My dearest Plaudus,

I hope this letter finds you well. I debated long before sending any reply at all to your recent letter. You would be shocked, I think, at how it made me laugh. But I did not want our story to end the way we left it, and I think this letter will accomplish that, when it finds you at your family home, after you complete the journey home from the Carvas trade fair.

I was not unaware, of course, that you had a rather naïve impression of our relationship. Perhaps I was naïve too: I thought I could gently bring you to a sense of reality after the occupation was over, but it’s clear now that that can never be.

I admit that I was thrown at first. I’ve never received a Dear Joan letter before. To be rejected is one thing; to be rejected for perfectly ridiculous reasons is another, but to rejected with a lie is intolerable.

I’ve got some time, here, so I think I’ll cover a few of the points from your letter in detail:

“You are too cold and intellectual for me to think of marrying you.” This gave me my first chuckle. First, why would you think that I would want to marry you? And second, what did you think I would be like? I am after all from the Amanitas mushroom tribe. You sad Boletes should know what that means. Should I change my essential nature because of an encounter with the likes of you?

“There are too many obstacles in the way of our union.” Ah, this is the crux of the matter, isn’t it? You couldn’t trust me that things would work out, and I couldn’t tell you how I knew that they would.

I don’t think these are your opinions in any case. I’m sure I can hear your parents voices come through your words. I had hoped that you would have the loyalty to listen to me rather than them, but I suppose that was foolish. I certainly never intended to turn away from my family.

I am not a merchant’s daughter, as you supposed, for my father is not a merchant. He is an advance agent of the Amanitas Empire, who has been working on the details of the Amanitas invasion of Carvas-town. Within days, an army of Amanitas will descend from the hills above Carvas, and the takeover should not require more than a few hours.

I would not have bothered to send this, save that you had already left the trade fair, and thus would not be able to take part in the invasion.

I would have kept you well. You would have been the most favored of my slaves. Still, I would have been content to let you run off with your family, and stood the slight that your letter represented, knowing that the inevitable tide of Amanitas power would eventually overtake you, had I not chanced to be in town last week.

I saw you walking arm in arm with the Bolete girl your parents chose for you. To be rejected by you, I could have stood, but it burned me to learn that you had lied.

So I write, today, to extend my congratulations on your catch. She’d make a fine wife and bring you many plump Bolete children, I am sure. But I must also extend my condolences, for if you have read this far, then your hands must have started to burn with the poison you have absorbed through your skin.

You’ll have time to put this letter down, of course. Time to shout for help, though you’d better do it quickly; your throat will be constricting soon. There’s even a little time to consider what you did when you turned away from me and all the fine words you’d fed me, to walk the streets with another.

I’ll have more time, of course. I’ll have time to get over you and to meet another, though I think I’ll never forget you, Plaudus. I’ll try to remember you as you were the last night we danced together, and not as you must be now, choking and gasping for breath. You’ll not find it. You’ll breathe your lies in no other maiden’s ears.

With love,

Margarita Amanita


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