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written upon Iselle's taking occupancy of March dy Quintilliar's Second Best Bedchamber

Our dear Caz was ever so right about the roads. We shall have to make a point of seeing to them in these parts - and everywhere else. We have been required by a combination of the weather and their state to impose upon the hospitality of the March dy Quintilliar and his household - certainly until Mother's Midsummer and Bastard's Day, though perhaps longer, as the March's steward staunchly refuses to hazard an estimate as to when it will be possible to make the necessary repairs. You see, the road beyond the March's gates was made recently impassable when an over-swollen stream swept away the bridge which once provided travelers with passage o'er it - and said stream has not yet subsided. Indeed, the first stage of this letter's journey shall require a courier to swim the offending torrent and go afoot until he reaches the nearest courier station - or a household willing to part with a horse. Betriz refuses to allow me to take similar passage, no matter how often I remind her of my own strength as a swimmer. She is - unfortunately - probably right to do so; I am no longer a girl of sixteen nor nearly so carefree as I was then. Nor do I begrudge time the passage of those two years, for they have brought me you.

 

written whilst Bergon broke his fast with the Lord Chancellor

Well, and isn't this a fine state of affairs. I should hazard that the March dy Quintilliar never expected to play host to his Royina - and particularly not on such an occasion as this. Is the household all a-scurry on your account? Once you have taken your leave, your stay shall most assuredly become the subject of tale-telling every time the servants have occasion for such entertainment ...

 

written whilst Iselle sat by the window in the Second Best Bedchamber, contemplating the vagaries of fate

It is the strangest of things, but when I asked after the household celebrations of the March's daughter, Marda, she talked quite willingly of their plans concerning Mother's Midsummer, but would only say that they 'did not observe' Bastard's Day and would not be drawn further. Indeed, she seemed quite discomfited to even be asked the question. Nor is Bastard's Day the only topic on which the household will not be drawn. Marda is not the March's only daughter - there is an older girl by the name of Franca who has taken orders as a Dedicat of the Bastard and now resides in Cardegoss, but I would know nothing of her had I not found a miniature in her likeness tucked away in a drawer in my bedchamber - and asked after it, of course. You know my interest is easily kindled! I had of Marda the facts which I have since related to you, but when I enquired after Franca while at table with her father, he would talk no further on the subject. Oh, he was not so rude as to refuse outright - he merely confirmed what I already knew of Marda and then skillfully turned the subject. But it is more than clear that the Bastard does not find favor in this household - though they are in all other respects fully observant Quintarians. There is surely more to be discovered - perhaps when next he makes a visit Lord Caz could enquire of Dedicat Umegat concerning what he knows of a Dedicat Franca? It is a trifling matter, indeed, to trouble ones Lord Chancellor with - and yet, indeed, what are Lord Chancellors for if not to provide their masters with any piece of information said masters might seek?

 

written whilst the Lord Chancellor looked over his shoulder and assured himself that Bergon was telling it correctly

Lord Cazaril thought Dedicat Umegat would be much enthused by being afforded such employment as your enquiry might entail and hastened to make time in his schedule for a visit with him. The Bastard clearly looks favorably upon your little quest - and unsurprisingly so, as will become clear when I disclose to you all that Caz was able to report upon his return - for the timing of the visit turned out to be impeccable. He arrived just as the young Dedicat who takes her 'punishment' in reading to Dedicat Umegat was finishing up that day's material. Not being one to waste such a chance, Caz put your enquiry to the both of them - and fortunately so, as it turns out that the young Dedicat - whose name is Luz, by the by - is a particular friend of Dedicat Franca and knows well how things stand concerning her and her family. It appears that Franca chose a life in service to the Bastard because she felt a genuine calling, but that her father is displeased with her choice. He had intended to marry her off advantageously, but no contract had been made at the time Franca made her oaths to the Bastard and he could not, therefore, forswear her. In addition, it appears that he, for some reason unknown to Franca, disapproves of either the taking of orders entirely or, specifically, the taking of orders in service to the Bastard. It does not surprise her that he should refuse to celebrate Bastard's Day, for she says he is stubborn gentleman unaccustomed to bending to any will but his own.

 

written by candle-light, as Iselle had been up betimes with her thoughts

I had been considering that these matters might be better served by my taking leave of the March and his household and retracing my steps to continue my interrupted journey by means of another route, but now I feel certain that staying in this place through Midsummer and the Bastard's Day shall be a worthwhile undertaking - and Betriz agrees! I shall never not feel for any girl whose preferences are not taken into account on the subject of marriage should there be any option at all available to her family. And by everything I have seen during my stay here, it is clear that Lord dy Quintilliar had no desperate need to marry Franca to whichever lord he had in mind. His younger daughter seems to find the prospect of marriage perfectly agreeable - and, what's more, I have discovered that Lord dy Quintilliar has a younger brother who has three sons of his own. The dy Quintilliar name is in no danger of dying out! And even if it were, would you not think that Lord dy Quintilliar's first move would then be to contract a second marriage for himself?

 

written by Bergon and delivered wrapped around a

What a report I may make to you in this letter! Lord Caz found himself urgently summoned to Dedicat Umegat's chamber this very morning and so hurried hence - and what do you suppose he found waiting for him there? Why, another of the Bastard's dedicats, this one a middle-aged gentleman called Fedrico. It falls out that he was a close associate of the March dy Quintilliar when they were boys serving as pages together. He has not spoken to the March since their life-paths diverged these twenty-odd years past, but he remembers him well and fondly - and chanced to overhear Dedicats Franca and Luz discussing Luz's encounter with Dedicat Umegat and Lord Caz. And so he came to Umegat with his tale. It seems the dy Quintilliar family had a tradition of sending one child per generation to be a Dedicat of the Bastard and that the current March should have been that child, but chose not to take orders. Instead, as we already knew, he married and sired two daughters, Franca and Marda. Further, it appears that his distaste for the joining of orders comes directly from his father. That gentleman was a youngest son who desired to make a career for himself as a military man, but had that career disrupted by the death of one of his elder brothers. His other elder brother had chosen a life of service to the Bastard, so that suddenly left the current March's father holding the dy Quintilliar title and inclined to impress upon his sons the foolishness of allowing a potential heir to join an order. There is, of course, no chance Franca chose to become a Dedicat of the Bastard because family tradition demands it, as she wouldn't have known that the tradition exists; Dedicat Fedrico is sure the March would have made certain of that.

 

written hurriedly by Iselle by candle-light, that a courier might depart with it at first light

Do you suppose Dedicat Fedrico would care to swim a stream in service to his Royina? I do so desire to have a proper Bastard's Day celebration - and while there is no chance I shall have one in its entirety as long as I am here and you are /there/ when the day comes, I should at least prefer for all the proper prayers to be said and rites enacted. And there seems no chance of that as long as the March controls all that is done in the name of our gods in these parts.

 

written with enthusiasm by Bergon

Not only would Dedicat Fedrico care to, so would Dedicats Franca and Luz. You, my dear, shall have a veritable bevy of Dedicats to the Bastard at your service in only a day or so's time...

 

written while Iselle broke her fast quite hungrily

My bevy of dedicats have been of more service than any could have imagined when they first set out! They arrived on Dedicat Franca's ancestral doorstep only yesterday and have already proved that her dedication to her god is as true as one could wish. Why, she had hardly set eyes on her father when she was exclaiming over his ill health - ill health that no other member of his household had remarked upon or even noticed, for there was then a great deal of outcry seeking to deny her claim. She truly set everybody on their ears with what next came out of her mouth, though, for she asked whether no-one else could see the odd green distension in his belly. The entire room went silent at that - and then, when she gently placed her hand in the spot she meant and asked him whether he was experiencing pain there - and he, after a great silence, grudgingly said yes, why, it erupted in gasps and exclamations! I later went to the Dedicat and asked her whether her god spoke to her - and. when she told me that she thought he did now and again, explained that she appeared to be minor saint of the Bastard, gifted through him with the ability to see illness manifest. She supposed that she had not had cause to remark on what she could see as illness was her day-to-day trade and thus something she would be expected to remark upon - and she had thought the Bastard allowed all his children such sight. I have commended her to further acquaintance with Dedicat Umegat upon our return to Cardegoss. But first you must hear the rest of what has happened, for since the dedicats' arrival, Lord dy Quintilliar has made amends with his daughter, declared that there shall be Bastard's Day celebrations after all and asked Dedicat Fedrico to stay on afterwards. The dedicats have not yet determined precisely what is the matter with him, but, truly, it has been a whirl even so - and the holidays are not even upon us! I do think Betriz has begun to wonder whether I shall ever be shifted from this bed chamber. She should not worry so - I stay only until Bastard's Day. After, I shall take my leave, swimming, riding or even taking wing should it be possible. Just now, anything seems possible.