My Dearest Merina,
Arriving in Bel'zhun at last! Though it pains me to leave our beloved country, I am certain Shurima will make my fortune. Uncle Velius left word that, in addition to cartography, I'm to draw "anything and everything of value or interest, especially wildlife." For this meager service, I'm to be paid an additional three gold securi a day! You need only avoid your mother's matchmaking for a little while longer. I will soon be able to return to you as a worthy suitor. There are no obstacles that could divert or slow me from that pursuit.
Below is a picture of the view from my window. I couldn't help but laugh when our innkeeper called his home "a luxurious city!" Ignorance is bliss, I suppose.
Though his payments arrive regularly, I still have yet to catch up with Uncle. It is disconcerting that all I remember of him was his unrelenting mantra that "the lifeblood of the empire is our bureaucracy."
I find myself employed as part of our nation's endless clerical staff; ironically, not within its borders, but operating in these uncivilized lands.
My cartographic mission received an unexpected boon after I purchased an ancient stone map. The unsavory dealer was obviously a tomb raider or thief (like most Shurimans), but the item was too precious to pass by.
Today, the caravan hired teams of elujrav'i', or "bell riders."
These old men and boys will scout ahead to warn us of any approaching threats. The caravan master also purchased a few dozen saih'kharash'i, or "sand walkers." These peasants - poor, even by this country's miserable standards - will trot beside the caravan for their meals. If we find ourselves pursued, we will quickly outpace these unfortunates, leaving them behind as fodder.
In the southern desert, a great deal of suffering is endured to avoid the xer'sai and the other outerbeasts. That my unseen benefactor continues to lead me deeper into this strange and primitive land is unsettling.
A dead xer'sai.
The average-sized specimen was killed a few days ago after annihilating a herd of Eka'Sul goats. Its repulsive flesh oozes and bubbles, while decomposing at an abnormally rapid rate. Not surprisingly, the creatures are inedible. Xer'sai apparently burst from their small burrows and savage anything nearby. That this unimpressive beast should inspire such terror in the caravan's guards speaks to their ignorance and weakness.
With fifty securi, we purchased a ralsiji. The belligerent giant will make for an impressive display in the arena, but it lacks the ferocity of the xer'sai. Uncle Velius sent word the team is to concentrate on searching for live xer'sai. He has promised me three hundred securi for each good-sized specimen we procure! At that price, I could return home in a month with all of the fortune needed to proceed with our nuptials! I pray your cousin has stopped pestering you to meet that idiot, Genden Belgaunt.
We have entered the "sai," the rolling plains of sand and sharp stones that define the harsh, southern desert. This is where I will finally be able to catch these mysterious creatures Uncle has fixated on. Within a fortnight, I hope to escape this hateful country's grinding poverty and the unending silence that defines this land. There is no unnecessary noise permitted in the southland. No laughter. No idle conversation. Natives wait silently by their caravans, listening for the bells that warn of raiders or beasts. How I long to talk openly and to hear your sweet voice again.
A xer'sai the size of your pet hound attacked us yesterday.
Thankfully, our spotters saw it, and our spearmen were able to deploy in time. After it took down one of our guards, his fellows were rightfully enraged, and killed it. Though I could have sold the beast for two hundred securi, I cannot, and will not, blame my guards for taking their vengeance. The deceased wasn't a man in our noble arenas, chasing fortune and fame; he was butchered by a vile thing without any hope for glory or wealth.
So much of Shurima seems a hateful place, determined to punish any who visit it and grind its inhabitants into submission. I am ashamed to think I once derided the people who live here.
For weeks, I've been hearing stories about Rek'Sai - an infamous xer'sai of unmatched size, ferocity, and speed.
"Perfect for the arena!" I laughed, grimly mocking Uncle's repeated missives. Ridiculing my benefactor to our Shuriman trackers and guards must seem like madness to you, but I find myself feeling more connected to them than to our Noxian traditions. The desert has changed me. It is the absence of everything, and as such, it brings that which is important into sharp relief. Why should a man care for the amusements of the arena? What cherished memory is made there? It is the subtle curve of your cheek and the hint of a smile at your mouth's edge that keeps the dread of this place at bay. I loathe the thought of Genden Belgaunt courting you and that your family considers him a worthy suitor.
Despite its bleakness, this empty outpost still possessed the only drinking water for leagues, and even spending a few hours in the shade of its ruins was a sweet relief from the unrelenting sun. Supposedly, Rek'Sai annihilated it decades ago. A few weeks past, I would have shrugged this off as yet another ignorant superstition of the desert folk. But I've seen too much death. I have walked past the bones of thousands. What sort of monster is capable of inflicting such horror?
Even with the supposed expertise of our Noxian trappers, I find myself doubting we have the means to capture this beast.
A burrow of Rek'Sai.
What possessed me to follow Uncle's Noxian trappers there? And on the threshold of this beast's realm, with the evidence right before us, why didn't we turn back? It was as if we were standing on the edge of a great cliff and were seized by some primal instinct to lean against that emptiness until we plummeted to our deaths.
Thankfully, my Shuriman friends convinced me to turn back before it was too late. I wish I had heeded their advice to look away from the events that followed.
Truly, I cannot even explain what I saw. No violence in the arena could begin to describe this creature's unspeakable horror. What I witnessed, within the blink of an eye, returns to me endlessly. I do not sleep for fear of seeing it again, and its memory seems always on the edge of my vision. The outerbeasts are a plague, which destroyed these lands, but Rek'Sai is death incarnate.
I hope I never see this unforgiving desert again, and yet, I know now I could never return to Noxus. I do not see our nation as strong. We are as arrogant and foolish as children.
I am seeking a position near the Demacian border or in the southern jungles â€?anywhere that takes me far from the devastation this creature has wrought. Would it be possible for you to live outside of our capital? Sadly, I know your answer. I must accept that long ago you moved on from my failed courtship, while I was trapped in a limbo of my own design.
I have enclosed the stone artifact I acquired and based my maps on. It is a wedding gift. I truly hope you will find happiness with Genden Belgaunt, but I pray you will not end our correspondence.
And in hope and love, I will always wait for your letters at the edge of our empire's domain.