I hope my letter finds you in good health and spirits. It is more than we dare ask in the world we live in, that simply our bodies and wits do not fail us any sooner than they should, and it would give me some degree of solace to think that somewhere there is still serenity under the stars. That there are lands where one can spend a night staring at a cloudless sky without concern, or doubt, or fear.
But where I am, Brother, there is much doubt and much fear. I just took money from a corpse not yet cold. And once that deed was done, but only after, did I go to the sickly child who is still now laying on a cot made of rags in front of me, and hoped that she would die.
The gentle whispers of Mitra still echo in my ears; they are words that I know so well, that I repeated so often and loved so dearly. And Brother, I still do long for the soft murmur of prayer behind me. The triumph of hope over adversity that they taught us is my guiding light, and my mind often marvels at the inevitable victory of truth over falsehood. Not much has changed since the dogma was indoctrinated in us, that life needs no encouragement but only room to grow.
I have not changed, and the world has not changed, but everything is different. How odd. I believe in the same things and I am dedicated to the fulfillment of the same goals as I ever did, as I always will until the last breath leaves this fragile husk of muscle and flesh, and yet Brother. Brother. In my nostrils arrive scents of freshly burned wood and cloth, even now; and the stench of rotting flesh. I recognize them. Is it not terrible how quickly your mind adjusts to even the most unthinkable realities? Like unwanted neighbors that you must nonetheless learn to live with, the coppery aftertaste of blood scattered in the air is something I now tolerate.
It is the realities necessary to accept before the dream comes to fruition that I've come to accept now, I think. The means that must come before the end are as important as the end itself, Brother. Faith alone is not sufficient, and it is not enough.
I watch the child even now; she mutters dark things in her sleep, words that no girl this young should ever have heard. She is missing that part of her naiveté that is once gone it may never be returned; I know of no prayer and have heard of no power that can restore it. Her parents are not far; they are merely outside this simply made hut, laying in some part of that pile of corpses the raiders left behind as a reminder of their authority; the sheer grim task of burying your own is such a tremendously efficient way of reminding something just what power really means. Or the lack of it.
What good is faith, Brother, without the ability to arm ourselves in order to protect it? How can I go to a man and tell him to believe when all that he has and will ever have his family, his flesh and blood may be taken from him at a moment's whim by an angry beast with a sword? I know that I ought to be skeptical and forgiving, to think that no one is beyond redemption or forgiveness, but that is no way to live and I cannot lie to those who would place their trust in me. I cannot.
So I know now that the dream we share must be guarded, protected and sheltered from those who would only smile to see it decimated before their eyes. I know now that before I can tend to a wounded child I should ensure the safety of others who have not yet been subjected to evil. The pouches of fallen enemies yield gold, and the coin obtained through evil can be put to far nobler uses. Is that not what we always teach, that illness is better prevented than cured? The raider's fortunes will support others who need them more than he did. I can feed them; I can have walls put around them. I can bribe and employ those who can help secure them. This time I was too late; another time I will not be.
And the child? I look at her now, Brother, and my heart knows only despair. My best hope is that she dies. That her frail body does not survive this night to a gray morning where the sun only rises to tell her what horrors lurk outside the only home she's ever had, and that it ends here. What good does it do her to continue only to be forever scarred by the mourning and sorrow of what she will never have again or harden her heart until it is as stone? Which of those fates would Mitra have her suffer, and why is either of them preferable to a merciful death? What would her survival ensure other than that she is somehow entitled to grow up and prostitute herself or worse only to ensure the continual of an already thankless fate?
I do not know the answers right now, but only the questions. My mercy has been left unexpressed except through holy fire; only when I pray for vengeance and our deity answers with columns of righteous wrath that strike those that would feast on innocence, only then do I truly find calmness. While the bodies of such predators are still in the throes of their well earned fate do I find inklings, traces or hints as to a destiny of my own.
Brother, I hope you are well, for I am not. I cannot in good conscience continue to be some hopeless defender of countless futilities; an one eyed victim telling other victims that everything will be alright, that this is somehow how things ought to be. No. No. Instead, I shall become the harbinger of retribution and I will do what must be done to ensure that good, honest people are not treated like sheep and led to slaughter. Our diety will guide me to whatever end, and I will walk that path until there are no more steps to be taken.
Servant of Mitra,
of the Sons of Camulus.