This heat is unbearable. If it wasn’t for the mesh of my light armor I might pass out at any moment along our journey, and I am not ashamed to say it. There is no breeze amongst these massive trees. Without this daily ritual of reflection in writing which I have undertaken, I would forget to take the time to appreciate their age and history. I would simply curse them for stagnating the air.
We have made decent progress into the jungle, but thus far no sign of human life presents itself. I don’t know what to make of this, as we are barely begun on the fringes of a massive territory. But this land feels empty. Even the howling that kept us awake those first few nights belied the vast hollow that seems to best define this space.
Perhaps it is misleading to say something like that about a terrain that is so compactly filled with foliage that I can barely breathe. It is suffocating. I have never been one to fear enclosed spaces, but I can see how one might develop the reaction. At times, as the air closes in and wraps itself around me, I feel constricted. Between my own sweat rolling slowly across my face and the stillness of the air, I might go mad.
Each day starts sluggishly as we pack our camp. It is often difficult to know how long the sun has been up as the thick canopy above casts us into an eternal half-light.
We don’t have much, no more than we can carry. The mat on which I sleep is the one comfort I allow myself, one tie to home. Otherwise we have stripped ourselves down to last a long march. What gets wet takes far too long to dry in this thick air, and we stink as if we had been at this for weeks already.
I wonder how Salisir felt when he first saw these trees. How he cursed against the frustrations he met as he advanced under them. Did he take his final mission seriously? Did he commit himself to carrying it out?
He had little regard for the order he joined, that much is apparent. Why would he so willingly submit to the will of its leadership? This makes no sense to me. If it was not for my absolute dedication to the Tetrarch I would have simply disappeared into the southern reaches or the Summer Isles, I would have even defected to Klotia, never to be seen again. I would not have come here to sweat and suffocate. I would not accept my death so willingly.
But Salisir… Salisir was a rebel at heart. Why would he put up with the stifling heat and the futile efforts of cutting his way through this accursed jungle? I cannot fathom it.
Perhaps I will find the answers in my notes. Perhaps I will find Salisir so he can tell me himself. It is more likely that I will never know.