Letter from Alia to Byzantium Secundus

Lady Eleanor Katharine Hawkwood

c/o Crier’s Pride, Alexandria, Eastmont County, Stigmata

Mantiarch 5001

My dearest Maud and Alice

I hope that this letter finds you and my uncles in good health and happy. I apologise for my laxity in not writing before, but I have been most busy and have neglected everything but my new duties here. I am quite well and am settling in my new home. It is certainly different from that to which I am used. While it is neither cosmopolitan, as Byzantium, nor as relaxed as Ravenna, it is certainly interesting and makes everything more vital. Everything here is in a state of constant flux, and nothing is quite as I had expected.

Please do not tell Will where I might be found. He would only fret, and it would distract him from his own work. If he should ask, please tell him only that I am well and think of him often and fondly. I should be interested to hear how Will fares, and how the county is. Of course, he is little better than me at corresponding so I shall understand if you have not heard. How does our family fare at court? I have been feeling quite isolated from affairs, and would be so grateful for any news and gossip.

The county here is divided between Hawkwood and Decados. The Decados Count seems a fair example of his house and has recently travelled to Byzantium to become a Questing Knight. The other Decados are an interesting group. Outwardly, they are rather conservative in relation to some in their house: very few tattoos, body mods, piercing or other strangeness, but I fear that they only hide their ulterior motives better than most. One appears so benign that one of the Hawkwood nobility here is considering an alliance with him, and a Hawkwood Orthodox priest has his residence with him. Of course, they are not benign, even amongst themselves. Only recently, a new Decados came from Cadiz to settle in the County. At a recent party, hosted by the brothers of the Count, apparently this newcomer insulted our ‘benign’ Decados, and was tortured and killed for his trouble. I cannot believe that Hawkwoods would consider alliance with such people.

The Hawkwoods have been most friendly. There is no acknowledged head of the family within the County, and as a newcomer, I must work to gain their full trust. I believe most come from Gwynneth though I know little of their histories. Perhaps you have heard of their family branches? Cromwell Rosewood Hawkwood and his sister Rhiannon have been most welcoming. Rhiannon especially is a delight and I am sure you would get on marvellously. Allison DuChene Hawkwood is very quiet although when we have spoken she has struck me as most pleasant.

There is one other I have met who you may remember. Do you remember the terrible affair with Elias Tunas and the Hazat girl? The young Hazat who killed Elias is currently in our county and not only has the ear of the Decados, but bears our house an incredible bitterness. It is an object lesson in how the seemingly unimportant events can have long-standing consequences. And it made me realise what we do to people, almost without thinking.

I believe now, the Emperor Wars over, we can and should right this wrong. I remember Elias and I know that you do too. He was a lech and far worse, and I have become convinced that he did that of which he was accused. We consider ourselves an honorable family and yet on this occasion, we fell far short of our standards. We allowed a young woman to be destroyed, a young man to be disgraced, to protect someone who is not worthy of our protection, despite his name. That is shameful and as long as we do nothing to right this wrong, we are stained by it.

And it has ongoing effects. Arias, as I said, has influence in the County and as long as his loathing is so strong, there can be little hope of peace. And any Hazat who knows what happened, cannot fail to be influenced by it when dealing with us. Their sense of honor is rightfully offended. If we are to prevent the Decados from gaining advantage, our family needs to forge alliances with the Hazat. I urge you to begin moves to have Elias convicted of the rape of the Hazat girl, with all our family’s influence. I know it will be difficult to act against Elias’ family, but it must be done. If Elias were convicted, the road would be cleared to rehabilitate Arias, and rebuild our relationships with the Hazat. Please let me know as soon as possible what you decide to do.

I shall sign off now, send this letter, and return to my work. Please pass on my love to my uncles.

Your loving niece,

Alia

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