Last Stand of the 5th Crusade

Riva: Letter to Arueshalae

5th of Neth, Drezen

Dear Arueshalae,

My name is Riva Tallix. Perhaps you know that; likely you do. It has been two months since I first heard your voice in one of my dreams, and you have appeared to me many times since then, often the only respite from this plague of nightmares. I can only assume that you know something about me, and that you have chosen me for some reason. I apologize if that sounds presumptuous.

I have asked Irabeth Tirabade to pass you this letter. It is a poor substitute for meeting in person, but so far I have been forbidden from entering the catacombs of this citadel. I very much hope to see you soon so that I can properly speak to you! In dreams I have heard your messages, but it as if I am mute and invisible, speaking and gesturing in vain. If you know much about me, you may appreciate some irony there.

How much do you know? I don’t know if you can see what all goes on in this dreamworld that haunts me, but so much is a mystery. In a dream last night, you drew the symbol of the Black Butterfly. That clue was the final piece that led my companions and me to learn of her in a tome of Empyreal lore we found in the Drezen library. Thank you, a thousand times thank you. Reading that book was a revelation, the words pouring off of every page like it was written in my soul! The goddess of silence and patron of the deaf! She who lives in the darkness among the northern constellations! Her holy symbol, a butterfly marked by a star, which I’ve seen in my dreams and have written about in my journals! So much fits. My greatest question is whether she is the one sending these dreams that are changing me, or if she is protecting me from them. Can a goddess of good inflict such torture if it is part of some greater purpose? Is a caterpillar fated to weeks of agony as it consumes itself in its chrysalis? It seems so horrid and capricious and cruel. And yet … every change makes sense: the deafness, the dark sight, the ability to cloak myself in shadows, and finally these wings of darkness that I know grow inside me. Every one of those steps brings me closer to the Black Butterfly. Maybe I’m fooling myself with false relief — fates know that I need it! — but in my heart I feel it has been her all the time.

I’m sorry, I write too much of myself. I know that you too have been touched by Desna, and however hard my path has been I am truly humbled to hear of yours. I can only imagine your struggle, and if I can help you in any way, I would be honored to do so. So many seem to doubt that such a transformation is possible, but I believe you.

Have faith, and may Desna continue to bless you. I hope to see you soon.

Riva Tallix



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