Game of Tears — Part 36

 Are you grieving? I have to say, you have always seemed able to hold your liquor before. You rarely, if ever, get this drunk. Has the Green Woman’s death (by your own hand, no less!) so unmanned you that you have crawled into a brandy bottle as a result?


Of course you haven’t.

Because Kassana isn’t dead…


To read the entire letter, check it out on the HotB Design Blog.

A Game of Tears – Part 35

[editor’s note: the letter below is deeply stained with wine making some passages difficult to read. The damaged passages have been translated to the best of our abilities. We’ve taken small liberties, assuming words and phrases from context. We’ve marked these passages with parenthesis.]

My Sister,

It is done. She is dead.

Although, it would seem I am not the only one with blood on my hands. I received a letter from Shajar recently. He told me about his wife’s murder. He also told me it was performed with a sorcerous blade and an old, stained strangle cord. Ismene, you must be more careful.

I told him to burn the cord lest it prove sorcerous. In truth, I told him to burn the cord lest he allow one of Jonan Drax’s blasted “knights” to divine whose hands were on it last. Like I said, sister. Careless [sic]

Read more at the HotB Design Blog.

A Game of Tears — Part 34

 … (s)he was in her nightclothes, tangled in the bed linen. I could not begin to fathom what I saw. There was blood, so much blood! It soaked her clothes, the sheets, even the mattress. Her hair was matted with the stuff. I ran to her body. There was a dagger rising from her chest. She had been stabbed through the heart. I reached to pull it out, but gasped when I touched it.

We are getting very near the end now. You can read the latest chapter at the HotB Design Blog.

A Game of Tears — Part 33

 My dearest Kassana,

You must die.

You must trust me now more than ever before. There is a delicate reason why this must be accomplished and it is a reason I cannot tell you. However you may do it, do it quickly. I have bought you enough time to conspire with whom you must to create and maintain the illusion, but it must be quick. By the end of the Season. Sooner, if possible. 

My beloved, I would tell you the reason this must be accomplished, but I cannot. I must not. Only know that I have been commissioned for your death and find my hand incapable of doing so. Despite ourselves and who we are, I now know that I love you and I cannot bring myself to destroy the only woman I have ever loved.

I beg you, leave your husband and come to me now. I will make the arrangements myself. I realize now, even now, as I write these words, that such brutal work can only be accomplished by a villain. A villain such as I. As unworthy I am of your love, I shall prove its worth by breaking the most sacred promises I have ever made. I hope these revelations will prove my truth and devotion to you. I hope they are not wasted in vain.

The danger to your life lies in the mind of my sister, Ismene. She sees you as a threat to her own legacy. A dangerous woman driven by jealousy and hate. Jealousy for your beauty and cunning. Hate for the love that has grown between us. And all of this because of our Game. Of that, I can say no more in letter, but I shall reveal all when you arrive.

I beg you again: leave your husband and lands. Come to me now. I have already made preparations in my mind and soon I shall fulfill them with my hands. Come to me and we shall be together. There are many lands in Shanri where we will not be recognized. I will go with you wherever you desire. Together, we will build a new home and I shall serve you as you desire.

I have sent this letter with my most trusted servant, Isha. He shall bring you to where I am now. I have sealed the letter in such a way that only one of my family may open it. Such is my concern for your safety.

I hope that I shall see you soon. Already, I fear to lose your laughter forever. It has been the only light in my dark life. 


Your beloved,



A Game of Tears — Part 32

 My Dearest Brother, 

You shall have to forgive me, as I fear this note must be shorter than many of my previous letters. I am currently packing for a short trip. It has been too long since I have taken respite. I have decided to go to the seashore. I shan’t be long. I daresay not longer than a week or so. Nothing to worry you. Merely a small, niggling, annoying issue begging to be taken care of. 

You do realize, of course, that allowing you to murder Lady Kassana violates the long-established rules of our private game? If I might restate rules we have clung to as if they were holy dogma: I have a Season to murder your newest lover; you have the same amount of time to return the favor for mine. Failure requires a forfeit, one which we neither of us has ever had to surrender. And surrender, indeed, is the word of the forfeit. You know precisely what I should ask if I won; the name I crave to hear. But I must admit not knowing what you might demand of me, though you have oft teased and mocked me with insinuations of what my forfeiture might entail. If I didn’t know you better, I would believe, dear Tomas, acknowledging my supremacy as the Mistress of Poisons (as I understand certain ven now whisper of me) and understanding I might never fail, were trying to manipulate the rules. After all, if Lady Kassana dies by a hand not my own, you could conceivably claim the forfeit. 

Should you give me your word of honor, O Prince of Rakes, that you shall not make any such claim, regardless of how or when Lady Kassana expires, I shall concede to your request. I must admit a morbid curiosity to see how you shall kill her. 

And now, my darling, a carriage awaits and I must be off on my small adventure! 

Yours forever, 

Ismene Yvarai
Blooded of the Fox
Countess Sha’av
Mistress of Poisons

P.S. I except you shall hear from Shajar within a fortnight of receiving this letter. 

P.P.S. Don’t be ridiculous, Tomas. I am beyond jealousy and all such petty emotions. I am Ismene Yvarai.  

A Game of Tears — Part 31

… (a)t the same time, I must admit, your latest letter only confirmed my suspicions at the party. Never before had I seen the light that was in your eyes. The way you watched her, not like my sister, but like something else. I had seen that light in other women before, but never in you. And I must say, it was… enlightening.

The light I saw, dearest sister, was jealousy.

(Read the entire letter at the HotB Design Blog.)


A Game of Tears — Part 30

… She feels quite passionately about you, this much was easy to determine. The Rake Breaker and the Prince of Rakes, who in all the world would have thought? I can hear the Sua’ven laughing from here. This is how legends are born, my brother. And what a story it might have been! Lady Kassana surrenders her everything to a man who is the epitome of everything she once claimed to despise in your gender. And yet she manages to contain her overwhelming feelings for you with grace and dignity. I admire her, Tomas, I quite honestly am in awe.

I haven’t yet decided how I will murder her.

Read the entire letter–the beginning of the end–at the HotB Design Blog.

A Game of Tears — Part 28

Beginning Part 3, the final part of Tomas and Ismene’s bloody game.

The opening chapter of Part 3 begins with a fragment from both of the siblings’ journals. The first, from Tomas…

(from the private journal of Tomas Yvarai)

Her name is Kassana. Kassana. Kassana Valar. "Blessed by the Moon."

And after confronting my sister, she is still alive.


(read more at the Houses of the Blooded Design Blog)