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Written By Vanora

Oct. 18, 2018, 10:10 a.m.(10/19/1009 AR)

Since we are facing a new threat and updating everything, my own will ought be recorded.

Should I fall, my wedding ring is to be upon my body.

My stygian ring, commissioned by Valdemar as a wedding gift, goes to my son Arkyn Grimhall, that he might give it to his own wife one day.

My dawnstone ring, another gift from my husband, goes to Antony Grimhall for the same purpose.

A set of black Stormward pearls and earrings gifted from Ford Kennex go to Darion Kennex, with a similar story.

The rest of my jewels are to be given to House Grimhall to distribute or dispose of as they please.

My gowns go to Lady Ingrid Grimhall.

I humbly ask Archduchess Eleyna Velenosa and Archduke Talen Velenosa to keep an eye out for all three of my sons. To tell them stories of their mother, good or bad. Duchess Belladonna Pravus and Princess Isolde Velenosa may surely assist in this task. My sons will need First Liars even more without me to help guide them.

My black journals may be released to my sons when they are fourteen years of age. Beyond that they are to remain sealed.

By my hand,

Lady Vanora Grimhall

Written By Belladonna

Oct. 18, 2018, 5:49 a.m.(10/19/1009 AR)

Ramblings of a Still-Griefing Lycene on the Matter of Life and Death
10/19/1009 AR

Yesterday some of us lit candles to the departed in a beautiful ceremony at The Great Cathedral of the Pantheon, but death is far from pretty, isn't it? From the lips of one of Gloria's most stalwart servants, proper prayer to the goddess is not one that begs for victory; it is one that pleas for strength to face the Queen of Endings with dignity.

How we breathe our final breath matters. To some it is all that matters. I would gander that if the reflection was never made in one's head, it is because they have never seen someone leave this life. A clean death is not a right, but a rare privilege, and if this doesn't give you pause, maybe it should.

I am sure the ritual had a different meaning to each of us. I know that I have wondered myself if my memories and love mean anything to him now in the Shining Lands, or if they are simply selfish means that allow me to cope with the pain of his absence.

Death really gives perspective of life.

They are released now. They are free. They have met with the Queen and, with grace or agony, the have left. We, however, have much work to do still. From commoner to noble the only certainty in life is we have a dance with the Queen.

Do not squander your day today. Love someone you shouldn't. Practice with someone you stronger and more skilled. Push yourself, learn something new. Be daring. Do not be caught off guard when the Queen comes for you. Then it will have been too late. But only then.

Duchess Belladonna Pravus,
Ruler of Setarco

Written By Auda

Oct. 18, 2018, 2:57 a.m.(10/19/1009 AR)

If I rolled my eyes any harder, I think they might fall out of my head.

Written By Shard

Oct. 18, 2018, 2:42 a.m.(10/19/1009 AR)

Once upon a time, there was a powerful warlord that killed and enslaved people. One day, he did something he'd done hundreds and thousands of times before, and some people died. They left behind a little girl who was very sad and too young to know the world. The little girl fell asleep and had a dream, and in that dream a voice asked the little girl, "What are you going to do about it?"

And the little girl said, "I'm going to rip his fucking throat out."

Written By Delilah

Oct. 18, 2018, 1:10 a.m.(10/19/1009 AR)

Relationship Note on Tabitha

O sweet cousin, truly I am grateful to have shared the evening with you over our candles in the light of faith. Prayer is a strange thing to perform in public, en masse, sometimes, especially on matters near and sacred to the heart. Yet there was something magical about standing in the Great Cathedral at your side, thinking on the matters facing us ahead and knowing we would be there together for one another.

Through us, too, the kinship to all our siblings, cousins, uncles, aunts, and parents were represented. Hearing the soaring, glorious voices of the choir, my heart felt calm and stilled for the first time in a very long span. Mostly because we were together, sharing in a moment that still leaves me wistful in a way. There lies a beauty in the way voices mingle on the stone, and the archlectors and legates together performed a profound, subtly moving ceremony. Sir Jeffeth, too, added a human touch in unexpected ways. For that, and for Dame Thena, I am grateful.

Though I must say, spending the following hour or so shuttling silk every which way left me delighted and, I fear, a bit wearisome. Now, with the stars flickering overhead and a cool breeze stirring up the autumnal foliage, let it be said tonight held its own special magic: that of family and faith, friendship and fortune.

May such hopefulness and brightness of spirit touch everyone headed forth to the defense of Arx, now and in times ahead.

Written By Sparte

Oct. 18, 2018, 12:59 a.m.(10/19/1009 AR)

Service, Honor, Duty, Faith, Hope, Courage, Strength, Mercy, Justice, and Fidelity. Funny how words make big things seem obtainable when you write them on paper.

Written By Joscelin

Oct. 18, 2018, 12:04 a.m.(10/19/1009 AR)

Relationship Note on Evaristo

I've been gifted a piece of furniture I'm required to love.

Fine.

It's hideous but oddly endearing. Also I am too tired to move the thing so it's in my Atelier now. The assistants like it a lot, I don't know if he paid them to like it but they do.

Written By Cambria

Oct. 17, 2018, 11:55 p.m.(10/19/1009 AR)

A prayer for the lost, for those unknown, and without witness.

Written By Thesarin

Oct. 17, 2018, 11:37 p.m.(10/19/1009 AR)

Relationship Note on Harlex

No great mystery, to my mind.

Folk good with words like things settled with words.

Folk good at killing like things settled with killing.

Folk selling swords like things settled by folk buying swords.

Written By Sorrel

Oct. 17, 2018, 11 p.m.(10/19/1009 AR)

"Circles go round and round, time after time;
Every new season its own paradigm.

"We come together: faith and unity
Mankind dreams of an age where all souls are free...

"See how the fire burns so hot and bright
Exhorting us always to walk in the Light.

"We work as one people; we are as one --
Labor together 'til labor is done.

"Show your compassion to your fellow man
And thus do good deeds where ever you can.

Written By Sidney

Oct. 17, 2018, 10:54 p.m.(10/19/1009 AR)

What in the world have you all been doing to the Scholars while I was away? They look positively haggard.

I, on the other hand, am aglow from a summer spent in various scenic locales.

I expect everyone to come by the House and tell me very exciting stories about what I've missed.

Written By Vercyn

Oct. 17, 2018, 10:38 p.m.(10/19/1009 AR)

Relationship Note on Arik

I only did not win, dear nephew, because I was indisposed and unable to attend.

Written By Riagnon

Oct. 17, 2018, 10:06 p.m.(10/18/1009 AR)

I'm aghast not to have read word of my own beard, which I've been cultivating these many weeks and was sure everybody would have noticed!

Written By Jaenelle

Oct. 17, 2018, 9:41 p.m.(10/18/1009 AR)

Relationship Note on Amari

I was quite pleased with the titles you have come up with! I am fond of Queen Symonesse, and while she is the sweetest and most generous person I have ever had the pleasure of sharing tea with (she adores tea, and should any wish to offer her a gift, tea or night blooming flowers would make her thrilled) I would not feel comfortable being refereed to as "Queen" of anything. Perhaps I shall have to come up with something after all.

Written By Jaenelle

Oct. 17, 2018, 9:37 p.m.(10/18/1009 AR)

Relationship Note on Alaric

Have you seen the King's beard? His Majesty's beard is regal all on its own and holds meetings. Glorious, truly. Ask him he'll tell you.

Written By Norwood

Oct. 17, 2018, 9:28 p.m.(10/18/1009 AR)

I cannot speak to any other man's beard, but I do have a few tips. First, leave the thing alone and trim it occasionally when it gets too long.

Actually, that's it. Leave it alone.

Written By Bliss

Oct. 17, 2018, 7:17 p.m.(10/18/1009 AR)

Once upon a time, there was a spider. This spider was a free spirit, having long ago set sail on a wind and let it blow her to wherever it might, with little care for where she had ended up. Her life was a simple one, a dangerous one, but a pleasant one - and in one evening, everything changed forever. We don't need to tell the details of the story - we all know them, now.

What's important is what happened to the spider after. Disbelieved, forgotten, ignored, unable to live the only life she had ever known, there was a time when she felt herself lost, and felt despair closing in.

It was during this time that the spider had a dream. She woke up in a formless field of white, standing on nothing, but still standing, clinging to nothing, but holding on. And she heard a voice - perhaps it was her own, in a way - speaking to her.

The voice said, "What he did to you will never go away. No matter how long you live, the nightmares will come. It will always hurt. Even if your body is fixed, the scar in your mind will never fade."

"I know," said the spider. And as she said these words, shapes began to emerge out of the endless white. Dark figures, terrifying ones. Monsters and demons, or at least the hints of them, and the spider knew that these would be her constant companions going forth.

"You are angry. You will always be angry," said the voice. "Even in the happiest times of your life, even if he is dead, the anger will linger and fester."

"Yes," said the spider, and as she spoke these words, her eight legs each became wreathed in flame. Always threatening to consume her, but never quite doing so. She had always left her mark, wherever she had been, whoever she had been with - scars and broken hearts and upturned lives. That would not change. But the flames were so much more potent now, and that, in itself, terrified her.

"It can never be made right," spoke the voice.

Here, the spider paused. Instead of responding immediately, she considered that statement for a long while, all while the heat of her fury and the darkness of the world surrounded her. Finally, she spoke. "No, it can never be made right." The darkness around her seemed to grow stronger, and sharp, wicked blades and claws became visible. "But -" she began, and here the danger seemed to pause for a moment, as if it were regarding her. "But," she repeated, her voice stronger now, "I can do everything I can to make it as right as I can."

The blades and claws? They changed. No longer were they wicked weapons that would threatened to tear her apart. They were still there, but the metal became purer, took on a sheen. Elaborate, gilded hilts and sheaths formed around them, and the claws became attached to not monsters, but noble beasts of the wild: still dangerous, always dangerous, but things to be looked at with awe rather than fear.

And the spider began to realize: she was in control of what her life would look like.

"You are choosing the most difficult path," the voice intoned. "There will be pain beyond belief. Not just for yourself, but for those close to you, and for those who surrounded him. Do they all deserve it?"

"I am, there will, and I can't answer that last one for myself," the spider said. Here, the whiteness made its biggest shift yet. No longer was it formless, but a steep mountainside, covered in stones and pitfalls, treacherous loose ground, ragged bare brush and almost no sustenance. The spider did the only thing she could do: she began to climb. Every step would be a struggle, she knew. But when the other option was to sit there and quietly die? That was against everything she believed.

"Each of them will have to make their own choices, as I am making mine," the spider said. "As he made his. Not everything will be like I want it to be. I might die, I see so many ways that I might die. But at least I know I will have done so fighting for something that matters."

"Why does it matter?" that voice asked. "What's the point?"

"I am not going to lie," said the spider. "It's for me." And she grew a little in size, and she also grew in strength, but there began to be whispers in the air. Other voices.

"You are selfish," they said. "You are a fool," they said.

But the spider wasn't done. "It is about me, yes, but it is also about all of those in the world who are like me, and all of those in the world who are like him." No longer was the spider alone, for now the side of the cliff was covered in hundreds, thousands of other creatures, of all shapes and sizes. Some lashed out at each other. Many lashed out at themselves. But she saw them, and she knew what they were - they were all the others who were suffering without redress, who were weakened and pained and hurting just as badly as she was.

Most of them weren't like her. Most couldn't do the things that she could do. And so, her climbing grew faster, and she began to shine. As she did, the drab rocks around her changed. Some became gemstones. Beautiful mineral veins ran through the drab mountainside, coming to life, and she focused and tried to make the climb itself a thing of beauty.

"You are going to miss out on so many things because you are doing this," the voice told the spider. "You are going to destroy so many things that could be wonderful in your life."

"I will," said the spider. "And there will be times I will be distracted - because I am not perfect - and maybe I won't be quick enough, and maybe more people will be hurt because of that." Even as she said this, she knew it was true, and more death became a part of her world. A stand of white trees appeared to her side, corpses scattered throughout, her presence there completely absent. The spider knew guilt, for how many of those lives might she have saved if she stayed focus? The spider knew regret, because she should have been there. She knew that what happened there was, at least a little, her fault. "I'm sorry," she whispered.

Those words did nothing. Her apologies wouldn't change this world, what had happened, or bring people back to life. But even with him gone, that didn't truly change what she had to do. There were enough others like him in the world, and if he was capable of doing what he had done, then so were they. She needed to make what had happened as right as she could.

"They are going to try to tear you apart and tear you down in every way they know how. They will use your flaws against you, reframe your strengths as weaknesses, insult you and try to rip you apart," said the voice.

"I only ask for what is rightfully mine. They cannot hurt me worse than he did, and how they treat me will tell the world far more about them than it does about me," said the spider, and the flames around her grew bright and hot with her determination. "You cannot burn what is already aflame."

"You are flawed," the voice told her. "You share many of the same traits he did."

"I am, and not everything I do will be right, not everything I want will be perfect. All I can do is admit to my mistakes when they come and try to be more," said the spider.

At that moment, the spider made it to the top of the mountain. She could finally see the world around her, but it was murky, chaotic, conflicted.

"This is not a good time," the voice whispered to her. "How are you more important than any of that?"

"It will never be a good time," said the spider, and she screamed what had happened out from the peak of her mountain, where everyone would be able to hear it.

A million voices screamed back, and she fell silent, watching and trying to understand.

Finally, she heard the voice come through clear over it all: "What kind of world do you want?" And she knew that this had been the question from the beginning. This was the only one that mattered.

"I want a world that's better," said the spider. "I want a world that is full of light and life, love and happiness, where it's understood that pain is part of life, but where that pain does not have to define the life of anyone else in the way it has mine."

The chaos below changed, still frenetic, still constantly moving, but now instead of being terrifying, it was mesmerizing. Like swirls of water filled with golden powder that sparkled in the sunlight as it churned - it was still dangerous, but it became a beautiful thing.

"I want a world that's better," repeated the spider. "A world where we, each and every one of us, do better. Whether hero or monster, you live your life to the fullest and seek excellence, and shine brightly and truly. A world where we hold people to account who fail to live up to the very standards which they claim to live by."

The darks of the world grew darker, the lights of the world grew lighter, and everything around the spider was shown in vivid contrast, the dull blendings of the world fading away. It was so intense it sometimes hurt to look at, but there was no doubting that it was alive.

"I want a world that's better. A world where fear doesn't prevent justice, where birth doesn't mean victimization, where cruelty does not thrive just because it has power behind it. A world where we are all able to become our full potential."

The spider looked behind her, and down the mountainside, and she saw the beauty of the other creatures who had appeared. Not all would make it where she was, and many would destroy themselves, but that didn't mean any were less beautiful, and she found herself defining them by that rather than their pain - even when that was so obvious.

"Then fight for it, Celia," said the voice.

***

Bliss started awake after that dream. Her shoulder was in agony, a sheen of sweat across her body, and her bandages needed to be changed. But there was really only one thing on her mind.

"I want a world that's better," said Bliss, into the cold night air. Nothing changed. But this, she now knew, was how it began.

Written By Valdemar

Oct. 17, 2018, 6:22 p.m.(10/18/1009 AR)

Once more, there have been changes that make an update of my will a good idea, so this one will take precedence of those that have come before:

All of my writs, as well as the cobalt axe in my possession, should go to house Grimhall, to be used as the head of that house sees fit.

My silver and all possessions not otherwise mentioned elsewhere in this journal entry should go to Lady Vanora Grimhall, whom I love with all of my heart.

Blood Reaver, my rubicund axe, should be set aside in the care of Lady Vanora Grimhall, to be given to my heir Arken Grimhall when he is of an appropriate age to begin weapon training.

My rubicund armor should be set aside in the care of Lady Vanora Grimhall, to be given to our child Antony Grimhall when he is of an appropriate age to begin weapon training.

The bronze dagger I keep in my belt should go to my brother Ingvar.

The pendant I wear should go to my sister Ingrid.

Care of my children, including my heir Arkyn Grimhall, is entrusted to their regent Lady Vanora Grimhall.

Finally, my black journal entries should be released only to my children, when each turns fourteen years of age so that they can better know the sort of man their father was. Otherwise, my black journal entries should remain sealed.

Written By Evaristo

Oct. 17, 2018, 5:13 p.m.(10/18/1009 AR)

Today I gifted the most marvellous thing as a belated wedding gift to Joscelin. Let me tell you the tale of how it ended up in my hands!

A few months back I was doing some trading down south along the coast and we went to a small town... I don't even quite remember the name right now, but it wasn't very large at all.

As is custom, we drank with the locals in their lovely little tavern and as the night progressed I ended up spending the night with this adorable young lady... whose name escapes me right now, but let us call her Maya. (I have no idea, but I like that name.)

Apparently sometime during the night I promised her I would take her via the ship to an island where another town is, and that I also had to take along an item. I even signed a paper on it and she procured this next morning. Seeing this as not that much of a problem, I figured - why not? And I had signed!

Two days later we were leaving and Maya and four of her brothers carried out this gigantic old liquor cabinet onto a cart and proceeded to roll it down to the beach. This was to be taken with Maya to the island where she would be moving to live with her husband to be. Apparently a family heirloom that once stood in a Lycene castle and had belonged to a prince something something - they weren't even that sure themselves where it came from to begin with.

Though my crew were protesting wildly, we got the clunky furniture onto the ship somehow and we lashed it securely in the hold.

We sailed off and as soon as Maya was no longer in the presence of her family, she procured another contract and told me: 'I will not drag that piece of furniture into my new home. It is hideous and we all hate it! Here, I am signing it off to you as payment for the journey across.' We both signed copies and I was quite gleeful. It was a wonderful piece with an amazing story!

We let Maya off on the island, said our farewells and sailed onwards. I heard later that her family were livid about this and something about possibly not being welcome back in that town, ever - like I stole it! I have lost the contract, but I swear - she gave it to me.

Written By Vercyn

Oct. 17, 2018, 2:45 p.m.(10/18/1009 AR)

Relationship Note on Brogan

Did you truly disagree on the topic of my beard being Best Beard?

We are no longer bros.

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