I am pleased to report that accompanying this correspondence are your lost navigation maps. By good fortune Siraj and I happened upon them near the docks. Though I had hoped to next contact you from a position of great success as your equal, this discovery gave me excuse. I have not seen you in a few months now and have need of my good friend and mentor. I have been through quite a lot since I took leave of your service and am not yet the man I hoped to become.
I do not know if my reputation has reached you, nor if what you have heard is good or not. I sit now at a writing desk in my quarters at the Silver Siren gambling hall, of which Siraj and I are part owners. I am nursing broken ribs, trying to keep my wounds from reopening, and resting what the leech who tends to me calls an “afflicted constitution”. Perhaps it was the snake venom that nearly killed me months ago, or mayhaps it was the mad bunyip that tossed me like the terriers on the Sowbelly used to fling rats against the gunwale. Whatever has caused it, I have begun to reconsider my role in this city. Riddleport has put its boot squarely in our backs.
When I served you I felt invincible. I was your hammer, your strong right fist when force was needed. I wonder now if you didn’t maneuver me into situations in which I risked little chance of being outfought. I spent my youth in the Publican House thinking it a house of ne’er do wells. Now I see that it was, in reality, a carefully guarded playground for the upstanding adventurer with conservative appetites for pugilism. I blush now at the puffed-up credibility I felt after my fistfight with Slim Skeller. I thought the control of the crowd was out of fear of our destructive force, but it was a practiced routine for the proscribed contests that must occur there perpetually. This is all so clear now.
I am ashamed, Enzo. On my first day out of your service I went to try my luck at the Gold Goblin and ended up stopping a robbery and earning a share of the ownership from Vancaskerkin. I was on top of the world and eager to show you. Things changed quickly. I soon learned that sailors must be a rather slight breed, for I was no longer always the biggest man in the room. We were threatened by a hulking crimelord, I was laid low by a mere serpent, and Siraj and I were almost killed by a common thug who had stolen from the Siren. My boyhood is long behind me, but I still feel a newborn babe in a wide and strange world.
I’ve seen strange things on our voyages and heard tell of bizarre and horrible creatures, but my mind boggles to come to grips with what I’ve seen these last weeks. A bunyip washed ashore by a rogue wave, an imp flying around the casino. Captain, I’ve even seen the dead walk. The tales of adventure and discovery told by Siraj as the sun set on the sea are not wrong. He led us to recover an artifact for his sagely guild and a dead wizard and his lackeys toyed with us before we broke free of the tomb. Why did you not tell us that Riddleport bristled with threats so far afield of man and maelstrom?
I feel a fool for what I thought I could accomplish so quickly. I understand why you never left port without Zhevya, the follower of Desna who mended our wounds. I never knew how weak I was without the support of the whole crew. My ego was overlarge and now I fear I have paid for it myself, and worse, with the blood of Siraj and others who have crossed my path.
In these quiet moments of recovery and reflection I see my faults. Siraj is, as always, correct. I can see his disgust when I burst into rooms boot-first or bully men without tact or diplomacy. I hope to defer to him in the future. I think he can plan strategies that will serve us well; better than mine for sure. Still, I fear the haze of battle. My weeks have been thick with it and I don’t think clearly. My rage and bravado take hold and I do not fight with reason, merely with fury tempered only by self-preservation.
If could see your way fit to visit the Siren, I would gladly treat you well. Perhaps you could advise me on how to set up a crew, though we be on land I’m sure the particulars are similar. I may be fighting in the Arena in the yearly challenge if that arrangement would suit you better. I will make you proud Enzo. We are setting our sites on reasonable goals. We will control more of this city as the Sowbelly commanded the seas around the harbor. Eventually, Riddleport will be a safer place for good folk like us to settle, and I’ll be sure to keep the cutthroats at bay.