In, Through, and By Brotherhood
O Most Heroic Little Brother of Mine,
I got your letter. So, how’s life hacking your way through wild Lupes, Bearogs and Aishas and staying alive along the way? Oh – and are you still at White River? If you do decide to get out of there and hightail it to the other side of Meridell, tell me, or else I’d look really stupid sending letters to an empty inn room.
Anyway, I got the letter from Dark. You know, the one who gave you that fitting alias of yours. If I joined you, you wouldn’t be the last hope – we’d share the honor. Thanks, but no thanks. I’m perfectly happy here.
...Hold that thought.
On second thought, it wasn’t this happy some time ago, what with Mother always worrying about you, how you might end up like Father – killed for a noble cause. I mean, it’s indeed noble to die for a cause, but isn’t it more reasonable to live for one? Well, now she doesn’t have to worry too much, because number one, you’re still alive (and I can tell your handwriting from everyone else’s. We’re brothers, in case you’re wondering why, if you’ve forgotten), and number two, I’m alive too.
I’ll backtrack a bit. If Dark Hope hasn’t told you the story yet, here’s how it goes. I wanted to go save Meridell with you.
1. I got worried too, you know. It’s a big brother thing.
2. Okay, so I wanted some of the glory. Everyone around Trestin’s treating you like you’re some kind of big hero even when you haven’t done anything heroic yet.
So I ran away from home (oh, don’t you frown at me with those you’re-supposed-to-be-the-older-brother-and-the-role-model frowns). But then it rained, so I stuck myself into this deserted cave that wasn’t deserted at all.
Turns out there were nomads. There’s Omar, a brown Lupe, and a swordsman like you. And he’s got his mom, Olivia, who’s a purple Lupe seer who reads nature like other seers read crystal balls, and his best friend Devin, who’s a green Kacheek, an orphan and a fighter almost as good as he is. He also has a cousin named Andrea, a red Kyrii who wrote the story I’m sending to you as well. Nah, I already read it over and over. In fact, I’ve got it memorized. And it was her idea.
I was stuck with them for four days. Remember all that rain? That is, unless it didn’t rain on the other side of Meridell. Stupid geography.
Then when I finally decided to haul myself over to where you were – wherever you were that time – these bandits came to Trestin, and of course, being the softie I was, I decided to help them – not the bandits – get rid of them – the bandits. You get the idea. Of course, Omar and his troupe helped me help the crazy folks from our village start fighting for their rights and their vegetables. Seriously, they were running away from the bandits, for crying out loud! They’re an entire town versus a little clump of outlaws – I mean, we.
So we lived happily ever after, after the bandits started working to make up for all the damage they caused, the villagers they injured, all that stuff. There. The gang stayed for a bit before going back to roving around, since Olivia likes being around a lot of nature. Andrea cried a bit, which was really sad, and I knew she probably wanted to stay with us.
My wrist’s cramping up from too much writing and if my Weewoo feather quill could talk, I bet it would scream.
Yeah. Hope you’re doing well out there. Mother and I miss you. No, this isn’t one of my jokes. I swear.
Best wishes (oh, how utterly clichéd this phrase must be)
P.S. Liwanag and Tala and Seth and everyone else says hi.
* * *
Thanks for replying... that was fast! Then again, you’re pretty fast – a fast runner, a fast thrower of knives, a fast talker, even.
Yes, I mean it, that last one. So there.
Anyway... Reuben, what were you thinking, trying to run away? I thought you said you were going to stay with Mother and keep her company till I get back! Never mind. You’re back anyway, that’s what’s important.
But it sounded like a real adventure! It’s boring here, though... after the guys down at White River started hinting heavily that I go to some hidden tower and get rid of some crazy wizard bewitching the place and I finally did what they wanted (actually, I did it so I could get a free stay at the inn) and after I met Mipsy – I told you about her in my last letter, didn’t I? – I would’ve taken you, but you were supposed to make sure Mother doesn’t have another nervous breakdown, right? I know you’re going to frown and want to crumple up this letter, but you can wait till I’m done.
I’d like to meet your new friends... and I miss Trestin. I want to go back home so badly, but I can’t just leave whatever Father wanted to finish still unfinished after all this time and after all I’ve gone through.
I can’t write much. Mipsy and I will be trying to find a short route going to the other side of Meridell. The other OTHER side, I mean, besides whatever’s behind the mountains that shield us from just about everything that happens in Meridell.
I’ll write to you when we get settled in another town.
Say hi to everyone else for me. Tell them I’m fine, no need to worry, and we’re getting there. I’d like to hear more about how Trestin is.
And I read Andrea’s story. She’s really talented. Right now I keep the story in a little back pocket of my breeches so when we’re roving around, I can read it and not get bored. Even Mipsy says she likes it, even though she thinks it’s too deep for her taste. Nah, forget what she said. That’s what she thinks.
Good luck with... recovering from bandit trouble? But I think you already have. And your story’s spreading pretty quickly. A trader we’ve passed by said something about a white Blumaroo getting a faraway village together to unite against a group of bandits. Well, well, well, look who’s getting talked about! You can have the attention. When Zombom – that wizard who caused trouble at White River – fell and I got back really exhausted from the fight, all these people started swarming around me and I could barely breathe.
At least I got a free inn.
Still alive and writing,
* * *
Promise me you won’t let all that get to your little head. You won’t fit the helm Father left behind. Or this little frilly pink hat I bought at the marketplace for you on a bargain – just kidding. And to think, just yesterday, you were learning how to walk and bring your wooden sword an inch close to my red Elephante plushie.
Yeah, I said hi to everyone for you. They all miss you, especially Mother and Li. Li’s still upset that you’re gone – in fact, sometimes she’s more furious at you than sad, because she thinks you’re going to get killed.
Andrea sent me a letter recently, asking me how I am. It was really nice, and she also asked how you are. Now, really, how are you?
Anyway, I nearly screamed when this little Symol came up to me with the letter in its mouth. So, we’re using Symols for secret messages, eh? I think it was Dark’s idea. It’s a spy thing. And don’t you worry about our code getting broken. Dark also said that Ramtor’s code-breakers are stupid idiots who couldn’t tell an A from a V.
If you get killed, I’m going to kill you – now there’s a nice threat.
* * *
Dark Hope, yeah, it was his idea. He said that Symols were much more inconspici – inconspicuous than a network of spies. And yes, it’s true that one of Ramtor’s weaknesses is breaking codes. He can’t even break ours! Hah!
Anyway, I’m fine. Not yet killed. I mean, how else was I able to write? And hey, you know my handwriting. Tell Mother and Li and Andrea and whoever else is asking about me that I’m still alive.
Sorry about the really late reply. We had to get out of White River ASAP and head for our next stopover before we reach the castle, and it took a while. They should really invent anti-Bearog armor. Now we’re here, and the view of the sea is... well, nice. Inspiring? Well, it inspires me to keep going, I guess...
Did I ever tell you pink is a nice color for you?
* * *
Rohane, you hero-in-training, you,
Yes, you have told me several times that pink is a nice color for me. But you know me; I never listen to my little brother’s advice. For self-explanatory reasons.
At this rate, Meridell will be out of Ramtor’s grimy paws in no time! Thank goodness he still hasn’t figured out our code...
Tell Mipsy to buy you a pink shirt, pink breeches and pink boots for your knighting ceremony when you’re done with your business there.
Seriously, you be careful out there. You’ve gone so far, and we’re still rooting for you on the other side of Meridell. Maybe if you look really hard at the mountains, you’ll see a tiny flash o’ home. And this isn’t just Mother talking through me. Okay, so she’s leaning over me right now as I write this letter beside my lovely bowl of pea soup...
Justice and peace – and peas – for all!
* * *
To the king of lame one-liners,
Can’t write really long letters right now. We’re working really hard to make sure everything’s right for when we break into the castle later on. Yup, later, when I’m done writing. Mipsy is already at the doorway, pretending to be drenched in cobwebs and dust.
If you’re going to ask me to define work... well, practice makes perfect, right? I can’t just march up to Ramtor and suddenly drop my sword on my foot and hop about for a few seconds, giving him an advantage, no?
And for the record, peas are nice. I hear Ramtor hates them like the plague.
Wish us luck!
* * *
Just kill Ramtor already! You’ve been talking about him in those past few letters. Well, that’s to be expected.
The white Blumaroo looked up from where he was writing a letter on his table in his bedroom. Another white Blumaroo, albeit female and much older, was standing beside him, beaming and holding out a small sealed envelope, stamped with a familiar blue, red and gold wax seal showing a sword and scepter crossed in front of a crown on a checkered background.
She turned it over so Reuben could read the name at the back.
“It’s from... from...”
He took the envelope and quickly dug for the letter. Apparently Melissa had already opened it before showing her son, and she just stood there, smiling and waiting for his reaction.
Mother, Reuben, Liwanag, Tala and Trestin:
Long live Meridell!
Rohane (and Mipsy)
Reuben clutched the letter in disbelief, examining the handwriting he had so often read from the correspondences with his younger brother. He couldn’t say much –those last three words were already enough... those three words their father used to say.
But there were another three words that the Blumaroo wanted to say as well. Another three words that would capture this moment forever in his life...
“He did it.”