After the family meeting, Sameth can't sleep so he goes to his workroom and tries to make the joints on the cricketers and the soldier for Tavi move properly. Nothing seems to be working and he can almost feel the bells and book through the cupboard door.
Some time later in the night, he's not sure of the time there's a loud knocking, he knows he yells something and there's a clatter. When he goes to look there's what's left of a letter from Nick waiting for him. As he pieces the paper together and reads it, suddenly his own worries are a little easier to put aside for the sake of the trouble that Nick's got himself into.
Thanks for organizing the Old Kingdom visa for me. I don't know why your Consul at Bain was so reluctant to give me one. Lucky you're a Prince, I guess, and can get things done. I didn't have any trouble at this end. Father called Uncle Edward, who pulled the appropriate strings. Practically no one in Corvere even knew you could get a permit to cross the Perimeter. Anyway, I suppose it shows that Ancelstierre and the Old Kingdom aren't that different. It all comes down to who you know.
In any case, I intend to leave Awengate tomorrow, and if all the main connections go smoothly, I will be in Bain by Saturday and across the Wall by the 15th. I know this is earlier than we agreed, so you won't be able to meet me, but I'm not just rushing in on my own. I've hired a guide -- a former Crossing Point Scout I ran into in Bain. Quite literally, in fact. He was crossing the road to avoid a demonstration by these One Country fellows, stumbled and nearly knocked me over. But it was a fortuitous meeting, as he knows the Old Kingdom quite well. He also confirmed something I've read about a curious phenomenon called the Lightning Trap. He has seen it, and it certainly sounds worth studying.
He's not sure what the Lightning Trap is but it sounds troublesome and of course Nick wouldn't think to ask someone to help him make sure that his guide is uncorrupted.
So I think we will go and take a look at this Lightning Trap en route to your undoubtedly charming capital of Belisaere. My guide didn't seem at all surprised that I knew you, by the way. Perhaps he is as unimpressed by royalty as some of our former schoolfellows!
In any case, the Lightning Trap is apparently near a town called Edge, which I understand is not too far out of the direct route north to you. If only you people believed in normal maps and not quasi-mystical memorization aided by blank pieces of paper!
I look forward to seeing you in your native habitat-- almost as much as I look forward to investigating the curious anomalies of your Old Kingdom. There is surprisingly little written about it. The College library has only a few old and highly superstitious texts and the Radford little more. It never gets mentioned in the papers, either, except obliquely when Corolini is raving on in the Moot about sending "undesirables and Southerlings" to what he calls "the extreme North." I expect that I will be an advance guard of one "undesirable" in his terms!
The news of the date is even worse since he'd have to rush to meet Nick now, but clearly he should or else who knows what's going to happen.
Everything about the Old Kingdom seems to fall under a conspiracy of silence, so I am sure there will be many things for an ambitious young scientist to discover and reveal to the world. Or worlds, as it happens. I've recently had the surprising good fortune of stumbling through what appears to be some sort of break in time and space and into somewhere else entirely. They call the place 'Milliways,' and it's really quite amazing. I've not yet managed to duplicate the phenomenon that allowed me to reach it in the first place, but I'm sure it's just a matter of finding and replicating the proper conditions. I can almost see you rolling your eyes and hear you muttering about your 'Charter,' by the way, but I'll have you know that there are concepts in the physical sciences that refer to the possibility of such errata in space and time, and my experience merely proves that it can happen outside such theoretical realms. Hopefully I'll have it all figured out by the time I reach Belisaere; even aside from my own wanting to get back there, I think you'd quite like it.
I hope you are quite recovered, by the way. I have been ill myself, on and off, with chest pains that seem to be some sort of bronchitis. Strangely enough, they get worse the farther south I go, and were terrible in Corvere, probably because the air is absolutely filthy. I've spent the last month in Bain, and have hardly been troubled. I expect I will be even better in your Old Kingdom, where the air should be positively pristine.
In any case, I look forward to seeing you soon, and remain your loyal friend,
P.S. I don't believe Ellimere is really six foot six and weighs twenty stone. You would have mentioned it before.
Though Nick's skepticism of the Charter makes Sameth laugh, Nick really never changes. Sam has to read that paragraph twice, Nick found Milliways while Sam wasn't there. At least its a start to getting him to believe in things, maybe he met Kait there or Mogget.
His gaze goes to his door, its too much to hope after these months that if he opens that door Milliways will be there.