A Letter to the Editor
A message from the Neopian Times editors: This letter was initially submitted to us to be published in the "Articles" section. Presumably, the author intended for us to believe the truth of the letter and publish it as such. Unfortunately, we have been unable to find a single source to verify the authenticity of the letter's surprising claims, and we have since decided that "Short Stories" is a better location for it. In the event that somebody comes forward to verify the events listed in the letter, the archived version will be moved to "Articles" should anyone wish to find it. The author, however, is real and can be written at 150 Langley Avenue, Misting Hills, Neopia Central should anyone care to contact him. We hope you enjoy, then, this nameless and, in all probability, fictional story.
To Whomever it May Concern:
My name is Aloysius Withersby. I am a Blue Tonu, standing at six feet, one inch and weighing 300 pounds. These facts may seem trivial, even banal, but before the week is out, they shall be the only remaining record of my existence.
It may seem strange that I am writing to you, the editors of the Neopian Times. I have never been vocal in the past about current events. I have never tried my hand at penmanship nor journalism. I must confess, I have never even read more than the occasional issue of the Times except when indescribably bored or when required to by my profession. Yet given my current circumstances, it seems as though I should get my message to as many people as possible, and, for that, the Times is by far the best option.
It is perhaps best to start with a confession. Or perhaps not. I have never confessed anything. I have never felt shame nor guilt for my actions, and it is difficult to know what to do now that I have these feelings. Tomorrow morning, no doubt, I shall no longer be concerned about the feelings nor even know that I had felt them in the first place. A confession, then.
I am responsible for the disappearance of Mrs. Albertha Merriweather, formerly of 1827 Bread Street. The posters proclaiming her missing status and various rewards offered for her safely returned are no doubt well-known to you, the editors, as well as the general population. If memory serves, a notice was even posted in the Times about the mysterious circumstances surrounding the disappearance of a prominent Centralite. I am responsible.
The details of Mrs. Merriweather's absence are not important. Should I divulge the information, she will be moved nigh instantaneously, and the confession will be in vain. Suffice to say that I did it. I entered her home, talked with her, drank tea, ate supper at her table, and, when she had turned to put a log in the fire, clubbed her, removed her to a safe location, and never saw her again. She had been a dear friend.
Another confession, I think. The hour grows late, my candle gutters, and with each passing minute, I grow more sentimental. This letter has not gone the way I intended. My dear editors... the next paragraph shall hold the information you truly seek, but first... another confession. To lift the burden from this old, old heart.
I am responsible for Tyrannia's win of the Altador Cup. No. That is not quite correct. I was the middleman in the rigging of the Altador Cup. I paid the slushie waitress to spill certain cups. I kept the Practice Team's goalie up until all hours of the morning before Tyrannia was set to shoot upon him. I greased the pockets of that blasted Techo who cheers for every team. And can anyone be so naïve as to believe that certain teams do not have a price? I was personally responsible for the funding of five intentional falls. For this, I am not sorry.
Now, the inevitable question. Why? Why, Mr. Withersby, would you go to all this trouble? Why, Mr. Withersby, would you cause the disappearance of at least twenty Neopians? Why, Mr. Withersby, would you commit such crimes? The answer, my editors, is answerable with a single word: The Sway. They are as real as the paper upon which I now write. They are as dangerous as a Cobrall's fangs and as influential as the highest advisor. In fact, they are the highest advisors.
When I was young, I was told stories of the Sway, as were we all. "Run along, little Aloysius, or the Sway will gobble you up." They were a monstrous blob, without shape or form, with thousands and thousands of arms. As we grew older, the tales refined themselves into little more than urban myths. "Stock's down again? The Sway. Skarl raised taxes? The Sway." The truth is not far removed. The Sway is real. Their numbers are beyond counting. They have people in every corner of every establishment on the planet. Their members rank from the highest nobility to the lowliest store clerk. There is nothing that happens that they do not know about.
I was an enforcer, for lack of a better word. I made things happen. If a troublesome busybody needed vanishing, I was the one to do it. If a business needed to be put out of business, I saw to it. And if certain events needed stirring up in a particular region, I would pack my bags. Of course, I needn't attend to it all personally... I merely talked to the right people. My black cloak was my badge. I was proud. I still am proud. But I am no longer sure.
It was the Obelisk that did it, I know that now. That forsaken piece of stone that has us battling to this day. When we were ordered to take the Obelisk, I fought with the bravest of them. But as we cut down others and were cut down in return, I saw everything as clear as day. The Obelisk was playing its own game with us just as we played a game with Neopia. We were pawns just as we made others ours. Everything I thought we had been working towards... was just a game. And I may have been a knight, but I could be taken all the same to protect the queen.
The queen... the Duchess. A name that's whispered over tables in taverns and powder rooms alike. Nobody knows what she looks like. I can tell you. A purple Lenny. I've seen her only a few times, but that's how she appeared to me. Purple in black, like an ugly bruise that won't go away. I used to idolize her, to worship the ground she walked on like a god. More the fool, I. By the time this is published, she'll have changed or gone to ground. You'll find no purple Lenny. But the mastermind will remain.
I do not know her aims. I never asked. She said once that she wished for the world to be at peace with itself, to know no war nor hunger nor suffering. This sounded music to my ears, and I fell under her spell. Every action I took was to create this better world she envisioned. But I did not know how. Mrs. Merriweather had to disappear to create this better world... so I disappeared her. Tyrannia had to win the Altador Cup... so they did. To this very minute, I do not know how my actions have helped. The knight simply moved where the queen bid.
They know by now that I'm a traitor. I failed to attend the last meeting, did not return letters, and even let a little fishy get away. The last is the final nail in the coffin. Open subordination is not tolerated by the Sway, and I am no exception. I shall be vanished myself as I have vanished so many others. I do not know exactly how or when it will happen. Perhaps tomorrow morning, I will be taken at breakfast, brainwashed, and shipped off to Terror Mountain to live as a hermit in the Ice Caves. Perhaps it will happen later this week, as I buy bread. The baker may poison a loaf and I shall pass away peacefully after my supper. Perhaps, even, my maid will build the fire too high tonight as I slumber, and my entire house will burn to nothing but cinders and ash. I know not whether I shall survive my vanishing. To be sure, if my body does, my mind will not. Of that, I am certain.
And so it is, my dear editors, that I leave you with this, the last remaining proof of Aloysius Withersby. I could have written a novel about my life. I should have written a novel about my life and had it published and autographed. There is so much more I have to say. I could talk about my mother and father, my estranged brother, my Henrietta, my time with the Brutes, or even more about the atrocities I committed while under the Sway's power. But the dawn cracks through my window, my candle is all but out, and I am tired. I am so very tired, my editors. I urge you to remember me to your readers and warn them against the Sway. I only regret that I am not able to heed my own warning. You shall never hear from me again, I daresay. But that is alright. The slumber of the guilty is as peaceful as the slumber of the innocent, I am told, and I shall soon be content.
Aloysius J. Withersby
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