I think I've written about this before, but one of my to-do items for the story was to go back and develop the character of Balfrith's father, Osric. The idea was to show how he went from a hot anger at Balfrith's flight and theft of the sword, to cooling off, and perhaps to some degree of forgiveness over time. But how to do so?
The plan I came up with was to have Balfrith write a few letters home, expressing his own regrets, in order to show Balfrith's growth and maturity, but also to show Osric's reaction to those letters, and thus his own changing attitude toward his son.
So, with all of that said, here is the first of Balfrith's letters home. It is written from the University of the Arts in Nûmidëa, just before his departure with Eldamir across the Sea to the mainland and the kingdom of Sildara.
* * *
Balfrith spent most of his morning writing a brief letter to his father. Since his return home had failed miserably, he’d had the thought rolling around in the back of his mind that he should write something, but simply hadn’t the words - or the courage - to do so. But now, facing the fact that he was about to cross the Sea, and the inherent dangers of such travel (or so he’d heard), Balfrith decided that he needed to write this letter now, before their departure, lest he be lost at sea and never speak to his father again.
And so, he wrote:
Balfrith, son of Osric,
To Duke Osric, of House Aethelred,
It is with a heavy heart that I write this letter, for I wished to say these words to you in person, face to face. But as may have already been told to you by my brothers, I visited the house of my childhood some weeks ago, hoping to see you, but finding only Aldfrid sitting in your seat. As he explained to me, you were away on business and would not return for some time. And as I left our manor-home, I chanced to meet with Wilfrid, who explained some additional matters to me, which grieved me much.
I had hoped that we would be able to speak, if not as father and son, at least as a younger man to an older and wiser one. And if we had met, this is what I would have said:
Father, I am sorry for what I have done. I stole your property, telling myself that you neither wanted nor deserved it, having called it accursed, yet knowing in my heart that what I did was out of my own selfishness, in order to hurt you. I was wrong to do so, and if you want the Sword back, you may have it. But before you claim it, please know that Lord Felaranthir has placed a geas upon me, to remove the curse from the Sword. And I believe that I will be unable to fulfill this quest without having it upon my person, wheresoever my travels and search might take me. So I beg your mercy and forbearance, that you might allow me to keep the Sword with me until such time as I discover a way to remove the curse from it, and thence I shall return home, and return your property back to you, where it belongs.
Those are the words which I would have spoken, had circumstances allowed. And now, I can only ask your forgiveness, for I will now continue on this quest with or without your forbearance. I shall depart across the Sea, one or two days hence, and I know not where my travels will take me. But know that I shall keep the thought of home close to my heart, and should I succeed in this quest, I will return, as I have promised, in writing if not in word. But this letter shall be as a bond to me, and I will hold myself true to it, and the promise herein, as if I had spoken the words to your face.
I have been false in the past, but in this I shall be true.