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Jul. 31st, 2009

Authors: pancakerabbit06 and chaucerettescs 
Ratings/Warnings: PG for the moment, probably eventually PG 13
Open characters: None, sorry.
Notes: None of those, either
Excerpt:

Dear Valia,

How is life at court? How is the duke? How is the duchess? I trust the summer fashions are most amusing, et cetera. I have been well enough, considering the circumstances. The roof has begun to leak, two of my goats are pregnant, and it would appear that I am still exiled indefinitely from the kingdom, on pain of death should I enter again, but anyway--

You may be wondering why I choose to write you now. However, I suspect you already know.

Last night, a young man arrived at my door. He was glassy-eyed, rather disheveled and clearly delirious, and seemed to be suffering from all signs of the early stages of lycanthropy.
 

He also seemed to be wearing a ring with the royal seal on it. There was a piece of parchment clenched in his hands, and, hoping for a note that might explain his presence, I tried to pry it away, but could salvage only a few scraps. It was not enough to discern any words--just enough to identify your handwriting. Most of the page had been eaten; his mind is almost entirely lupine, although three days remain before the full moon. This strongly indicates that he was turned recently--and badly.

Am I correct in thinking this man is your brother? I met Lucas only a handful of times, the last being four years ago, but there is something familiar about the poor wretch's face. There has been talk, even out here in the Thregian Mountains, that your brother was consorting with the Wolf Prince. I have always dismissed it as nothing more than talk, but now I wonder. If true, surely you understand the seriousness of the situation. Even if it is not, you are surely aware that the King has vowed, not only to destroy all such beasts, but those who attempt to aid of conceal them as well.

I would very much like to know why you have sent a fledgling werewolf to my door. I would also like to know how in the world you believe I can help this creature, and more to the point, why in the world I would care to. After all, you and your kin did little to aid me when I stood accused of poisoning the Archduke. Is there some debt I owe you that I have forgotten? Certainly nothing comes to mind.

Three days til the full moon, Valia. You should write back quickly. If he injures any of my goats, I am cursing you and all your descendants til the Flood-day.


Regards,
Mafalda

 

Comments

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
chaucerettescs
Aug. 1st, 2009 03:08 am (UTC)
Dearest Mafalda,

I'm terribly sorry for your troubles with your roof, though I do hope your goats are doing well in their pregnancies. How charming! I always forget what a wonderfully rustic life you lead.

Life at court has been frightfully dull, I'm afraid. Even the summer fashions have been disappointing, despite the best efforts of Theodora Milne who has taken to wearing the most frightful feathered bonnets. I am almost entirely certain she's been wearing them backwards, the silly goose, but no matter.

I do wish I could send the Archduke's well wishes, but as he remains quite comatose, he has not been the liveliest of conversationalists.

Harold is well, though I'm afraid his gout has flared back up. Too much excitement for him perhaps. He and I have been caring for the Archduke's son, Jerome, who arrived only this past fortnight. He's a dear young man, though perhaps a bit too quiet. His Latin is quite satisfactory, but his fencing skills certainly leave something to be desired.

The Duchess remains in perfect health and has taken to stalking her rooms, the old turtle.

Oh, dear Lukey. I merely sent him out this past market day to fetch me several skeins of embroidery thread and certain other unmentionables I thought it best not to entrust my chambermaids with. The scrap of paper was no doubt my shopping list. I can't imagine how the poor duck ended up in Devonshire, but, honestly, Mafalda, lupine? This is what I miss most about you, my dear. Your wickedly clever sense of humor. I'm sure Lucas has only fallen ill. Perhaps he was bitten by something. I do hope your goats have not taken distemper.

I'm afraid I must ask you to help watch over him until arrangements can be made. Once his fever breaks, I do hope you'll scold him for me. Honestly, a young man of breeding wandering the countryside without so much as a by-your-leave like some common rapscallion. I know he is young, but, still, such disregard for others! I have not been able to complete my needlepoint without those skeins!

Looking forward to hearing back from you,
Valia

P.S. You may want to consider investing in some leather manacles. I hear victims of distemper have been known to become quite violent. Some good, sturdy belts might do.


pancakerabbit06
Aug. 1st, 2009 03:12 am (UTC)
Dear Valia,

Sorry if this letter has a certain pungent aroma. I have been afflicted with joint ache lately, what with my rather intensive schedule of milking goats, weeding the herb garden, chasing after your brother so he doesn’t rend apart any more of the chickens, and so on. (He is a remarkably lively sort, considering his present level of sickness.) Fortunately, I’ve devised a liniment which greatly reduces the pain; unfortunately, it does rather reek of cabbage. Of course, what with the rapidly changing and exotic fashions of court life (feathered bonnets! How novel), for all I know this very same scent could be the most popular perfume in the city.

At any rate, it is one of my finer recent creations. Likely it would even help with poor Harold’s gout. I would offer to send him a bottle, but understand if he’d be less than eager to try a concoction brewed by my hand, giving the whole episode with the Archduke, the tinctures, the formal tribunal, my banishment, &c &c. At the very least, tell him to eat less roast.

As for Jerome, I believe I remember him. Curly hair, serious face, rather pale? How delightfully coincidental that we have each received a strange young man on our doorsteps within the past several days. (Perhaps this is the new summer trend?) Is there a particular reason for Jerome’s visit, or is he merely enjoying your charming company?

Oh, that Duchess! How many years has she held the title now—fifty, sixty? I believe she could hold it for another twenty. What can I say? There’s just something about those nobles: they do enjoy defying expectations by not dying, even when the reaper is camped outside their very door. So to speak.

Speaking of which, the Archduke has my prayers that he wakes up soon.

Lucas is staying active, though I suspect he is farther than ever from his right mind. You were right, of course—it is nothing out of the ordinary, merely the results of a nasty infection from a bite of some kind. My goats are above suspicion; I check them regularly for disease. However, some of my more uncouth neighbors allow their dogs to run wild, likely one of them is to blame. A very large dog can cause considerable damage to an unsuspecting young man.

I am treating the bite with a poultice of comfrey and lavender, though it has been harder and harder to reapply the bandages as time wears on and your brother’s feverish mania worsens. This morning, he smashed an entire wall of my chicken coop, and killed three of my best laying hens. “Rapscallion” is right.

How quickly can arrangements be made to take him off my hands? Surely you do not expect me to donate years of my life playing nursemaid to your kin. Even if his condition betters in a few days, you know how badly these sorts of things can relapse, and no full cure exists for his condition.

I asked my closest human neighbor—a fascinating lady known as Crazy Madge—about treatments for human distemper, and she says she’s heard rumors of a mixture that vastly minimizes its symptoms. I considered making an attempt, but dear me, the ingredients it requires! Saffron root, Artemisia, Indian Ipecac, silver extract…A mount-dweller like myself would have a hard time procuring such rarities even if her own life depended on it. (Especially a mount-dweller who has recently lost half her chickens, and thus most of her egg money.) Short of finding someone willing to donate a few coins for the boy’s health, there is not much I can do for him. Oh well. I hope he has an extraordinarily strong constitution as well as obscene amounts of luck, because otherwise, I do not see the poor fellow lasting another month.

Full moon tomorrow. They say it’s going to be an unusually bright one. Should be interesting.

--Mafalda

P.S. Not all of us has the means to go running around buying leather manacles whenever they feel like it. I have several horse harnesses; they will have to do. At any rate, I do not think it will make much difference to your Lucas.
chaucerettescs
Aug. 1st, 2009 03:37 am (UTC)
Dear Mafalda,

I was going to mention that your letter was a tad whiffy. Dreadful, that, though I'm glad to know you are still such a dab hand at herbology. You're very kind to offer a remedy for poor Harold, but I have to agree it would imprudent for us to accept. Oh, no offense meant! Many at court are hesitant to accept any strange drafts or tinctures from anyone, all things considered.

Why, that's Jerome exactly! Of course, I do suppose that description might fit any number of young men of our acquaintance, but I'm certain you've placed him. You've always had such a knack for these sort of things. Sandy hair, hazel eyes, father in a coma. He doesn't hold anything against you, the dear thing. Not to imply that any guilt should be put on your shoulders, of course. Harold and I have been aiding him with his affairs, what with his poor father laid up and all, and it was thought best that he should stay with us for a spell.

It's been quite enjoyable having fresh blood in the house, especially with my husband's sister, The Mad Turtle, trundling about. Really, such longevity flies straight in the face of common decency!

Dear Lucas has always had a rather nasty habit of petting strange things. I have warned him in the past, but it's hard to discipline him without sounding more maternal than sisterly (and such shrillness is not the sort of thing a younger brother forgives easily).

Good heavens! I must remember to compensate you for your chickens. I assure you, Lucas never gets into such trouble at home. He's usually so easily amused with his books. Honestly, aside from petting strange things, distracting Jerome from his studies with talk of some fellow called Keats, whoever that is, and wandering off into the night when he assured me he'd deliver me my embroidery floss...he's a good boy.

Oh, I am fairly certain arrangements could be made within the week. A month or two at the most. Do be sure to notify me if his fever eases. In the meantime, I shall be sending along some coins (though perhaps it's best if that fact was kept quiet. I don't imagine His Majesty would smile on such an act... at least not for the time being.)

I hope the full moon finds you well.

- Valia

P.S. I'm sure those will do nicely. Lukey doesn't have a discriminating soul.
pancakerabbit06
Aug. 1st, 2009 03:39 am (UTC)
Dear Valia,

You will be glad to know that your brother's fever broke early this morning, and he is looking considerably better today. The boy is lucid again, though still a bit confused, and rather too shaky to use a pen. I have him shelling peas right now--nothing better for the health than some good honest work.

Sorry for the briefness of the letter. It was a rather long night.

--M
chaucerettescs
Aug. 1st, 2009 03:43 am (UTC)
Dear Mafalda,

Such wonderful news! I must thank you again for looking after him. I'd imagine the poor thing is much too weak to travel, so I must press your generosity again and ask that he remain with you throughout at least the next fortnight.

I do hope this hasn't been too taxing for you.

--V
pancakerabbit06
Aug. 1st, 2009 03:45 am (UTC)
Dear Valia,

Your brother does indeed require additional rest, and I can certainly put him up for a little longer. He is, as you said, a good boy.

However, not to be crass, but I am wondering when I can expect the monetary compensation we discussed? I would like to obtain the supplies for his medicine as soon as possible. Additionally, while I do appreciate your praise of my generosity, surely you of all people understand that everything has a price.

--M
pancakerabbit06
Aug. 1st, 2009 03:40 am (UTC)
another letter, sent separately
Dear Jerome,

I hope you don't mind if I leave off using your full title; you don't know me well, but I was present at your birth and do not feel the need to stand on ceremony right now.

This is concerning the young man Lucas Amherst. I don't know how much of the story you have heard from his sister, but he is staying with me for a few months as he recovers from a sudden illness. It is--there is no getting around this--a grave affliction, and though likely not fatal, he will have to come to terms with serious changes in his life. The next few months are going to be daunting for him, and he would surely benefit from correspondence with someone near his own age, someone he can trust. I assume from the frequency with which he mumbled your name while delirious that you two are close. The circumstances surrounding is condition are complicated, and if you wish not to get involved, it is understandable, but at any rate, my address is enclosed.

I realize this may be rather a lot to think about, but I am a firm believer in giving people as much of the truth as they can handle.

I hope you are in good health, and that your Latin is going well.

Sincerely,
a friend
chaucerettescs
Aug. 1st, 2009 03:43 am (UTC)
Re: another letter, sent separately
Dear friend,

If you are who I believe you are, and I doubt very much I am mistaken, I believe that you are someone I can trust, someone who has perhaps been most grieviously abused. At the least, you are someone who has cared for someone quite dear to me and for that, you have my gratitude.

I agree that Mr. Amherst could greatly benefit from my correspondence, though I must ask for discreteness. I know more than those around me believe I do and, for the time being, I find it preferable to appear ignorant, particularly to an acquaintance I believe you and I share.

I've enclosed a note for Lucas and when he is well enough, I trust you to help it find it's way into his hands and no one else's. He'll understand it's contents.

I thank you again,

Jerome

P.S. My Latin is going quite well. You're very kind.


pancakerabbit06
Aug. 1st, 2009 03:45 am (UTC)
Re: another letter, sent separately
Dear Jerome,

You are very wise. There are many things I would like to say right now, but it would be imprudent to do so.

For now, I am passing along a volume which may prove useful in your studies: book V of Ovid's Metamorphses. Even if you already own the full set, I would say it is worth a look; the illustrations are quite good.

I tried to study Latin for a while, but ultimately gave up. The whole business was too difficult for me. I commend you for soldiering onward.

Ipsa sciencia potestas est, or is it scientia?

P.S. If you like the book, you may keep it. Consider it a rather late birthday gift.
chaucerettescs
Aug. 1st, 2009 03:44 am (UTC)
Included in the previous letter's envelope, a small note sealed with wax.
L--

Out-worn heart, in a time out-worn,
Come clear of the nets of wrong and right;
Laugh, heart, again in the grey twilight,
Sigh, heart, again in the dew of the morn.
Your mother Eire is always young,
Dew ever shining and twilight grey;
Though hope fall from you and love decay,
Burning in fires of a slanderous tongue.

--Yeats (of course)

-- J
pancakerabbit06
Aug. 1st, 2009 03:46 am (UTC)
On a ragged slip of paper, wedged between the story of Phineas and the story of Proserpina.
J--

Never in my life have I been so bloody glad to read Yeats.

And as, in sparkling majesty, a star
Gilds the bright summit of some gloomy cloud;
Brightening the half veil’d face of heaven afar:
So, when dark thoughts my boding spirit shroud,
Sweet Hope, celestial influence round me shed,
Waving thy silver pinions o’er my head.

--Keats (as though there was any doubt)

--L
pancakerabbit06
Aug. 13th, 2009 08:18 am (UTC)
In an envelope addressed simply "Isaac the Peddler--Alcester"
Dear Isaac,

It may be optimistic of me to be writing you now, given that I've no idea where in Alcester you're staying, but you always did have a knack for finding messages, so maybe this letter will make its way into your hands as well.

I hope the people of Warwickshire are treating you well. If they start to give you any shite about horns and tails --well, remember you can always sic Thor on them. Just because that dog is the biggest coward ever to hide from a squirrel doesn't mean they have to know it.

I'm afraid I have to ask you for a favor, and it's a big one. Last week, I got an unexpected visitor--the brother of your sister's former employer, in fact. He may be staying with me for some time; the poor boy's not in great health. In fact, he suffers from the same sickness rumored to have taken the life of Old Harry Boggs. The next few months will be crucial—these things tend to get much, much worse if they do not get better, as you well know.

Anyway, the lad has a substantial appetite, and as you can guess, I'm a little low on supplies. The next time you're headed my way, I could really use the following:

15 kilos of flour
1 kilo sugar
3 ounces dried mushrooms
50 grams of the darkest chocolate you’ve got
Saffron root (One should do)
Silver extract, if there’s any to be found
Indian Ipecac, likewise
(Do you know of anywhere that might have wild Artemesia?)
Rope, at least 10 metres
One tin of high quality Darjeeling
One bottle of whiskey (any quality)
The Complete Poetical Works and Letters of John Keats—don’t even ask

I’m afraid I won’t be able to pay you with the usual 12 dozen eggs. Instead, I was thinking that if the soaps I gave you last time are selling well, maybe I could send you a few more batches? It should be possible to brew up quite a lot, given that I suddenly have a helper and everything. (I may be receiving some actual coins at some point in the future, but don’t hold your breath.) If you’re planning on roaming for a while, give me your latest address and I can just mail you the soaps as they’re finished. As for me, I’m in the same place as always.

How are things on your end? Any new stories? The one you used to tell about the Vicar and the hedgepig still makes me smile. Madge swears it really happened, but you know her.

I could use one of your wild tales, the world’s been a queer place lately. My young guest is a close friend of Eric’s son, if you can believe it. I even corresponded with him briefly, which felt very odd. The boy is so much like his father that I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Don’t worry, though, I’m being careful. He seems very bright, but I don’t think he suspects, and I’m certainly not going to tell him unless he pushes. You and Leah were always right about that, you know: regardless of how I feel, no good would come of him knowing. There's no reason to put him at risk now, especially given the other troubles he'll have to contend with.

Let me know about the soap. If you can’t find Darjeeling, Earl Grey will do.

Remember: If things get ugly, Thor can look downright imposing to someone who doesn't know him. And if all else fails, you can always threaten to lay a curse on their crops. If they're fools enough to fear you, they may well be fools enough to believe that sort of tripe.

All the best,
M

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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