Attn: Pabron qu Aheren, Chief of the Wakeguard
We have spoken once before, if you recall, when you relayed an incredulous tidbit about a certain someone. A lass of general, though not great, renown who had gone missing. Do not worry, the details of the event in question are not the reason I write to you, merely my method of nudging you into remembering.
No, instead I seek the truth of another matter. Now normally I do not care whether stories told to me are completely truthful, for the sake of the story is what matters. The more fanciful, the better. But in this case…
I have been accused, even by you, of using underhanded techniques to get my stories, but I have never tortured, never beaten and certainly don’t bribe. I merely show interest in people begging for attention, make them feel as if I care, which, in turn, make them believe me to be trustworthy.
Men and women both have used me as a confident, confessing secrets and sins to my ears. And every word, every ounce of character, both kindly and cruel, have been recorded somehow, in some way, in my journals. I purposeful write out of order, leaving blank pages for another time and no dates to speak of, for I know them by heart.
This particular story interests me a far great more and for little reason that will make sense to you.
This man, of whom I will withhold the particulars, he claims to listen to things no other man can hear. He speaks so sincerely, with no mocking in his tone or humor in his smile, that I honestly can say I believe him. He’s asked his name to not be recorded and I will honor that request for dual purposes. However, I will note that he speaks with a coastal accent and uses phrases such as “by the swelled sea” and “like a gull’s cry.” He also bears a gouge on the palm of his left hand, of the sort one would get if wielding a scaling knife in the right while not paying attention.
I think you can see where I’m going with this, for does that not remind you of yourself in some part? Growing up where you have?
This man, he is not attractive in the classical sense, his features not entirely even, the left side of his face more amiable while the right seems to draw down, as if remembering some horrible past event. However, he carries no extra pounds, owns a calm and respectful manner and seems a steady presence, not one prone to outbursts. He avoids drink, even in social settings, and has the most intense considering gaze, one I could stare at for hours, wondering at what he might be wondering at.
These are his words, as best as I could jot them down as he spoke…
They called me invisible back home (though he doesn’t name the city), said I could disappear without a trace, the city’s layouts, no matter how they changed, embedded in my mind as firmly as the first words I’d ever learned at my mother’s knee.
They called me intelligent, for I knew the histories of everything we came in contact with, the gardens, the towers, the clothing of the finest ladies and the signets on the lords. I could tell from where the metal for the guard’s sword had come and how long a ship had been set to water without researching first within the portmasters’ annuals. (Another reference that led me to you)
They also called me intuitive and determined and ambitious. And they called me lucky, for no matter what I did, I could never be caught. (He gave no more information on this matter, but the word “caught” is somewhat suspicious, do you not think?)
But I was none of those things.
(He leaned forward then, his eyes shining with that sincerity I mentioned.)
The truth of the matter is, I just listen better. I can hear the stones and steel murmuring of a time when they were embedded in the ground. The city streets speak to me, tell me how they curve and turn and where they end. The cobbled walks shiver to warn me of anyone approaching. Even the water whispers of times when lads had drown in her bosom.
I can hear more than any man or woman alive.
Bones of long-dead magicians have taught me incantations. Ancient books have relayed strategy meetings of famed generals. I know the answers to historical events that historians still struggle and argue over. I could tell you who shot first during the Massacre under the Silver Moon, who the true betrayers were during the coop that ousted King Drakeson the Third, how many children had been claimed by the mind-readers before the Empire’s rule.
I could tell you when the world first saw the sun. The moon. When stars first appeared and when others disappeared.
Here I will stop, for his claims became even more involved, with information he called proof, but I, or indeed anyone, have no way of truly proving.
He layered stories in webs where lies and truth intersected and wove together, creating an intricate lace pattern I did not have the heart to unravel for it lay so beautifully before me. His charisma pulled even me in, bewitching me, sending to my eyes a moonlight I knew to be false.
For how could they be real, when all he said just could not be true?
The sorts of languages he claims to hear, they do not exist. In my expansive dealings, I would have come across at least hints of this ability, this all-language that allows him to learn from the bones of the dead and speak to city streets and ship keels and answer history’s most mysterious questions.
But then I am at a quandary, for if he speaks even an inkling of truth, I have just encountered such an ability.
I admit, this man terrifies me more so than any other person I’ve ever met in my life, and I’ve met far more than my fair share. A small part of me wishes him dead, so that he might never get the chance to usurp my position and fame, though now that I have written that I must dispose of the damn quill I’ve been using, and probably the ink pot as well for who knows what sorts of things they might whisper to him.
Another part of me, the one that could be either sensible or infatuated, wants him not just alive, but near me at all times. I want to hear the stories he hears, want to be privy to the sorts of secrets no one else could possibly know. Want to listen to him recount all, record every last word he speaks. Even if it means that I would lie within his shadow, whether the world knows it or not.
I have never felt this level of lust before now. Not for any person. And yet, here I am, writing to you, of all people, for advice.
No, not advice. I will do whatever folly my desires insist upon, that I know. I guess I am writing to discover the truth, or what little there might be of it. For the first time in my life, I desperately want something to be real, for the stories told to me not to be steeped in lies. For once I my life, I truly care whether someone is simply spawning a fantastical tale.
A part of me suspects you will know of whom I speak. That perhaps I have been taking up with a man who had once put his talent to criminal use, was an elusive ghost you hunted. I hope so, for that would not only put truth to his words, but cement his need to hover back, allowing me to lead, to be the face the world sees as we bring forth secrets no man but he has ever heard.
From the Keeper of Sins and Secrets,
Mastair the Recorder