My Dear Ilanna,

My arms and back ached from the daily torture in that cell. Every evening I had a brief opportunity to see you, so I strained to hold my face up to that tiny window. My long days of monotony brightened when you walked by. Though, I only glimpsed you from a distance, it was cool water to my weary soul.

Only my body lived in that cell. My soul belonged to you then as it still does now. I bid my time until destiny would draw us together. My jailers couldn’t get a word out of me, though they tried. I ate their food, meager as it was, and answered half their questions with quiet nods. If they had only known of our love, they could have made me talk with the slightest of threats against you.

I gathered more information from them than they did me. Their fear and worry showed me they respected my power. They were right to seal me off, for I would have killed all of them to avenge my people. My attempts at casting failed, leading me to believe my cell was warded. Of course at that time I knew very little of magic and even less of wards. It was only recently that I understood what they truly feared of me. They took my ability to quickly learn the dark arts very seriously.

One day, a new visitor came for me, introducing himself as Lyanis. He held himself upright with a staff but didn’t quite carry himself as highly as his fellow elves. With a stirring in his eyes, he offered to apprentice me should I give up my deity. Servants of Nerull can’t be bought so easily, but I was young and thirsted for knowledge. Well, I thirsted to be free of my cell and be with you, Ilanna, so I took this chance. I pretended to fall for his rhetoric that all students of the arcane are of singular breed unbound by clan, creed, or class. He delivered a beautiful speech that would have convinced anyone to follow him, but it was only for you that I went with him that day.

He secured my release and took me to my new chambers, adjoining his own. It was a small room with a cot more comfortable than the stone I had been sleeping on and, to my amazement, a massive bookshelf lined one of the walls. Not having read a word for weeks, I rabidly devoured each tome in that library whenever Lyanis allowed me free time. The books were on many subjects, but mostly centered around the elven life as a wizard.

He mostly kept me busy scrubbing the floors, cleaning the rugs, and other menial tasks. It built up a work ethic that he valued, so I obliged. Of course, I always hoped I might run into you in the halls, but as you know, I hoped in vain. Days of this passed until Lyanis said it was time he showed me true arcane power. I casually told him death was the only power I needed. He laughed and patted me on the head as if it would cure some ignorance I held.

I humored him during his lessons, paying just enough attention to make him think I believed his teachings. As I said before, I wouldn’t be bought so cheaply. He showed me various spells and I learned them just as quickly as he could present them. The difficult part of his lessons were his condescending tones. I never did anything right because of my human birth. My mind was never as adept at magic as an elf’s. In these moments, he became someone entirely different from the elf who rescued me from the cell.

I matched him though with my own, unbreakable will. Each time he tore into me, I would try harder and remind myself of his people’s deceitful nature. Knowing their day of retribution drew near kept me focused. I never once let him break me down. Through his berating, I learned my most valuable lesson–perseverance. I’m not sure if that was what he intended, but I still hold onto that today.

Strangely enough, Lyanis was the only one to treat me with proper dignity and respect outside his lessons. Everyone else regarded me with contempt or fear. On one occasion Lyanis physically defended me from one of the kitchen maids chasing me with a wooden spoon. After that, we formed a nearly amicable bond. I took what wisdom I could gleam from his lessons and even let myself buy into his style of magic. I kept Nerull close to my heart, though, just to keep myself on the right path.

I was happy with my new routine around the castle, but every day that I didn’t see you felt empty. One night after finally gathering the courage to ask about you, I went to see Lyanis. He sat at his desk scribbling onto a torn parchment. Before I could say anything he looked at me and handed me the parchment with instructions to keep it with me. Then he snatched his staff and dragged me out into the hallway toward the staircase leading to the battlements.

The cold mountain air nearly froze me in place, but all feeling left me once I saw down to the base of the mountain. A battle played out down below us. Elven riders clashed against an unknown force. I felt a certain delight at watching the riders get cut down in the same manner they had cut my townfolk down.

Lyanis explained they had been fighting over the past few months and our enemies had just now reached our gates. He said that our only hope was for me to present myself to the attacking force and read off the spell he handed me earlier. Naturally, I was scared, but he assured me it was the only way to save you, Ilanna. Staring in amazement, he reminded me that I could never hide anything from him.

He shoved me back inside toward the main staircase. I was now scared and confused, but walked down those stairs ready to save you. I’m sure you remember what happened next, but you certainly never knew who was responsible. Now you know it was me and it was all for you.

Tolin Naihim – Death’s Neglected Son

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