A letter from Bacigalupo to Samuel North . . .
This is the next Patricia Sweet instalment of The Masked Ball. (Pat, Rebecca and myself are the joint authors of the official Masked Ball story) Pat runs the studio www.bopressminiaturebooks.com
To my most esteemed Friend and Mentor Samuel North or Della Nord as you are known by the Venichese, from one now calling himself Rodolfo West in Veniche:
It has been an uncounted number of years since last you had news of me, as I have been reluctant to burden you with yet another cruel disappointment, as I think you have always wondered about me, have you not? But I am compelled now to communicate an astonishing turn of events to you.
I am, as you have often said, unduly dramatic, but optimistic, as I have ever been, even when success seemed most uncertain. As improbable as it seems, the current train of events and concatenation of persons and circumstances must end in the realization of yours and my long-frustrated hopes. This power that we let fly into the world so long ago will come back to perch on my fist, as tame as a goshawk.
Fifty years ago, when the amulet was briefly in my possession and for which I must most sincerely apologise, I was able to compel an unknowing ally in a small child named Parthenope, a friend of the Dechanels. She saw me with the amulet, and yet showed no fear. I saw in her a playing piece which might be of some future use, so I set an enchantment on her so that she would know my true self when she saw me, and I would know of her passage through the world as time passed.
In this critical time, I have forged a chain of myself, Parthenope, her niece Vittoria, her friend Annabella Dechanel, and some other (and Other) allies against such a pack of hounds, Mortal and Other, as would make Huon proud. Who knows if they will prove to be true friends, but we can but hope. Di Lanuvio joins us here in good time for the Masked Ball which will draw all the pieces to the center of the board. I would wish the three of us, yourself, di Lanuvio and myself in at the death, as we were at the birth, but I know how you are constrained.
I also know you still regret the necessity of the charm’s creation,
but the Book of Cantrips did much to control and direct it, as long as it was in the right hands, for which I must again sincerely apologise but I was ever a curious child, was I not? Would that it could be in safe hands again and my guilt might be assuaged. If not, it is hoped the Book will make possible the destruction of the charm, although the price we pay may be beyond the courage of all of us.
I fancy myself a gardener, sometimes, sowing the seeds of events that neither of us will live to see. A planter of oaks, not wind-flowers.
If this is the last word you receive from me, know that I have been out-played at last, but hope to somehow be again,
Your most determined and unworthy pupil and friend,