Lady Tyra Dale,
My dearest mother, it shames me to admit that I have not yet mastered my letters enough to be able to write this myself. Good Legate Sivik has been kind enough to transcribe my letters to you. I assure you that I work every day to better myself in this regard, as you commanded of me.
Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of my arrival here in Cale for my fostering with Earl Redgard. The Earl is a very stern man, but he is fair and he treats me and Arvidus well. Speaking of Arvidus, he has been excused from most of his duties to the Earl and spends most of his time with Legate Sivik. The Legate tells me that what Arvidus does is beyond my ability to comprehend and that I should not worry so much about him. He says that Arvidus is special and that he has important things to do in the future. I’m not sure what he’s talking about, but I respect the Legate, so I’ll take his word for it. Arvidus himself doesn’t speak much about his duties with the Legate. He seems very quiet and withdrawn since beginning these new duties and I often see burns on his clothing and his fingers are often blackened and raw. I worry because he’s not the bright, cheerful friend that I had when we arrived. His cheeks are sunken and his eyes are...I don’t know, hollow? He was supposed to be training to be my right arm, my sworn sword. Now he seems a shadow of himself.
(Note: My Lady, I must interject a note on this matter. Arvidus has taken up an apprenticeship with me and performs his duties admirably. Earl Redgard has given his blessing to this arrangement and I assure you, the boy is in no danger. He has been instructed, at this time, to keep his duties to himself. He and I mean no disrespect to your son, the Prince. We are merely following the dictates of the church and the commands of Earl Redgard. - Legate Sivik)
While I worry for Arvidus, you need not worry for me, Mother. I grow stronger every day and my skills with sword and bow are unmatched among my peers here, even the Earl’s son, Rolli. Rolli is big and strong and has a few years on me, but he is slow and, dare I say, stupid. I best him easily at sword and bow. This makes him angry and he often stings me with the flat of his blade when the swordmaster is not looking. I say nothing, but I remember each blow and will have the last word, of that you can be sure.
I spend my time when not training and serving the Earl in the Keep’s rookery. The Ravenmaster is teaching me the language of the birds and he says I have a keen mind for it and that the birds trust me. I enjoy my time there, but I’m roundly mocked for it by the other pages and squires. They have taken to calling me “The Raven Prince” behind my back. They mean it as an insult, but I wear the title with pride. The raven is solitary and strong and does not back down from larger foes...just like me. They think to demean me, but they make me stronger with each jape. The Earl has even taken to calling me “Raven Boy”. He says it with a chuckle and means no disrespect, but everyone laughs when he says it. Like the raven, though, I will remain strong. I still have a few years here and I will emerge the stronger for all the hardships I endure.
There is one very bright spot. The Earl has a daughter, as you know, Astra. Cuyler is very lucky to be betrothed to her. She is kind and smart and very, very beautiful. We often ride into the countryside (escorted of course!) to hunt small game and catch fish from the rivers. She will make Cuyler a wonderful wife and I must say that I envy him greatly. She seems special, especially compared to her oaf of a brother. I’m sure you will love her when you finally meet her.
I have to tell you, on one such outing with Astra we saw Elves! They were at a distance, but they sat their horses with such ease and grace that they seemed creatures from the storybooks, such was their beauty. They must have come down from the Veradeen. Perhaps they were scouting? I thought to find out so we attempted to approach, but they just waved and rode off. Our mounts had no chance of catching them and our escorts were forbidding the pursuit anyway, so we could only watch them ride away. I would very much like to meet and speak with an Elf one day.
Please give Father and Cuyler my regards and assure them that I prosper here in the House of Redgard, but I look forward to my return to Riismark.
All my love, Calder.
- Legate Solomai Sivik, transcriber