Dear Mom and Dad,
It feels weird to be writing to you like this. I’ve thought of writing to you before as a form of coping with grief, but in this case, I know this paper will actually find its way into your hands.
Where do I begin? I miss you both so, so much. I’ve wanted for so long to tell you that I’m okay, and now, I guess I finally can. I still remember the scent of hippocras in our home, and how Dad would break it out for his parties, having people over on game nights. I can make it myself now, and the smell still takes me back home. This is how I show others what it was like… by letting them smell it, taste it, and imagine it.
After that awful night, I ran north. I managed to keep my wits about me enough to avoid any unsavory entanglements, but a little girl wasn’t going to survive by herself for very long alone in a world as dangerous as ours. I got across the northern border into the River Kingdoms, and found myself in Embeth Forest. I took refuge there and was fortunate enough to find plenty of fruit to eat. I learned only recently that it was the work of a kindly dryad… Amalya.
A while after that, I met Bailey… You might have known her dad, Jose. Bailey’s family took me in and trained me. I owe them so much. I’m 19 now, and I’m a warpriest of Cayden Cailean. I ended up in the town of Heibarr, working as a serving wench for a while. Then I took another job helping to protect Heibarr from threats and helping the town grow. It’s only since then that I finally realized you two were probably Caydenites too. My traveling companions and I eventually were asked to neutralize a very extreme chapter of the Cult of Calistria. It turned out they were the ones who attacked our home. I had worked for years to forgive what happened, and I finally was face-to-face with your killer. I refused to exact personal revenge… but we did deliver justice. We know who hired the Cult too, and we’re going to investigate. I won’t say who… not here. I leave it to Cayden to divulge that information to you, if he chooses, or if you even want to know. But know this: if there is remorse—if they were in a bad situation and had to do this or risk something similar happening to their own family, perhaps—I hope I can forgive them. If there is no remorse, justice will be delivered. I will try to keep revenge out of my heart, but I won’t pretend it’ll be easy. Still, even though I know this will be dangerous, please try not to worry about me… I have lots of strong friends looking out for me.
And that brings me to now. We’ve completed the challenge Jose’s family set out, collecting their challenge coins… And so I sit in the Feasting Hall of Cayden Cailean now, writing this to you. I’m sitting in the far right seat of the green alcove. The next time you come visit, just imagine me sitting here with you. I’ll be here in spirit. Order up that old hippocras recipe. I’m doing the same as I write. And it seems I’m on a first-name basis with Cayden?! He just shortened my name to “Mal” a few minutes ago. It feels funny, coming from him, but I like it.
Like I said, I have many strong friends. So, I say with cautious optimism that I won’t be joining you here in person for quite a while yet. But I want you to know that I’m okay. I was homeless and poorer than dirt for a long time, but that’s all changing now. Some people are calling us heroes. And my strong friends? They call me their conscience. I’m content with that. I’m not interested in the fame of being a hero, but if our actions keep someone else from going through what we went through, I’ll drink to that.
I love you, and I’ve thought of you every single day for all these years. I’ll see you one day. Maybe the day I stand before Pharasma, or maybe sooner, if I earn entry to this place again. The gods are interesting, but I’m in no hurry to meet Pharasma.
Your loving daughter,
Mallory Jane Everley
P.S. Thais should be doing stand-up comedy roasting Cayden! I’ve mentioned this. Cayden says if it happened, the proceeds would just go to charity. Which I say is all the more reason to do it! See if you can convince them. Apparently he and one of my companions just had a shouting match in his office. I’m surprised the force of his voice didn’t splat her against the wall! I told you my friends were strong. I don’t know the details, but I know what she did took guts, and I have so much respect for her for it. My friends are the best. I’ll be okay. I love you. <3