I’m alive and well though
I know you and Pa were scared for me but I’m alive and well
Hide this letter when you get it
(There are numerous scratched beginnings to the letter, all in a wandering, slightly spidery hand before the letter proper begins, this time in a hand slightly tighter and more composed. A few stains dot the page that smell strongly of cheap, strong liquor.)__
It’s your little girl. I’m sorry I haven’t written since that night three years ago; I was afraid for your safety. That She would have gone after you. And I can’t bear to think of you and Pa, Akul, Geoffrey, and Demetri getting into danger because of my foolishness. You all deserve better than that.
I’ve made something of myself though. Got a part in a performing troupe going through the big western cities. The Circus of the Stars; just like the shows you used to bring me too when I was a wee child. There’s knife throwers and magicians, a girl not much younger than myself that trains the most amazing rats…I myself sell the cures ya taught me, and tell most of old gran’s stories. The ones about tall dark strangers coming in the night, the cards, and the chants and the stories the stars tell. The city folk know it’s all a farce, but it’s an entertaining one and every time I draw from that little deck it reminds me of home.
It isn’t the same but I’ve made friends here-odd enough, and rough (like Akul) but a good sort deep down. You’d like Thurgrim, he reminds me a bit of Dad. He looks after me, keeps me out of trouble and I try to do the same for him. That girl with the rats, Delilah reminds me a bit of me at that age (as if to punctuate this maudlin sentence, there’s an especially large liquor stain right on top of it); wide eyed and wanting to be everyone’s friend. Duncan likes her too. Part of me thinks that that’s just because he wants to eat the rats! She’s marvelously clever though, and I think we’ll be like sisters before the month is out. Being on the road will give us plenty of time together at any rate.
Tarel is like me; he knows the old stories of magic and spirits and men with crowns of ivy making the woods sing and the mountains quake. But he actually seems to believe them-I’ve not met anyone like him; least not in Dorset. He’s city-born though, through and through, and I know what you’ve always said about city folk: keep one eye on their hands and another on their mouths.
Now the final two of my new companions are something completely different: a giant born with the blood of elves in his veins, and an honest to gods elf! I never thought I’d meet one; or even hear of one outside the tales. Her name’s Eirlys and she’s just like Gran said she would be: beautiful, brilliant, but a little cold, and so mysterious. I sound like an old fisherwife I know, but I can’t help but be a bit excited. What’s the fun of being a fugitive if you (the next part of the letter is nigh indecipherable, as the quill was dragged drunkenly across the parchment) can’t meet interesting people? I hope she’ll talk to me soon, in earnest, because she knows more than I could ever dream.
Wynfor, the elven blooded giant is a mystery to me. He speaks like a noble, but looks like he’d be able to pick up old Gowdie (is that old sow still kicking? she was near 800 stone when I left) in one hand for his bacon, and grab a coup full of chickens for his eggs with the other. He’s got gold too, lots of it. I know what you’re going to think, but I think he might be the key to me getting back to Dorset. And getting
even with Her setting all this straight. I just need to know how to talk to him-I made a fool of myself the first time, raving about the size of dogs and speculating about how that entire thing would work.I’m afraid he thinks I’m just some yokel girl with a big mouth.
I’ve rambled, but I can’t help it. You’re my ma, and I love you and I just want you to know that I’m safe. We’re aiming to do something great; something that you and Pa can be proud of. I can’t say much more, but if (Acata willing) you get this, send a letter upriver towards the northlands to let me know you’ve got it. If all goes well, I’ll write you another; and send gold back besides.
I’m sorry, and I love you all