Good sir, you mistake me. I do not think it likely that you mistake me for a friend, but I fear that you mistake me for a fool – I assure you that I am neither. I reply to you out of general concern for human welfare and sympathy for your current predicament; please do not misinterpret this as an overture seeking continued correspondence.
You speak of “goodwill” and a “steadfast alliance” between myself and Dr. Crane. Crane, who washed ashore on Garnsey with a crew of military brutes. Who brought the accursed Robards into our midst – indeed, who brought the man to my office, knowing what he was capable of, in order to gain access to Bennington’s lab. True, he saw the danger Robards posed in due time, and stood against him. He even rescued me from prison! Of course, it was a prison of Robards’ making, and Crane might have ended the affair much earlier by putting a bullet in his brain or a knife in his back. Instead he continued to hope for a way to “fix” him; worse, he did not see through Robards’ ruse, which led us to expect an attack on Carteret from the sea. We would all have been doomed were it not for Rachel’s interference.
Ah yes, Rachel. One of my most important charges – indeed, the responsibility which I took the most to heart – was to keep her safe and comfortable after the indignities she had suffered. That Bennington had the temerity to ask her for more blood – still more! – after all that she had been through … you are correct, that is a reason why hearing her name gives me little joy. It is only a testament to Rachel’s own generosity of spirit that she agreed, over my strenuous objections. But that was all in the past, and she had a good life, happy and content, until Crane and Robards came along. She saved us all at Carteret, and then … well, I need hardly tell you. She chose not to stay here, with me, in relative safety. She departed with Crane.
More recently I have had the occasion, while presiding over the smoldered ruins of my life’s work, to see a foreign power raise its flag over my tiny island home. If any of what I have said thus far strikes you as offensive, then I urge you to consider all that I have endured and kindly take your indignation and shove up it your a**.
There. All that having been said, Alia has convinced me that your motives are just as you state them. And I do credit Bennington for attempting to atone for her past sins. In that spirit I will tell you what I know.
The destruction of Greysham is a tragedy, but one that is puzzling to me. I am by no means privy to the plans of our Gallian invaders, but the fact that I am fluent in their language, and that they have deemed me not to be a threat, means that I have had some interaction with their Admiral. He has sought me out for advice in the administration of the island and insight into recent events. Thus I feel that I can say with a modest degree of certainty that the attitude of the Gallian fleet toward Albion is primarily one of Trepidation, coupled with a shocking degree of Bureaucratic Sluggishness. The idea of a surgical strike on Greysham does not seem like them at all, and I caught no whiff of it here. Thus I am inclined to agree with your assessment: someone thought something was there, and had the wherewithal to command a force to see it destroyed.
As to Crane, and LaGrande. The Gallian did indeed find me here. I saw to it his letters were delivered, and we spoke – indeed, his introductions facilitated the current state of goodwill that exists between myself and our occupiers. But I did not read the letters, and only now, having read yours and having some details filled in by Alia, do I begin to understand everything that has occurred. You will be disappointed to hear that Crane did not come here. I have had no contact with him or his companions, and no further contact with LaGrande once he departed. Certainly he left me no map.
I am sorry that I cannot be of any help – but no, I am not. For the help you ask for in the second part of your letter is peculiar in the extreme. You wish me to “assist” Brown? Crane knew that Dr. Amory Brown is a monster. And rest assured that the man is all too well-known to me. When I called in every Society favor that I could manage in order to bring Rachel here to the College, under my protection, it was from Brown that I was protecting her. Before Mont-Bré, who do you suppose it was that instructed Van Dyke to shoot the man on sight if he should be encountered?
So I find it hard to fathom that you, sir, do not also recognize his danger. Instead you bid me to aid him. If you are misled, please stand corrected. If you are a fool, then there is no help for that. But if you are writing under duress – well, that is indeed a concern, and one that I have shared with Alia, who seems fond of you. I will indeed send word to Les Rives best I can, but it will be to warn LaGrande about Brown, not otherwise.
I will conclude with a concern of my own, one that, despite all our differences, I would be giving to Crane if I could. Perhaps you could pass it along if you find him. When I was questioned by the Gallian authorities, they understandably wanted to know a great deal about Robards, and of the brief but memorable existence of the state of New Albion here on Garnsey. What became evident to me is that they had already spoken with the man himself, in whatever cell the governor had stashed him. I know that his power over mens’ wills was no longer present after the battle of Carteret. I trust and hope that this is still the case, and long for some means to verify it. For if Robards should find his voice again … Deus help us all.