Letters from Armorica: Dock Work (10 Mai 33 AF)

First Letter

Jack,

I did it! I have finally gotten out from under my father's thumb and all of the guild politics back in Yorke. You said I never would, but at last I have. It took over a year of saving my pocket money and bowing and scraping to the old tyrant, but I managed it in time.

I'll have you know that I'm writing to you from Mont-Havre in Armorica, the biggest city in the colony. I'm sitting in a tiny little room on a hard wooden chair, writing by the light of a handglow, and I hurt all over from working all day at the port— but I'm feeling fine. I'm on my own for the first time in my life, truly all by myself except for the fleas. Madame Truc insists there are no fleas, but I've got the bites to prove her wrong. It's still better than having the servants spying on me and reporting to my father.

Yes, I know, I opted for a Provençese colony rather than a Cumbrian one. Shocking, but I did it on purpose, and only after doing my research. I had over a year to plan, remember.

Armorica is young enough that there are still opportunities aplenty for an ambitious young man, but old enough to be livable. Better still, the guilds here aren't beholden to any of the guilds back home, not in practice. The present guild masters here in Mont-Havre all came here from Provençe as young men, so they are doubly separated from all of the guild politics back in Yorke. In fact, they are triply separated. Because of the Troubles, the Provençese colonies have always been more independent than the Cumbrian ones, and these guild masters have been too busy building up Armorica to have any attention left for Old World matters.

In short, my father will find no ready-made cat's paws here.

And it will not be as lowering as you might think. Armorica is becoming more Cumbrian with each ship-load of colonists; now that the Troubles have subsided in Provençe, they aren't sending as many colonists over-skies as they had been for many years. That's true in all of the Provençese colonies. Everyone here speaks Cumbrian perfectly well.

Yes, I've been doing hard manual labor at the port, carrying this and lifting that. Quite a come-down after my sheltered upbringing, I know, but it took all my funds to secure passage on the Lombard, and that was in steerage. I made a few friends onboard the ship, but by the way of things they had little more on arrival than I did.

Dock-worker was literally the first paying job I came across after I disembarked: there was a sign offering ten francs for workers to help unload the Lombard. I jumped at it, because I wasn't going to have anything to eat otherwise.

That was three days ago. The Lombard left for Cumbria this afternoon, and I must say it was a fine sight, rising up into the sky and vanishing into the West. I was sorry to see it go, though. Dock-working isn't a full-time job; it only pays when a ship is in port, and there won't be another ship in for several weeks. The ten francs would keep me fed and housed until then, barely, but I think I'll use the time to find something better. I can tell you, I thought quite a lot about that on my walk from the port down into the city.

You're no doubt off somewhere with your regiment. As I've no notion how long it will take this to find you, you had best write me care of the Courier's Guild here in Mont-Havre. I've no concern about giving you my permanent direction, of course, but I do not intend to stay with Madame Truc any longer than I must, and who knows where I shall end up.

Hoping this finds you well,

Your cousin,

Armand

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