This is a letter from Mika (Lee’s brother) to Lee. It takes place about two years after book six. As with all of the short stories I will be writing, I’ll be introducing ideas that might not end up working for the final book.
This is very short.
Ho big sister:
Well, the wedding was a fiasco, as you might imagine. The parents felt it was the perfect opportunity to show everyone in this part of the world how well the Malloroughs are doing. They invited hundreds of people, most of whom I’d never met, and presented them with a variety and amount of food that could have fed a village. It was, frankly, embarrassing, but the parents insisted they wanted only to show how happy they are that Linder is joining the family. Which, in itself, is quite the reversal. As you remember, they weren’t thrilled with my marrying into a family which had nothing due to its own carelessness.
Linder found it overwhelming, partially due to the expense involved. Because of how his mother handled his family’s money, he gets anxious about every coin spent. I understand why he feels that way, but he’s in different circumstances now, and he’s going to have to learn to loosen his grip. I’m not going to be the Mallorough that makes the whole family look cheap. I mean, obviously, I’m not going to be as extravagant as Mother and Father, because that would be insane, but there is such a thing as a middle line, and I know where that is, thank you very much.
I anticipate many fine arguments over this matter.
Speaking of Linder’s mother, she tried to convince us to adopt a young girl as an heir. Linder told her we would be choosing and grooming our own heir, and when she persisted, told her to go to hell. (Lessons from Taro, perhaps?) We learned shortly thereafter that she had been promised a nice little stack of coins by the girl’s family if she were successful. Unfortunately, she has not been the only person to present us with a child for adoption. Father told us to expect that to go on until we find an heir of our own. Too bad neither Linder nor I got anyone pregnant before we met. It would have been handy to have an heir born to us, and it is likely everyone would have left us alone if we had.
Our mother has gotten it into her head that Kaaren or Dias or I should apply to the Imperial Council for a seat. We’re all horrified by the idea. Why would any of us want to get involved in that lot? From what I’ve heard, they’re all a bunch of vicious schemers. Not only do I have no talent for navigating such tumultuous waters, I have no desire for it, and neither do the others. We’ve told Mother that if she wants someone from the family on the Council, she’ll have to apply herself. Which, of course, she can’t, as she needs to stay home to run everything.
Not that it wouldn’t be handy to have someone really reliable there, to keep an eye on things and tell us what’s going on.
I can’t believe Tarce is still chasing after Roshni. Does the man have no pride? Or does he have no intelligence, that he refuses to read the wagonload of hints and outright refusals she’s been giving him?
On the other hand, I can’t believe she’s been so steadfast in her refusal. Heart of stone, that one. Clearly, she shouldn’t make time with someone in which she has absolutely no interest, but if he has genuinely changed as much as you say, well, couldn’t she give him a chance?
Ah, none of our business. And that kind of gossip is beneath me.
Only, not really.
Our solicitor claims the tri-lateral goods agreement between the Malloroughs, the Prides and the Keplars is the most complicated she has ever drafted. The time it took to get it done, between the three different solicitors among the three families, took so damned long that we were all prepared to say just slide it, we know what we want to do. Of course, every single solicitor was horrified, and they all begged us to hold on to our good sense, because almost every contract trial they’d ever seen involved parties failing to properly hammer out the details while they still liked each other. It was extremely inconvenient, and we all lost contacts while we waited, but ultimately, the contract we ended up with benefited everyone and clearly laid out everyone’s responsibilities and expectations. Or so the solicitor says. I can’t really understand the damn thing myself.
And now that it’s in effect, I’m amazed at the scope of connections our three families have. It’s as though we, in combination, have ties to almost everyone almost everywhere. And it seems that every time one family needs something, someone else among those connections has it. You wouldn’t believe how much that lowers our costs and increases our profits. And it allows Kaaren and Dias and I to learn a whole lot more than we would have if we’d had only our family’s holdings to study.
On to something even less fun, the Emperor appears to have gone insane. We believe he has executed nearly thirty titleholders in the last two years, mostly for treason. The definition of treason has apparently been expanded to performing any act the Emperor doesn’t like, including disagreeing with him. Once the titleholders are dead, the Emperor then chooses their successors, ignoring any instructions left behind by the executed. We’ve gotten some letters from our friends in the Imperial Council, and those who aren’t swanning around with ridiculous confidence in their new favour are terrified to breathe wrong.
He’s gotten engaged to Willa Newscomb, Lady Green. From all accounts, she is a mousey thing in both appearance and character. Apparently, she’s been hanging around Erstwhile for years, but so far in the background, making no contribution to anything, that most people hadn’t even noticed her. And now, all of a sudden, it seems, the Emperor has decided to marry her. Clearly, he doesn’t want to share his throne with anyone who has a spine. Pathetic, really. And foolish. Any significant enterprise requires at least two people. One to perform the labour and one to handle affairs and other people. I have even less faith in our government.
I haven’t heard anything more about Pairs disappearing. Maybe the Triple S has taken all they’re going to take. This is reassuring. Maybe I can stop worrying that you two will disappear as well.
Give my all to Taro.