1627, Earth Season
It’s a single flattened and folded bit of parchment. A lot of writing. Not a poet’s hand, or a bureaucrat’s, but an educated man’s, definitely. It resembles Venlar’s as he recalls it from the time he got invited back to look at scrolls (but not etchings).
Expensive parchment, well prepared. Good wax. The ash has tiny bits of charcoal on it. The branch is no particular tree Xenofos recognises – it’s been stripped of leaves and bark, and is probably not a part of any message.
A fine hand, sometimes slightly ink blotted.
To Thane Vareena of the Colymar,
From the hand of Lord Velnar Silorsson,
Let respectful greetings flow.
I have something of an answer for you, my dear Thane, on the matter of service to you. I was greeted as kin and clansman by my father, which I must admit was something of a relief to me, commingled with the disappointment of a young man who finds out he is not to be a bandit after all, having created romantic associations with the state, entirely unconnected to its reality. I shall be travelling to the Blue Tree shortly, where I shall meet with those who married in our stead, and ensure their comfort. So far from Esrolia, they may miss a few things that they expect.
In travelling, I hope to have my bodyguard with me, but as she is – no doubt you know from Irillo by now – so recently a mother, I would expect travel to be slow. Expect, that is, were my bodyguard not Yamia. I believe that she may drive her chariot, so that her son is with her. Tamakt is the most perfect being you can imagine. On a personal note, I am glad he was acknowledged by your cousin and will thus have links to my wife’s family, for all that those links are occluded by the mystical. I do not know if I ever told you the story of the crows, although your Captain will be able to tell you what they mean to Humakt, and perhaps your Scribe will know what omens are, when guests leave a roof where they have guested, to travel to war. The mere fact of the guests having wings and roosting atop the roof does not seem to have occurred to Yamia as a problem, and so I discard it also.
It remains hardly possible that Mellia and I will adopt the child, for Yamia seems to me fierce and protective as a mother, and while she does not show her feelings easily, she tells me of them. She loves her little hero, and intends to bring him up properly. I wonder only a little what this means. Her counsel is good when given to others, but often kept for herself, to herself.
Yamia and my mother are not on good terms, and it may do them both good to be apart. A part of the birth which is not to be written in a letter went badly, and while nobody is to blame, Yamia was hurt by it. She has never known my mother to fail before, and to have it happen in such a way wounds my sister deeply. So, I may leave my bodyguard behind, or be a little delayed. Which is to say, I do not know when next I will meet you.
This having been addressed, it seems that I will be at liberty to advise on Sartar, customs, and other matters that may arise, but of course, as times have changed you may not find this convenient. It may be that you asked from charity, knowing I approached a state of poverty, or asked thinking that you would be supporting me as a demonstration of generosity before others. In either of those cases, I would urge you not to worry for my sake, for I am at liberty to be free and pay my own way, and talk between equals is often of great value. However, my counsel, and thus that of my household, will be ever at your service no matter what decision you make. Should it be that you extend the offer over my new circumstances, I can give you a better answer in person than I can in written form; ink, although wet, desiccates words that should be fluid and imprisons a particular meaning where questions mean nothing and answers cannot be framed for understanding.
I sign off here. Yamia has brought Tamakt for my attention.
Venlar informs Varanis that he himself was accepted to his clan and of Yamia’s son.