Dear Astrid,

I hope this message finds you in good health and strong spirits. I owe you an apology for my lack of correspondence of late. I have run low on positive news and I chose not to burden you with every trouble we were forced to endure here, thinking that if I had, you would have soon grown to dread hearing from me as much as dreaded having to write those dark words. Sadly, I fear my reluctance has resulted in a rift between us which I hope to begin to rectify with this message.

I owe you another apology and most likely many more besides. When you were named Alpha I should have come to you. I have watched my brother carry the burden of leadership for many years, helping where I can and worrying over where I could not. My place is with him in the home of our father but I should have taken leave to visit with you, to hear your fears and hopes, to assure you that being Alpha is no more than you can handle, to tell you that you will succeed unlike any other before you enough times that you would actually believe me.

I had hoped to spare you of bad news and now find I must lay every terrible word out here in one message. I do not know if that is better or worse for either of us.

You may have heard that my father no longer hunts among us. It has been nearly a year and yet I still find myself waking in the morning having forgotten he is gone only to find the hurt set back in anew once the knowledge returns to me. I know that we are all born to die. I know that father now hunts with Rænör and sails with Naé. I know that I am expected to celebrate and honor his life, not weep for his death. It has been hard.

The Fayth encroach further and further into my brother's lands every passing year. The monsters poisoned a tributary around last harvest. An entire county was lost. Crop, fresh water, grown wolves and pups all black and rotten. The Cailleadh may be vicious backwards beasts but when they come slinking from the Blackwood to assault us, they at least do so with some honor, they leave the land so it may grow harvest new again the next year, a couple farms raided or a few girls taken, horrible crimes yes but nothing so ungodly as what the humans have done.

That is only the beginning of the transgressions the humans have committed. Half a year gone and they have claimed my brother Durin, Alpha of our clan, as a prisoner and hold him I do not know where. His wife and our current leader have forbade me from gathering swords and bring Aeros wrath down upon our enemy. I have this far held to her wishes and stemmed what growing tide I could of those that support retaliation. She is right. Our numbers even here in The North could not hope to match the Fayth and an open attack would likely see a noose around my brother's neck or an ax through it. To be so useless is painful.

There has been some good news however. Declan has come home! Seeing my brother's face after twenty years was a joy I cannot put to words. It was like waking from a nightmare that had gripped your heart and dried your throat only to find yourself safe in your own bed. He did not stay for near as long as I would hope(though that would be forever if I were honest) Yasmine did not welcome him kindly. She blames Declan in some part for the Fayth taking her husband, my brother and she fears for her son everyday, all the more with Declan showing up I suppose. I should not say this but she fears he means to challenge her for the right to be Alpha, a challenge she would surely lose. She fears if he did depose her, he would harm her son in some way to prevent him from challenging one day. It has happened before in our people's history of course and she never did get to know Declan. He would never harm the boy or her. I know this.

Declan travels south with my brothers, the twins; Dashing & Daring. They mean to return Durin back to us and my heart hurts to know I could not go with them but the harvests are quickly upon us and as sure as the seasons that means the Cailleadh will be as well and my people will have need of me. I am happy Dorin and Darin get to go on this quest. They were talking of running off to find Stig and join one of his raiding parties. How is Stig by the way? Give him my love will you?

Declan has sworn to return Durin to us but after that I am uncertain if he will stay. He comes back to us through the work of agents of clan Drage. A woman from the clan had visited Hardhaven not so long ago seeking our aid and was turned away. Did she visit you as well? Have you sent warriors south to Hljóðleva?

I hope to hear you are well. Honestly I hope just to hear from you at all even if it is to rage at me and call me a fool. I have taken too long, I know it.

Forgive me.