Entry 378 – Day 508

Entry 378 – Day 508

The pyres for Fodafa and Nianatara burned brilliantly, their combined heat threatening to set the buildings nearest them alight. It’s for that very reason that such ceremonies are reserved for the nobility of the Nanten. The risk of burning the whole jungle down isn’t one they’ve overlooked.

Hembila and Timber were the ones to set the blaze. They each carried a torch in one hand and a pot filled with oil in the other. A token of the deceased had been placed in the oil. Something representing their life to be poured out upon the wood and burned.

Entry-378-Fodafa-and-Nianatara's-Pyres

It was simple enough for a funeral, but powerful. Hembila and Timber stood before the fires until they grew so hot their clothing began to steam. They backed towards us slowly, never taking their eyes from the flames. They stood watch until the last embers cooled this morning. The weight upon their shoulders shifted, though the effect was different for each. Neither has much left of their eyebrows, the proper sign, I’m told, that the ceremony was carried out correctly.

Hembila seems lighter for it. His grief remains but there is closure now. Preparations for the coronation ceremony have begun and, as soon as they have cleared out the throne room, we should see him crowned king within the week.

Entry-378-Quote-Hembila-grief-and-closure funeral

The burden on Timber’s shoulders, however, increased. She remained silent all day until we took an evening meal, paltry as it was. It was then that she told me she didn’t want to come to Nianatara’s end. “I want to protect my people,” she said. “I don’t want pride to keep me from it. To keep them from me.”

I coaxed her into a long practice session after our meals had settled. She gave me the first smile I have seen in a while and I think she left a little more relaxed for the exertion. We’ll have to see if we can’t get Dionus to teach us some of his tricks with knives before long. That should keep all of our minds occupied for a few hours.

I hate knives.

Share on Pinterest
Entry 379 – Day 509

Entry 379 – Day 509

It strikes me now that we’ve done it. I was sitting here staring at this page for an hour without the faintest idea of what to write, then it hit me. We’ve unseated the Daedric Prince who would be Arbor King, and have destroyed his society in the process.

There are remnants left, I’m sure, pockets to hunt down and exterminate. But there is an overwhelming chance for peace to reign in the Nanten for the first time in a century. Salisir’s plan, cold and calculated as it was, has turned the lock in a mechanism of Nantese creation. He was right. They can rule themselves and bring about a unified peace. It just required the right push. How telling that we should be susceptible to our own vices, incapable even of that for which we are destined until someone enters our lives and gives us the right twist. Just the right push that launches us into our full potential.

Entry-379-Quote-how-very-human

How very human that we should need outsiders, that we are not self-sufficient. And human is what the Nantese are. We don’t see them as such back home, whether or not it’s something we’d ever say openly. They’re somehow less. Their fallen state indicative of inner flaws that prove their inferiority. We aren’t so far from such disaster ourselves.

The accomplishment of killing a Daedric Prince feels strangely hollow. It’s not disappointing, but I’m not as elated as I would have imagined. I ran my blade through the most powerful Daedric agent of our time and I feel no different for it. Tired, perhaps satisfied, but little else.

Hembila’s coronation is in two days, something for the people here to look forward to. They love him; the people of all three nations know him by reputation at the very least and, I believe, they are pleased that he should sit the Oaken Throne. After the time I spent with him, I approve as well. If there is a better man or woman for the job in all the Nanten, I have not met them.

Share on Pinterest
Entry 380 – Day 510

Entry 380 – Day 510

Dionus does know some nasty tricks with short blades. It makes sense, considering that he carries two on his hips at all times. It’s the close work that’s the most sure, he said, the bloody work. We used some wooden handles we found in a pile of broken wood instead of real blades, which was good because we would have left with more than one gash had we not.

His footwork is impressive, something I hadn’t seen him perform before. Something that I imagine, if seen in the open, is the last thing one ever sees. It took a few tries to get it right, but the whole goal is to get into a killing position while eliminating the chance of getting killed one’s self. Obvious to say, but difficult to accomplish when so close to an opponent. I’ve been told many times that if you enter a knife fight you do so with the knowledge that you will leave it cut. Dionus laughed when I told him that and said he’s never been cut.

Timber didn’t pick up the motions so quickly, but she’ll get it. In turn she tried to teach Dionus what she’s been learning with her sword. He’s no lout with a long blade, but it was amusing to watch him hold his own against my budding apprentice. She’s become very adept with that Klotian blade. I’ll admit that I got a little nervous to watch them.

Dionus joked that he had something to learn after all. I think I’ll start teaching him if he’ll have it. The Ba’hrani Death Dance would suit him perfectly, and so few outside the island know it. Especially not men.

My thoughts turn to home, to the idea of returning with the toppling of a Daedric Prince to herald me as a returning son of the Empire. Would they accept me? The real question is whether or not I even want to go back.

Entry-380-Quote-would-they-accept-me

I took a few items from the Prince to serve as trophies, the evidence necessary if I’m to prove any of this happened. Generally I’m not one to take trophies from those I overcome, I find such displays tacky at best, but I want to ensure I’m believed. He had a unique nine-link chain with a stone fashioned after the Holy Stones of old at its center. The styling was similar, though it was smaller than the stories would have one believe. Strange that he should have something like that.

The armor he wore was not something we could easily disassemble. In fact, it’s still sitting in a heap by the river right now until we can decide whether or not we should try to destroy it. We aren’t sure how we can. It’s resistant to fire and any weaponry we have. I could try to dismantle it with Salisir’s SwordSkills, but perhaps it’s worth saving. Should the right person control it, it could be a weapon worth salvaging.

Salisir himself has withdrawn notably from public view. Hembila has begun to assign members of different nations to various posts, though the permanency of this interim government is in question. There are greater thinkers and administrators on their way from all three, but I can tell he’s going to rely heavily on the Yatusu to run the city. That makes me glad, both because it fulfills promises he made to Oroun and because it is the Yatusu who are best suited to the task.

Much of the military has been handed to the Sondu, with the elite corps reforming under Batsu leadership. Our own treeborn are actively recruiting to replenish their ranks. They have the worst task ahead of them: hunting down any remaining Daedric followers in the depths of the jungle.

The palace is looking more regal every day. Inifra has drawn a large number of volunteers inside to clean and remove the Daedric mess. They want it ready for Hembila’s coronation.

The Oaken Throne itself may be the greatest tragedy, stained as it was by the blood and fire that marked this Prince’s short but terrible reign. Timber has taken that chore upon herself. She thinks she can save it.

Dionus and I spend most of our time tracking down what Daedric leavings we can. There have been a few more expressionists we have been able to save from dungeons and cages throughout the city. Others we have discovered too late.

We’ve found a few hideouts along the way, Daedric followers cowering in the dark and biding their time. Those we’ve put down without much difficulty. Though the cost was overwhelming, the benefit to the Daedra fighting to the death is that there aren’t many remaining. This city will be truly clean within a matter of days, and that might be the greatest miracle of all.

Share on Pinterest
Entry 381 – Day 511

Entry 381 – Day 511

The throne room was arrayed spectacularly for Hembila’s coronation. Flowering vines were brought in from across the river and hung to make a beautiful set of eves. Inifra drew water through old fountains and Dionus cleared the musty scent with a slow but steady breeze. There were flowers everywhere, including some of the kind that Gront introduced us to so many months ago.

I think that was the hardest part for us, seeing such a stark reminder of the sacrifice made and remembering our own losses. Balthandar enjoyed the blue flowers best.

Entry-381-Hembila's-Coronation

Hembila was quite dignified through the whole process and elected to be crowned by Inifra, the truly independent Nantese present and a representative of a higher power. Once the crown sat upon his head he made a short speech commemorating the loss of his brother and the sacrifice of so many others, and then promised to bring about a new era of peace and prosperity to the Nanten.

The Arbor King, he said, had sprouted from the stump of his ancestors at last.

Entry-381-Quote-Arbor-King coronation

“May the roots grow deep,” the crowd intoned. “And the boughs bear endless fruit for our children.”

Then they celebrated. I think that was when this all felt real, when the joy of our accomplishment was most poignant. Musicians appeared along the colonnades and we danced for what felt like hours. There was plenty to drink and more food than I’ve seen since our time in Motasta. They’d carted in the best they could find from as far out as they could draw.

I met some new faces, representatives from the Batsu and Yatusu who made it just in time for the ceremony. The Sondu are still a little too far south, but there were enough to see their man made king. They will be the happiest tonight.

I think that there is a real peace here, an underlying pleasure in seeing Hembila crowned. It isn’t the result universally hoped for, but there was no such result. It is, however, the best possible end that I can imagine for the kingdom.

Damn Salisir, but he really did know what he was doing.

Share on Pinterest
Entry 382 – Day 512

Entry 382 – Day 512

Inifra came to me after the celebrations died down last night. She appeared at my door shortly after I put my journal away and asked to be let in. It was the first time we’d ever been truly alone like that, my chamber the most private space I’ve had since leaving Sterling. It was the first time we’d touched like that. I haven’t been with a woman in so long.

What are we to do?

It was the unspoken question that hung over us this morning as she left. It plagues me even now. If there was any hope of keeping our distance, of keeping the curse at bay, it has been completely removed now. How can such a curse be real? I want nothing more than to prove it wrong, but I fear there is no course available but to prove it right.

Entry-382-Quote-unspoken-question

I could stay here. Hembila has invited us to a dinner tonight where he intends to honor our accomplishments and name us friends of the Oaken Throne. Timber did manage to salvage it, though there are dark marks that will mar it forever. Hembila said that it was fitting. Such marks serve as reminders of what happens when the heart of the king turns from the good of his people.

We will be given a place here, titles and responsibility. There is a lot of work to be done to rebuild this place and we could easily find some way to help. Dionus is restless, however. I could easily dedicate myself to rooting out and extinguishing all traces of the Daedra, but then who will warn the Tetrarch? If they are as blind as Oroun suggested and a society like this could rise to such prominence in effective secrecy, then what’s to say there aren’t more like it?

I’m curious as to what Salisir will do as well. He claims he’s killed a Daemon, and now he’s helped unseat a Prince. As far as accomplishments go within the Tetrarch, it doesn’t get any more impressive than that. But I’ve seen it in him, that drive to put the Daedra down. If there is so little left to accomplish here, where will he go next to fulfill it?

And will Inifra stay here? It seems necessary for her to return to her own portion of the jungle, to resume her duties with her people. But shouldn’t she stay here, in the capital, and delegate those duties to her priestesses now that there is peace?

It would be so much easier if she left, if duty called her away.

Share on Pinterest
Entry 383 – Day 513

Entry 383 – Day 513

Our ceremony last night was filled with surprises. Hembila found a number of small treasures that he had recast into chains that he bestowed upon each of us. They’re filled with the finest sapphires I think I have ever seen and linked with a gold that must be as pure. Each is worth a small fortune. He gave us ceremonial knives and the seeds of Martingue plants which he hopes will serve us for the rest of our lives.

I never knew how rare the seeds themselves were until I saw Timber’s eyes go wide at the sight of the tiny vials. She barely blinked at all the preceding gifts, but those vials captivated her. Salisir was named the protector of the realm, and the rest of us were called friends. There were a long list of other commanders who were drawn up for various honors after us, stories of valor recalled, and posthumous awards given for the fallen.

It was exhausting, but touching nonetheless.

Entry-383-Quote-Salisir-talk

Salisir approached me afterward just to say that we needed to talk. I haven’t seen him since. There was worry in his eyes, the twitch that I’ve come to recognize as a sign that something isn’t right. He won’t come close when Inifra is around, and she is with me now so perhaps that’s why I haven’t heard from him. Speaking of which, I have better things to do than write in my journal.

I only have a few pages left on which to write in any case – I’d better save them for later.

Share on Pinterest
Entry 384 – Day 514

Entry 384 – Day 514

Inifra wants to go west but she also needs to leave a representative in Matasten. Perhaps ‘needs’ is the wrong word for it, but she would like to. There is a growing contingent of the faithful here who have begun construction on a shrine to Infiri on the western shore of the island. When they’re finished, the river will flow both directions around a statue of the goddess and a dais that will stretch out over the water for ceremonies.

The model they’ve sculpted looks suspiciously like Inifra. Personally I’m just fine with that.

What am I to do? She hasn’t said as much, but I get the impression that she’s waiting for me to make a decision. Will I stay here and help secure the fledgling Nanten Kingdom, or will I join her on a return trip west? Am I going to live out my days in the Nanten, or should I return home?

I’m inclined to stay here. The Old Empire has made up its mind about me; it’s time I made up my own about them.

It’s not even about where I’m most wanted or will be most effective. What tears at me now is my desire to be with Inifra and the knowledge that doing so will bring about her untimely end. It’s better that she goes west without me, that she’s too far to save my life by giving her own. It’s the only way I can imagine she doesn’t die for me if this curse is real.

And everything in me resists that dutiful conclusion with vigor.

I should stay here in Matasten. I’ll root out whatever Daedra remain and will train Hembila’s guard to do the same. Perhaps that can be my final legacy here. Maybe we can carve out a space where the Daedra have no room to thrive.

Entry-384-Quote-Stay-in-Matasten

Share on Pinterest
Page 3 of 41234