You’re such an insufferable flirt. Have you laid any of that on your new companions?
Zelks got over it. Or perhaps I should say he’s healed. You needn’t worry that you’ve broken the lad. The team hasn’t quite been the same, though. I don’t know if you really appreciated this, but you were one of the more thoughtful infiltration specialists in the division. You tend to see a lot of hotshots in that role—arcanists who see themselves as unfettered by the mundane world and maladjusted young changelings plucked from troubled backgrounds with no ties, willing to lay it down for King, Country, and their own hungry egos. Most of them would flunk out of the classroom regimen given half the chance.
Not you, though. We had to peel you away from the damn books. Then I remember having to peel you away from the bars in Wroavenburg… not because you were drunk, but because you had to try out your new knowledge and techniques on the unsuspecting patrons. One after another, every night, until you had started a fight or gone home with one of them.
Our new IS, Lejek, isn’t so much fun. But then none of us are young any more, so it’s to be expected. He’s a good fellow. But there’s an edge to his thrillseeking that reminds me of the hotheads. He’s impatient and that’s partly why he doesn’t have the same talent for asset cultivation; Ty is having to work twice as hard to make up the difference when communicating to a potential asset through Lejek.
But he’s improving. As before, work continues apace.
I should like to know what you’ve been up to. After sending out that “all those years” bit, I counted. Five! Five years you’ve been out. I suspect you know—it’s exactly the kind of thing you’d know—I relish and dread these letters in equal measure. It feels as though I’m talking to a ghost. One I helped kill. At her own behest. Over my own objections. The passage of time hasn’t lessened that at all.
You told me a while back that Mar was gone for good. Is that still true?
Some things never change! I’m charmed you can still “hear it” in writing. And so utterly pleased that I can continue to tease you from halfway across the continent.
The sweet nothings are just for you, actually. You know how you were burdened with a Look But Don’t Touch policy by the chain of command? There’s no chain of command here, but even so it seems unwise to be casting these newfound professional relationships with the haze of heat. Right now, anyway.
Mar is gone for good. I suppose it’s unfair to sign her name to these letters. But she’s who I was to you, wasn’t she? You never knew Fen or Fuze.
I’ve been asked how I keep track of it all. I tell them it’s easy, but the truth is, even though it comes naturally, it can be quite complicated. Just like language or love.
After I got out of Breland—not, strictly speaking, a necessary precaution given my talents, but I needed the change—I thought for a week about how it was I was going to make a living. That was, as it turns out, the easy part, but in retrospect it’s quite obvious that it’s what I was going to fret over first: what was to be my new cover? My decision was ultimately to be a seamstress in Lhazaar. Regalport, specifically. It was dreadful. I made my life for about six months a tremendous chore in service of maintaining this nonthreatening persona. I picked Regalport to be near the tales of the sea, but that just served to stir my restlessness, all the while I told myself—chanting, like a mantra—the best thing I could do was to live a quiet, happy life in a stable community of people I could rely on and be someone they could rely on in turn. But the sailors and adventurers came through town daily. It was all… Look But Don’t Touch.
Then a ship from Seaside came in to port one day and was quarantined immediately by the Seadragon port authority. My curiosity got the better of me and I snuck on board. They were refugees. That’s when I learned about the Day of Mourning.
Once the quarantine was lifted I ended up coming out to one of the refugees, offering her family my home, and leaving it behind. I don’t know why the Mourning, of all things, was what called me back to the continent. But it did.
I managed to buy passage on a trader of dubious honesty who was to call at several ports. They took me to Adderport, on a brief tour up and down Redwater, then up the Ghaal, where I disembarked at Rhukaan Draal. I’ve been living as a traveler, tinker, and occasionally an “oddities trader” since then, traveling through New Cyre up through Thrane and Audair, with some occasional long-distance journeys out to the periphery states. I usually haunt a place for two weeks before I move on.
It’s served me well enough, I think. I still do all the old party tricks. I still look for good, old-fashioned fights and good, old-fashioned tumbles. But it’s more than that. I love the world out here. There’s so many people who live such wonderful lives and deserve all the joy they find therein. And more.
And I get to share a little bit of all of it. Well, when I’m not “on the clock,” anyway. The thrill of the mission does beat in my heart, I admit. But before long, I’m going to be heartsick for the joys of the road, and perhaps worried, once more, for the prosperity of my soul.