A Letter Unsent
Corthos sat and emptied out the tankard, staring at the wall. It had become a nightly routine. He let his mind wander and drift, feeling the same sensation as always – it just passed over everything. So he tried what he had always tried – he took out an inkwell and a pen and began to write. It had been two days since he had written anything that had been coherent and useful. His mind went back over his conversation with Isabelle again and again, hearing her call him out for sitting on the sidelines. Was he? Was he honestly no different than Rexus, just sitting on the side of a battle that he cared about but too afraid to do anything? Corthos had told Isabelle that she was right about it all, hadn’t he? He sighed deeply, laying his head on the desk. He would write himself out of this. He had written his way out of everything else, out of every problem – why not this one as well? He could be his own deliverance. He had nothing to be upset about. He had wanted freedom for Merry, and he had gotten her that freedom. This was everything he wanted.
He hesitantly put the pen into the inkwell, then tentatively to the paper.
Lady Maisie Menard -
I hope that this letter finds you well. I have heard from a friend that you have secured a comfortable position with Anton Clothiers. It is not my intention for this letter to bring any ill will into your life, and I write it more for my own mind than anything else. Isadora is a pleasant woman, and she will make certain that you are well taken care of. Know that I am extremely pleased to have the knowledge that you have your own life, and that you seem happy.
He paused, hesitating. After a long moment, he pressed the ink back down, his handwriting becoming more harried and aggressive as he found his voice.
Why did you cast me aside so easily? I have my suspicions, but I know nothing. I will be honest from the start. The day we last spoke, I dueled a young nobleman that morning. I sent two of my friends to take the money earned and pay for your contract while I was taken care of and thoroughly admonished by another friend. But the pain meant nothing, because the elation I felt at being able to remove you from your contract was ethereal. As I crossed Kintargo, I was met by my associate, who brought me the paper showing your debts were repaid. We had a celebratory drink, and I was once again on my way. But when I arrived…I was told that you did not want to see me. After what I had done for you, you refused to see me.
But I was insistent. And when I knocked at your day, you told me that you were hurt and betrayed by my going behind your back to do this. That you wanted nothing to do with me, and that I wasn’t needed. That you were not someone who needed rescued. And I left the papers there, and I left. I don’t understand, though. I told you in my first letter exactly what I intended. This was never me seeing you as someone that needed rescuing – this was me giving the only gift that I could possibly give that could match the gifts you’ve given me. I gave you the freedom to do anything you wanted, and I had to realize that this could happen. I just….I suppose I was deluded. I thought there was more. But I find out that I was incorrect.
I will be as honest as I can. I am a part of the Silver Ravens. My secret as Aldo is out. I have been cut off from my House, and I am nothing more than a common man with grand ideas. I have reached out to your sister to try and let her know you are safe, but I have not heard back. I have fought, and bled, and killed for the ideals that I believe in. And why am I writing this? You no longer care about me, so why am I writing any of this?
Because I still love you. I no longer care what happens to me. Maybe my comrades were right, and I just want to die a martyr. I am not the man you thought I was, some graceful nobility that has money beyond anything – I am writing this from a horrid little tavern, my arm throbbing from the wound that Fabian gave me in the duel, my body bruised and clothes covered in blood and mud and awfulness, and yet I cannot have the lucky fortune to have died yet.
And I won’t. I cannot sit here forever and wait for you.
Corthos paused, taking a deep, shaking breath. Something inside him felt more alert. He could feel the fire coming back, a tiny spark in kindling at the moment.
I wanted nothing more than you, Merrigold Brownlock. Even with your past, and with what you did, and with what you had been a part of. But you did not want me. And I gave you the greatest gift anyone could give, and you accepted it – and you moved forward. And, I suppose, I must as well. I don’t know what tomorrow brings for either of us. I do not know if this revolution will succeed, or if I will wind up on the chopping block or doing the drop before it does. I don’t know if I am doing the right thing, or if I even can hold out hope. I don’t know why these people follow me, or how I will keep them alive against the force of the Dottari and the Thrune and the horde of powers around them. But I do know some thing:
I know that they will not die in vain, and that I will not sit on the sidelines and wait for my legacy to come in death. I will earn it in life.
I know that I cannot stand in silence and be complicit to what has happened to our city, even if it costs me everything I know.
And I know that you showed me to never give up. You taught me that phrase….Lath Sulevin, lath eraval ena. Be certain in need, and the path will emerge.
I am not giving up on you. I am not giving up on what I know in my heart to be true.
Merry – Melava inan enansel, melana ’nhen enasal ir sa lethalin.
He sat up, reading through it again before folding it and setting it aside. A knock at his door gained his attention as Lena entered, and he turned to face her. She handed him a set of paper and a new inkwell per his request, and he hurriedly cleared the table of the scatter halfhearted writing. Lena smiled – there was a spark showing in him again. Corthos tossed the papers to the side, and she gathered a handful to burn for him. As she lifted them up, the elven writing on one caught her eye. “Corthos, did you mean -” Corthos grunted something before speaking. “Lena, I need to think. Roland said you can hold off a greater force by a keen mind, not a keen blade. And I need to think carefully about the next plan. We need political power, we need allies, and that means that I need to start planning ahead. Just….please. Burn the scraps and fetch me some tea. I might need you to look into a few things.” Lena nodded, biting her lip nervously before sliding the letter into her pocket.
“Of course. I’m ready to help, Corthos.”