Letter 55

Dear Herkus,

Today has been very eventful. We all took the morning for last minute preparations as the opening ceremonies are this afternoon and evening. Clio and I came up with a prank for the mortals. We weren’t planning anything extravagant but we thought it might be funny if we won the dinosaur races. Meaning, she would be the jockey and I would choose a form of change into. I understand it’s not the most dignified action of a centaur but we couldn’t help but laugh as we came up with the plan. I find I am laughing more lately and it feels good. We told the others that I had other things to attend to, which was true. We kept any lies or deceptions I might have to make to a minimum because I’m not very good at it. I’m not sure what story Clio came up with for my presence but it seemed to work. 

I chose the form of a hadrosaurus. While not super fast I know them to be steady moving creatures. I was nervous because our comrades bet large amounts of gold on Clio winning the race with her “steed.” I noticed some of the other riders had crops that they used to make their mounts go faster, but Clio assured me that even if she made it look like she was using one and that she wouldn’t actually do it. I think even if I wasn’t me, she still wouldn’t. 

It was nerve wracking because I was sure someone was going to notice our prank and call us out on it. But it was hilarious to see our party members’ faces when we revealed it was me all along. I would feel guilty for tricking them but our win also earned some of them a fair amount of money in betting so I guess I don’t feel too bad after all. 

During the official opening ceremonies they announced the other competitors. Aside from our four that are representing the heroes of prophecy there are eight others. They range in abilities and races and I will admit it was intimidating to hear the crowd’s cheers for their favorites. Would we be able to provoke such enthusiasm? I was surprised that our reputations preceded us enough that the spectators cheered loudly when the names of Actaeon, Shadow, Torag, and Rendu were called. Dia has really been working hard, hasn’t she? I didn’t realize how far her tales had traveled. 

Then my stomach twisted into knots as the league of storms members entered the arena with a lone minotaur. We had prepared for this but it was still awful to execute it. We had decided that Actaeon would be the one to battle the minotaur and should all go well, spare him and denounce the slavery of minotaurs under the oath of service. I tried to focus on their fight but honestly my attention was more on Leef who had cast a spell to alleviate Actaeon some pain by bringing it upon himself. Shadow and I each had to heal him and Clio offered him a great amount of support. Actaeon was victorious and Clio gave an impassioned speech about slavery, revealing that she was once a slave as well. I had suspected it based on her reactions to things but I don’t think she has ever expressly said it. My heart broke for her, as well as burned with anger. We went home that evening with a great amount of hope in our hearts for the coming week. With the queen on our side, and the crowd won over, I believe there will be a lot of change in this city. 

I dozed off without finishing this letter so I thought I would combine today’s events with yesterdays. 

I have never been one to look forward to fighting. I have made no secret of this. I’m not exactly brave and I fear greatly for those I care about when they are in harm’s way. I don’t understand the somewhat bloodthirsty nature of others. I am grateful that I have some skills to protect myself and others but beyond that I don’t understand those who enjoy battle. 

That being said… I was surprised at how thrilling the events of today were. First off was the archery contest, which Shadow dominated. He broke records and I was not alone in nearly breaking my vocal chords cheering for him. I sent a message into the sky that said “your hunt is proud of you.” I hope he understood my meaning. When we were cooking together, I mentioned to him that I felt as though this group was becoming my new tribe and I had said something to the effect that we might become his new hunt as well, or Clio’s new pod. I’m not sure what groups of minotaurs or humans or changelings… or aasimars are called, (wow we are an interesting lot, aren’t we?)  but I hope we can fill some of those roles for the others as well. It is hard to recall that we have only worked together and known each other for such a short time. I feel as though I have always known them. I suppose that is part of becoming a family forged in fire. Was that poetic? It felt poetic? I read a book during our break that described things in that way. It sort of feels odd to write. I might not try that again. 

Then the great spectacle began after some setup in the arena. It was amazing. Actaeon, Torag, and Shadow were competing. I couldn’t stop cheering and although I wasn’t always sure what to say to encourage them, I tried my very best. I know I received some odd looks for a few of my phrases but I ignored them because I wanted my party members to know I was there for them. We “stacked the podium” as Rendu called it. That means that our three were the ones that placed first, second, and third in the event. Actaeon won which to be honest I was NOT expecting but it speaks well to Clio’s abilities and his adaptability. Shadow was not far behind him. His mystic coach is a lovely tabaxi woman named Lumi. I wish I had more time to speak with her before everything began. She is an older woman and treats Shadow like a kitten. It’s hilarious and incredibly endearing. Torag was third. There was a bit of a gap between him and Shadow but he still dominated over the other competitors which speaks to his talents as well. Leef could be heard encouraging him and keeping his spirits up in a very Leef way. It was so wonderful to see all their skills in battle and magic highlighted in such a way. I couldn’t stop yelling and Corinna and I were clasping hands and she was jumping up and down in excitement. I saw Ilharg and Pholon do something with Rendu where they slapped hands in the air. I don’t know what that was but it all seemed like it was a gesture they understood so maybe they will explain it to me sometime. 

We are all headed to the tavern soon. I just made a quick stop so I could write this down and get it bound to be posted as soon as possible. I wish you were here to cheer with me but I understand there are so many people here you wouldn’t be comfortable. I can’t wait for the rest of the days. If it’s anything like this I believe we are in for a lot of excitement!

gaol agus gràdh,