Augusta Fiennes Tabitha Fiennes
1539 April Street Namirus
My daughter was born dead. I wanted to let you know this before you met her.
You know as well as I do the kinds of things that can happen to a person if they die in this world. I was still so little when you grabbed me by the shoulders and told me to never die. You looked so afraid after I scraped my head on the table. You swear I can't remember that, but I promise that I can.
Cathy is alive, and she remembers everything. She has dark skin like her father, but grey eyes like me, only brighter and deeper, as if I could fall into them. Her hair gets so curly that we often lose things in it! She's five now.
I'm sorry! I know I should have written you sooner. I was so preoccupied being worried about her, watching for any possible changes.
So far, so strange. My little girl is not obsessed with death the way her father was just before he disappeared, but she certainly is not like other children her age. She speaks and learns like someone much older. She cautiously asks questions to confirm her own ideas of the world. She asked me, very calmly the other day, where her father went. I don't know, I said, without thinking twice. She understood, I think. I believe that she is already smarter than me, but I worry that it is because of her birth.
Do you remember when the king was poisoned? I know, I was just a child then, but I still remember the poisoner in his cage hung over the center of Coburntown. He was saying all kinds of things about the king, crazy lies. He had pale skin and livid eyes. I had nightmares about him for a week. Do you remember that he had died before? Cathy is nothing like him, but I sometimes wonder, looking at her gray eyes, what she knows.
Cathy knows if someone has died. She knows how many times someone has died, possibly better than that person knows. It's as if she's seeing a number over their heads when she looks at them. It's a very disturbing habit, but she will walk down the street and shout numbers at people.
Cathy is my entire world, mother, but I truly feel like I am no longer suited to protect her. My beautiful, smart girl needs to get out of this jungle.
The time has come for the two of you to meet. I need you to meet her. I need you to save us. Namirus is such a dangerous place now without Thomsen. Our neighbors do not like us very much because Cathy screamed the number five at the old woman in the hut next to us. The woman went wild, spitting curses from her window even though she hadn't spoken a word in half a month.
And the pests are getting worse. Roaches and rats are often in our bed sheets with us at night. They are becoming larger, over time, and we've heard that they carry diseases. They eat our food as well. On top of that, we've started to hear something clicking along the perimeter of our village. Something large and hidden is stalking our entire town.
Mother, I have no way to leave Namirus. The jungle is too dangerous and my daughter is too young. I know I left on bad terms. My intention was never to elope, for what it's worth. I loved Thomsen, and I wanted you to love him too. It's too late now. It might be too late for me, as well.
After I had gone to bed, Cathy came to my side last night and said "one," and she started to cry. Did I die at some point? Was I sick? I don't know, but I am horrified that I might leave my beautiful daughter alone here soon. I need help! Help me, please.
Forever your daughter,