Tethered (Novella) - By Meljean Brook

Fladstrand, Upper Peninsula, Denmark

August 23

Dearest Archimedes,

One day, philosophers will weep as they ponder the following questions: How is it that a brother often managed to write his sister even when he was hiding from assassins hired by one of the most dangerous men in the world, yet cannot put pen to page now that the threat is annulled? How is it, after securing a fortune and a permanent residence aboard Lady Nergüi, he allows five months to pass without a single word sent?

I do not weep over these imponderables, however. Those philosophers do not know your character as I do; I know you would never have been so remiss if any possible opportunity to send a note had arisen. Quite obviously, your hands have been devoured by zombies, preventing your fingers from lifting a pencil, and your tongue must be roasting on some bar-barian’s fire. Otherwise, surely, you’d have asked someone to post a message when Lady Nergüi flew into a port for provisions—as airships frequently do.

So I can only conclude that you are crippled, starved for lack of supplies, and your skyrunner is lost among the clouds, thousands of miles from any friendly port. I also assume that, in addition to all of these terrible calamities, you have been inconsolable knowing that had you been near any city with a postal drop, you could have read the recent editions of The Lamplighter, which contain my first Lady Lynx adventure. But do not despair, dearest brother! When you return to Port Fallow and collect the mountains of letters that have accumulated during your absence, you will find that I have enclosed the full manuscript of Lady Lynx and the Cutthroat of Constantinople.

My generosity overwhelms you; I know it must. No doubt you are sobbing with gratitude even as you read this letter. Stay your tears for a few more paragraphs, however, for I must also relay news that you—or Captain Corsair—might find troubling.

You need not worry that it pertains to the story itself; it is quite the ripping adventure. My concern is thus: When I broached the idea of a new serial with Captain Corsair and solicited her help in the creation of Lady Lynx, she made only two requests—that Lady Lynx would not easily soften, and that I would not reveal who provided the foundation for Lady Lynx’s character. I believe she will not be disappointed by the first; Lady Lynx is appropriately ruthless in the story. The second, however, is now completely beyond my control.

I did try, Archimedes. I took my usual liberties with your version of events, changing names, altering descriptions, and creating a fictional plot to carry the action along. At my request, The Lamplighter broadly hinted that Lady Lynx was, in fact, based on the Wentworth woman in London.

After the newssheets reported that you accompanied Captain Corsair to the Vashon shipyards, however, and that you now resided aboard her new skyrunner—and what could be more shocking and worthy of gossip than the famous Archimedes Fox taking up with a notorious mercenary?—the speculation about Lady Lynx’s true identity gained a life of its own. Perhaps it is unsurprising. Everyone has long believed that you are the author of the Archimedes Fox adventures; of course the readers assume that the Lady Lynx adventures are thinly veiled stories about the woman most closely connected to you now.

I debated for some time whether to write Captain Corsair directly, and to inform her that the dangerous reputation she so carefully cultivated is now jeopardized by Lady Lynx’s heroics. You know her better than I do, however, and can better judge her moods; so I have put this intelligence in your hands to impart as you see fit, and in the hope that I have not jeopardized something far more important to me: your happiness, which you have miraculously found with this woman.

Also, she is less likely to kill me if you deliver the message.

With no small measure of love or cowardice,


P.S. I will begin writing the next Lady Lynx tale soon. If you have any new adventures to report, your contribution will be, as always, greatly appreciated—and perhaps I will not title it Lady Lynx and the Horribly Neglectful Sibling.

Nova Lagos, Lusitania, the Americas

September 4

O! loveliest Zenobia!

I imagine you receiving this letter with a great cry of relief—and an equally great cry of guilt for all of the abuse that you have undoubtedly heaped onto my handsome head these past few months. Neglectful! Idiotic! Ridiculous! Oh, how you must have wailed