This is a story told in a series of four letters. The first is here
February 13, 19–
I am so cautious I make a very namby-pamby magician (as the townsfolk of Yewsford have informed me many times over) but now I find my excess of fear has caused me to give offense to a good friend. Sometimes for fear of burning someone with an overdose of magic, or saying the wrong spell, or forgetting the proper ingredients for a potion, I just…don’t do it at all. And that is exactly what I have done to you, good friend.
The simple fact is, I cannot tell you why Rhysdaal has chosen to take up residence in your greenhouse. He has bound me to silence.
But on giving the matter thought, I realized that though Rhys forbade me to explain the matter to you, he didn’t tell me to refuse to speak to you at all and then run out of the room like a frightened child. I have perhaps again allowed my fear to urge me into an excess of caution.
The thing is, Rhys frightened me terribly on Thursday when he told me where he was going and why. (Yes, I knew where he was going, though if I’d known he was going to tromp on your tomato bed I would have tried to redirect him to a less beloved plant.) He normally maintains a prickly and proud sort of bearing, but he unbent enough to be upset, and that, I found, was equally upsetting to me. I depend on him to be unpleasant and sarcastic and when he shows signs of a heart, I am truly unnerved.
But I have thought long and hard about this. I cannot give up my caution in magical matters—no matter what Rhys says, I cannot behave with the wild improvisations of better magicians, but I do not wish to lose a friendship over an excess of caution. Perhaps if I can’t explain why Rhys is living in your tomatoes, I can at least explain why I have to follow his instructions and not speak of the matter.
…I hope you don’t mind me digressing into a little lecture on magic theory here. People have somehow gotten a broken connection to magic. Other animals, especially griffins, unicorns, manticores, dragons and similar beasts, have an unbroken connection.
It helps if you think of magic as streams running invisibly around us. Magical creatures like griffins, unicorns, manticores, dragons and the like swim in the streams, connected with them like fish are in water.
Human interactions with magic act more like filling the stream with large rocks. There’s a lot of splashing and too many rocks or too large will disrupt the flow of the entire stream. Frequently one of the strongest ways we disrupt the flow of magic is by speaking. The splatter, so to speak, of untimely words, is often easily lapped up by evil creatures and used for strengthening their harmful deeds.
I know Rhys can be a pest and I’m sorry about your Beefeaters, but you and your family are in real danger and you do need him there as much as you do not need me there. Please extend my apologies to Kathrine for upsetting her. If she could see her way to forgiving me, I would be happy to host her here for tea if she wishes to venture outside. It is of absolute importance that you avoid having any magic in your house at the moment.
Also, I don’t want to dictate your household, but if Mr. Hastings finds Rhys upsetting it might be best for him to take up residence elsewhere. I believe Kathrine has frequently mentioned that she does not approve of how he butters you up anyway and it’s always a good idea to listen to your wife!
Please be safe.
Magician at Attendale, Yewsford Village
P.S. I am sending two mince pies with this letter, one for you and Kathrine and one for Rhys. He is especially fond of mince pie. It should improve your relationship. Also if you call him by his name instead of just “creature” or “beast,” that should help, too.