Henceforth

Re: Henceforth

Postby Niabh » Mon Jun 10, 2019 4:53 pm

My shunna,

Why do we even bother bandying about this word “trust” when I can only trust you to do precisely what you should not? Why am I the only one meant to keep her word? Why should I believe you now when you say you will not pursue this mad experiment until you arrive? Have you any notion what insult it is that you will heed anyone’s word but mine? Piss on you.

I had no hand in sending Genevieve to you, but I hope she knows to what a stubborn ass she has yoked herself. Better her than I, I say, for at this moment if I had you in front of me, I would slap you. I have met your Genevieve once, though, but in a different seeming than the one you know. If it comes to it, remind her of a harvest fair, a pie that burst, and that she had with her a pretty lad who I believe was called Darren. Tell her I have no quarrel with her and that I am glad she is keeping you company. Tell her as well that if she has questions, I fain would answer her when you arrive, but that if she presses you or Benedict or anyone else for more than what I have written here, I will not speak to her at all, for I dislike people prying into my business behind my back. I tolerate enough of that from you.

And so here we are again. You have skipped along to Someday before even setting foot on the road to Myrken. If you would like to make a brief sojourn to Now, I will be waiting there. I have no expectations but to see you. Perhaps when that is managed, we can have some discussion about what we are meant to be doing with one another.

I am capable enough in theory to see what you see in them; you have explained it all very thoroughly. But I do not know if there is anything in my heart for them, or even if that can be. Mayhap it is that our time is different after all, for I feel your time drag me like a swift current, slowing me to match your pace, while my own time urges me to come with it, so that between the two I might be ripped asunder. That is something I would wish for you: to feel the world move, and to feel a part of it, and not be afraid. But would the same happen to you? Would you be torn in half? I feel I am not making much sense with this.

To whom would you belong if not to them? I feel almost as if you are saying you would rather they belong to you. That does not make you a monster, but it does make you a tyrant, which is worse than a monster. What you folk call monsters are only creatures who live according to their natures and do what they must to survive. They have little choice in the matter. You do.

This is the second time in as many letters you have alarmed me, and I have put it off to the end because I hope you mean something other than you wrote. But if I believed for two heartbeats together that you loved me, you would never again lay eyes upon me and know who I was.

Safe travels.

Finn
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Re: Henceforth

Postby Glenn » Tue Jun 18, 2019 12:26 am

Finn,

We have begun to travel. Obviously, the frost has melted. This might be a joke. You'll be glad to know that in between dosing myself with a letter, of all things, I did more or less resolve the issue that we failed to resolve in the carriage. I managed it in so indirect and impersonal a way that I feel no great satisfaction from it, not from helping those people who needed help nor from providing any meaningful comeuppance to those who deserved such a thing. It was exactly the opposite of how you would handle it, orchestrated in ways so arcane that they're hardly worth putting to paper. Had we managed it while you were here, it would have been entirely different.

I wonder, though, if it would have been better for anyone involved save for myself (and you, of course). This is a mild concern as I am on my way back to Myrken. The great thinkers of my people, the true giants of philosophy and politics, speak about placing a finger upon the thread of history, of toppling empires with but a well-placed whisper, of some sort of celestial harmony that can only be heard when one is manipulating events instead of living them. If nothing else, you've convinced me that I want to give life a chance once more. Life is messy. Affecting the state of the world through living is even more so. I am not returning as the being I meant to return as. I will likely enjoy myself far more. I'm not sure if this is good for anyone save myself (and potentially you, I suppose).

I need to write to others. Egris. Treadwell. Gloria (though what will I possibly say to her).

I speak with Genny, with Genevieve, though not of you. I am a master of discretion. That I never told you the story about it proves the very point. She is much like me in many ways. Here is one. Were I to raise certain concerns with her, her response would be action for action's sake. At the least, it would be the promise of action. One of the things that I hope will keep me from being a tyrant is working with others. That, I think, is from my last talk with her before leaving Myrken. I wonder now if it wasn't a flawed concept based on her own desire to have autonomy. Two of me is worse than one of me, don't you think?

Oh, do not go on about trust. There is a difference between believing you mean well, believing your message is the best, believing it is true, and agreeing to it despite my opposing view or failings. Trust is believing in your intentions, not heeding your word. That takes convincing and you had me much of the way there before she arrived. Do not undervalue your efforts. Her presence could not have managed this alone. There are worse things in this world than arriving to Myrken and, for a temporary time, being unguarded around you. That is far more trust than heeding your words could ever be.

I will not apologize for making you stop and think any more than you will apologize for trying to have me live in the moment.

I don't want to own them, Finn. I just want them to move past fear and superstition and selfishness, to work together, to learn and grow and thrive in a way they don't seem to be able to imagine now. I don't want it to be about survival. Am I wrong? Is that the paradigm? Survival versus the freedom to choose? If I see it as Survival versus growth or a further development or what I tend to call living but that you don't call living at all. Does that make me a tyrant then? Because I do not see choice as the ultimate aim for them after the basest of needs are met?

Yet choice, autonomy, a desire to affect the world based on my choices. That's what I want for myself.

I trust in their potential but not in them. You see it. You understand.

What would you have me do?

You would have me accept nature, to lower ambitions instead of raise them. Your primary ambition for your people is simply survival. You feel like they already achieved some sort of perfect balance and there's nothing to improve save the efficiency of your rutting.

I want something different for myself than for them. Is it because I feel I already reached that? Is it because they feel that they already have what I constantly strive for, just on a much more difficult level?

I don't want to bed you, Finn. You cajole a kiss again and you'll again receive the wisdom of a large tome, or at least your teeth might. It wasn't all Rhaena. Eventually she became all-consuming, once vengeance and foolishness made my world dark and she the only light that could penetrate. I had friends. I loved them. Two years of familiarity and struggle and mishap and gifts and sharing and mutual ambition and maybe the promise of working towards a goal like the world had never seen.

Your love, I suppose, is obsessive. It is the nature of your glamourie. It is how you've thrown yourself into Catch, enough so to cause sickness. This isn't that. As I write this, I am reminded that you can be an insufferable brat and a trickster both. I did not say that I loved you in the first place, not even in that friendly, familial, hardly romantic way, just that I might love doing something with you. In that case, I'd love the shared act, not you. Now you have me all but falling over myself to try to more narrowly define a love that I was never trying to even claim in the first place. Piss on you too then.

Glenn

Do not send Benedict quite yet. We travel with others, a young man (not so young to catch your fancy, I imagine), a driver. They're not ready. Give him my regard though. Whatever obviously terrifying affection and regard I have come to feel towards you, I assure you that I have even more for him.
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Re: Henceforth

Postby Niabh » Thu Jun 20, 2019 4:42 am

His reply awaited two towns up the road, precisely the next place they arrived at sundown. In spite of the raven’s insistence that he didn’t spy, it seemed an irresistible conclusion that some amount of well-choreographed timing had been involved.

My shunna,

The gods are opposed to having you for Midsummer. At least, they are silent about it. I choose not to take silence for assent in the matter of their favor, which is safer for us both. In your honor I will arrange something more suitable so that when you are old you can say you participated in our secret rites and lived to tell the tale. (Our secret is that we drink a lot.)

I have warned Him that you are coming. I could not rightly say how He took the news. He seemed frightened, but just as quick to assert you as His friend. I find I cannot write much about it without waxing wroth. I hate when He is afraid; it makes me want to lash out at whatever it is He fears. But there is so much, and betimes He fears me, too, so that I have come to accept That is a fib. I will never accept it, but I tolerate it. In any case, be aware that He may seek you out. In His mind He has endowed you with wondrous power, and has even warned me away from you. I do not think this will interrupt any meeting we might plan, particularly with Benedict as an intermediary, but He has His own breed of guile which you well know, and He is jealous.

Glad I am that you did not forget these poor people. My way would have been more exciting, true, but it is all to the good so long as they were not forgotten. Duty is seldom exciting, though it may be satisfying, and the obligation of knowledge oft turns itself into duty, which is annoying but cannot be helped. I am very pleased with you that you should take the initiative.

In the end I care not one whit for your people. I care for you and for your well-being. But I feel that your well-being will lead to theirs, even if not in so great a part as you wish. If nothing else it may stay you from doing so great a harm as you have done before, thus saving time that would be wasted in healing the wounds you leave. Like me, you are impatient in your way; you cannot trust action to anyone but yourself. But this way leads to progress too, for you and for them. Most fortunate I have been that I have always been surrounded by those I could trust: all my baird through the years, my good ladies and allies, my mother. Even my father can be trusted in his way, for no matter how much I disagree with his methods, he loves Knockna Niall and in his heart he will do whatever he must to serve her.

You have seen what comes of reaching outward. It has brought you thus far. Though the path ahead be unclear, come a little further.

Glenn, the only ones who need not worry about survival are the ones who are surviving. People who fear for their next meal or what lies over the next hill cannot imagine anything beyond that meal or that hill, and these become desperate and ill-suited to think of much else.

What I cannot understand why there need be any of that here. To me, this place is wealthy beyond compare. Never in my life have I seen such plenty, fields full of food, fruit in every season, so many children, so much land that to cross it is like walking through every season there is—winter in the mountains and high summer at the sea. I picture the innumerable troubles this would solve for my own people and I cannot see why your own do not utilize these resources more equitably, except that this is as much as I expect from letting men make laws. Men by their very nature have no reason to be invested in anyone’s well-being save their own and tend to toward irresponsibility and short-sightedness, whereas women, who must be mindful of birth and the raising of children, are better suited for planning ahead. Anyone with sense knows that when children are well-tended and secure, it benefits all, for they are inclined to grow as they are first bent. My advice would be to stop treating your women as imbeciles and broodmares and instead become their servants. I promise you, you will not have to contend with a paradise of peace simply by assuring that your children are fed; the same system has worked for us for many years and we have no shortage of other strife to keep us occupied.

Which is why I say heal what is before you. Heal what you can heal in a day. When people know what is to come tomorrow, then they can plan for it. When every day is a struggle to reach the next then there is no time for reflection.

Still, I do understand your difficulty in the potential of people versus working with the actual article. My father says a
person is a sheepdog, capable of understanding instruction and knowing what must be done, but people are sheep who must be herded along to keep them from drowning in a rainstorm. I fear to say I have seen this too often to entirely dismiss the notion, though in his case it is implied that he thinks them as witless and disposable as sheep as well. Betimes it feels the mass of them are stubborn while the few bright points are selfish, and the few can be quite as troublesome and frustrating as the many. I have no answer for myself, and none for you, either, save to say that when the many can finally be urged to pull together in a single direction, they can accomplish great things. I have seen them do it, oftentimes to my own surprise. But then they always forget and become obstinate again.

My mother has her own saying: there is no horizon, but that it moves as we do. It is not a place to be reached, but a journey.

When I first came here, many men told me they loved me, even though they knew me but an hour, which was much confusing and made me wonder if my glam was having some ill effect we could not have foreseen. But then I learned that men here will tell any woman they love her in order to bed her, for your women expect it. (This is why I have such trouble wooing women. I will lie about many things but not that.) For that matter, if you had told me you loved me because you wanted to bed me, I would be less alarmed by it—a little surprised, but not too concerned. These new moods the glam seems to have brought up in you are still shifting, and it would be reasonable to assume your ability to love had also been reawakened. I would not love you back. Things between us are complicated enough without adding that. But companionship and ambition and striving toward a better end I will share with you, and that right gladly.

With Him, it is not obsession. I wish it were, for then I would not see the truth of it. It is elation and futility, faultless justification in itself and against the order of all things beyond it. It is a sickness of which I do not wish to be cured, a perfectly conscious delirium. I know the difference, Glenn. I know.

With my old lover, the one who betrayed me, it was much different. At first the only time we could be alone together was riding, with three armed patrol riding in back of us lest he try to carry me off. You may imagine there was little opportunity for conversation
then. He had known my grandmother when she was alive, and my father when my father was a child in the High Court—all the sort of stories I longed to hear but that my father would never tell me. He loved horses as much as I and he knew everything about them; to this day most of what I know of horses comes from him. In his youth he had once gone to the human lands (not here) and he told me all sorts of queer things about your folk, some of which have proven false, others true, and on some I think he was mistaken, or else things have changed greatly between then and now.

After a time, I began to feel I offered nothing in return. All I did was hang onto his every word. Now I feel almost as if I convinced myself by degrees that I loved him, because I felt I was in his owing, or perhaps this is what I tell myself. He had a very ruthless lady with whom he was unhappy, and I began to fancy I might steal him from her, though I thought it more a rescue. I told myself I was more beautiful and amiable than she, that she was barren and I was not, that our clan was far richer and our cause more noble, so that in every way he would have been better off. Moreover, I saw the way he looked at me. Men have looked at me that way since I was a child.

I began orchestrating ways for us to be alone together. I introduced the idea and he protested, though eventually I convinced him. Now of course I must wonder how much convincing he truly needed, and how much of his reservation was feigned to make me feel I had to overcome it. By the time I knew he was false, I no longer had any say in the matter.

That is where I am with Him. I fear I have had no say from the start.

Of your esteemed regard, Benedict says that you could not have one of us without the other.

Finn
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Re: Henceforth

Postby Glenn » Mon Jul 01, 2019 3:46 am

Finn,

I've never participated in a secret rite and come out unchanged. Perhaps your gods have the right of it.

I have a certain degree of warmth for Catch, you know. I've asked you this before, I think, but I ask it again. Would you heal him if you could? Would you make him whole? Give him access to all of his memories once more, allow him to reason or not reason as he chooses, but put him in control of that process? Knowing what things you would lose. Knowing that it would as likely push him from you instead of pulling him closer?

Yes, I would prefer children to eat as opposed to children not eating. If we kept all of our children well-fed, you'd have no further excuse to take them and then it'd simply be outright stealing. Though, I think your reasoning is solely for my sake. Should I be flattered or horrified? Is it bad that I have to ask? These are questions I should not voice.

Know this. Some of the greatest warriors I have ever met were women. Some of the most caring and nurturing people were men. I have known brilliant men and brilliant women both. I have encountered both men and women who misused the power they were given. Merit is merit and I would (and have) done all my power to ensure women with talent are given every opportunity to foster that talent (and then, of course, to use it for the greater good). Were I to serve anyone at all, I would care not who this person was, male or female, so long as ... On second thought, I have no interest in serving anyone. In general, queen, merit is worth more in a leader than any element of birth. While I have no desire to rule, I am happy enough deciding what makes "merit."

Do your father, who is not your father, and your mother, who is not your mother, ever actually interact? Is it better or worse than when you and I interact?

I read every word about love, about him, about obsession. I read and I absorbed. I have little to say on it, however, except for this. First, whatever I am capable or not capable of once again, I do not think I am capable of that. Second, I ask my initial question again.

You should ask me to make a vow to you. Depending on your answer to my question, I will make it, for you. You should make me vow to you not to try to cure this sickness of yours that you do not want cured. Not with reason or persistence or obfuscation.

In conclusion, what if I say you cannot have Benedict without me?

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Re: Henceforth

Postby Niabh » Mon Jul 08, 2019 3:50 am

My shunna,

Your last letter opened a rat’s nest of the Niall lore. Benedict and I sat long telling family secrets beside the coals of the midsummer fire, and all the while joking what part of your anatomy you would have given up to eavesdrop. It is strange to be a Niall, for so many of our secrets are not even secret. Every bard knows them and every lady learns them. Most of what I know of my own blood comes not from family but from tutors, where it is easy to forget it happened to real people and to pretend it has nothing to do with oneself. But here am I, the sum of it, and all I know is but secondhand. Stranger still to think that one day my daughters, too, will be taught about me, mayhap even this time here. There are things I would like to tell them first, before they learn some other way.

But now it is morning. The coals are cold and summer on the wane, though it feels not a breath cooler nor is Lugh-sun one shade less bright. One would scarce think anyone did anything to temper him. I know they lit the fires back home. Your folk do it too, though for other reasons. Next year I may go join them instead, as a joke. Perhaps I will convert them all.

I am being melancholy. It often feels so the next morning, once the ashes are raked.

I told you I would heal Him if I could, even if it meant I could not have Him anymore. If it came to those He might imperil, then I should have to think very long on it. That would include myself, for I have people of my own who need me. But for the thing itself, for the sake of restoring order, for His sake? It would be done before you could open your mouth against it.

And you? For all your warmth toward Him, would you give Him that? Could you see anything past destruction and cows, or would it only mean the forfeiture of your own grand plans and schemes? All that hard work for naught.

Know you this. When I say that the best course would be to allow women to power and make men their servants, I do not mean these women you have now. They have been ruled so long by men that they know only how men rule. You would have only a great lot of women playacting men’s roles, trying to think as men do and do as they would. In short, they would act much as you do now, for your scope is more like a woman’s in its far-sightedness, but in terms of what you wish to accomplish, you are very much a man. For all your proclaimed enlightenment, you do not seem to care if a child is kicked to death in the street by one of his own people, but only a hint of some terrible invader coming from afar to whisk them away and you are quick to protest the wrongness of it. Which offends you more, the suffering or the stealing? By your own reasoning, both could be avoided with the same gesture.

What I recommend would require the whole center of your society be shifted—its wants, its goals, its ambitions, its values—in women and men alike. For that, your men must be taught to humble themselves, to fear women, and to accept the natural order. It could never be done here, not in your lifetime and likely not in mine either. Frankly, I am not interested in doing it, if only because it ever becomes necessary to conquer you, this system you have now is much more advantageous to us. (This is a joke.)

The few times I have ever seen my father with the woman who bore me, it was like watching a son with his mother rather than two people who were once lovers. He deferred to her, and she was very cordial and warm toward him. They have a long history, parts of which are known only to the two of them. I have not seen enough of them to say if it be better or worse, but it is nothing at all like ours.

As for Meg, she will not willingly speak to him at all, and he has never had anything good to say about her, though by now he has learned better than to say it in front of me. I do not think Meg could truly hate anyone, but she detests him, the way people detest hornets. Once when I was very young, my father beat me and Meg very nearly mauled him for it. He still bears the scars and I am proud of her whenever I see them.

Why should you think to ask this?

For my part, I am curious about you and your journey. What do you and your Genevieve discuss on the road? I cannot imagine you riding along mile upon mile in silence. Have you yet encountered your stern-faced lady? What do they think of you as you are now? Have they noticed? (Here I would ask you if you have seen anything interesting or noteworthy, but I somehow I cannot imagine you taking much note of scenery. A pity.)

All the vows I have begged of you thus far—most of which amount to a mere word, aye or nay, to assure me of your safety—you have denied me. Why should I grant you this one? You say I should ask for your vow, then say you will make it anyway depending on what I do or do not say, so it seems I am not at all required for this. You will do as you will, but if you vow to me, I will deny you.

This quarrel is now between yourself and Benedict, who says you are not the boss of him.

Finn
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Re: Henceforth

Postby Glenn » Fri Jul 19, 2019 5:33 am

Here, the second page has been placed over the first, with a small note at the top.

Read this first even though I wrote it second.

The letter itself:

It's interesting, for I see very little difference in women and men, save for their situations. I think much of this, of one's rearing and one's nature. Not just with men or women but with dark elves or your people or ours. Your timelessness, our timeliness. Growing up with magic but in oppressive societies or oppressed by nature but less so by society itself. Or more so.

I'd argue then that what you discuss here is not women and men, but the women of your society and the men of your society. It's nothing intrinsic but just what the situation created. I've seen other places where women ruled that were far less benign. As you said, were women to be given power here tomorrow, it would likely not be to anyone's benefit. I do try to find the value in each person (and exploit it, you would say? Someone would, certainly).

Genevieve and I discuss many of the same things you and I discuss. The now and the future. Immediate needs and long-reaching goals. Necessities and hopes. She wants to educate adults in matters both practical and cerebral. I would manipulate them for the sake of future children and adults both. You would burn them all for the sake of the children of today.

Much of my time is spent with her and her companions together. Then it's more social matters. I feel distant to them though, as if I'm just playing a role. Not like with Genevieve or you. Hopefully, that will diminish in time. I have to be among people. In years' past, I mainly listened. I feel like I need to do more now.

Know this though. You think me a drunkard. For power or presence or magic or whatever else. Wynsee does as well. I am nothing, nothing, if not a creature of control and restraint. I meant to solve a sickness with your letters to reestablish that control. It was never about forsaking or indulging. If I wished to indulge, I have a ring. If I wished to indulge, I have Genevieve, who is far more open with her power than she ought to be, especially after what she has seen. She is right here and I forbid and deny. Have a bit more regard in my stubbornness, if nothing else. I shut out all of life itself for years. Do you think I cannot manage this?

I write Egris soon. I expect to meet her before long if she's not grown too impatient with me.

I made you no vows, but have decided to flip the pages of this letter. What I say next was what I said first, and what I said first was important enough that you best see it last.

Glenn


Here, then, is the first page.

Fionn,

Even I am not blind to my own ego. I would present it otherwise. As a youth, after the running though building on the knowledge that I had been born sold, I knew helplessness. There are various sorts of helplessness. One is to be helpless to prevent bad things from happening to you. Another is to see bad things happening to others or the world and to be helpless to prevent them. I imagine you'd separate these into bad things caused by man and bad things caused by other creatures or nature or the gods or something else. I would separate it between bad things caused by sentient beings, but then I'm not sure if you consider your gods fully sentient or otherwise trapped in some cycle of their starting but not of their making.

This is a long road to travel to note that I hope these years here matter to you someday and that the limits of my imagination, even knowing how many ages, let alone years, you will live, cannot fathom them not, for they feel so vibrant now. It is hard, sometimes, when one's mind will never rest, to not think about how things will fit into the broader whole of time. That makes for a terrible basis for action, however. I do not work for a legacy, no matter what others might think, but I do hope you remember me for a hundred years or more. I'll do my best to remember you for that long as well, though we both know my best, in this matter, has limits.

So many words for that. Let us to the point instead. You would heal him even if it meant you could not have him anymore. I would heal him even if it caused great difficulties for me. Me and mine.

The threat of Catch, the cyclical threat, is to make use of him or allow him to make himself useful for your own ends. That leads to the golden city, the gilded squalor, and the tarnished ruins. I know that you and I and you and I alone will be tempted by none of that.

Let us do it then. If we do nothing else, let us help him as no one else has been able to for a very long time. Maybe, if we are clever and committed enough, we can help him enough that he may help himself the rest of the way.
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Re: Henceforth

Postby Niabh » Sat Jul 20, 2019 3:18 pm

My shunna,

For pity’s sake, why do you not write things in the order you want me to read them? Instead you swap the pages round and put little cryptic notes on top. It is most vexing.

I have news but as repayment I will put it at the very end and glam it so that it will not appear unless you read the whole thing.

It is bad luck to drown the midsummer fire. One should let it grow cold of its own, but I was so tired, and the weather so dry, that I doused it anyway. Nothing has gone aright since, so much that even Benedict sees it. I could write a whole other letter to list all that has gone wrong, but that would only bore you and discourage me. Chiefly it takes the form of great impatience. I hate being here. I rise in the evening and hate even the hang of the stars, for your stars here are all in the wrong season. I hate the sound of people’s voices, and their clothes. I hate that everything is square, roads and buildings alike, like the bars of a pen. Yesternight I saw a glow over the wall and had a happy thought that mayhap the whole town was burning, but it was only a muck fire. And never have I so much hated iron, that the smell of it makes me retch.

Please do you understand, it is not that I wish the place harm, only that I am lonely and miss my own folk. It is no fault of Myrken that it is not where I want to be.

This is why I feel bad for you when you say you say you feel distant from your own people and that you no longer know how to be with them. You feel that way even though you were born here. It is a most miserable feeling but you have some hope of overcoming it, though it be difficult, and when have you ever shied from a difficult thing? I should tell you it is impossible. Then you would manage it to spite me. I have the highest regard for your stubbornness. Pray never disappoint me in that.

If I assure you that you will be remembered, will you forget me? Must my memory be enough to sustain us both? That is too much a burden, my shunna, and I refuse to bear it alone. If I must remember, so must you.

How would you be remembered? I think I have asked you this ere now, but you in your stubborn way refused to answer, as you do so often. What I said then was this: if you would be remembered well, be well. If you would be remembered happily, be happy. If you care not at all how I remember you then please continue what you are doing now, for there is none like you so scattershot and single-minded both at once, so full of good intentions and such miserable methods, lofty and dreaming on the one hand and drab as a mole’s backside on the other. I will remember you and roll mine eyes.

I cannot bear anything being trapped, Glenn. When I first learned to hunt, I hated a ground snare worse than anything, for all I could imagine was some poor creature tethered and cringing all night, waiting to die or for someone to come along and end it. At least with the bow there is still a chance it might escape on its own power, and the end is so quick that it has not time to suffer.

With the bear, I could not but think that it would stay in the pit with the dogs tearing bits from it day after day until it died. Then they would find another. Even when I went down to it, it was so used to men that it did not even stir. We have bears at home, so strong they need not fear anything but will only stand up and stare at you if you come upon them. To wield power over a creature too mild to lay down all its strength is cowardice. That they took something so much stronger than they and crushed its spirit so that they could feel themselves its master was everything I hate about this place all in one creature. Is there a word for that?

The same for the little boy who died. What use was it to beat him? To prove one is stronger? Of course a grown man is stronger than a child. What does it prove to kill one? That it could not, in the end, defy you? How small must one be, that such petty power satisfies?

So it is with Him. I cannot but feel that no matter the danger, freedom is better. It is an abomination that such things as He be fettered. I imagine the wild creatures back home and what horrors would come if we took it into our heads to put them all in cages for our own sake. And I think, too, of myself to your own people, as those creatures are to us.

You trust me more than I trust myself when it comes to Him, and for my own part, I trust no one else else with Him, not even you. It is a hard thing to reconcile, and part of it is built of my own selfishness. At its heart, love is mostly selfishness, whether we will it so or not, and love itself as much a chain as iron. Perhaps you have forgotten that, or else you never knew it. But I know. I cannot say I would not be tempted. I cannot even say that I have not been tempted already. As we are now, I might as well set Him to toil at a plough as love Him, for it all comes to the same. I know that, too. I must know better for us both, but I cannot stop myself.

If you have a plan, tell me it, but not here. I do not like laying plans in letters.















I lied. Do you really think I would set a glam upon a letter now? What has poor Genevieve ever done to me that I should leave her to peel you off the ground? I bet you skipped ahead anyway. Go back and finish the rest.

You see what a mind is in me these past days, my shunna. I shall strive to be in sweeter temper by the time you arrive, otherwise we neither of us will be able to stand me.

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Re: Henceforth

Postby Glenn » Mon Jul 22, 2019 4:42 am

Finn,

It's well and fine to lie about the glamming bit. Less so about the news. If you promise me news, I expect news. That you are particularly grumpy lately is not news. I will stand you. You will stand me. I wonder whose name we'll end up with this visit now that we've traded each other's back and forth? Maybe we'll end up with Myrken's true name. What would we do with that?

I like that things are square. I'm a mapmaker. Orderly design is welcome. Function over form. Otherwise it's just where the cows roam. I'd much rather they (and the people) roam where I wish them to.

It's our differences that make us such charming friends. I have been in a mood today as well. You ought to have seen the letter I sent Egris. It had a numbered list.

Is it truly no fault of Myrken? I think many things are a fault of Myrken. That said, you'd be less than happy anywhere other than where you want to be. I agree with that. I wonder if you wouldn't be unhappy there too, however. After a time. I think you were unhappy before you left. Know that I blame Myrken and it's people for a great deal, as I blame myself.

I have lived for at least thirty years. Well, my body has at least. That is quite a few human years, Finn. I have met people from a dozen races and a dozen more human tribes, you might call them. I have been afflicted by at least six or seven different types of magical altogether and been stabbed through by multiple forged metals. I feel responsibility towards humans and especially towards Myrken Wood, but I do begin to wonder just who my people, as you put it, actually are. There are persons I feel affinity towards, but by most rights, Rhaena herself was not one of my 'people' as you put it. She had scales upon her face and power within her skull. I currently feel more affinity towards you than any specific human being Finn.

(More towards Benedict than you though so manage your ego, clever little queen)

It seems so reductive to just keep within one's people. If I spite you, it'll be about that.

I hope your eyes get stuck that way. Rolled. It's a saying we have here. Or it isn't, but it almost is and that's good enough.

I admire your eventual honesty when it comes to Catch. It was not my intent to drive you to it for your own sake or mine or his. I took you at your word, which is always a dangerous thing in matters of the heart and of power, though I did so with open eyes. Am I protecting Catch from you or you from him? Are you protecting him from me? Or can we find some clarity forward and search for a solution? I have no plan but many ideas. I have had this thought before. I understand the limits of this endeavor, what we cannot do to achieve it. I have made progress at times, but never quite had a partner so committed and so willing to go all the way with me. I have ideas and by the time I return, I will have plans. It will be a hard path and one with pain and failure for everyone, him included, but there can be no other possible path to freedom.

We will break this unfair circle of misery.

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Re: Henceforth

Postby Niabh » Fri Jul 26, 2019 4:36 pm

My shunna,

Or perhaps there
was news and the letter was glammed, only you will never know because you skipped to the end and undid all. Truly, you write as if you were under a glam, scribbling out feelings so fast that by the time I have one sorted, you have moved to the next. Now I must wonder if even the prospect of glamourie is enough to addle you, like a hound slobbering when one but snaps one’s fingers. Did you really skip to the end? Say true, and next time I will find you some proper news, though at the rate these letters come, perhaps not new news.

Still, pleased enough am I to find you in a mood—any mood. I should compare you to a mole’s backside more often. It seems to inspire you.

You make me smile. I know the difference between affinity and kinship, Glenn. How could I not? Kinship with one’s own kind is the debt we each owe for the privilege of being alive. One is never the first link in a chain nor the last one, but always the next, always keeping a place for those who will come after. Or so it is with us. It is different for humans, for they have but half of it: the part that repels them from others, but not the part that unites them among themselves. Perhaps it is in how they were made.

I realize late that I wrote as if you were not one of them, but you are. You are a symptom of the part that is missing. So many things here are, Glenn, that I could not even begin to count them. You would be enraged, you would feel cheated, if you knew how many there were. I wish I could explain it all better, but perhaps it is a thing that cannot be explained, only sensed. Would that you had gotten a good bard instead of a half-grown queen.

But kinship is but happenstance, while affinity is chosen and forged. Part of it is luck, surely, for the gods set us where we will be, but from there we have some say in what company we keep. Hark yourself and me: if the High Queen had not made of herself such a nuisance, if I had not if I had not been forced to flee, or even before that—if my grandmother did not make an enemy of the High Courts, if the old Niall line never sundered, then right now you would be cloistered in your miserable city house writing letters to no one and I would not have been born at all, and both of us poorer for it. For that matter, if affinity be measured in camaraderie and warmth and preference, I have more for you than for some of my own folk, even my own father. It is a bothersome thing betimes, but we have built it wholly between ourselves. It is ours.

You did not drive me to honesty, Glenn. I spoke true when first I wrote to you of Him, that I wanted nothing of Him but His company. Things are different now. I am more susceptible. If there is anything to be done with Him, then you ought to be told that circumstances have changed. I think I can be reliable, but when it comes to Him, I do not trust to might and may.

Benedict says you are only trying to make me jealous by saying you favor him more. Are you? Should I be? Your favor does not seem a thing a wise woman courts. Mayhap I should be jealous of your lady Egris, except I do not want to be sent numbered lists, or you should be jealous of Himself, save I dote on Him in such fashion as you would not tolerate for ten heartbeats together. I cannot imagine you would permit anyone to pick knots out of your hair or feed you biscuits from their fingertips.

Let us cease this silliness. I am
happy you like the raven. He likes you too. He even likes Myrken far better than I do, though I do think he gloats to be the only raven for a thousand miles. It makes him feel important.

Reading back, much of this letter seems to be about who likes what and how much. I have told you how I feel about themes.

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Re: Henceforth

Postby Glenn » Sat Aug 03, 2019 8:27 am

Oh Finn,

Do have some faith. I did not skip to the end. I'm a swift reader. I reached the end through honest effort and was then let down for I was not given what I was promised. Doesn't that sort of thing cause you massive stomachaches or some such?

Is there anyone in this world that could spend two years writing you and not feel something, anything? I have met many stoic people and I cannot think any would make it out unscathed. I am somewhat stoic but also terribly battered. If it wasn't alarming, your lack of concern for me over what I am concerned about when it comes to me relative to what you are concerned about would be almost amusing.

I have interacted with many people, peoples, as I indicated, Finn. Maybe that helps me to see much more what my own need. There is expectation in my kinship for them, both from them and from myself. If I was not kin, perhaps I would not have the same obligation, perhaps my aims would be different, perhaps I would be free to pursue other goals, no matter how much i truly believe in this one. Note that, even in our clumsy and precise efforts to define ourselves, I have never suggested I might be your brother.

If. If. If. and If. As I said if you had come across me right when I arrived in Myrken, right when I escaped the bonds of my youth before that, after I had come back from the darkness, trapped in Golben, haunted and hallucinating. For all that I look to the future, I have little use for ifs.

Of your questions of jealousy, perhaps you should be jealous of Benedict. I gave him a name and you only titles. None of the rest, though.

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Re: Henceforth

Postby Niabh » Tue Aug 20, 2019 5:21 pm

My shunna,

A promise is not an oath. Were I bound to keep every promise I ever made in your country, I should be married a dozen times ere now.

Still, we are friends and you deserve better than an empty promise, even in jest. It was a discourteous prank and if you were disappointed or put out by it, I will make amends.

To start, your promised news. I have written to my bard regarding what she has done to you. I was asked to keep her response in confidence, for it is bard business, though I can say it was promising. These are grave matters for you and I fain would say more, and I will do the moment I know anything. More, I have had a letter from my father regarding the matter of trade. Much to my surprise, it was quite reasonable—so much so that I must wonder if he is plotting something. His chief concern is that of logistics. As he puts it, the
will to entertain the offer can be manufactured with a few well-placed words, but the means prove much more difficult.

This is the shortest letter I can remember you sending, save for the one where you sent only a paper bird in reply. Glenn, if you have concerns beyond those you have already written, then pronounce them faithfully. What other purpose have these letters, really? We plot and scheme and array our armies in them, yet I wonder that they will all melt to nothing the moment we set eyes on one another, for so it has been the last two times. Will the third be different? I feel it might, though I felt so the other times as well.

I am concerned, but often I do not inquire because you do not offer. Those times I do ask, you do not answer. Betimes it feels there is not even a man there to ask, for mostly you answer only with plans and more plans, ever off in Someday. So much of what I know of you is only what I have gleaned from those things you value and what you would see done, and even then I must wonder if I read them awrong. You speak much, but rarely of what it all means or how you feel about it. I would you say more.

And there it is. I am the only woman in the world who ever asked Glenn Burnie to
say more.

Until I hear from you again, I will hope it is but the rigors of the road that impede your pen.

I miss you.

I may as well leave it in since it is true. I miss you.

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Re: Henceforth

Postby Glenn » Wed Aug 21, 2019 2:02 am

Finn,

Business first, if only because it has been so rare between us as of late even though it was so prevalent in our letters from a year ago. My first-hand classification of your bard's actions would be "undoing," more than doing. She shattered my defenses and left me too damage to build them anew. If she had done something further to prevent their restoration, I did not know that. In her place, that would seem a reasonable decision, I imagine. It should have left me harmless and increasingly mad, marginalizing my interaction with you. It was my mistake, to treat her as I might treat you, when there was no bridge built between us. It was her mistake, lacking that bridge and the closer inspection it might have allowed, to think that this would not just drive me closer to you. Still, you have my appreciation for all the reasons you well understand.

Logistics. I have concerns about that, though they are about neither will nor means, so much as exactitude. I do truly wish for this to benefit both of our peoples. This is a purpose for me, and increasingly (no small thanks to Benedict, but we will get to him in short time), I wonder if it is not also an excuse to create something with you, to tie our purposes together. There will be a cost to both of us. I want this to benefit those we care about. If not, I'm sure we could find an easier, safer painting to paint together. We both know, however, that you will always put your responsibility first and that I will never be satisfied by companionship without purpose (here I wished to use a different word, but it is the most appropriate). If we are going to do this as opposed to something else, let us make it as worthwhile and meaningful and beneficial as possible. Let us mean well and do good, Finn. I'd like that.

Currently, I travel with two remarkable women. It was not my intent to gather them for this potential role, but I do feel that both might suit, though either would provide unique problems. That's half the fun though, no? The other half is their company.

Benedict visited me. Was this due to your concern? I don't think so. I think it was more due to his concern. He is a caring being, likely a better one than you and I and neither of us deserves him and he likely deserves better, though he would not see it that way. There is a raven's honor. Who are we to judge in the face of that? I do not want you to question him about this. I do wonder where he was going and what he was doing, though, as he brought no letter but said he was on his way. Probably your business and thus only mine if I can wrest if from you. His largest concern, once we untangled things a bit, was that I had not just told you how I felt. You should have seen his face when I told you that I already had and of your response. Actually, we were speaking in the darkness, so I ought to have seen his face too, I suppose. He is a kind, sensible soul, but both a chapter behind and perhaps a few chapters ahead. Let's see if we can't change that ending, you and I, together. It is worth my full dedication and all the risk it brings with it (for its own benefit too, not only, just to spite him, though I'd like to do that too).

Ah, I should have put this in the previous bit, business. It is harder to write on the road. I write to Sylvius Duquesne, an architect. Have you been to Darkenhold? It is a large manor, a fortress really, out deep in the woods. It was of his design, a bastion created for many reasons, for him, it was to equally hide from his past and hide his past. When I was younger, I was bitterly jealous of him. I can think of no other man I could say that about. I am sure he knows it. He is a gifted man, a scholar, a politician, an artist, one who had gained much and lost much and had found a sort of serenity on the other side of it all. He has even more words than I, perhaps.

When I arrive to Myrken, you will have to look after me. I do not think things will melt away. Nor do I think they will be as smooth as they are now. I will be vulnerable around you. We both know this. I do not think you can simply stop your glamourie. There's no easy comparison. It would be like you not asking me to talk (though your people have been known to do that; don't you dare), except for that is not it, because it is more involuntary than that. It would be like you asking me not to think, or not to have an appearance. It is inappropriate and improbable, if not impossible. I meant to build up further immunity before arriving, but we both agreed I am not well enough for that, thought we did not agree to much else about the matter. I will admit some concern but no fear. I know what I value, and I know the worth of things to me. I bear this gladly, until I have built up such necessary strength, so that we might enjoy one another's company.

I trust you,
Glenn
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Re: Henceforth

Postby Niabh » Sun Aug 25, 2019 10:24 am

My shunna,

I am more distressed about the raven than all the rest of it. Your letter was the first I heard of his visit. He told me nothing. I grant him his concern, as we are both concerned, but now he is running his own business and concealing it from me. Perhaps this pleases your disdain for queens, but for myself I am too hurt to be angry.

Just this once, I will heed you and not tell him that he is found out, but let us make a bargain: I will never order him to tell me anything that passed in private between you if you will agree to discourage this behavior in the future. Had this been found out back home, Glenn, he would be pinioned. He would never fly again. Wars are lost, lives are lost, because a raven could not be trusted.

I wish you had not told him. I said what I said for a reason.

I too would have us do good rather than ill. To bring from this sad exile some small benefit to my own folk would be more than I hoped when it began, and if your people do likewise profit, so much the better. You remember that I came to Myrken because the gods spoke us that name. There must be some reason for that. I want so much to find the reason that I fear being beguiled by any false will-o’-wisp. There are wounds so much older than the two of us, my shunna. Mayhap this be a chance to heal them.

But I would never consider it, nor go so far as to invite my father into it, if I did not intend to see it through. To think of it as excuse that can be altered at a whim is an insult to what might be accomplished; to use it as an excuse for my company is an insult to me. Either your heart is in it or it is not, and if it is not then I will go on alone.

I wonder about you and your restlessness. Always you must strive always toward a greater goal, the next challenge to overcome, the next riddle to be solved. But what becomes of the first challenge when you move on to the next? Do you look back in satisfaction betimes, or never spare it another thought? What is left of a riddle when it is solved?

I told you before that I have no greater expectation for your return than your company. What if there were no more meaning than that? Would it be enough?



And from there the bottom margin of the page was neatly burned away, a decorative edge scalloped with smoke.

The next page resumed.


Now it is moonset. The midsummer luck continues apace: for the first time in better than forty years, I have been unhorsed and twisted my knee. I had to hide it from Himself, as He, sweet creature, knows not a little hurt from a grave one. Benedict is being very jolly teasing me and says I should tell you that you will be dancing alone this time (though it will be better by then), but also being very good about fetching things (only now I must wonder if his solicitude is all a ruse). It has been long enough for me to read and reread what I wrote before and wonder if I should send it at all.

I should like to meet your companions, particularly Genny if she still travels with you. You may imagine that with so many seemings, one rarely has the pleasure of a true introduction, and I liked the little I saw of her before. More than that, any plan of ours (if plan there still be after all I wrote in the afternoon) will require candor, and it might be better for your own standing to have not a shadowy associate but one who shows her face by daylight. The thought of breaking cover is a fearsome one. It seldom goes well. Your presence would be a great reassurance.

Should I write to her? Do you think it would be wise? What should I say?

As for this Darkenhold, I believe I have seen it from afar. I give human structures in the Woods a wide berth unless they are occupied or obnoxious. Your man Sylvius must not have been very obnoxious. Still, any man who inspires your jealousy intrigues me. What manner of man is he? What were you to each other? Should I go and be obnoxious for him, or wait for you?

Of course I will look after you in Myrken, my shunna. I intended no less and have been making plans for it. There is a small matter that my season will be on me not too long after you arrive, but I will still be available should emergency arise, and I will be there to meet you when you return no matter what. I am quite positive we need but a little time to experiment, if only because I refuse to believe that anything done by glamourie cannot be just as undone. If there be missteps, we will learn our way around them. Find we but the right trick and you need worry no more, for if even if it comes upon you again we can undo it quick as picking a knot.

Hold fast those things you value, my shunna, and when you think of their worth, forget not to count your own among them. Care for yourself as you would for them, and if you cannot, then care as best you can until you reach me, and I will take over from there.

Fionn






Post-scriptum: I debated long on adding this, but I could not leave it unsaid and still keep honest. There is a way to divest myself of glamour and we both know it. I will speak of it no more and you will not raise objection, but if should it come to life or death, the final say is mine, not yours.
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Re: Henceforth

Postby Glenn » Mon Aug 26, 2019 1:05 am

Fi(o?)nn,

You know I will defend him. Here, though, I do so on wholly legal grounds. He did not break trust. He instead acted with autonomy to serve your interests and mine, but yours most of all, providing himself with more information that will better allow him to do his duty. Even more than my disdain for queens is a love of effectiveness and pragmatism. Blind obedience will never make for the best of servants, not messengers nor soldiers. He did not break good faith and that is ever more important than a blind trust. To have faith in someone is even more powerful than trust. In the latter, they will do simply as you expect. In the former, they will far exceed it. Your heart should be warmed, not hurt.

I would neither insult you nor the good endeavor in which we are to partake. I suggested this almost from the beginning because I saw it as the best, perhaps the only, path forward. We both agree that more ample breeding grounds are not what your already scattering people need. Removing my people from the land will do you no good and great harm over time. Instead of destroying, this will build, will mend. That is always preferable. You'll forgive me for wanting to do that with you. You'll forgive me, afflicted as I am, from occasionally losing sight of which is the more important matter. I will be better before long, after all.

Fionnuala, this might offend you worst of all, but you are a riddle primarily solved. Don't you see? The progression is this is for the two of us to solve the next riddles together? We have many tasks before us, none of them small, and likely many wonders to discover and horrors to endure. You will tire of me before the opposite is true, I imagine.

To Genevieve, I have said very little about you. If you are to write to her, begin to fill in some of those gaps of discretion. Where I am insatiable and need answers as others need breath, she is curious. It is a more pleasant thing, one to be fostered. For me, a need and for her a passion. Give her information to intrigue her, perhaps to delight her. We've had so long between us, you and I, building from nothing, from less than nothing, from animosity. For her, it will be all new.

Do not be obnoxious to Duquesne. You may come to like him more than me, and I doubt I could bear that. I will need an unbiased opinion moving forward as well. Gloria is a sensible naysayer and she has worth to me for that reason but when it comes to you, she shall be an insensate impediment. I would not have you make him less useful to me as well. Take care with Genny for that same reason. You say I need others of my kind to surround myself with after all. Not everyone can tolerate me for long.

You have not mentioned a season before, or if you have it was a year hence and I likely brushed past it to grasp the next ideal or idea. I do think the issue is with my own mind and my own damaged being and not the glamourie itself. You would not burn down every flower in this world simply because they make you sneeze. I am not sure you would find a solution in having more flowers about, however?

Your post-scriptum is unnecessary. There are lines I will not cross. I will endure eternal maladies if necessary. It is as simple as that.

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Re: Henceforth

Postby Niabh » Wed Aug 28, 2019 8:01 am

If you would quote law at me, Glenn Burnie, first I would remind you that I learned a different law from yours. Then I would say that by your own law, the raven is contracted to my house, and did voluntarily breach that contract. But by the laws of my own heart, which I hope governs here, I would say that I thought the three of us friends enough to know that I would never forbid Benedict from you had he but told me where he planned to go, and that both of you know how I hate being talked about being my back. Now I must wonder how many times this has happened that I will never know, and even wonder if you spoke true when you agreed not to mention me to Genny. How am I to know your word is good when you can always rationalize being false? Fine thing when the good faith happens to serve your ends, but let Benedict break your confidence and you would fiddle a different tune, I am sure.

Then you expect me to be mollified by such pap? If I tell you what I
do feel, do not presume tell me what I should feel.

Glenn, do you not understand how these things go together? There is trust and trust; there is who we are and there is what we must do. If I cannot trust you to behave you to the simplest rules of courtesy, I could never trust you with the least bit of court, because every time you challenge me on some petty point of manners, my mind magnifies it to see you doing the same before the High Queen. Break my trust on such a pissant matter as manners and at worst you suffer my pique; do the same with her and ambitions could collapse, a thousand hours of diplomacy undone, and the only fortune would be that you would face no consequences because you would be dead.

You must know the law in order to break the law. You do not know the law half-well enough to break it—in part because you waste time convincing yourself that whatever it is, it does not apply to you.

Also I tell you this so that you may avoid future difficulty: when it comes to ladies, the only riddle that need be answered is “how do I make myself worthy of her company?” Once this is determined then much else is simplified.

I am hot enough to go on another page or so but best we leave the matter here and move forward to more sober matters.

Understand that whatever plans we devise for our two people, on the surface all shall be but subterfuge. You should recognize the trick, for it is the one you keep trying to play with me—creating a problem that did not exist before, then convincing people the problem must be solved. Both our people have gotten along perfectly well without each other for generations and would continue to do so until one or the other perished. To carry it forward, we invent a false necessity and convince both sides that it is real (to whit, a need for trade). Further, they must be persuaded that the surface goal is the only goal, when the true aim, as we alone will know, is to engender good will. Fortunate you are to have a queen who was born to make men mistake one thing for another, and she does not always need glamourie to do it.

My people will not be so easy to convince. I have said ere now that a queen’s duty is to change laws, not minds, and so long as they obey my law I care not how they feel about it. The other side of this is that the best laws reflect the hearts of their people, for then it is no burden to obey them. The Tuatha love a bargain, Glenn. More than that, they love to feel they have come out the better in the bargain. I believe that may be the best place to start—to let them think this is all a trick, and to be proud of having a queen so clever as to pull it off (I confess I am not so humble nor so selfless that the thought has no allure, but in a practical sense, good will and confidence would certainly make the wheel turn faster).

Material benefits would help convince them as well. Benedict and I have a game making lists of all the things you have that we do not. (He is better at it than I am. Ravens are good at noticing.) I had hope you might help me with this part. It might be best they were not very great things, though—not at first. Some of the older queens would reject any goods out of hand solely because they are human work. From my own experience, I made a point of avoiding human trade when I first came here because I thought you all filthy (which you somewhat are), and because I was prideful and stubborn. One becomes much more amenable when one is hungry. But a hunger can be manufactured. A hunger can be revealed that one never knew one possessed. Ask Benedict what happened when we ran out of coffee.

I have been reluctant to mention the High Queen, but my father has questioned what part she will play in all this, and the problem must be addressed, now better than later. I can see no path forward until she is eliminated, for the worst fate I can imagine would be to lead her to Myrken. She is very old now, and doubtless the Nialls’ quarrel with her will, if nothing else, be won by surviving her. But she has years enough that should she become involved in this, she well could plague your people for generations. She would do it to spite me, to undo any plans of mine, but she would never stop with just Myrken once she engaged. I know this because
I would never stop, were our positions reversed.

You are not in all ways a fool, my shunna. You must know by now that my end in all this has been to take the High Throne for myself. As High Queen I could better secure an accord between your folk and mine and maintain peace until tensions smooth and real trust could be forged. But I do not wish to postpone peace just so the great bitch can die in bed.

There is a way to do it all in one stroke—eliminate the High Queen, take her place, and create enough of a need within my own people to make them agree to anything I ask. I keep wondering if, just this once, it might be worth it. This once and never again.

My shunna, we say there are lines we will not cross, but if we truly believed that, why are they always the first that spring to mind?




I return, having had a long ride and a cold bath to clear my head. I wish I could send this letter from my father to you, as it might serve you well to know his thoughts (as well as give you some idea how miserable he is even when he is being amenable) but a lot of notions do not translate well from our language to yours. Nor do many of the swears.

I shall be most charming and polite with your Duquesne and see if I can make him like me best, in which case you and the raven may have each other. (I am joking.) I will likewise be polite with your Genny, if for no other reason than that she has a pretty brother and might put in a good word for me. (Mostly joking.) If you had not noticed, this country of yours is
filled with your kind, and like as not you could find another one or two to tolerate you if you truly set your mind to it. Or perhaps you might even consider putting some effort into making yourself more tolerable.

Back home the season is a bit of a festival where enmity is for a time set aside, but here it is, as are most other things, a straight hard boot to the cunt an inconvenience, and never more so than just now. I fear we shall both be a little too vulnerable in one another’s company. Therefore will I keep to myself, we will return to our letters, and you will have space to reacquaint yourself with Myrken. I do hate for us to be parted by a little distance just after overcoming a much greater one, but it will only be one moon to the next.

And here I have a true request: this time I would like you to show me why you care so about this place. I promise to relax my defenses and prejudices and allow you to make a case to convince me. When a lady is contemplating murdering a queen for the sake of your Myrken, she should at least understand why she is considering it. And when a man loves but one thing truly, he should be able to declaim it.

I know there are lines you will not cross. That is why I gave you no choice in the matter.

Fionn
Anything can be magic if you're gullible enough.
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Niabh
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