Letter 11 - Kei to Gin

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Dear 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.  
"Tell me."

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 
dozen years.

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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