This Wild and Untamed Land
I’m not certain that you’ll ever get this. As you well know and take advantage of, letters are hard enough to get through at the best of times. However, if you found my last note, you’ll know where the drop point is and will collect this letter and any other in your own time.
I want you to know that I don’t blame you for sheltering me as you did when I was a child. I didn’t realize until I ran away how fundamentally different I am from all the others. I didn’t know how often you’d used your talents at alchemy and the healing crafts to hide my powers and the other manifestations of my ailment. I didn’t know that you always kept us moving from town to town, sick camp to sick-camp so that you could shield me from the truth about myself until I was ready to face it. For everything I said to you the day before I left, I am sorry.
I will not, however, apologize for the things that I have done since then, nor for the man I have become. I know you well enough to know that this is what you were trying to teach me, to live a life free of regret and doubts. You taught me the rudiments of detaching myself from those paltry emotions. In the years I spent wandering after leaving your custody, I learned much in that regard.
Too often, revealing myself to others resulted in their fearing me, rejecting me. The mortal races regard elves with suspicion on the best of days, and when I demonstrated my power, it scared them even more. At first, I despaired, for I craved acceptance and understanding, a place within their societies. I was a lost child, looking for a way back to a fabled home, where I would be loved and accepted and cared for. I came to realize that it was a waste of time, that there was nothing I could do to change the minds of the weak, small, and fearful. So I left their societies, left their petty fears and closed minds far behind, and turned to a new life where I could make use of my talents and power and become what I wanted to be.
Sadly, this was not so easy. From what I had learned in towns and villages before being inevitably chased away, there is not much choice for a man trying lead his life out of the bounds of a village or township when that man is rubbish at outdoorsmanship. In this case, I do blame you, for you always yelled at me to focus on mixing a poultice or on my fencing rather than moon about. At any rate, it seemed I had two choices: turn mercenary or bandit. Considering my luck with authority figures (you always did say I had a big mouth and should focus on getting my work done), as well as my own desire to pay back the slights, insults, and ostracism I received from the people in more settled areas, I thought banditry would do just fine for me.
You would not believe the rush of that first raid. It was a privilege, no, a joy to hear those fools beg for their lives after we slaughtered their guards. When the time came to collect the bounty from the fat fool of a noble and his surviving entourage, I begged to be allowed to voice our demands of him. Oh, how he blustered and raged at the indignity of being unhorsed and made to kneel. He stopped the instant I touched his hand and the boils and lesions rose on his skin. I laughed and did it again and again until his face and arms were covered. They didn’t last long, but when the magic faded, I looked into his face and saw nothing but terror and it made me glad. We collected our booty and moved on confident, swaggering even, but I was a fool. I failed to see the glint of fear in my comrade’s eyes.
That night, I nearly died. If not for the drills you put me through, always yelling to focus on the slightest change in the pattern of breathing while tending to a patient, I would not have woken in time to avoid the dagger coming at my throat. We struggled only briefly. In the end, he was covered in sores and pustules with a dagger sticking out of his neck and I was fleeing for my life with a band of fearful cutthroat and thieves at my back.
I had to get away, had to hide, so I went to the closest city, garbed myself in rags and bandages like you taught me, and hid amongst the sick and poor; the only ones who have no reason to fear me, for they are already dying. What could I possibly do but hasten the process a little? I soon realized yet another mistake I’d made, however. Posters with my face sketched on them began to appear, and tales of vile black sorcery attached to that face drifted amongst the gossip mills of the town. If I was to keep my hide intact, I had to leave, and quickly. I struck out that night, and didn’t stop until now. Here is Rustov, at least, things seem safe for the moment.
Soon enough, though I’ll be leaving here. A call has gone out from the nobles for “brave” men or women to strike out south into what they call the Stolen Lands. It’s as good an excuse as any to get away from these wretched poor and infirm humans. Maybe there I can find and claim a small piece of it for my own. It certainly sounds like there will be opportunity get some small satisfaction by killing off the local bandits.
If I have time, I’ll write again.