This letter must come as a surprise to you. We both know I have never been great at writing them. I have never been great at keeping touch in general.
I’m sorry. Heavens, I’m so sorry.
I wish I could say that I’d turned over a new leaf, that this is simply a friendly letter to catch up on an old friend. Alas. Something happened to me, a matter of utmost importance.
The letter you hold displays the trust that I put in you. So while I urge you to read the rest of it at your earliest convenience, I’d think it best if you did so without the presence of others. That your judgment on the matter could stay yours, and yours alone.
But enough introductions.
Last year, a little past the summer solstice, I came upon a field of wondrous flowers. When sunlight hit their purple petals, I saw a beauty that was second to none. I wish you could have been there to see it.
A village had developed alongside these flowers. I had a chat with one of the locales, eager to learn more of their history. I asked if I could bring home one of these natural beauties called "fleur-de-lys" with me. Immediately it felt like I had driven a wedge between us. He cut the conversation short and quickly sent me on my way.
Try as I might, however, I could not forget this sight. A short week later, I sneakily returned to the village. I was hopeful that I could steal some of that beauty for myself.
I returned to a scene you would not believe. A battlefield where frenzied beasts charged at each other with an anger I had never before witnessed. The flora, which had been so full of vitality but a week before, was down to a few specimens splattered with blood. Seeing such an idyllic part of the world fall to ruin in so short a time… It frightened me to the core.
And yet, despite everything, still the fleur-de-lys called to me. Despite my better judgment, I sneakily approached the remaining flowers. As I did, the corpse of one of the warriors fell next to me. It took all I had not to scream.
A wiser person would flee the scene right away. But I persisted, and against all odds, I managed to return with a few lilies clutched in my quaking hands.
What was happening defied all logical sense. When I left for the village that day, I expected to return a fugitive. Fearing for my very life was a whole different story. After returning home I remained in place, for hours, on the verge of a breakdown.
As I slowly returned to my senses, I resolved myself to make the most of the bounty I had returned with. The only problem was that I did not know anything about growing plants. After setting the flowers right outside my home, I spent countless back-and-forth trips watering them with cupped hands. It helped me get over my state of mind and finally find sleep.
I half-expected them to die on the very first night. But, to my great surprise, they seemed to have renewed vigor instead. Over time I learned how to take proper care of them, and before I knew it, that handful of lilies had blossomed into a full flowerbed.
That garden is my pride and joy. One I had by that point learned to share with others. I get visitors nowadays, of all ages. The smiles I have been able to see since, from people who would have otherwise stayed strangers, have made my transgression worth it. So many people are lonely and hurting out there. And sometimes, being able to share a beautiful scene with someone else makes a real difference.
This brings us to this letter.
A man came to my humble shop. On his chest, proudly displayed, was a tattoo of a flower I knew all too well. A fleur-de-lys. My mind was racing – there was an air of familiarity around him. He must have been a survivor from the village.
Which meant there was blood on his hands.
Which could mean… my time of reckoning was near.
He must have caught me staring. The next thing I knew, the inked man was chatting me up. He started asking me if I liked the tattoo and if I knew what it represented. I tried my best to feign ignorance. He told me about it being a lost treasure of his clan, how its legacy lives on through his memories. I tried my best to feign awe.
That happened just this morning. I cannot know for sure if he believed me. Oh, how I hope he believes me.
If he comes after me like he must have done to others on that fateful night… Then this is it. No more shop. No more smiling children. No more opportunity to have a heartfelt conversation with you. And, in time… no fleur-de-lys.
That thought, senseless as that may seem to you, is terrifying to me. I cannot even fully explain it myself.
Forgive my selfishness, that I burden you with a decision in this first sign of life in moons. Attached to this letter, dearest friend, you’ll find seeds from these accursed, blessed flowers of mine. I trust you to do with them as you will. Whether you decide to allow them a new life or not. I...
I have the utmost faith in whichever path you’ll take. I'm sure it will be the right decision, in the end.
Wishing you naught but the best,