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Letters Between Sisters

Author: 
Tori Schafer
Librarian Comment: 

This text originally appeared in Dearly Have I Bought It, an Elder Scrolls women's day anthology published on March 8th, 2020. 

Dear Alchemy,

I must confess, it’s strange to write your new name atop this letter. Still, I suppose I had many years to grow accustomed to your former one; you must excuse me if it takes a few more to feel a similar familiarity with Alchemy.

I’m sure that you wish to hear all about my new position. As expected, there’s little time to rest now that I’m officially assistant to the Sapiarch of Artifice. I’m asked to record lectures, organize notes, so on and so forth. I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice to say I’ve found little difficulty with my assigned tasks.

However, I will admit that I often find myself struggling to keep up with my new colleagues. I had always thought myself intelligent and well read, but now realize just how woefully ignorant I truly am. And whenever I’m asked to voice an opinion, it’s as if my tongue suddenly turns to lead and I’m unable to utter a coherent thought. And to think that I once scoffed at anyone who was unable to keep up with my intellect. It is rather humbling, to say the least.

More than ever do I wish that I possessed even an ounce of your natural wit and grace. It seems you stole every bit of Mother’s charm when we were born, and I was only left with Father’s sullen disposition. Whereas you can dazzle crowds, I find myself barely able to stand out amongst my own peers. Normally I’d hole myself in my room and simply attend to my studies, but there is no denying that a certain social etiquette must be maintained if I wish to advance beyond a mere assistant. In truth, any advice you may have on the matter would be most welcomed.

I’m rambling. You always make me ramble, even when you’re not around. How do you manage it?

Now, despite sounding like a petulant child, I do want to know how you’re faring over in Rellenthil. And this time I want the entire truth of it. No more secrets between sisters, agreed? If I’m to bare my soul to you, I expect the same treatment in return.

Yours Always,
Rinyde

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Dearest Rinyde,

My heart aches to think of you alone in that stuffy college, surrounded by dullards who do not see you for the shining beacon of loveliness that you are. If you find yourself unnoticed, it is simply because your colleagues have their heads too firmly lodged in their rear-ends.

My advice? Continue to be your delightful self. If there’s anyone of worth among your peers, they’ll eventually see that a diamond shines among mere glass baubles. And if you do find yourself fed up with such company, as I’m sure I would, make your way to Rellenthil for an evening of theater to lift your spirits. I’ll always be ready with a bottle of wine and a willing ear.

Everything is going splendidly here in the Manor of Masques. I’ve been selected as the leading lady of our next production, an entirely original piece inspired by certain current events that have befallen our homeland. I won’t say too much about my role for you will of course be attending our premiere production. Suffice to say, I do strike a lovely figure in black.

There is also something I’d like to confess. Your letter spoke of my many talents: my wit, my charm, my ability to stand out amongst a crowd. And while I do so love your words of admiration, I’m afraid that I don’t quite fit upon your pedestal.

I’ve never had your courage. While you speak your mind with conviction and strength, I hide behind clever words. I always have. I played whatever part best suited my audience, whether that was an obedient son, a mighty mage, a studious scholar. And when I found those roles too heavy a burden to bare all I could do was run. I didn’t have the courage to tell you how I truly felt, to face you when I most needed to.

That’s your strength, Rinyde. Even if others do not wish to hear it you’ll say what matters most. If you desire my wit, then I humbly request an ounce of your resolve. I believe that such an exchange would be more than fair.

Lovingly Yours,
Alchemy

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Dear Alchemy,

I now know to read your letters in private, for your latest correspondence had me blubbering like a babe. I was luckily able to excuse myself from the Sapriach’s office before the tears started to fall, but still. Lesson learned.

You speak of my courage and conviction, but the truth is that it doesn’t take much of either to do what everyone expects of you. I was happy to follow our family’s laid path, thinking only where my next footstep should land. Meanwhile you were looking up at the sky, thinking of what you could be, what you wished to be. And my eyes were so firmly locked forward that I never noticed that your gaze had wandered.

You’re far braver than I could ever hope to be. You left everything behind, faced so much hardship, worked so hard in order to start your new life. If one of us must be admired, let it be my brave sister who defied every design laid upon her to be true to herself.

And here I was, plotting to take you away from all of it. I was horribly selfish, Alchemy. I’m so sorry. I told myself that I was doing what was best for you, for all of Summerset, but that wasn’t true at all. I was only thinking of myself. How nervous I was to become a sapriach’s apprentice, how much I wanted you by my side. And all along you were the one suffering most.

Yet you forgave me, and clasped me in your arms, and said you still loved me. And I will always be grateful for that, for I now realize more than ever that I couldn’t bear the thought of losing you. Truly losing you, not just your presence by my side but the love in your heart. It may take many more letters and many more years to make up for what I’ve done, but let me start by saying that I’m proud to be your sister and I will always love you.

Oh, and before I forget! While I would love to attend your performance, I’m afraid I won’t be able to make it. The Sapriachs don’t tend to approve of time away for new apprentices. You’ll have to let me know how it goes.

Yours Forever,
Rinyde

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Sweetest Rinyde,

For once, I don’t quite know what to say. I may be able to make you ramble and cry, but only you can make this actress at a loss for words. A rare gift.

I’ll admit, I was resentful of the future you saw for us. Distrustful that you would ever truly accept me. But you’ve shown me nothing but love since I’ve opened my heart to you, and so it’s time for such feelings to come to a close. Let us not dwell on the past, dear sister. Your acceptance of who I am now means more to me than anything. And allow me to echo your sentiment; whatever you do, whoever you shall become, I will always be there for you. Short of marrying a Sload.

I thought I would always be an outcast, but reconnecting with you has given me hope that needn’t be the case. One day I shall return to our family home. Not tomorrow perhaps, but someday. Our parents may not be as readily accepting as you were, but I wish to tell the entire truth of it, just as I told you. And I hope when that day comes that you will be by my side.

Besides, you may not always want to follow in our family’s laid path. Perhaps one day you’ll even wish to join me in the House of Reveries. And while it’s true you could not act if the fate of Summerset depended on it, worry not. I have a feeling you’d make for an amazing stagehand.

Speaking of my lovely troupe, I’ve thought long and hard about your inability to attend our latest production. As that obviously won’t do, I’ve made inquiries about holding an exclusive showing within the College of Sapriachs. After all, the school is quite prominent in our story’s plot, and I’m sure such a performance would do wonders for morale after that horrible attack. Don’t you agree?

With All the Love in My Heart,
Alchemy

P.S. I’ve caught word of our mutual friend. It appears they’ve been off slaying Dragons, if the rumours are to be believed! Really, I’m not sure how they get themselves caught up in such adventures. Perhaps they’ll visit soon and regale me with the tale.