Oh, Lili, you’ll never believe it:
We’ve missed our ship and are now trapped here in Orsol. They’re not letting anyone leave. I hope this letter finds you safe in Rimmik, or I don’t know what I’d do.
They burned the cathedral with the priests all inside. We are heretics, and their duty is to save us from ourselves. How could they get everything so backwards, Lili? Can they even be men?
It’s just not fair. We were so close. Mere steps away as the gangplank was pulled aboard. If it hadn’t been for that cobblestone coming loose and cracking the axle, we’d have made it. We watched the ship sail from the docks under a witch-wind, so that we could barely stay upright to gaze after it, and so we were still standing when the Enemy’s own landed. Could anything be blacker than those monstrous things? On my word, they seemed to suck the sun from the sky, and I’ve heard the Great Gate cracked at the drop of their lines. I think we’re going to die Lili, that’s truth.
When some burned the Cathedral, the Gate turned them grey as ash and they blew away. But the cathedral still burned. Their faces… It wasn’t fear, it was conviction. I don’t think their lives meant anything to them. They dare not slaughter us all, now, before the eyes of the Gated, but the Cathedral still burned… How can stone burn, Lili?
They burned a man in the streets, too; and the Gated nae even turned their gaze. You could hear the screams from the docks to the hills. Mikkat tells me he burned black as coal and there was nothing left but the white of his bones melted into the cobbles. Where is his soul now, I do not know. Has the Gate ever been shut so? We all looked, but there was nothing. Nothing rose; the Gate did not open; you could not hear the Song of the Other side. There was just nothing, Lili, nothing at all.
I’m not so afraid to die, I suppose, to escape these beasts. But to become nothing? To burn from black to white and leave nothing but bone? I cannot bear to think of it. How could nothing feel the sun? How could it see your smile?
I can think of little else to say. Please be well, Lili, and I shall write again soon.
On this side and the other,
Your most faithful Martoneu
The first letter in my epistolary fantasy WIP. I’ll be posting one or two of these a week as I go through discovery-writing the first draft.