A means to an end.

I urge Amicus on at a gallop. I don’t have much time, I have to get to the meet.

I shift in my saddle, the motion causing my tunic to shift, the crumpled piece of paper catching some wind and flying off of my person to the ground.

The ransom note. No time, can’t retrieve it. I can only hope that it’s not found too early. If someone shows up there before I do, people will die.

I urge Amicus on, making him go faster.

This is it, no turning back now. I wasn’t able to get all of the money that was on the ransom note, but hopefully it will be enough.

As I gallop into the night, darkness shrouding me and my horse, one thought goes through my mind, ” What if I die?”

(The end of Counting Coup)

Deal with it.

I head home, body still sore from the match. Drew was right. I train more when I’m trying to deal with things. Marriage, becoming Earl Marshall, the prison escape, the attack, Casimir, the Regency, her. All things I’m trying to work around, but they are all coming along, each almost nearing completion. As Earl Marshall, I’m seeing to the promotions, seeing that each person is deserving of the promotion. Passing on the armor to the Dame made me happy, I don’t think I’ve ever seen her happier. My marriage. *sigh* I don’t know how that’s going, we fight when we are around each other, or we do something similar, but I’m not sure if she can stand to be around me. Oh well, she’s in Lothos for now, don’t have to worry about it just yet. The escape has caused me problems, but what can i say? What happened, happened, I can’t go back and undo it, no matter what the Bishop wishes, and now the mage is dead, uncleansed. Casimir, Casimir, Casimir. The man is a plague, or is he? I know what he claims, and I’ve seen what he’s done. But I have a lead on him now, an angle I’m sure he won’t expect exactly, we’ll see how it plays out. The Regency, I have concerns, I’m not sure if the Regent is safe, it will take some investigation, see what comes from that. The attack. Whoever did that was no weak mage. I’ve never been hit so hard by a spell. I’ve had my breath trapped in my body before, but it was weak, like breathing through a blanket. This was like trying to breath through a glass ball while underwater. It hit like a ton of rock. But that too is under investigation.

Her. So beautiful. So kind. I want nothing more than to do whatever she wants. Do anything I can to make her smile. She’s seen me. Seen all of my sides, seen the darkness that no one else sees. And she still tries make me happy. Maybe the next time I see her I’ll talk with her about it, or not. Who knows, perhaps by then I won’t be alive.

Follow the Leader

I sit in the chair, ordering something to drink and eat, a stein and the pork dish, I wait, then looking to my new follower, ” Care for anything, Father Norbert?” I ask the man.

Father Norbert shakes his head, ” No, Lord Marshall, I am not hungry, and the drink tends to addle people’s minds. You shouldn’t drink either, given the circumstances of my being here.” the man states to me, a frown creasing his face as he finishes speaking.

I shrug, ” I do not drink all that often, and after all it is only a stein, you should see me when I feel like rum, that’s when things get really fun.” I say to him with a grin.

Father Norbert shrugs, ” It is a crutch, Lord Marshall, if you need something to help you stand, try praying more. The Lord provides to his flock.” the man states in a condescending tone.

” Father Norbert, I respect you and the Bishop.” I state, taking a drink from the stein when it arrives, ” But if you ever question my faith again, we’ll find out how fast you can run with Lectos and Cerritus on your heels.” I say calmly, not bothering to look at the man.

Father Norbert stiffens, glancing at him, I see his frown deepen, but he says nothing more on the topic, my point has been made. He doesn’t approve of my wolves. Arien, they practically made him mess himself when they came running up to me. He thought he was about to die.

I think back on the events that led to my current situation. Was there anything that I could have done to change the outcome. No, there wasn’t. What happened, happened, and whether or not it will ever happen again is yet to be seen.

I look down on the ground, there’s a small pebble that’s been tracked into the restaurant. I pick it up, hold it between my fingers and flick it out the window of the porch, watching as it disappears into the darkness. Fly, little stone, fly, leave this place and don’t come back.

Marshalling the troops

I sit in my new chair, behind my new desk, in my new office.

Earl Marshall. Who’d have thought I’d have come this far. One who has left the Knights, then brought back, seen the inside of Ahalin as a guest rather than a host. One who has been looked at skeptically for simple things like being born, or having oddly colored eyes. So many times have I thought to just turn and walk out of the city, leaving it all behind me. Now, I cannot leave. I am in charge of the Knights. I must guide them, encourage them, and sometimes even punish them.

My hand falls to the sword laying on the desk. I know now that what I’ve done of late is right, been given signs. Had I not changed the way I was doing things, this stuff would not have happened. The surest sign is the sword. What are the chances of that happening? The woman started insulting me, I reacted. Not as I wished to do, but as my position required of me. And then being asked to accompany her to her sentencing. Had I not been there, I would not have seen the sword. Had she not insulted me as she did, I’d have not seen the sword. But now it is returned. Her sword. Linnea’s sword. Thought lost after the mage killed her and was in turn killed during the demon attack. Only to show back up in my presence through a series of coincidences. I now now I’m on the right path….rather the left path.

I look over the various paperwork on my desk. So much to do, so many people to talk to. First, Squire Brandt, I need to talk to her on her report on a seeker. Then another, only thing I can read in the handwriting is the name Misune, I don’t know if that’s a first or last name. Then I need to speak with the Grand Master, that should be fun. Talk to her Holiness and His Holy Honor. Speak with the various leaders within the city.

And all the while, there are the matters at home.

I chuckle, it echoing off the walls of the mostly empty room. ” Seems I was right when I first started saying it.” I state rather rhetoricly to my lounging wolves, ” Nothing is what it seems. And nothing is ever easy.”

A rose by any other name…..still has thorns

The Church looms in the distance, it’s bell tower ringing out the time. I wonder who is in charge of that, never thought to ask.

Serrin has moved back to Seahome. His services no longer include myself, now he is in charge of my sister’s safety. Anavette. How long has it been since we’ve sat and talked? And now you’re thrust into the baronial seat as I was, though no loss of a sibling to deal with at the same time. Or maybe you do, I gave up my last name, gave up being an Eclen to be a Vortina.

Some think I’m stupid, don’t hear the laughter, but I still stand by my choice. It united two families, two lands, and established a good trade route.

And more importantly, it let’s me focus on other things. Like my new freedom. I was elated at first, I felt free, free of everything, able to see things from a different angle. But that freedom has a cost. It’s a dark cost. I feel it in me now, welling up when I’m angry, always just below the surface. It’s always there, but always mine to control.

I round a corner, door to a tavern is nearby. Outside on the step is a small cask, a delivery for the tavern. I read the inscription. Figures. Bloody bastard should be put down. Murderur, sinner, heretic.

I bend down, and with the dagger from one of my pockets I poke a hole near the bottom of the cask. The ale starts leaking out, pouring out into the street. I move on.

Hmmm. I need to find out what happened to the noblewoman, who harmed her. Only one person that would know. Last time I tried this, I was almost brought down with her. But she’s gone now, maybe I’ll have better luck. If not, I’ll just kill them all.

Standalone Complex

The chords of music echo through the mountain range. The song is a slow one, a bit sad, but beautiful. It isn’t one of my own, one of the only gifts from someone I once betrayed.

I set the harp down, open my eyes and look out into the wilderness. It’s quiet, perhaps my song has startled some of the animals. Wait, not my song, her song. When was it that I heard it? Right, during my interviews to get into the Troubadours. I didn’t know what instrument I wanted to play, so she played hers. This song. The way she closed her eyes as she played, feeling the music, not just playing it. I’ll never forget it. And I betrayed her.

Why did I do it? I keep asking myself that, though I ask fewer times as the years have passed. I’ve come up with several answers, but in my heart I’ve known they weren’t true. I did it because I was a bit jealous, and a bit scared. Jealous of a fellow knight who had just helped in the arrest of two mages, I wanted to seem just as good, wanted to be thought well of. That didn’t work out at all. And scared, not of the mages, the pair of them, her a water mage, the man, her lover, an earth mage, Cirian. I was scared of being found out. Worried that eventually someone would find out that I’d known about them being mages, and would find out how long I knew, and then I’d be pyred for aiding a mage.

And now? Knowing what I’ve done? I’m not afraid anymore. If I’m found out, I’ll stand tall as they strip me of my lands, watch as they pour the oil on my body, and laugh as they bring the torch closer.

I only wish I had been stronger back then, my only regret.

Till they decide it’s time to string me up against the post, I’ll do as I have. I’ll be a Knight, lend my sword, wit and other resources to the Church to rid the city of evil. But as they say, therein lies the rub. Not every evil is able to use magic. Some use a knife, others words, and still others use other people. But I’ll continue down the left fork, walking the path, and when I come to a point where I cannot go any further, I can only hope that someone will be there to help me finish my journey.

I pick the harp back up, then continue playing her song, hoping that wherever she has wound up, she has it in her heart to forgive me.

A good Knight’s sleep

I’m walking through the woods. My paws dig into the soft earth, churning it up as I pace about the area.

How long has it been? How long since I’ve been able to fly? Able to soar above the ground, able to ride the wind?

As if summoned by my thoughts, a wind blows into the area. A voice calls out, ” You asked for me, Griffon?”

Griffon. That’s what I am, I look down at my body, my lion’s body. It’s taut, muscular. Feathers from my eagle’s head stop at my neck. I turn and look about, ” Yes, wind. I did. I asked you here to say that I’m sorry, and thank you. Had you not harassed me with your winds and tornados, I’d have never found peace.”

The wind speaks, ” You came to thank me? To apologize? You no longer wish to be rid of me? To destroy me so you may be the king of the sky?” a pause settles in the air, the winds die down, finally, ” I am sorry. I shouldn’t have harassed you so much, I was angry. You were there. I lashed out at you. I shouldn’t have broken your wings.”

The sound of small wings enters the area, a small bird, a wren, flies into the area. settling on a nearby branch. ” Griffon. I too am sorry. Your kind does nothing but kill my kind, I lashed out at you as well.”

Time passes, we talk, the three of us. The wind, the wren, and the griffon. Hours pass, we share stories, we make amends, we become friends.

” We must leave. But we don’t know where to go, what to do. I don’t think anyone will understand the love the wind and I share, Griffon.” the wren says.

” I have a roost hidden far to the south, I do not use it that often. Go there, take refuge in it. It is all that I can offer.” I say to the wren.

The air in the area picks up, soon I’m surround by a shroud of it, but it’s warm like a blanket. The wind is hugging me, ” Thank you.” the wind says. Soon it is gone, along with the wren.

Once again, I am alone. But I don’t feel alone. Two years have my wings been broken. I’ve tried to fly so many times, yet couldn’t lift myself off of the ground.

I unfurl my wings, then leap into the sky, wings flapping as I try to fly once more. This is where I usually fall to the ground, but not this time. This time I climb higher, I’m broken no longer! I continue to climb, higher and higher. I’m free, finally. I can soar along and be happy once more.

I wake, the elation of flying still flowing through me. I feel rested. I look to the window, sunlight is pouring through the window. How long has it been? How long since I’ve slept a full night’s sleep without need for herbs, alcohol, or flesh to help me sleep. Two years?

I did the right thing. My soul knows it, let me rest finally.

Knightmares and Dreamscapes

I see him. They say his name is Rick Lavos. He’s on the ground, his body engulfed in lightning. Air mage.
Sir de Roldan is the first to fall, closest to the man he reaches to knock the man out, strikes him the lightning throws him back into the wall, when he hits the ground he’s a smoldering heap of meat, no longer a man.

I start pulling my sword free.

Next is Lord de Winter, the mage is starting to stand, grinning, a half-crazed look in his eyes. He thrusts both of his cuffed hands at Lord de Winter. An arc of lightning two feet thick streaks toward Kaerick. It catches him in the face, when he slumps to the ground, he no longer has a head.

My sword is freed, I move toward the man known as Rick, but he’s too quick. I seem to be moving in slow motion, he’s moving as fast as …… lightning.

Grand Inquisitor Loreth and his two guards go down next. Or their ashes do anyhow. Rick Lavos screams toward the trio. A ball of light emerging from his chest, shooting toward his targets. When it detonates, only ash remains, falling to the ground in piles. Rick turns to me, his eyes wild and crazy.

I swing my sword, it cleaves his head in two. The symmetry is almost perfect, the blade going down over halfway into his skull.

“Noooo…” he moans out, then gasps falling to the ground in a dead heap.

I wake up in a cold sweat. That’s not how it happened. Rick wasn’t that powerful. Everyone was alive, Rick was cleansed. I never even pulled my sword that night, never had the chance, he was knocked out by the Earl Marshall before he could do any real damage.

A woman’s arm wraps around me, ” What’s wrong my love? You were yelling, bad dreams again?”

Who is….? Oh yes, my wife, the Countess, we were married a few month’s back, after I was knighted, ” Nothing, my sweet, just a nightmare.” I say, only half believing it, turning around so I can see her.

She’s dead, has been for a week by the rot on her body. ” Come, sleep with me, join me.” she says, dead meat falling off of her lips, her eyes have that grey cast to them that only a dead person or a blind person get.

I can’t breathe, what is going on. Something starts shaking me, slapping me in the face, it hurts …. what is going on?

I wake up in a cold sweat, gasping for air. She’s there. Crying, hitting at me. ” Ary! Wake up! Breathe!” she screams. My Lily in the forest. My precious flower, I breathe again, waving my hand, ” I ….. I’m fine. Just a …. just a nightmare. I’m …. breathing.” I pant out, gasping for air.

Her eyes are rimmed with tears, her pale skin is red from yelling. How long had she been trying to wake me? She shakes her head, ” No, you are not fine. You were under an attack. You did not see what I saw, you weren’t breathing Ary.” she states, getting out of the bed, still wearing her nightclothes. I’m calling Serrin, get him to get the Knights, Inquisitors, priests, anyone!” she states, heading toward the door of the bedroom, the door that leads to the study, not the gallery or the washroom.

” I said I’m fine. I just couldn’t breathe, I’ve read about this, it just means I need to relax.” I tell her. Wait, no, something is wrong. What is it? Something isn’t right, it’s right on the tip of my mind, why can’t I see what it is?

She continues to the door, opening it and turning to me, ” NO! I am not letting you die under some foul witch’s spe….” her words are cut off. Likely due to the black steel blade sticking out of her throat, practically decapitating her as it’s thrust into her neck from behind.

” No!” I scream out, reaching toward her, looking to see who is killing her.

” Told you I would get her, boy.” the man says, his teeth as black as obsidian rock. It’s the mage from the attack on the way to Seahome. He found us, but how? He twists the blade, finishing the decapitation, pulling her head up to his.
” Pretty girl. Too bad she didn’t last.” he states grinning victoriously toward me.

I wake up in a cold sheet of sweat, gasping for air.

” What in the Arien abyss is going on?” I ask, sitting up straight.

Movement to my side, a hand reaching toward me and holding me. ” What was that, love? Not having nightmares again are you?” she asks.

I look to her, half expecting her to be dead, she isn’t. She’s alive. Breathing, beautiful, two beautiful violet eyes, though much darker than any in my family. They almost have a hint of red to them. I bend down to give her a kiss, ” Nothing to worry about, Gail. Just a small nightmare, nothing to wake up for.” I state, laying back down and facing the edge of the bed.

She snuggles up against me, ” Good ary. I hate it when you have the nightmares. You are so grumpy the rest of the day.” she states, one hand reaching around me, tracing lines on my chest. She’s warm, it feels good against my back. ” Although, I do have to say that finding ways to get you to sleep are fun.” she says with a tired, but playful giggle.

I relax, start drifting off to sleep, ” Not tonight, Gail. Busy day ahead of me. Thank you for being here though, it helps me sleep.”

” I’ll always be here my sweet Ary, promise.” she states, falling back to sleep.

My eyes pop open.

Gail.
Gale.

I wake up in a cold sweat, my heart is racing, breathing labored.

I look around the room. Is it real? Am I in another nightmare? Am I awake?

Assess the situation.

I scan the room, looking to see what is there. Stone walls, chest, I’m in a bed. Armor hanging in a stand.

” I’m in the Keep.” I state to myself, nodding, ” Okay, we’re in the proper room. Next step, I’m a squire in the Knights Lithmorran. I’m unmarried. I’ll be Knighted soon.” I cant my head, ” Sounds right.” I cant my head again, ” Well, with the exception of the fact that I’m talking out loud to myself….”

Time to prove it.

I pull out my sword from it’s scabbard at the head of my bed. The word Faith inscribed along the blade, i drag it across my palm, reopening the scar there. ” Arien, that smarts!” I let out in a small gasp. ” Yep, I’m really awake.”
I state, laying back in the bed, fiddling in my satchel and pulling out a bandage and starting to wrap it around my hand, ” Yep, still talking to myself.”

I nod, ” Yeah, think it’s time to go for a walk.” I state, once again, out loud to myself. I pull out my armor. Not the steel, the leather, the armor I wear under the steel. It’s black, fits like a second skin, and moves with me. Best armor I’ve ever had made. I don it all. Take a black scarf and wrap that around my sword’s hilt, then strap that to my back. Then I stare at the door, paying attention to the light from the torches, stepping toward the window.

I wait there, I don’t know how much time passes, five minutes, an hour, two? Doesn’t really matter, what I’m waiting for happens. The light creeping under the door flares blue for a moment. Now. Changing of the guard.

I go out the window, hanging on to the windowsill with my fingers, then let go. I land with a roll on the hospital roof, benefit of my room’s location. Should be empty this time of night. Two minutes.

I run across the roof, jumping as I near the edge. Tricky part, hope I had enough speed. I did, clear most of the roof of the next building, wrapping my arms around the stone of the chimney of the Bakehouse. Minute and a half.

I climb the chimney, stand on it, face the training grounds, I curl into a ball, then thrust out with my legs, flipping over the remaining length of the Bakehouse, landing on the ground with a thud. The cat goes running off, it wasn’t expecting me to land there. Why in the Arien Abyss do we have a cat on the grounds anyhow? No matter, I have about a minute to go.

I run full on, right up the bleachers, then jump off landing behind them, facing the tall stone wall. Too high to jump up to, but I knew that. I turn and run along the wall. Thirty seconds.

I make it. I’m at the gate. I look around, two guards are guarding the gate. Each facing the road, but both of their heads bowed, eyes closed. No matter. I’ve made it, I catch hold of the sconce a foot above my head, pulling myself up. Thankfully it’s good craftmanship and built into the wall. Probably Vandagan. When I’m balanced on the iron sconce I reach up, more like hop up a bit. Grabbing the lip to the top of the wall, I’m up and on top. Then I’m down the other side, outside of the Keep. I hear the guards making movements. I, too, make the sign of the chalice as i walk quietly away from the gate. Beth would have been proud if she’d seen me. I stop. Wait, when I flipped off of the Bakehouse…. Was there someone at the top of the tower? I shake my head, couldn’t have been.

Soon I break into a run. And am soon joined by Cerritus and Lectos, they usually do find me. We run, I turn, heading somewhat toward Wilhelm, though that’s not my target. Half an hour later, I arrive. An old abandoned church. I step in, listening, doesn’t sound like anyone is here. I go to the confession room, let in my wolves, then close the door behind us. I always sleep better in a church. I pull out the sleeping roll that’s attached under my sword, pulling it free after removing the scabbard. I roll it out, then kneel holding the sword and scabbard up in front of me. I pray, ask for forgiveness, ask for protection. After my prayers are done, I lay in the sleeping roll, Lectos and Cerritus come and lay to either side of me, watching the door and laying down.

Warm. In a church. With guards. I should sleep fine the rest of the night. I hope. I start to doze.

” Ah fuck!” I yell out, waking up for a moment, ” How in the Abyss am I supposed to get back -in- without being noticed?” I exclaim. I shake my head, probably for tomorrow. I’ll sleep first.

I’m always here. One is on the run. One is Charalin. One is seeking… ”

” Shut up.” I say out loud, then I pass out, the darkness of sleep taking me into it’s embrace.

As much as things change, the more they stay the same.

I duck the attack, spinning out of the way. Pressing my advantage I tuck into a roll toward the sword-wielder, I’m halfway through the roll when disaster strikes. My shield is awkward, bulky, and large, it catches on the ground, halting my roll abruptly. I feel something hard press against the nape of my neck.

” And now you’re dead, Baron.” the voice calls out.

I sigh, rising from the ground, ” I know, Serrin, I keep forgetting about the shield.” I state to Serrin, my guard, then brush off the dust from my armor, looking around the Keep training grounds.

” A shield isn’t just an add on to your already vast compliment of combat knowledge, Baron, it’s a totally different way of fighting. And that isn’t the only thing you’re forgetting. You’re in full plate,” he states, gesturing to me, ” rolling, spinning, dodging out of the way, not going to happen, it’s heavy, slows you down, leaves you open. With armor and shield, you stand your ground, take the hits, wade through their attacks then hit them with your weapon.”

I nod, ” I know. I’m just a bit distracted at the moment.” I say to him, stowing shield and sword away, looking to Cerritus and Lectos as they sit near the bleachers, their collars gleaming in the sunlight.

” What’s bugging you now? Women again, not feeling like a Baron again, frustrated for not being promoted yet?” he asks, rattling off all of the things I’ve complained about in the past, shaking his head and grinning slightly.

” No.” I start, ” There’s a mage stirring up trouble again.” I move to my pack on the bleachers, take out a waterskin and start pouring it into my mouth, I drink about half of it, stoppering it then tossing it to Serrin.

Serrin catches and uncorks it, finishing off the rest of the water, asking only one question, ” Air?” his eyes staring intently at me.

I nod, ” Air.” I confirm, ” I’m going to talk to them, show them the book that I hold in high regard, perhaps they’ll understand then.”

Serrin cants his head to me, ” What book?” he asks, tossing the empty waterskin to me.

I catch the waterskin and hold it, gesturing to my satchel, ” It’s in there if you want to see it.” I offer to him.

He nods, a disapproving look on his face, but heads to the satchel anyhow, opening it, then searching through it, ” What b ….. Oh, this is dangerous, Arynon. You have to be real careful with this, understand. Already a bit miffed that your not going to be our Baron for much longer, but I’d not want to see you dead.” he states, carefully closing the satchel back over it’s contents.

” I made the mage promises, Serrin. I live by a strict code now, and I’ll not lie, not even to one that is Tainted. I said I would show them the book, said I would not kill them, and said I would not stab them in the back. I’m a man of my word.” I offer to Serrin.

Serrin nods, ” I know, Arynon, and that’s what scares me about you. You keep your word. And you don’t veer from it whatsoever.” he states, moving to Lectos and Cerritus and kneeling before them and petting them, ” I’m going to miss these two. Best guards you could have gotten aside from me.” he states with a grin.

I grin, ” They are good allies, I’m just glad they’ve taken to the collars so well. Had to get them so they could be identifiable. Seems everyone has a wolf in the city lately. Heard one even attacked an orderite about a week ago.”

Serrin nods, ” Yeah, wasn’t that the redheaded one, was an acolyte or somesuch?” he asks.

I don’t answer him, I’m already across the field, heading back into the keep, far enough that it could be surmised I didn’t hear him. I’ll miss the conversations with Serrin, but it will be good to know he’ll be looking after my sister.

Relative information.

To my sister Anavette,

I know I haven’t written or seen you in quite a while. In fact, I think the last time I actually spoke directly to you was just before I left for Lithmore to visit with Linnea. For this I am sorry, in my time in the city to try to prove myself, I forgot the simple things like mailing family.

The city is a trying place. I had thought I knew what to expect from all of my training and book-reading, I was wrong. The books and trainers can only teach you so much. They do not prepare you for love, misery, fear, hate, or treachery. It took the few years since I’ve arrived to learn all of these things.

Shortly after I arrived in the city, I fell in love, twice actually. First there was Sanna, I’m sure you’ve heard about that one, if not, I will still explain. I met Sanna on my first day in the city, we talked, we were friendly, I thought nothing of it. Then, I met Lillian ab Harkness at a ball hosted by a noble looking for an heir. You should have seen her, I could describe to you what she looked like, but I don’t think the words would do her any justice. We talked all night at a local restaurant. A few days later, I gave her a tour of the Keep. It was in one of the rooms that we found that were hidden that I told her how I felt, and she let me know she did not feel the same way. This is the first time I had felt love, quickly followed by the feeling of heartbreak.

Soon after, I was walking through the city, remorseful I guess. I ran into Sanna again. I don’t know what happened, but suddenly inside of me I found that my looking out for her and being friendly with her was from feelings for her. We soon ate together, started courting, or rather was about to start courting. This actually caused a bit of a scandal, the current wife of the Queen, he is Lillian’s cousin, when I told him what had transpired at the keep, he thought the worst of it, thought we had done more than talk. We were to duel, I was trying to prepare while still courting Sanna.

Then the first tragedy struck. One of my duties as a page in the Knights had me running patrols, and trying to identify corpses that had been buried outside the proper burial grounds. It was in such a grave that I unearthed Sanna. From that moment on, it seemed I had known more tragedy than a Vavardian Troubadour group could muster. I was a mess, I wound up in Ahalin tower for a month because of blackouts I was having.

Soon after I got out of the tower, I left the Knights. I figured joining the Troubadours and possibly the Physician’s Guild would let me catch more mages and heretics in hiding. Unfortunately, I still hadn’t gotten over Sanna. I had started drinking, testing out various herbs for recreational purposes to feel better. Then one of the Troubadours in the guild turned out to be the Tenebrae of the thieves, she admitted to killing Sanna and others and was soon executed. My drinking continued, I fell one night as I walked through the streets drunk, split my head wide open. I actually still have the scar, and a lock of my hair turned white due to it. But at the time, I had lost my memory. I didn’t know who I was, where I was, I knew nothing. As things continued, I learned more of who I was, learned I had a sister, sisters. The last night I spoke to Linnea, I made her cry. I didn’t know who she was and thought she didn’t care for me because of this. We argued, I hated it, hated her for not making me remember, hated myself for not remembering. But we soon calmed down, she showed my the family portrait, showed me who I was and said she would help me remember. A messenger arrived to gather her for a meeting, the last I saw her, she was looking at me with a sad look, tears in her eyes as she closed the door to leave me in my house to try and remember.

The next day, Linnea was taken from us all. I won’t go into details, they are too painful. But she was gone. Days later I received a letter, the Seneschal of Seahome let me know that I was now the Baron of Seahome.

I was sixteen and ill-prepared. Since that day, I’ve dealt with more betrayals. I’ve known love in a few more women, only to either find them dead at a later time, or breaking their heart because I didn’t want to see them dead. I’ve made friends with those from all walks of life, the closest friend I have is actually a girl from southside. You would like her, she doesn’t put up with any bs from me, puts it all out on the table, points out when I am holding back. Though she does have a weakness for alcohol.

I’ve found two wolf pups, Lectos and Cerritus, I’d almost call them friends.

And I’ve met the Queen. I admit, even with how Linnea talked about her, I was scared to meet her, talk to her. But I was scared for no reason, she’s one of the nicest people you’d ever meet. She explained while my life may have been tragic, I wasn’t the only one that suffered in such ways. If I hadn’t talked to her, listened to her, I probably would have done something really stupid. But, though she doesn’t know it, she talked me out of it, made me realize I had to keep moving on.

And I guess that’s the overall reason for writing you this letter, other than telling you what’s been going on with me. Moving on. It is likely I shall be married in a few months, but before I do so, I need to make sure my Barony has an heir, at least until I have children of my own. So I’m letting you know that I intend to name you as my heir, should something happen to me. Hopefully, with this warning, you will not be caught off guard.

With love, your brother, Arynon.