Letter 11 - Kei to Gin
I shudder to recall my own Deep Cleansings. Fortunately for me, I was a
precocious lad with a kind advisor who, though he could not keep me from
the Cleansings I had earned, provided me with a small amount of a certain
powder that, when applied to the fingers, neutralizes the scroll resins,
and maintains your purity. Your father must be more upset with you than I
realized, to have withheld such a simple thing from you. But then, he may
be trying to protect you from the Archprelate of Fire. While you are in
seclusion, the Archprelate cannot call you before the Trial of Embers.
This may be for your benefit. But, yes, it is a horrible practice, and I
cannot be quite convinced of the utility of it. I have enclosed the
recipe for this powder. It is really quite simple, and you can probably
convince Omin to have the necessary indgredients brought to you.
It appears the Archprelates of Fire and Stone have already set out for the
palace. Two riders came through the Transients Bazaar, announcing the
imminent arrival of the two Senior Magi. I was astonished at the speed of
their travel. I suspect they left two heartbeats after my letter arrived
and did not stop for sleeping.
However, it might please you to note this meeting is shaping up to be more
of a caucus than a chastisement. Shortly before the riders came through,
the Archprelate of Wood welcomed his "dear friend" the Archprelate of
Iron. You cannot convince me this is a social call. Unless I am
misreading the Iron Mage, we have a deadlocked parliament of the greatest
magicians of the age, and they will be fighting to control the influence
of Prince Auron.
The thought frightens me. Dissention is not productive, particularly when
such powerful people are involved. This forced me to abandon my books for
the afternoon, and do what I should have done weeks ago. I made an
appointment to see the Dowager Princess.
It's not that I've been avoiding her, exactly. I am in awe of her. I
have not wanted to intrude on her or to presume upon the acquaintance of a
few moments to request her advice or involvement on this matter. But in
this I am helpless on my own. If I say nothing, I am as good as agreeing
to the conflict that is to come.
She agreed to meet me, and I dressed carefully for the occasion. I felt
overdressed when her maid greeted me and ushered me into the
Princess'bedchamber. The Princess was propped upon pillows wearing
nothing but her dressing gown. (It was rather motheaten, but comfortable
looking fine blue wool with delicate floral embroidery in cream and
lighter blues, just in case you wondered what a princess wears in bed.)
Her hair was equally undressed, spilling across her shoulders in grey and
brown streaks. She was eating breakfast.
I bowed low. She eyed me speculatively. "I had wondered if you really
were Kei Sonegal, or just some random courtier referring to himself coyly
by his initial."
I bowed again. I wasn't sure how to answer this, as it wasn't a question.
As I mentioned previously, my awe of her has overtaken my good sense, I
fear. How I wish you had been here to break through the awkward silence.
You are always one to wield the chopping blade of bluntness against the
still air of subservience.
"Well?" she prompted me finally.
I had a speech prepared. "I wish to speak to you on a matter of politics,
I regret. Not for the teeming millions do I speak, but on behalf of
myself, I wish to..."
"What. do. you. want?" she asked. I couldn't tell if she was annoyed or
simply hurrying me on.
"Prince Auron. He wants to do something... improbable." I blurted.
"Huzzah for him. And?" Her curtness was a bit distressing. I glanced
around at the maids, who were carefully not listening.
"How much do you know about the imminent gathering of four of the five
Archprelates of Science at the palace?" I spoke low and clear, but pitched
softly enough so that the maids would have to strain to hear me.
The look on Princess Ralida's face would have been funny if the stakes had
not been so high. She dismissed her maids, and gestured me forward.
I told her about the impending convocation of four Archprelates, carefully
leaving out any value judgements on my part, and glossing over the project
that had engendered so much controversy, though her commentary leads me to
believe she was aware of Prince Auron's heresies, and could not bring
herself to care. When I had exhausted my ready knowledge of the
situation, she sighed.
"Well, we should dust off Gorin and bring him out to play. If I can get
him to stall the windbags long enough we can come up with a way to defuse
this idiocy." She snorted. "Auron, what have you done now?" She then
looked at me piercingly. "I love my brother-in-law, I really do, but he
is a beliver in old time religion. Do you know much about the old
"A little," I confessed. "It's mostly superstition, right? Used in
kitchens and farmhouses."
"The old religion was based on proof and controls. People used to believe
that all things could be measured, and that it didn't matter who did the
measuring. That a pint was still a pint, whether the barman poured it out
or the servingmaid. And that phenomenon could be observed without the
observer interacting with the outcome. It had some good ideas, but taken
to extremes, it does not work, particularly when humans are the ones
trying to make it work. There are too many variables to make this one's
sole means of interacting with the world. I apply this to all
dogmatists." I bristled a little at this, but she continued. "Auron
thinks that he should try to do things, and if he fails, he has simply
found one way to do that thing that does not work. But he doesn't see
much beyond his goal. He is getting stung by spiders while trying to hunt
She pointedly excused me so she could dress. The interview was over. I
stood in the antechamber for a few moments processing what she had told
me. I had wondered if Prince Auron truly understood what he was asking.
The Princess' comments seemed to indicate he did not. If he could be
converted, he could become a most valuable ally. But if the Archprelates
had their way, he would most likely be deposed or turned into a puppet
ruler, hemmed in by the threats and lies of his "valued advisors".
Oh, and in case you didn't catch that, Gorin is the given name of the
Archprelate of Organics. He's older than anyone I know, and still has a
whim of oak, though the years have not been kind to his eyesight and
hearing. We will have a convocation of Archprelates, the first in two
Poor Prince Auron does not know what he's gotten himself into. If the
Princess Ralida cannot explain it to him, I don't know who can.
Be well, my dear. Yes, I have enclosed more paper, and a scroll of some
entertaining cantrips you may wish to study while you are at leisure.
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