Marriage is something much on my mind recently, brought to the forefront by a recent ball Mnemon invited me to. I met several suitors there, eager to begin negotiations in earnest. I can hardly blame them – with the Empress missing, all is cast into doubt and confusion. There is reassurance in marital bonds, and in the alliances and friendships that come with them.
Ledaals, Cathaks, Mnemons and Sesus, oh my!
(The letter contains Aisa's polite impressions of her various suitors, all complimentary and gracious. The mentions of Cathak Nadrian seem slightly strained, however. Members of the conspiracy will read the following.)
With Ferem and Contarini's approval, I shall set the plan with Tepet and Cynis in motion immediately. It will take some doing, especially since the slave coast's rebellion seems to be gathering steam with or without us.
Ryo, your apartment was invaded by a pair of men. They performed a very thorough search, but as you say, seem to have failed to find what they were looking for. Shogun made noise and spooked them before they reached your office, and they dropped everything they had taken before fleeing.
The Heptagram seems relatively untouched by the growing troubles in the rest of the Realm – I both commend and blame the hand of its current dominie for keeping it completely aloof from politics. This will have to change soon. Mnemon Duhalva, the heir-apparent, is far more easily manipulated and friendly to our interests. But for now, at least, the Isle of Whispers remains a stable and neutral base of operations.
My alliance with V'Neef is going well – we performed one of the final steps in a truce-dance, an exchange of vulnerabilities. I revealed to her my involvement with Anathema during my travels in Nexus. While dynastic literature is full of villains who misused trust of this nature, it is the foulest of deeds. V'Neef did not betray me, and revealed a potentially damaging secret of her own. I will not repeat what she told me here. It is her secret, shared in trust, and I will take it to my grave.
Now, the ball! Truly, no event more important in a young lady's life than her marriage. But I shall be brief, so as not to bore you with the posturing and posing and betrayals and… well, you all know what goes on at this sort of event.
Cathak Nadrian is Cathak Cainan's son. He is handsome, ambitious, pious and charming – everything a dynastic woman could want. I hate his guts. I may marry him anyway, given how perfect that match is otherwise, but his smug smile will be extremely unpleasant to wake up next to.
He and V'Neef Iphen nearly challenged one another to a duel. I defused the incident, but now they see each other as rivals for my affection. Men. (a blotch of ink mars the otherwise perfect calligraphy) My affection is not a prize to be skewered on the tip of blade.
The real event of interest occurred when Mnemon slipped away with Cathak Cainan and Titus. Light as a feather and silent as a shadow, I followed them. Forgive me if I spoil part of what you wished to reveal, Titus, but I hope you can shed further light on some parts of the story I remain curious about.
Titus' master and Mnemon's spy mistress were present, and they briefly discussed the northern rebellion, believing it to be the word of the Gold Faction, rather than something thought up by the locals. (Who are they? Should we allow them to continue to take the blame for the rebellion, or reach out an offer of alliance?)
Cathak Cainan claimed he is waiting for a candidate who "can unite the Realm again. Who has the best interest of the people at heart. Humble enough to listen to their advisors, yet strong enough to destroy their enemies. And most importantly, they must be a shining example of what it means to follow the Immaculate Dragons. We can not win the Realm's security, only to lose its soul." I admit, the description made me smile, and angered Mnemon. I was very pleased to learn that he is throwing his weight neither behind either her or the Roseblack. I shall be reaching out to him in the coming month for certain.
Now comes the bit that our not-yet-chosen conspirator can not report to us, because he left while I, hidden behind a book case, remained. You are a hostage, Titus, held against the good behavior of your teacher. By threatening you, Mnemon – through her spy master, who I have no need to remind you is chosen of the stars – maintains her hold over your teacher.
Tread warily, Titus. I will not act on these matters, since you are better informed about heavenly politics than I, but remember that you have powerful friends who will offer you sanctuary if you need to step off the board for a time to free a more powerful piece.
Yours in devotion and in cunning,
— Mnemon Aisa
I nearly burst out laughing at your response when you asked not be forced to marry me. I last heard that tone from a child objecting to chopped liver – while I share your desire to remain unbound, I should hope that the prospect of sharing my bed is not that unappealing.