| Ah, Maltheus, it is good to hear from you, old friend! I am pleased that you are doing well. I understand that you will be traveling soon to Praag in the hopes of researching your family claims and ancestral lands. I remember in the academy you were always such as serious student that I have no doubt that you will unravel the mysteries of your lineage! While you are in Praag, I encourage you to seek out Master Borovard, an old family friend. I am sure he will provide you appropriate accommodations and great hospitality if you show him this letter. It has been a while since I have traveled to Austria, but I can recall no finer food than that prepared by Master Borovard! Be sure to write when you arrive!
I am glad to hear you were safe in your travels. I must confess, though, that I am at a loss to explain why Master Borovard would not provide you with the books you requested. But do remember that they are a superstitious people and perhaps they fear some curse or misfortune may befall those who dig into the mysteries of the past. Such is the way of the uneducated masses!
On that note, I feel compelled to bring a matter of some urgency to your attention. Borovard sent me a letter concerning your association with a certain raven haired “cousin” of yours with whom you have been seen of late. Apparently, this woman is possessed of great beauty but questionable virtues. While you know I am not one to criticize romantic indiscretion (I believe tales of my encounters with Mistress Pierres are still popular gossip), I would urge you to be careful. While I have no doubt that your interests, unlike mine, are perfectly academic, as you say, hers may not be. Do not forget that there are many cunning thieves and the Gypsy are known swindlers. It is also not hard to imagine that your relationship may cause difficulty to your research in such a backwards area. I am also concerned about your plans to travel alone in search of your family estate. That country is wild and dangerous- I would not be caught without skilled retainers to drive off wolves or bandits. Or worse.
But enough cautions. When will you be returning? The Lady Augustine and I have announced our betrothal and I would love for you attend the ball we have scheduled for Mid Fall!
I am sorry I have not written sooner. Things have been difficult here. Lady Augustine has taken ill with a wasting disease and raves about whispers in the dark and shadowy wings in moments of disturbing lucidity. During the day she is listless and has taken on an unhealthy pallor. I fear for her health and sanity as I do for yours. Your last letter was hasty and strange. Then I receive word that Master Borovard ejected you from his inn some weeks past! He claims that you were coming and going at odd hours with ominous folk and have been spending an unusual amount of time digging about in mouldering old ruins. Your letter did little to ease my misgivings. What do you mean you go to talk with your grandfather? You well know that he has been dead some decades! I urge you again to be mindful of your actions! You are working these people into a dangerous state. I know you care not “if their ignorant black tongues rot in their mouth”, but words have very real power and it would behoove you not to make enemies in a strange country! If you need assistance, I am available, of course.
You last letter finds me in tragedy. Lady Augustine passed some nights ago. The chirugeons and leeches could offer nothing. I could not bear to listen to the priests, who shouted that it was a curse and that I, too was damned unless I turned to them. I have begun to wonder, though, if there is something more than illness. In recent nights I could swear that I hear my beloved Augustine’s voice on the night winds calling to me. Days are difficult and my appetite has all but disappeared. I know my servants worry. And what of you friend? I was pleased to read that you would soon be coming to see me and somewhat surprised to hear that you would be bringing a distinguished relative. I must admit I am a rather pathetic host at the moment, but you will have all the welcome that I can muster. I am glad to see that at least one of us is being blessed by fortune.
My visions of Augustine increase. It is the only time I feel alive, as if I am a walking corpse when we are apart. My servants continue to make outrageous claims about rats infesting the manor and giant bats swooping by the windows. I wonder if they too suffer from my delirium.
Maltheus arrived today. He was garbed strangely and his voice seemed odd, but I can only attribute that to my weakened state. All servants are gone. Fortunately, Maltheus didn’t seem to notice and helped me back to bed urging me to rest so that I could meet Master Anathus. Apparently he is a lord of great power and supreme erudition and a distant relative to my dear friend. He also introduced me to his Lady Drakhardt. While she is very beautiful, there is something about her that fills me with dread. Her skin is pale like the finest ivory, but her eyes smolder from beneath her ebon mane with a preternatural intensity. Oh, how I miss my beloved Augustine.
Maltheus has prepared a mixture that he says will ease my pain. He says that my visions of Augustine are true and that soon Master Anathus will arrive to return her to me. He says that since I have been a good and true friend, I shall not die alone in this miserable place but will live on. Though I am not optimistic as I barely have the strength to lift pen to paper, at least this ordeal will soon pass, one way or another, and I will be with Augustine once more.
Mixture helps. Thoughts sharp like broken glass. Looked in mirror and didn’t recognize face. Then mirror was broken glass. Made new face. Augustine sings to me. Master Anathus pleased to meet me. Wants to teach me. Craft many new faces.
From the collected letters of Teryth von Dernacht later called “the Mad” and suspected for the brutal murder and mutilation of dozens. Recovered from the burnt remains of the Dernacht Estate.