Scarlet Sky Conspiracy

RY 767 - Descending Air - Mnemon Aisa

Dear friends,

Last Marsday was the busiest I have ever known. Not only did V'Neef attend the annual review of her daughter – which I was presiding over – but Mnemon also visited the Heptagram on the very same day! I must say it was an honor to attend to them both, even if it did end with a public dressing down that the students are still discussing in the corridors two weeks later. But I am getting ahead of myself.

((Members of the conspiracy will find the plain content of the letter of great interest, detailing Aisa's exciting day involving two elders. The hidden content adds more details, including the secret meetings, discussions and intentions that accompanied the publicly known events.))

It all began with an invitation. With Ledaal Catala Akashan taking over dealings with V'Neef Bijar and the Imperial Manse project (good luck with that), I turned by attention to the elder of that house, seeking her friendship and eventual alliance. I invited her to attend the annual review of V'Neef Tassily – the cutest little Dragon you have ever seen, you would not believe how adorable she is with her freckles and big brown eyes and sandy blonde hair – which she accepted. Tassily is quite an excellent student, but parents have the option, infrequently exercised though it is, of attending reviews even if the child is doing well. Unusal, but a convenient excuse for me to meet with V'Neef privately.

The night before the review, as I was reviewing one of her public speeches from last year, there was a knock on my door. Perhaps she wished to speak privately beforehand, or perhaps one of my students was having a crisis?

It was Grandmother.

I invited her in – what else does one do with Mnemon smiling on one's doorstep – and asked her business here. She wished me to set up a secret meeting for her with V'Neef, to discuss V'Neef Bijar's progress on the Imperial Manse. I tried to distract her by telling her of the failed attempt with the slaves and then deflect by offering a semi-private meeting instead, but she insisted. Naturally I agreed to do as she wished. I imagine few of you have met my revered ancestor personally, but please believe me when I say I was lucky to get out of a private meeting without raising her suspicions, acting against her as I am.

We spent the remainder of the evening talking over The Girl with Sun in her Eyes - though the original was lost, I retain a near complete memory of the contents, and several partial copies besides (I have not forgotten about you, Titus. Will you answer my questions or not? The new copy of the book given to me does not absolve you). I dare say I impressed her with my knowledge, and she agreed with several of my deductions about the book. Grandmother's approval was an entirely pleasant sensation, regardless of what was coming the next day.

Marsday opened with an outdoor demonstration for the younger students, a lesson on elemental associations and interactions which I had to put on as part of my duties. I will not bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that after showing how earth essence reacts with water, I needed a change of clothing before V'Neef Tassily's review – and my private interview with V'Neef herself. On my way to my room, Mnemon Duhalva* stopped to ask me what Mnemon was here for. I have been courting Duhalva's attention recently, so it was a good chance. I reassured her that it had nothing to do with the Heptagram, and arranged for tea later to talk things over before hurrying on my way.

Fortunately the interruption was brief, and I was able to make it to Tassily's review on time and properly dressed without resorting to backup plans. Yes, I had a backup plan to be presentable even if I did not have time to change. As the Mnemon motto says, "Mastery through rigor." After Tassily left, my discussion with V'Neef initially went well. I was forthright about the fact that the Regent will not be around forever, and that I was seeking allies in case Mnemon did something unforgivable. She did not give any solid answers or ideas of her own plans, but I could see she believed my sincerity. It is the first step to an alliance dance, displaying both my vulnerability and my strength.

Things went more poorly when I asked if she wished to have the secret meeting with Mnemon I had been tasked with arranging. She closed up, retreating to polite nothings. I responded that if she did not wish it such a meeting would not occur, and set several things in motion to prevent Mnemon from cornering V'Neef alone at the dance – which would begin in a few minutes – or any time thereafter.

After all annual reviews are complete, there is traditionally a dance and a party. I escorted V'Neef there, a social coup I have been seeking for more than two months. Speaking with V'Neef was one part of the reasons I invited her to the Heptagram - being seen speaking with her was another part. Everyone goes when summoned by the leader of a Great House. Only movers and shakers can request a meeting and have elders come to them.


To have any hope of succeeding in our plot, I must be taken seriously – and walking into a party with V'Neef, just the two of us busy talking, is worthy of a curious glance or two. Having Mnemon come over to speak with me immediately thereafter is worthy of far more than a glance. Why does Mnemon Aisa rate the attention of two elders, almost as if they were vying for her attention? Those of you on the Blessed Isle will hear the ripples of interest spreading soon, if you have not already. People are starting to take note.

Mnemon asked if I had arranged the private meeting with V'Neef that I had promised her. I responded that V'Neef was far more popular here than I had suspected, and her schedule was full. I had been unable to arrange anything. My hope was to appear as if I had simply failed, rather than intentionally thwarting her. With a subtle glance I attempted to cast the blame on Duhalva. What Grandmother said to me is burned into my mind, so I will simply quote what came next, rather than paraphrase.

Mnemon smiled. "Dear Aisa, are you trying to court allies in other houses? Do you not trust me to secure the throne?"

I blinked, then responded smoothly. "Naturally I'm cultivating allies of my own. You're the most worthy contender, but it seemed wrong to antagonize a likely candidate for mother-in-law. She was quite worried when you said you wanted a private meeting with her."

"Mother-in-Law…." Mnemon frowned in the direction of V'neef. Her step-sister was surrounded by students, making conversation and keeping her unavailable to Mnemon's approach. "We will see what the future holds. I am wary of how much trouble V'neef is taking to bind you to her house, granddaughter."

With purposeful steps, Mnemon made her way to V'Neef Iphen, who was busy contemplating the snacks on the refreshment table. I did not follow her. Iphen is a friend, but if my words about marriage had distracted Grandmother, I was not going to stick my neck out any further. I have no intention of marrying him, despite his growing hints in that direction. He could stand being taken down a peg.

Mnemon grilled him about academics. She started easy, attracting attention and building his confidence, then increased the pressure. He is not as smart of he thinks he is. She humiliated Iphen in front of the whole school until he fled the room, then stalked off smiling. V'Neef followed, angry at her. Whispers started. I stayed, chased off a boy who was bothering V'Neef Tassily (have I mentioned how cute she is? Was I really that small when I arrived at the Heptagram?), and attempted to enjoy the rest of the evening. I refused to answer any questions about the elders.

To summarize, this month I have opened a dialogue with V'Neef, survived Mnemon's personal attention without being exposed, started spreading my reputation further, and begun to make friends with Mnemon Duhalva. Students will be telling each other tales of this midwinter ball for decades.

Poor Iphen, though. I am not sure he deserved all of that. Most of it, sure, but not all of it.

Yours in society and in subtlety,

— Mnemon Aisa


Ryu, do send Zara over for a visit some time. I have been quite enjoying our letters, and would not mind seeing her again in-person. Also, keep an eye on Shu – a few of her antics have been less than pleasant recently, though never in sight of adults. Zara's left bang was not lost in an accident with scissors, but because Shu rubbed honey in it. Please do not tell Zara I shared her secret. She only lied to protect her little sister.

* Aisa doesn't explain who Mnemon Duhalva is in her letter, but anyone with even passing familiarity with the Heptagram or dynastic politics will recognize her as next in line for Dominie of the Heptagram. She's one of the rare Mnemon's who's done well for herself despite estrangement from the family matriarch. Rumor has it that she will certainly not become Dominie if Mnemon takes the throne – if she even survives the event.