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Muse Voices

Myradin: A Letter from Home

Highgate, L'Montaigne

The letter was waiting for Myradin one afternoon when he returned from an inspection of Highgate's city walls. The city's masons had been hard at work in the bitter cold of a L'Montaignan winter, repairing damage from a four day-long blizzard that had left key parts of the walls with cracked and loosened stonework. The walls now looked quite stout, and Myradin would have dared siege engines to take the town. At the moment, though, winter was a strong enough deterrent.

The letter awaited him on his desk after he had warmed his hands at the fire. Myradin picked it up, curious. It had clearly been on the road for quite a while and passed through several hands. The vellum was frayed and smudged, and he could barely make out his own name written on the outside of it. The handwriting looked familiar, but the seal did not. Myradin carefully broke the seal and read.

Castelle, Dakarta
2nd Astumy

Dear Myradin,

I hope this finds you well and that it reaches you soon. I am at my wits' end, and I need your help.

Abruptly, Myradin recognized the smudged writing. It was from his sister, Irel.

This is about Settim. There is something wrong with him, Myradin, and I don't know how to put it into words. If I said I thought he was evil, would you call me fanciful? He is only just turned six, but--he frightens me. Father and Lord Alarique are the only people he listens to, anymore. I have tried being calm and firm; I have tried being vile. I haven't bothered to beg or plead with him because that would only show me to be weak and would make no useful impression on him.

Tarran used to be able to manage Settim, and he could do it with a mere look. Somehow, with simply a look, Tarran could put the fear of Morgause into this child. But Tarran isn't here, anymore. I can't discipline him, and Father won't--but then,
Settim acts like a Trinist angel when he's around Father, so my frustrations are not listened to.

He picks fights with my children, and he hurts them, Myradin. I won't have him in my home, anymore, and I dread going over to Father's to care for him.

Please come. You're a healer; perhaps you know of something that can be done to curb his cruelty? Perhaps a drug of some kind? He's inhuman; I've never seen the like, and I don't know what to do.

Please help me.


Myradin set the letter down, stunned--and horrified. She had written it the previous Astumy, and here it was, nearing the middle of Daktremer. Myradin frowned to himself. Irel always said Settim was a handful, but this is the first I've heard of outright cruelty. Why would Settim be cruel when he has a father who dotes on him? Because he can? What other reason could there be? It isn't as if the boy is being abused.

His attention turned to the date on the letter, and he grimaced. I haven't a hope of getting through the passes. I don't think the Lifestone can keep a man from freezing to death, either.

No, I cannot,
the Stone murmured into his thoughts.

It would be insane to travel right now. Myradin glanced out the window of his office at the snowy mountains plainly visible across the valley and the heavy, gray clouds overhead. Oh, bloody hell, I'm actually considering this. What exactly do I think I can do? I've never been a father; a duke, steward of a kingdom, yes, but those are far different from dealing with a child. But neither can I ignore this.

He would have to travel light, Myradin thought, with as little entourage as he could get away with. An entourage would never survive, and he detested all the fanfare, anyway.

Yes, travel light, with no more than three others. He sighed. I wish Ilena were here. But Ilena was off with her people, the In'ree, and he didn't expect to see her again for several months.

He let out a breath and began to pen a letter to Thane Harmisch. Usually, Myradin resided in Highgate during the winters, so Harmisch could spend those months in the Thaneland with the dwarves. He hoped the man would be willing to come.