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A Letter Home from Leora Strauss's blog

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“Dear Madame Elisa Strauss.”


The far window had been opened a crack; a cool breeze ran across the floor and kept the spacious apartment cool in the later-winter warmth. Just outside the window, Ramkahen had grown dark—the last of the merchants had long since folded up their tents and gone home for the evening out in the swampy farmlands or villages that sprawled along the side of the Vir’naal. Leora glanced up from the empty page and sighed. She put the old, weathered pen back in it’s inkwell—her eyes wandered out the window and down the river. There was no sounds, except for the soft chittering of scarabs and the loud babble of the Vir’naal itself. The entire world seemed quiet. All except for her. No, she was too busy trying to write this dumb, stupid letter.


She looked back down; the words she’d written looked up at her. She grimaced. The words felt...sharp. Too formal. Too cold. She tried to mouth the words back to herself. It felt like she was spitting out pins with each syllable. It sounded less like the heartfelt letter home that she'd wanted and was more like she was writing to a woman she’d never met before—hardly her mom! With a grumble, Leora folded the piece of paper and moved for a new one. She’d made a vow to herself, she was going to send a letter even if it took all night and—at this rate—it seemed like that was going to be the case.


She slid a new piece of paper across the desk in front of her. The flickering light of the oil lantern at the edge of her desk cast the long shadow of her pen across the empty page. Her eyes cast across the blank paper and it made her stomach flop, like she was looking over the edge of a cliff. “It can’t be this hard,” Leora muttered to herself.


She had to admit, writing to her mother seemed...almost alien. They’d never been close; having twenty-six other siblings has a way of making sure of that, but it still troubled about how awkward it felt to commit to sitting down and writing a letter to her. Even while she’d been adventuring, letters had mostly consisted of formal, genteel pleasantries back and forth; an “I hope everything is well here” and a “The weather is pleasant in my part of the world”, at most. Leora furrowed her brow at the thought; four years away from home and it’d taken having to move across the world to get her to write a real letter….a real, genuine, dumb, stupid letter that had to be written. It was only fair; after all that had happened these past few months, it was the least she could do.


Leora wet the nib of her pen and brought it back to her page. Perhaps something more soft and sweet would be better. After all, it’d been a good few weeks since she’d arrived—maybe her mother could use the sentimentality.


“Mama,”


She’d barely even finished writing the word before she’d hucked the page across the room; that just sounded dumb! Going from “Elisa” to “Mama” felt sickly sweet; like chewing on a mushy, overripe apple. “Cripes, next thing you know I’m going to be writing ‘Mumsy’ next,” She muttered to herself. She combed back her hair and groaned as she moved for a third page. A third dumb, stupid, page.


Leora dipped the pen back into the inkwell, her eyes didn’t move from the page. Maybe she was putting to much effort into this, maybe that was the issue. She didn’t poetry like this, she didn’t write essays or songs like this, what would make letter writing any different? She brought the nib back down against the page. Her hand stayed still, ink pooling and staining the paper underneath as she mulled it over. “...Well, it can’t be any worse than starting a letter with ‘Mama’,” she said with a shrug.


“Dear Mother,”


That sounded good, right? That was how you started these sorts of letters after a few months; you kept it sort of formal but...not overly so! Like a Winterveil Card you’d send to a great Aunt that you haven’t seen since you were like eight!


“I know it’s been a while since we’ve written—even longer since we’ve spoken in person. But I simply wanted to tell you that I’m doing fine for myself now and that I’ve begun to settle in.”


Leora furrowed her brow. It still felt wonky to her. She lifted the nib away from her paper but stopped herself before she’d move it away fully. She told herself that she was going to write this all in one go and stop being overly fussy about it and she had to hold herself to that! She placed the nib back down;


“Ramkahen is certainly no Boralus. Though I think that’s as much as pleasant thing as it is a strange one. Any other place and I’d bundled up in enough jackets and coats that I’d be waddling around. Not here; this morning I went for a walk and it was nearly sweltering! Even the plants and trees were still in full bloom. It’s different than Kul Tiras, but in a good way!


I’ve found good work as well. One of the Medjay in King Phaoris’ court has been looking for a tutor for his children. Someone to teach them about the outside world and teach them the sorts of things they teach upper-class children in the Eastern Kingdoms. Both of them are absolutely dear and I think you’d adore them both. One of them is kind of fussy and can be sort of dramatic, kind of like Kaladin! The other is sweet girl who seems to know just the best ways to drive me nuts, attract trouble like a hermit crab to a rock, and be endearing all at the same time; sort of like Corentin, really!”


The letter was actually coming along well—it actually had some bounce to it. However...Leora’s eyes glanced back down toward her bare wrist. Hidden amongst the twisting, artistic tattoos that now covered her hands; the brand ‘SC-538’ stared back up at her, the flesh still charred black even if it had long since healed. A small memento of the reason why she was here. It’d only be right to talk about that as well;

“I know you were not pleased with what I did. I expected some backlash for the crimes I committed in the late summer and early fall—not that anything I did really was a crime in my eyes—but the sheer magnitude caught me off guard. Sabotage and Conspiracy charges now hang over me; but I know I did the right thing. I’ve always felt strongly about serfdom, even more so about slavery. Just the thought makes my blood boil and to know that slaves and serfs still dot Kul Tiras was enough to drive me. I had to do something. Even if it cost me all that it did; I'd rather have helped people escape from their bonds and the lords they were tied to than to sit by and do nothing. What I did, at the end of the day, was unabashedly right—even if it wasn't legal. Honestly, life in a penal battalion isn’t that bad once you get over the ‘no rations’ thing, the ‘more likely to die of an infection and malnutrition than combat’ matter, and the ‘made to be placed in the meat grinder’ schtick; full of like minded people actually! Like the world’s worst summer camp for people the Admirality doesn't like and Stormsong separatists!


I survived, all the same. After getting skewered enough during a skirmish in Drustvar whilst digging trenches, apparently they considered that ‘paying my debt’ and let me go. It was only a few months—late September to just past Winterveil—so I have no reason to complain much. Exile hasn’t been as bad either; Stormwind hasn’t gotten word yet and as long as I keep a low profile I doubt anyone would care much or even notice if I slipped back to Boralus for a night or two. All in all, though, I think Southern Kalimdor suits me better anyway. Neutrality fits me better; it’s easy to get away with clobbering corrupt folks and those dealing in slavery and all manner of nastiness on both sides when you’re not flashing a passport and papers from someone who’s on one side of the war. All the same, I hope Kul Tiras is able to find peace one day. I worry about you. I worry about everyone.”


Leora rolled back her shoulders and looked over the page. It felt nice to be writing, honestly. Liberating! She placed the nib back onto the page;


For now though, I want you to know that I’m well. I’m teaching from time-to-time and traveling across the world still; I’m fighting the good fight against slavers, monsters, and whoever else is going to harm innocents—even if that means having to be away from home while I do it. Hopefully, when the war is over and my exile is lifted, I’ll return and tell you everything that’s happened more in detail.


May the Tidemother bring you peace on the winds and good fortune in the waters.


Stay safe. I love you.


Your Daughter always,


Leora.”



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Zanda'jal
Feb 27
Marvelous work and format. I especially loved reading about her anxiety/hestitation in beginning. It was super nice to see her find a flow later down the line. thumbsup
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By Leora Strauss
Added Feb 25

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