My Darling Charlotte,
I do apologize for the lateness in my reply. It seems so long since I last received your letter. My life has slightly taken a turn for the worst. Not two weeks after we saw Alexander off to go live with you, the pirate raids increased what seems like by tenfold. As we live more in the countryside, my father, Alexander and I decided to make a trip to the harbour where Alexander would be departing. My father had some business in the city, so we all decided to make a month excursion of it. My father normally rents a simple one room apartment near his partner's office, but this time we rented a fully furnished townhouse that would be suitable for a lady of my class.
It is not so much for my comfort that we are taking this house. I would have been happy with a simple two bedroom apartment to share with my father. But he has some friends in town who have decided to have a few parties while we are in town, so in order for them to visit us, my father decided it best to have housing that represented our status in society. It does annoy me to some extent, as I feel that it is a waste of our resources and money, however it does appear to be necessary it maintain a respectable reputation; especially in the city.
I have realized that when I come to the city for long periods of time – despite my complaints of there not being enough amusement in the country—I do miss my home. It is so quiet there, and there is so much hustle and bustle in the city and chaos. Sometimes I just sit in the sunroom in our house and read a book to escape the noise of the town. But I have no time for that at this point. It is a miracle that I have enough time to write you now, as there is finally a standstill in the fighting. I realize now that I haven't even told you, really, exactly what has happened here these past few months. The beginning of the story is that I have been living in a town house in one of the many port towns that my country has.
So one day, as I was quietly reading in the sunroom, I heard my father rush into the house, calling my name. I went as quickly as I could to the foyer, and found him bedraggled, out of breath, and near collapse. When I asked him what the matter was, he said that the pirates had attacked and were plundering the city and slowly making their way towards us. At this point, we both knew that there was no time for us to escape. When I looked out the window, I could already see smoke rising from houses a few blocks away, and as dusk was falling, the sky was clearly turning a blood red. So, my father and I started to rush about the house, gathering the servants and put them into the main living in the room in the middle of the house while the two of us ran around the most outer rooms of the house and began putting up shields and protection spells using our Talents. My father worked on the Fire spells to set traps for any unwanted visitors while I worked on Air spells as defences and shields to keep everyone safe. As we were working on our spells, there was a giant banging at our door, and we were worried that the pirates had come before we were ready. My father answered the door, and found his partner as dishevelled as he had been, with his wife and daughter and young son, all who were covered with dust and ashes with cuts and bruises as they had been running from the pirates. My father's friend, Mr. Murray knowing of my father's Talent, brought his family to our house for safe refuge, knowing that my father would be the best person to protect them.
Mr. Murray himself is actually not one of the Talented people, but he has been my father's friend since their University days, and has kept our secret even from his own family. His family then therefore have no idea about our Talent or of its existence at all. So we let them in, and housed them into the same room as the rest of our household staff while we set up extra spells around that room. The dynamics of the room was interesting to watch. The youngest of the maids were huddled together with the younger liverymen, trying to guess what would happen to them, while the older members of the staff automatically went to take care of the children, gently trying to calm them down. Some of the older men went to ask my father if they were free to move around the house to get things to make our situation more comfortable. I started to talk to one of the more elderly staff members about the raid, and found out that until around twenty years ago, pirate raids through the city were quite common, especially because this particular city used to be a pirate haven. So it made sense that the older people were not panicking as they were used to the situation from older days.
As a majority of the staff came with the home when we rented it, they knew the house much better than any of us, and it turns out that we have a few secret emergency exits from the home just in case anything turned for the worse and there was no other means of escape. It turns out that this house was originally built by one of the lesser known pirate kings who decided that he wanted to retire, but knew that he still had enemies around, and so had build this house around the thought of escape. Of course, he had his crew build him the house by hand and then killed them as they finished so that he was the only person alive who would know where all the secret entrances and exits were. Some of the servants reasoned that because this was a house built by this pirate king, the pirates outside might leave it alone, but the majority believed that it was unlikely.
By this time, we were well stocked with food and almost everyone was safe in the main room. My father went with Mr. Murray to do rounds around the house and make sure that it was staying safe. Not moments after the last manservant had returned with a few jugs of wine, flaming torches were thrown through our windows, shattering many beautiful stained glass arts. Outside we heard the raging pirates, people screaming and shouting and running through the streets, more glass shattering here and there, not only in the house, but from outside as well. There was a big banging at our door, which then extended to our backdoor, which was probably, we decided, a knock we didn't want to answer. Suddenly we heard a crashing from the front parlour and knew that the pirates had broken into the house. We knew that it only a matter of time before they reached us. From the noises in the other rooms around us we heard the sounds of pillaging, but also occasional shouts of surprise and pain from the traps my father had set up in various places around the house. Of course, everyone else believed that it was people coming to help us, or the pirates fighting among themselves. But the noise never stopped. Luckily it seemed that my spells were holding as they had yet to try to break into our room.
After a while, it seemed to grow gradually quieter, and we believed that possibly the pirates had finally left. My father and I, despite the protests of everyone in the room decided that everyone would stay where they were except for the two of us and Mr. Murray to make sure that the pirates had truly left. The room immediately outside of the living room was completely and utterly destroyed. Everything was silent, but for some distant noise of ongoing pillaging. I had never seen anything like it before. There was broken china everywhere, covering the floor, the cushions of all the chairs had been ripped open and the stuffing strewn all over the room. The bookshelves had been cleared of all the books, with books lying topsy-turvy and pages ripped out. At that moment, I had believed that it was the saddest sight I had ever seen. However, that was before I even took a single step outside. As it was night, the only light we had to see was from small coals from what was left of the fire. It was amazing that the pirates had not decided to burn down our house along with so many that they had plundered before ours. Mr. Murray believes that it was out of respect for the pirate king that they didn't burn his home down. I believe that it was because burning down the house was not part of their objective. But I will explain more of that later.
As we explored the rest of our home, we found several char marks that were a result of the multiple traps that my father had set around the house. I felt proud that his traps had worked, and proud of myself that my shields had kept us all safe from a direct attack. As we were walking around the house, and planning on heading back to the living room to let everyone else out, a pirate jumped out from behind a doorway and rushed at my father! Luckily, my father having served in the army for a number of years, was prepared for an attack, and had a ball of flame ready to throw in his had at any moment. As the pirate rushed him, he waited until the pirate was a little closer, and threw the ball at him, hitting the pirate square in the shoulder. Unfortunately for the pirate, he was caught by surprise and dropped his sword, but he didn't stop running until he ran directly into my father and barrelled him over. Mr. Murray heard the noise from another room that he was checking, and quickly ran back into the hallway to help my father out. I was trying to do what I could, using my own Fire Talent to try to help my father out. Once Mr. Murray had joined the melee, however, I could no longer use my Fire, in the event that I missed and hit Mr. Murray instead. My father, of course was immune to my Fire, because my being his daughter, my Fire comes directly from his, and would not hurt him with the spells I was using. (I assume you know that it is possible to harm a paternal Talent, but only with the correct spells; but all other spells simply get absorbed).
Finally, Mr. Murray and my father managed to pin down the pirate, as it was two against one. The pirate had one of the most gruesome faces that I had ever seen and hope to ever see. Half of his face had been cruelly burned so that parts of his bone were showing, but it looked like an old burn, as it was not bleeding and most of it seemed to be healed. I believed that it was a quick patching job done by a healer, but whether it was one with Talent or now I was not sure. The man seemed young, possibly in his late twenties or early thirties, and was dressed in a simple tunic and trousers with the type of boots that most men would wear for riding. His clothing looked like it had been worn for many years and was quite worse for wear. There were multiple patches in both his shirt as wells as his pants, and his boots seem ready to fall apart at any moment. I would have taken him for a simple vagabond had his face not been so distorted and his sword not stained with what looked to me like blood.
My first instinct in seeing him was to faint. But I knew that my father would need me to help him if we were going to get any information out of him. As having talent for Air, being light hearted and having a quick mind are in my nature. But in having a quick mind, I am also able to lie and trick people very easily. Then, in being good at lying, I am also equally good at telling whether someone is lying or not. My father father discovered just how good my talent for making people tell the truth was at a very early stage in my life. I had actually found a truth-telling spell in one of my mother's books and used it to make my father tell me whether or not he had gotten me a doll for my fourth birthday. Apparently my mother's spell was meant for very advanced students of Air, and I managed to truly master it by the time I was five. Luckily I have not had much of an occasion to use the spell, as my father decided against ever lying to me when I was very young.
Knowing full well that I would be able to defend myself should the occasion arise, my father sent me to let the rest of Mr Murray's family as well as the servants that everything was ok for the present, and get them settled in the upper rooms while he and Mr Murray went to another room in order to not scare the rest of the house. Once I had the staff and Mrs. Murray and her children settled in the upper rooms, I went back down to where my father was. Looking out the windows, I knew that the sky should have been dark, as it was close to midnight, but from all the homes that were being burned, the sky held a glowing red light. Once I had found my father, we set to work in finding out what the pirates wanted. I will spare you the details, as there were a lot of things that I would never want you to ever be subject to. This man had a few tricks up his sleeve that we were unprepared for, and despite him almost getting away from us twice, as well as almost succeeding in committing suicide, we finally were able to keep him still enough so that I could work my truth spell on him.
Unfortunately, there was nothing out of the ordinary that he could tell us. He was apparently one of the lowest classes of pirate, where most of what he did was a lot of manual labour. He was simply told to follow the other pirates, and that he could pillage as he pleased. He did know that there was something specific that the pirates were looking for, however, as he as well as many other pirates of his status were not allowed into the homes until the other pirates had gone through them satisfactorily. I do now know what it is that they're looking for, but they have not ceased to look.
For a few days after the main raid, we were able to live carefully, but somewhat peacefully in our home. We still were unsure of the status of the rest of the city, and therefore dared not leave. After about the fifth day of quietly surviving and trying to find out exactly what was going on, we heard a banging at the door. Luckily everyone was upstairs, and it was my father and I that were going around and checking our defences around the house. My father went to investigate, while telling me to stay back, and run back to the upper floors if I had a chance. I could not see what my father was doing, or who was at the door, but as I was creeping back to the stairs, I heard the door open, and a shout, and I, being unable to simply leave my father alone to his fate, went rushing back down to the foyer, and found him surrounded by the King's Imperial Guards. What a surprise it was! Especially when they heard me coming, and suddenly all pointed their rifles at me! My father of course, immediately told them that I was his daughter, etc etc. Finally, settling all of the chaos that suddenly erupted was Captain Fern. Taking care to close up as much of the bottom floor as we could, and double check on our defences, my father and I lead the small regiment up to the second floor where everyone else was. To Captain Fern, we related our story about the invasion, and taking care to not scare the children, we waited until they were in bed, asleep, before we told about our interrogation of the pirate.
Of course the men were shocked that I had been in any way involved, but they accepted it for the way it was. They then told us what had been happening around the town. People's home were being raided, and indeed, it seemed that the pirates were searching for something. Nobody knows what, however. There are a few other households that survived, and were currently living much like ourselves. Strangely enough, all of the homes that had survived burning were homes that were either built by, or at some time owned by notorious pirates. Nobody is entirely sure why these homes were left alone, but there is a running theory that it is out of respect for the pirates that were long gone.
Apparently the King, immediately after hearing about the raid, sent forty six-manned regiments to scour the city for survivors, and to help them survive. When the regiment went through the town, they had decided to leave a regiment at every house of survivors they found; which, in retrospect, was a very good idea. What they found when they went through the city was that there were no pirates left. Or the ones that were left were lower class pirates like the one that we found that didn't know anything. But one thing that all the pirates seemed to hint at was that there was going to be another raid, but much more thorough, and longer. We hoped that what the pirates had said was simply speculation, or an empty threat, but we were wrong.
A few days after Captain Fern and his regiment found us, we were again raided by pirates. This time, however, it seemed that there were at least five times as many of them, and they seemed to be turning every stone possible in order to find whatever it is they were looking for. Since then, we have been fighting against them, but it seems that whenever we cut down one pirate, another immediately takes its place. There have been lulls in the fighting, when both our side as well as the pirates have taken time to attend to their wounded. During those times, other citizens of the city, accompanied by the regiment that found them, have found their way to our house, and we have gradually become full of people. The upper stories are taken up by the women and children as well as the wounded, and the bottom floor of the men and soldiers. Despite my being a woman, I spend a lot of my time down on the bottom floor, doing what I can to help the men.
One of the strangest things I have noticed about the King's Imperial Guards is that the ones that have the Talent, are actually set apart by a separate uniform. This way, everyone who sees them knows them for what they are. It is so strange when for your whole life, you have been told to conceal your Talent. What I have realized, however, is that even though these special men may be showing the fact that they have Talent, very few people understand the meaning of the separate uniform. Also, as it is that people with Talent can recognize other people with Talent, it is part of their duty that they keep other's secrets. They understand that for the common citizen, having any sort of Talent is something that you don't talk about to anyone but your most trusted family and friends. So part of my reason for staying on the bottom floor is to help with setting spells that the Talented troops are setting up for our defences.
I have been allowed to take as much time as it has taken to write this letter, only because I have not had much rest in the last few days. The between us and the pirates has increased, and finally we have come to a standstill. For now anyway. I do not know how much longer this will last, but before the fighting starts again, I must go and build up our defences again. I will do my best to find some way of getting this letter to you. I do hope this fighting doesn't go on for too long, I fear for the children who should not have to live through times like these.
I hope that you and your family are quite safe, and that you are having happier times than we are. Please take care of yourself, and please try to keep Alexander from coming here. As much as I love him, I do not want him to waste his opportunity of learning as much as I know he can from your father. Please take care of him for me; though I have faith that we will make it through this. There seem to be less pirates every day we fight, and it seems that they may stop looking soon, as it would seem that they have looked everywhere except for maybe this house.
Give my regards to your family, and my love to Alexander.