There are long rows of cages underground, some under the palace itself and the rest spread across the northern reach of the city. Perhaps this is why the Daedra fought to keep us from entering the city from the north. They were filled with anyone who had a touch on the Atmosphere.
I could see the signs of ritual, carried out quick and without preparation. They slaughtered these prisoners one at a time, draining them of their blood and carrying it back to the palace where they could pour it over a slick. They were pressed into it prematurely for fear that we might break through and free their captives. Thankfully they were not truly quick about it, even as they dispensed with ceremony in their haste. Otherwise Inifra would have been unable to save so many.
They follow us still. Everywhere Inifra goes, there are dozens who bow or kneel when they see her. They stay like that until she touches them, and every time they rise with a smile plastered to their lips. She saved so many lives by herself, rushing into danger to save complete strangers from ignominious fates. Her selflessness is just that: selfless. Winning converts is purely a side-effect.
Fodafa’s pyre will be set at midnight tonight with Nianatara beside him. Hembila will represent the Sondu family, along with a few scattered cousins among the army who survived. Nianatara has no relations in the city, so Timber has taken it upon herself to stand for her family. Nianatara was brave, Timber said. She was a good woman, even if we didn’t agree with her, and for that reason she deserves to have someone cast her into the next life.
I don’t know what to expect from the ceremony tonight but I’m proud of Timber. It’s enough to make me rethink my frustrations with the Batsu leader, even if only in passing.
I’m tired. My armor has done its work, leaving me as fit as ever, but there is an exhaustion that runs beneath it all which no magic can touch. So many deaths. So much weight to carry to this point. And these scars that mark me are bizarre. Like the dark roots of a tree, they shoot down my right arm and spread across my ribs. Fitting to receive it in a place like the Nanten.
The people here have seen them on my arm, many have heard rumor. Some brave few have even asked to see them. They call me something different now: Tolada. Touched one. I think they mean it in a nicer sense than I’m inclined to hear in the translation.
It’s closely related to the word Ocada, but sounds like their word for lightning. The one touched by lightning. There is an even greater sense of profundity to the way they look at me in the streets. They may bow for Inifra, they love her, and they fear Dionus, but they revere me. Strange as it is to say, I can see it in their eyes. In how they give me space and never look in my face, even if they’re smiling when they do it.
What strange things become of us in the Nanten. What people we once were may never return. In fact, the man I was may already be gone.