From Alia, to Will

Baronet Eleanor Katharine Hawkwood c/o Ladies Maud and Alice Hawkwood

May 5001

Count William Hawkwood, Bieren Estate, Colmont County, Ravenna

My dearest Will

I know I should have written before, but wanted time to think and to consider my situation. I have thought of you a great deal and miss you more than I could have imagined. I am sorry that I left without saying goodbye, but I do believe that I did the correct thing.

Our situation on Ravenna had become untenable. You are the most skilled and talented of all of us, and yet your behaviour had become erratic and frightening. I became afraid of you, my dearest brother and that was too much to bear. You demanded too much of me: perhaps it is my fault that I was too weak. I don’t know whether you will understand, or forgive me, but I must hope.

Since leaving, it has not been easy for me. I would have remained in Byzantium, where I was once happy, but you made that too difficult. I resented and was angry with myself and with you for that, and so sent myself into self-imposed exile. I shall not tell you where I am, merely that I am safe as I can be in this difficult place. It has not been made easier by the fact I had lost all faith in myself and others, that I jumped at mere shadows and felt that I could trust no-one, not even other members of our house. But time heals, slowly, and I have begun to find myself again. The house is in the minority here: this is a county ruled by Decados and not only must I work hard to gain the trust of the other Hawkwoods, but I must work hard to bring Hawkwood into the ascendant. They need me here: they need the leader I could be. It is a challenge unlike Ravenna, unlike Byzantium, that I am relishing.

When I am dealing with things here, be it plague or securing troops or even just dealing with the others at court, I think of you and what you would do. I hope that your estates are prospering – I’m sure that they are – and that you are keeping well. I have been in touch with the aunts – you can contact me through them – and they tell me you are working too hard and that you are still hurt over my leaving. Please be careful. I should hate for anything to happen to you. I may be apart from you, but you are still my little brother and I still love you.

I am considering a brief trip to Byzantium but we should have to come to an understanding first. I do not believe it is time to return to Ravenna, nor to your side yet. If I do decide to visit Byzantium and you are there, I shall meet you, but only in company, not alone. If you allow me to stay and to pursue our interests here, then I shall return to you in three years. If you still wish me to return. If, in the interim, you attempt anything against my will, you shall never see me again. That is my promise.

I do not wish to end on such a difficult note. I must admit I have been struggling with this letter for some time now and want only reconciliation with you. I assure you I have only both our interests at heart. Be safe. Think of me. We have been apart before and it has only made us stronger. Remember I love you.

Your sister, Alia.

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