Of Ends and Beginnings

(The page has several lines of crossed-out ink, the writing made illegible by angry, frustrated strokes.  Eventually, however, the wrath forms into words…)


What I wouldn’t do for your advice; what I wouldn’t give for your counsel.  Almost half a year you have been gone, and the pain still washes over me anew each day, wearing me down like a stone on the shore at high tide.  So much has happened since your senseless and sudden passing, and yet my feelings have moved so little.  I fear that if my apathy continues, there will be nothing left, in time.

Were it not for little Edera, and the boys, and Shaylei…  And now, Shaylei is with child?  She is the only thing that tethers me to reason.  I could not bear to lose her, too.

Will I make a good father?  Or a good uncle, to your Edera?

The people I keep close – are they my source of strength, or are they my weakness?

The dreams have grown worse, of late.  I often lay awake for hours, waiting for Shaylei’s breathing to slow so that I may slip out of bed undetected.  The forge keeps me occupied, but more and more,  I have taken to roaming outside the city and hunting the beasts that lurk in the forest.  Sometimes, I think I would be more at home among them.  The city is full of liars and fools.  And as for myself?  I am but one more.  I have done everything as I should, yet I continue to don a mask of contentment, as though I think it might change who I am underneath.

Have I any right to complain, as a man of wealth and privilege?

The rain has lasted for weeks.  Some say it is the work of mages.  Perhaps it is the Lord of Springs, weeping for our sins.

The city…

It must be saved from itself.



Of Beginnings and Ends

(The following note appears to have been hastily-written across a half-sheet of soot-smudged parchment.)

To my dear sister who lives in Talfore, Farin:

Arlais, I received your note, though I was admittedly disappointed that it was merely a note, after all these months!  But, I am glad you received my letters and my early gifts, and I know you will be quite busy preparing for Yule and for the new babe, which unless I am mistaken is due at any moment now, yes?  I hope you are blessed with a girl, as I know that is your wish.  In truth, I can scarcely believe that three quarters of a year have already passed by…

I have some quick news of my own to share, though I somehow doubt that anything I have to say will come as a surprise:  I was knighted in mid-Novembris, and I have since asked Miss Shaylei le Orban to be my wife.  Much to my relief and happiness, she has accepted my offer.  Harith is due to send me a marriage contract, which is to be signed by both parties, and in a few months’ time, Miss le Orban and I will make our vows before a small group of family and friends.  Please tell me you will attend, Arlais.  I have furnished a guest bedroom in my home just for the purpose of your visit.  Also, do not fear:  an official invitation will be sent to you and your husband shortly, just as soon as the contract has arrived and has been found agreeable by Miss le Orban’s family.

Until then, know that I am eager to see you and that I miss you very much.  Happy Yuletide, sister.

By my hand this day, Decembris 1, 357,

A______ de R_____

A Letter to Theo

(The following letter is written in a sober, steady hand on pristine parchment.)

To Master Theo ab Kasmith of Savir, I, Argider de Roldan, send greeting from the north:

It is the month of Novembris, and a time for giving thanks.

Uncle, I do not know if you will understand this letter, but I admit that it is long overdue.  Since you were stricken with your illness – four years to the day, almost – I have found it very difficult to reach out to you.  I have never been good with words, like Arlais.  After all that had happened on the journey to Vavard, our struggles in Charalin, and the long road home… I had thought we would have more time to talk things over and to come to terms with what had happened.  Perhaps, if I had known you would become ill, I would not have wasted so much time in silence during our trip back to Savir.  Even worse, I worry that our troubles across the Sea may have put too much of a strain on you.  What if I had contributed to your illness, in some way?

But I know what you would say, and the purpose of this letter is not to burden you with my feelings of regret, Uncle.  You knew my father, so no doubt you understood why he and I did not get along so well together:  like my brother Harith, he was always business-minded and distant with his family.  But sending me to Abbas Hall was, at least so far as I’m concerned, the wisest choice he ever made.

I want you to know that I am finding some happiness and contentment in my life, Uncle.  I am a Knight of Lithmore, liaison to the Church and Her Holiness the Cardinal, and a Journeyman Blacksmith with the Merchants.  I have achieved much through hard work – with discipline and patience that I would never have possessed if not for you.  And soon, I am to be married to a fine young Lithmorran woman of many talents, not least of which is the art and science of brewing beer.   (A fact I have not yet mentioned to immediate family, for obvious reasons.  They know her as an expert rider and horse breeder, doctor, and herbalist.)  We plan to hold a small, private ceremony in a few months’ time, with Arlais in attendance, if late snows do not delay her on the journey from Talfore.  And you will be there, too, in spirit.  In every healed bone, scar, and memory, and in my sense of honor and self-worth, born out of hard work in your service.  You will be there.

I should have written sooner.  Every time I visit the post, I am certain I will receive word from your good wife that you have passed on from this Urth to join King Dav.  Someday, I will meet you there at his side.  But for now, I hope you understand this much at least:  how grateful I am to have been thrust into your path.  I would not be who I am today without you, Uncle.

May the Lord of Springs bless you and your family.

By my hand this evening of Arendas, Novembris 30,
In the year of Our Lord 357,

In faith, love, and service always,

A______ de R_____