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The Private Journal of Anissa Ilistaire

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Friday, February 5th, 2010
12:19 am - Remembering the Killing Fields
The red-haired Elothean woman lounges in front of a roaring fire, clad only in a man's crisp white nightshirt. Her expression seems more tired than usual -- it is clear she has not slept in several days. A glass of brandy -- half empty, dangles from her fingertips.

A soft noise from the nearby bed causes her to turn her head. She looks upon the young man sleeping there -- a squire of no more than 17 years of age. She admires his exposed limbs in an almost professional manner, as an art collector might regard a precious painting.

A sudden crackle from the fire pulls her from her introspections, and she begins to write in the journal balanced upon her lap.

"Shard's bravery and subsequent support have been surprising to me. It has been a long time since the locals and I have seen eye to eye on anything, and it is a refreshing change. It seems, in our roundabout way, that we want the same thing.

It's a pity Powerhaus didn't have the sense to relocate here, else he would have avoided unnecessary persecution.

Many knights have been coming to our fair province as of late, seeking what they do. Some of them seem to have almost revolutionary viewpoints -- it fascinates me greatly. Some wish to kill Oane. Others want to speak to Beren first. I have told those who will listen of how Octa Diase and her family were burned on the killing fields of Mer'kresh for their 'heretical' beliefs.

Even the original Hounds were monsters who could not stand the thought of peaceful alternatives.

And what exactly did Octa preach that was so wrong? That the gods might have once been mortal, powered by the orbs we so faithfully bestow upon them? So what. Does it lessen their incredible scope of being?! Pah.

So many Elotheans fled Ilithi during the Resistance Wars, seeking peace in Qi. What many of them found, instead, was death.

Heresay be damned, I hope that information helps these paladins in some small way.

By my hand,

A. Ilistaire."
 

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Friday, January 15th, 2010
3:33 am - The Longest Road

I had put this journal away for so long that re-reading it was like revisiting a stranger.

So much has changed since then. In time, I think I have learned to become a better leader... and a more humble one.

What transforms a person? When Deshian died I became consumed within a rage that knew no bounds and a hunger for all knowledge. It threw me into following other sorcerors and learning what I could from them. In time, I fell in with a lot of like-minded individuals, and Velmix bid us to build an army for the return of the King, and so we did.

We did our best.

But after Arourra died, Enef killed the Princess and the heir-apparant, and Tropicalo marched on Shard -- the Order grew disatisfied with my leadership. I do not blame them. All were risky moves and none of them resulted in total victory. Some did not understand why I had chosen to throw our lot in with the Adan'f. They are like us, in their own way, but I suppose that can be hard to accept.

Too, I had promised them the return of the King for at least twenty years. At the time, all I had to show for it was a mangy, vision-causing bone, an urn full of dust, shadows of a dragon, and a human mercenary with an odd gift for pre-imperialistic blackfire patterns. I do not blame them for their wavering faith and I stepped down as gracefully as I could, to serve them best from amongst the general rank. Morsithia and the other Council members rose up in my stead.

As to the matter of my role in Arilana's death? I am convinced that because of the memory Vorclaf bore Arourra, my trial was made to be private and swift. 

Afterwards...
 
Secretly pregnant with Enef's child, and with a hostile province all around me, I retreated to the warm shores of Aesry Surlaenis'a, and the lands of my family there. It was what was the best world for Luc to be born into. He got to spend his babe-hood playing on the sands, and I had time to rethink upon all of my actions -- both rash and wise.

Morsithia joined us before long.. her visions had become more frequent, her control more erratic. It often seemed as if there were two of her in there. She stayed with Luc, and I arranged my return.

It had been several years since I had walked through Zoluren. I came to meet a survivalist, a former student of Marcul Mcree, who had stepped up in the Council to take over leadership. He was doing a good job, but he told me that his time in the wilderness had left him lacking in certain social finesses. Regardless, he was much better kempt than the Westerlings I have dealt with before (a lice-riddled lot.)

The message he bore for me was clear.

Times are dire for those such as we, and past laments must be laid aside. It is clear to me now that we fight not for domination, expansion, or an impact upon the greater world stage. Now we must fight for the most basic of things -- survival.

Some of us are heretics. Some of us are forsaken. Some of us are just dreamers, waiting for a better world for our kind.

For however grim a fate awaits, however poor the odds, I will take back up that scepter. My responsibilities are as clear as our founding precepts.

So be it.


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Saturday, February 25th, 2006
3:09 pm - Interesting Developments
Long has it been since I have written.

Recently I have come from Aesry Surlaenis'a, where we met with Carnabus Corse. A dashing figure -- but I have always had a particular weakness for that shade of green eyes. That was of course, no call for his arrogance -- though I believe I put him in his place. Bloodston' got what he was after, methinks, now we just need the wretched Light Keeper to take us to the next place.

I've waited for several days and recently decided it may be futile. Time to return to Ilithi until I once again here the raven's call.

Before leaving to dash off to the islands, I had quite a bit of business dealings down in Ilithi. The Grey have kept to themselves, a fact which I am grateful. The locals have promised me that they will continue to "lobby to the gods" to keep me from being elected a candidate for Ferdahl. I am not quite certain what this means -- why would the gods be concerned over politics? But alas, the southron people have always been creatures of spirit over thought. Noone can force the three's hands (not right now, at any rate), least of all me. So I am not certain what there is to get so riled up over.

The Adan'f are growing increasingly inhospitable -- it will be interesting to see what comes of this. I wonder, perhaps, if they can be cultivated as allies to our cause. I will have the priests work on this, as it is their forte. And ahh yes -- the priests. It goes without mentioning that the Eye grows stronger as the days go by. I am so fortunate to be surrounded by such intelligent, discerning individuals.

But enough chatter of that. The Carwu Aloreto competition brought forth a decent suitor for Ysselt. Decent. I am not certain he is a good fit. I fear time will tell on that one.

My own engagement to General Prustraith is satisfying enough, he makes me happy, and also he is fabulously wealthy. It is so nice to have a man spending so much on baubles and trinkets -- I have missed it.

Lastly, Morsithia has recently returned to us of our own volitions. I am not sure where she has been during the war, and she will not speak of it. I am just happy to have my daughter back -- and her father as well, I think.

It has been 382 years, 244 days since the Victory of Lanival the Blasphemer.
It is the 7th month of Moliko the Balance in the year of the Iron Toad.

By my hand,
A. Ilistaire

---------------

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Friday, February 24th, 2006
2:46 pm - The Lodge
A warm summer's breeze drifts through the deep woodlands, causing the more slender mistwood saplings to sway to its' eldritch music. Silvery leaves gleam brightly, mostly towards the canopy overhead, pale moonlight dancing off of deep green leaves. Below, along the loamy forest floor, stands a small but stately lodge.

Dark framed tinted windows look in on an elegant bloodwood lady's desk. It is pushed against the far wall, right next to an open grey marble hearth. A woman is seated at it, dressed in simple but finely tailored mage's robes. There are delicately heeled boots on her feet, as if she had just come in from a nightly stroll in the wood. Her graceful head is bent over the desk's surface, and there is a quill clutched in her pale hand. She is scribbling onto the yellow, brittled pages of a fat journal.

She is more intent than she usually is, and her garb and demeanor are not the only things that have changed.

Her normally fashionably-coifed hair, long and raven-black, is bound back into a severe, utilitarian arrangement. Too, many of her finest, most precious baubles, are missing from their cherished places around slender neck, wrist, waist and finger. A scabbard at the waist has replaced that most famous spidersilk cloak, and the gleam of gilt-polished armor shows from above the reinforced collar of her robes. This is not the battle plate of olde', she's often prone to wearing. It is newer, less valuable, but equally beautiful and strong.

One might wonder why this lady of Zoluren, so fond of tea parties and staying aloof of the recent skirmishes -- in most cases -- is now dressed more militarian than most Commanders? The answer lies in the thick pages, upon which her spidery hand now rests...

----

Word has come...

He knows. He knows some of the names. A trap, to be laid. And the Master distracted. Bent on scolding where... where his breathe may as well be saved. ...have not seen him in many days.

I cannot go back to the tower, it will attract too much attention.

I will send a boy, a boy with a message. Haryn's son, perhaps. The mute.

The dance has begun in earnest, and I find myself ready to join the floor.

I wonder if anyone realizes the sheer number of people the commanders and their goons have alienated? The staggering amount who leap to defect -- a large number of them not showing sympathy out of hidden malice. They are genuinely interested in furthering our causes..

Ahh well, let the dance continue. I am liking the tune.

It has been 382 years, 244 days since the Victory of Lanival the Redeemer.
It is the 7th month of Moliko the Balance in the year of the Iron Toad.

By my hand,
A. Ilistaire

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Monday, January 16th, 2006
4:38 pm - The Return of Dissodance
A familiar spidery script, writ in black, dances across the page:

It has been a long time. Far too long, my old friend.

I find that times have changed, moreso than I would care to admit. Life has been far too hectic for me to adhere to my regular regiment of journal writing. My search on the islands failed to yield up anything more than Artamia’s rotting corpse. Seeing that hag’s crumpled form almost made it worth abandoning my life’s work in a mad search for my child.

Now that I have returned to the mainland I find that everything is different. Rubble and ruin dominate Ilithi – and while this was to be expected, my darling Grommykins has always been waiting for me at the gate. Death has taken him from me… though nothing is absolute in these realms. Still, I find I miss his mad chortling, and devious ways. He was a better pet than I had a right to have. I think he would be disgusted with some of those that now inhibit this once fair southron province. While never a great supporter of Trantris, Rayth and their retainers… some GOOD can be said of them. For one, they kept largely to themselves. I have found that the latest crowd is not worth very much, by anyone’s standards – and consists mostly of trollops. And Aleyden. Truly, it saddens me to see what he has become – a political haggard.

The Grey have been well abounds with their greatest of works, and I find myself stepping around them as I orchestrate my own. I believe we can disagree to disagree, and keep to our own manipulations.

I find the Eye greatly weakened by my absence. A few remain. The Westerlings, S., and a handful of others. But it is of no great consequence. I consider it the calm before the storm. Such quiet will lead many to forget what little they may have discovered over the years.

Zunee is gone now from these parts. I miss her quiet ways and intelligent words. I wonder sometimes where she has gone, and have decided she must be with the Master, if she lives yet still. Mavan'ia... or is it T'ansell? Sigh. I do not know for sure. Yet so, he guards his treasures closely, and it is unlikely he would let The Mother wander alone in such uncertain times.

I find that Maje has also gone. He has left to seek the tribes in the north, he is no doubt a great appreciator of the powers they posess.

Of the three Chosen, two remain, and I find “The Viper Prince” has grown increasingly bitter with time. Perhaps he has accepted his impending mortal fate, and the cold caress of time. His marriage plans with the Elven Bardess has disintegrated, due mostly, I imagine, to his obsession with Blackfire. This gives me a small sense of pleasure. Divorced as we have been all these years, our marriage was a long one, and founded on things not visible to the naked eye. I am glad that another has not managed to replace me.

Listen to me prattle on!

I must gather my belongings and prepare for the festival at hand.

I need to look my best.

By my hand,

A. Ilistaire

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Friday, April 16th, 2004
1:31 am - History.
In the annals of history we may be recalled as villains. But it is the time, the time for seizing. And there can be no turning back.

It has been 375 years, 321 days since the Victory of Lanival the Redeemer.
It is the 9th month of Dolefaren the Brigantine (ship) in the year of the Iron Toad.

By my hand,
A. Ilistaire

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Sunday, March 28th, 2004
2:04 am - The Lost Prophet
This page has been ripped out.

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Saturday, March 20th, 2004
2:57 pm - An Unplentidude of Placation.
I had been enjoying myself at the festival. Spending gobs and gobs of money on fine clothes, gorgeous weapons, suits of gilt armor. At the auction I bought treasures for my closest friends, a spidersilk cloak for Gromnir, and a lovely antique neithrel band for Ysselt. Zunee was absent, oddly enough, or else I'd have bought her something as well. S. was there, but he was looking entirely too foppish for his own good already -- an Immokkoken gem would have been *BAD* for him.

I drank brandy, tea, even had dinner with Toulom and Esselyon upon one occasion. I hobknobbed with designers, painters, artisans. I laughed, I smiled, I bantered wittily. I put on the facade as it is required of me.

I went to the coronation. I overheard Morsithia talking to Keresyk, and her words -- rather upset me. She spoke about how she was excited to have a new mother soon, and with a strangely uncharacteristic, childish disregard -- paid me little worth. I left then, as I felt a burgeoning pain in my breast.

She will have two mothers, yes. But am I worth so much less than the bardess? I can give her wealth, a name, a future. I can protect her from her enemies. I will protect her from her enemies. And Ysselt? She can give her warmth, music, and compassion. Perhaps, in a sense, Morsithia is lucky indeed to have two such mothers, that they may hold her in such equitable esteem...

[...Suddenly there are several large, aggravated ink blots across the face of the page, as if an inkwell had been spilled. When the writer's hand renews, it is especially short and blocky -- there is a severe new emphasis on exclamation marks and the dots over the i's...]

I cannot find words to describe my rage. But I must keep a cool exterior. Whoever paid the thug will be accosted of a heftier price than he could ever have imagined, I swear it. To take my daughter, my child, from the festival! At knife-point! And to..to..

Of all things, to take her to the Moon Mage counselship at Ulf'hara Keep... Someone knew exactly what they were doing. And they had no qualms about it, either. I have no doubt the beast, whoever he is, would have caused serious harm if given the chance.

It is a good thing Zoranyl was too stupid to realize how valuable my daughter is. I thank the powers that he turned them away at the door, imprisoned the ruffian, and cut Morsithia's bindings. I will offer the Powers-That-Be a sacrifice tonight that they saved her from his questions, and from being brought before her peers.

Just now they are seeing the things she has seen, just now they are coming to the same conclusions. How they would feel about the insight of a mere child is not a token I wish to gamble upon.

Whatever the fiend who did this' was, his or her plan failed. It failed by a thread of fate, the tiniest of strands. And for this I am grateful. Morsithia was looked over by Laachminmaak...no serious harm was done, though she does seem paler than usual. And oddly weepy.

After a day of recouperation she has returned to the festivities in solemn spirits, and luckily Professor Dee is around to provide chaperonage. My instinct was to barricade SitSit up in Preston's apartments, but this would show fear. Intimidation. Better that they think we are not afraid of them, whoever they are...

I had thought that we had kept her secret quiet, the Scions do not know, surely. I had thought.. I had thought.. I had thought wrong...

It has been 375 years, 214 days since the Victory of Lanival the Redeemer.
It is the 6th month of Arhat the Fire Lion in the year of the Iron Toad.

By my hand,
A. Ilistaire

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Sunday, March 7th, 2004
4:13 am - Winthorne Manor.
I have just returned from a fete held at Winthorne Manor, a place known for its stark beauty and dark woodlands. It was a pleasant time, and there were several ghosts in attendance. Spirits can be such interesting creatures -- and I do so love a haunted mansion. The maze was quaint but serviceable, and I obtained some sort of bubble blowing device. Lord Donivon was not nearly as handsome as purported.

I had had Lynneshire and Morsithia in attendance as I prepared to leave for said fete, and that in itself was a daunting task. As the former laced my corset up tightly, the latter sat silently by the window, her eyes boaring into me. It's not fair that a child should see so clearly through me, and stand to judge. There was no mistaking the reproach in her blank gaze. I can only assume she has seen what I have done with the paladin boy, I can only hope she understands what drives me to do it.

Not since that day in Ilithi so many moons ago, when she broke down in a fit, and called Zunee and I monsters -- almost exposing us to everyone -- has she let her confidance slip. That might be due in part to the oshu'mary and chamomile tea she drinks daily... but to whatever dues the ends are credited, I am glad it is under control.

She cannot understand this need I have, this desire to break or make paladins. The most worthless ones are set free unharmed. The worthiest offered up to my powers. And those that surpass even my greatest expectations -- like Ismarin -- they, they are converted.

I wonder if she hates me, my own flesh and blood. She is a terribly pious little wraith, but she loves me yet still. And I her, though it was a mistake to send her away at birth. I am glad she has always had Preston, at least there will be /some/ family to care for her when the Master's Plans come to fruition and I am a woman -- a creature -- a feeder -- hunted.

It has been 375 years, 161 days since the Victory of Lanival the Redeemer.
It is the 5th month of Uthmor the Giant in the year of the Iron Toad.

By my hand,
A. Ilistaire

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Saturday, March 6th, 2004
6:48 am - Blood Lust.
Scholars say that blood lust often descends upon barbarians in the heat of battle. But I am no barbarian, I am a mage. And I must admit that such things effect me too, sometime.

I have just returned to the north, and I had the chance fortune of stopping by the Baron's Table for luncheon. Who was dining there but Preston, and a gaggle of his friends? They invited me to dine with them, and so I ate, with good cheer.

The conversation was boring and atypical for a group of such robust young men. The talk was of war, and swords, mounts, armor, and of course, local maidens. I nodded and smiled politely, but was not affording it much attention.

That is, until someone new joined the table.

He was greeted with gusto by his brothers at arms, and took a seat near one of the boys -- who was wearing green armor. This arrival was introduced to me as Jerod Bridicchi, sixth son of a squire. But I did not need such an introduction to know that he was a paladin. Perhaps it was the strong square jaw, framed in delicate waves of blue-black hair. Perhaps it was the fair skin, or the crystal blue eyes that gleamed beneath hawk's brows. Perhaps it was the proud and noble nose. But it was none of these things. For I have a sense when it comes to smelling out Paladins. It must be their bearing.

After he joined us, the rest of the table became inconsequential. He and I locked eyes, time and time again, and his smile was shy and unassuming. That did not stop me -- my hand found his knee beneath the table. He had the good grace not to blush. And on and on the others conversed, from the left, from the right. After a suitable interval I excused myself, kissed Preston goodbye, and slipped out the door. I was not long waiting before Jerod followed me.

Growing even more timid in the silence, he offered me a small, boyish grin. I wondered what bid him to follow me, an almost complete stranger. I could flatter myself with assuming it was beauty, but he had likely heard of my reputation. My penchant for wealth and handsome young men. Perhaps he sensed a fortune was to be made here.

Either way, his curiousity would have a price. We went to the lodge, and I dismissed the servants.

What followed has no place on paper, but his flesh was hard and warm and everything I desired. And as he stared at the ceiling, his beautiful eyes clenched shut in bliss, I did what I had been lusting to do since I laid eyes upon him...

I slit his throat.

Open. Shut. Open. Shut. Thus went his mouth as he gasped, his blood spilling from him in great gouts of crimson life. The helplessness and the lack-of-understanding reflected in the depths of those blue occulars made me tremble with satisfaction. Let him suffer as I suffer, every day of my life.

I wiped his blood from my face, and burned the sheets and blankets.

I carved the body as is best done when the offer is ritualistic in nature. Careful runes placed with the intent that the soul can never be brought back, ever. Rendered his limbs for good measure. And then I took his heart for my own. May the powers be given strength by the sacrifice. Then I gave his remains over to the cleansing of fire. I have not offered one in so very long, as I did not finish what I started with Toulom last winter. Maybe because of his pathetic bawling.

I hope my son will not miss his worthy companion.

It has been 375 years, 158 days since the Victory of Lanival the Redeemer.
It is the 4th month of Shorka the Cobra in the year of the Iron Toad.

By my hand,
A. Ilistaire.

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6:24 am - The Westerling.
I had returned to Zoluren for a time to deal with the Westerling. And let me tell you, it was no easy task. I offered her a dress, dress robes, a sarong -- she would wear nothing but the wolfskin armor on her back. Finally I dug up a rough old tunic and leggings that once belonged to Chadatru's Avatar, Eivrak. It amuses me that her eyes lit up so when she saw this clothing. It pleases me that a Westerling should wear it. And it satisfies me, lastly, that the fools of society have no idea who Eivrak truly was. That they persecuted him so viciously. He was a holier man then they, and he died like a lamb to their blades. And now a scion of necromancy wears his clothes. Oh yes... this is all very, /very/, amusing.

Now, the Westerling had come east awhile back, but had set herself up near the Knife Clan, in the woods. She was studying the green 'Gor' as she called them, having not been previously aquainted with those of Toggish mien.

When she came to me she was disheveled and bright-eyed. And after we got her properly dressed, there were still stars in her pupils. I ordered the servants out of the house, locked the door, and turned to her.

Right away she asked if I would teach her. I told her, cautiously, that I would teach her all I know. And that settled things.

She was eager to begin right away, but first things first. I sent her off with Lynneshire for a thorough scrubbing, de-licing, and lye bath. When she came back to me her beauty was much improved, that lovely dark hair is all the more beautiful when combed free of knots. She will make a lovely addition to the initiate base.

Now, we focussed on the easy things. Grammar. She already had a loose hold on it, from chance meetings with other Westerlings and traders and such. But we worked towards perfecting it. She is much more smart than that slave I bought nearly a year ago, and for that I am grateful. There were still some hygenical issues, but we worked through those quickly. I expressed the fact that reverance and obediance are the foremost traits we look for in our fledglings.

I introduced her to Il-Khan and Willowrun, and she began an almost litannous form of worship. She worships all of us, curiously enough, and it is not something I seek to divert. Is not discipline and piousness a trait we look for in our recruits? If they are not thus, they must be tied and branded. As E. was. Anyhap, Willowrun was quite taken by her beauty, it's a wonder he was able to keep his tongue inside his mouth.

I am glad I did not have to be forceful with this new Westerling. After about a week in Zoluren I wrapped up her basic training. She still has a long way to go before I can teach her the basics of ritualistic scarring, and she shudders on the ground whenever she is in a 'holy' area (read; cemetary...or other place of the dead). She cries out in ecstacy to Maelshyve... I have worked on curbing her tongue. I am not sure where she heard of the demi-goddess, but her dedication has the most curious way of showing itself.

She also goes into a rabid rage everytime she sees a wolf. She is convinced they are all the servants of the Falsegod. Keeping her from upsetting Rangers is no easy task, but we're working on restraint.

My time with the Westerling, teaching her many of the basic social functions, reminded me of what it felt like to be a mother. Will I, like Zunee, become a mother to those that will follow us in our Great Works? That thought does little to assuage my own losses, but at least it is something.

I have not seen the Master since that fateful day, but I wait. I wait... I'm working on several books in the interim. Besides "The Lonely Road", I have begun the outline for "The Arts of Corvinum", and "Practical Uses of Blood Ritual". They will be very fine, basic volumes when I am done with them. Perfect for our fledglings, or our younger Initiates.

I have gone north once more, leaving the Westerling amongst a contingent of Seekers. I hope they will guide her truly.

It has been 375 years, 157 days since the Victory of Lanival the Redeemer.
It is the 4th month of Shorka the Cobra in the year of the Iron Toad.

By my hand, A. Ilistaire

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Monday, March 1st, 2004
8:35 am - A Span of Days.
So much has happened. It is almost to much to write about.

I was summoned south by an urgent missive that needed attending. I gave up my sport and traveled down to see what it was.

The Master's Tower was besieged with vermin, besotted individuals from either side of the border. I watched in bemusement as they tried the usual threads and bandylegging... but my muffled laughs of delight were cut short by a choking mass of green gas. While the others scattered, I fell. And when next I regained conciousness I was in the Master's private sanctuary.

It was an intriguing place, just as I had envisioned it.

Bones on the walls, and a throne made of skulls. That's where Strawn sat.

He beckoned me closer, and asked why I had been drawing such attention to myself.

I denied any such thing -- and it's true, I haven't. In all but the rarest circumstances have our actions not been provoked.

Luckily his scolding was brief, or perhaps it was because my attention was distracted by the tail that followed him.

He said that distractions could ruin everything, and that the timing must be perfect. And he told me... I must give up my studies of the black fires. The thirst would consume me.

I held my breath for a moment or three and agreed to do so.

He said it was well, for soon I shall have even greater power than blackfire at my fingertips. So will the others.

I lost conciousness again then, but there is so much more I wished to say to him. There will be time later, I hope.

I returned to the north, only to find a letter from Laachminmaak awaiting me. I had to return home /again/. Honestly, life can be SO inconveniant.

When I arrived I found out all the hubbub had been about a girl. One of the Westerlings I have been writing too. She had decided to come east, all on her own, and had come to my very doorstep!

Introductions were definitely in order. This one's name is Catatonia Malignia. Her eyes are lovely and gold, like miniature suns, her flesh pale as death. Hair as black as mine, but her form is shapely in the way of the Elves. She is a relatively shy and timid creature, I do not believe she has ever been inside a city or even a large township before.

She has deep-rooted beliefs about the evils of Meraud and how she intends to kill the Falsegod. She bears the pelts of many wolves, and lives to kill them... she is an interesting individual, overall, and she has come seeking the dark arts... and Maelshyve.

Of course we have accepted her as one of the fledglings, I hope she is one of many Westerlings that will come forth.

It has been 375 years, 139 days since the Victory of Lanival the Redeemer.
It is the 4th month of Shorka the Cobra in the year of the Iron Toad.

By my hand,
A. Ilistaire.

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Monday, February 23rd, 2004
3:18 am - Solace in the North.
Several weeks ago I bid Zunee goodbye and headed north to the lodge in Mistwood Forest. My house on Captain's Court, beautiful as it is, covered the way it has been...still holds echoes of the past. My dreams were haunted by a burbling giggle, a childish face, clenched fists. He waits for me only in the fabric of dreams and imagination.

A child -- a salvation -- that I can never have. Deshian changed me for the better, once, and his loss ruined me. I wonder if it is better that this child died as it did now. If its passing had come at a later date... it surely would have destroyed me.

Solace was not found in a darkened house, nor in a province tottering on the brink of war.

And so I am glad to be away in the north, and gladder still that Ismarin chose to accompany me. Fallanor and Lynneshire did too of course, but they are servants, essentially, and had not much choice.

The respite has proven restful, if nothing else. I skipped the Baron's funeral rites several days back -- I've got my own mourning to deal with.

Letters and papers, books and parchments, things requiring my attention -- have followed me, north. Business is never far from sight. It can be quite the ordeal.

I am working on a book of philosophy and guidance based on the trials suffered by those I know. I am calling it "The Lonely Road". I intend to put it in the library at Headquarters. Something for the enlightenment shelves, not the roped-off corner where my books on spells and rituals have been placed.

All this writing gives me something to focus on. Something besides loss and death. But in that there is even more loss, for it occurs to me that the time I have to write so leisurely is woefully short. Like the life of a child, like the flame of a candle, it can be so easily snuffed out.

It has been 375 years, 110 days since the Victory of Lanival the Redeemer.
It is the 3rd month of Lirisa the Archer in the year of the Iron Toad.

By my hand,

A. Ilistaire

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Monday, February 16th, 2004
4:57 am - Black Days.
I like to think that black is a good color. That it flatters my figure. The truth of the matter is that black is a color that flatters any physique. In wellness and health, in sickness and mourning, it is a color I have often turned to. It is as consistant as the star-strewn span of the night skies. Ever as reassuring.

I find that my current train of thoughts are beyond such reassurances as a soothing color. Beyond the soft touch of a familiar fleece blanket. The smell of a familiar perfume or a casual smile from a friend.

I find my every waking moment devoured by a monster -- whose name is Grief.

Some days I will force myself to walk around town. A fake smile upon my face. Sometimes I engage in the typical pleasantries. I wonder if they can see that my expression is false, that there is no gleam in my eyes. I wonder if I can possibly be that transparent.

I endure it for as long as I can. Some of the other townspeople know -- especially the women. Their gaze drops to my belly -- once round with life -- now flat in death. Perhaps they know because I do not have a bouyant bounce in my step. Or the proud, beaming aura of a new mother. I can read it as the realization registers IN THEIR EYES. The sympathy. The pity. How I hate them and their betraying glances. I do not want their pity. Their sympathy. I am better than them by half. Richer. Smarter. I've things they've never dreamed of. And they dare offer me their inadequate sympathies.

When the hatred becomes too much, when the ache grows too great to bear, I retreat to my home on Captain's Court. With the black drapes drawn and only the embers for warmth -- I will allow no new fires to be lit -- I embrace the loss alone. This pain is mine and they should not have the audacity to presume that they can even begin to comprehend. To understand.

Two sons lost. Two babies. Two sweet, fat little babies. Deshian, with his sweet little blue eyes. His fat hands. His giggle, like music. And this one. His nameless shadow -- a reminder of past crimes, past failures? That it came now, after I have come so far..so far. And still so helpless.

Or am I? It is hard to believe. After these fourteen years, am I still as ineffectual as I once was? I am great in the guild now, though I try not to flaunt it -- those that do sit ill upon every palette. I am greater still in the -- less public -- circles that I frequent. My skills with blood sorcery and black fires are still as fresh and tremulous as a newborn fawn, but they are growing. Soon, I will be great in those venues as well. But it was not enough! Not enough!

Or.. or is it?

Today I called the westerlings to me, those that dwell in the burrows out in the plains. Some of the citydwellers, too. What is the use of funding fledgling Necromancers if they can not do even the merest task?

I also sent for Fallanor. It can never hurt to have the family cleric on hand -- I have set him to refamiliarizing himself with some of the more ancient texts on resurrection.

I wonder what they will be able to accomplish, if anything. I have the ashes still, we will see what our labor's fruitions are.

I lost a son once, a sweet and innocent boy. Then, I was the foolishly grinning new wife of a rich, minor Elven lordling. My grief was complete, my wrath unforgiving.

I lost a son twice, a boy who was all but unknown to me. Now, I am no idiot wife of an unworthy man. And I am fueled not only by grief, this time...

It may be too late for Deshian, but what of.. what of my baby?

It has been 375 years, 82 days since the Victory of Lanival the Redeemer.
It is the 3rd month of Lirisa the Archer in the year of the Iron Toad.

By my hand,
A. Ilistaire

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Saturday, February 7th, 2004
1:13 am - Relapse.
Lynneshire says I pushed myself too far, too soon. The collapse was inevitable. So I have been abed all week, timid and feverish. I shouted for my cambrinth, my book of spells. Noone would bring them to me... what awful servants I have.

Condolensces arrived from several family members. A basket of fruit and weepers from Preston and Morsithia in Therengia. Artamia even sent a lock of her hair, bound in ribbon. What use have I for some hag-of-a-sorceress' talisman of luck? Where has luck ever gotten me? Nowhere. Ever have I carried myself forward.

I have ordered all of the flowers in or surrounding the house burned or torn down. Even the glistening ornament I once wore in my hair, carved of fire agate, has been stored away. There will be no blossoms here. As my sweet stillborn son never blossomed, so will the flower's deaths remember him. Sweeter and better-fitted in their wilted charred forms than their scents and colors could ever be in life.

And I have had all the paintings in all the rooms covered in linen. Toulom's portrait has been taken down and appropriately burned.

This is no longer a home of beauty and grace. A shrine of hope and majesty.

There shall be none until our goals are reached. This is a place of singular purpose now. I will find triumph in this task set before me, or I shall gladly perish.

I have been out and about again today, persuing my power once more. It will grow, as it always has. A crutch. Nothing more. But it is all I have left. I see the wavering of faith in Zunee's eyes. She wishes to remain 'normal'. It is hard when we must give up who we are and accept only the shadows on the horizon as our salvation. I understand the difficulty therein. But I cannot help but think she is just afraid to be publically outcaste, even the initial barbs seem too difficult for her to handle. I wish she had the common sense to see they are merely hurdles trying to turn her from her true path. But Zunee's one failing is that she is always so eager to see the good in everyone, even the manipulators.

It is no matter. I will shoulder the burden for as long as I can.

It has been 375 years, 45 days since the Victory of Lanival the Redeemer.
It is the 2nd month of Ka'len the Sea Drake in the year of the Iron Toad.

By my hand,
A. Ilistaire

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Thursday, February 5th, 2004
3:27 am - Flows and Ebbs.
My strength ebbs with every waning of the sun. One day I'll feel a little weaker. The next, a bit stronger.

It feels so surreal, this emptyness. Where once a baby kicked in a rounded belly, there is now flat nothingness. It is a loss I can barely wrap my mind around.

There was to be a new little life in this house. The gurgle of a child's laughter once more. I cannot ever recall hearing Morsithia laugh as a child. Maybe it is because I sent her away shortly after birth...

But we all have our regrets.

This will be one of mine.

Was it the brandy, I wonder? Or the guardsmen's knock upon my head, that brief period of unconciousness, my time inside the cruel jail cell? Was it the horror of the conception itself? Was it the cruel false-thirteen's way of mocking me?

I can never become powerful enough to thwart them and their fiendish desires. Not in my studies in blood, bone, or ritual. Not in life.

I will miss this little son of mine, the son I never had a chance to know. May your spirit rest near sweet Deshian's.

I've sent for black moire silks for the walls and cushions. I must reupholster everything. Dark shutters for the windows. No flowers in the house. None on the trellises. Lynneshire is sobbing already about this, but her wants be damned.

On the third day after I mustered enough strength to change my own clothes and hobble around town, Lynneshire in attendenace. If I must do anything in my grief it is cling to the power, for there is no turning back and I may only go forward if I am to survive.

I must put down the quill now, for I am weary.

I've no idea what time it is, each waking moment seems preferable to an eternity of nightmares.

By my hand,
A. Ilistaire.

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Wednesday, February 4th, 2004
3:59 am - Dead
[The usual fluid, spidery script has been replaced by a weak sprawling scroll...]

Dead. Dead. The baby is dead. Dead. Dead...

[The writing trails off, a huge ink mark trailing off the edge of the page.]

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Saturday, January 31st, 2004
7:05 am - Untitled.
I am weary as I write this and wearier as the night comes. Today has been a long day.

I was hearing of activity up by the Gorbesh Fort in Dirge. And so I went. Gromnir was there, with our old sashed Rakash friend. I sat with them for a time, hoping to discuss with the Master what I know about the bauble.

I waited in vain, though.

Idiots had gathered at the gate, and though fogs of acid and gas descended upon them, they returned. One of them, a young Prydaen named Cindyquill, was particularly obnoxious. I called out to the fort that they please release their mammoths, and lo', they did, trampling many of those annoying bystanders.

I was amused as I watched behind the safe walls of an ice fortress.

But the humor was short-lived.

Gromnir and I made our way back to the trade-route, we were just strolling, really, when Opreina Moracul Zoranyl arrived. He said that he wished to speak with me, and before I could reply, Gromnir fled into the distance. At which point Zoranyl said that he'd a warrant for him. When I asked why -- I found myself bashed over the head and knocked unconcious by his henchmen.

When I awoke in the prisons of Ulf'Hara keep, all my belongings had been stripped and all I was left with was a hideous, moldy robe. Which I removed at once.

I begged for new clothes and was threatened. I begged for blankets and was equally so. I prayed that Gromnir's feet were swift and that they took him to the abbey. That he would be safe. I prayed for the crimson ones to come that they might protect him. But I was unavailed, my wishes did not come true, for it was not long before Kins' was shoved into an adjacent cell. I heard his whimpering, his shouts.

I heard him bellowing -- I feared he had inflicted damage upon himself in his terror at being so enclosed.

I demanded that they send him an Empath. Once again -- I was threatened.

Eventually Zoranyl came, and gave me some new robes. He questioned me. And I told him what had happened -- or -- very nearly so... (well, perhaps I took some creative lisence where Marlik was concerned... but the crime does need an incitor....)

He seemed to disbelieve me somewhat, and left me there for a time. I believe he went to question Gromnir. But by his reaction, I knew there was something dreadfully wrong in the cell next door. Fear enfused me then, cold and ice in my spine. I tried not to show it.

Slow and easy, like Lorien Ilistaire is quoted as saying. Slow and easy, keep your head high. Keep your chin up. Don't let them see your pain. Never, ever cry.

In truth I wanted to shriek hysterically. Bruise my fists upon the wall. Tear down the iron door with my bare teeth and burn each and every guardsman without it to ashes. But I could not. I could not reach my magic there, and within -- I had nothing but the robes on my back.

I looked at the floor and became incensed. I willed that the crimson ones come to the dungeon and slay the guards! But before I could focus too much on this thought, a vision flitted across my eyes. The raven, the prophet, had chosen now as the time to reveal himself to me. In a flash he was gone, but the time was seen. The mark noted.

Then the door to my cell opened.

Zoranyl had returned. With the Prince. The latter seemed disappointed in me. But merciful. I was set free -- on behalf of the child I carry. But child be damned. Child be damned! I do not know the child yet -- but I know Gromnir. To lose him..to lose him...

It does not merit thinking. I will not lose him. I will not allow it. I will not think it. I have risked so much in defending him, but I will not regret it. I will go to trial, if I must. The world must see that Commanders may not get away with murder without retribution. For they are men, empowered by the Prince, not gods.

And real gods -- godesses -- walk these days. To her they shall hold account, none barred. May the wrath upon the wicked be terrible. May my precious Kins' be returned safely to me...

It has been 375 years, 18 days since the Victory of Lanival the Redeemer.
It is the 1st month of Akroeg the Ram in the year of the Iron Toad.

By my hand,
A. Ilistaire

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Monday, January 26th, 2004
8:01 pm - High Fashion and the New Year.
I attended Francke's little Soiree the other evening. On my left was Wolf, visiting Zoluren for whatever reason. I was glad to have him there. His handsome, silent presence was a comfort. On my right was Kins, who, in his robe and floppy hat, looked downright handsome for the occasion.

We mingled minimally, keeping mostly to ourselves. The food and drink was delectable, the company peaceful.

Francke unveiled his various creations, each of them a stunning work of art. Prizes were passed out to the different people that 'won' his contest, whose fashion advice will be published in the book he is releasing shortly.

Some won platinum prizes. Others won the objects that were displayed. Some won sessions with Francke, or his assistant Amirre.

I had a thumb ring made by Amirre, it is a simple little gold thing in the form of a coiled snake. I like it a lot -- and the man was handsome.

Kins and Wolf left the event as soon as possible, I fear they felt like 'prickmedainties' in attendance.

It was a lovely time but I fear I didn't enjoy it as much as I once would have. I had other, heavier things on the mind than silk and fashion. Such is the price of glory.

It has been 375 years, 0 days since the Victory of Lanival the Redeemer.
It is the 1st month of Akroeg the Ram in the year of the Iron Toad.

By my hand,
A. Ilistaire

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Monday, January 19th, 2004
4:21 pm - Velvet-Pawed Loses his Softness
Just the other evening I was conversing with Velvet-Pawed by the Crossing Town Pond. His sight was a comforting one to me. As we spoke, he leaned in and stole a kiss. It wasn't an unpleasant one -- however, it caught me by surprise.

I sat there, my lips like wet fish, and forgot all I knew of carnal knowledge. I thought only of a certain gentleman I had left in the north -- to follow his own devices. And my spirit grew cold.

Velvet-Pawed pulled away, his expression sultry and his eyes flashing angrily. He asked if I had not enjoyed the kiss. I responded that I could not, because my mind, truthfully, was on another man. And I felt guilty.

At this he flew into an ill-concealed, quiet rage. He accused me of using him, leading him on. In a curt voice, he excused himself.

It is better this way -- at least now I will not have to kill him.

He was an intellectual distraction, an interesting peer -- but he was, nontheless, a Bone Elf. Or something like them, but older. He's hinted at some sort of past sundering of the world in his memory... He was a danger. That is all there is to it. And I do not allow dangers to seduce me.

Naughty, reckless little Elf. May you learn from this.

It has been 374 years, 372 days since the Victory of Lanival the Redeemer.
It is the 10th month of Nissa the Maiden in the year of the Amber Phoenix.

By my hand,
A. Ilistaire

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