Dear Da,

I've been holding off writing to you. Part of it was that I quickly realized that these letters won't be delivered, maybe they'll never be delivered. And so the other reason was that I didn't want to think about the last time we talked. I don't want to admit that you were right (partially).

I yelled at you, didn't listen to your advice, imagined that you didn't have my best interests at heart. I wanted to believe that you were ignorant, prejudiced, and controlled by fear. I didn't want to admit that the world that you saw was more realistic than my world, and my idealism had a very thin foundation. I wanted to believe that I could transform the world to match my imagination, that my sheer optimism and strength of will and obstinate cheerfulness could overcome any challenge.

I was wrong. And it hurts to admit that. It hurts to recall my last words, and I'm sorry. I wish I could take them back; I wish you were here, and Mam, too. I love you both, and I always really knew deep down that you were just trying to protect me.

I keep wondering if the initial ambush and slavery could have been avoided had I been more cautious, not pretended to be brave, and taken precautions. I wonder if my pride - broadcasting the Envoy mission and making a show of it all - was responsible for the deaths of my entourage. Maybe the orc raid was random chance, but had my mission succeeded, maybe it would have ruined their plans…

I was also right - I can accomplish pretty much anything that I choose to. I just find it difficult to take into account that others' perceptions and desires can also impact the world - I'm not the only one who has goals and dreams and intentions, I'm not the only one with power.

Da, I rode a dragon. A real live, fire-breathing, winged, magical, glorious creature, and for just a moment, I was Queen of the Universe. I connected with him, tamed his mind for a moment, lulled him with my music.

So I guess some of my day was good.

Firia and I had been having a great time with the Aljana - feasting and relaxing (well, I guess the competition was pretty intense, but in the end it was a good time). The scouting mission was going well, and we convinced Yoshe & Moshe to go with us into the “scary” part of the forest, that really wasn't that bad. A few brambles didn't make me tremble at all - some weedy old hedges that hadn't been taken care of in decades, maybe centuries, were easy to navigate through.

Scáthfile went on ahead to scout, and he's quite brilliant at tracking. He came back and lead us to an encampment of orcs, and Aeowynn was there, trapped again. We set up a brilliant ambush - Firia made an amazingly cool singing wizard elf-golem, and we totally tricked those orcs into thinking that it was some crazy enemy and distracted them entirely.

Yoshe & Moshe started making pincushions out of the orc guards, and Scáthfile crept over to the prisoners to help free them, when the entire earth caved in. I managed to keep my concentration while I fell, so I felt quite impressed with myself.

It turns out the cave had collapsed due to the dragon in captivity, who was disturbed by none other than Elisandre and Sharn. It also turns out that El really needs to practice her teleportation spells, because her targeting was WAY off.

There was a lot of chaos, and I did a lot of singing (as usual), and I managed to sneak up to the dragon in the commotion and climb onto his back! Firia had made another rock golem who was just trying to hold the dragon in place, and Firia pointed out the magical chain to the rest of us, and had the brilliant idea of attacking the chain.

That was going well, and I knew we just had to keep the dragon from killing us for a short time, so I focused my song and clouded its mind with an ancient lullaby - based on Maimeó's favourite tune that she used to sing to me. I imagine she sang it to you, too, Da.

And then, disaster. The poor dragon was murdered, while he was helpless under my spell, and I feel like it was my fault. You were right, Da; orcs cannot be trusted to understand anything beyond violence and death. They were raised in a culture where violence is expected and the first choice in conflict, their default, and their world view is immediate and simplistic. Maybe some can rise above it temporarily, but it's hard to overcome social programming.

Sharn, who I had such high hopes for, murdered the dragon just before we freed him from a magical curse. Who knows what could have been? This necromancer we've been chasing, who raises zombies and commands beasts, had chained him up, and Firia, Elisandre and I saw who the true enemy was, but poor Sharn is blind to anything beyond the surface. The dragon may have been the key to saving us from the crazy apocalypse; El also seemed to have some connection with dragons that could have been explored further. In the end, it bled out, mutilated, driven mad with pain and suffering.

I haven't been able to even look at her since the disaster - I think this is worse than when El destroyed the wolf; she reacted, this was premeditated. Sharn seems to enjoy killing animals, and even eats horses. I've been trying to break her of the habit, but I'm not sure that's realistic.

I had yelled at her that everything was under control, and we should attack the chain, but she decided to ignore my advice. Maybe that's what hurt the most - she didn't trust her friends; she didn't trust me. El, Firia and I were working well together, and Sharn metaphorically spat in our faces.

I yelled at her after it was over, and unleashed the power of my Curse, so maybe she would understand that I'm not incompetent, that when I use my music it has real effect. I didn't feel great about that later, but what's done is done.

It reminded me of you, Da. I guess I've always felt that you were always trying to protect me, and didn't trust that I have power, too, just different than yours. I want you to understand me, and trust me, and believe in me. You don't have to be the hero, saving me like a damsel in distress. I wished we could have worked together like my friends and I have (mostly) done.

I hope I can give this letter to you someday, somehow.


Maebh the Underestimated