Dear Great Aunt Philippa,
I am writing to not only inform you of the terribly hideous news but to ask for your guidance and comfort. Recently orphaned I come to you; my only living relative, in search of answers.
An unexplainable fire engulfed the entire estate whilst I was with possible suitors last Sunday noon; not a single witness to shine a light on the darkness of what remains at Manor Vanguard. Devastation blankets me and any promised marriages were called off through doubt of financial stability. Fortunately, I have managed to secure a cosy room in the local village, though I have no coin to thank the kind family. I am purely relying on my title for now, but without any sort of validation I am certain this won’t last.
I do not know much of you, only that you are somewhere West and I have been assured that you’ll receive this. What I do know of you is pleasant, I remember you visiting many winters ago and your uncanny likeness to my mother had me confused as an infant. Your embrace was stiffer than my mother’s, and you were waiting to be wed I recall.
I have contemplated returning to the ashes of my home but grief cradles me close and I am reminded of my great loss. Forty eight servants, my brothers and my parents, all deceased. I am almost glad Mother had forced me to meet with Sir Royland, though handsome he isn’t very intellectual and now that my dowry is non-existent so is his affection. This trauma has seeped into my mind and I can’t converse without shaking. I have been given Wendlelock cloves to help me sleep though when I close my eyes I see nothing but flames swallowing my father whole.
Mother had told me many stories about you; is it true you rode to Lanra barefoot on a wild stallion in a day? She has also expressed your fascination with medicines and I pray you have something to rid the sickness from my skull. I’m sorry you weren’t titled; I don’t think you’re improper, I think you had ambition. I understood why you were reluctant to marry, I too are the same. Isn’t it dreadful that before we are even born we are promised to another? Marrying would not strengthen our title, only dilute it.
It is you and I now, the only evidence of the Vanguardian legacy. I propose we meet at Woodward Inn eight moons from now; we must investigate the obliteration of our family.
Emilia Vanguard first of her name
– Molly Johnston