My fourth and final submission to the Persona Challenge of summer 2022: developing a persona of a female entertainer who performs espionage in 1580 Florence for the family “Firenzi.”
My beloved mistress,
When you sent me, my sister, and my husband to the Pennsic Faire to listen for evidence of rebellion from the Barons and Baronesses of Atlantia, I never dreamed of witnessing such horrors.
As you said before we left, we would gain access to many gatherings under our guise as entertainers. We were, in fact, welcomed and left unescorted among many nobles and high ranking leaders
of the Kingdom of Atlantia and many of her cousin kingdoms. I prepared myself to hear the whispers of rebellion, and while that would have been heart wrenching to witness, my ears and soul witnessed much worse darkness flowing among the people of Pennsic Faire.
Your friend, the Queen of Atlantia, has nothing to worry about. The people of her kingdom are faithful to the crown above all else. There was, however, a more evil flow of rumor and gossip exchanged between the people of Atlantia. Never had I ever before known such worry and fear spoken between those portrayed as friends. Never had I ever before known such whispers of betrayal between neighbors.
Never had I ever known the population of a fairly ruled barony to fear the ultimate, heart wrenching insult – a threat to their supply of beer.
Brewed beverages are what keep a population happy and peaceful while great labors are demanded of them day after day. To threaten the supply of a barony’s beer barrels is so unthinkable I can hardly bear it.
My heart aches to report to you that your friends, the Baron and Baroness of Marinus, are at the center of this rumor. Also, their neighbors, the Baron and Baroness of Stierbach, are deeply steeped in flowing gossip. I disguised myself as a servant to listen to their tense conversation at Pennsic, and I overheard their discussion, nay panic, over the threat of their beer supplies.
My friend, Katherine, from the Kingdom of Aethlemearc, another comic actress engaged in spy work, confirmed hearing similar rumblings as she listened as well. Between both our efforts joined,
we can reliably report to you the following.
Upon the days of November 11, 12, and 13 in a city named Cortland, Virginia, their peoples will gather for war. Soldiers, archers, swordsmen, those that fight with rebated steel, and axe throwers
will flood the lands of the Barony of Marinus. They are rumored to eat the eggs of the devil, Persephone’s Pomegranates of Hades, and use some kind of dark magic to make a cake from cheese.
The dark cheese magic was said to come from the city of Istanbul or Constantinople. It’s unclear which. This great war will undoubtedly be held in a swamp if the lands of Cort are truly as moist as people say.
The last note of evidence I have for you is so fraught with danger I cannot risk it being read by even our trusted messenger from Casa Firenzi. I will include it below using the cypher you taught me named after the great Roman leader that will someday be worthy of a play written in iambic pentameter. But instead of his unlucky number as key, I shall remind you of my favorite color and hope you discover my meaning.
Below is a drawing I made of a spy master I met at Pennsic who taught me many more ways of hiding information. Please note the second drawing I made of the great leaders of Marinus and Stierbach. Their fear is real, and the threat to their beer supply is terrifying. I hope that our network of informants may serve to ease their pain.
In service to our Casa Firenzi and my beloved Marchesa Firenzi, does Sophia the Orange devote her heart and soul.
Hgxutkyy Mktkl joyroqky hkkx!
The English Spymaster teaching espionage at Pennsic
Marinus and Stierbach in a secret meeting at Pennsic
(A secret source for breaking the code of my message: https://cryptii.com/pipes/caesar-cipher )