by Marie Brennan
Dear Mom and Dad,
The good news is, nobody's dead anymore.
Maggie says I shouldn't tell you that up front, because you'll freak out over
knowing somebody died. I say that if I don't tell you up front, you'll freak out
when I get to the bit where the temple roof fell in, because you won't know we're
all alive now. It's better this way, right?
(Starting with this also lets me say: Dad, despite what it's going to sound like, it
wasn't Bjartald's fault. So please don't go charging off to Stoneheart Hall,
because Helga will only drop you off the Bridge of Granthun Tol again, and then
you'll have to bribe the under-gnomes to let you out, and I know Mom's still
ticked about the promises you made last time.)
With that out of the way, let me tell you what your only daughter has been up to
since she left home, and why she hasn't been writing letters like she promised.
I admit, I wasn't real optimistic when I walked out of the Rose and Crown. Just
because you and Helga and Liraiel and Martin were great friends back in your
adventuring days doesn't mean your kids will get along, too. Hell, I honestly
thought it was the setup for some bard's tragic ballad, and the only question was
which of us would go evil and betray the others. Urgoth or Shariel was my guess,
depending on who's writing the ballad. (Not me, of course. I would never dream
of going evil. Except, possibly, after three straight weeks of listening to Urgoth
and Bjartald snore in harmony.)
And that send-off party in the Rose and Crown almost convinced me to climb out a
window and run off on my own. Yeah, it's great that you guys were big heroes
once upon a time, with friends everywhere from Okwengu to the northern tundra,
but you know, I've listened to the stories my brothers tell. Being the kid of the
adventurers who killed Irix Fellshadow isn't all it's cracked up to be. For one
thing, you and your old pals have enemies in all those places, too, and for another
-- does the word "pressure" mean anything to you? And my luck, I get old
enough to strike out on my own just when Shariel and Bjartald do, too, and then
Martin shows up out of nowhere for the first time in years with a not-entirely-human son in tow, so now it isn't just me, it's a whole pack of us, and gee,
wouldn't it be great if you kids all adventured together? Just like in the old days!
If I sound bitter, it's because I was. I can hear Mom now: "You should have told
us, sweetie!" Yes, I should have. Only the Unblinking Eye knows how different
things would have been if I had. But what's done is done; I decided to let you go
ahead and relive your glory days through me, and for that alone, everything that's
happened since is at least partly my fault.
But don't worry -- I don't blame myself for all of it. There's more than enough
finger-pointing to go around.