Ladybird

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

1 Rue St. Albert, Toulouse, Provençe
4 May 1016

My dearest cousin Armand,

I have received word from Lord Ellesmere, the Cumbrian Ambassador—not, alas, that Maximilian has been found, but that M. Lavigne and the Josephine have reached the front and linked up with His Majesty’s forces in Malague. We were not told the exact location, only that they are somewhere in the province of Zaragoze, and that they are in contact with Le Maréchal’s remaining forces. Indications are that Maximilian is behind the lines, and possibly somewhere in the city of Zaragoze itself.

I have every hope that he still believes me to be held by Le Maréchal, and is diligently seeking me; and every fear that he believes me dead and is seeking to avenge himself on the body of Le Grand Cochon.

In my last letter I wrote that I had written my affinity for the Fleuve de Johannes across the skies of Provençe. If only I could write a different message across the skies of Malague: “Amelia is safe. Return to Toulouse!”

But would it avail if I did? I do not know his circumstances. He may be in hiding; he may be hiding in plain sight, posing as a Malagueñan collaborator the better to work his way inwards towards his target. And though I doubt that Le Maréchal knew my name before I destroyed his fleet, I have no doubts whatsoever that he knows it now. Were I to travel to Zaragoze and write it in the sky in fiery letters a mile high for all to read, it would simply alert him that some intended reader was there to be found.

Lord Ellesmere has assured me that everything possible will be done, and that I mustn’t worry.

Has anyone in the history of the world ever been comforted by being told to stop worrying?

My studies continue, because I must do something with my time. This evening, for example, I made a ladybird beetle glow with light. The poor thing was startled and flew off, and was eaten by a passing bird. And I told myself, if I go in search of Maximilian that will be me.

Your unhappy cousin,

Amelia

Next letter

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Photo by Roberto Navarro on Unsplash

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