o your esteemed Mistress Edana Skylar
I hope that you found the information within this letter in response to your various queries regarding your grandson, and my formal pupil, of some benefit, or at the very least they serve to further support whatever information you have already gleemed, as a consequence of previous investigations into the various rumors circulating about him as of late. As I know you are currently entertaining his mother’s mother, Mistress Adyana Adaline, some of what his penned here is for her benefit, since after all it might be profitable for her to learn some important truths about her youngest daughter’s actions of late. Still, I will leave the extent of this letters contents you wish to share up to your own discernment, since you know your pupil better than I. Unfortunately, it also means I must relate some news, which I am sure you are well acquainted with, but touches on what I know and how I know it related to both Jedith, as well as one of my business partners – and your first born son – Jeeraard Skylar.
In order to understand the life of Jedith Skylar, in order to fully come to terms with his beliefs regarding his purpose as “the aid of humankind,” one must understand a little about the history of Anther’s Ettyne and its relation to the mountain chain now called Cold Mountain. The town itself dates back to sometime in the three hundred and twenty-seventh Arc, When Anther Skylar erected several simple earthen walls to protect his clan from the winter snows, and a coal and zinc mine he had discovered the arc before. While the history around this time is somewhat vague and while contradictory evidence exists, there is no indication that he ever intended the settlement to be a second Viden. Still one cannot deny that the first two clans to join the settlements, extended families both, were quite suspicious of Yvithia and wanted nothing to do with Viden itself. Interestingly enough Akerman and Baver still seem to be wary of the mighty imortaless all these generations later, but I digress.
The importance of this history is three fold: firstly, that most of the respected families of Anther’s Ettyne are human, not Eídisi; there is a considerable leaning of the populist of the settlement toward rugged independence and individualism, of personal responsibility, while staying true to one’s family; and lastly, but no means of least importance, Anther’s Ettyne is a mining town, a producer of coal and zinc, of graphite, of silicates, of limestone, of granite, and marble – in small amounts on this last at any rate; as well as other non-metallic mineral ores. Given all this, it is little wonder that some might feel a certain concern over ensuring ties between Anther’s Ettyne and Viden. It is no great wonder that your husband, Bruin Skylar & Hæge Adaline thought it would be good for all if one member married into the line of the other. You must pardon my saying so, good mistress, but surely both men must have been passing drunk, or that Hæge is far more masterful with words than I have been led to believe, since neither man seemed to be aware of the possible upset this would cause, notably within Anther’s Ettyne.
As you know more of the actual events that which led up to the marriage of your eldest son Jeeraard Skylar to Odette Adaline, than I do, I’ll not belabor this point over much. I will however say only these things in passing. There is a rather considerable wide standing belief that Hæge held some authority over Bruin, being why Bruin readily agreed to the idea. Some say that Bruin was indebted to Hæge in some way, while others with a more fanciful imagination say it was blackmail. I personally disagree with both concepts, but tongues will wag, especially in winter, as the saying goes. Others say it was a social move on both men’s parts, Hæge wanting to use the connections that having regular access to good fuel would give him to gain a promotion in the Viden Commissariat, that powerful branch of the Viden Civil Service, while Bruin would have increased standing among the movers and shakers of the Eídisi that lived in the town, and could gradually begin moving into the higher circles of Viden society proper. Perchance both this rumor and the one that preceded it are equally true; I am not for knowing myself. What I do know with absolute certainty as that Odette was interested in the match for social & political reason, while Jeeraard was not, and thus, began one of the most unhappy marriages I have ever encountered in my life. I have recently come to understand that you disagreed with the match, a pity your late husband did not listen.
The outcome of the marriage is well known, although why the loss of social standing seemed harder on Jeeraard, over his father, I will never know. Truly the soul of humankind is a Fickle thing. It gladden me some to see Jeeraard regain much of his proper social standing with the locals after Eduart came along, even if his non-Eídisi behavior did infuriate his mother. Odette can be as cool as ice around others, but I have been witness to her temper on an occasion, and it is truly as fierce as any blizzard. Thus, it was a mixed-blessing that Odette went on several long excursions to Rynmere to visit friends from her university days that had obtained posts among the Rynmere’s university faculty. Well blessings while she was gone at any rate. Still two particularly bad miscarriages can be attributed to these trips, although whispers say otherwise, and more than one rumor suggests that her trips to see her friend Reinier Bayard, who became her second husband after Jeeraard’s death, where more than mere visits to spend time with a close acquaintance. This is a topic I shall return to later.
Well ten arcs after Edwart, and six after the loss of their second, Odette gave birth to Jedith. I suspect she wanted a daughter, given her words on seeing Jed for the first time were,
“here is a most unwanted son, with too much of the amber in him.”
This was recounted to me by both the housekeeper, Dagmar Kaja, and the physician Alban Hydero, so I am inclined to believe she said it. I did not truly comprehend what she meant by amber until recently.
Her dislike, or rather various pretexts for her aversions related to the lad’s behaviors, served as no end of a source of argument between Jeeraard and Odette, although I am led to understand that the arguments decreased in frequency after Odette resumed her work as one of the Overseers of Hadewych’s House of Healing Hands, the chief medical center of Anther’s Ettyne, where both local surgens and healers, as well as members of the Order of the Adunih work and carry out certain types of research. Still it took the birth of necette, who near instently became her mother’s favorite – Eduart was Jeeraard’s golden boy, as was clear to everyone – for matters to finally settle peacefully in the Skylar household. A pitty they didn’t last.
Now that I have drawn this little sketch of Skylar domiciliary, I shall move on to commenting on your grandson outright.
Of Jedith’s early arcs, those before the age of ten, there is little of any true relevance to say. He was perhaps more pensive than most his age, perhaps played a bit less than what is typical, and had a greater tendency to gain inclusion with an older peer group than what is average, still none of these activities are so strange to really require comment. While he was never disrespectful to his betters, his direct somewhat blunt style of speaking was perhaps a bit of a surprise to most adults, and did occasionally land young Jedith in unintended trouble. Academically he did well, being studious even at this early age, taking advantage of what reading materials he could gain access to, even if they weren’t always intended for him, as he was known to read Edwart’s, and even his father’s books. The only true point of significance during this period is the relationship that was formed between Jedith, Edwart, and Necette. As is already well known, Jedith had already formed a strong bond between his elder brother Edwart. Jedith often caught fly bate for Edwart, much to his mother’s consternation – a respectable boy should not do such things she was wont to say – for Edwart loved to fish at Kammeden’s pond. He did other things for Edwart too, one time I personally caught the seven arc old Jed blackening Edwart’s boots. When I asked him why he was doing that, he promptly replied, “Edwart is busy with learning my father’s trade and plans for an outing this evening, he must blook respectable.” He was even known to help the servants with their tasks from time to time, saying that “a young man must learn the yoke of responsibility early in order to grown into proper manhood.” I do not know where he got such ideas, in some book he read I suspect, and as commendable as they might be, his zeal towards them was a trifle odd. His behavior towards his younger sister Necette I have heard was of a similar bent to that of his better. I know that he used pocket money he earned from doing extra chores about the district to buy her replacements for the occasional toy or doll that wore out, as Jeeraard rarely purchased those, as it was another source of regular argument between the mistress of the house and he. Odette did have very specific psychological ideas on how children should be raised and would not take well any contrary argument. I should point out here that based on my personal observations that while Odette was never intentionally wantonly cruel, and she & Necette are indeed truly quite close, it was her severe uncompromising strictness coupled by stretches of total absence – her tendency to put social, as well as occupational concerns at the forefront of her life – that are the two greatest charges that can clearly be laid at her feet at this time. Well given that I cannot say with certainty regarding the true parentage of Reinier Bayard’s children, and even though there is a striking resemblance between the late mistress Bayard, and the current Mistress Skylar-Bayard, I cannot give into rumor that they are one in the same.
Let us now skip a head to Jedith’s tenth arc, where a considerable shift would begin to take place among this branch of the Skylar’s.
As you well know, After completing his regular lessons for the day Jedith split his time between additional training under Maslow Edanas, – who taught him the basics of archery, riding, and field craft – myself – where he learned advanced mathematics, chemistry, along with any other subject that fit his fancy – , or working in the mine. It was the money he earned at this labor that went in part to paying us, as Jeeraard paid the other half. Odette not being as particular with Jed’s tutors as she was with his siblings; for the life of me I do not know why. Now, if she was displeased with Jedith doing such entirely improper things as catching flies, then you can bet your curls she was initially hopping mad over Jedith doing mining work. This is the one time, as far as I know at any rate, where Odette wasn’t actually mad that Jed bested her at an argument. He had devoured Master Adalhard Jorn’s two volumes on logical thinking sometime around his ninth arc, and was quite skilled in its use. He stated, in so many words, that his working on the mine would allow him to be close to the regular laborers and enable him to develop attachments that would further assist Edwart, who was already ensconced in his father’s business, as well as assist his younger sister’s burgeoning plans through similar attachment.
Future events would later prove just how right he was.
It was on the one hundred and twentieth trial of Vhalar when it happened. I know many sources have said that it happened on the second or third of Cylus, and while there are plenty of viable reasons for that error, none-the-less that date is incorrect, as I shall relate. On that day Jeeraard was reviewing the fourth mine shaft, which is nicknamed Annabel, after Annabel Skylar, for her various labors in healing miners during the collapse of 644. Jeeraard regularly reviewed the mines, and while this one seemed no different from those inspections, it was in truth to investigate reports of unsafe methods being practiced by one of the work bosses. You see, unlike many a mine in Italos, the Skylar mines use wood reinforced by concrete clocks and injected earthen mixtures called cement. One of the work bosses was simply using wood for a new shaft without using the safer methods. The reason why he was using this method was that he had been bribed by Nikolaus Stefan, to do so. Professor Stefan was another one of Odette’s friends from her university days, and at the time served as Assistant- Chair of the department of chemistry at Viden. He was also a regular visitor to the Skylar’s, for a number of reasons besides merely to see Odette. Now, let me be quite clear on this, Odette never asked him to kill Jeeraard, never asked for anything of the sort, and I believe everything that follows with regards to Jedith, is born from the combination of guilt over what happened & her already strong dislike with Jedith over other matters. Odette’s frustrations over her inability to successfully carry out her political aspirations for Anther’s Ettyne, along with a marriage that was nothing like she expected – for Jeeraard was a man of the gut, not of the head, and quarreled with his wife as often as she with him, even though their bouts never came to blows – made her utter words she would later regret. These words, overheard by Jedith as he was bringing the pair refreshments in Odette’s study were, only relayed to me the trial before Jedith was to leave. I recall them in my mind’s ear even now, and they make me shutter.
“I sometimes wish there was an exit to this marriage to a man I cannot abide. For I have not encountered a man that vexes me the way he does in all my trials.”
As I have said I strongly believe, as there are a dozen examples I can point to now in light of this revelation that Odette did not truly desire Jeeraard’s death. Jedith has told me that even he doesn’t blame her. Still she knows that Jed heard, and that knowing has caused a rift to form between the pair that will perhaps never be mended. For Jedith, it was Nikolaus that set the fire, and it was set well too, Nikolaus set it in such a manner that would ensure collapse. He would have slain a dozen others besides, along with the work boss that had helped him, if Jedith hadn’t smelt the smoke working in a paralleling tunnel, and hadn’t investigated. I believe that Isick Hawther said it best in a song he wrote afterwards,
“We thought it was too late when the fire was spied,
That all of us were goners doomed to die,
When we heard the clink of metal and a familiar grown and sigh,
Then with a bellowing cry we heard Jed yell,
Hurry you fools fly, fly, fly.”
I understand that Jedith and his father took up an argument on who should go and who should stay, since someone had to hold up the support bar, to allow everyone to escape, even before half of the men had made it out into one of the main tunnels. I comprehend it was eventually Jeeraard that gave Jedith the shove that cleared him from most of the collapse, the back flow partially trapping his left leg, with additional rock fall blocking off the junction into the main passage. What I cannot fathom is the mind set of an eleven arc lad that would willingly die for their father. Forgive me on this last point Mistress Skylar, but truly, given the fact that Jedith was never the favored of either of his parents, given the things I know, as well as suspect, I cannot be so sure that I would have been willing to be so selfless. Anyhow, it wouldn’t be until the early breaks of the third of Cylus that Jedith would be freed. He managed to liberate his leg, along with making a fine start towards freeing himself by the time workers came upon him. It wouldn’t be until Ashan before Jeeraard’s body would be recovered and buried
He’s spend a good half of the following arc confined to a healing ward’s bed, and long before he finally hobbled out on crutches, his familiar leg brace not having been fashioned yet, his mother would have been married to Reinier Bayard, he would have gained a younger step-brother in Bastiaan, an older step-sister in Aceline, with the beginnings of a firm relationship between both himself as well as his siblings having been formed. A season and a half later he would move out of the Skylar residence and in with me, where he would remain for the remainder of that arc and the next before moving in with your brother Leiven, where he would begin his work as a shipwright. I should mention that when Jedith left, so too did Dagmar Kaja – the Skylar’s long standing housekeeper mentioned previously – a most interesting woman, who you might want to have a chat with.
I do not have to apprise you with the fact that he had already invested considerably into the Five Points Trading Coster by the time of his move, or the fact that Aceline had already gained a position as chief aid to Mistress Loes Machteld, retired captain of the Viden navy, and third seat holder on the governing council of Anther’s Ettyne. I do not believe I need inform you of the stunning pipeline that transfers hot water from various massive boilers to the block buildings and greenhouses that comprise the town; a system that three of the four siblings helped in some way to make happen. Nor do I suspect that I need to enlighten you of his charging the burning structure in Viden’s impoverished district, not once, but several times to rescue individuals trapped there in. Aceline had already joined Viden’s military by that point I seem to recall, vacating her post as aid to your daughter Syntheia. I don’t recall whether she had joined active service on the Shield of the North yet or not, but know that both her and Jedith were on ship when they both swung aboard the burning wreck of the Horizon’s Chaser, when it ran afoul of the pirate fleet under Karim Garaile. I believe that was the maiden voyage of the vessel after the addition of its repeating ballista’s, a fine supplement to its twenty ten pounders. You will need to arrange a meeting with Aceline at some point so we can discuss that strange pump engine that she, Eduart, and Jedith came up with. I shall be more than glad to relate many more of Jedith’s ideas. I eagerly await the opportunity to further discuss with you how all your grandchildren have aided in expanding the coster, when I travel to Viden at the end of the season, young Vasar, who you simply must meet, in tow. He has some letters from Jedith for you, which you must read, they are quite important. He can also tell you all about how I came to serve as his employer, and the debt he owes your grandson. I think you will find it as interesting as I did. It would appear that Jedith learned things about me, in spite of my trying to keep them from him. There is also an important matter regarding the true reason why he and his uncle and his mother’s new husband don’t get along. Before I forget however, and this is a matter you might already be aware, the last subject we discussed before his departure to move in with his uncle is that little curious statement his mother made on seeing him for the first time, you might already be aware of its significance, still all the same I feel I must relate it anyhow. Apparently, Odette’s grandfather, the famed professor Asger Dittmer, had the same lambent amber eyes as your grandson Jedith. I believe that Odette has some longstanding issues with trying to please him when she was younger, I rather suspect she never quite succeeded on this point. Perhaps this is why she’s never squashed the rumor that Jedith is an illegitimate offspring of Jeeraard. We should perhaps do something about that soon I think. It would appear though that Jedith knows about this relationship between his eyes, and their amber quality, and this ancestor, as he plans to take up the mantle of the Aid to humankind. However, I do believe Jedith’s plans are very different than the academic concerns of his forebear. Perhaps you will excuse my boldness by saying, in closing, despite the rumors to the contrary, you have much to be proud in Jedith. Well until then, I remain your dearest friend,