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A Letter to Holthar

Dearest Penelope,

I hope this missive finds you in good health and spirits. My time in Torakand has been eventful at the least, so I must beg your forgiveness for the lateness of this letter in being sent. Truthfully, I have written several drafts trying to capture my experiences only to toss them into the fire, dubious of their authenticity to what has transpired. My problem stems from my inexperience with the emotions that the past months have visited me with. I am not unaware of hardship, loathe as I am to admit that to others, nor am I one to lose my composure at trifling setbacks. What has occurred however, has exceeded any of my attempts to laugh off, or feign indifference. So placing quill to paper on them is no less a challenge, and I fear will be without my usual lightness.

My year thus far had been eventful but not outrageously so. I had settled in as the main signal corps organizer for the unit, and began handling communiques back and forth to a remote township beyond the Governor's reach, deeper in the interior of the continent our Colony has begun to explore. As an aside, I can say to both you and Amelia, the excitement of the colonists in forging new paths and exploring this new world is palpable. Infectious if I am to be honest, though I do try to put on an air of professional distance when I can. There were mysteries and mayhem aplenty in our journey, but with a bit of prodding from me, in all modesty, eventually the small farming community we were dispatched to help, began to settle into a rythym of its own. The community... well, what can I say. Its a collection of farms surrounding a mine, on the very fringes of the Colony. The only thing beyond the homesteads is forest and wild animals...or so we thought.

First, if I may, I am sure Amelia will have a multitude of questions. Girls her age can be so inquisitive. Yes, I am sure she will want to throw something at me for that comment, but alas I am safe from our little sister's wrath for now. But as a token of peace I will relate the background of our great endeavor. Hopefully, that will suitably mollify our youngest. Torakand is a land quite unlike what you are used to. Wild, and untamed, which is to be expected, in fact the Empresses specifically forbade settlement unless the land was found completely uninhabited. Our Empresses' wisdom was that the horror of war should never darken the glory of our lands again. I just wish that were true, but I digress. The Colony of Flint lies on a river delta ringed by mountains, the river made the land fertile and the mountains shelter the lands from the worst of the weather. Being that Torakand is so far to the North, we have crossed the midpoint of our world and on the other side the Seasons are reversed. So though its the middle of Summer in Holthar, we are seeing Snow and Ice in abundance here. The river however, cuts through the aforementioned mountains in a pass named for one of our Empresses, Levantra. Beyond the pass lies endless wilderness...and a stubborn little outpost named Leyton Homestead. The community, as I mentioned, is barely more than farms and a mine, but I have come to know that within it lies one of the most important resources of our Empire. I beg your indulgence, but I cannot disclose it here, but nevertheless know that the work we do here is directly followed by the Empresses themselves. Given the exigency of my orders to travel here, and by our twin rulers themselves no less, I have at last begun to grasp their intent, I think. Be that as it may, the town itself is your usual collection of rural characters, now with the addition of the entire complement of our recently chartered colonial guilds.

As to how the guilds are working together on the Colony, I would look no further than the excellent work they put in to design, build and assemble the walls which defend the small outpost. The Military oversaw the project, but the crafters, ritualists, and explorers pulled their weight in bringing the walls into reality. My role was in providing incentive and some raw materials to the project...well...it was I actually who supervised most of the contracts to organize the work. But in true colonial fashion the work parties labored greatly to secure their new home and within a few days an impressive stockade was built. None too soon as it happens.

Which brings me to the matter that makes it so hard to write. I have told you of the Field Marshal I am sure, though with my usual flippancy I left out the detail most germane to the tale. I allowed myself to see her as more than a commander and dear sister did that cost me. Not that she showed any inkling in the slightest, nor would she approve of such impropriety if she had, but the strength in her Penelope, she stood strong as father's Oak did in that terrible storm when we were little. Every tree in the back acres of the estate was bent and broken, but not that Oak, it stood in defiance of whatever challenge was laid against it. So too did Urfexa. Until she didn't.

The matter I am told is sensitive, and I must leave some details out, but suffice to say our Stockades were needed, and against more than mere animals. The fighting on our doorstep intensified into a siege, wielding both cannon and ritual to bring us ruin. The Field Marshal calmly strode into that maelstrom, with but one order, "Take that gun after I fall." Her sacrifice brought the ritual protecting the cannon down, and we could at last reach the gun. Yet I could not move from her, Penelope. Broken, bleeding, fallen she was....and something broke in me that day. I was told later of what happened next, though the tale I think was exaggerated. All I remember was one moment seeing red, beset by numerous adversaries over her form, not yielding her to them. The next I am covered in blood, most of it not my own, being dragged to the healers, exhausted. The foe was driven off, and the day saved, but the pain of that night is with me still.

So it is with mixed feelings that I received my next bit of news. After leaving Leyton, and returning to Flint, I attended a Ball held by the Governor. We then learned that our Colony is no longer a chartered corporate community, but a fully titled, Region of the Empire. Our Governor now Marquis, and our military elevated by promotions to cover our losses. I received the rank of Captain, Penelope. I do not know why, I did only as I was required. It is overwhelming. I am still an Adjutant, but by choice, as it is my skill to assist the field commander in handling the details. But, I am now an officer in my own right. Father will know, of course, as you are reading this a letter containing just my promotion orders is being delivered to him. His derision and disappointment in me earned him that and nothing more from me. Do tell me the color of his face after he reads it.

My apologies for the vagueness of the details above, but matters of utmost discretion allow nothing more. Perhaps if I am able to visit, I will be able to share with more candor, but my ... orders... were quite specific about the length of my stay here. Do not fret, I will return, but for now the work consumes me. Give our mother my love, and Amelia as well, though she no doubt will sneak a peak at this correspondence whether you scold her for privacy or not. Oh, and that wig you so kindly sent? It was an unfortunate casualty of the battle. Might I trouble you for another, there are no proper wig makers in the Colony you see...

In loving remembrance,
Your brother, Jonathan.

Reminder!

  Articles in the Anecdotes and Observations category are written by people who are experiencing the events. They may not know the whole truth or may not be telling the whole truth.

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Cover image: by Cait May
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