Collected Letters of Francis St. James, Letter 17
I care not when or where we are
Theodora, my lost love,
He is dead, he is dead, my teacher is dead, Zakharov is dead, his ashes sit by my side and I know not how long or how or why. Ah, my love, my teacher is gone! Did you send me his urn? was it my brother? Zakharov’s wife? my mother? the pitiful fools who style themselves captains of the university? Who? Who? Who? And why, damn’t to all the gods, thrice damn’t, damn’t a thousand times and a thousand times more. My teacher is dead.
I should now confess that after the initial shock ‘wore off,’ it seemed only right and proper to memorialize old Zakharov with a proper ‘wake.’ Thanks to my good friend Anteas, I was able to procure a healthy supply of this ‘Rot’ that passes for alcohol, and I must admit that I have consumed the majority of’t. Should my manner of writing seem ‘odd,’ do take that into consideration - ‘tis not me but the ‘Rot’ that speaketh to you my dear.
But let us put all that aside and speak of the future, for now I find that my view of it has been subject to quite a dramatic alteration. While but a day ago I was positively giddy with the thrill of discovery, now I wonder if my discoveries have meaning, without my teacher with whom to share. Yes, yes, I know, I have you and I have our future but that seems ever adrift ‘out of reach.’ I wonder will I ever see you again and, while my heart cries out for it to be true, my mind knows that ‘twill be not. Alas. Alas. My teacher is dead.
Ah, but an idea occurs, my love, a most splendid idea. I do not wish to credit the ‘Rot,’ but I must be honest: a bit of drunkenness is doing me a whole universe of good. I have my third machine and, thanks to the efforts of Wendel, it works; it works and takes objects and extracts the mechano-narrative essence, which Wendel can translate into words. I trust you see where I am going, my love? Yes, you do: Zakharov’s ashes! He will live again, within the noble Wendel (who is hiding ‘neath the bed as we speak - my initial reaction to Zakharov’s death was explosive) and my teacher will live again!
Yes, that is what I shall do. That is exactly what I shall do.
Theodora, my love, wish me well in my enterprise. If I have success, I shall return to your arms in triumph. If not, then know that I remain, always and forever,
yours and yours alone,
Francis St. James
Archivist’s note: Immediately following the completion of this letter, St. James apparently attempted to extract Zakharov’s “mechano-narrative essence” from his cremains, using the machine he had so recently constructed. For reasons unknown, possibly relating to the massive amounts of Norwegian Rot in St. James’ system, the initiation of this process opened a vortex in the magnetic ether, through which the DR plunged to TD 22. Shortly before the ship entered the vortex, St. James was seen boarding the ship’s dinghy with a small bag of personal effects and the aforementioned “Wendel.” He has not been seen since.