Previously: The Legend of Leonard Letterman, Pt 12
“Please try to understand how difficult this is,” Wilhelmina began as Leonard grabbed a chair and relocated it next to her, beside the desk. He clasped his hands in his lap after taking a seat, letting his tilted head and cocked eyebrow ask his question for him, waiting patiently for Wilhelmina to find her words.
Wilhelmina’s eyes flicked towards Masha and back to the maps in her hands before she spoke again. It wasn’t until then that Leonard realized she wasn’t still clutching the amulet in her hand. He wondered what she’d done with it when her voice broke into his thoughts and he shifted his gaze from her neck, searching for signs of the amulet’s chain, to her face.
“Imagine trying to succinctly impart lifetimes of history, including parts of your own life, some parts you are unclear on yourself, all while you are currently living the story. I’ve said it before, but it’s no less true. It’s difficult knowing where to start, where to end, what’s too much information, or not enough…” Wilhelmina’s voice trailed off and grew tired.
“If you’re holding back because you’re afraid of overwhelming me or scaring me off from helping, I think it’s safe enough to say I’m pretty invested in this by now,” Leonard said with grin and a nod down at his clothes and the quiver resting near his foot. “Just tell me all you can think of, and I’ll try to keep my questions relevant to the task at hand, deal?”
Leonard studied Wilhelmina’s face, watching the trepidation as it flickered in her eyes. She swallowed and licked her lips as she nodded at Leonard in reply. Her eyes roved over the desk, strewn with items, to the sniffling Masha, and back to Leonard. She took a deep breath before plunging onward.
“From the start, there were those that were against an occupation of the Krosis side of the portal. There weren’t many Pallorians keen on the idea of being one of those to go over. Dysseus leading did much to change minds, or at least garner assistance and less of an outright resistance.
“This became a point of contention over the years, even between the Ponds. Often siblings seemed to find themselves at odds with their views concerning Krosis, which planted the seeds for where we currently find ourselves, but I’ll explain more in a moment.
“A few decades ago, before Etta became Keeper Pond, there was a group of soldiers and other Krosis based Pallorians that crossed back over to this side and called for the withdrawal from Krosis and a plea to seal the portal.
“They were ultimately ignored and told to return to their posts. There is great controversy to this day as to what exactly transpired, rumors have of course surfaced and circulated over the years, but it’s difficult to know the truth.
“They returned as ordered, and within a week’s time there was a coordinated attempt to sabotage the portal, from the Krosis side. Since then, strange news has come through from the Lettermans, on occasion, regarding the reason for the attempt to destroy and the desire to close the portal, and of course what’s happened since then.
“The Letterman that brought the group also met with some angry Ponds about his decision to allow them to cross. After that, future Lettermans seemed more invested in taking sides: those that agreed with sealing or destroying the portal, and those that desired it to stay open.
“Which is essentially where we are now, in the middle of controversy with half of our information from Krosis being possible rumor or propaganda.” Wilhelmina closed her eyes and rubbed her temples as she groaned.
“And worse, we haven’t a clue who may be on Palloria’s side and thus our allies.” Leonard could see where the strain was causing cracks in Wilhelmina’s composure. He understood how such a worry could consume you.
“So you don’t know what side my father may have been on?” he knew the question was a stupid one, but he wanted Wilhelmina’s confirmation, her thoughts. Leonard didn’t much like the possibility of his father being some kind of traitor, but he resolved to learn all he could before making any determinations.
Wilhelmina shook her head, putting no voice to her answer, but none the less affirming what he’d already assumed.
“And what about you? What side are you on?” Leonard wasn’t sure what he hoped she would answer, he certainly had no idea what his own thoughts were on the subject of the portals, apart from the glee of fulfilling one of every sci-fi geeks’ fantasies. There was too much he didn’t know, but according to Wilhelmina, she was in a similar boat.
“I am on Palloria’s side,” Wilhelmina stated vehemently, her nostrils flaring and eyes flashing for a moment, as if defending an often repeated point.
“To be more precise, if some of the rumors hold true, I would absolutely be on the side of closing the portal. If not, if there is no harm in its remaining open, provided it will be in use again, then I would side with keeping it operational. But it also requires verification from the Krosis side.
“At this point, going to Krosis to find those answers is the only option if I am to ever hope to have my home back.” Wilhelmina sat back in her chair as if too tired to sit up any longer, resting her head against the large wooden back.
Leonard hesitated asking the question that came to the tip of his tongue as he looked at Wilhelmina, one of her hands now shading her eyes, but he knew he had to ask. “What were some of the rumors? It had to be something major to cause such a divide, even within a family,” he asked gently, trying not to intrude on her thoughts any more than was necessary.
Wilhelmina peeked at Leonard through her fingers, seemingly too tired to remove her hand entirely. She spoke with her hand still covering her eyes, shielding them from what her ears could not ignore and what her mouth had to impart.
“There were claims that what powered the device that caused and kept the portals open were living beings, various theories and stories about how it all works and the cost of it. There were rumors that someone from the Pond family had been in contact with the Krosisians in charge of the portals, in search of more power.
“We could be here all day if I tried to single out every one, but those are the rumors that keep me up at night,” Wilhelmina finished. A sound like a muffled whimper escaped Masha, causing Wilhelmina to reach her free arm out to the side for the young woman to grasp.
Leonard paused again before another question slipped out, begging for confirmation, “And you aren’t sure what Osric or Etta really know or think about any of that?”
“No.” Wilhelmina’s voice was a whisper, barely reaching far enough out to flutter into Leonard’s ear, but he could see the impact it had on her; she almost seemed to deflate, taking up less space than she had a moment before, sinking deeper into her chair.
A sharp rap on the door startled the trio, Leonard most of all, who had completely forgotten that anyone else existed here, having only seen two people in the world, so far.
“Miss, I”- the weathered voice halted with its owner in the doorway. A tan, leathery face framed by sweat-streaked, frizzled salt and pepper hair stared at Leonard in outright shock.
Wilhelmina rose from her chair and gestured the man inside with a welcome if weary smile, “Jerra this is Leonard Letterman. Leonard, this is Jerra, our lifelong groundskeeper and friend of the family.”
“Did you say…Letterman?” Jerra asked, a slight quaver to his words and something more than disbelief on his face.
Click here for Part 14!