31st of December
Greetings on the eve of our new year! By the time you get this the festivities will be over, so I will send my best wishes that it was pleasant and that you spent the entire night giddy from mulled wine and the flirtations of dear Liam. You are horrible to taunt me so with the promise of romance when you know I cannot resist a tale such as that. So, reluctantly, I shall speak to you about my guardian. However, because you taunted me, I will tease you with all of the trivial details of my life before I reveal the identity of this man whom I have been so secretive about.
First of all, I must thank you for the gift. How you managed to preserve a Cellen lily so that it was perpetually in bloom is beyond my understanding, but it is the most perfect blossom I have ever seen and it smells wonderful. I keep it with me and enjoy its scent, as it reminds me of home and of the dear friends I’ve left there. Even my guardian has remarked on the beauty of it, as he was quite fond of Cellen lillies while he lived in Cellen. As far as where we are, Onith is long gone, and thankfully so, as it was a miserable place full of miserable people. I’ve never been so scared for my life as I ever have in that town, not because it was dangerous but because the people were so grumpy that I was afraid they might snap and yell at me at any moment. My guardian assures me that the people of Onith are actually quite nice, but they are simply in rough economic times so they are rather worried that the few jobs they have will be snatched up by outsiders.
We’ve traveled even further north, then nestled in through the Golden Hills to the east to a wonderful town called Hillsfar where we shall be staying for some time. I am unsure of the length of our stay, but it appears as if this is some sort of home for my guardian. He has a small estate here, and it is quite comfortable. The town is beautiful, just enough of a mix of culture and country, and I honestly wish that you were here to see it. The weather is much more pleasant, as it is much warmer and comfortable, and the sun has been peeking through for long periods of time throughout the day. It is wonderful here. Enclosed is a small canister of the product that Hillsfar is most famous for–its orange-blossom honey. It is rare to come by in winter, but my guardian is so fond of it that he buys vast quantities of it to last him through the winter before it runs out. I am sure it will taste lovely on those biscuits you were so fond of making. Was it Thea who gave you the recipe?
I suppose now is as good a time as any to speak on my guardian’s behalf. I must begin by assuring you that it is not as bad as it sounds, and he is no Ares Blackheart (thank whatever deities may be listening), and he is as kind and protective of a guardian as I could have asked for. I shall simply get it out, as the name itself will just be enough for you to think on for the moment. Oh, dear. My hand is shaking…
In Cellen, my guardian is known as Viatele Cade. Yes, the very same Viatele the Master Thief that was hunted for months and months after having gotten right into the bedchamber of the queen and stolen her jewels right out from the box next to her bed, and no one was the wiser until days later. Now, there was the whole fiasco in which the public couldn’t decide if he was a kind-hearted thief or a selfish scoundrel who was nothing but a liar, but I assure you that it is the former and not the latter. He did get caught, as you recall, and is supposed to be rotting in jail for the rest of his life. He is, however, very much alive and very much not in jail, and he very much did not break out. He is not a criminal by any sort! In fact, I must urge you not to let this letter fall into the wrong hands, for you are about to be privy to secrets of the state!
Viatele was released with the blessing of the Crown. He was a citizen of Cellen, born and raised, but the Crown was in need of someone with his unique skills. Viatele was assigned to investigate some mysterious rumors of a murderous nature that would require him to leave Cellen and travel to Resonia, or further. Here is where the information gets personal–Rasmus was supposed to go with him. Viatele and Rasmus had indeed met at court, but it was not in the sense that we might have originally thought. Rasmus was to accompany Viatele to Resonia, using his training from Frehtanci to aide in this quest for the Crown. That is, until Rasmus suddenly died. Viatele does not believe that was any sort of accident at all, and when he finally revealed to me why we were here, he told me as much. The timing was uncanny, and Viatele was sure that Rasmus had stumbled upon new information.
I am sure there has to be some connection with these beheadings! There is something foul happening, and I am not entirely sure that it is safe for Viatele and I, as whatever he is investigating may be on to us. He is traveling under a different name, as his reputation still gets attention now and again over here, and he has given me an assumed name as well, for my own protection. I do not believe that it is necessary, but if my name is linked with my brother’s and someone did indeed murder him, then it is perhaps best. Do not worry about the address of these letters, as Viatele assures me that the mail is fine (do not ask me how–he is mysterious enough as it is!) and you are free to continue to inform me of whatever you wish with no worry of interception. Especially if Hermes is the one bringing it. For your information, in case you hear any sort of information in your part of the world, my new name is Mariel Fennin. I think it is pretty enough, and Viatele is still my guardian under our new names. It is less complicated that way.
I feel as if I’ve exhausted myself pouring out this information to you! I must hear of your exploits with Liam, as I could due with less murder and subterfuge and more dancing and murmurs of sweet nothings. Give me something to curl up with in the beautiful windowseat in my new bedroom, Cassandra, for I’m dying to hear of romance!
All my dearest love,