Letters From The Blood War I

sciborg2's picture

Dear Ananki,

I hope you and Ademtus are doing well. Please find enclosed my payment from the Baatezu. It should be enough to keep the room in the Hive you two are staying in. I know there is nothing Good inside these devils, but I have to admit being paid on time has its own virtue. And we are killing demons, just like the ones that killed my father. But I'm not writing to argue about this. In fact I wanted to say again how sorry I am for the way I left. I hope seeing the gold coins helps you understand that I did this for us and for Ademtus.

I have found myself stationed on Gehenna, in a place where there is little light save for the glowing azure from the ground which just makes outlines on the black stone. Acidic snow falls from a cloudless sky. Somewhere in this volcanic rock, the tanar'ri have found a portal from which they can send their hordes against our legions. While the baatezu have been unable to find the passageway, I'm confident that that will be able to do so. They are quite intelligent, their tactics improved over so many years I can't begin to imagine how long. I feel safer under my ice devil commander than I have under the King Xiodec whose stupidity is how we ended up in Sigil in the first place. I watch him in what I guess are the mornings, staring with bug eyes across the snow covered terrain. He is beautiful in his own way I guess, gross with a bug face but he reminds me of those dragonflies we saw near the lake where we'd sneak off to. I know you're grinning that mischievous grin that made me fall for you.

We are treated well actually, not just as canon fodder as the Sigil fishwives like to claim. The baatezu give out bonuses for extra tanar'ri killed, but deduct pay for recklessness. My sleeping with one eye open is because of the mortals in the ranks, not the devils. So many of these men are apparently fighting to reduce the sentences laid down on them by the MercyKillers.

Don't worry though, any who foolishly endanger their fellow troops are killed. And just in case, I've banded with some other veteran mercenaries I hope you get the chance to meet one day. They are like us, trying to support their dreams in this crazy Wheel. Family men mostly, though a few young pups I've taken under my wing. One almost looks like Ademtus might in some years, though my son will never be a soldier. Never.

I'm blessed to find people like that, Ananki. This place, it changes you. You know I would never do this, but sometimes I dream of slitting their throats and stealing their pay. If I did you could move out of the Slags, maybe into one of the guildhall districts. But I won't? I won't. Its just so cold, you start thinking things you'd never do. And the stone, this frozen lava that looks like it could come alive and burn me, its always whispering. But that's when I think of your face, your kindness. I know you will give some coins to the urchins near our hovel, no matter how much you know I'd yell at you. That brings a smile to my face and pushes away those whispers.

Yesterday I killed a glabrezu and that's why you'll find enough coins to buy yourself something nice. I know you'll want to save even the smallest copper piece, you were always the planner, but please at least buy some decent meat from Parts & Pieces. I wish Ademtus could have seen me, firing my crossbow through its skull before it could crush me with its pinchers. Sorry, I know that's going to make you worry so I won't go on about the fight, but I want Ademtus to know that though we fled Xiodec's lost cause, even fled our world, I am not a coward. I was hoping to send some kind of souvenir for him, a bone from the kill like some of these men around me keep, but the baatezu have forbidden it. They tell me its too dangerous. I suppose he'll just have to believe me. I know I'm not a coward. That's why I'm here.

I should be going. If I don't get enough sleep I won't be able to fight well tomorrow. And my company is counting on me. The baatezu are counting on me, and I won't be the weak link in their plans. Oh, is Ademtus walking yet? I hope so.

all my love,


As Ananki reads the letter, she sees through to the conflicting emotions of her husband that raise a storm of feelings in her own heart. She's crying, her ten-month-old looking up with instinctual worry holding her hand as he stands on two wobbly legs that haven't yet lost their baby fat. She's smiling wistfully at moments, and gasping at fear in the next as her eyes pass over the sentences, sloppy and manic as if they had been written in darkness. And in moments its over, the black abishai deliverer just about to spread its wings and fly into the smog of Sigil's sunless morning.

"Wait" she cries, her voice already showing signs of hoarsness, scooping Ademtus up in her arms as she takes a rush of barefooted steps beyond the buildings rotted doorway. The devil turns, looks at her with glassy reptilian eyes not quite alien enough to hide its amusement.

"Where is he now? Is he okay?" Its as if she's forgotten that it is hellspawn she pins her hopes on, distracted by the stubborn courage she loves that will get her husband killed. ("I hope so" written as an afterthought?) The baatezu studies her as if drinking her tears. Then it grins to reveal pink gums normally hidden by the scaled maw that now widens slowly, showing fangs symetric, even and polished.

"That's classified. My lady." Then it turns and takes to the air. Ademtus tugs at her sleeve, catching her attention as he points wordlessly at the ground. She's bleeding, having stepped on a small piece of unnoticed glass.

Center of All's picture
Joined: 2004-05-11
A very

A very touching, heartfelt, and a little tragic read.


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snoeseven's picture
Joined: 2008-07-08
Phenomenal. Really made me

Phenomenal. Really made me think of the blood war mercs in a different ... human ... way.

sciborg2's picture
Joined: 2005-07-26
Thanks for the compliments!

Thanks for the compliments!

I was trying to write Letters I & II in two distinctive voices. Looking back on them I can see success but also room for improvement.

Suggestions of course welcome.


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