To the Aunts, re: Distressing News

Lady Eleanor Katharine Hawkwood

c/o Crier’s Pride

Alexandria, Eastmont County

Stigmata

Lady Alice Dujeir Hawkwood & Lady Maud Sinclair Hawkwood

49387/a Cinjerin Block, Old City

Byzantium Secundus

September 5001

My dear aunts,

Thank you for your last letter. Although the news therein was most distressing, I am glad at least that I heard it from you and not through other means. I cannot quite believe that such a tragedy has befallen Isabella and our family again – it seems only yesterday that poor Louis and Berenice perished in the accident, and now Isabella. Sometimes, I wonder that we are cursed. I only regret that I never really had the opportunity to get to know my sister. I was separated from her at such an early age and we never met again. It is an irony that Will wrote to me hoping that we three should be able to meet together again – his letter must have been sent after he heard the news. I can only hope that she was happy before her death.

I hope that you are both well. Will tells me that you, Aunt Alice, have been feeling unwell of late. I do hope not but if that is the case, I send you my very best wishes for your recovery. Please do be careful of yourself. I only wish that I could visit, but my responsibilities here weigh heavy. A dreadful plague has only recently assailed the county – don’t worry I have not been affected, have been vaccinated and am being careful – and I have been aiding in the quarantine and the related efforts. All the Decados members of court seem to have vanished just before or as the plague hit, and so we have had to work doubly hard. Fortunately, there are some very dedicated members of the Church here. We assume that the Count is not having an easy time at court, hence the delay in his return. I can’t imagine that any Decados would find it easy becoming a Questing Knight. He’s hardly going to be trusted by the Hawkwoods, and his own people are not going to be best pleased at his intentions. I think that only from a place as strange as Stigmata could such an idea occur and seem like a good idea. In truth, both Hawkwoods and Decados need him to succeed. Perhaps you could find out for me how he fares and perhaps even help along the process if you can. Yes, I know it seems like a strange request, but needs must.

Thank you for your help in the Tunis affair. I realise and appreciate the efforts you took and the trouble it will have caused. Will told me about his duel with one of Elias’ family and I can only hope that it will be the end of the matter. I do wish he wouldn’t duel so much, I know he is talented, but mistakes do happen and I’m not sure I could bear it after Louis and Isabella. As you will have realised, I have had the letter from my brother, which soothed some of my fears. He sounds well and in good-spirits and doing well. I realised just how much I have missed my family.

There is very little news from here. We are all having to be so careful with the sickness, and there are few newcomers. In the absence of the Decados and in light of the crisis, some of the Guilds, especially the Charioteers, have been taking increased responsibility. I appreciate their efforts and their importance though I imagine my friend Cromwell is slightly less pleased that at least three of them seem to be interested in wooing his sister. We have also been joined by a new Maseri Knight. Apparently he was previously a Scraver, of all things, and was Knighted by the Emperor himself. I suspect that he is, or was, of the Eye, as he keeps warning me that he is loyal to the Emperor and hints that he is still in the Emperor’s service. As if I am not loyal! I am Hawkwood after all and worked so hard in the Emperor’s interests when I was in Byzantium. I would take offense if it weren’t so amusing. Perhaps he is not of the Eye: certainly if he is, he should be more subtle.

Please do write soon and tell me all the news from court. We are so isolated here, especially of late. Pass my dearest love onto my uncles and, if you see him, to Will. Tell him I hope to see him soon.

Your loving niece

Alia

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