Tollerian Letters 2
I find myself thinking of you as I sit in the observatory, surrounded by princely documents and missives that threaten to drown me. But I am spared, finding shelter and dry land in thoughts of my beloved who sojourns in Richmond. How infuriating that the telescope in this room, elaborate and expensive as it is, cannot bring me an image of my love, and that the uncounted star maps and zodiac charts papering the walls here bear no indication of you, nor can they shrink the distance between us nor the time until your return.
Marissa, my visits have been woefully brief and impersonal. Please accept my apology if I have seemed reserved or in any way less than ecstatic during our encounters in Her Grace’s abode. You must know by now how challenging it is for me to balance my public demeanor with the personal self I reveal only in private, which is to say, only to you and our beloved Chale. I know that this duality of mine must hurt you. Forgive me. But please understand that I have been under some pressure from Her Grace not to overly stimulate you with lengthy visits; it was her opinion--a well-reasoned one, I hasten to add--that such visits might interfere with your carefully prepared education. Still, in retrospect, I could have shown more of what I was feeling--which was acute relief to be in your presence again.
The city still finds its feet. A praxis change is sometimes perfectly seamless and untroubled, sometimes a protracted, bloody affair. This one is bloodless but characterized by kinks that need ironing. You might feel rather neglected were you here during this transition, considering how much of Chale’s time is spent away from home. From what I understand, being prince tonight is a demanding juggling act. He complains that the Experiment, while virtuous, is so sweeping and radical that he cannot extend it to cover the other covenants in an unadulterated form without a full-scale rebellion that would need to be crushed with total war, and would result in losing the power base of at least two covenants. The natural solution is to partition the city so that the most radical laws are limited to Nicole’s Regency, which he has greatly expanded, and where the seat of power resides--court and the main elysium and such; and, furthermore, to have a separate set of more general and less revolutionary laws operating in the rest of the city, but this is like ruling two cities rather than one. To complicated the juggling act, he is seen as too close to the Circle and the Order by both his own covenant and the two more conservative covenants.
This is not to say that his praxis is failing or weak. On the contrary, he is noted for his ability to keep several competing parties happy and occupied in pleasing him if they cannot please each other. More often than not, it is simply easier to agree with Chale than to fight him.
You and I understand this perfectly, n’est pas?
Something else you have missed, fortunately, was several months of fighting between us, which is thankfully over, now. The reasons are mostly political, and entirely silly. This time, I must admit, I was the unreasonable party. Shhh!
Let me tell you, Marissa, being Daeva can be exhausting. Chale is right when he says that I need to work on my self-control, which is hilarious considering the source of the advice. But he is right, and he seldom lets his curse get in the way of what he wants to achieve--in fact, he leverages his curse to achieve precisely what he wants. I, too often, present myself as whiny and stubborn. It is so difficult to keep this tendency in check. He says it is because of my youth, and because I am too accustomed to being in charge of my domain and my own faculties. Being Daeva is losing some control of oneself, and realizing this fact means taking back control. One of many paradoxes in our lives.
I wonder how you are doing. You seemed to be more comfortable the last time I visited than in the early months. I hope Her Grace has not been too harsh, and that you have warmed up to her. She is pleasant company in her more private moods, and she is always a fount of wisdom to rival any bishop or heirophant. I must say, I am envious of you right now! You can make it up to me by telling me everything there is to tell.
Now I fear I must return to my duties. I seal this letter with a kiss, and send it with my deepest love. I await your return, praying that it is not delayed.
PS We have to conspire about how to pry Arianna away from Chale.