My dearest, sister Jillian:
I apologize for my foul temper the day you left. Since I was born we have never been apart for more than a fortnight, and our Lady Cousin now has contrived to separate us for a month, perhaps more. I know the reaction you must have to my words; I can see your face in my mind as you shake your head over them. [the next passage or two is completely obscured by black ink] I know our cousin’s decision is the best for our House. I am not a child any more, and I know that losing my lifelong companion — for a time as short as a month, no less — is a small price to pay for the friendship of [the next word is mostly obscured by ink; its first letter might be a capital V or K] the King and others at King’s Landing.
I fear Lyra is come down with the Fever. She seems distracted, and was sluggish at practice today. I blooded her twice! She refuses to see a Maester about it though — she insists that she is well. Perhaps she is still feeling guilt over injuring my arm. It is healing slowly but well. There is very little pain to it, and Maester Jonathan says it has less infection than most such wounds. Of course Lyra also denies that this is the cause of her melancholy. Perhaps it is some women’s ailment. I shall ask Constance to have a word with her.
Tommen has become a close friend to House Ashford. He sings and dances well, and even if he is not very good with a sword he has many other pleasant qualities. Of course I only wrote that because he was looking over my shoulder. In truth he smells like a midden and has [here a long smear of ink stretches from the last word to the edge of the page]
I wrote that to trick Tommen. He was still reading over my shoulder when I wrote the bit about the midden. In seriousness he has been a stout friend to me, and has taught me many things about city life. Since he is a bastard of his own house, I may ask our Lady Cousin to make him a ward once this is all over, so that he may gain some station. I have much to think about.
Please write me as soon as you reach Ashford Keep. I hope they have started to rebuild the north tower. Old Roddeny told me they were going to build the main keep and the smallfolk’s buildings first, but I do long to see our old north tower again, proud and tall. When I get back to Ashford Keep we shall have a midnight picnic up there, like when we were children.
Your devoted brother, Samel Ashford