Novembris the 17th, 367

November 2nd, 2015

Surprisingly father has written me near every week since Gaven and I returned from Lake Harmon. His temperament has utterly changed. I am more relieved by his acceptance than I could say. It seems he has forgiven me for Cavalleri; Lord, even for Vilar. After Leda and Elizabeth he never wanted to see me charmed by Troubadours. Perhaps it is a Courtland affliction, falling so easily for the foreign glamor and roguish disinterest of a Vavardi bard. I needn’t even specify that “Vavardi” is not the key word; their cultural upbringing was the element that made the tonic poisonous. Bards, in a general sweep, tend to have an uncanny allure.

I do miss Audric. More than anything else, Audric was always a friend to me. Perhaps that is the most significant difference there among a sea of contrasts between him and Cavalleri: Audric, at the end of the day, endeavored to be a friend. Still loyal; still kind. I often wish that I could write to him, to see how is mother is contending with the loss of his father, and to ensure that he is adjusting well to the management of a household after so long spent on the road. Alas, offending Gaven is not something I am willing to do, not even for something so innocent and explainable as a letter.

I have joined the Privy Council as the Seneschal, and we have met once already to discuss the state of politics and problems in the capitol. I feel like a fish out of water, adjusting to this new life and status. The Council meeting was perhaps the worst so far. I enjoyed it, mind you – really, I did. I have always felt that deep down, politicking for the greater good is in me in a way that it is in few others, but to be seated at a table across from His Grace and Marisa dul Damassande, comparing and contrasting opinions on matters of import, will remain alien and daunting for quite awhile. His Grace has been the most openly accepting of anyone in the Court. He goes out of his way to be inclusive. For that I am infinitely grateful. Without that support I suspect I would be hiding at home more often than not.

Near every time I see him I wonder: What would have happened if I said yes? He is not the villain I believed him to be. My Lady Cellan’s Knight would not have lied to me, but she may have been mistaken in what she told him; mind addled by the herbs she had been given for the pain, or her head disturbed by the long fall. Any number of things may have contributed to an accidental recitation of untruths. Casimir was grief-stricken and half-mad with guilt. He sobbed on my shoulder until my gown was wet with tears from surface to skin. And I was tempted, journal; I was more tempted than I should ever acknowledge, much less openly to anyone. By saying no I may have ensured the Regent’s survival, but I nearly said yes. Had I known how far he would take it, how it would change my relationship with Joseph forever, I might have done whatever Casimir asked of me. I am relieved I did not know. I survived, and so did Tomas. I thank the Lord for my uncertainty and, for once, my unwavering cowardice. Somehow, in this instance, being a coward was the braver act.

I was told they found Alyx in the west hills, and in a state barely resembling a human frame. A mage after all, corrupted by her own tainted magics. She was a friend to me, as much as she could be. She had a vibrant personality and a wry sense of humor. Spending time with her was always an adventure. When she vanished I worried for her, and when she returned she wrote to me, not long after she attacked Mister Fairweather. She was desperate, and she begged to meet. I was frightened, and I did not do so. I did not even respond. I doubt it would have changed anything, but what if I had, and it did? What if she only needed a friend to keep herself from plummeting over the edge? These things will haunt me for the rest of my life; if she could have been saved, and because all those she begged for help were too frightened for themselves, she died without the cleansing she so desperately needed. I say “all those”, but for all I know it was only me. It is not a point of comfort, acknowledging that. I keep praying to the Lord for courage. It seems I have not found it, yet.

Though I report a great deal of terror and regret, perhaps both come to mind because I am happy for the first time since the moment I saw Noah Reed’s handwriting on a letter I did not expect; Aidan’s body, found in Southside, stripped down and left in the gutter. That was the turning point, what would shape and engineer every act and thought for the next four years: Consuming, overpowering fear. After it came Zeita; her betrayal, for there is no other word for the feeling. I loved her more deeply than my own sisters. She chose. I never had the chance to tell her. We are all left with the memory, but that is not the worst of the Hell she created for us. We are left knowing that the woman we loved is lost, suffering forever, and there is nothing we can do to help her. Alyx’s fate has brought her to mind more regularly than the norm, and she is often – very often – thought of.

Despite it all, I am happy. At the end of every day, Gaven is at home, and he is waiting for me to return to him. All the long shadows seem shorter when home lies at the end of the road. At times I still wait for the second shoe to drop, for some horrid thing to fall upon us both, to ruin it. The most frightening thing of all is hope.