Entry 385 – Day 515

Entry 385 – Day 515

Salisir finally caught me alone. I hadn’t seen him for the last few days and then suddenly, in the corridor leading through the western wing of the main palace hall, he found and pulled me aside.

“I hate the Tetrarch,” was how he started. “I hate them through and through for what they did to me. For what they’ll do to you.”

I reminded him they’d already done all they could to me.

“Not quite,” he said. “The thing is, I hate the Daedra more. There’s nothing I want to see come to its end more than the miserable life of a Daedric follower, except of course for multiple lives of Daedric followers. Generous as it is to call them lives. You and I share that. You and I share a respect for the Nantese now, too, though you’re still a little too young to fully understand what’s happened here. But it’s for my need to see the Daedra burn that I’m gonna tell you this, and I wanted that to be clear.”

Tell me first, I demanded, why he was in the Nanten. He cocked his head at that, so I clarified: what could the Tetrarch possibly hold over him to get him here in the first place. He clearly had no sense of duty to them like me.

“My wife,” he said like it should be obvious. “My daughter. If I ever go back, they’ll kill ‘em both. I kept them secret for a long time. Kept them hidden off in the north, but I could only manage it for so long. It was while I was after that Daemon that they found them. They held me prisoner in Silver Hall for two years, disgraced me in every way they could think, and when they couldn’t break me they sent me here. I would have found a way to save them. I would have beaten the bloody Tetrarch senseless to do it, so they acted first.”

I told him there was no one left to me they could threaten. Everyone had already abandoned me.

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“Don’t be so quick to say that,” he reprimanded me. “You’re softer than me when it comes to who you care for. I know you’ve got people you love, even if you don’t feel it now.”

He looked around the corridor to be sure no one was listening. “You have to go back.”

I told him I wasn’t going back. I’d never go back. He insisted that I had to.

Why, I asked. Why in Nine Hells facing Nine Demons would I ever want to go back to the Old Empire?

“It’s not about what you want, but what must be done.”

My duty was to the Nanten, I told him. The Tetrarch commanded me here, so here I would stay.

“Bugger the Tetrarch. If the First Order ordered you to slay the Second, would you do it? Didn’t think so. If you’re being ordered to do something that will harm your own, you don’t, do you? Not the blind dog you try to act like, which is what made you different. It’s what I tried to give you, the ability to resist. To think. That’s what the Scourge takes from those poor children, the ability to resist the First Order. You had it in you already, whatever your mother did to you, and I just finished what she started.”

I told him I didn’t understand.

“’Course you do. Your sense of duty is a bloody character flaw, not a strength, but it’s why you have to go back. Oroun told you his theories about the Tetrarch, yeah? He asked you why you’d never met any outside the Old Empire? Well I never met one either. Nowhere. And I’ve been at this a lot longer than you.”

Tell me then, I said. Tell me what you know.

He fidgeted. I don’t think I’d ever seen Salisir fidget or hesitate when it came to words. The bastard has always been too cocksure.

“Look,” he bit the inside of his lip and stared off down the hall. “Gods damn it. I can’t tell you much.”

Then I’m not going, I said.

“You bloody well will, I just… shit, I just… you have to figure the details out for yourself when you get there. Here’s what I can say from what I knew before, why they thought I was dangerous enough to exile but too dangerous to kill. At least I hope they think I’m too dangerous to kill, though I get the feeling they hoped you’d do just that. The First Order is compromised, as are members of the Second. They aren’t alone. There are… people…” he growled in frustration. “There are people spread throughout the Empire that want to bring about what we found here in the Nanten.”

Then it dawned on me. “And they have a Beacon.” They had someone who could speak telepathically over distance and who, thanks to my training, would be able to glance into my thoughts.

Salisir sighed in relief but then held his hands up. “Don’t you start guessing at shit. You can’t know anything until you get sealed back up, you hear? It’s possible. There are those that can do it and protect your mind, but you’ll have to find one on your own.”

My mother is the Beacon of the Second Order, I said. Was that why she worked so hard to get me exiled? Is she one who was compromised? Salisir literally put his hands over his ears and shouted. “Stop! I can’t tell you anything. I probably already said too much. If you walk back into the Empire, assuming they don’t kill you on sight, they’ll send someone to see if you know. See what you know. If that person senses something amiss, if they mark you as a threat, you’ll be done.”

I’ll be done no matter what I do, I said. If I go back they’ll put me on trial again.

“Then stay the hell away from Sterling until you know who it is you face. Until you find someone who can patch your mind and keep the bloody Beacons out. You go back, even if you have to go back alone, and you find those bastards.”

His wife and child keep him at bay, I noted, how could he know if they’re even still alive?

“I get reports from time to time,” he said. “It’s not much, nor is it regular, but they were alive two years ago. They’d mount an army to stop me in any case because unlike you, I do know who they are. They’ll never let me back alive.”

I’d never wanted the ability to read minds so badly before. I couldn’t ask him, but now it plagues me. Who are these people? If I fear anyone in this world it is my mother, and to think her a true enemy is beyond chilling. Who in the First Order is compromised?

So many questions and no answers for me tonight. Salisir extracted himself from the conversation as quickly as he could, parting with the insistence that I leave as soon as possible. It’s my turn to be the outsider, he said. It’s up to me to stem the tide.

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Entry 386 – Day 516

Entry 386 – Day 516

Inifra has decided to return to Hamada. She’s arranged for a contingent of her priestesses to meet her there. She will come back to Matasten in a year to commemorate the opening of a temple to Infiri that is being planned. Her duty is to all Infiri’s faithful, she said, and though it seems prudent to make a home in Matasten, she cannot leave them without her ministrations indefinitely.

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I’m glad that she’ll be leaving for her sake, but the idea is tearing me apart. I don’t want to see her go. If she comes back, she’ll only be in danger again. That is, of course, assuming I remain in Matasten.

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Salisir’s words stuck with me through the night. I barely slept. There has always been something amiss about all of this, but I still can’t rest my hand on what exactly is wrong. Could it be that my mother was corrupted along with these traitors in the Tetrarch? How far-reaching could such a plot truly be?

And is it even my duty any longer to try and unearth it?

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Entry 387 – Day 517

Entry 387 – Day 517

The sun shines in Matasten in a way that I never thought I would see in the Nanten. The trees are sparse throughout the city, even as replanting efforts begin throughout. It glistens off the cleansed palace and plays along veins of jade and ebony strewn across the rooftops of the city. There is more than hope here now; there is peace.

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I took the day to walk through the streets. We’ve spent so much time hunting down pockets of Daedric activity within the city that there seems to be little-to-none left. I needed a little reprieve in any case.

Wudan walked with me for a little bit. He wants to go back to Motasta, to Banditown. He wants to find his family and bring them here. He has been given one of the empty houses near the palace grounds along with the honors and treasures that have been bestowed upon him. He wants his mother and grandmother to share in what he has found.

The buildings throughout the city are scarred in many places, marked by scorched patches and strange runes. The citizens are steadily wiping it all away. Doing their best to forget what horrors were associated with the filth.

Commerce never fully left Matasten but it still feels stunted. The selection of goods would improve if three armies hadn’t just ravaged the area. It will take some time for the Nanten Kingdom to regain its footing. Under Hembila, however, I think that the restoration is sure.

I write this from the roof of a building far to the east, watching as the sun sets through the spires of the city and dances over the palace surface. I’m trying to give my mind space to think. I want to give pause to this city now so that I never forget it, even if my life is set to be quite short from here.

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Entry 388 – Day 518

Entry 388 – Day 518

Dionus believes we should go. He doesn’t want to stay in Matasten and I fear that if I don’t acquiesce, he may be tempted to leave me behind. Losing both Dionus and Inifra at once would be devastating.

Timber and I have resumed our daily exercises, now with Dionus joining us occasionally. She finally appears to be feeling better, more herself, though she still has moments of quiet pensiveness that appear tinged with sadness.

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Salisir has taken his leave of the city. This morning he told Hembila that it was time to sweep the jungle. The Batsu treeborn have been set to that task, but Salisir said there are places they will not find and threats growing that they won’t uncover. He was already packed and left a few hours later. All he said to us before going was to keep our guard up.

“Keep those SwordSkills safe.” And then he left. It slipped my mind, but I forgot to remind him that he still owed me a few more lessons. That will haunt me if we don’t cross paths again soon.

Dionus kept his eyes on the old man until he was well out of sight. One last opportunity for vengeance, and then it was gone.

Entry-388-Salisir's-Secrets and exercises with Dionus

Hembila has asked us to stay. He wants us to liaise with his military as it reforms and help ensure that it is done equitably between the three nations. Homogeny is not his goal, he said, but peaceful compromise is.

“And in the end,” he said. “We all need to unify under one common culture. Even if we keep some little bits that made us who we were.”

More administrators arrive every day, men and women from different corners of the kingdom applying to take roles that desperately need filling. While I’m honored to be so wanted, I don’t think we will be needed for long. The treeborn have asked us to join them as well, to sweep the jungle clean of Daedric infection.

There are rumors of a powerful follower to the northwest, one who was able to escape with her own elite band of warriors. Perhaps we could help deal with her before making any large-scale decisions.

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Entry 389 – Day 519

Entry 389 – Day 519

If we stay here, we will live out lives of limited usefulness. But that usefulness will help lay the foundations of a new kingdom, one that could rise again to prominence and bring stability to a region that has been in tumult for a hundred years. Having such an effect would be well worth the sacrifice.

But what if there truly are systemic threats to the Tetrarch? What if it goes deeper than that? If there are Deadric agents in motion at home, at even higher levels than Lystra’s betrothed, then the results could be devastating. Returning home means that I could be killed before I even cross into the Old Empire. If I manage to make a case and keep the blades at bay, I will still face a retrial to have my exile appealed.

It will be very public and very messy.

I don’t have any desire to watch my old friends and family paraded out against me in another farce of a trial. And I get the feeling that going to trial would put me right back in the hands of those who would kill me if they could. Perhaps after all this time, they won’t have such a difficult go of it.

All of this assuming that these conspirators, whoever they are, don’t send assassins for me in the night and end it all before I get a chance to do any good. That death seems even more pathetic. Marceles, the man too weak to bear the burden of his exile and too foolish to survive even the return trip home.

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We have a place here in Matasten that we have carved for ourselves. There is peace, and we have few enemies if any left here.

Perhaps that is why I have an itch for something else.

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Entry 390 – Day 520

Entry 390 – Day 520

I’ve finished debating what to do. I suppose my sense of duty rendered it a moot discussion in the end. I came here as I was bid and helped unseat the Daedric Society that I found. I’ve rooted out what notable threats remained.

Now that I know there’s some conspiracy back home that threatens the very existence of the Tetrarch, and possibly the Empire, I have little choice in what must follow.

It’s time to go home.

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