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Written By Avita

June 16, 2024, 3:10 p.m.(6/20/1022 AR)

Dearest Diary,

You know, I do believe Francis is growing on me.

Like a fungus.

... or a tumour.

Either way, his fronding has improved dramatically since we began, and he has kept the heat from dewing my impeccable skin with a stirring sort of dedication that I had not anticipated -- though, I did expect it.

Hence my disappointment.

His storytelling, however...

That ... still needs work.

Written By Avita

June 16, 2024, 3:06 p.m.(6/20/1022 AR)

Dear Diary,

You know, I really don't see what all the fuss is about.

All I want to do is /speak/ to him.

Someone must pay for the indignities I've suffered on my diplomatic forray, and I doubt some Senator has what it would take to appease me by this juncture.

Ugh, the way they look at me, as though I were mad.

I'm not mad, darlings.

I'm livid.

Written By Avita

June 16, 2024, 3:02 p.m.(6/20/1022 AR)

Dear Diary,

They made me walk.

/Walk/.

Fifteen miles, I'm certain of it, and all of it on ascending stairs!

Were I a lesser woman, I doubt I would have made it.

Yet, I rose from that staircase like a phoenix -- to NO APPLAUSE.

Disgraceful.

Written By Viviana

May 28, 2024, 1:14 p.m.(5/10/1022 AR)

In the sky there doesn't seem to be any limit -- just expanse, an endless exploration.

Now, the seas feel this way.

Solaris -- my newly minted vessel, hopefully, the new lead of a potential fleet that will follow. Being at sea is a blend of tranquility and thrill that's bound to the rhythms of nature. It's a feeling of losing one's self, a momentary escape from the ground-bound ties.

I imagine that flying feels the same.

Written By Sen'azala

May 25, 2024, 7:40 p.m.(5/5/1022 AR)

Outside the walls used to be thick, old forest. I'm not sure how old, I'm not sure if the trees or the castle came first (or if the answer is even that linear). Helena destroyed a lot of it when she attacked the gates, the demons took care of the rest. Apart from burning corpses and cleaning up worse, I've let it stay a ruin. The wild reclaims its own eventually.

Sooner than I thought. Alongside several flavors of bristly, stubborn grass, wildflowers have peppered the entire broken field all around. I don't know the names for all of them, but there are a fair number of those copper flowers people were planting up and down the Great Road years back. My best guess is their seeds blew over from what used to be the Lodge of Petrichor.

I admit, I used to find them a little annoying, the same way I used to find the copper twists and scarves a little annoying. I couldn't tell you *why*, exactly. Maybe an instinctual need to be a contrary little shit. They're accidental memories now, growing on their own where they please over the bones of the dead forest and the bones of the dead monsters that thought they could devour the stories of the Castle of Yesterday. I like it. If I were a poet or a philosopher - or drunk - I'd make up some deeper symbolism for copper flowers torn from their origins and scattered to the wind to grow as they like in a new world and make some other contrary little shit rightfully irritable.

I have never in my life been interested in planting anything, but Mashti and I dug up a few different kinds of wildflowers and brought them inside the walls. I draw the line at making an actual garden. Fuck no. I'm just going to let the wild set down some roots in here too. I want to see what it does. The messier the better. The more variety, the better.

Written By Avita

May 19, 2024, 7:04 p.m.(4/21/1022 AR)

Dear Diary,

I'm not certain if my current adventure is /exciting/ so much as it is ... different than what came before?

Oh, it's still early, I know, and I'm giving it every chance it deserves to become something that does more than gently arch my brow, I promise.

I suppose I was simply expecting something more _dramatic_, darling, something spectacular, something ...

... worthy of my appearance.

Worthy of my interest.

Of my oh so valuable time, and even costlier attentions.

Written By Viviana

May 12, 2024, 8:17 p.m.(4/7/1022 AR)

I refuse to be bound by expectations. One day, I will be a Queenmaker.

Perhaps even more than this --

Written By Avita

May 12, 2024, 7:40 p.m.(4/7/1022 AR)

Dear Diary,

I've decided I should do some remodelling in Ischia.

Oh, don't you worry, her beauty shall persist.

It's more that I require more ... majesty.

More flare.

More /drama/.

I'll have to see what I can do about that.

Prepare the stage for me, darling.

... oh, you don't work for me, do you?

Hm.

Even still.

Written By Avita

May 5, 2024, 9:51 p.m.(3/21/1022 AR)

Dear Diary,

They say that scent is the sense most directly linked to memory.

If that's so, why are there no legends or grand ballads about the smell of our heroes?

No hymns of the aroma of humble beginnings, nor the banquet of life itself, which I so often glut myself upon.

Instead, we have grand retellings of the sight of terrible flames, of the sensation of blood cooling and pulling on our skin, or the brutality of war as it is observed, bodies strewn and scattered like sheaves of hay in the manger of meager existances.

Not mine, of course.

I am the sun, after all.
    We have stories that speak of songs that echo through the very fabric of truth itself, that move us, that tug at the heartstrings until they snap and the dams of our composure break and fill the seas with our bitter tears, changing our world forevermore.

We spin stories about the feeling of a lover's skin beneath our fingertips, or the pain of an entirely different sort of breaking, legends of great beasts and beastly men alike and the fear they inspire.

Now, don't get me wrong, darling, I am a grand fan of the drift of cologne dancing in the shadows, avid in my avarice when the feast arrives and is placed upon my table.

But, the most poignant, the most keen amongst my memories?

Hardly.

Written By Avita

May 5, 2024, 9:38 p.m.(3/21/1022 AR)

Dearest Diary,

There are times that I watch the skies and I wonder of the motive of the stars.

I consider the constellations, and I wonder if they are simply how they had been scattered across that vast void ... or if, more poetically, there is a reason for their formation -- that they represent some greater pattern, ever-expanding, so much larger than we are capable of truly seeing.

Perhaps they are nothing.

Maybe they are stories yet to be told.

Perhaps I should tell them.

Written By Viviana

May 5, 2024, 9:20 p.m.(3/21/1022 AR)

A sea of ghost ships -- skeletons -- and cracked black glass.

Written By Avita

May 5, 2024, 9:11 p.m.(3/21/1022 AR)

Dear Diary,

I should be thrilled.

I know that I should.

And yet, I find myself sitting here, quietly writing for lack of anything more exciting to do.

Here we sit, upon the shores of an Empire of Glass, the scent of war still lingering upon the brine-salted breeze.

Oh, I'm sure this is all terribly vague, Diary, and I would -love- to clarify my thoughts for you, starved as I'm certain you are for a ponderance of any real significance.

But, I do not owe you an explanation.

In fact, I owe you nothing.

Written By Avita

April 27, 2024, 7:19 p.m.(3/5/1022 AR)


Marquessa Avita S.
Home of Seraceni, Ischia
Rating: *....

I feel as though I should simplify, darling, as in the newness of my displeasure I may have gotten a little verbose.


Business: Scions' Sand Service and Palm Frond Emporium
Server: /FRANCIS/

Comments: Misleading advertisements, lackluster storytelling, and the complete absence of panache.

If you're looking to keep your sun-kissed skin from beading with sweat, I would look elsewhere.

Very basic.

Not worth the price.

He was not even properly oiled.

Written By Avita

April 27, 2024, 7:18 p.m.(3/5/1022 AR)


IN CONTINUATION:

Where was I?

... ah, yes, of course.

    1        EXT. SCIONS (Excuse my brevity) ON DECK - DAY

    Enter MARQUESSA AVITA SERACENI in casual lounging amidst the fray of battle, unfronded and unimpressed, as mayhem reigns aboard our stalwart vessel. Outraged by the singular lack of talent, she decides that she will lend her voice to the song of steel and screams.

((Footnote: A battle began, which had nowt to do with me, and thus has nowt to do with this missive.))

    Moved by avid arousal inspired by her celestial body, the assailing villains lower their blades and surrender their goods before the greater sermon of the Sun.
    Also, there were others that fought with swords.
    And words not quite so fantastic as the Marquessa's, but one supposes they sufficed.

    Primarily, however, it was the Marquessa's victory.


        FRANCIS
    (Uselessly, in trembling tone, frond in hand and shame in his eyes)
    Marquessa! I was so frightened when you bravely strode toward such rivalry as you found yourself engaged that I could not join, myself! How, then, did you find the bravery to win the day so singularly?! We were so fortunate that you blessed us ...

...

(Here the missive ends, and is simply told as is.)

(It seems legit.)

Written By Avita

April 27, 2024, 7:14 p.m.(3/5/1022 AR)


Marquessa Avita S.
Home of Seraceni, Ischia
Rating: *....


Allow me to begin simply, as this tale is anything but:

I am appalled.

I'm not sure how long it will take for this missive to reach the mainland and be recited to the appropriate ears to make my righteous displeasure known in certainty, but I sit now upon my chaise (Which was NOT red, as so advertised, and failed to meet my expectation to be made to feel like the rising sun that I am, setting the tone for what is sure to be an impossible disappointment by all measure) penning my warning to any and all that seek service from these /deplorables/.

Hopefully, it will help to spare some the fate that has befallen me.

Francis.

/Francis/.

A name that has become synonymous with what profanity I shall not allow to reach this page, though it assuredly runs freely through my weary mind, the audience spared at my selfless expense.

You can thank me later.

(I'm sure you'll find a way.)

When first I arrived, I requested the presence of no less than two otter-smooth and liberally oiled palm-frond wielding men to attend to my heavenly body that I might make it to my destination without my artful inking becoming smudged upon my glistening, sweat-dewed skin before my avid fans had a chance to appropriately appreciate the story it tells.

No. Less. Than. Two.

NO.

LESS.

THAN.

TWO.

(You will have to do me the favour of clapping between each of my harshly exclaimed words, darling, as I am not there to properly punctuate my point in person.)

He fled the docks to fetch a frond, of course, at the behest of his Master -- not me, Elysia forfend, for I am no man's Master. All worship that falls at my feet is, as expected, rightly earned and freely given -- and soon returned with a singular fan that, if I can be completely frank, had seen far better days.

It wasn't even properly /green/, as would have been in compliment to my revolutionary attire -- WHICH, I feel I should mention, not one among the crew complimented me on, after I had given them the peerless prize of beholding me so wrapped, so artfully bound as any could dream in fantasy that couldn't dare near the dawn awed truth of the reality of my flesh.

Not. Even. Green.

It is not winter everywhere, Francis.

One frond.

I am no mathematician, dearest, but something seems /amiss/, does it not?

Incensed, yet still so generous, I decided I should give him a chance at redemption in my resplendent gaze:

I asked that he tell me a tale.

... when I say that our educational system has tragically failed our people, that is putting it kindly. (As anyone should expect from so fair a creature as one Marquessa Avita Seraceni.)

I shall have to look into this when I return. Though he is not Ischian, I am so moved by his fatuity that my fears might only be assuaged by ensuring no stage set within my domain should ever have to suffer as I have!

"A beautiful heroine", Francis?

Truly?

Ugh, such a lack of effort, such pedestrian language, such /felonious/ euphemism cannot be forgiven!

I am no child being tucked snug, no base and cooing babe whose worries can be soothed by such poor and prosaic prose!

I ...

... hm. ...

Should I persist in my expression, I fear the pigeon will be unable to carry my words where they've need to be...

... To be continued.

Written By Sen'azala

April 22, 2024, 6:23 a.m.(2/22/1022 AR)

***Six months later***

I found them.

Fitting that it's winter, deep winter, in a year where, to most people, the Northlands have never seemed colder. I was half prepared to keep walking from Farhaven. Fuck the danger. None of the horrors I've encountered since the Thinnest Point have succeeded in frightening me. Fuck the mountain pass; the demons found their way around the collapsed Spire, so can I. I was ready to walk back into the Everwinter alone, or alone with my Grandmother. I'm sure I still will, one day.

But I didn't have to.

Like Arx, like every one of the handful of surviving cities I've visited, Farhaven is swarming with refugees, and the few voices that want people to care about how many of them are treacherous evil outsiders don't carry far. The few voices that want to take the "opportunity" (hah!) for revenge on the Compact are drowned out. There's violence, sure, and the streets are hardly *safe*, even in the brightest, most obnoxiously pristine parts of Sanctum, people are people and a lot of those people are desperate, but the old hate all feels...temporary. Unimportant. It's unnerving, honestly. I don't know where that's going to eventually go. I don't know where all these *people* are going to eventually go.

Every time my responsibilities have brought me to or near a city, I've searched. It's all chaos. The sounds are deafening. The smells are familiar and alien and incomprehensible. I've lost track of how many times I've pulled someone aside, pointed at my face, and asked them if they'd seen anyone like me. The scars make it hard for unfamiliar people to see my markings, but that was an easy enough obstacle to clear with paint. Nobody cares if you're walking around with a painted face when they've had to fight actual, literal demons. That's not strange or scary anymore.

In the end it was some random street kid who led me to them. I hope he had a lot of warm meals from the coin he stole from me. I hope he'll have a lot more from the coin I planted on him when he did it. If you ever have the strange turn of reading this, Finn, and you didn't go and get yourself killed bragging about all the silver you were carrying, come and find me. I've been thinking about how many teachers the world's lost lately. I'm not *great* at teaching, but you're not great at picking pockets either. Maybe we can help each other.

The reunion was...complicated. There are people, people who've known me since I was a child, who were not happy to see me. There are others who went cold when they heard even a little of what's happened. More than a few were uncomfortable just being around me; maybe they thought I wouldn't notice. I expected all of that. How could I *not* expect all of that? Danger and death have chased us all since they took me in. They've lost a lot because of their kindness. There are faces missing because of their kindness. And I'm...not who I was. I'm not the Sen Venandi they knew, angry and eager and certain I knew the Way Things Were. I'm the Sen Venandi who grew up. I'm the Wolf, and only getting more so.

The rest though? The rest? There was shouting, and tears, and laughter, and far more hugging than I've ever tolerated, and it was...

It was like coming home when I didn't realize there was a home I could come back to. It's not mine anymore, not really, it doesn't fit, but I can stay a while. There's a place by the fire.

They intend to head back north when spring arrives. They can only tolerate the city for so long, and while it's dangerous, they're - we're - survivors. I don't know if they'll go as far as the Everwinter; I think not, not for a long time at least, but I'm not sure I'll see them again once I leave Farhaven. These goodbyes feel a little final. I don't know...I can find them. I can find them if I want to. If I need to.

Shara is coming back south with me; I told her that Arx was full of art and artists, even after all the fighting, and she wants to see it before the Wolfkin go. Mashti

*there's a large ink stain where the pen hovered too long*

Mashti is coming as well. I didn't ask her if she wanted to, and she didn't ask *me* if *I* wanted her to, but her goodbyes to the Wolfkin will definitely be final. She's old and getting older. This will be her last, longest journey, and she wants to walk it with me, however many years remain. When Shara goes back to the tribe, Mashti intends to stay.

I told her she has to share the library, but she's welcome to keep the cat all to herself and out of my hair. It's not a bad place for an old shaman to retire. Grandmother is near, after all, and if they haven't all scattered by the time I get back, there will be the others too. Then the kids that (literally) drop in unannounced *all the time*. If you're reading this, TT, then I want to point out that you lot have *magic* and are therefore fully capable of figuring out the complicated human custom known as knocking on the front door. Or the roof. Or something a little less likely to give me a heart attack. It was not funny the first two dozen times you did it.

Written By Viviana

April 10, 2024, 10:06 p.m.(1/27/1022 AR)

I've a song in my heart.

Foot tap-tap-tap, boot thump-thump-thump. Heart thrum-thrum-thrum. Fingers on the pulse of the world around me for the moment, in rhythm, stepping into the training ring with the familiarity of greeting a long-lost lover. I circle the perimeter of the space, stretching my legs in a walk, curling my hands toward the sky above in a spine-lengthening stretch as I consider the faceless others training and watching. I offer anyone in the benches a bow, loose-limbed, duelist-cocky - removing the peace-ties on Gloaming before I salute them all with the blade.

I claim the space around me, presence emphasized by the live diamondplate that I wield for *fun* against myself. My smile is a lazy, privately amused sort of thing - for me, myself - alone. Tracing the tip of the rapier to the sand as I circle once, creating an outline as though the sword were quill. It isn't, but I must put forth the same meticulous care required for calligraphy - leaping once midway, a dancer warming up. I close the spiral, tight, switching the sword from my off-hand - the one that escapes the periphery of my sightless (but insightful) left eye -- to the left hand, dominant, and I start to dance with her blade, against an unseen opponent.

I turn - once, twice, and leap forward. A doe across rushing water. Some Lycene duelists give their various moves names that sound like poetry. Maybe it is. Thrust, to the heart of the unseen opponent, between the ribs. I hiss through my teeth, bright green eye narrowing with vicious joy -- shamelessly enjoying myself, this sparring match against a shadow of a cantrip that provides me with a passing entertainment. The shadow disperses like ink dropped into water. Then, a few steps ahead -- it takes shape again, edges glittering sky-iron sharp. I feint too soon, roll into a hit, then deflect the next strike and dance back --

Written By Patrizio

April 7, 2024, 8:43 p.m.(1/21/1022 AR)

Awaiting that which is to come is... tedious.

I thought that the waiting would end with the fall of those who would have enslaved us, those who would have destroyed us, and the other armies that have faced us... and now I find myself waiting for the spring to come. Setarco delights me - more than I could have ever believed - for being here in the winter. (To those who said that it is a better thing to want than to have... may the gods have mercy upon your souls. Having is so, so much better.). There has not yet been a celebration for our surviving, with so much to be done, but I await that as well.

Perhaps that is the matter I can rectify most, beyond helping to guide the rebuilding of our Compact and our southern isles - the preparations for a proper celebration of our survival. Nearer mid-summer, so that all can have time to be more prepared, with crops planted and rebuilding in full effect.

So let it be done.

Written By Mattheu

Feb. 22, 2024, 9:56 a.m.(10/14/1021 AR)

It is awkward and weird to be back within a city which we sought to be away from. A distance needed for the time after the many ravaging battles, and now one where we are securing the rivers once again. There will be trade again throughout the compact.

It is no longer as divided as it once was. Those small camps which we would run supplies to even if we weren't suppose to. ... it is far harder to turn one's back upon those that know of the damage within life that is a shared experience. No matter what the Compact once had to say in the matter.

I'm not hiding this journal away. In the years prior I would write similar to this then have it sealed. My words off my chest then no longer for others to see or read.

I won't hide this. There are many within the city now who need some assurance to know that we can grow from this experience. Our children's children's children might not know the specifics. They might not fully understand the songs that have been warped and changed over the years. I can only hope they are similar to the Ravashari songs of today which have told us of the stories of the times around the Dance of Skulls.

A song which many within the city always would put on a smile and nod, to tell my family and I - what a nice way to think of the lore.

Only we cannot speak of it as lore any more. We've all just lived through it personally. There is no turning back from this knowledge.

And thus to see someone still wandering around the city without peace-bonding their weapon. It is a slap to everything which we have fought to preserve. We are to be peaceful to our own. We are to build a better world.

We can only do so in all following the same civility.

Else everything we have done to this point is going to be lost all over again.

Written By Mattheu

Feb. 22, 2024, 9:47 a.m.(10/14/1021 AR)

Relationship Note on Eshra

It was never a moment in which I meant to scare you. Never a time in which my games to play upon my brothers where I would hide, you would always know where I was. You were my protector, my teacher, my closest friend and the one to introduce me to the sisters to be my guardians when you could not.

It became a game in of itself. To find a new dance, and new treat, and fashion to how fast I could hide. Then turning into how to train and how to protect our family so -that- would never happen again.

When the time came to take to the waters and rivers, we had already seen loss at Sanctum. I reached back to the Expanse to grab the one thing which I didn't bother to pack at first. Perhaps I thought we would come back to the city after. I was naive.

And in that. I am sorry for making you worry about me.

I was never supposed to be our family's protector. Yet here we are. And I while I might seek to change one thing from a time before where ours was not of our own to choose. I can never change that you raised me when our parents were busy in their own tasks. I can never change that it was your song that would calm me when we were younger.

It is from that alone that I thought to stay and seek to protect those that I call friends.

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