Flight of the Five Swans

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Epilogue

Dear Ayden,

First of all, I have been asked to thank you (again) for the rhaita you sent for Eurielle last month. I know that I’ve already passed along her thanks in my last three letters, but she still insists that I include it again here. She practices on it almost constantly, and has already mastered three new songs in the last week alone. What’s more, the songs are now becoming recognizable to more than just her. I must admit that this is certainly a welcome change for the rest of us—particularly Petra. On a related note, Petra has stopped threatening your life under her breath, so I think it is now safe for you to write to her yourself and apologize for inadvertently disturbing her. After all this, I imagine you’ve well and truly learned your lesson about giving away musical instruments on a whim. Believe me when I tell you that Eurielle’s joy isn’t quite worth risking Petra’s wrath.

We are all well here, though some of us are a little more well-rested than others. Nearly everyone is feeling some sleepless nights, all thanks to the lovely set of lungs that my new nephew has recently learned to use. Eralie and Ty have it the worst of course, seeing as how they are the ones having to get up to appease the baby. Poor Eralie had bags under her eyes all day yesterday after a particularly bad night. I have taken to watching baby James for a couple hours during the day so that they can rest, but they never actually do. Too many tasks require their attention ever since Father abdicated, though he does still try to help out where he can. In the meantime, I must admit to immensely enjoying the extra time with my nephew. He is sitting up on his own now, and he always smiles when he sees me—and Thaleia as well, of course.

All continues to go quite well with the transition of kingship. It had been in the works for a while as I’ve mentioned before, so Eralie and Ty were well prepared for the change, even with the added responsibility of a newborn on top of it all. Cliodne is sure that another month or two will be all that is required to get things completely under control. Eurielle and Callia are still quite disappointed that the coronation was not a larger affair than it was. I am too, to be perfectly honest, though I understand the difficulty a larger event would have raised. I highly doubt our illustrious six-month-old prince would have appreciated having his naptime disturbed by trumpet fanfare, even if it were for his parents. Still, it is not out of the question that a larger event might come to pass in the near future as a belated celebration, though I will surely let you know by letter long before we send out the official invitations.

I would not dare to tell anyone but you, but I believe Father thinks that he chose the wrong time to step down. He has mentioned feeling guilty for adding to Ty and Eralie’s load, though I suspect a large part of him simply misses being king—particularly now that the council of kingdoms has finally intervened in Deturus. Again, we thank you and your illustrious parents for your aid in that endeavor. Though I will not pretend to completely understand the strategy myself, Thaleia assures me that your support was invaluable in blockading the Deturian palace and deposing Soran. Had Father still been king at the time of Soran’s sentencing, I feel certain that he would have advocated a harsher punishment than banishment—and Thaleia and Petra would likely have agreed with him. The rest of us, however, fully support the decision made by Eralie and Ty on behalf of the council. Callia and Cliodne both think the ruling lenient but necessary; neither hold with Thaleia and Petra’s thought that Soran should have been put to death, and I admit the mere idea of such a punishment still turns my stomach. Surely lifetime banishment from every kingdom in the council will force Soran far enough from any mischief that he could possibly cause again? Please feel free to tell me if you feel I am naïve in this, but I choose to be optimistic.

Even if Soran were to return, Cliodne at least is determined not to be taken by surprise a second time. She has been spending even more time in the library than Callia lately, searching for any information that she can find about the Faerie realm. She has even begun corresponding with magical scholars in some of our ally nations, and has now accrued a great number of notes on the topic. I haven’t yet dared ask what she has discovered; I have no desire to toy with such forces again, though I suppose knowing more about the subject might prove useful in recognizing and avoiding practitioners like Soran. Still, I prefer to leave the researching to Clio and Callia. My hands still remember the ache of incessant knitting all too well.

As I mentioned in my last letter, Thaleia has been worrying me lately; she’s been quiet—almost depressed—about her limitations. But I’m happy to say that the suggestion you made in your last letter has already improved things in that end; Thaleia was thrilled at your offer of arranging private sword fighting lessons for her with an Ithcarian master. She has been in awe of your countrymen’s skill with a blade ever since we witnessed it last autumn, and is already eager to begin. It is good to see her enthusiasm return, so thank you for that as well. You have a sixth sense about exactly what makes all of my sisters—and me—smile.

Which brings me now to the response I know you are waiting to hear. In answer to the question you asked in your previous letter: write to Father. His answer, I am sure, will be yes. As is mine.

Yours forever and always,

Raia

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