47th of the Dahlia’s Fall, 2030 D.C.E.
Esteemed friend Carmela,
Rejoice! I have secured night leave from the Academy and will be joining you at the Bagnoli’s on the night of the 58th.
The Headmaster is always kind to me, so it was largely a formality.
I just felt that, out of respect for him, and as a desire to attend in the fullness of my person, I should have his blessing.
Sneaking out again would be too rogueish. I am still trying to live down being caught that one time.
I look forward to seeing you; nothing has me happier to be alive than another chance for us to meet.
Glowing with joy;
53rd of the Dahlia’s Fall, 2030 D.C.E.
Indeed; I think what upset people most was that you’d snuck out in trousers, the nerve of you! Ha ha ha! Perhaps if you had stole away in a gown with a plunging neckline everyone would have thought differently. Think about it: “oh there goes the princess, being so fashionable again.”
I too long to see you again, and to that end, I have already developed a winning strategy to seize the night together.
Firstly, the Bagnoli family are all very offputting people, dreadful to the last one; incredibly conceited and hateful and always speaking ill of something or other, particularly their locality. They hate what’s become of their town and what’s become of their town hates them; and I would take the smoke from the factories over the smelly perfumes they make, but alas, a party is a party. They have many patrons and a lot of children to forge alliances through. I suggest not giving them a chance to speak about the common folk, and not being around to listen to them if they do. We will spend about a half hour with their daughters, talking about flowers and dress and trying to stomach the odor of fermented grapes that follows them everywhere. Then we spend as little time as possible with the sons. It’s up to you whether I pretend we’re being bashful and proper in our dealings with them, or whether we simply use your status and subtly put the boys utterly beneath us.
Do the Perfumers of House Bagnoli stand a chance with Princess Salvatrice? I think not, ha ha!
Because the Previti sisters are not attending, I’ve nobody but you that I owe an audience to. So there is even more reason to keep to ourselves after we’ve spent the barest minimum amount of time around the Bagnolis. I think your darling Beatrice is preoccupied as well, but if she makes an appearance, we can spend some time with her as well, if you wish. Our main event of course will be a few hours worth of wine, cheese, fruit, a good table, just for us.
Maybe we can be daring and hold hands!
So then, see you at the party. I’m sure you will be lovely, and that it will be lovely all around.
Your faithful servant;
60th of the Dahlia’s Fall, 2030 D.C.E.
Esteemed friend Carmela,
Brimming still with ecstasy after seeing you again; the Bagnoli family are awful boors, but fact that they gave me a chance to be with you for a few precious hours of the night places them solidly next to the saints in my pantheon. It is so frustrating that we are a motor-car ride from one another and yet we are often so physically apart. I cherish every second I get to spend with you! That is worth more to me even than your family’s oil barrels; would you agree?
Alas, I wish you could entertain me personally more often. I dare say your parents are awful cold to a princess.
Still, we had a heavenly time, didn’t we?
It was delightful to sit with you, to have wine, to talk; however, I did start feeling that I wanted a dance with you. Think of all the devilish things that the young noble is inclined to, that both gentlemen and ladies cheer them for, all kinds of emotional savagery and sarcasm, of snide whispering, of drinking and drug-using behind closed curtains, of flirting and hearts-breaking, all of this roguery; and amid all of that a dance between ladies is seen as scandalous!
Still, I think you ought to be danced with; you have a figure that yearns for an arm around it!
When next there is a masquerade, perhaps we can arrange for a dark, slender, strawberry-haired gentleman in a peacock mask to inquire for your hand on the floor?
I know this figure yearns to meet you, and owns a perfectly good suit to wear.
What are you thoughts on this? Any suitable upcoming events that could use an added guest?
Holding your hand in spirit;
3rd of the Aster’s Gloom, 2030 D.C.E.
To think sitting around for a few hours talking about ugly cars and conceited young lords would have you so giddy!
Blessed, beloved, wonderful Salva. I enjoyed our evening thoroughly as well. I felt a little guilty that we all but left behind the Bagnoli’s and their other guests and made our own space of their table; but they should be so lucky that a Princess and a millionaire oil heiress ignore them in their own home.
And never-you-mind their prying eyes. I do what I please with myself and my dears do what they please when with me.
Suffice it to say had you lent me your hand, I would have given your legs a marathon on the floor, their eyes be damned.
Now, my parents, sadly, that is another matter entirely; but let us forget them!
I find your suggestion quite titillating! I would be delighted to meet a mysterious, yet startlingly familiar stranger unannounced at an upcoming event. I’ve the perfect setting too; for in fact, my wonderful and over-dramatic friends the Previte sisters are holding a masked ball on the 11th of the Aster. It’s open to everyone who looks dashing enough at the door — and I daresay from what you’ve told me, this mysterious friend of yours would easily find entry.
Hopefully your friend can make it on the 11th; otherwise I can convince the Prevites that I had such fun at this outing that they should hold more. In fact we could make it a recurring event. The Previte sisters love nothing more than to entertain, and especially to entertain me.
Cheerfully awaiting your words;
16th of the Aster’s Gloom, 2030 D.C.E
For the past week I have been terribly busy, and as you have no doubt now seen first hand, secrecy is far less a joking matter to me now.
I hope that you are not troubled by the lengths I have gone to deliver this letter to you. Giovanni travels from the academy to town every day, and I would trust him with my life. He is a dear gentleman of a sort I thought long-gone — please treat him with courtesy and await my letters through him.
Due to circumstances beyond my control, and for fear that my correspondence might be read, I am taking these arrangements to protect myself. I hope our hands are able to touch again soon; in the meantime, our correspondence will have to do to preserve my happiness in the midst of this carnage.
I am at a loss for where to begin. It feels as though my entire life has led to this terrible moment. Is not a forgotten thing destined to be found someday? To be remembered, and then put to its intended use? For too long I was overlooked by my mother’s power, and I grew conceited, and complacent.
You have heard of nothing of this, I am sure. Obsessively I have read the papers and listened to radio shows, and there is not yet an inkling of it. But as of a few days ago I am now First Princess of the Kingdom of Lubon. We both joked about my royal blood, but I am now, officially, no longer the spare daughter, the forgotten second. Should my mother die tomorrow I would be Queen. Meanwhile sister Clarissa is trapped in a nunnery, for an impropriety I am sure she neither committed, nor deserved punishment for. I have been fearful to seek after her, for my mother condemns any mention of her in the strongest terms. My greatest fear now is to receive a similar punishment. I know now that no amount of loyalty to my mother will put one beyond her petty vengeance if she perceives a slight.
Thus far the news has not uprooted my school life. I have not yet been crushed by a retinue of guards monitoring my activities. I can still eat my meals with the privacy I am used to. My daily routine continues the same; I can study, I can buy and read the paper, I can run and ride my horse and take a motor car out to town when the mood strikes me. At night I can read my books, and my reading list is accepted and its contents procured for me without undue fuss.
My disguises, including the mysterious gentleman, remain secret.
And furthermore I am still scheduled to complete my last two years at the academy; and I am going forward with my plan to enroll in the Master’s program for History here. I am hoping that if I show an intent to further my studies, my mother will not extend her grasp as thoroughly. She is hopefully in no hurry — after all she is still young in flesh and heart, if not in time and mind, and it is unlikely I will need to replace her for decades. We can look forward to many more years of tender association, I hope. But I fear that none of this precludes the existence of more insidious methods of controlling me. As such, it pays for us to be vigilant.
I am sending a far more harmless letter in the normal post as well. It is a vapid little affair about the weather and flowers and the peacock-feathered dress I received from an acquaintance. We cannot cut all communication through the ordinary post; it would look too suspicious. Please send a harmless letter through the post, so that it can be combed through by my mother’s ne’er-do-well blackshirt royal policemen if they fancy doing so. Send your important letters through my man.
There will be upheaval in the coming days, I fear. Please write back to seal this cursed covenant with me.
Faithfully your princess;
18th of the Aster’s Gloom, 2030 D.C.E
If you became a devil offering me temptation, I would not hesitate to sell my soul.
I received both your letters and you are right, that other one was quite vapid. You sounded like a child in it. If the Blackshirt reading it was privy to your other letters he might think you’ve suddenly become a fool. However I am very curious to see you in that peacock dress; though I’d also like to see you sneak out in a cabby hat and workpants again! I had hoped, seeing such a clandestine letter, that you would have titillated me with news about an upcoming rendezvous.
I wish I knew the right words to say so that I could ease your worries and soothe your pains. I’m going through a lot of stationery, writing draft after draft in the middle of the night. I just want you to know that I would go through hell for you! I would pull us both out of the kingdom post-haste and relocate to the outer Higwe or somewhere else, wherever else, if it would solve this calamity. Oil prices are going up, so I’ve funds to spare! Unfortunately that is more so an indication of my commitment than any kind of solution. I hope though that the mental image of the two of us in hiding on a sparsely inhabited island proves charming.
I’m dearly sorry about your sister. I met her a few times at social functions. Of course, one never sees a person’s true face in such circumstances, but she seemed a wonderful lady. She was never dismissive of me despite my bourgeois background — she treated me as though my blood was blue as yours. Certainly she does not deserve the torment of isolation. My family has many connections: if you would like me to find out what I can about your sister, you need only ask. Antioch Fuels is well-regarded by the state and my money accepted wherever there are hands to hold it. Ask and I will move heaven and earth to find her and contact her.
There is little more I can say at the moment, I fear, for I am bound up in knots over you, and I wish you love and luck beyond the words available to me. I have composed a cheerful letter about my dogs, gossip from my reading club, and assorted thoughts on proper cosmetics use among up-and-coming noble ladies in Palladi. That one is going through the ordinary post, and I wish a death from boredom for whatever thug decides to read it, if indeed any of them are.
Always thinking about you;
19th of the Aster’s Gloom, 2030 D.C.E
Any words you can muster are a shining beacon in the shadows of this life, my sweet caramel!
I have been combing the news for any mention of the dire events that I have been a party to — not merely my own position, but international events into which I have been drawn, and of which I am afraid to speak of. However, there is no news yet. To think that terror and violence befalls the world and we do not yet hear a word of it. I want you to know, and to hold it to your breast with care. Nocht marches to war with the communists in the south, to Ayvarta. They have ambitious plans, and they are willing to spill any amount of blood for them. It is their wish to return Empress Mary Trueday to control of the continent. Ulterior motives aplenty support this endeavor. Ayvarta is rich in resources that they now spend largely on themselves and on nations Nocht cares not for, like Svechtha. That is likely the true motivator.
Antioch Fuels could have some stiff competition coming, if Ayvarta’s oil reserves go international once again!
My mother — and I by extension — are party to this violence. We have committed and are preparing troops to support Nocht. Our own blood will be spilled, and I do not know why yet. I do not know what my mother hopes to gain. I stood with her around the table, Nocht’s president and Empress Trueday staring us down, and even the Shogun of Hanwa in our presence, and I do not know what advantage we won that day. Lubon’s elfin children will fight in this terrible war, for what? For the chance to fight more of Nocht’s wars? Perhaps to keep Nocht from declaring us their enemy as well? I understand so little about this conflict.
Already the world is at war, since yesterday, since that midnight hour when you crafted your tender words to me.
It is so eerie to me that we have crossed this threshold so invisibly. You and I and all of our fellows; we are in a warring country now. It haunts me that I know so little, despite being a student of history. It is as if I am recalling now that there is another half of the world that exists. How could I have forgotten or overlooked it all along? I feel foolish and overwhelmed. I am very discomfited. All I can do to assuage these fears is to read. I have been reading voraciously. But Ayvarta has such a strange and clouded past, bound up in religion and superstition. Only now am I arriving at the age of Empire, where its history begins to resemble that of civilization.
I apologize, that you had so much tenderness to share with me, and all I have got to give back is my anxiety.
I cannot even write a fake letter in the post. Perhaps that is for the best. After all, the post is slow, and Giovanni can help us exchange letters on a day to day basis. For every two secret letters, one safe letter should suffice. But I am awful at arithmetic. Do not ask me about this calculus.
As far as my sister is concerned, I will think about it. I have a lot of things to think about. I need a direction in which to move.
Much apologetic, and still faithfully your princess;
20th of the Aster’s Gloom, 2030 D.C.E.
I cannot even ask you about Calculus, my grace, for I don’t even know what that entails.
Don’t apologize my dear, if I could spend an eternity lending you an ear I would.
I only wish there was anything I could do for you.
I am terribly sorry to hear of your condition. You should come to my home. You know I don’t ask this lightly. My parents are the moneyed sort who are leery of royalty. But damn them; I want to comfort you, and if they want to stop me they can try and see how tenacious I’m willing to be.
Should you wish to avoid this, I could arrange for the Previte sisters to make good again on their masquerade fancies. I enjoyed myself fairly well in their last outing, I wore a black velvet mask and everything. I do not know how comfortable you would feel attending as the gentleman.
But let us arrange something Salvatrice, anything. I need to see you, before the world changes any more.
Longing for you;