Dear Ryu and other friends,
Please do have Zara write to me. If she is truly interested, there could perhaps be something more than correspondence – ever since my return from the Threshold I have been looking for a handmaiden. While it is perhaps an unusual position for young enough to Exalt to hold, her tutors would surely agree that a few months in direct contact with the Dynasty might do her well. Obviously I would not have much time to attend to her directly (it would rather defeat the purpose of having a servant), sitting in on some of the introductory classes would not be out of the question.
The letter carries on about the possibility, dancing around the fact that she might not be chosen by the dragons – and if she is not, the position could be more permanent. Aisa could use someone trustworthy and young enough to groom into the position – she couldn't even believe another Mnemon served her, rather than being a spy for the family matron.
The conspiracy members will see the following.
Ferem Quelaana, Carmela Contarini and Cathak Titus, this letter was delivered to each of you by your new elemental companion. Since you expressed no ability to protect yourself against the immaterial in your last communication, I have taken the liberty of providing some insurance of my own. Please do not rely on them as a bodyguard should it come to a fight, but they will remain at your side dematerialize to protect you from spies. Should you not wish their presence, merely address politely – while demonstrating that you can defend yourself by looking directly at them.
Ai'Zul is delivering this to Whispering Twilight and will not stay, as I would not dare presume upon as a follow practitioner of the Art, and it would draw too much attention to Nellens Ryu to have a companion, situated as he is in the Imperial City in proximity to so many of the Chosen.
Following up on the information about V'Neef Bijar's interest in the Imperial Manse (truely the dynasty is complex, but the difference between the head of a Great House and merely one of the Chosen is quite important, Ryu!), I dropped some hints of my own research in that direction (recently begun) within the hearing of V'Neef Iphen. Since he has been paying court to me recently, he seemed a likely means of inserting myself into the affairs of his house subtly, making them think it was their own idea. He was obstinate at first, crudely attempting to hinder my efforts rather than take the bait. He feared I was acting as Mnemon's agent in the matter, but with some persuasion he came around.
In addition to setting up a meeting with V'Neef Bijar and building a bridge with that house, this also presents a solution to Ryu's slave problem. I believe I have uncovered what she intends to do with them (following in the steps of one of the Shoguns who sought entrance to the manse), and can prove to her why it will not work. The details are geomanticly complex and not terribly interesting, but blood sacrifices of that sort won't disrupt the energies the way she expects due to…
(a short passage is scratched out here, written and then thought better of)
This letter is not the place for too much detail, but I expect V'Neef will find the argument compelling – only delay her requisition for another week and it will vanish entirely. If things go according to plan, I will arrange to set up a personal meeting soon – in addition to the Imperial Manse being of great interest, an alliance with V'Neef would be quite beneficial to our endeavor. A small Great House is still a Great House, and this one is small enough tha Bijar can easily be a stepping stone to her mother.
On the other end of the political spectrum, my work at stepping into Mnemon's graces also bore some success. She asked me to acquire a recently found copy of a rare tome for her before it reached the Heptagram library. One of my Hurakas spied upon the ship, and I arranged for one of the longshoreman to become quite drunk the night before. Wearing his face I stole the book in question. This would have been the end of it, were it not for a slip up on my part. His wife spied me on the way home, still wearing his face. It started with "I thought you were too sick to go to work," devolved from there into "you went to see her again, didn't you?" and ended with my being chased around the market being pelted by breadrolls. There was also a squid. And a broom.
Far more than demons, Solars and betraying Mnemon, if word of my involvement in the "breadroll incident," as the locals have started calling it, ever leaks out, I will murder you. All of you. Take this secret to your grave.
Regardless! Upon reading the book, The Girl with the Sun in her Eyes, it is easy to see why the Empress ordered all copies destroyed. It appears to be nothing more than "First Age" rhymes, but there are tantalizing hints everywhere – what is not said, what is missing, and what context would need to be known for the rhymes to make sense. I have copied some parts for further study, but lacking a trustworthy scribe, will have to rely on memory. Mnemon will have received the original by the time you get this letter.
In more lighthearted news (the breadroll incident is not lighthearted. Remember: to your grave), life at the Heptagram continues as normal. Empress or no, the work of teaching the next generation of sorcerers and savants continues.
I arranged a scavenger hunt for the students at the Heptagram. Forming not-so-sworn brotherhoods from across all ages, they searched the isle for five items. This was done with two motives. Firstly, it would help cement my position and reputation in the school, as someone both fun and approachable, in addition to knowledgeable. Gaining trust with the student body is important. The Heptagram is a far more important power center in the Realm than most give it credit for.
Secondly, it gave me a chance to see the students acting more independently than usual. Establishing a sorcerous society is another possibility to consider for gaining influence, and this was a filter for potential members. Most of the participants were too hung up on the elemental associations of the locations they had to visit, but there were a few knowing looks from those who noticed the subtler association with the Trials they had either recently gone through or were approaching. Those are the students to pay attention to, of course. Those that look beyond the obvious.
The winning team accompanied me to a weekend at one of the local beach god's sanctums, a welcome respite from the biting winds and freezing rain we get at this time of year. They quite enjoyed themselves, but apparently managed to smuggle out some Smoke of Daana'd back to their rooms, and were doing poorly in their classes.
I tried to explain matters to them. "You are the Chosen. This means you can indulge, yes – I would never deny that. I too enjoy the finer things in life. When I stayed in Nexus, the first thing I did on arrival was trade some sorcery for lodging at the penthouse suite at the finest brothel in the city. But it also gives you a duty to excel. Your indulgences cannot get in the way of your education or your work." I followed this up with a couple of choice quotes from the Immaculate texts, about how their duty to protect Creation and the fact that pleasure is not evil, especially not for the Dragon Blooded.
I am sure it would shock many of the Dynasty, but truly believe everything I said. We Dragon Blooded have a duty to protect and to rule well. The Texts have much to teach us about right behavior, even if some of the specific details have been changed to accommodate state policy.
Which brings me neatly to the final topic, state policy. Several of you have seemed certain about, or dare I say even eager to bring, bloodshed to the Realm. I hope that this is merely bluntness about your predicted future, rather than any intention on your part. Please remember, fellow conspirators, that it is explicitly to prevent such a possible civil war that I have placed my trust in you – and in myself – rather than in Mnemon. I do not expect events will occur in such a way, but I would retract my claim to the throne if doing so would prevent the Realm from being torn apart. I will do everything in my power to prevent those horrors from being visited upon the Blessed Isle. The Realm is too important to Creation to be sacrificed on the altar of ambition or any other motive.
Yours in secrets and in strength,