5 February 1017
My dear cousin Amelia,
Your invitation to come assist you with your exciting find leaves me in a nasty quandary, for I find that I am greatly torn, and in more than two ways. Let me count them for you.
My duty to my parents, as well as my filial love for my mother, dictated that I make my previous visit to Yorke; but when I returned to Bois-de-Bas I learned all too well that Tuppenny Wagons cannot do without me for any lengthy interval of time.
I am doing my best to bring Bastien and a new journeyman, William Graves, to the point where they can do the necessary forming. But they are yet journeyman; guild law requires that a master former oversees their work, and as yet I am the only master former in this land. In sum, they could participate in the building of wagons in my absence, but we could not sell those wagons until after my return. Tuppenny Wagons is yet a young firm, and I have a duty to my partners, not least to your brother Jack.
You may well be asking, what of my first apprentice? What of Luc? Young Luc is now also a journeyman, and I have sent him to Grandmaster Netherington-Coates in Yorke for the remainder of his training, receiving Journeyman Graves in return. Our intention is that these two should once again trade places in the fullness of time.
Clearly it is my duty to train more apprentices up to master status, and possibly to import a master or two from Cumbria if Grandmaster Netherington-Coates finds anyone there who will suit me. Once I have done so, I shall be far freer in my movements.
And yet: once I have done so, the political games I left Yorke to avoid will begin anew, on new soil. I find that I am not eager to begin to play them in earnest.
But I stray from my path. The wagon-works were the first point of concern; here is the second. I was delighted to help you and your fellow wizards in forming the object that helped your M. Lavigne to find your husband in the wilds of Malague, and indeed I should be delighted to help you form anything you require, at any time. But what you are proposing, with your investigation into your ley lines and the node upon which Good King Guy is perched, is not so much a job of forming, but a job of research. And that involves guild secrets, and I will tell you that whatever my feelings in the matter might be, guild law is quite particular about preservation of guild secrets.
I will add, between us, that I have been pondering your problem anyway. I have always thought that forming cannot be the whole of the Stream of Belazel, but only a part, the remainder of which was lost. But from your discovery of Good King Guy’s Node, and its apparent juxtaposition of forming with a long-lost style of wizardry that resembles the one the scholars of Edenford have been working out afresh over the last century, well.
I shall have to ponder, and perhaps consult, regarding the extent to which I may permit myself to involve myself in your research. But were it solely up to me, I should pack up myself and Amelie into the good packet Amelie and come to Toulouse with all speed.
But, I hear you say, “Armand, your Amelie is quite fast, so you have said. Surely you can come for a flying visit, and return to Bois-de-Bas speedily enough not to harm your wagon-works?”
Yes, and then no. Even with the Amelie I should be gone from Tuppenny Wagons for a minimum of two months, which is at the outside of what is safe. But in truth I cannot even do that at this time, which is my third point of concern: the Amelie is currently unavailable.
In my last, I wrote you about my meeting with Lord Doncaster regarding his recall to London. You might remember that to support Armorican independence, as he wishes to do, he must support me in my disagreements with the Shipwright’s Guild. Two days following our meeting, I received a note saying that as he must support me he chose to do so in the strongest possible terms and in the grandest possible style; and would it be possible to borrow the Amelie for his journey? For then he might arrive in Yorke well prior to expectations, and catch our enemies “with their trousers down,” as I am afraid he put it, yes, and also demonstrate his confidence in my work. You must remember that he is a soldier.
Much in need of mending, I remain
Your regretful cousin,