Letters from Armorica: Besieged (9 February 1016)

Armand’s First Letter. Amelia’s First Letter.

1 Rue St. Albert, Toulouse, Provençe
9 February 1016

My dearest cousin Armand,

I have determined that I shall continue to write you, trusting to providence and His Majesty’s forces that all will be brought to rights here in Toulouse, and that I shall be able to send them to you in due course.

As you can see from the direction, I am still in residence at L’École du Sorciers, and am likely to remain here for the duration. In truth, however, the circumstances here are much improved since my last. Le Maréchal’s elite forces are holding fast to the houses of government, the arsenals, and the harbor, but that is about all they can do. A few men have gathered to his banner since his return, enough that there are are occasional patrols through the city streets, but these are rare in most parts of the city, and especially here in the Bois d’Albertine. I gather that the local citizens are keeping a sharp eye on the names and faces of the men in these patrols, and that in due course they will be made to repent of their actions.

But if life continues, it does so slowly. There are people in the streets, but no one lingers, and most are keeping to their houses. This is very strange for Toulouse, but at least there is little actual fighting.

Several days ago the Masters of L’École deemed it safe for me to retrieve some few of my things from our flat on the Rue Thomas. I was escorted by my fellow students, Claude Bergeron and M. Lavigne, and we were careful to wait until one of the rare patrols had come and gone before proceeding.

And oh, Armand!—when I returned to L’Ecole with my things and the books I had been forced to leave behind in my flight, I found a note in one of the books, a note from my dear Maximilian! He is alive and well, and about his chief’s work in the city; he may not come see me, for it is thought that L’Ecole is under observation.

I suppose it would have to be, for the Masters could be a significant threat if they so chose.

L’École does not go to war, that’s what Dr. Laguerre told me; and that, so Mlle. Allard later informed me, is because there was a time when they did. It seems that there was a particular war between Provençe and Hanondorf in which wizardry figured largely; and by the end of the war the wizards of the Old Worlds were nearly wiped out. Wizards are capable of mighty things, but are as susceptible to assassination by stealth as anyone else; and each side’s wizards were assiduously hunted by the other. The war was concluded by a sequence of purely non-magical battles and confrontation; and since then, the wizards throughout the older lands of the Abyss have refused to go to war save for their own protection.

But what will they decide is required for their protection? That is the question that perhaps keeps Le Maréchal awake at night. I can well imagine that he wishes to be sure it will be as little as possible.

In the meantime, no sky-wagons have approached L’École since the first day; and so the wizards of L’École fight the current war by ignoring it as much as possible. We students are thus compelled to do the same; for the occasional Maréchalist patrol is much less fearsome than Dr. Laguerre’s certain displeasure.

And now I must close, for I must face her in but a few hours to explain what I have gleaned from chapter five of Master Johannes’ Damask and Derogation.

Your distracted but persevering cousin,

Amelia

Next letter

____

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

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