Disclaimer: Anything you recognize belongs to Tamora Pierce. This is just written for fun.

461 H.E.

Dear Sir,

I am flattered by your interest, but more than that, I am perplexed by it. After all, I am scarcely the type, am I?

Eight years ago, the name Keladry of Mindelan meant one thing: The Girl. Even before I arrived at the Royal Palace, I was an issue. I began on probation, not for any misbehaviour on my part but because I was a girl. This is not to say I could have ever been mistaken for a perfect child. Once, shortly after returning from the Yamani Islands, I—

But I am ahead of myself.

Surely you know that when I was young, my parents served as delegates to the Yamani Islands, taking with them myself, my sisters, and my brother Avinar. In the Yamani Islands I learned not to show emotion. The Yamani see this not as weakness so much as rudeness. Even the very young child of a delegate must not insult her hosts.

In the Yamani Islands, I also learned to use a naginata. Court women are taught to fight there, though it is only intended in self-defence. Most of my classmates referred to the naginata as a pigsticker. That pigsticker has saved my life more times than I care to count. That pigsticker beheaded Blayce the Gallan.

I have been asked why I chose to be a knight. What went through my ten-year-old head, all those months I spent convincing my mother to allow me to train as my brothers had? Simply: it never felt like a choice. There are people and creatures in the world who needed protecting, and there was no one protecting them. I could not sit in idle, or await the "someday" when I was old enough.

Those first years, I idolized Alanna the Lionness. I think highly of the King's Champion still, but others come first.

Lord Raoul took me as a squire not because of my sex or in spite of it, but without thinking at all about it. He saw me as someone with skill and potential. I suppose every squire thinks this way of her (or, more usually, his) knight-master. I don't care. I cannot imagine having the strength Sir Alanna had. For all the challenges I faced, forthrightness always aided me. How must she have managed? Yet I no longer esteem her more highly than Lord Raoul. I have learned from him not to think of a person by sex but by behavior.

He still asks that I address him by name, but I cannot. My friend Nealan of Queenscove overheard this once and said, "She does, she just says 'lord' first."


Forgive the untidiness of my handwriting. I return after mediating a dispute between the refugees in New Hope. As I command this fort, I keep things running smoothly, ensure the guard is constant and that supplies are appropriately distributed, and mete out justice when the need arises.

I could not manage without assistance. Some knights here I have known since page training; Neal, a healer, has been invaluable. I do not stress my role to make myself sound more important but because you must understand this. If you think I have made it this far without working just as hard as any man, you are mistaken. If you think deep within me is some docile lady to be broken to the bit, you are mistaken. I am a knight.

Make no mistake, Sir. I am a knight.

If you thought nothing otherwise, which I suppose is possible, I apologize, but I must be absolutely clear on this point.

I suppose, in fairness, I ought to attempt to introduce myself a little more to you. I remain highly suspicious, yet I trust my parents, and they approve of you. So I will extend the benefit of that trust to you, though only a small amount.

I wish I had the time for hobbies. I participate in any chore I expect refugees to do, including tilling fields and cleaning latrines. The only exception is carpentry: I am more likely to hit my thumb than the nail. Outside of such tasks, I teach the children to fight. Many of them are the same children who were kidnapped last year. Rescuing them did a world of good, but the only way I know to make them safe is to teach them to fight. Most of them are dedicated to it.

My hobby is sleeping. Like any good man's hobby, it is sorely neglected.

How much can I possibly care about that? My duty is to protect these people. I will do that, whatever the cost. Falling into bed and sleeping is wonderful, but it does not make sure the cloth and food rations are fairly distributed and the children looked after and all duties completed—and, indeed, there are some shirkers.

Again, this brings me to you. The prospect of marriage never seemed a likely one, for me. My sisters came to court, danced, were wooed. They were dowered noble girls. I am a knight, and I will not give that up in favour of marriage. Only after word of my deeds in Scanra did any man express interest in me in this way.

I want to be absolutely clear with you. I have no objection to marriage, but I will not give up all the good I can do in favour of a husband. Any man who marries me will marry me, as I am, neither object nor trophy.

Think seriously before proceeding.

Sir Keladry of Mindelan