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Five Letters and a Postscript

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To Sure-Aim-in-the-Chaos-of-Battle from Swift-Arrows-in-the-Chaos-of-Battle,

My company had a most unusual encounter with Serene and her… friends recently. Has she told you about it? I do love her dearly, but I worry that her reckless and wild idea of running off to the Border School with all those humans is leading her into larger, even more irresponsible gestures. When we met her she was accompanied by two human boys. Now, I know what you are thinking, that she has at last found her eyes wandering to the charms of the breeches set, and in true Serene fashion is going overboard with her passions. And while it may be true that there is a dalliance with the one (not the most ravishing beauty, but as you get to know his charming prattle, oh, he can be such a taking little thing!), the other is a far more serious matter. I say this not to cause you grief but because as her mother, I feel that you must know this so you may act.

To put it bluntly, for I know, that, like me, you are a soldier who does not need to wrap up her words in endless niceties for the sake of etiquette, Serene is claiming to be swordsisters with a boy. A Human boy. This is of course nonsensical, for neither a male nor a Human could possibly ever hope to be worthy of sisterhood with an Elven warrior, but she is young and headstrong and the boy is charming and quite talented in his prowess. For what he is, that is.

I trust that you will best know how to deal with these shameful exploits and bring her back to her senses and her duty to the family name.

Your Most Obedient Cousin,




To Elliot Schafer from Swift-Arrows-in-the-Chaos-of-Battle,

I just received your charming letter from the 14 th . As is tradition, I read choice passages out to the other ladies around the campfire, so that they too might delight in the merriment your letters always bring. We have been patrolling the woods along the borders with the trolls. I personally slew three trolls in single combat during the last skirmish. I have been collecting a list of the battle cries they shouted, just as you asked me too, my funny little dove, although I don’t see what you find so interesting about the mutterings of dirty beasts. Ah well, you are so quaint and charming with your outlandish Otherland ways, and if Serene ever decides to give you the slip, please remember that not all of us are so young and ill-provided that our lovers are lacking in all the little trinkets a man’s heart most desires.

I did so enjoy the example of traditional Otherland poetry you sent me last time, have they written anything else, these Mistresses Lennon and McCartney? (What funny names you Outlanders all have! It is quite difficult to wrap my tongue around them. But there is something quite appealingly exotic about it, as well!)

Be brave, my little flame-haired minx! Know that you may rest easy with such stalwart soldiers as me and my cousin to protect you from battle’s distress. We shall be back to visit anon, and perhaps then we may trade stories of our times apart. And perhaps, if you are willing, we may even find some time alone together for stories of a different type, if you gather my meaning.

At your service (in whichever ways you allow!),




To Sure-Aim-in-the-Chaos-of-Battle from Serene-Heart-in-the-Chaos-of-Battle,

Mother, I hope this finds you well and victorious as ever. I continue to excel at Border School in both the Weapons and Diplomacy courses, as I know you expect. I hope all goes well with you and your company. There are rumors that we will be engaging in some skirmishes soon. I hope that I will finally make you proud with my exploits in battle.

Please let Father know that I have received his latest letter and will write to him soon. I pray all is well with him. I know how much he misses us when we are away.

Obediently Humbly Respectfully yours,




To Swift-Arrows-in-the-Chaos-of-Battle from Elliot Schafer,

Why do you continue to think that all of my very serious and completely not cute letters are so hilarious? I feel like you don’t take me seriously. This wounds me. Very deeply. I will tell Serene that you are a horrible unfeeling monster and then she will challenge you to a duel and how would you like that? Oh god, you probably would like that wouldn’t you?  Anyway, so theoretically if one were to want to gift a certain ravishing moonlight-tressed elven lady an anniversary gift, what would be appropriate? Flowers? Jewelry? A treatise on the mating habits of harpies? Please don’t say knives, I am Morally Opposed to gifting violent weaponry a mere fragile flower of manhood who can’t be expected to understand the intricacies of what makes one weapon superior to another.

So I really think that I am getting quite close to being able figure out at least a few words in Trollish. There are some definite repeated sound patterns in there. Unfortunately, my data is probably a compendium of troll versions of “Die you puny scum!”, so I am not sure that shouting it in battle will bring about any response other than causing them to attack me even more quickly, and I have promised my dearest Serene (and Luke) that I will at least not actively TRY to get myself killed. I am NOT suggesting that you try them either, although of course, being a strong warrior and not a frail boy such as myself, I am mostly sure that you would be able to escape unharmed. (Although, if you do decide to try this experiment, please do not ever mention this to Serene. I feel that she is not quite as enamored by my linguistics studies as I might wish.

Everything is still fine here, by which I mean, people still keep bullying me to do physical exertion, nobody else seems to appreciate my sharp wit, and the first years are attempting to build a shrine to that idiot Luke for some unfathomable reason. I have made my instructors cry six times to date, which I think says something either for my restraint or for their finally growing a thicker skin. Or maybe my insults are going over their heads now. That’s depressingly possible. The other day Captain Whiteleaf tried to tell us that humans won the fight against the harpies singlehandedly which is obviously laughably untrue and when I followed up with “Oh yes, and we also conquered all the mermaids with just our mere presence.” And he just preened and said something about how great humanity’s accomplishments were. I swear I despair of the other cadets learning anything from these morons other than which side of the sword to stick into someone, which you would think only takes a few minutes but for some reason everyone feels like they must practice for hours every day, whereas things likes learning how to make people not want to stick swords in you at all is best crammed into two lines of the closing speech at the end of the year. And whenever I try to suggest that we would perhaps be better served by diplomacy than war, everyone just laughs and pats me on the head and says not to worry that they will protect me. But who’s going to protect all of you?

Yours in friendship (only),



To Swift-Arrows-in-the-Chaos-of-Battle from Elliot Schafer,

Thank you so much for your last letters. I am afraid that I must seem a poor correspondent, but I had to go visit my father on the other side of the Wall. You know how these family obligations are.

I have some new “poems” for you that I think you will all enjoy. You must tell me what you think of Bowie in particular. I am quite interested to hear that.

I was particularly interested to hear all about your exploits in that last battle. Did you really cut the lead bandit’s head off in one single stroke? That sounds quite horrific impressive to people in a warrior-based society! Do tell me all about it, in great and excruciating detail. You know how much I love to hear about a battle. All that stabbing and shooting. Very. Heroic. And stuff.

Write back soon,


P.S. Speaking of elves who are also very good at various war-related activities, have you heard anything lately about your cousin? You know, your cousin Serene-Heart-in-the-Chaos-of-Battle? The one I went to school with? That Serene? How is she doing and do you happen to know where she is?

Just asking (because you know how us delicate gentleman-types worry so much about these things, what with us being so fragile and emotional),