i have gained some scraps of paper from an old book that nobody will miss in the library and i was able to scrap together some water, dried ink and a quill from master lu'man, whom i belong to. all is not well.
we were ambushed in the swamps south of gry’ondar by a ferocious tribe of painted fighters i have never seen before. da'wan is dead, and so are the two fellows we took along from the megabolo, shi’bar and keh’rami – they were killed by poisoned arrows shot from soot blower lances, a weapon i haven’t seen before and which can bring swift, agonizing fatality to everyone getting into their path.
once the shouting and relentless men had overwhelmed us, i thought they would kill us all and maybe that would have been a fate of more mercy – but it wasn’t the path they had foreseen for us. instead, our hands were bound on our backs, our eyes were blindfolded and we have been marched a whole day into unknown directions, scolded and kicked forward when we stumbled, anxiously and panting and dull in our fear what will become of us. finally, we were pushed into a dark hold inside of some caves, exhausted and hungry we fell into sleep, awakening only when our capturers pulled us out of the cell and presented us, like prey, to these men in their gray coats – and we were sold into slavery, one by one. that was the last time i saw the others, your bolo, my friends.
ever since that day, which must be past one month as of now, i have been given food and water, clothes and a small room inside the hut that keeps my masters alchemy utensils, flasks of strange odors and bottle with liquids that i slowly learn to distinguish. i obey when he calls me for this, for that, and orders assistance. i do not understand the language he speaks with his fellows, but he knows fragments of my tongue and uses me, obviously interested to broaden his knowledge. i believe, grumpy and silent as he is most of the time, he is a good man in his heart and has not treated me badly since i have begun my work in his house. i think i am lucky to have been sold into this place and not taken away by my hair like the others i saw.
this is a bolo they call a “moonstery” or something alike. there is at least 50 men living here, all gray bearded and aged. it is safely tucked away in a vast labyrinth of caves, holes and criss-crossing passageway. since i have not been chained like many of the others i see on my errands, unknown mournful faces from bolos i never have seen nor can talk to since none of us is allowed to speak, i assume that neither i share the misery of their faith in their functions, nor that there is any chance i could escape.
my work is to prepare an endless array of potions, grind and mortar, distillate and bottle whatever ingredients master lu'man asks me to produce. sometimes, the vapors of which are biting my breath, and once i have spilled half a bottle of a strange, red gleaming liquid over my pants, which now has a blackened hole at that spot and my skin beneath is still healing from the smoldering wound. ever since, i have learnt to be careful with anything i touch.
i have befriended but one other serving ibu here in the caves. his name is quen’tin or que’llin, as far as i can gather from his dialect, and he claims he is from a bolo far south. he works for master fre’dolin, lu'mans superior – or customer, as it is, since i often have to deliver containers with the results of my masters work to his quarters. quen’tin has let me know that he will travel north soon, in a truck with his master, to “the great city” and i believe he means gry’ondar. i have bribed him with unspeakable favors to deliver a note to your house. i hope his promise will hold.
i am sorry to write such grave news back to you, not knowing if you have received a sign of life from any of your kin. if so, i hope they had better tales to tell than i have for you. do not worry about me, i am fine, as fine as a slave with no future can be. and i wish and pray and hope that you are fine as well, in freedom, with your heart, mind or soul.
i wish i had not left the places we were happy together, the hunts we enjoyed, the schemes we resourcefully mastered together. i miss every moment of passion in your arms, but alas, i will be happy alone if i know you are safe. And deep inside me, I have kept that golden picture of you, the huntress of my dreams.