the old letter appears to have been water damaged somewhere along the way
I write you now, not knowing if you will receive this missive, not knowing if you will care. We exchanged such harsh words, the last we spoke, that it brings tears to my eyes to remember what should have been a sweet meeting. I know that you were bitterly angered at my decision to leave, but, my love, my sweet, my dearest, you also know that I had an obligation to find my sister.
I know that you asked me to wait until you were finished at the University before going off, but it had already been three months since anyone had had news of her, and that part of the world is simply unsafe. There was no one in the village who was willing to help find her, and I was her only family. You know all of this, but I remind you now of it, so that, hopefully, some understanding and pity might once again enter into your heart. I do so need you to understand this, before I tell the rest.
After our last meeting, I went straight home. Perhaps you received the letter I sent then? I have not heard back from you, and I can all too easily see you casting such a missive into the fire. Perhaps your anger has settled enough now that you will read on. In any event, I came home, and, finding the village much the same, and the house as empty as rumor had it, I went in search of other rumor.
Oh, beloved, if you had only been there to hear – but no, I am thankful you did not hear what they were saying about my family. I could withstand any insult alone, but had you been there…
They said that a traveling merchant – a snake-oil salesman of sorts – had come this way, and, Aleena, being the beautiful, charming, and naive girl that she was, fell for his diabolical ways. They said that she bartered her innocence for empty promises and a simple necklace, and when he disappeared the following day, she simply went mad and rushed into the nearby forest.
I decided to go after those rather dubious rumors, my sweet, and I, without so much as a plan, went after her. Oh, the foolishness of it all – to think that I could have found the girl, when others of the village could not. I thought, hoped, prayed, that my blood would call out to hers.
My blood might have called out to something, for, in the middle of the night, I, weary and lost, tumbled over a log and landed with my face in a very still lake. By then, I barely had the strength to pick myself up, and I started crying on the edge of that silent shore.
Perhaps my tears are what summoned it, but the next I knew, a Woman of the Lake rose. She was a frightening creature, with reeds in her hair, and claws and talons! She smiled at me, and I could see that she had bones caught in her fangs, where last she had supped on the denizens of the deep!
She continued to rise, until her feet were all that was left in the water, and I could see that for all her smile and hands were terrifying, her body was near to perfect and would seduce even you, my truest love. She was swathed in a white dress, but it left nothing to the imagination, as the icy waters dripped from her. Her perfection was such that only angels should have, and as I continued to stare, it seemed a change came over her.
She smiled again at me, and the sweetness of it made me mistrust what I had seen earlier. Then, she spoke to me, and her voice matched the perfection of her body. “Sweet sister, why do you cry?” She asked me.
I told her of my sister, who I feared was dead, and I told her… oh, Casimir, I told her of you, and how we had parted with words spoken in anger. I told her how I feared I’d never see either of my loves again, and how it tore at my heart. And, for every word that I spoke, she seemed to hear, and hearing, pulled more words out of me.
I told her then how I carried your child within me, and of the fear that I would not have the ability to correct the mistake to our reputations. As soon as those words spilled out, she transformed into the hideous beast I had seen before.
“You carry dishonor and heartbreak here into my world, and for this, you are my slave!” She roared into the night, as waves crashed upon the shore and soaked me. And then… then, my dearest, my beloved, she did grab me by my hair, and pulled me into the waters with her.
I fought. I fought for us, and for our child. I fought for our love, and my sister. But no fighting could ever win against her unholy strength. I lost this fight… and now, now my dearest love, I write to you from the bottom of her lake, in hopes that you will come and rescue me, as I could not rescue my sister.
I pray that the water demon keeps her word and allows this letter to call you to me. Save me, save the woman you love, I beg of you. Do not make me live out eternity in these sunless waters, crying for you every night. Save me from the nightmare of having to do to others what has been done to me.
I summon you, my heart’s champion, and know that I wait forever for you,
The book has another page attached to this entry, and, in another hand is written the words
Casimir never did read the letter that Chesna wrote him, for I, Boris, great-grandson of Casimir, found this letter on the Fifth day of May in the year of our Lord Eight-Teen Hundred and Fifty, unopened and hidden behind a brick inside the fireplace. I go now, carrying the blood of Casimir, and hoping that it is enough to rescue this lady from being a rusalka.