, to convince the Prince I needed more time to study his source
materials, to gain ideas on how a star-flying boat might be created. It
is my hope that I will find enough material that contradicts the
Archprelate of Wood's assertions, and proves without doubt that Terra's
Boat is pure allegory, and impossible to build.
However, time is of the essence. I have spent all of daylight and two
candles of evening each day since I last wrote you working in the Prince's
library. He wants an answer by the Day of the Unshriven Posts. There is
to be a small, somber ceremony in an internal courtyard, after which he
has granted me an audience. I am to report my "progress" by then.
I do not disagree with your assessment of the generational divide. Ever
has it been that the youth wish to prove, and the aged wish to disprove.
If I had you with me, I am sure your scholarship could rival even the
Archprelate of Wood's for hopeful tone and fragile threads of proof. I
simply cannot see any way that accepted magical theory could account for a
craft attuned sufficiently to the starry void to draw itself there. Too
much of the sky is void, and the craft would be drawn in equal directions
at once, as soon as the sun's magnetism is hidden beyond the veil of
earth. Were it not so politically dangerous, I might even enjoy
postulating what kind of world would have to exist to create a ship's
affinity to stars. It is a wonderful romance, to follow in Terra's
footsteps more closely than reenacting her pageant on the Fell Day.
I cannot say I have not been swept up in the grandeur of the dream, but at
least I recognize it for the improbability it is. Tell your confederates
that they should not confuse desire with possibility, and to guard against
excessive credulity. It ill-behooves tomorrow's leaders to believe
everything they hear with such a ready ear.
Alas, I have not seen the Dowager Princess. She avoids the Library as
though it held the ghosts of wronged lovers, and I have not been near her
garden except for a few moments as each day I walk to and from my
self-imposed exile in the Library's confines.
I do hope your confinement leaves you with no ill affect, and that your
write quickly back to your affectionate,
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