24th day of Primus, 1669 AV
A light knock at the door rouses Francisco from his studies. The candle has burned almost to its stub, and the evening twilight that had been filtering through the library window has given way to full darkness. Turning to the portal, he is surprised to find Siobhan waiting, holding a folded paper. At his acknowledgement, the young elven woman strides quickly across the stone floor, looking every bit the dangerous predator despite the relatively feminine clothing she wears.
Handing over the paper, Siobhan steps back and waits while the young man unfolds the paper and scans the note, written in Maria’s precise hand.
Thank you for your offer to search for my sister and return her to safety. While I am certain that you feel this to be a gallant and noble undertaking for which I should be grateful, I hope that you will understand when I say that I am less than overwhelmed by the overture.
Not only does your proposal ring hollow, given that it was your behavior that led to poor Salma’s despair, but you attempted to besmirch my honour in the same manner during the voyage to Colombo. It was only the gallant intervention of Captain Mason and Commander Blakely which circumvented your boorish behavior. I find it terribly disheartening that a Castillian woman of noble birth would be forced to turn to Avalonian sailors to protect her honour from a countryman.
While I find that I cannot wish you ill in any endeavor that might return my sister to her family, I wish to make it clear that this offer does not change matters in the slightest. I have every expectation that if you pursue this matter with the same level of competence and skill with which you undertake your academic enterprises, my sister will remain lost to us forever.
Maria Francesca de Sandoval y Vega
As Francisco finishes the letter, suppressing disappointment that his vow has not thawed the woman’s hatred even a little, he realizes that the elven woman still stands nearby. As he looks up at her tattooed face, her expression softens ever so slightly and she speaks, her Castillian accented by a slightly musical lilt.
“Do not be misled by the tone of her missive. Your letter had a profound effect on Maria and there were tears that she tried to hide. I thank you for giving her hope, but be warned: If you cause her harm, her anger will pale in comparison to mine.”
The slim woman turns and prowls from the room without waiting for a response.