Sandown, 12 June

My Dear Rackham,

It hardly seems possible that less than a month has passed since we parted ways. So much has happened that that time and place seem like a different reality altogether; I trust you feel the same, though I pray your own adventures have been less laced with tragedy than my own.

With deepest regret I must inform you that Smythe and Dodgson did not survive the journey south. Would that they had gone out in a blaze of glory, protecting the rest of us, but alas, they both faded slowly due to complications from the Incident. Captain Robards insisted we hold on to their bodies until time and facilities were found for thorough examination, and it is just such a period of respite that we find ourselves in now. Naturally the task of performing the autopsies falls to me. I am delaying that bad business by writing to you now, but with good reason: a very young and overconfident young flyer calling herself Alia believes she can make deliveries back north and return here safely, but she departs very shortly.

I relate the following to you in strict confidence. Two nights ago I awoke from a horrid nightmare. Sitting up and looking around, however, I found reality no less disturbing. It was as if the skeins that covered all the people and objects around me had been ripped away, and their inner workings were laid bare to my sight (or perhaps my inner sight). My companions appeared as skeletons and collections of pulsing organs. The walls around us were present, and yet in no way prevented me from perceiving what lay behind them. Disoriented, I rose and stumbled around madly. When my vision finally returned to normal I was standing outside the abandoned building we had turned into our encampment. I know full well that memories from a half-dream state such as that are not to be trusted, but my memories, such as they are, are clear: my mad stumblings had not led me outside via the corridor and out the door, but rather, directly through the walls, as if I were a ghost.

I do not know what to make of it, though of course my mind turns toward the Incident, wondering whether I escaped the poor fate of Smythe and Dodgson, but did not come away from that place altogether unscathed. But we were together then, and so naturally I wonder how you fare, and whether you, too, have noticed anything … unusual? A laughable question in these times of ours, of course, but I trust you take my meaning.

I pray this letter finds you well. If you receive it and if this Alia is able to make good on her promise to safely deliver a reply, then my heart will be glad. My deep hope is that our correspondence may serve as a measure of sanity in these coming months.

Warm Regards,