A Christmas present from the wonderful Arasminna, by the ever-talented Echo!
Dear Chane, (do I have to call you Mr. deCouer?)
Your letter cheered up a gray and freezing day. Thank you. I'm not normally much of a writer either, but now that the action's died down, maybe it will calm my nerves. I've been sitting here till my feet go numb, trying to imagine myself back to the dock outside the Faire and into a pair of warm arms.
Ye gods, I'd forgotten the cold. I've got my old fur-lined gloves and scarf, but it doesn't matter how many layers you wear. The cold sneaks through everything. Probably doesn't help that we've got trenches dug into the frozen ground to get us out of sight of the Twilight casters. We don't have enough fuel for heat or cooking. We don't have the right kind of shelters. The healers spend more time on frostbite than combat injuries. We were not ready for this.
Kjerstin had been expecting the envelope that would recall her to active duty for weeks. At first, she had tried to convince herself she was dreading it. She had just settled into the little house with Dad and Elsa, and she was far from sure they would be all right without her. Every time she thought she had found someone to do the housekeeping, it fell through. It had been a mystery to her until she overheard one of the women talking to her friend on the way out. Something wrong with that child. Not a word, not a sound, and the way she stares at you...it just ain't natural! Kjerstin's hands had balled into fists before she got a grip on herself and remembered that this was the city, not the Front. Instead of punching that fat face, she had ground her teeth and gone inside to give Elsa a hug.
Winter's Veil had been the last straw. Having guests in her stuffy little rented room in Mrs. Cotter's house had been out of the question, so she had gathered with Elsa and Dad in Dad's room at the inn. It was only slightly bigger. Living alone in the city, it had never bothered her to eat at whatever lunch counter had been closest, but it was downright embarrassing to have gnomish takeout for Winter's Veil with your family.
She pushed open the door to Dad's room. "Pack up your things. I've rented us a house."
Elsa and Dad stared, tea party forgotten. Finally, Dad recovered enough to ask, "Where?"
"North of the Keep, near the lakes. It's not the quietest location, since the Earthen Ring set up on the island, but I think it'll do. It's all on one floor, and I'll see about finding someone to do the cooking and help with the housework." The look on her father's face finally penetrated. "Oh."
When the knock came on the door of House DeWynter, Kjerstin almost didn't answer it. Echo and Credence had gone out somewhere, and all she wanted was to be left alone. She had cut down a ghoul that morning with a face like Garrett's. Though, after nearly two weeks, she was starting to see her family in every glimpse of an undead face. She needed to get out of here. She got up and went to the door.
"Kjerstin Engel?" The uniformed man couldn't have been more than eighteen, but he wore the livery of the Argent Dawn.
"We found a kid outside Chillwind Camp this morning, ma'am. She's clammed up now, but when we brought her in she was babbling and said something about Auntie Kjerstin." Kjerstin's heart leaped. "And it's not a common name, so the Sarge sent me to find you, ma'am, and see if you knew who she was."
I wish I could write with better news. I have confirmed that Lise is dead. A Forsaken plaguebringer at what remains of the farms was wearing her wedding ring. Before he died of his wounds, he admitted that he had taken it from a body of a woman. He didn't live long enough to describe any others he had seen. Clearly I need to refine my technique.
It has been five days now, and I am still hoping, but not expecting to find any survivors. The Forsaken were very thorough, and I don't know how much longer I'll be able to slip past their guard and get into Hillsbrad. They are tightening their grip on the borders every day. My companions in the search for survivors, Echo Martin and Credence Black, have offered me shelter at House DeWynter in Alterac, but it may not remain safe to stay here. Our daily forays into enemy territory are becoming more dangerous, and every day the chances of finding refugees dwindle.