Jasper was in one of his 'phases'. This meant swings from agitation and restlessness to lethargy and depression. He'd gone to work and got in everyone's way without actually doing anything useful at all. When he found himself yelling at his staff for no reason, he knew it was time to clear off and get his head together. He ensured that nothing urgent needed his attention then went home. Jasper didn't know if to laugh or cry when he found his parents had come to visit. Of course he was always pleased to see his family but he knew he wasn't at his best just now and really just wanted to be left alone.
"You're exhausted. You look terrible." Cassidy commented.
"Yes well things are looking hopeful in Crull so maybe I won't be as stressed out in the future." Jasper exhaled loudly and sat on the couch.
"You have more grey hair than I have!" Cassidy laughed.
"It's silver." Jasper smiled. "And it's only this bit at the front."
"I think it looks distinguished." Gidra complimented, then went to make some tea.
"Actually I didn't want to bring your mother." Cassidy said quietly and Jasper felt his agitaion rising again. "I'm also not sure if I'm doing right here."
"Mother!" Jasper stood up and took the cups from Gidra. "I really do need your help. I have to attend a stuffy meeting with stuffy politicians and the last one I went to, one of the clerks said I looked like an unmade bed. I'm hopeless at clothes shopping."
"Yes, you're a man." Gidra began tugging at Jasper's collar, then his trousers, looking for the size. "You've lost weight. These are a size less than the last ones I bought you. Goodness knows where you got these from. I'll go to Stock's tailors." She said firmly and Cassidy forked out some cash.
"Good job you're here. I've no money on me at all." Jasper said as his mother left. "What's going on?"
"Maybe nothing. Well probably nothing. Just ... things." Cassidy was clearly very uncomfortable.
"You're like Taybor when you do this. Just spit it out." Jasper rolled his eyes.
"Do you remember a serving girl called Mayte? I have to admit, I can't."
"Yes I remember her quite well. She gave me language lessons. She went back to Demihold didn't she?"
"She did, yes. She married a soldier from our own army here in Brightplain and he accepted a post in Demihold. I can only think that her husband doesn't speak Northhold so he gave his wife a letter to translate. Well ... well ... it's not a normal letter, Jasper. It's formal. Mayte, the wife, contacted me." Cassidy chewed on his lip. "I have the letter and you're welcome to it, given it's nature as a military correspondence. The contents of the letter aren't why the girl contacted me, Jasper. Mayte claims to recognise the writing style of it's sender, for a whole array of reasons. It's from a man called Andrew Jasper. Mean anything to you?"
"Possibly. I do think I'd better have the letter, father." Jasper said seriously. He was astonished and very impressed at the area of contact and influence of this man. He was everywhere! This was most definitely a war hero of some standing.
"Of course. Let me finish though, please. Like I say, I don't think the contents are important as far as myself and Mayte go. It's two weeks out of date and it's typed. Apparently there's no letter y in the Northhold language. They use a rather elaborate looking character in its stead. Yes?" Cassidy looked at Jasper.
"That's right. It can't be typed effectively because most typewriters don't have the key and those that do have a poor reproduction of it because it is very elaborate." Jasper agreed.
"Quite. So that character was written. Mayte noticed an error in the way it was written and that error was made in exactly the same way throughout the note. She'd only ever seen that error once before. A high number of the words were written as they'd be spoken and the whole letter was in the grammatical style of this language, not Northhold." Cassidy said.
"So it's badly written Northhold. It's not the easiest language for non-natives." Jasper replied.
"Mayte took that into consideration. It's consistent, right though the note and even the word 'the' is spelled wrong. There's also a pattern of back to front letters. A whole host of constant errors that when combined, were familiar to the girl. This is absurd, I know it is." Cassidy sighed. "If she hadn't been so insistent and convincing I'd have dropped it in the fire."
"She ... she ... she thinks Andrew Jasper is Drea?" Jasper felt very light headed indeed. "But that's ridiculous! Isn't it?"
"Most probably." Cassidy said awkwardly. "I can't think why she'd just pull out Drea's name though. Especially to connect it to something like this. I don't know son. Your mother would give me the silent treatment for a month if she knew I was spouting all this. I've learned not to live by passive assumptions though, Jasper. I couldn't not tell you. I know it still upsets you so I hope I'm not being irrational here."
"No. No, father, I'm very pleased you told me." Jasper said in a daze. "I've also seen Drea's written Northhold. Her written anything was a bit sketchy ten years ago. What made Drea's Northhold so peculiar was that she'd translate a word that she'd mis-spelled in the first place, but she'd translate it letter for letter, that symbol character included. As you can imagine, the results were rather chaotic." Jasper smiled as he remembered this.
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