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Dearest Friend,

It’s taken me longer to write than anticipated, but with a good reason. Please forgive me for my tardiness, and rest assured, I am fine, now.
No doubt you remember my brother’s urgent letter, asking me to come and visit him?
He didn’t say much, as you may remember, just that my presence would be well appreciated.

I stepped off the train merely to be received by the Police; their Inspector shed light on what had been going on in London, and that my brother had disappeared under dubious circumstances, had been missing for the better part of it.
The moment I saw my brother’s apartment, I knew why the Inspector didn’t have much hope for finding my brother alive; everything was in shambles. There had been a struggle, and traces of it still remained. Dreadful traces.

Still…
Alive or dead, near or far, J. has a knack for telling me things; he always has, though others might not notice them. Something to do with being twins, I’m told.

Do you remember when last my brother visited us? When he came for a ‘holiday’ with a bunch of kids? Do you remember the boy he took with us to visit the Temple of Kali? Jack the Lad? So akin to my brother, in character, that you might have thought they’re related?
Do you remember how protective my brother was of him? How proud he was, telling us Jack would become one of us?

Well, Jack grew up. He did become one of us. Save that something changed, or maybe it was always there, and merely became more obvious as the years passed. Perhaps too subtly for my brother to notice before it was too late.

Little by little, I pieced the story together, what Jack had forced J. through. I don’t use the word lightly, but he was by all accounts a monster: none we’ve ever fought before comes even close. You might have seen some mention of his pastimes in the newspapers; if you haven’t, count your blessings. I will not describe them.
Even if I witnessed only one of his atrocities firsthand, I suspect I shall never forget the horror of it. The spite and hateful waste of it. The dread he cast over this city.
Nor the way he goaded me on, luring me to become like him, trying to destroy the ties I had wrought in London. Destroy J., and all he’d managed to create through the years.
The desire to see Jack still alive only so I could kill him all over again.

Oh, my most dearest friend. That you are in the safety of India brings me joy, even as I weep at our separation.

The clues slowly lead me to Jack’s accomplices. I learned what I could from them, and dealt with them accordingly.
As I later found out, Jack haunted my steps, and washed in blood the proof of what I had done.

Loathsome as it is to admit, I let him set the time and the place of our meeting; I hoped that would spare some lives, lead me to J., or at the very least, bring some conclusion to this whole sordid matter.
Along the way, I found the messages Jack had left my brother, the reminders of his gruesome handiwork. I had to endure all this for just a handful of days, and I never knew his victims, while Jack had tortured J. with all of this for months, using women J. knew and cared about, women he’d trained and worked with, as his unwilling messengers.

I knew I would be, at best, walking into a trap. Still, what choice did I really have?
I had to end it, and there really was only one possible way to do that.
It wasn’t easy; J. had taught Jack well. The Inspector was right when he said I might be the only person who could stop Jack. Turns out, I was. Barely.

Like I said earlier, I’m fine now.
Jack...didn’t hurt me. Couldn’t hurt me. Not the way he’d gotten used to with...others.

My hope proved right: Jack had stashed J. in a nearby cell, lead me to him, finally.
I will not lie to you; seeing J. in that rotten cell, in a lifeless slump like a doll long-abandoned… It took me all I have to not break down. Even now, when it’s past, when I can see J. next to myself, safe and sound, I cannot think on it and not shudder to my soul.
I do not know what I would have done, had I not felt his breath, pulse, as I embraced him. I do not like to dwell on it.
He is safe again, and that is all I can let matter to myself, now.
Jack cannot hurt him anymore.
Jack cannot hurt anyone, ever again.

We are indebted to the Inspector.
He helped me hide Jack, smuggle out J.; we could not afford for the world to see us. Not after all the trouble J.’s pupils had gone through in their dying moments. The Inspector helped cover for us, keep us hidden, even though he could have laid us all bare for the whole world to see.
Whatever he will ask of me, I will do, until my debt is paid in full. I’m not sure if it ever can, but I have to try.

So you see, it will still be a while before I can return, I’m afraid: I cannot leave my brother now, not the way he is. A man full-grown, but some of his ever-present childlikeness remains. And yet, it doesn’t.

You may remember him as roguish and brash, ever ready with a quick jab and a smirk.
That’s gone, now.
Instead, I’m reminded of our childhood and youth, of nighttime terrors and fumbling fears, weak with sickness. Of times when he put on a brave face because he didn’t want to disappoint Grandmother. Of times when he blanched with impotent fury at Father’s designs.

These reminders are daily, now. Ever since I dragged him out of that dreadful cell.
He hasn’t spoken a word about the month he was missing. About the fight that preceded it, so painfully painted on his lodgings. Whenever it’s brought up, he withdraws, with no other word to describe him but ‘haunted’. All anyone has to go on are the physical markers, the way he reacts to certain things, what he mutters in his sleep.
He’ll likely never see with his left eye again. He might never walk without a cane for support. I have yet to see him take a blade and not try to suppress a shudder. I loathe to think what the faltering words stumbling from his lips in the dead of night mean.

He is getting better, but he’s still a far cry from the Master people remember him as.
I’m not entirely certain he will ever again be that man.

Jack was a son to him.
And that son sought to tear down everything J. had wrought, everything he had become. Everyone who mattered to him.
Including me.

I have no doubt Jack watched my steps ever since I arrived in London; his words to me leading up to our meeting, during it, are proof of that enough.
I suspect he offered J. the same deal he offered me: join him, become like him, or die torturously.
J. can’t have agreed to what was done to him.
And yet, alone among all of his victims, J. survived.

All we can do is guess as to why and how. Did Jack want to make J. see him drown London in blood? Torture him until he agreed to Jack’s monstrosities?
Or was there some other reason? Could he simply not bring himself to kill J., unlike with the rest? ‘Play’ with him before death, like he’d done with some others?

I’m sorry. I shouldn’t dwell on it, but I can’t help it.
I long to discuss with you, hear your voice and smell the spices of home. See your smile and feel your touch. But I cannot leave London yet. And J. is not in fit enough shape to travel. Not yet. Please forgive me.

As always, ever your friend,
E.