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Of Silence: Signed and Sealed


by werelupecookies

--------

     Kanrik,

     I'll be honest and say that I am rather relieved to finally be hearing back from you. The lack of communication these past half-dozen-or-so months had me genuinely concerned about your wellbeing. Given your more characteristic habits of incessant chattiness, I had begun to assume that the worst had transpired when, come week three or four of your absence, I still hadn't received any updates written in that atrocious handwriting of yours. (Don't you dare use these words against me, but I had almost come to miss your obnoxious four-in-the-morning messages begging for my help with your uncompleted grunt chores. But only almost. Don't get any ideas.)

     I'm sure you know that I do appreciate the nostalgic value of handwritten, courier-carried letters; however, in this case, I wish that you would have just used a bit of transportation magic to send your dissertation-length essay about your and this Hannah girl's misadventures rather than do so through traditional post. The delay in response had me worried sick, and you should know by now that I haven't the time nor energy to be dealing with such trifling emotions as "concern."

     All that being said, though, now that I have received and read your little recap of all your Terror Mountain exploits, I must say that some of the details have taken me by surprise. Forgive me if I misconstrued anything you had written, for though I do have faith in my grasp of language arts, I found it hard to believe what much of your writing seemed to imply — or, even more so, blatantly stated. I am rather proud to hear of your various successful escapades, especially considering all of the wit and ruthlessness they surely must have necessitated, but I will admit that I never took you for "the type," as they say. This is, of course, in regards to that last detail you had included in your letter. The one about your little rather momentous showdown with your now-previous guild leader. I honestly didn't know you had it in you, and I'm a little shocked (and concerned) to find out that you apparently do. (For what it's worth, though, I will say that Galem had it coming, and I'm glad it was someone like you who'd finally taken charge.)

     Don't you dare hold this over me either — or, perhaps worse, take it the wrong way — but I will also admit that I am now rather worried about your state of mind, for lack of a more succinct term. You've caught yourself with a bit of a mess on your hands, and it is one that I, of course, am very familiar with, and understand the potential personal repercussions of first-hand. Ergo, although I think we are both well aware that you are a bit more sound of sanity than I am, I do want to make sure that you aren't letting any of this get to your head. And I don't mean that in the context of hubris. You've got a big mouth on you, but becoming the leader of a guild with as vast a social and economic presence as the Thieves', especially after acquiring the position through such sudden and morbid means, is a rather big bite to swallow, even for someone as voracious in vainglory as you (all offense intended, you little jackanapes). I don't want to see you end up tossing away your morality the way that I unfortunately did when I was around your age. I have faith that you would never abandon the opulence of the thieves' trade for the wretchedness of one as my own, though, correct?

     Perhaps I'm just being paranoid, but I do worry about you, you know.

     In the end, the long and short is: please let me know if you need anything from me.

     All that nonsense aside, I'm glad to hear that the whole releasing-a-vengeful-slumbering-shadow-beast business has blown over. Honestly, Kanrik, if it were anyone else telling me such a tall tale, I would call them a filthy liar, but the detail in which you described this "Bringer" and its rampant destruction is rather astounding. Truly, reading your letter felt almost like reading an epic mythos (curses, betrayal, and poison, oh my!), and you might be pleased to know that you had me on the edge of my seat. You know, the wanted posters constantly plastered around town always have described you as cunning and underhanded, but this almost sounds like a scheme contrived solely for notoriety's sake. If you wanted to go down in history, it sounds to me like you've done it. I am very proud, though I am also not looking forward to no doubt hearing you ceaselessly prattle on about how famous you now surely are (as if the incessant boasting about your "cunning" and "handsomeness" and the like wasn't enough of a pain in my neck).

     How about this: once you return to Meridell, I will permit you one (1) full month to vaunt, but after that, you get no more leeway. (And, yes, that is a threat.)

     As for me, yes, your assumptions are correct: I have been, to use your words, just as "skeevy and useless" as always; thank you for reminding me.

     In all honesty, though, the only interesting thing to happen back home recently has been a strange series of storms that have thrashed the coasts these past few days. I'm truly a bit perturbed by them, for I could swear that I'd felt a dark magical energy pulsing within the clouds from which the lightning had burst. I may have just been imagining things, though. Considering the fact that these storms were more violent than anything I'd seen before — thunder, lightning, winds, rain, you name it — I wouldn't be surprised if my mind had just begun inventing supernatural explanations, which the rest of me had then stupidly taken to heart. Regardless, it seems like the less-wealthy areas of the realm took quite a bit of damage, though thankfully nothing it looks like they can't repair. Those poor farmers have enough to deal with given their slob of a king's constant demanding of discounted produce (ugh), so I'm glad to see that the damage is being dealt with promptly and efficiently.

     In any case, I wish that I had some equally spectacular tales to share with you in return, but life is boring over here in this worthless realm — as always. Perhaps, if fate permit, something interesting will come up soon, but nothing ever happens around Meridell anymore, so don't get your hopes up for a novella. However, if perchance the opportunity to betray a pretty tavern girl, unleash a wrathful demigod, get poisoned and thrown out into a blizzard, then usurp a master thief's title in revenge comes up around my neck of the woods the way that it did around yours, I will definitely seize the opportunity, and you will be the first to know.

      Until then,

     —S.J.R.

      ~

      My friend,

     First of all, I hope you realise that I absolutely am going to hold that knowledge over your head, and I absolutely will use it to my advantage the next time I have a bunch of work that I need to get done quickly. Consider this a warning. Now you can't say I deceived you.

     Second of all, I'd rather my handwriting look "atrocious" than have every single sticky note and grocery list I write end up looking like a love letter the way that everything in your pretentious handwriting does, thank you very much. Your letters always look the way that rose petals smell: overrated. You don't have to write everything in cursive, you know. Here's a hint: lift your pen off the paper for once.

     Third of all, I'm flattered to know that you're worried enough about my emotional state following the whole guild leader thing to offer your company or whatever, but you need to understand that, if I really was in a bad state of mind, the last thing I would need is to deal with your mopeyness on top of my own problems. So, thanks, but no thanks.

     (In all honesty, though, I really am flattered. It does mean a lot to know that you care enough about my wellbeing to permanently ink your worries onto paper and send them to me despite knowing I will inevitably use them against you. Which I will. But I promise I'm doing fine in those regards. I've had plenty of time to mull over what happened back in the ice caves, and I think I'm finally over the existential dread of it all. I'm not quite as bad as you are when it comes to dealing with my past self's rashness, thank Fyora, though I really hope that there isn't an invisible "yet" tacked onto the end of that statement. However, if it ever turns out that there is, I blame you entirely.

     All that said, I'd rather not talk about it anymore, thank you.)

     Sorry to make you worry, but, as I'm sure you can imagine, this whole guild leader business has gotten me just a tad distracted, so responding to letters that weren't completely business-centric wasn't exactly on my list of priorities (no offense.) I haven't had much time to do anything other than try to figure out how to run things around here, and that in of itself has been an obnoxiously slow learning process. Which reminds me, you wouldn't happen to have any books in your library on how to properly run a klepto crime ring, would you? (If you answer that question seriously, by the way, I'm going to smack you in the face when I get back to Meridell. Unless, of course, the answer is "yes." In which case, please, I'm begging you, send them my way.)

     I guess it was stupid of me to think that this job would be easy (...I say as if I'd actually given this any thought beforehand.) I honestly had no idea just how many different things needed to be done just to keep this guild up and running; or, worse, just how outright stupid half of these idiot thieves I've never even met are. I swear to Fyora, if one more little nobody comes up to me with their entire arm practically sliced completely off because they "didn't know the platform was booby trapped," I'm going to absolutely lose it. Do I look like I've been to medical school? Do I give off "I know exactly what type of fungus that is" vibes? Seriously, if this is what being a parent is like, I hope I never have kids.

     Well, thankfully, despite all that, I think I've finally got a bit of a system for running things set up now, and I'm getting used to the swing of this leadership stuff. It definitely is really refreshing to see things getting taken care of in a more well-organized and business-oriented way, and though I'm definitely not a fan of the workload, seeing the guild running so efficiently (and without any certain someones tricking the newbie kids out of their earnings) makes it worthwhile, in my opinion. Plus, knowing that it's mostly me that's making this guild so much more competent is doing wonders for my ego. (You're right, you are probably going to have to hear me boasting for a while.) Still, part of me worries that the full weight of my new position here hasn't completely sunken in yet; but, if it hasn't, I'd rather live blissfully unaware of that fact, since I'm currently rather comfortable with the state of things... and the title "Master Thief Kanrik" just has suuuch a nice ring to it.

     Right now, honestly, I'm really just sick of the cold up here on the mountains. That's the only part of this whole ordeal that hasn't gotten any better. That ship home to Meridell can't come fast enough... Only a few more days until I can sleep in my own bed again, thank Fyora. I expect a cup of your fancy imported coffee when I get back to the guild's HQ. But I digress.

     Anyway, glad to know you're still useless! You deserve some time to relax, since you're always just sooo busy. Those storms do sound strange, though. The weather down there has always been kind of terrible, but what you described still sounds unnaturally violent. Especially with that "dark magical energy" bit in there. That's honestly incredibly worrisome. I've never known you to be one to jump to conclusions in regards to magic and sorcery, no matter the state of your psyche, so my gut is telling me that it wasn't just your imagination, for what that's worth. You suppose it might just be Jhudora trying to get on Illusen's nerves again? It wouldn't be the first time she's messed with the weather just because she knows that static and humidity together make Illusen's hair get untameably floofy. If not, and it really is some crazy evil mystery force, then, hey, maybe you will have your own adventures sometime soon! I'll only keep my fingers crossed if you want me to, though.

      Keep me posted,

     —Kanrik

      P.S. I honestly don't know what "usurp" means, but I hope it's as cool as it sounds.

      ~

      Kanrik,

     Though I don't appreciate the tone of your letter's text, I was expecting nothing less, and am glad to know you are doing well.

     In regretful retrospect, I suppose it really was rather foolish of me to assume that you were handling your new position with anything less than the most steadfast of wills, so I apologise for letting my fears get in the way of my judgment of your character. Considering what I've heard from the winged members of your guild — who, of course, managed to make it back from the mountains on their own — it really does sound like you're turning this place around for the better. I'm thrilled to see the inner mechanism that is you in motion with my own eyes! (And, of course, harshly criticize your work ethic despite any and all positive outcomes. Because your boorishness is still tiresome. And I am, as you know, a stalwart believer in the old eye-for-an-eye idiom.)

     Speaking of the guild, though, I'll have you know that I have been getting beyond sick of attempting to work with those insufferable Meerca brothers. I can't for the life of me imagine why they, of all people, were left in charge of this place while your little troupe was gone. I'm genuinely surprised that the guild hasn't gone up in flame. Those two have the same amount of competence in running a guild as a plucked Wibreth has with flight. Consider this a warning: prepare for a handful when you return. Those fools have been sprouting some nasty egos over the past few months. I doubt they're going to be too keen on the idea of listening to a leader once more, especially not a new one. You're not exactly the most intimidating rogue (all offense intended), so you may want to practice your glowering and perfect your most threatening tone before dealing with them. If need be, I'll be more than happy to do that little act where I stand in the shadows and casually toy with daggers to add a nice threatening element to whatever you decide to say to them — free of charge. I'd like to see them gone as much as anyone.

     Your ship departs in the early morning of Wednesday the 16th, correct? I'll be sure to have that coffee ready for your arrival, but you owe me. That stuff's expensive, as well as — though this is a bit of a tangent — I've been doing damage control for these idiot thieves for weeks now, and considering the fact that they are now officially your responsibility, I'm definitely going to be demanding some sort of compensation. Cash only.

     Carrying on, did you cross your fingers without my permission? Because yet another storm hit last night, and it was incredibly devastating to practically the entire realm. Nearly every bridge has been completely destroyed, floods turning half the coast to mud, and it looks like half of Bogshot and the Raiders' camp on the plateau have been nearly blown away. I'm choosing to blame you for the weather solely because it makes things interesting.

     Jokes aside, this is growing rather worrisome, because there was definitely some sort of magical energy seeping from the clouds this time — unmistakably. Your intuition is outstanding, Kanrik, for the pressure feels almost like dark faerie energy, and though it does look as though a dark cloud has settled over Illusen's village, I refuse to believe that this is merely another one of Jhudora's pranks against that ditzy earth faerie. Even she isn't spiteful enough to do such damage to the entire realm just for the sake of those two's petty quarrels, nor do I believe she has such power to begin with, no offense to her. I'm a bit nervous, but I doubt this wi hope this won't wind up as some terrible calamity. I give you permission to keep your fingers crossed this time, but only if it's in hoping that there isn't some sort of looming threat afoot. And, again, if there is, I choose to blame you.

      Regards,

     —S.J.R.

      P.S. usurp: verb; to seize a position of power, typically by force. Glad I could add something new to your lexicon (lexicon: noun; the vocabulary of a person, group of persons, language, etc.)

     Also, I'll search my library and see what I can find that may be of use to you.

      ~

      Dear jerkface,

     First of all, your little footnote is not charming (charming: adjective; the opposite of one Simeon Whatever-Your-Last-Name-Is,) and I'll thank you to keep your jokes to yourself.

     Second, I'll have you know that those medical books on caring for wounds and identifying fungi are about to be kindling solely because I'm not in the mood to deal with your sass right now. The dictionary you sent has already been burned. Also the grammar guide. Also, I hate you.

     How about I pay for that coffee with patience for your attitude (and that sneaky sass/assassin pun I just made that I know made you smile. Don't lie.) Deal?

     Anyway, yes, my ship finally departs in about an hour or so. These past few hours have felt like years, and I haven't gotten a wink of sleep all night. I can't wait to be home, although that little detail about the Meercas you included in your last letter has got me a bit worried about what sort of state things will be in when I get back. Really, I never understood why Galem considered them "responsible," or why he left them in charge of the headquarters. It used to be funny seeing their antics get on his nerves, but I hate knowing that now I am the one who's going to be stuck dealing with them... ugh. First order of business when I get back: send them off to the Qasalan faction of the guild. Don't let me forget. I'm not even home yet, but I'm already sick of their stupid, bucktoothed faces... I'll keep your offer about the intimidation tactics in mind, too, thank you. You've always made a better prop than anything else, after all. (Also, sorry to disappoint, but I've always been the handsome one, not the brutish one, so think of something better than "you're not very intimidating" to insult me with next time. Or, better yet, leave the insults to me, and you just stick to your lame puns.)

     Yikes. Is it bad that my first thought when I read the word "floods" was worry that it might delay my ship? I'm only half-kidding... Regardless, that sounds really scary. And odd. Especially with the lingering clouds. I haven't heard of anything like that happening since the first war against Darigan, and even then I'm pretty sure that that's just a myth. Plus, those sorts of clouds hanging over Illusen's Glade, of all places? You would think she'd get on that immediately so her wings don't wilt without sunlight, or whatever happens to earth faeries in the dark.

     Man, and those poor Raiders just can't catch a break. As if those Cogham jerks weren't enough of a problem, now the weather's trying to take whatever they've got left... Hey, you want to do me a favour? The Raiders' apothecary and healer are both good friends of mine. If you get the chance, ask them if they need any help from me or the guild in replacing things. It'll be a fun first mission. Also, (and this is off-topic but I just thought of it,) I hope your Gallion is doing alright with all the noise from the storm. I seem to remember you saying she's scared of thunder.

     Well, I'd better start getting ready to go, but I've been practicing transportation spells for letters recently (lucky you,) so unless you're working (or I mess up this spell,) you should get this letter before we set sail. Can't wait to see what all this spooky cloud nonsense is about. And hey, if it does turn out to be some great force of evil that needs to be dealt with, maybe that's how I can deal with getting rid of those Meercas...

      See you soon,

     —Kanrik

      ~

      (Simeon, 5:14am)

     Kanrik, I don't have time to explain, but I need you to listen to me:

     DO NOT COME BACK

      —S.

     To Be Continued…

 
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