Our detour continues. You must send funds and chocolate as we have run out of both. The latter cannot be had here for love or money, nor for more persuasive means, and I find that I miss it from time to time. According to Richard, the cravings indicate that I may be pregnant, so perhaps you should have a care for the remainder of your inheritance.
Instead of chocolate the natives drink tisane. It is the same rank decoction Betty used to give for hangovers--looks like bilgewater and tastes like weeds--so either the imbeciles here drink it even when they are not hung over, which is pure masochism, or they are all hung over all the time (I suspect the latter). Richard likes it. He likes the armament shops as well: in his eyes I suppose they are practically pornographic. If he could afford it he would elope with some sort of bizarre foreign sword sharp on only one side, like a kitchen knife, with a name no one can pronounce.
Yes, I did say eyes. The apothecaries sell medicinal eye drops that are highly effective. I will pause to allow you a moment in which to have feminine vapors of sympathetic joy. The eye drops are not expensive, but we go through them like a whore goes through sheepskins. Did I mention that you should send money? For the sake of your teacher, if not your dear uncle. The sooner the better.
The capital city is otherwise barbaric. One cannot so much as hire a cab without possessing certain wooden tokens, and the only way to get the tokens is--brace yourself--by helping other people. I was forced to sit in a dingy alehouse in Trant for half a day while Richard ran about ferrying messages like an angel of goodwill. No one was murdered in the process, but we are both getting too old for that sort of thing.
The other day we happened to catch a glimpse of the emperor when he made a rare public appearance. It will divert you to learn that he is both younger than you and prettier.
The man who had been listening in silence interrupted.
"Alec." It sounded less like a name than a rebuke. "Take that out."
"Which part?" drawled the man with the letter. "This is mercenary censorship. I'm surprised you would stoop to it."
"He was not prettier than Katherine."
"You have peculiar taste. And how would you know? Did you ever get a decent look at her? Besides, they change so quickly at that age. She could be pimply and bucktoothed by now." But he produced a pen and amended the text before resuming.
It will divert you to learn that he is both younger than you and more popular. Rumor has it that he may be sleeping with his bodyguard-cum-personal-aide, which I'm sure we can agree shows good judgment. How is Marcus, by the way? I hope you haven't worn him out already. Give him my best, send funds at once to the following address. Yours, etc.
The man with the letter stopped. "Anything to add? I want to post this before we board."
"We're not as penniless as you make us out to be." The other leaned back in his chair, resting a hand comfortably on the pommel of his sword. "I could go on another hunt."
"And come back covered in ichor, like the last time? No thank you. You were putrid for days."
"Killing monsters is interesting."
"Moreso than killing people, yes, you've said so. Shall I tell Katherine? P.S. Richard has found his true calling at last."
The swordsman smiled. "Never mind that. Tell her I say hello."