Letters to and from Lynan
Although he can't remember when he last sat down to write a letter—if ever, even, Charlie writes to Luke once he and Elaria have returned to their home in the Second Realm. In response, Luke writes a letter to Charlie, updating him on all that has happened since their return.
I initially had these letters included at the end of The Veiling, but whipped them out at the last minute, as I felt they took from the impact of Charlie's letter to Elaria.
I had also considered a letter from Solomon to Leon, but scrapped that idea. Maybe I'll write it in the future!
Both letters contain spoilers, so avoid reading until after The Veiling.
Charlie's letter to Luke
This is the second letter I’ve written today and I already have a cramp in my hand. I haven’t written this much since I don’t know when—never, maybe. I don’t even know if you’ll be able to read my handwriting. I can’t read my writing. It looks like a drunk spider fell into a bottle of ink and staggered across the page. If you can read this, I salute you.
So, how are you, my friend? I have a billion questions for you. I want to know everything that’s happened since you got home and it sucks that I can’t just pick up my phone and call you. I know I should make an effort to construct a decent letter, but I’m afraid I’ll forget what I need to know, so instead, here’s a list of all my questions. Feel free to answer each in detail. Lots of detail.
How are you?
Are you glad to be home?
Was Lynan worse or better than you thought?
How is Beth?
Did you ask her to marry you yet? If not, why? If yes, what did she say?
How is Elaria? Is she doing okay?
Did you find out what happened with the Higher Council?
What do you miss most about here?
What do you not miss?
Is Solomon still happy for me to visit? If so, when? If not, don’t tell me.
So, when we were in the thick of Princess Protection duty, there were times I wanted my normal life back. Now I have it, and I’m miserable. I knew I’d miss you both when you left, but I didn’t think it would be this hard. I have no-one to talk to about what happened. Yes, I know I can talk to my parents, but it’s not the same as talking to you. Some days I’m literally biting my tongue in an effort not to tell Jamie. Also, Dad will not entertain any discussion about my apprenticeship. We’ve had a couple of major arguments about it and he will not budge. All in all, life here is a pile of pants at the moment.
I realise I sound like a whining child so let me man up again.
After you left things went back to normal way too fast. I went into college thinking someone would figure out something was different, but no-one did. It was all very strange. Sitting in the canteen, I kept finding myself wondering where you’d got to, and then remembered you’d gone back home. Jamie knew something was up with me, but I had to tell him I was worrying about the exams. Ha. Like I would.
I 'm making you a playlist of all your favourite First Realm tunes. There are fifty- seven tracks on it already, but you definitely favour rock. I trained you well, grasshopper. Ask Elaria on the down low if an i-Pod would survive a journey through the Gates. If so, I’ll smuggle one over. Scrap that. Stupid idea. I’ve just realised you’d have no way of charging it. Seriously, how do you live without electricity? And how is Elaria coping without her electric blanket? Ha ha. Her stuff is still in her room, by the way. Yesterday Mom put her college books away, but she won’t touch her clothes or anything else. I wander in there sometimes too, and I’m glad it hasn’t been cleaned out yet. It would be too final. Can I just say that it took almost two weeks to get your foot rot stench out of my room. I don’t know how your guard buddies put up with you. Seriously. Get that foot stank sorted out or Beth will run screaming for the hills on your wedding night.
The exams came and went in a blur. All that hanging out in the library did me some good because I actually found them okay. I’ll know my results in January, but I’m cautiously optimistic. We also have to start applying for work experience placements in January. I’m dreading it. Gatekeeping is all I want to do, but I can hardly have a frank chat with my career guidance counsellor about that. Dad is lucky to have his interests in IT, it’s a perfect side job for him, but I have no clue what else I’d like to do. Feel free to offer suggestions.
I have no more news for you. It’s a Saturday morning here and I’ve got to go now. Mom wants me to drag all the decorations down from the attic and then we’re heading out to buy a Christmas tree. Happy Yule to you guys. I hope you get to celebrate and relax for a few days.
Take it easy, Luke. It’s not the same here without you both. Give me little sis a big hug (ignore protocol, please) and write me back soon.
Your friend, (and deputy)
Luke's letter to Charlie
Dear Deputy Charlie,
It’s good to hear from you, my friend. Your letter made me laugh aloud. Keep writing by hand, your spider scrawl will improve, I promise. You certainly do have lots of questions, as do I. However, because I know how impatient you are, I will answer all your questions before I list my own.
To start, I am good. Some days are easier than others, but day by day, it does feel as if life here is returning to normal.
Yes, I am glad to be home. I enjoyed your world (eventually) but mine makes more sense. Lynan was both worse and better than I thought. The demons destroyed a lot of homes and took many lives, but the villagers have a fighting spirit that leaves me in awe. Despite all their loses, they stand together as one. No-one was left without shelter, food, or clothes. Doors were flung open to those who lost their homes, and the mood in the village is very positive. The villagers refuse to speculate on the Husq. It’s as if they have decided they were nothing more than masked, brutish men in armour. Rhyan said he’s heard the odd whisper of demons, but the Village Elders have a way of rubbishing the rumours and somehow it’s working. I was in Lynan only this morning and it has come so far in the last three weeks it’s a testament to the villagers strength of character.
My darling, beautiful Beth is wonderful. I do not have the words to describe how I felt when I had her in my arms again. All I can tell you is that I wanted to cry and laugh at the same time. In a fit of passion I told Rhyan I would never allow her leave my side again and he suggested she come work in the castle. Beth agreed straight away, so now she does a few hours here in the mornings and returns to the apothecary in the afternoon. And yes, of course I have asked her to wed me, and yes, of course she wants to be my wife. As if she’d say no. How would she ever find another man like me? We have set a date for early February, just in time for Spring. It’s the perfect opportunity for you to visit!
What do I miss most about your realm, besides you of course? Right now I have to say books, and the electricity—your bright, illuminating lights in particular. Mostly, what I don’t miss is the strain of Princess Protection duty and Jamie Burwell being a pain in our asses, and beyond that I’d have to say the television. Solomon definitely wants you to visit. We all do. I don’t know what his plan is to make it happen, but when I asked earlier he gave me a very confident ‘soon’ in reply.
So, I skipped a couple of questions as it’s not an easy reply to give and I’m not sure what to say. Elaria is different. I know that’s not a helpful answer, but it’s the only word that fits. She’s not ill, her health is good, but her mood is low. She carries out all her duties; travels to Lynan, attends meetings and so on, but she moves through her day as if she’s disconnected. It’s hard to describe and I don’t feel I’m doing a good job trying to explain. Rhyan is doing his best to keep her under his and my watch in the hopes our company will brighten her mood, but in the weeks since we’ve been home, I see little change. We talk about our time in your world now and then, and it does return a smile for a while, but then she goes quiet again.
I don’t want to worry you, Charlie, I know how much you care for her, so please know we are doing everything we can. Solomon too. He is just as focused on her, and I know she’ll be back to herself soon. What I will tell you is that your letter made the world of difference this morning. She was beside herself with excitement and Rhyan said you’d gifted her more than you could know.
I mentioned about Beth now working mornings here and this is how it came about: Last week we came up with a plan to have Beth take over Hannah’s duties thinking Elaria would welcome her company, but in hindsight, we now know it wasn’t a clever move on our behalf. Elaria became hysterical and refused to even consider the idea. Rhyan said she was half out of her mind with upset that Hannah should be replaced. Unfortunately, the Queen found out Elaria had refused Beth’s service and there was an awful row. In the end, Rhyan insisted Elaria compromise to allow Beth do morning chores only. Megan has told the Queen that Beth does more, all the duties in fact, but we know it won’t be long before before that ruse is discovered.
I’m running out of time here, and I wish I had better words to tell you all this news. I know it sounds dire, but I’m not a great wordsmith. I’m sure if Solomon were to write, you’d have a much clearer understanding. I just want to tell you not to worry. All will be fine again soon. I almost forgot, we still have no idea what happened with the Higher Council. That was one of my questions for you. We were hoping Leon might have learned something? I’m going to give you my questions now. Isn’t this a strange way for us to communicate? I think I will add phones to my list of what I miss too. I agree it would be much easier.
How are Steph and Leon?
How are all your friends?
Were all traces of Elaria and me wiped away?
Have you asked Lauren on a date yet? If not, why? And if yes, what did she say? Where did you go on your date?
How is your training coming along?
Did anything ever happen about the incident in Jamie’s den?
Charlie, I have so many questions but Marcus is calling. I promise I will write again soon. Just know we’re doing all right here. I miss you all. Say hello to everyone. Good bye, my friend!
Your friend, always,