For Want of an A’Ladrea Mind Snare

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The Fourteenth of Ivaris, Sixteen Seventy-Four

Is it sorcery or enchantment that draws my mind to him, and draws me in to indecency? I cannot recall the beginning of my relationship with Margret, if I could I might know if it is decent with Tam. Oh to have an A’Ladrea Kudar here. I have read that they can ensnare a mortal mind and lay its secrets bare, to think what I might learn from my young varlet. Distance is the only true problem, and of course the antiquated laws outlawing most form’s of magic. I think it to be unlikely that the A’Ladree practice thaumaturgy, let alone thaumaturgy warranted by the Shining Lord and his ilk. He returned twenty minutes earlier than I had expected, thankfully I had the letter written and sealed before he had returned. He returned because the silversmith’s apprentice had dislodged one of the stones which warranted my attention.

On the ride to her workshop we chatted and I found out more about him, well, more than the fact that he can drive a motorcar. Tam is his only name, it seems that he was born to a Child of Venus in a chapel in Jarrow; Chapels such as that are little more than brothels. As Tam was born with green eyes, his father assumed the Venus-born whore was trying to pass off another man’s child as his own. He refused to pay for the service and the green-eyed baby was sent to the orphanage a few streets over. Cast out of the Star-born orphanage at twelve he found work at a small guest house for a year or two before he felt the calling of the night sky. As a child born of the Starry Heavens he has always held a fascination for the pin pricks of light that dance across our night sky. Little more than fifteen he’d made his way to this very town and signed on with the Southern Viscairn trading company. The story is such that if it is a fabrication I can almost believe it to be true.

While he doesn’t bear any of the celestial seals — that I have seen — it is still a possibility. It is almost unheard of for a Child of The Starry Heavens to not breed true, but I have read of cases of such. It happens from time to time. Priests of the Shining Lord insist that it is their god exerting his will and dominance over the Heaven’s forcing them to relinquish their claim over a mortal. A fanciful thought but I believe I agree more with the theory posed by astronomers. Astral tides. Well Astral Flux actually. Which could be considered by some observers as the Lord of Light ‘exerting’ his luminous will. Maybe. Honestly I believe astronomers and the like may be fabricating evidence or, more likely, suffering from deluded flights of fancy. I have never felt any difference when Venus is at its zenith nor when it is at its nadir. Is it possible I am broken and that other Children do feel the thrum of the Celestials? Perhaps it is because I was not born to a Child of The Starry Heavens that I have never fully felt the calling. But I digress for the day is short and that is a subject that could be discussed until the end of time.

It is true, I am a vapid and vain Child of Venus. While I speak about the possible snake in my midst and wonder if he holds venom in truth Tam is far from my mind. I can only think of the letter I have sent to our Crown Prince– soon to be King. By train it takes at most two days to reach the capital. Should I have sent one of the spare footmen or housemaids to ensure that the letter was received? No, Uncle would have been most annoyed if I had done that; He would have suggested that I send Tam and that just is not an option. A telegram maybe. Would the prince see that as too familiar? No, telegrams are never an option in private correspondence. The letter passes through too many hands, too many people could read it. Here I am worrying if he will respond, I should be worrying that he even will read it. To him I am just a Child-Lord and of little consequence.

There is always a price on your head. Every action drives that price higher or lower. Do not make that bounty any more attractive than it is.

A’ladrea: Pronounced Ah-La-DRee. An ethnicity/nationality.

Kudar: Pronounced Coo-DaHr. Essentially a Shaman or Spirit Speaker.

Viscairn: Pronounced Viz-k-AIR-n.

Be it Charm or Be it Flame

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The Twelfth of Ivaris, Sixteen Seventy-Four

Tam is a very interesting young man. He has endeavored to install himself into my regular routine, that is not strange it is in fact quite normal. His eagerness, a bit like an overgrown puppy, has me second guessing if he is in fact a spy planted by Cossett. He is fairly under trained, or is that his youth? This could all be an act. An act that would lull me into a false sense of security. Even now he has brought such a lull, a breach of etiquette. I call him by his first name, he insists upon it. A scorpion strikes best when he is unexpected. An enemy at each side and two more between.

He slipped quietly into my apartments, I can assume that he attempted to be quiet sadly he failed and my slumber was broken. Tam had not thought to bring a lamp. That is in itself a double-edged sword, had he brought the lamp I would have slumbered for a minute or two more. I am a very light sleeper, the faintest amount of candle or lamp light would have roused me. I really must have the draperies of my bed curtains changed, the filmy fabric does nothing to block the light. I was awoken to Tam running into my writing desk, I believe one of the legs may now be cracked, I really cannot be unduly angry with him. While the small commotion did indeed rouse me, my fleeting fear was assuaged because of his quite colourful swearing. Perhaps Tam lived a sailor’s life before he fell into Cossett’s employ.

I cannot say if he charmed or cajoled Mrs. Argall, or it may have been my treatment of Mrs. Crusan that encouraged her to provide my favorite breakfast. Tiny fairy cakes, clotted cream, and fresh strawberries. Honestly I may not even ask him, if he were smart he might claim that he did charm her. Then again he could not be sure if I would ask her. Odds are he would assume that I would not even set foot in the kitchens. Circles within circles, dances within dances. I must attend to the letter from our Prince, Uncle has yet to even ask after it. I shall send Tam away, a frivolous errand that might keep him busy for an age. Not an impossible task such as asking him to find me an apple of silver that might feed a thousand orphans. While that would be an interesting task and would entertain me to no end if he were to accomplish it. I believe the clasp on my amethyst bracelet is broken, I shall send him to the silversmith and insist he waits until it is mended. It is a very minor break, it would only necessitate two hours, three if the smith is much too busy and has to set her apprentice to mending it.

Your Royal Highness,
I wish to thank you for your note, I am touched at your thought and at your beautiful gift. I wish to extend my condolences for the passing of your mother and father; I am sure that my uncle, our Lord Regent, has officially extended our hand and condolences but I feel that I must as well.

Please forgive my presumptiveness if I am mistaken Your Grace. It is a solemn thought and I do not know if it would be a comfort to you, but, as my cook would say “They have been consigned to the Flame. They reside within the hall of The Shining Lord. Do not weep for your own pain child.” She had said that to me after my mother’s funeral, after her body was wreathed in flowers and her body ignited.

Her ashes are interred in part in the Great Cathedral in your capital and in our catacombs beneath our home. I yelled at Mrs. Argall, our cook, for her harsh words and I’m not proud to say it but I threw a tantrum as well. I apologize if this has upset you, it was not my intention.Your Highness I do know in part what you are experiencing, if I can help you in any way please tell me.

Please do not over worry yourself over the Pagri ordeal. I would not have you worried over nothing Your Grace. I am whole and unharmed. I am honored at your concern and kind words. You flatter me with your words and your gift, I am but a simple Child of Venus. Your Highness a Venus Born are cursed with two things: dangerous beauty and beguiling grace. I bear those curses silently with virtue and timidity.

Thank you for your kind words and your time. Please accept this ring as a token of my thanks. It was once my fathers, it does not fit me well and I am loath to have it sized. I do hope you enjoy it my Prince.

By my sign and seal.

NAME REDACTED

Fairy Cakes: Batter fried in oil about the size of a thumb usually flavored with honey or powdered sugar.

A Gift in Green Silk

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The Eleventh of Ivaris, Sixteen Seventy-Four

Cossett’s retinue appeared an hour or so after day break. I had already bathed and had been setting about dressing when Cossett barged into my suite without even the smallest decency to knock. She went on about their arrival for a good twenty minutes before noticing my state of dress. I only had on my smallclothes. She proceeded to go on about how it was indecent and how could I allow someone into my apartments in such a state. Keen to keep some light veneer of peace I did not point out that I, unlike her, no longer have a Lady’s Maid or Varlet in employ. Uncle sacked her as a punishment when I spoke out of turn and was a right bit too willful in front of a young lordling that he was entertaining. She nattered on for another fifteen minutes while I dressed behind my Alazian silk screen, a gift from father when I presented as a Child of Venus and was moved out of the nursery. She was at the very least kind enough to help me work a pin into my hair before dragging me off to meet the new housekeeper she’d hired for the house.

The housekeeper Cossett hired is a severe looking woman who speaks in short, quick sentences. She is a completely unremarkable woman, until I noticed that she’d brought an angry squawking bird with her. I didn’t catch her name to be completely honest, instead I was trying to keep that bird from shitting on me. The foul thing should be in a cage. Having it just sit on your shoulder can’t be sanitary. The woman was hardly here for half an hour before she has Mrs. Argall in a right fit. The shouting could be heard all the way up in the far parlor, just off of his suit of rooms Uncle only receives the most personal of visitors here. Usually if it where anyone of importance he uses the parlor at the front of the Manor, it’s furnishings are much grander and opulent. Uncle insisted that I handle the situation, the person who he had explicitly forbidden to speak to the servants four months ago. In that situation I could not be a impartial judge. While Mrs. Argall may be just our cook and a religious fundamentalist, I do hold some flicker of fondness for the woman. I kindly informed Mrs. Crusan that her duties would not be to deal with the kitchens in any way; That her duties were to see to the care of the furniture and see to the female staff that didn’t work in the kitchens, I went on to inform here that her blasted bird should never be in the kitches or wander into my sight again. I also informed her that if she stepped out of line once more within the next three months she’ll be summarily dismissed without pay or reference.

I’d returned to my suite with a honey cake and a bowl of milk on a tray. I would love to say that I enjoyed such a sweet treat but alas the delicious morsel was for the beautiful carpets to enjoy. I say that to make the situation humorous. In reality I was shocked to find a young man in the uniform of a footman sitting on my bed, a length of green silk ribbon wrapped around his arms and chest and tied into a garish bow. He did not notice my entrance, distracted by some pretty bauble on my night table. As I had alluded to I dropped the tray and the resulting crash shocked him out of his distraction. He jumped so high that I fear there might be a dent in the ceiling now.

“I– I’m so sorry, your lordship.” He stammered running a hand through his dark locks, knocking the bow askew. “The lady said that you didn’t have a lady’s maid or valet,” The young man smiled awkwardly as he stood up. He crossed the space and stuck out his hand. “I guess I’m a bit of a gift.” He said gesturing to the bow. “Me name’s Tam.”

He quickly set about cleaning up the small mess, he even went so far as fetching me a replacement for the sweet without even asking. To be honest he isn’t all that bad to look upon even if his demeanor is a bit like a puppy. I could almost grow fond of him, but I must assume that this is some device of Cossett’s to sneak one of hers into my ranks. To suss out my secrets and blackmail me no doubt. Tam returned with the tray and a large bouquet of harebell with a sealed envelope, his face was ashen and his hands shook as he handed it to me. It had the royal seal. It had the royal bloody seal. I nearly fainted dead away. Never do I receive any of my letters unopened, a royal missive must have shocked Uncle beyond all sense.

Harebell for grief as my mother always said. A token apology from me for the hardship the Pagri put you through. You presided yourself with the elegance and sweetness as our dear late Queen-Mother and I hope you find the sole lily beautiful. I am of the understanding that you were quite arresting during the Pagri festival. As ever a beautiful bouquet of flowers picked by my own hand for a beautiful Child of Venus.
— Evandrus, Son of Iron-Banded Mars, Crown Prince.

To think, I, a lowly and insignificant Child of Venus earning even a moment of the Prince’s thoughts, let alone time. I must hide the contents of the correspondence, with the footmen turned valet whom’s allegiance is in question I really must see to hiding this book as well. I will hide the letter among these pages. I think I may have a use for the gold inlaid books dear cousin Roman gave to me when we visited last winter, I believe it has a lock.

Paranoia is ever the life of a noble lord. One’s enemies are always around the bend. Paranoia keeps one’s mind on the knife that is invisible at one’s back.

Smallclothes: Undergarments.