Beyond the Cascade
The True Story of the Valerius

The History of Charlotte Summerfeld

For the story of Ms. Charlotte Summerfeld, I shall deviate slightly from my heretofore established style, for I shall begin my tale not with Ms. Summerfeld herself, but rather the internal structure of a popular newspaper, The Weekly Inquisitor.

The Weekly Inquisitor was established in ISD 536 with the honest intention of providing superior journalism, an intention they remained faithful to for the first couple of decades of their existence. However, journalism is much like milk, in that both tend to get worse with the passage of time. By the year of ISD 560, The Weekly Inquisitor had succumbed to the pressures of a public audience with a taste for scandal, and thus had become increasingly sensationalist.

This deterioration of the state of affairs at The Weekly Inquisitor was met with no insignificant resistance by many of their best journalists, including a certain Mr. Stephen Flanagan. This resistance was to no avail, however, as contracts at newspapers such as The Weekly Inquisitor strictly dictated the actions of journalists with regards to the stories about which they wrote. Take this passage, lifted out of a similar publication's contract:

"3 - No publishable content, or information regarding potentially publishable content, gathered, researched, or otherwise obtained by an employee during his tenure with [the Publication] may be by any employee of [the Publication] published, made publicly available, or communicated to any person or organization with the capability of making the information so without the express permission of the Editorial Board of [the Publication]."

This zealously guarded handling of information gave the editors of the newspaper full discretion to assert their own perspectives into the published articles, even to the point of being able to nearly completely recomposing articles written by the journalists. Editorial staffs for many publications made heavy use of this authority to push narratives, whether motivated by a political agenda or the desire to attract a readership through dramatic sensationalism.

This state of affairs remained until a landmark case in ISD 600, Demetrius v. The Weekly Inquisitor. I will elect to gloss over the specifics of the case, as the pertinent aspect of the case was the question at its core: to what extent do publications have the right to limit the use of information that their employees collect? The court held that, while publications could demand the right of first publication from their employees, information that a publication had already published, or decided not to publish, could not be prevented from being republished by their employees. What this allowed for was the mass publication of the original articles that had been submitted to the editorial board of The Weekly Inquisitor. For the most part, the articles, in an unedited form, presented far more accurate and well-rounded explanations of events than had their edited progeny.

This tangential explanation serves to justify the rest of this chapter. One of the original articles published at the time was written by the aforementioned Mr. Flanagan on the subject of Charlotte Summerfeld, and the rest of this chapter shall be almost entirely in his words. I felt justification was necessary, as Mr. Flanagan wrote for The Weekly Inquisitor, a publication of ill-repute, and his style is not of an academic quality. However, his article on the subject of Miss Summerfeld is accurate, and easily meritorious enough to allow for its use here. Therefore, I shall now allow Mr. Flanagan's words to tell the rest of this piece of the tale.

"Chrom Castle, standing tall and strong against the skies above the village below, a veritable bastion of respectability, pride and aristocratic nobility. And yet, there is a little secret hiding in the old and worn corridors of that respectable place.

The Summerfelds are a family just as respectable as the castle that they call their home, but no family is entirely without loose cannons, and no family is capable of forever hiding their kin who may bring them shame.

The following is the truth, verified by personal accounts of the events.

It was deep in the winter of 559, as the entire Heartland was beset by storms of a most vicious nature, that Miss Charlotte Summerfled was born - a child who would prove to be even more troublesome than the weather she was born in.

Her formative years were well-spent, and quite banal for someone who would eventually become such an unconventional figure. Miss Charlotte was well educated in all of those areas in which women excel, but her interests have never tended towards such feminine pursuits as music or embroidery.

One of her tutors complained her complete disinterest in study, saying, 'never before have I met a young lady so much more interested in the catching of frogs than the wholesome pursuit of music.'

There even occurred a fairly major accident in the summer of 670, when a Miss Lydia Raymond, then governess to Miss Charlotte, was very nearly killed. Miss Charlotte had been tinkering with a bizarre contraption in her room, which, quite unexpectedly tore itself to pieces in an explosive fashion, shooting pieces of metal across the room at Miss Raymond, who was rendered unconscious by a blow to the head.

This and other such events lead to a slew of tutors who jumped at the chance to educate the young lady Summerfeld, not realizing the terrible difficulty that the position entailed, and therefore left within a span of months.

Then, however, when Miss Charlotte had reached the age of 13, there came a tutor who did not leave, and who indeed seemed to have achieved the impossible; getting young Miss Charlotte interested in her education as a women of high class. His name was Gordon Smith.

However, this is only the beginning of the scandal. It was not known at the time, but a secret pact had been made. Miss Charlotte would be dutiful in her studies, and in exchange, would be given the opportunity to aid Mr. Smith in professional research.

To so misguide a young lady in her education is shocking enough, and to do so in complete secrecy from her parents is an egregious offense to decency. Yet so it was that Mr. Smith did.

Inevitably, this state of affairs broke down. Miss Charlotte was 16 when a friend of Lord Summerfeld gave a hint as to what was occurring. In a state of shock, Lord Summerfeld came to learn the truth of the matter, and Mr. Smith was asked to leave immediately. However, Lord Summerfled was confronted with an issue he had not expected, for Miss Charlotte left with him.

For a period of several months, Miss Charlotte's whereabouts were unknown, until Lord Summerfeld agreed to allow his daughter to continue her pursuits, so long as she did so within the secrecy of Chrom Castle and put out every outward appearance of normalcy.

Despite this, news of the events came to my ears. I pursued the issue, and uncovered the depths of this story. After much effort, I was able to secure an interview with Miss Charlotte earlier this year, during which she divulged a great many insights.

'Mr. Smith is an excellent man,' Miss Charlotte said. 'Though I realize that many would believe his handling of my education to be most improper, I also realize that such small-minded thinking must necessarily hold back the progression of human thought and scientific achievement.'

Miss Charlotte had adopted a haughty expression that pinched and distorted her otherwise handsome visage. 'I was afforded an opportunity to improve my understand of the natural world,' she continued, 'and I shall not apologize that I made great use of that opportunity. I have studied that natural sciences, I have read Bertos, and I can apply Filirand's theorem. As I have demonstrated my capacity in this field already, I have submitted an application to the Westriver Institute of Scientific Advancement.'

'Surely,' I exclaimed at this point, 'you do not expect that such a prestigious organization would grant you such an honor?'

Miss Charlotte smiled, an act that would have made her truly beautiful, were it not for the sly, ambitious nature that it bore. She said, 'I realize that my actions will not gain me entry into the Institute; my expectation is for failure. However, my actions are far from futile. There will come a day when perhaps those at the Institute will regret their unthinking, irrational rejection of my application as a significant mistake.'

I then decided to shift the conversation, and persuaded Miss Charlotte to show me her workshop. She was surprisingly willing; I am convinced that she does not feel any shame in how she acts.

The workshop was not messy, but very full. On every surface there was something, whether an array of tools or a set of flasks. There was a feeling of ordered chaos to the arrangement.

There were several of what appeared to be in progress experiments. One of them had the appearance of a skeleton, with several wooden limbs attached by wire to a main body. I leaned over and began to move one of the limbs, but I was sharply rebuked. 'Mr. Flanagan, please do not touch anything. I should not like there to be an accident.'

Recalling the tale of poor Miss Raymond, I withdrew my hand hastily and apologized.

Miss Charlotte's attitude had changed since entering the workshop. Her outward attitude had become more serious and intense, but underneath that exterior was an air of ease, of comfort. It was clear to me that this was where she felt most at home.

'Miss Charlotte,' I asked, 'have you considered marriage.' Her response was immediate, 'have you considered the irrelevancy of that question, given how difficult I may find a husband?'

I was forced to concede to her on that point, for who indeed could know where Miss Charlotte Summerfeld might end up. It seems likely that she would end as no more than an old maid, but perhaps a man of the same nature as the late Lord Roger Asper might come and tame the wild Miss Charlotte as Lord Asper tamed the wild Miss Avant-Conceur.

Only time will tell."

- Mr. Stephen Flanagan

That account, though fancifully and sensationally written, accurately conveys the facts of Miss Summerfeld's life, up until the year of ISD 576, when this article was written. However, between this time and the time at which Miss Summerfled was hired as the official scientist on the Valerius, we have very little information. The Summerfeld family did an impressive job in shielding Miss Summerfeld from the public eye.

Yet at some point in this period, Miss Summerfeld came into contact with Captain Asper. Theories as to how this came about are little more than speculation, though there is strong evidence that Mr. Smith was involved in the introduction. Mr. Smith's brother, Mr. Jeremy Smith, was hired by Mr. Asper after the end of Rekkjav War in ISD 670. Some have suggested that the "professional research" that Mr. Flanagan mentions was actually for the Valerius itself, although such claims remain entirely unsubstantiated.

In the absence of proof as to how, it is still known that Miss Summerfeld came to be listed as the Chief Scientist aboard the Valerius, and thus concludes the chapter pertaining to the early life of Miss Charlotte Summerfeld.