Text of a letter from Atta Olivia Clemens at Lecco to Rakoczy Sanct' Germain Franciscus in Alexandria, written in Imperial Latin, carried by Eclipse Trading Company courier and the ship Golden Moon, delivered two months after it was written.

To my most dear, most vexing, most enduring friend, the nettled greetings of Atta Olivia Clemens on this, the 29th day of March in the 1272nd Christian Year,

I am too perplexed to rebuke you, although I am sorely tempted. I have your letter of last November in hand at last. So you tell me in this most recent letter that you plan to leave Alexandria in a year or so and go to Constantinople. Why not come here instead, to Lecco, and spend a few months with me? It has been a long time since we have seen one another, and it would do us both good, I think, to have time to talk face to face, and not have to rely on the delays and vagaries of sending letters that may take months to arrive, if they arrive at all. I had hoped that when you left Praha you might have stopped here at Lago Comu for a few days at least, but instead, you went off to Narabonnis and sailed from there to Egypt. Why did you go so far out of the way to take ship? Neither Otakar nor Istvan had reason to pursue you, even if they had been aware that you had survived.

Doubtless you have heard that Otakar has not done well recently in his fight to make an empire out of Bohemia, and he has probably lost all chance to be Holy Roman Emperor when Richard of Cornwall finally dies. Frederich of Hohenzollern has been promoting his brother-in-law for the position; I'm sure that Rudolph von Hapsburg, Comes of Austria, would do the work as well as any of those eastern European barbarians could, and with unsteadiness to the south of Hungary, no one would take a chance on Istvan, who is rumored to be going to war with Bulgaria. I'm told that Urosh of Serbia may not honor his treaties to Constantinople and could enter the side of Bulgaria.

Never mind. I am being inconsequential; the fate of Kings is not yours to bear, nor mine. You had your reasons for going to Alexandria, and they are not for me to oppose. But still, I would like to see you for at least a little while, before you continue on to Constantinople. Like you, I become lonely from time to time, and I miss speaking the language of my youth with someone who comprehends it as you do. Niklos is very reliable and he indulges me from time to time with Imperial Latin, but he did not know me in my breathing days, as you did. As I write this, I am made aware of how much more you are alone than I am, and how the loneliness must ache in you more than the yearning for touching the living. Or perhaps it is that loneliness that fuels the hunger those of your blood have, more than the need for the only sustenance that can support us. I, too, have found that those I have sought out are less willing, or perhaps less capable, of embracing us and our nature as others have been in the past, preferring to indulge the flesh but to withhold the soul, for fear of slighting the Christian God, or his minions on earth.

It is unfortunate that the Church has claimed so much of the understanding of the people, and has become the clerk for the nobility. I think back to the Priest of the City in the Roma of my youth, a position that was a political one achieved by election, a time when the Vestal Virgins could over-rule the Senate and even the Emperor for a century or two. The people worshiped by choosing the god or goddess who best supported their cause, and respected them as they respected the civic virtues they represented-at least enough of them did to provide an even keel for the Empire. You remember this time, and although Niklos has heard about it, he came after the Roman state was (if you will pardon my putting it this way) in eclipse, and riddled with corruption, as so many European Courts are now. You have told me the corruption was always there, and that may be true, but not so blatant as it became, and not so devoid of consequences.

Such morose maunderings! You will think me lost in melancholy, and I am not. I will admit to being disappointed in the world around me, but that is far from despondency and the lethargy that comes with it. I know that I must not give way to despair, nor will I, but I am certain that I should put my efforts toward finding those partners who are willing to find exultation in more than the Mass. Is that why you went to Alexandria? Are the women there more willing to extend themselves to you? I have assumed most of them live cloistered lives, away from men, but there may be some who will be happy to have a lover as devoted to their fulfillment as his own. I admit this causes me misgivings I have not felt before, and that leads to restlessness that erodes my serenity. But it will pass, in time. You have assured me many times that all things do.

You will say I continue to quetch, which I will agree I do. You continue to wander, searching for what? solace? rapture? acceptance? endurance? Whatever it is, I hope you will find it, and that it will be all you have yearned for. Until that time, be certain that my love is yours



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