1 Rue St. Albert, Toulouse, Provençe
25 April 1016
My dearest cousin Armand,
M. Lavigne left L’École today, to board the sloop Josephine and guide her in search of my Maximilian. And you have left for Mont-Havre; and now I have nothing to do but wait.
No, that is not true. Dr. Laguerre insists that I continue with my studies—I have, it must be said, showed an affinity for the Fleuve de Johannes in terms written across the skies of Provençe, and so am no longer sans fleuve. I must now must learn Johannine wizardry in its fullness: control, and precision, and all of the many things that the Fleuve makes possible. And then there are the other streams to think of.
“For you are young,” says Dr. Laguerre. “There is much that you can learn, if you will apply yourself.”
What she does not say, though I hear it in my head, is that it is not enough for me to be able to bring fiery death and destruction on demand. In my darker moods I go on to remind myself that there is also drowning, asphyxiation, and entombment.
Oh, Armand, I grow morose. My heart is with Maximilian, and with M. Lavigne aboard the Josephine, and not in my studies—but my studies are all I have to distract me from the flames that still glow behind my eyes.
I can see them still, Armand: the war-wagons burning like torches; the sails and hull of men-of-war in flames as sailors run about the deck; the ships exploding; and always, always, the men who flew my wagon, and their screams as they perished, and the glow of their bodies.
My fellow students have been good to me. Janine Allard has been kindness itself on those nights when the nightmares strike in force. She was moved from her old rooms to those next to mine. She has recently showed her affinity for the Fleuve de Lapin, and as such was entitled to better rooms in any event; but I do believe she was put near me by the kindness of Master Guisman, and, I hope, by her own wishes, for I must be a trial to her. It is now many a night that we have sat drinking cocoa in the small hours and talking of wizardry and of our lives before coming to L’École.
Claude Bergeron has always been kind and helpful, the first to smile and the first to bring cheer. He is not devoted to me in particular, for which I am grateful, but is like this to everyone. Unlike Mlle. Allard he is still sans fleuve, but I do not think he will remain so for long for has a grasp of the writings of several of the founders, and I suspect he simply cannot decide which attracts him most.
And then there is Jérôme Lavigne, who is now flying south in search of my husband. He was Dr. Laguerre’s protégé before my arrival, and, I believe, had feared to be supplanted in her esteem; but he has put aside his enmity, and as he has been drawn to Laroussian wizardry rather than Johannine there is no cause for us to be rivals. He remains cool and aloof, but I believe that is simply his nature, and that the fires of loyalty burn brightly in his heart. Whether he is successful or not, I must always be a true friend to him.
So here I sit, in my cold room—though I no longer feel the cold, Armand, for Janine Allard was correct that increasing skill would overcome the lack of heating; and it is some comfort to me that I need not study beside crackling flames. I have many chapters of Damask and Derogation to ponder, and many small techniques to practice, and time each day that is too little for my tasks and far too much for my liking.
Pray for me, Armand; though perhaps when you receive this, news of my joy will already be winging its way to Armorica.
Your dejected but hopeful cousin,