4 October 1938(?)
Capt. Alastair Hawkesworth
HMAS Richard Lemon Lander
My Dearest Alastair,
Although we have been speaking regularly, still I find it a comfort to put pen to paper and to relate in full detail the events I have seen and participated in. I will admit to some question as to the correct date in the calendar of our lost homeworld, but it has been approximately seventeen days in my time since I last wrote you, and thus have I dated this missive.
When last I wrote, as you know, I had been prepared to set off with my companions to seek out our lost Queen, Artoria. But it was decided that, able though Lord Tybalt is, a firmer – and more humanoid – hand at the helm of the Autumn Court would b desirable, and so I remained behind.
I had hoped to use the “seeing stone” to track the progress of my companions and to assist them by providing intelligence along their path. However, for the first few days, this was not to be; I was unable to properly “tune” the stone. Operation of this device is, sadly, more art than science at times. I therefore busied myself with the maintenance of my realm. I took a direct hand in the continued training of our Singes Avion and, I say with all due modesty, made significant progress with them. I also, in the interest of maintaining morale within the castle, held a feast followed by entertainment.
I am very sorry, Alastair, that you were not present for this occasion, as I myself provided the entertainment. I stood up from my throne and performed for my subjects selections from my mother’s favorite role, her rendition of Mimi in La Boheme (left to myself, I rather would have chosen Lucia, but I thought that the Mad Scene might not be the best image to present to my subjects). I last saw her sing it at Covent Garden, which I am sure you have visited yourself in our past life on your own homeworld. My subjects were stunned and speechless at my performance, although they did applaud most politely when I was finished. Perhaps they were not prepared for grand opera, or perhaps it is possible that I need more practice.
After several days, I was finally able to use the seeing stone to find my companions, and I discovered them having just emerged from battle, scarred and tired, in the depths of a dungeon. I spoke to them, used the stone to scout ahead and find the clearest path for them to emerge to the surface, and then contacted Jude, along with a woman, Svetlana, who had provided our group with a hot air balloon for transport. Jude and Svetlana were preparing the balloon for launch when I spied several shapes in gray cloaks approaching. This was a matter of great concern, and became more so when Jude and Svetlana slumped unconscious.
I realized action was required. I considered my options, and it occurred to me that, if the seeing stone transmits energy (both visible light and sound waves), it could also transmit the energy of my Taschenprojektor Elektroturmgeschütz. I quickly aligned the weapon with the stone, manipulated the energy fields surrounding the stone in what I hoped was the correct pattern, crossed my fingers and fired. Somewhat to my surprise, it worked perfectly; a bolt of energy flashed down from the sky, striking the lead cloaked figure. I shouted to the rest through the stone to leave immediately or face death hurled down from the sky, and in an instant they vanished, save for the figure I hit, who stumbled towards the entrance to the dungeons – from which my companions were just emerging. Elspeth, rising out of the opening, shot the figure, and he fell unconscious.
As our group got into the balloon, taking the cloaked figure as a prisoner, we saw that he was, in fact, Lord Rakat, clearly seeking to take Artoria and to kill my companions. Thankfully, he had not killed Jude or Svetlana, but rendered them unconscious using elfshot. We determined that, in time, they would awaken, and such awakening might be hastened upon their return to the Autumn Court.
Unfortunately, another problem immediately presented itself. Using the stone, I saw a shimmering cloud approaching the balloon at high speed. I immediately informed my companions, and told them they had only a few seconds in which to escape. One of them – someone I had not previously noticed, a new face – acted, calling up a windstorm around the balloon to protect it from the attacking cloud. As the cloud impacted the whirlwind around the balloon, fire raged all around, causing great mental trauma to poor Dr. Oceana, whose aquatic nature is ill-adapted to fire and heat. The balloon rose amidst a whirling column of flame and drifted off to safety.
The person who had saved them, it transpired, was a young girl, looking to be no more than ten years old. But upon speaking to her, the truth was far stranger; although the body I spoke to was a young girl, the mind and soul within it was that of a wizard, one Colonel George Rasmussen. Colonel Rasmussen had been on his homeworld, in London, in the year 1873, when he had assisted in the performance of an exorcism. The procedure went badly wrong, and he awoke in another world, another time, and in another body. I can only imagine how disconcerting such an occurrence must be. Clearly, he still retains his magical talents, and it was well for my companions that he did.
Once clear of immediate danger, attention turned to the unconscious Lord Rakat. He was bound (though sadly no iron was easily available, as that would have been the most secure means of keeping a Lord of Faerie). When he awoke, he was informed (as I had instructed Marcus to tell him) that I had spared his life, and the price for my forbearance had yet to be determined. He heard those words, and then vanished.
Meanwhile, the balloon finally landed in the town of Greenstone, very near to the border of Faerie. Immediately it was greeted with all honors, including not only the Mayor of the town, but the adoptive father of Artoria, Lord Stenton. He was beside himself with relief at the return not only of his daughter but also, as it turned out, his son as well. He decreed a feast and a celebration to be given that very night, after my companions had had time to rest, bathe and obtain clean clothes.
I decided to make an appearance at the celebration, to join my companions, and to honor Lord Stenton. I hastily assembled an escort, including two of the Singes Avion whom I had been training, and made my way to Greenstone. I must admit that I do enjoy the trappings of royalty; it will be sad when I must set them aside. My presence made quite a stir, as the people of Greenstone have never had a visit from Faerie royalty, and most of their dealings with Faerie have been less than pleasant.
Lord Stenton presented gifts to all my companions, and to myself, which were of great value; upon my return to the Autumn Court, I immediately arranged gifts in kind. During the party, Lord Rakat made an appearance, and it was made clear to him again that he is in my debt, and I have yet to name my price of him. I fear that matters with him will be quite unpleasant before they are finally resolved.
Later, I and my companions spoke with Artoria, and discussed with her her destiny as the rightful Queen of the Britannic Empire. I, and Elspeth, told her of our coming to the Empire, and how we found in it a cause well worth serving. But it was only when she went alone (I say alone, but she was accompanied by Marcus, who had deemed himself her bodyguard, which we all agreed was quite a good thing) to an altar, where she found herself bathed in blue light and in communion with I know not whom. But upon her return, she announced that she would return with us, to take her rightful throne.
That led to an unhappy conversation with her adoptive father, who was understandably loath to see her leave, having just been reunited with her. I suggested that perhaps he, and the entire village of Greenstone (some 200 people in total) might be relocated to Tudor along with Artoria, if they desired. Artoria considered this, but wished to see conditions on Tudor, via use of the seeing stone, before agreeing to such a plan. But conditions on Tudor, as you will know, Alastair, from having been in the midst of them, were disastrous. London was under attack by Spanish forces, and Mr. Kelly of the Royal Society was stirring up trouble with the Regent, Lord Cunningham.
Upon further observation, we determined that Britannic forces would prevail, and so we decided to take our leave of Greenstone and start back towards first the Autumn Court and thence to Tudor. Lord Tybalt had kept Autumn safe in my absence, and we decided that he should continue to rule there for the time being, while the rest of us returned Artoria to Tudor. As we never did reach an agreement with Lord Garavon of the Winter Court regarding the disposition of the Autumn throne, it is my opinion that I remain Queen, and that I do not abdicate my throne. Perhaps, once peace has been restored to Britannia, and the Spanish Empire defeated, and all is well with the worlds, I might return to Autumn and permanently claim my throne there. Perhaps, should that day ever come, I might have a Royal Consort to sit next to me as I reigned.
But that day is far away, and in the meantime, we had to return to Tudor. It was three days’ walk on the path out of Faerie, and on the way, Jude (who had awakened upon his return to Autumn), as he did when we first entered Faerie, vanished. I shudder to think what trouble he will find himself in this time.
We finally emerged in Glastonbury, to find two unwelcome surprises. First was the season; it had been early fall when we departed, not more than 30 days ago, and now it was the dead of winter, and we realized that nearly six months had passed on Tudor. Second, the clearing in which Excalibur rested in the stone, to which we planned to immediately take Artoria, was now enclosed within a warehouse belonging to the Britannic Interdimensional Trading Company, an organization that Lord Crabbe in particular has no love for. Soldiers of the BITC roamed this warehouse, and immediately accosted us. Lord Crabbe made to distract them while Artoria headed directly for the sword and the stone. Shots were fired in the air as a warning, but Artoria did not hesitate, reaching the stone and pulling the sword out in one glorious motion. The BITC soldiers were stunned, and quickly fell to their knees in the presence of their rightful ruler, as did we all.
But, as you well know, Alastair, matters were not that simple. One of the BITC officers informed us that Lord Cunningham, with the advice of Mr. Kelly, had declared himself King, and Tudor was in the midst of a civil war. We encountered Mr. Crowley of the Royal Society, currently in hiding, who gave us additional information on the current situation. He suggested we take Artoria to Cornwall as a first step in seeing her installed as Queen, and Lord Cunningham routed out, but he had no suggestion as to how we would get her – or ourselves – there. I used the seeing stone (Mr. Crowley was most covetous of the stone, but it was a gift to myself, and in my keeping shall it remain) to locate Lord Crabbe’s airship, and saw a most unhappy sight – the Fair Lenore sat in a hangar, repainted in the colors of the BITC. An overland journey seemed out of the question, and I decided upon the best choice – and this is the moment at which I contacted you, my dear Alastair.
Even as I write this, I know that the Lander is en route to us, and the time before we meet again may be counted in minutes. I look greatly forward to our reunion, and to hear the tales of your bravery during the difficult days of the past few months.
As ever, I remain your most devoted and grateful friend,
Genevieve Chantal Therese de Lisieux Lamballe, la Reine du la Cour d’Automne