Chapter 9:

The Realization

An Old Friend's Final Request

From the shallow depths of her room, Eena hastily scribbled down notes from Gotthard's old journals detailing his various spells. She stole them from his study, but she's not a thief. She'll return them when she's finished.

As she writes, her door creaks open and Gotthard stands in the open doorway. She was surprised at first because this was the first time Gotthard had ever been on the first floor for anything other than food. She recovered from her initial shock and resumed writing. "If you're here for your books, there's no need. I'll return them once I've finished."

His glassy eyes glared at her, but he remained motionless. A few moments later, his boots knocked the floor towards her desk. A binder crashed against the desktop, the paper inside fully contained in their leather wrapping. "Letters from Srath. Sent by carrier pigeons."
Eena stared at him skeptical. He nodded towards the leather binder.

She finally obliged and peered inside at the first page. "This is gibberish Gotthard."

"Correct. He wrote in code. The cult I told you about. They run deep in the Southern kingdoms, you hear? Your father was tasked with rooting them out and couldn't trust anyone else with the information. Though I wanted no part of it, he kept sending the coded messages to me. It was my job to send copies to the queen."

She glanced through a few more pages before looking back up at him. "Why are you showing me this? This could be from anyone."

He manually flipped through the pages. "My favourite. Was always this one."

There was nothing special about it. The same gibberish I used for the rest of my coded messages. But this one had a back. I can almost remember exactly what I sent him.
'I bring excellent news Goth! Mia is pregnant! I know you don't care, and I apologize for wasting your time, but I had to tell everyone. You know how long we've wanted for this. We're going to treat this child right. I'll make sure they lead a better life than we did. Hopefully I can finish up my business before they're born! Though I guess being a mayor never ends.'

Once he was sure she finished reading, he spoke. "I tried for the longest time to find the hidden meaning behind his words. 'What could he be trying to tell me, I wonder?' They continue like this right up until his last letter. It wasn't until you were born that I realized there was no code."
He turned to walk out of the room, but before he disappeared he said one last thing. "You're free to keep that, understand? I've no more need of it."

Eena spent the rest of the night reliving her life through the short letters I sent to Gotthard. Bittersweet nostalgic memories came rushing back to her, memories she had been trying to keep locked away. Memories she had never wanted to remember until she completed her self-appointed quest. Memories of her many friends that she would never see again. Memories of everyone who was never coming back. Memories of the people she admired and respected most, who she believed to never commit a wrong, who she trusted more than herself, who turned out to have been lying to her for her entire life.

I'm so sorry Eena.