The presence of the Makonga returned last night, though we never saw it. It is as though loneliness and grief were turned into material gasses and infused in the very air we breathe. There was a weight to it that pressed in, promising only to grow. The light of day released us from its grip, but never fully.
I asked Inifra what we could do to turn it away and she said she was thinking on it. She said to leave her to her thoughts if I wanted to live. While I don’t know what exactly I was hoping for in her joining us, I know it was something warmer than this.
All of us marched in near-silence today. We are equally subdued by the Makonga’s touch, each of us lost to our own mournful thoughts as we walk. Even as night falls on the borders of the jungle, those thoughts only grow more powerful.
I loved Lystra. That is what I cannot bear to think, yet exactly what has been pressed upon me over the last week. I always loved her, to a depth that surprises me even now. I hate the idea of it, for I feel that no one deserved my devotion like Naline did. No one treated me better, nor cared for me more deeply, and yet I did not love her as I should have.
Isn’t that obvious? Wasn’t it always? If I had loved Naline with the intensity that I always loved Lystra I would never have left her in Elandir. I would never have cared that the Tetrarch would have frowned upon our union.
No I loved Naline, but only to a certain level. Never as much as she deserved. Never as much as I should have. Gods, but I can’t even hate myself properly for it. Too much of me was tied up in Lystra.
When I left Lystra it was out of pride. When I dropped her it was mutual, at least in the moment. I avoided her later attempts at reclaiming my heart by leaving for the hunt. I left my honored station in Sterling to put distance between us, to reinforce the certainty that leaving her had been the right thing. But what I never knew, at least what I never admitted until now, was that her hold upon my heart had never truly weakened.
When I returned to Sterling, when I was called to resume my post in the capital, she had a new lover. Of course she did, for she was expected to be courting someone. It was not her nature, nor what society would expect for her to remain celibate.
Did it matter that she rejected me in turn? Did it compromise me when they announced their engagement? Did the threat of losing her forever drive me to cement that distance? When I found out that her fiancé was a Daedric follower, was that purely pretense to inject myself back into her life?
Everything within me screams that no, what I did was done because it was my calling. Killing him was my duty, and killing her was only the collateral of war. She was not the first to attempt to save a loved one from the blue blades of the Tetrarch. I was not there for her.
But under the breathless oppression of the Makonga, with the weight of all my guilt pressing down upon me with a physical force behind it, I know the truth. There is no denying it any longer, and no amount of self-deceit can conjure up convincing lies. I did not enter that house to kill a Daedric follower. I entered it to kill my pain, and in the process made it permanent.