It was a drop in the water, no more no less. Less effort than one might think was taken in the delivering. Money was fronted to people who valued it the most. It was not much, not really, but it was still more than a normal delivery might garner. Was there risk? Some. One did not spit in the wind. One did not rile Catch lightly. Clinking coins were, ultimately, not light in one's pouch. So it was that the letter was delivered by a daring urchin. She dared to deliver it, a brazen projectile tossed vaguely at the man's chest. She did not dare to stay after that. Were he to read it, were he to have someone read it to him, were he not to ever know the words within, this is what it would say:
I've lost track of the time. You never had it to begin with. It took effort on my part. I'm not sure exactly how long it's been. I miss you. I imagine you miss me too. You miss the me you first met, before I was dragged down into the pits. You miss the me who was lost and who would damn the world to find you. You miss the me who was pulling himself back when it was far too late. You miss them all, the familiarity, the care, the dull ringing in your head when you got too close to well-intended falsehoods or when I got too close to the truth.
There are two sides to every story. That's a saying, at least. I'm not sure it's accurate enough. I think it's more like this: there are always two stories. I rather like yours. In it, you're the hero, vanquishing me from Myrken once and for all, cutting those final strings, not with words or magical power or an army. No, just with one punch. One punch in front of a crowd. One punch to quiet an endlessly jabbering mouth. Isn't that the way of it? You've been around longer than me, Catch. You've been myth itself, swam in it, when I'm little more than lowly human. They could sing of it: that lone heroic punch. That is one story.
Would you like to know mine? We must be a few years down the road now, right? It's that long. For old time's sake? It's not very complicated. I know, better than anyone, what happens if you get out of hand, if that ringing becomes a screaming, if that screaming opens the oldest of wounds. There are two extremes with you, the sickening worship, a drowning in sugar and gold, a debasing where we would give up everything that made us human to bathe in your Glory, one where we get everything we want at the expense of all that we are. That is one. The other is a tearing, a ripping, the ultimate lack of satisfaction, whereas the hollowness you would let us see in ourselves would be unbearable. We would tear at you until fire poured from your very pores (excuse the terrible turn). We would be engulfed. Perhaps it is a bad description for the one might logically lead to the other, but it could go the other way as well. You need not be used to build it up so that it could be torn down. You could tear it all down so it might be built up. That, I think would be even more horrific. Would it be unprecedented?
She understood better than anyone the horror of healing, of the body being changed, manipulated, transmogrified. I would put it differently than Her though. Every one of your gifts defies civility. That's the point to the stories, Catch. It's not just that you are drawn to purity. It is that no one that is not pure can truly handle what you offer. It's not a lure. It's a warning. Perhaps that's why I did as well as I did. There was a purity to me, especially when things were the very worst. It was only when I was conflicted that you could affect me. (I think of an exception to this, but I wonder if it might be that I was pure in that moment, but Rhaena was not? It hurts to dwell.)
A tangent, a long one. My apologies. My story. I stood at the precipice, everything falling around me. I had lost it all. I came out one last time to speak. I came out one last time and put my face in the way of your fist, and with that offering, Myrken was not engulfed yet again. One last time I bore the brunt of the temptation and the fire so that the people I cared about, the place that was my home, was not harmed. It's a good story. Your story is good too, of course. I wonder if you might be more apt to tell my story and I might be more apt to tell yours? I think not. I am me and you hide within you. In a moment of clarity, you might tell my story as I laid it out, but I think you would use that moment to tell a far sadder story indeed.
I wish I had valued those moments more. I thought myself clever enough to have the capital to buy an infinite amount of them. I wish I valued the quiet moments more as well. Those were the ones I didn't know how to appreciate at all, despite my claims that they were what I was fighting for.
If you have regrets, I hope they are about her. So many of mine are.