Salva’s Taboo Exchanges VI


29-AG-30

Princess,

Inspecting your suite I discovered an article of men’s clothing, the origin of which I feel entitled to know as your protector and the person in charge of your security detail.

Your servant refused to go into any detail as to the clothing except telling me that she would kill me by pouring hot frying oil over my head if I told anyone about them.

I must advise that liaisons with men at this point are very dangerous. Any man who is attempting to court you immediately becomes a suspect in my eyes. And should anything more than attempts to court you occur, very terrible things will result indeed.

I am open to other explanations for this. Do you craft these as a hobby perhaps?

I would have liked to ask these questions in person but you continuously avoid me, so to be discrete I forced this note under your door. I do not wish to die so soon.

— Centurion Geta


30-AG-30

Centurion,

DO NOT come and go into my quarters whenever you please!

You are not my guest and you do not live with me!

I forbid you from entering the suite unless I am present!

Your rank means nothing to me!

I have nothing to explain to you! Be a good guard dog and heel!

— Princess Vittoria


29th of the Aster’s Gloom, 2030 D.C.E

Precious Salva,

Salva! It was such an in credible relief this morning to discover your name absent from any account of the horrors that befell the Academy. To think a Lady would be so gruesomely murdered in public! What is our society coming to? I have begun to make arrangements to procure a miniature revolver. I know now that I need to be ready!

When you write back, please lead with your current status. I need to know your health!

On to other matters — you might have noticed this envelope a little, fat, perhaps?

Enclosed you’ll find the pieces that I was able to collect. Though many of these books are forbidden to be printed nowadays, existing copies were never sought nor destroyed. Book collectors jealously guard their volumes. In your hands, hopefully you now hold the elvish translation of Lena Ulyanova’s collected writings on Mordechism-Lenanism, or as you better know it, Communism. Unfortunately, I was unable to find books about recent Ayvartan history. It is perhaps too recent and close to be History. But cheer up my darling, for I did find an account by Artanis of the history of the Ayvartan Empire.

I very lightly inspected and read the books, bits and pieces that caught my eye. I can assure you that they are in good condition and that you should find them readable.

You have queer tastes in books my sweet! Much sleuthing had to be done for this.

As for myself? I have kept quite busy with my designs. I’ve been planning our next little meeting. My father has of late been distracted with the oil fields of Borelia and even beyond. He has this ludicrous idea that his men can design and build a platform to draw oil from waters 30 meters deep. I don’t know how viable this is, but it sounds too dangerous for my tastes. Regardless, it keeps him busy. He is currently out at sea in fact. I’ve never felt freer. I believe the time has come for us to meet on my own lands.

We could have an entire indulgent weekend to ourselves. Two passionate nights, three comfortable mornings. You need this, my darling! I want so badly to take you away from your confinement in that place. I know you have never been so long away from your studies, and I know eyes are on you. Know that all of my resources are at your disposal to overcome any obstacle. I want you, Salvatrice. I will do anything to have you.

Next time you sneak out however, wear a dress. I want us to tussle fashionably.

Desperately seeking you; your beloved,

Carmela Sabbadin


33rd of the Aster’s Gloom, 2030 D.C.E.

Beloved Carmela,

Fear not, precious Carmela! Physically I have never felt as well as I do now. Youth and womanhood surge through my veins. It is not physical health that I lack at the moment.

I am thrilled from tongue-tip to toe-tip that you continue to thirst after me, my caramel. It is with great regret however that I must quench the ambitious fire in your soul.

There is nothing in the world I want more than to sink against your breast, but my circumstances are still too difficult for a weekend retreat. I cannot promise, but I can at least attest to the possibility, of a single, very indulgent night, but not one in which I awaken beside you to bask in the afterglow. Anything more is simply too dangerous.

You will not be thrilled to hear this, but I was involved in the incident at the Academy. I saw it first hand and could’ve been in the path of the murderer had it not been for the Centurion involved in stopping the attack. My involvement in it was covered up, by my own hand. But I fear there is a violence surging under the skin of our society, my dear.

Though I received your letter on its intended date, it is only now that I write because I have pored over my words many times. I have decided that as your lover I do not wish to hide anything from you. I have told you more intimate things. So I will confide in you my worries though I know they will bring you pain and worry. I’d rather you know.

It has been made known to me that there are plots hatched against my life. In the process I have gained an asset in my struggles for self-determination, but it is a volatile one. I know not whether these plots are true. They may be attempts by my mother to curtail what little independence from her I possess at the Academy. Talk of plots allows her to hide me from enemies. All she needs is the talk. No plots are necessary.

However, judging by what I have seen and experienced, I feel that these whispers may be true. That there is a power out there seeking the demise of Lubon’s nobility, and that it seeks to strike me down with them, regardless of my innocence in the dealings of this wretched nation and its wretched partners. I am half the Queen’s blood, so I must die.

Two times now I have come too close to death. I can write these off as coincidences. But should I do that, and then a third time come directed at me, I would be unprepared.

Carrying a pistol now is wise, my beloved. I have begun to carry one as well.

I do not say this to alarm you but to comfort you. I have resolved not to lie to you, and I have resolved not to be so helpless that I must do such a thing. I am strong for you.

For now, we cannot talk of lusty meetings. But I do wish to see you more casually.

How does a picnic around the academy sound, in a few days? I’ll have a disguise.

Living and breathing your name, my treasure,

Salvatrice Vittoria


33-AG-30

Princess,

When you find this note please turn around from your door, head back down a floor, and return my side-arm to me. I cannot run around the school brandishing a rifle.

While you’re there, perhaps talk to me about the man’s shirt. Is it your size, perhaps?

— Centurion Geta


33-AG-30

Impudent gnat,

You absentmindedly left your weapon in my room and I have appropriated it.

As all things in the suite it now belongs to me.

This is what happens when you do not heed my commands.

Find a new side-arm and care for it better.

Stay out of my quarters and stay out of my personal life, legionnaire.

— Your superior


34th of the Aster’s Gloom, 2030 D.C.E.

Radiant Salva,

Above everything in the world Salva, I treasure you, and I treasure the confidence that you have in me. When we first met, you casually confided in me your rank. I didn’t believe it. I didn’t believe I could be friends with a princess; nor that a princess could be so easy to be friends with. So easy to seek comfort in. So easy to fall in love with.

At first I didn’t believe that the only friend you had in the world was that girl Beatrice.

I didn’t believe how other people treated you. How they disdained and abused you in that way unique to polite society, where honeyed words must always sing over those most deep and lashing gestures of hatred. Back then what I wanted more than anything was to take you protect you from all of this, but I could not. I still cannot. All I can do is try to comfort you, and it hurts. I hope only that if you must hurt that I can hurt with you.

You have confided in me many things. All of them I do more than accept: I treasure. I treasure everything I know about those truly unique depths of your heart and soul.

In turn I have confided in you so much and I know you feel the same. Just as I love your secrets you love my own. It is our secrets that have defined our love so much.

You are right that this news distresses me. Of course it would. But I want to be distressed. It cannot compare with what you must be feeling. Today as I drink my tea, read my stories, chat idly with guests and girls, take walks, and have so many options available to me — I know that you are rigidly caged, and now I know that you are hunted too. I want to do so much for you but I know that I cannot. For all we have are these letters and the secrets, our feelings secret, our true selves secret. It does hurt.

I wish that we could have been born in a world that allowed us to love without secrets.

Absent that, I can only say, that my thoughts are always with you, and that should you think of anything I can do to support you, I will do it. Even if it would kill me, I would.

Please protect yourself Salvatrice. Use everything at your disposal and mine.

I cannot think of losing you. I would be well and truly alone with my secrets then.

Your desperate, eternal soulmate,

Carmela Sabbadin


34-AG-30

Princess,

Please arrange a time where we can meet that does not disturb your affairs.

I am done making initial preparations. We need to discuss where to go from here.

Life cannot simply go back to peace while you are endangered.

It is my hope that we can be proactive in rooting out this threat to you.

Then perhaps we can forget it ever happened and return to our lives.

— Centurion Geta


35-AG-30

Centurion,

I can hear your footsteps stomping up my stairs when you deliver these puerile missives to my door. Are you a child suddenly? You need only knock like a normal person.

Next time you compose one of your stupid notes, and decide to bring it to my door, I advice this: swallow the damnable thing and knock. Then you can speak to me.

Should your words please me enough I might deign to discuss some sensitive issues with you. I am willing to give you a chance here. Waste it and you will suffer.

 Princess Vittoria


POSTAL INTERCEPT RECORD, 17TH BLACKSHIRT LEGION

35-AG-30

[report text is slashed across by several lines from an ink pen]

At the Praetor’s request, Rossa interception is to be put on hold. Centurion Geta will take care of any offending material at the point of contact. This is effective immediately and will last until the royal order is reinstated, if it is. Divert all units. — Legatus Marcel


35-AG-30

Salvatrice,

I require your presence. Make your preparations immediately.

Her Highness The Queen Regnant, Empress Of Elvenkind, Guiding Light Of The First Born, Defender Of The Messianic Faithful, Keeper Of The Father-Tree, The Emerald Lady,

Passionale Vittoria II


Last Chapter |~| Next Chapter

Salva’s Taboo Exchanges III

This chapter contains references to violence, sex, medical conditions.


 

[Clipping from the Newspaper Il Guardiano]

15 KILLED IN BOMBING OUTSIDE ESTATE

22nd of the Aster’s Gloom, 2030 D.C.E.

PALLADI — Over a hundred young socialites gathering for a ball at the Previte estate were shocked out of their festive mood and hurried out the back and side gates of the villa as a series of explosions rocked the front gates late into the night of the 22nd.

Fifteen people were killed as a pair of trucks carrying explosives detonated in front of the main estate gate.

Among the dead are servants of the Previte family, and more tragically, the heirs of the Ciprean and Corsican noble families, who were just checking in at the gate, having been terribly delayed by engine troubles with their private car, when the attacks transpired.

Eyewitnesses claim to have seen the trucks speeding down an adjoining road in a collision course with the gate.

Authorities have not disclosed any possible suspects, but it is believed that this was not a suicide bombing and that the men responsible are at large. No remains were found in the vehicles, and it is possible that the trucks were rigged to crash and the drivers escaped safely beforehand.

The grizzly character of this attack, and its target, brings to mind the Ikrean massacre of the Dahlia’s Fall, where General Autricus, his family and his guests celebrating a birthday party for their adult son, were attacked with petrol bombs and explosive grenades, and tragically murdered.

The Ikrean attacks are widely believed to have been the work of a cell of Svechthan and Ayvartan terrorists.


TELEGRAM INTERCEPT RECORD, 17th BLACKSHIRT LEGION, 67mo Battaglione Di Segnales 

DATE: 22nd GLOOM 2030 0900H

TO: Carmela Sabbadin

FROM: Salvatrice Vittoria

TEXT: [WOULD LIKE TO ARRANGE PHONE CALL SOON. DOING WELL. LOOKING FORWARD TO INVESTING IN ANTIOCH. WOULD FEEL PROUD TO BE A SIGNIFICANT SHAREHOLDER.]

NO DANGEROUS MATERIAL DISCOVERED.

APPROVED BY LEGATUS TARKUS MARCEL.


PHONE CALL INTERCEPT RECORD, 17th BLACKSHIRT LEGION, 67mo Battaglione Di Segnales 

DATE: 22nd GLOOM 2030 1600H

TO: Antioch Fuels, Line 5

FROM: Pallas Messianic Academy, Line 42

TRANSCRIPT:

SLV: Afternoon.

CML: Hello! Good to hear your voice.

SLV: Indeed. How is business?

CML: Oh, a fine mess, both fine and a mess.

SLV: Sad to hear. I had hoped to call under better circumstances.

CML: Oh, it is fine, it is fine.

SLV: So, about those um, those shares.

CML: [Sighing (?)] I received your accounting information and unless you offer a bit more then I’m afraid we’re about done here. The Market’s the Market I’m afraid.

SLV: Oh, I’m sorry to hear. [Crying? Laughing?]

CML: Maybe if you put up more money next time.

SLV: There are limits to what I want to spend.

CML: That’s too bad then. Would’ve liked to have you.

SLV: Perhaps some other time. [Hang.]

“SLV” REBUFFED FROM SHAREHOLDER POSITION. SLV KNOWS CML FROM SOCIAL FUNCTIONS, DEVELOPED INTEREST IN BUSINESS TRANSACTION WITH HER.

SLV SUFFERS FROM SOCIAL ANXIETY, MILD DEPRESSION, OTHER ISSUES. TONE, VOCABULARY ANALYSIS INDICATES NOTHING OUT OF THE ORDINARY FOR HER.

NO FURTHER INVESTIGATION REQUIRED.

NOTES: THIS IS BELIEVED TO BE A CONVERSATION BETWEEN SALVATRICE VITTORIA AND CARMELA SABBADIN. SEAL CLASSIFICATO,  PRIORITA ROSSA. DEBRIEF ALL LEGIONARIUS INVOLVED WITH THIS RECORD IN PROTOCOLS FOR ROYAL COMMUNICATIONS.

APPROVED BY LEGATUS TARKUS MARCEL


23rd of the Aster’s Gloom, 2030 D.C.E

Beloved Salva,

What an intolerable telegram, and what an intolerable phone conversation; I understand that we must maintain a low public profile, but Messiah defend that was so lifeless I wanted to cry and laugh at the same time. I hope the Blackshirt listening in dies of a brain aneurysm.

At least it ended my worries about you. You sounded good on the line.

So, let’s talk about things taboo.

Sylvano left quite an impression on me! I know you have no interest in men, so I must say, as one who does — you’ve somehow managed to be both the man of my dreams and the woman of my dreams! I am not even being figurative. I had a dream, in the cold uneasy sweat while I waited for news about the bombing and about your health, where I was with you, both of you (yous?). It was incredible. I woke the next morning soaked, in toe-curling, lip-biting shame.

We neared that heat in life, that night. But of course, something had to conspire.

I’m not sure if you know, or can know, at the Academy — but I discovered, tapping a friend of mine whose brother is a legionnaire, that the bombing was carried out by the Svechthan and Ayvartan terrorists also responsible for the Ikrean massacre. Truly dreadful people. And it appears the Legion are no closer to stopping them than they have been before. It’s frightening, they are definitely targeting the moneyed folk among us. Hopefully we shall be able to experience each other more fully before they blow us to bits someday.

Anyway. Enough about that. We saw it, we were scared, we ran, we survived, it’s done. I’m done with it. I’d rather focus on us. Oh I feel so naughty just thinking these thoughts, Salva. I hope your skin shivers reading my little fantasies as much as mine has shivered writing them.

Next time though, I want to see you in a dress. Let’s damn them all and hold hands woman to woman! I’m feeling daring, aren’t you? If you want I shall be your Knight, as you were mine!

Waiting longingly for our next rendezvous;

Carmela Sabbadin


POSTAL INTERCEPT RECORD, 17th BLACKSHIRT LEGION, 67mo Battaglione Di Segnales 

DATE: 23rd GLOOM 2030 0500H

TO: Pallas Messianic Academy, Room R-13

FROM: Pallas Endocrinology Research Institute

TYPE: PACKAGE, NOTE

CONTENTS: Bottle of “Estrarin” pills. Treatment for “Hormonal Imbalances” in women.

A handwritten note, reads: [Ms. Vittoria, thank you again for your patience. We have introduced new methods to extract the needed hormone that have allowed us to create more concentrated dosages that I believe may help to combat your symptoms. This breakthrough in production should allow us easily to restore you to a balanced state consistent with a woman your age, something the previous concentrations of the medicine could not do. Please keep in touch and report any abnormalities immediately — Dr. Alighieri.]

PACKAGE APPROVED AND ALLOWED TO ITS DESTINATION. TRANSACTION DETAILS NOW SEALED CLASSIFICATO Priorita Rossa AS PER ROYAL ORDER “SALVATRICE.”

THE INSTITUTE HAS ALREADY BEEN DEBRIEFED ON THE ROYAL ORDER.

APPROVED BY LEGATUS TARKUS MARCEL


 

24th of the Aster’s Gloom, 2030 D.C.E

Beloved Carmela

We must endure such phone calls and telegrams for our own safety, I’m afraid.

I apologize for leaving you so abruptly at the party. Were I to be caught and interview by a Legionnaire it would have been possible for them to notice that I was Salvatrice Vittoria with my breasts bound, my hair dyed; even without those things I already am fairly similar to Sylvano. My greatest defense in costume has been that Salvatrice Vittoria is a taboo person in general. Royalty and Bourgeois alike have learned that my blood is worth nothing, and my name not worth knowing. Though they will treat me otherwise to my face, I am an invisible thing in the end, one that confers no advantage. I take advantage of this whenever I can, but it has its limits.

I’m feeling a little more energetic lately, I feel. I’ve received new medicine for my moods and flashes and lethargy. I must admit it has brought with it its fair share of candid dreams as well. I’m fond of your suggestion to be my knight — I wonder how you would look in a suit.

Though I think you’ve a much more womanly figure than I, so it might be difficult to pull off!

But I want to encourage your good mood, so make your plans. I have trust in you.

I hope the Previte sisters are doing well after this terrible affair. They seem like darling people.

I have something a bit more serious to ask you in addition.

My interest in the war has grown. I’ve been meaning to read about socialism and Ayvartan history. I have started, but it is difficult. I might join the reading society here in the Academy, and maybe the debate society, and see what I can glean from them. Some of this I feel I need to have explained to me — because from the admittedly cursory glances I have had with the material, I do not see why Socialism would lead the Ayvartans and Svechthans into conflict with us. I do not see why it would spur us to war with them and them to terrorize us. I want to understand; one day, it is possible I may be Queen, despite all the obstacles against me, despite my mother’s current silence, despite the ambiguity of my birth. When that day comes I need to know why we are all fighting.

So, my request: there are books banned from the Academy, that I think you as a private, moneyed citizen could find ways to acquire. Find a way, through your friends or agents, to purchase these books. There will be a list attached. Then leave them somewhere hidden for my agent — a bit more meticulously than you hide these letters for him, if at all possible. I felt so helpless after the bombings at the estate — and I feel that this knowledge is the first step out of that trap.

Joining the shooter’s club is my second step.

Forever both your prince and princess;

Salvatrice Vittoria


SEGNALE D’ALLARME ROSSA

POSTAL INTERCEPT RECORD, 17th BLACKSHIRT LEGION, 67mo Battaglione Di Segnales 

DATE: 26th GLOOM 2030 1000H

TO: Salvatrice Vittoria

FROM: Clarissa Vittoria

TEXT: [Dearest sister, though I have known you not since the ambiguity of your birth, I plead to you now as my only hope for restoration. Travel to Ikrea within the month and the means to save me from this humiliating prison of robes and rods, where I am treated like a child without control of my own body, will become clear to you. However, should you decide to remain a stranger to me, I would not blame you, for I know our mother has manipulated us, one to disdain the other, and that her neglect of you has been far the worse. There is no just God anymore to whom I can pray — so I merely wish, then, that this arrives in your hands.]

CONTENT DEEMED INADMISSIBLE. STEPS TAKEN: LETTER PREVENTED FROM REACHING DESTINATION, REPORTED TO 17th LEGION COMMAND AND TO THE CONVENT OF SAINT ANASTASIA DISCIPLINARY COMMITTEE AS PER ROYAL ORDER “CLARISSA.”

THE 34th BLACKSHIRT LEGION IN IKREA WAS ALSO NOTIFIED AND ALERTED.

THE INTERCEPTED LETTER CARRIER, PAOLO CORSAIRO, KNOWN FELON, RESISTED ARREST. LETHAL FORCE WAS AUTHORIZED AND EMPLOYED AS PER LEGION ORDER 8B.

APPROVED BY LEGATUS TARKUS MARCEL


 

Last Chapter |~| Next Chapter

Salva’s Taboo Exchanges I


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;

Salvatrice Vittoria


53rd of the Dahlia’s Fall, 2030 D.C.E.

Faithful Salva;

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;

Carmela Sabbadin


 

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;

Salvatrice Vittoria


 

3rd of the Aster’s Gloom, 2030 D.C.E.

Faithful Salva;

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;

Carmela Sabbadin


16th of the Aster’s Gloom, 2030 D.C.E

Dearest Carmela,

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;

Salvatrice Vittoria


 

18th of the Aster’s Gloom, 2030 D.C.E

Beloved Salva,

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;

Carmela Sabbadin


 

19th of the Aster’s Gloom, 2030 D.C.E

 Dearest Carmela,

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;

Salvatrice Vittoria


 

20th of the Aster’s Gloom, 2030 D.C.E.

Beloved Salva,

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;

Carmela Sabbadin


 

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