News travels fast – I read it in the Neopian Times before I got your last letter!
So, King Skarl wanted to knight you, but you refused the ceremony. Remember when we were kids? You always bragged to me and our parents that you would become the greatest knight Meridell had ever seen... at least, after Father. But now... you actually turned it down. I couldn’t believe my eyes or my ears when Mipsy shoved the latest issue of the Times into my face and asked, “Is that your brother?” I only believed it when I finally opened your letter.
But I was really surprised. And you turned the knighting down because you believed that you had a different call – weapon making, am I correct? I can’t really imagine you as a weapon smith... but then again, that’s your call, and being your younger brother, I can’t really do much except either complain, support, or both. But I’m not going to complain, so I’ll just support you. I wish you only the best of luck with whatever you plan to do with your life from now on.
I am writing to you from Terror Mountain. After our escapades in Meridell, we were taken there to help with another crisis, in case you haven’t heard from the castle personnel. It saddens me to say that I may not be back for a while... by now, I’m supposed to be at your doorstep, knocking and yelling at you to let me in, but... I couldn’t refuse when an agent from Happy Valley arrived to take us before I could be knighted. The situation in Terror Mountain seemed desperate, even more so than the one that has plagued Meridell, and so Mipsy and I had to leave.
Don’t worry, we’re both still alive, and we plan to keep on living. I have this feeling that everything won’t be over for a long time, and I have to see it through.
As much as I would like you to write back, by the time you get this letter, we may already be on our way again. And as much as I would like to tell you exactly what is going on, I have been advised against it, in case this letter gets intercepted, which I highly doubt, since we’ve got the best agents posted to make sure our mail stays confidential and unopened.
I promise to write back once we find another inn.
P.S. Say hi to everyone for me, you know the drill. And Mipsy says hi to you too, and that she would like to meet you someday. She says you’re “one interesting character”.
* * *
I started writing this letter while we were stuck in a bunch of caves. Apparently, that was supposedly the quickest way to the next inn, and time is crucial, but I think I would have preferred to go the longer way, which would probably be safer...
Then Mipsy just had to remind me that this is the safest way right now while she was trying to make a fire.
Anyway, excuse the rips in the paper. Every now and then, while writing by our trusty lantern, we get attacked... hardly safe. This strange creature – I think it looked like a Krawk, it gets harder to tell as you go deeper into the caves – just had to mistake this letter for food – or my fingers. Thankfully, Mipsy sent it a very unpleasant curse before I could even touch my sword and gave me a stern talking-to afterward about being more alert.
I’d rather not think about what would have happened if I was traveling alone. And you can imagine that the Krawk... or Krawk-like thing... was not the only one who had to take a bite out of your letter. It’s worse than melting ice and snow dripping onto the paper – and excuse that little scorch mark on the upper right corner. Mipsy tried to dry your letter out and went a bit too far.
I hope you’re having much better luck than I am, and I look forward to your next letter. I’m really sorry if I can’t tell you much about what we’re up to, but I assure you, it’s nothing illegal... but those behind this scheme would definitely think otherwise. And I can only wait for one letter, because after I send my next reply, we’ll have to move again.
* * *
You know, it turned out that what I really wanted was to become a hero. I’m going to be a bit of a braggart here, but now that I am, I feel like... I don’t need to be a knight, that it’s not for me after all. Don’t you get the feeling that you’ve got a different call? Besides, I like whittling bows and forging blades. In a way, I can still be a hero... by helping other heroes. Of course, I still train every day with my knives. I can’t get rusty now, can I? Who knows, another horde of bandits might come around. I hope I don’t jinx anything by saying that...
Business is going great here. I’ve earned a lot of clients, and King Skarl was kind enough to help me out when I got started... I mean, instead of giving me knight status, he gave me his patronage. Now I’m getting orders from all over Meridell, not just Trestin and the surrounding villages... I mean, nearby villages, since we’re surrounded by mountains, not exactly villages. But it’s amazing how far Meridellians would go just to get a nice sword. Actually, my specialties are knives and bows, but I’ve recently decided to get into the sword business as well.
I got a bit of help too from the older smiths around... and this apprentice is also earning his own apprentices. Even Ruben – Andrea’s brother, if you remember – is dropping by for a few lessons on bow-whittling. That means Andrea herself is also around more often, but she mostly just writes. Devin and Omar passed by too, but they couldn’t stay as long as Ruben and Andrea, since they had to take care of Miss Olivia, who’s once again spending much of her time communing with nature. In fact, they tell me that sometimes she forgets to eat. Though Devin did tell me that she’s wishing you only the best luck, and that your future looks bright – dazzlingly bright, supposedly. I don’t believe too much in luck, but optimism helps.
Mother and everyone else are doing fine as well, to make the long story short. As much as I hate to sound rather clichéd and cheesy, we all miss you and hope you return safely – as soon as possible.
By the way, your next birthday’s coming up. I thought I’d enclose a little present for you. It’s a pretty small thing, I know, but I can imagine it’ll come in handy sometime, whether you need a second weapon, or need to chop up your next dinner. Andrea also lent a hand in making it – she put a little charm on the blade so that it can never be used against you, and it was her idea to emboss the hilt with your initials and the Meridellian seal. She’s written the incantation on the back of this letter in case you or Mipsy might need it. As much as I’d like to give you a new sword, it’ll be quite conspicuous, considering your situation... and shipping and handling fees would be a lot higher. Do you still have Father’s old blade though? I hope it’s holding out well.
I know we’ll meet again someday, my dear brother, but I’d like to know how long that “someday” will be. Tell Mipsy I said hi, and that I’m flattered that she would like to meet me.
P.S. No advertising of my business... I don’t think I’m ready to go Neopian (just yet), and I think I’ll stick to Meridell for now. I know you’re so proud of me and all, but yeah, do hold back.
* * *
Reuben, my narcissistic brother,
Nice of you to remember my birthday when all I can remember right now is that Terror Mountain’s in danger and we may well be its last hope. Thank you for the dagger, I’ll definitely put it to good use. And I’m impressed. It looks even better than some blades I see in shops. Mipsy’s idea of a nice gift was an old gaudy ring that she says brings good luck. Unfortunately – or fortunately, it’s so big that it keeps falling off any of my fingers.
Once again, you know that whatever you choose to do is all right with me, so long as you’re enjoying yourself – and Mother approves. But you know her; our mother’s never forced us to be anyone we don’t want to be. Anyhow, it sounds like you’re doing a great job over there. If Father were here, I think he would be really proud of you, knight or no. And glad to hear you’re still training. If you slack off, it’s your ego that’s going to hurt when I come back and challenge you to another duel.
Don’t worry; I’ll keep my mouth shut until you say the word. Besides, I highly doubt there’ll be time to start proclaiming to Terror Mountain that my brother runs a weapon business in faraway Meridell.
We’ve got reinforcements again now – in the form of an archer named Talinia, who decided to pay for all our inn expenses as a birthday present. Yes, thanks to Mipsy, she also knows when my birthday is now. Tal comes from a family of bowmen, and she doesn’t mind tagging along – she came of her own volition, so don’t start lecturing me about endangering others or dragging the innocent into whatever I’m getting into. Mipsy was a bit hesitant at first to trust Talinia and she told me, “that Eyrie’s too quiet to be trustworthy.” But they’re both talking each other’s ears off now.
To be honest, I really don’t want to leave this inn. It’s nice and warm... and there was this little Acara who walked up to Mipsy and told her that he wanted to be a magician, just like her. His mother took him away and told him not to talk to strangers, and then he said out loud, “They’re not strangers, they’re the ones who saved Meridell!”
Maybe now is the time to leave. Our comrades have often warned us to keep as low a profile as possible, because there may be someone watching us.
Or so they say, which means I might not be able to write as often as I do now... which isn’t very often. I’m really sorry, Reuben.
But I promise that I’ll return alive. I said I’d come back, and I will. Tell Mother so she doesn’t worry... and anyone else who asks.
Till we meet again,
P.S. Talinia asked who I was writing to, and she too would like to say hi, and that she would like to see you whittle a nice bow.
* * *
Andrea passed the letter back to the white Blumaroo sitting pensively on the grass beside her. She had to nudge him to get his attention before he took it out of her paws, which were once again free to take an indigo quill and a roll of parchment.
“And since then, he hasn’t written back,” said the Blumaroo, letting out a low sigh. “It’s kind of strange... after always telling us how he was, it’s as if... well...”
She placed an arm around his shoulder, the quill tickling his cheek. “Reuben...”
But Reuben showed no sign of gloom or doom on his face; on the contrary, he gave his compatriot a small smile, much to Andrea’s astonishment.
“Still, I have complete faith in my brother. I always have, and I always will. Even if he didn’t tell me in his letters, I know he’ll return.”
The red Kyrii returned his smile and went back to the parchment rolled out on a flat rock she used as an ersatz table. “Me too... even though I only know Rohane from your and Miss Melissa’s stories. He sounds like – no, he is someone who will definitely live to tell tales of his travels.”
Reuben nodded, and with a mischievous smirk, he added, “Besides, if he doesn’t keep his promise, I’ll single-handedly comb the entire world and drag him back home if I have to.”
“That’s just like the good brother you are,” said Andrea, pausing to laugh.