The Dear, Esteemed, and Inimitable Caius,

I’m entrusting copies of this letter to Virgil and to Zero. If one of them delivers this letter to you, I am sorry. I am so, so sorry.

You were petrified by a beholder. Zero had problems remembering his last few moments before his little hiatus, so I anticipate you might too. It was quite the scene! And you should see the pose you are being held in. Jaw set, eyes narrowed, one fist on the floor in a classic three-point wrestling stance—if I weren’t me, my heart would be positively aflutter to even look upon such a perfect sculpture. But since I am me, it seems more appropriate that I should set it to poetry.

But… I have no words.

Life has been dull without you. Not dull as a base synonym for boredom, mind you. Dull: robbed of its sharpness. Blurred. Drained of color. My dreams, usually suffused with serenity courtesy my elven blood, are plagued by melancholy. Every morning, I drag myself out of those dreams—sometimes, Virgil has to peck me out of them—but when I have fully escaped their languorous grasp, I free-fall into quite a different mood.


You see, this could have been easy. Within a week or so of Zero’s encounter with the medusa, we had located a priest in Neverwinter who was able to restore him to his unusually fluid and animate self. But since we were so far north when you became stone, we thought to take up Ronaldo’s offer to seek audience with Louis Leonardo. But Louis now holds you—your proportional, majestic statue—behind a magical barrier, retaining you as a bargaining chip, promising your return and restoration if we complete his dirty work.

The moment we determined that his dirty work was as dirty as we thought it was, we crossed him, although he may not know it yet. We are the Polite Company, after all. We serve the good folks of this world we all share, and we defy the cruel and the wicked. We could never have completed his tasks as demanded.

So now we’re going to take back our collateral. Our friend.

But there’s more to it than just that.

For asking us to be his ruthless minions and for so callously depriving you of your days as yourself, for prolonging your imprisonment from the beauty of the world, I am consumed with an indignant wrath. I can physically feel it. It wells up from some place just beneath my heart, encircles my chest with heat, and courses down through my arms and into my fingertips. And it has put those fingertips to work. I’ve been drawing up plans for infiltrating the palace in Camelot.

And every single one of those plans spells out Louis’ death.

I read these plans and some distant part of myself, almost as if it were someone else, understands that this isn’t the place of the Polite Company. We don’t exact petty revenge. We don’t even exact grand revenge. When we were contracted to halt the advance of Camelot’s barbarian vanguard and turn back the main body of their army, I anguished over issuing orders to kill King Rell in his sleep, even be it in a battle pavilion just under the walls of Neverwinter. I anguished yet more over issuing orders to kill Lord Rory merely to be rid of his obstruction of the resistance to Camelot. I, thankfully, had to do neither: we faced Rell in honorable combat, and Rory was not enough of an obstacle to necessitate drastic action.

Louis demands no such action. The safest remedy to his threat is to avoid his notice. The most efficient contingency to that is to elude his reach.

But the fount of hate within me, lifting me to action, carries me ever closer to assassination.

We are due to receive a floorplan of the palace soon. When that happens, I will draw on the partial plans already compiled, and I will select one and detail it. I will force myself to plan for only what is necessary to recover you safely. There will be a contingency for disposing of Louis. There must be one.

But I no longer trust myself to carry out this mission with clear eyes for the goal. I intend to appoint Roland to acting executive officer for the mission. And after that? Even if I make it, I’m not sure I’ll ever be the same. I’ve seen a part of myself I cannot unsee, a part which clearly threatens to wrest command from me, and it would be negligent for me to ignore that. So, if you are reading this letter, I want you to lead the Polite Company. You’re among the best I’ve ever known. I’ve never seen hate in your heart. But I have seen resolve and wit. You can—and should—lead where I cannot.

I hope to be standing right there, watching you read this letter, so I can answer questions and urge you to take the mantle.

The world needs you, friend.