Of Silence: Signed and Sealed:Part Two
Alright, if this is some sort of prank, it's not a very funny one.
You've always been stupidly cryptic, but this is taking things just a bit too far. You can't even write your own signature correctly anymore? When I said you should stop writing in cursive, I didn't mean for you to do that and forget how to write your own stupid signature. You're lucky that the spellsmoke your letter arrived in had that same distinctly pretentious raspberry and copper scent that your spells always do, otherwise I probably would've thought it had been sent by someone who was trying to pose as you to trick me.
Listen. I'm leaving for the harbour, and I hate that you've got me genuinely considering heading back to that awful inn I've been stuck in for the past forever.
I'll give you the chance to tell me that you're lying if you are. If you don't, and I miss my ship for no good reason, I swear on the names of all the faeries in the world that I will hire every single other person I know who's in your line of work against you. I'm hardly joking. I'm too cold to be forgiving right now.
Respond to me ASAP,
This seriously isn't funny. I know you write faster than this, and that your transportation spells don't fail.
My ship is minutes from leaving. You'd better respond if this is a joke. I am being dead serious right now, I am not going to be laughing if you make me delay my trip home.
Well, I'm back at the inn. Thanks a lot. Now I'm cold, ticked off, and worried sick.
If it weren't for the fact that this is incredibly unlike you, I would have crumpled up that stupid letter and tossed it into the ocean. I'm serious, if this turns out to be some sort of elaborate prank, you're dead meat. You're lucky that something in my gut is telling me that you're being serious. I guess I'll only have myself to blame if the next letter I receive says anything along the lines of "ha ha."
I have nothing better to do now than just wait around for your response. You've already won, and I'm stuck here until at least tomorrow morning, so just tell me what's happening when you can.
If something really is wrong, though, then please stay safe. And let me know if you need anything.
Please, get back to me as soon as you can,
Words alone cannot express how inordinately sorry I am for leaving you with such a curt warning and nothing more, but something truly is very, very wrong down here. I swear to you on my life and my honour that I am not lying, nor trying to trick you. Please know that I would never make a joke out of your happiness and comfort.
With that said, I still thank you for trusting me. I would truly hate for you to be here right now.
As for what's happened... I honestly don't know where to begin, or if you would even believe anything that I may write, but I'll try my best to summarise the events of the last few hours:
It began when another violent tempest hit Meridell's half of the realm — sudden, thunderous, and terrible. I was settled in at home when it occurred, so I witnessed the storm's destruction from across the bay. At first, it had appeared as though the storm's nexus was sited somewhere within Illusen's Glade, though after the lightning had died down, it became obvious that the heart of the darkness was actually Meridell Castle. There
was is a plume of darkness spouting from the castle's very spires, far up into the sky, completely corrupting everything that lies within its shadow. The entirety of Meridell City has grown dark.
Then it started spreading. Meri Acres, the Steppes, Bogshot Swamp, even the outskirts of Market Town were all swallowed by the very same cloud of dark magic — and, yes, it is definitely dark magic. The clouds have now consumed nearly the entire realm, save for Brightvale City and its castle, which seem to be the only safe havens for miles. Even my very own home here on the coast is beneath the clouds' weight. (Which, as an aside, and in response to one of your previous messages: yes, my Gallion does hate thunder, and she is not happy about the state of things right now. You don't have to care about my wellbeing — I'm sure that you hardly do — but well wishes for her would be much appreciated.)
I had sent my last letter when the clouds had first engulfed Meridell. I will admit, I definitely did panic at the sight and react approximately appropriately before I had fully thought out what I was doing, though now that I have seen the speed at which the darkness is capable of spreading, I'm glad that my instinct was to mail you and keep you from returning to the realm. Sorry about the cold — truly, I am — but if I were you, I would value self-preservation over the luxury of not having to wear four layers of clothing to remain warm. If it turns out that you don't agree with that sentiment, then... well, again, I owe you for making you stay up there.
Even now as I'm writing this, the clouds seem to still be moving. Unfortunately, I really can't tell if it's simply their continuous churning and swirling giving the illusion of movement, or if the defilement actually is continuing to spread. I am, of course, praying that the former theory is the one that holds truth, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if it turns out that the reality lies in the latter. This is absolutely ridiculous. I have never even heard of anything like this happening before, let alone seen it in person. This feels almost like a Faerietale, or some classic work of fiction — a tyrannical darkness taking over the land, just waiting to be vanquished by brave heroes... Well, if perchance there is any truth to that rather silly statement, then I sure as Moltara's fire hope that those theoretical mythical heroes come to the realm's rescue quickly, because I am going to lose my mind if it gets any darker around here — or, worse, if Brightvale, too, gets consumed.
This is all just happening so fast, and it came up so suddenly, and I'm n
My apologies. I'm just writing in wandering circles now.
The fact of the matter is, I honestly don't know what's happening, but it absolutely cannot be good. That being said, though, if in the end it turns out that I did overreact in telling you to stay put, then I will be the first to admit it, and I'll truly owe you everything I own for keeping you trapped in that awful snow.
Thankfully, for now, things seem to have fallen into some semblance of a hush. It's not a pretty sight, and it's definitely not calming, but at least the clouds' spread seems to be slowing, and the weather is back to stagnant. There hasn't been any lightning in about an hour or so, and the thunder's roar has softened to nothing more than an eerie buzzing of energy. I suppose that only time will tell what these clouds mean, but until then — and, yes, feel free to laugh — I think I'm just going to try to get some work done to unwind. Might as well take advantage of the darkness.
I'll be sure to keep you posted — only if you would like, of course — and thank you again for trusting me.
You. Can. Not. Be. Serious.
First of all, please don't apologise for writing in circles, or refrain from doing so. Again, I'm stuck here in this Fyora-forsaken inn until
the next ship back t whenever I get your go-ahead to come back, so I've really got nothing better to do than read your essay-length letters. So please, write all you want. Besides, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't interested in whatever's happening down there, as well as this is a good excuse for me to practice these finicky transportation spells. Win-win-win.
Anyway, listen: I really, really don't want to believe you, but I feel like I know you well enough to know that you wouldn't just pull some garbage like this out of the blue. And that's honestly a bit terrifying. When you say "dark," exactly just how dark are we talking? What do you mean by "defilement"? By "plume," do you mean a literal pillar of smoke and darkness or whatever, or are you just doing that pretentious poetic thing you always do when you write? I get that this is all super sudden and new, even to you, but I'm sure you can understand how I might be panicking a bit myself considering that the medieval realms are my home, too.
You say it's unmistakeably dark magic, but does it still feel like faerie magic? I'm racking my brain as hard as I can to think of any faeries that may want to cause something like this, but no names are coming to mind, since I'm positive Jhudora wouldn't do something of this magnitude just for the sake of that petty Kad fight she has going on with Illusen. Is there anything or anyone else you can think of that could possibly be causing this? Like, would a wizard's curse be strong enough to spread that far? Or maybe just some sort of dark, cursed entity "from beyond"? You're right, all of this really does sound like some sort of terrible Faerietale, and as much as it would be interesting to read about these events in storybook form, the fact that they are currently very real and taking place in the realm I grew up in is the opposite of fantasy.
I highly doubt I could find any sort of information on this topic that you don't already know, but if there's any sort of research I could do to try and help you figure out what's going on, please let me know, since I'm sure you have more than enough to worry about on your end as it is. Also, please tell me ASAP if the spread reaches Brightvale. I have relatives who live there that mean the absolute world to me, and who I would hate to see get hurt.
Keep me updated,
(I'm currently writing this on the back of a journal in the middle of Meri Acres, so I apologise in advance for any illegibility.)
First, to answer your questions (and, since you opened this door for me yourself, I'm not going to hesitate to be lengthy):
1. When I say "dark," I mean half-light horizon dark. The surrounding world is still visible, but hazy. Everything is stained violet from the clouds, which makes it all the more obscure, though physical shapes and shadows are still distinguishable from a short enough amount of distance. That being said, I have only been on the roads between towns, the seaside cliffs of Brightvale, and, currently, the back of a row of farms on the outskirts of Meri Acres, which are all rather far from the darkness' true nexus in Meridell City. I can't imagine — nor do I honestly want to imagine — what the darkness must be like in, say, the forests of Shadowglen, or Bogshot Swamp, or (Fyora forbid) Meridell City itself. It seems to vary from realm to realm. Overall, though, I think "violet dusk" is a good analogy.
2. Well, I'll be honest and say that, when I first wrote "defilement," I had done it for the sake of "that pretentious poetic thing" and was merely using the word in an attempt to give some sort of sense of the clouds' evil. Now that I've been around the realms a bit, though, it seems like the word choice wasn't too far off from its very cruel definition. Things are literally being defiled — Petpets turned tainted, plants coming to life and turning vicious, people growing ill, or cruel, or aggressive, or hopeless... It's the very definition of defilement, and it's genuinely terrifying. I've never witnessed so many violent arguments, seen so many sick people, or heard so many casual and consistent mutterings of thoughts of crime... and that's coming from an assassin, who is writing to a thief. The entire realm seems to be falling into the maw of depravity. This is sickening.
On a similar note, before I move on to your next question, it seems almost as though people are being genuinely tainted by dark magic. Physically, aesthetically, as well as emotionally and morally. But only some. I'm trying to figure out why it is that it's affecting some but not all. It seems to have something to do with repute...? I know that I personally am not feeling ill, nor am I having any more-violent-than-usual thoughts, nor am I changing colour (though that one may be more of a misfortune depending on how you look at it), and I haven't seen the curse spread to any of your thieves, or to any of the Werelupes, or to colleagues of mine who bare a similar reputation or work in a related field. All of the most innocent in this realm — townsfolk, businessfolk, farmers, vendors, the Raiders, children, Petpets, and so on — are the only ones who seem to be being corrupted, while we of ill repute seem to be perfectly safe. No offense to you and your ilk, but I feel like it's beyond unjust for us to be the ones free of this torture. It is absolutely ridiculous. Whatever is causing this mess clearly wants all goodness to perish.
But I suppose that's just a tangent. Continuing...
3. This time, in regards to the "plume" of darkness, I actually meant the very definition of the word. It looks like a funnel of sorts, endlessly swirling and thick enough to look almost solidified. It is what seems to be tying the clouds to the land, though it in of itself seems to be almost its own entity. Whether or not it is alive, I couldn't tell you, but the ceaseless shifting makes me wonder if perhaps it is.
Come to think of it, though, I don't know why I am using the singular word "it" in reference to the plumes of darkness as if they were a singular phenomenon, for upon travelling around a bit, I came to notice several nearly identical masses of darkness sited in various locations across the realm, all of which seemed to be the source of the darkest of the clouds within that particular province. None are quite as black and ominous as the one over Meridell Castle, but they still seem to be settled within their own little realm, and all possibly living, and all absolutely worrisome, to say the very least. I'll have to take a closer look once my nerves settle a bit.
4. I'm honestly not sure about the energy feeling like that of a dark faerie anymore, for though the darkness is concentrated enough that I'm confident in saying the only thing that could be causing it is a living being with power as strong as a faerie's, its spread is so unnaturally vast that I'm finding it hard to believe any one being could be behind it all. Perhaps, if it really is a faerie or other dark entity at this mess' heart, they are using pawns to help expand their hold — other faeries, wraiths, or possibly even corrupted individuals whose life power is being used to maintain and strengthen each individual tie. It would make sense, come to think of it, considering there appears to be a pinpointed source of darkness within each unique realm... I'm only just realising this now as I'm writing to you... Well, congratulations, Kani, you've accidentally given me an epiphany. I'll try to follow through with that theory when I look closer into the clouds' sources.
My apologies for yet another tangent. To return to your question, I'm not sure if it is a faerie, but I refuse to believe that the source isn't sentient — or, at the very least, alive. No mortal wizard in the history of the world could have enough power to cause something like this, but a "cursed entity from beyond," as you'd put it, might be able to. I'm recalling legends from faraway lands such as Qasala which detail similar phenomenon — curses spreading over vast expanses of land, tainted and blackened skies, a sense of impending dread, et cetera — and wondering if something similar has just sprouted from our home here in the medieval realms. What a terrible way to make history.
Unfortunately, I know far too little about these sorts of things to be able to state a firm theory, and the fact that my mind is currently at war with itself — my stubbornness' not wanting to believe the absurdity of it possibly being a supervillain's curse fighting against all of the evidence I've gathered that suggests it may truly be — isn't helping me think about this any clearer. It's times like these that I wish you were here to insult me off the back of my own accidental internal high Uni so that I may think rationally within myself once again. Any insults coming to mind? Help me out here, because I'm currently refusing to believe anything myself says. Because he's an idiot. But you knew that already, didn't you?
In any case, though I do greatly appreciate the offer, sadly I do not believe there is anything you could do to help. If you would like to do some research on your own — perhaps trying to find some texts on ancient curses, deities, faeries, or the like — in the hopes of finding descriptions or accounts of similar events as the ones currently happening down here, I'm sure it wouldn't hurt. Unfortunately, though, it seems as though this is something that will need to be dissected at its source, and I'm far too nosy (and paranoid) to not do a bit of observation in that field on my own. Only after I get some work done, though. Because I'm an anxious disaster. Maybe you can use that fact as the kindler for the pyre of insults I've just requested. Come on, do your worst.
Jokes aside, I will definitely keep you updated. Which reminds me — and I apologise that I forgot to write this information earlier and made you sit through this entire spiel before getting to it, though I choose to claim that that was your own fault for giving me the leeway of length — Brightvale still has not been touched at all by the clouds, save for the farthest reaches of the coast. I can't tell if the darkness is still moving, but if it is, it is doing so at an incredibly slow pace, so as long as this gets figured out and dealt with promptly — which is how the story goes in all good Faerietales, right? — I don't think you will have anything to worry about. If something changes for the worse, though, then I'll be sure to let you know immediately. You're definitely not one to casually admit to caring for anyone, so the fact that you would say something like that so unhesitatingly — and in writing, no less — really puts your affection's gravity into perspective. How embarrassing that must be for you. Still, I'll do whatever I can to keep your loved ones as safe as I would my own, especially in your absence. I give you my oath.
I will write to you again once I've done a bit of poking around, or if anything seemingly important comes into view.
First of all, I'm surprised you didn't scold me for addressing you by name, so I'm going to keep doing it. Your fault.
Second, at first I regretted my decision in telling you to write as long as you want, since I think eight pages is a biiit excessive, but trying to decipher your handwritten scrawl did just kill a solid fifteen minutes, so...
Alright, in all seriousness, thank you for your thorough response.
I honestly don't know what to say. I've been sitting here for what feels like ages just letting my pen linger in the air trying to figure out some words of comfort or brainstorm ideas or ANYTHING that could possibly be said to help, but I'm completely drawing a blank. Not like you'd written to me looking for any sort of expertise, I'm assuming — if you had, I'd call you an idiot, since you of all people know that I don't know a dang thing — but I guess I still feel obligated. Maybe your hopelessness is infectious. This paper better not be poisoned.
Obviously I'm kidding, but that does bring up what I honestly thought was the strangest part of this whole thing: the corruption bit. You're saying this looks like some sort of curse that targets nice people? Who the heck does something like that? Is your family alright? Not to freak you out or anything, but maybe you should go check on your relatives if you haven't. I'm a bit surprised you didn't mention them in your last letter, but I wouldn't call you a criminal for something like that slipping your mind during the stress of this whole ordeal's unravelling. Hey, maybe that can be my role during this whole thing: offering you simple suggestions since Fyora knows you always overcomplicate stuff when you're stressed.
Speaking of your faults... insults, you say? Well, you're a bum! Boring! A crazy, rambling, know-it-all, skeevy weirdo! I don't know, it's hard for me to come up with something scathing when I'm actually genuinely concerned, even with your little prompts. How about instead I do the opposite and see if that helps? You're one of the most obnoxiously intelligent people I know, Simeon, and I'm sure that whatever theories you come up with when trying to solve this, be they silly-sounding or rooted completely in rationalism, will be worth exploring, and you'll be able to figure something out. Don't doubt yourself so much, you ugly old coot. Your thoughts are worth more than you think.
How's that for insulting?
I did end up finding some bizarre old texts on curses while doing research with Hannah and the others a few months ago that seem to be pretty one-of-a-kind (and that I may or may not have kept on me for "safekeeping,") so I'll read through them while I wait for your next update and see if I can't find any passages detailing purple clouds or sicknesses that seemingly target nice people.
P.S. Alright, adding this really quick before I send this off... I wasn't going to say this because I thought it sounded stupid, but, well, might as well: you keep saying that these events are reminding you of old myths and Faerietales, but have you considered there maybe being more truth to that than just the similarities? This probably sounds really childish, but maybe this really is the work of some sort of "supervillain," as you'd put it. My uncle Nickolas always used to say: "Faerietales are not written; they are found." I guess part of me has always really wanted to believe that. To believe that there's some truth to all legends of supposed "fantasy," I mean. Maybe that makes me a child, but it's just food for thought, I guess. Figured I'd mention it. Go ahead and laugh if you want; I'll smack you for it once this mess has been solved and I can get back to Meridell.
Because this mess will be solved.
...And I will smack you.
Don't think I didn't notice your little namedrop the first time you did it, you cheeky little jackanapes. I am not happy about it, but I have bigger things to worry about right now, so, for the time being, go wild. I'll deal with your impudence later.
Something very significant has actually just come up, and I think that it may be th
Simeon, I know you're fine if you were able to cast the spell needed to actually send that letter, so don't start trying to play tricks on me now. I've already admitted that I'm genuinely worried about whatever's happening down there. Don't use that fact against me, or I'll smack you even harder when I get back.
Okay, this really isn't funny. Just finish replying already. Or at least send me a small "I'm okay, just give me a sec" letter while you write out another stupid essay since you've got me all worried now.
Is this seriously your idea of a joke? I'm starting to panic a little. Please just tell me you're alright. A few words, a blotch of ink, even just a blank scrap of parchment — anything.
SIMEON, PLEASE REPLY
To be continued…