To Aemelia, Samuel and the good people
I understand that I have you to thank for
keeping my darling Ianthe safe and well during these past harrowing years. I
cannot thank you enough for guarding my most precious treasure. When General
Octavius told me her whereabouts, I wept with joy, for I recalled the kindnesses of the people when she and I first made our
way there, and I knew she was in the best of places. If I can have my way, I
shall make passage to Arinth to greet you all when I can.
I would pray you now, keep what I speak
from the eyes and ears of my love, for there are things I would rather speak to her with my own lips than have her hear from
the mouths of gossip. That said, understand that what I say now is in thanks
for long support, and to stave off ignorant talk.
Firstly, regarding whatever rumors you
may hear concerning my health. My imprisonment was not kind to me, and the close
quarters and continual exposure to the elements in my various cells has only worsened the pain and stiffness in my lower back
and legs. I was also left with a persistent cough that no medicine seems yet
able to clear. While plentiful sleep and food have been able to heal the worst
of the damage left by imprisonment, there are things that I suspect I will never be rid of.
It remains my fervent hope that none of these will be an impediment to either my work or my life as husband to Ianthe. I am grateful that she will not be able to see how much flesh I’ve lost. Strangely enough, my stutter has decreased considerably – I can only presume
that my largely enforced silence had something to do with it, but I will certainly not grudge the gift.
I have been told much regarding the activities
of the Empire while I was rotting in my cell, and most of my informants turn to me with eager eyes, asking when I shall next
write to proclaim the evils that the Empire wrought upon the world. In truth,
writing was the furthest thing from my mind until Ianthe’s return. Then
I was visited by a young woman who addressed herself only as “Sparrow,” who carried tales I could scarcely believe. Others filled in what she began. If I
had thought it impossible to crown the evils that Tibor Voldarus, Nereus and previous emperors had inflicted, I was sadly
mistaken. It seemed the work would not wait, and I began asking for every report
and story I could find regarding the atrocities committed at the laboratories, prisons and the Academy. During that time, I became more intimately familiar with the horrors than I had planned.
In Maras, I was informed that my sister Philippa had been arrested on charges of
war crimes, most specifically genocide. When I further questioned General Octavius
on the matter, it took me time to finally drag the matter out of him; I was sorry that I was able to accomplish it. Philippa, it seems, was a captail of the guard at one of the despicable laboratory-prisons that the Dhurrae
nomads were being held at. Further, it seems she has been directly implicated
regarding the disappearance of nearly seventy Dhurrae children. I have traveled
with the Dhurrae, their wise women predicted my darling’s coming, and I have grown to respect these hardy folk and how
they and their ways have survived in the face of so many indignities. The thought
that my own sister’s hands are purple with their blood shames me like nothing ever has.
How can I ever look them in the face again, or even think to take the audacity to tell their story? I have arranged to visit my sister in prison shortly, hopefully before Ianthe’s return, where I hope
to drag some measure of the truth from her.
I have been restored to my name, but not
by the means I had hoped for. My father died during my imprisonment, and my mother
has decided not to continue my disownment. I had desperately hoped that he and
I might meet again, that I might somehow be able to reconcile with him at last. It
would seem that my wish must be put off for a much later time.
Last of all, I have come a bit closer to
learning the truth regarding who betrayed Ianthe’s and mine’s plans to Lucan and the rest. At first, the path led only to two people – Hector Cornelius and my closest friend, Gracchus Calebus. I refused to believe that either man could be capable of such a deed, though I had
plenty of time to reconsider during my jailtime. On my release, I sought out
the households of Ianthe and myself, but was only able to find young Markus, who had been taken in my the Calebus family. While talking, he mentioned something highly interesting – a desca manservant
whom he remembered saying that there was more that one way to earn Citizenship than on the end of a sword. The man left the Calebus household some time ago, but he is being sought.
He may well have changed his name, but he called himself Antonitus while in their service. Should he appear on Arinth, I have no interest in hearing whatever reasons he has used to justify his crime
against us, and Ianthe has suffered enough that she should not have to hear some deluded desca spout memorized Imperial dogma
and slanders. I will leave it to your best judgment whether you feel he should
be returned to Voldinar for justice or if he will face your own.
I have only confused stories regarding
Arinth’s role in the events that ended Salvatore’s reign, but I hope to make the journey out there to learn more
as soon as possible. I know that your number could ill afford the sacrifices
demanded to see the Empire ended, but for those made, know that it was not in vain.
Again, I thank you for all you have done – for Ianthe, for myself and most of all, for a world that had no wish
to live under Salvatore’s heel.
Claudius Metellus Maximus