To Me, Whom It May Concern.
To Attention To Detail, Eidolon of the Weaver, with any luck.
To The Future.
I am Speaker James ‘Detail’ Marshall, Blessed of the Weaver, Priest of the Pathfinder, the Lover and the Fool, Least economically useful member of Marshall Enterprises, Builder, Talismancer, Pistolier, Whitesmith & Carpenter.
I’m a living mortal human.
I was born in Shepsbourne, West Malathia in the highest hills of the Lowlands, where the shipping meets the sheep, first son to Jim Marshall, the finest blacksmith the land had ever known. From my first days I grew up on the sheep farm with my extended family until I could start my apprenticeship in the forge, as was my destiny as eldest son. My father’s family had always been Weaver, her love spreads over the family tree like a leafy vine, But my mother’s background was Smith from her native Fidellia, so I grew up between the two houses. The small but dedicated Smith community, and the sparse but loving web of the family’s Weaver faith.
It soon became obvious that I was an awful blacksmith. My inability to stay at one task for long enough, my tendency to focus on the smallest aspects over the broader picture – the tendency that gave me the name from the family to distinguish me from my father, Attention to Detail – failed to help me at all as a blacksmith. But destiny’s die was cast, and for all that the Weaver told them about tradition, stubbornness is as much a family trait. If I could just learn, I could be a smith like my father.
I had more siblings as time went on. Erik and Elan, identical twins, were born only a few years after me, and my little sister Johin some years later. The twins proved able smiths, and I dearly wished I could pass my legacy onto them instead.
And I was engaged. Eliza, who I had known since we were both knee-high, was my co conspirator in all things and my dearest friend, until we accidentally fell in love one cold winter.
It wasn’t winter when she died. She was up on the top of a hill, the very vision of a beautiful shepherdess tending her flock, when five sailors up from the docks a few miles away, drunk on rum and their own stupidity, decided to sample a slice of the country life for themselves, find out how true the stories of what the shepherdesses would do for a lonely sailor up on the moors were. She clocked two of them with her staff before they got her, but there were five of them. I was heading up to the hill with my wedding present to us, a set of two engraved shortswords, the best metalwork I have ever done and will ever do, but I arrived too late. My fiancee was on the floor, bloody and bruised and her head against the rock she had obviously landed on. Dead, and worse.
I do not quite know how the next few minutes happened. I was… gone somewhere, I think. My next memory is surrounded by their bodies with the swords in my hands, bleeding heavily, and aware that I’d just killed five men. I staggered backwards, which proved to be a mistake, as I tumbled down the hill towards the road. I lay there on the side of the road, unable to move my broken legs, slowly bleeding out, and decided this was probably justice for killing people. I passed out.
I was, obviously, rescued. I was taken in by Speaker McLintock of the church of the woven braid in Nordon, who was making his monthly trip around the high parts of the lowlands to take care of our spiritual well being and now, in my case, physical. As I recovered in the quarters of the church house, I got him to promise not to tell my parents or family where I was, that they would all be better without me. As I recovered in the sound of the bells I found my own faith. Not the faith of my family, but my own path though the Weaver. I was taught of the aspects, of the nature of being a priest. The braid – the Nordon version – has always been a church of all the aspects, and whatever aspect is appropriate at the time, and they taught me when the time was. When I suggested that I should go to the new world, join my fabled cousin Stuart and escape this land, McLintock said I could be their representative They gave me the title of Speaker, and I rejected it. I didn’t want to be a priest, in the new world I could make pistols, and find out more of this new magic. They gave me the title anyway, and bought me passage on a ship. When I got aboard the boat, my cabin had an envelope in it with an arrangement with the Rimici Capell to build a new Blacksmith’s workshop in the new world if I could find land. It was signed by my father, who added “Good Luck”. Turns out McLintock told him anyway. Thinking later, I would have done the same thing.
I came to the new world on a ship, and found my cousin and what appeared to be his new girlfriend Fiona, another cousin – Anna – from a far branch of the family as well as Fergal. I met my new family as they trudged off to the quarterly religious festival, Shenanigans, hosted by the Malathian colony, where I got sunstroke and barely left the tent the entire weekend.
After that time speeds up, a bit.
When I met Gin Tang, on the verge of killing my cousin Kyle for wearing black while nobody knew who he was, and ended up discussing the importance of Heresy in the church.
When Speaker Kyle left the New World, declaring the Weaver church in it to be beyond saving, I decided he was wrong.
When I watched the Church of the Loom attempt to mass up against one of the greatest forces in the world at the time, and fail and run into hiding.
When I decided the church was worth saving.
The next few years are a blur, where I got to know people, where I tried to make people talk to each other. A blur of initiations and reputations, of failures (many, many failures) and successes.
You helped unite the Weaver church in the new world. Eventually.
I fell in love again, eventually, with Amelia. I helped eidolons come to terms with eternity to such an extent that I longed for it myself.
I lived. My friends died all around me. I was loved, I was betrayed, I forgave and I hated in good measure.
I am human.
In front of me as I write this letter is a bottle. Two bottles, actually. When I set so many people sourcing the potion for me, I should have been slightly less surprised when two of them succeeded so very shortly after I had given up.
The potion, I know, will kill me. So the letter exists so that you can read it, so that you should keep it, so that you should know who I was. With any luck, who you were. Unless you are not the one who I was.
Because there are two choices. Either this kills me and I fall into the waiting arms of my lady, or I fall and I keep falling,
and my friends will not be able to save me if the Weaver doesn’t catch me.
For the great secret is this: I don’t have faith in the Weaver. I believe that her path is the best, and I believe that her embrace is the closest and finest, but I’ve never been able to have faith. I have faith in her believers, and in my friends. So now I take a leap of faith, my first, where I do something in the hope that my goddess will catch me.
And the letter is so that I remember who I was.
And the letter is so that if I fall, someone understands why.
To understand why I have faith in people, you need to know who I had faith in.