A Letter by Candlelight

Lady Isabelle has been murdered. In the darkest of the night, one of her humble servants writes a letter to her lord, revealing a heartbreaking truth.

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1. A Letter by Candlelight

She looked at the empty parchment in front of her. Her hand was trembling, and so was the pencil she held with it. A tear dropped down from her cheek onto the paper. She took a deep breath, and started writing.

Dear Valrick,

You don't know it yet, but I murdered your wife. You found her yesterday in her bedroom, her skin a creepy greenish colour, spit on her lips, her eyes blood red, staring towards the ceiling in shock and fear. She must have felt a lot of pain right before she died. Don't feel sorry for her, don't be sad. She deserved it, and you deserve better than her.

You never saw me, you never noticed me. But my eyes have followed you everywhere, watched your every move and saw every single smile on your face. I noticed it a long time ago, you know, that you never smiled when you were around her. She was your wife and it was your duty to treat her well, but you never loved her. You never even felt any infatuation towards her. She was just some lady your father had assigned to marry you. A business arrangement. Her only purpose was to produce you with a heir that could inherit your estate when you grew old and unable to manage it. Maybe she would be still alive right now if that was all she bothered with. But your wife, Lady Isabelle, she was a hateful woman. She had no eyes for the farmers, blacksmiths, carpenters and weavers in town. Not even for the merchants, not even the rich ones. I can still remember how you would allow them to come over to the estate and drink a cup of tea with you. They would talk to you about their work, and share the town's gossip with you. You loved them, you loved being part of the town instead of just ruling over it. Candlelight was your home, your heart and soul. And the people of Candlelight loved you dearly. But she didn't love us. She didn't even see us. Soon, having tea at the estate wasn't an option anymore for the peasants in town. The bond you had with these people slowly faded away and this was all because of her.

You might not know, since you don't talk to us anymore, but Candlelight isn't what it used to be. Bandits have infested the woods surrounding Candlelight, and suddenly it has become a dangerous place to travel to. When you don't take care of your people, they will wander down dark and lonely paths. They feel abandoned by their lord. They feel betrayed.  Was your kindness towards them always fake? Dark thoughts like these have infested their minds.

I couldn't stand by and watch anymore, Valrick. Something needed to be done. Who else could do it but me? I was the only one who had access to lady Isabelle's bedroom, her food, her clothes and mostly her trust. As her lady's maid, it was my duty to put an end to all this misery. There was not time to be lost, I knew she was pregnant. If I didn't hurry, her genes would be a part of your bloodline forever and always. I'm sorry Valrick, I know the child was innocent, but I couldn't take the risk of it being similar to her.

And so I sneaked out of the servant's hall in the middle of the night, into the dark and dangerous woods where I knew bandits would be roaming. It was a dangerous task, I took a great risk going there. But there was one bandit within these woods that I knew would protect me from the harm others might want to inflict on me. He was my brother you see. Once as a farmer, he had come over for tea at the estate plenty of times. But then her ladyship decided that my brother's farmland would make a nice spot for a rose garden, and he was driven off his land. He was only one of the many who suffered due to your wife's needs, my lord. Most bandits in the woods were once good people, respected by you and their fellow citizens. Now they had no choice but to live off the wealth they stole from people who were careless enough to wander around their woods.

I was lucky. I found my brother before someone else found me. He was surprised to see me, he even asked if lady Isabelle had fired me. It wouldn't have been a surprise, since her ladyship had a very bad temper. But I knew how to keep her calm, and she trusted me. She had no idea how much I hated her. I asked my brother for the poison. I knew they used poisonous arrows to take down their prey. He didn't even ask why I needed it. Maybe he already knew, or maybe he didn't want to know in case he would be questioned about it. He gave me a tiny bottle, one drop in her ladyship's drink would be enough. All I had to do was make sure she drank it.

Did I hesitate? No I didn't. It's a strange feeling, when you don't have to hesitate about committing a murder. But I never once felt evil, or dark. I felt justified, I felt like a saviour. I saved Candlelight, but most of all, I saved you. I couldn't watch you be unhappy anymore, dear Valrick. I missed your smile, I missed your laughter echoing through the mansion. You were like a radiating sun before you got forced into your horrible marriage. I couldn't bare to see you hurt like this any longer.

I committed this murder for you, my Valrick. I would do anything for you. You could tell me to set fire to the Grand Palace and I'd do it, because I love you. I love you so much, and you don't even know me. I'm just one of those many servant faces you see pass by every day. I'm not even pretty enough to stand out in the crowd.

I've had so many dreams, Valrick, both during the day and in the night. I dreamt about your love for me, I dreamt about you marrying me, no matter what it would cost your reputation. Though, even you, even your wonderful character who would drink tea with the peasants of Candlelight and treat them as a respectable human being, even you wouldn't imagine marrying someone as simple and low as a servant. I know this, I have always known this. But still, my wonderful Valrick, I couldn't stand by and watch you being tied to someone who made you so unhappy.

I love you Valrick, I wish you all the happiness in the world. This will never be with me by your side, as the cruel world of aristocracy doesn't allow it. But you deserve a woman who will treat you with kindness, a woman who will love you and the people of Candlelight. She has to be beautiful, more beautiful than anyone else. Only then I shall be able to let my feelings rest and be consent with your happiness, my lord.

I will always protect you from darkness, from evil. I will do what it takes, for you and for our town. I do not regret murdering your wife, or the unborn child she was carrying. I did this for you, because you are my life, my heart and soul, my everything.

Love, your humble servant Alicia.

More tears were flowing onto the paper now, blurring out words here and there. She sobbed in silence, as she dropped the pen and crumpled the letter between her fingers. She crumpled it until her hands hurt , and held it above the candlelight until it started burning. She watched how her written words slowly burned away, and let out a defeated sigh. She could never tell him. He could never know. What she did, and how she felt. It had to remain a secret forever.

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