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Dear John

Dear Amias
I am sorry. If this is the last thing I do, I want you to know I am so very sorry. You will probably never get this letter, but I still want you to know I loved you. . I promised I’d keep you safe, but I couldn’t; I didn’t. I didn’t mean to hurt you; to stab you in the back. It all happened so fast. You were smiling, and then you weren’t. I watched the light fade out of your eyes. She was so perfect, too perfect. I should have known what she was. A literal homewrecker. She destroyed us and you. She burnt down the house, and carted you away. A young athletic man would be perfect for the army. She took you away. Even if I got you back it’s too late. You’re gone. I’ll never speak to the real you. You have been replaced by a thing. Something that will do the Empress’ bidding to the dot. I just hope you aren’t put to work being an Assassin. Anything would be better, even if it’s the Empress’ personal guard.
I saw you this other day. I couldn’t tell what you were doing. You had your head down, but I could still see your empty eyes. They changed everything, even your name. I heard you being called Einar. I supposed it suits you now. Your old name meant love; your new one alone.
What happened wasn’t as simple as it seemed. She told me her name was Salome. It meant peace, and she said she wanted to fit her name. Find peace for the world. She lured me in with stories of another settlement far from the Empress’ rule, like the one we had lost. I’m not that naïve to fall in love in a day. It took months for her too convince me. Salome, or whatever her real name is, said she knew you didn’t trust her, so I had to convince you to go. And when you agreed she immediately began planning. I thought I was helping you. But on the day we were to leave you changed your mind. You knew that once we left the protective barriers of the treacherous mountains, we be ripe for attack- and betrayal.
Salome couldn’t take no for an answer. Angry and volatile, she sent the house up in flame, screaming foreign words to the sky. You grabbed my hand, and began sprinting, all whilst whispering to me it’s not my fault. We weren’t fast enough, at least not enough to beat her inhuman speed. She wasn’t human; she was like the Empress, a warlock, part demon. When she caught us, I could see her deliberating. Here she could only take one. In that moment, I had a million thoughts racing through my head.
A group of merchants had passed through our settlement. They told us of what happened to the resisting settlements. The old killed, and the children taken for the rich as servants or even replacement children for those whose children died in the fighting. The young adults and older teens held the worst fates of all. The athletic ones were put in the army. The attractive ones were sold as concubines. The ones left over were either killed or kept as servants. We argued we weren’t resisting; we were just surviving
Which would she want more? You could be a soldier. I was about as strong as a snail, but I sure was attractive than one. I could be sold. I guess they needed soldiers more, because she sprinted off with your shell. As she left, she hissed to me that I’d be next.
And now I lay here dying, furiously scribbling a note you’ll never see. After stabbing me in the stomach, Salome told me the truth about everything. I suppose there’s no harm done spilling everything to a dead man.
The Empress was a sickly little bullied child in another time; in the past. Until she manifested great powers. Until others did the same. They found each other in their pain, hoping to find acceptance. But the world shunned them. So they rose up and fought back. And then, after about three quarters of the world died, the numbers were equal. The Empress rose to power and ruled with an iron fist to prevent anything happening like that again. I am not saying she’s good, but maybe she isn’t as evil as we thought. Nevertheless, right now I don’t know what to think. What was real and what was not.
Salome told me she give this note to you. I know she was just humouring a dying enemy. But a small part of me still hopes.
Keep hoping, my love.

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