It’s been a while since I’ve written in you. Why? Well, let’s call it denial. A lot has changed since the last time I put pen to paper. I’ve lost friends in combat, and others have moved on. The world seems to have shifted beneath my feet. Maybe subconsciously I thought that as long as I didn’t write it all down it wouldn’t be real. Stupid right? I guess stupid is what I’m good at.
I look back in here and I see that the last thing I was talking about was Variel and the Lizardfolk. Well, Variel’s dead now, as are Dyimi and Anton. We pushed on to the troll cave as we had planned, but down in the depths everything went wrong. Variel was the first to die—he caught it because he was being far too brave for his own good. Stupid us—we decided that he would have wanted us to press on and finish the job.
In the next room we found two more of the brutes, one of which was apparently their leader. We dropped the first of the two, but the second just wouldn’t fall. Dyimi and Anton ended up caught between us and him, and they paid for it. The thing hit like an avalanche, and both Dyimi and Anton were pounded again and again. Both fell more than once, only to be revived by Katya’s magic. I thought we might make it through okay until Dyimi caught a blow he couldn’t get out from under. He just sort of…came apart. Even after this Anton refused to give up. He stood there and took it while I reloaded and shot from behind him. Anton’s stubbornness managed to buy us a few more seconds, but when he fell again he didn’t get back up. I dropped the troll a moment after he fell. Irony right? I’m always at my most lethal when I’m a second too late.
Afterwards was…well…I don’t remember most of it. I remember Katya crying…and the blood. I remember hacking apart trolls like a woodsman cutting kindling. I remember piling the troll corpses together and setting the bastards alight. The smell…it was just…well, I’m thankful there’s some things I don’t remember that well.
After that I remember poor Gar standing there next to Dyimi’s…well, what was left of him. The dog didn’t seem to understand what had happened, and we didn’t know how to tell him. Gar stayed with the body the whole time on the trip back to Tuskendale, and stood watch at the catacombs gate for nearly a month after Dyimi and the others were laid to rest. Katya has adopted Gar in Dyimi’s absence, but he’s not the same mutt we was before. It’s like his heart has gone out of him.
On the way back to Tuskendale, Katya and I had a talk. I told her that she was going to have to step up the throne, and she agreed there was no other choice. I told her that she should marry Jacek for the good of Ursandova, and she said she would. Then I told her I had always had feelings for her and…and, well…she didn’t say anything. She just looked away.
You know, after all we had gone through—all the ups and downs (mostly downs)—I had half convinced myself that I didn’t care. It turns out that I did. It wasn’t even that she rejected me that stung. It was that my feelings didn’t matter at all to her. I guess I’m really not upset with her, Katya’s not the one who broke my heart. I did it to myself.
Jacek and Katya got married in the summer, and now I hear they’re expecting. For all the death and hardship of the last few months, it’s good to have the Kingdom looking forward to something. The change in Katya has been quite something. She smiles now—all the time—not just when she thinks people are watching. And despite all her misgivings about taking power, Katya sits on the throne like she deserves to be there. I think it’s been good for the country to know that she’s carrying on where Sasha and Dyimi left off.
I’ve got a new title as well. When we got back to Tuskendale, Katya surprised me by asking if I would take the title of Champion of Ursandova. I was hesitant, but I couldn’t say no to her. This means that I’ve had to give up the role of warden and my place in the Way Watchers. I’ve passed the recruitment role for the Watchers to a pretty elven druid named Leilania. I don’t know quite what to make of Leila yet, but it’s clear she knows the wilds. She’s a little spacey sometimes, but she’s clearly got a good heart and good intentions. She’s already told me that she intends to reform the Watchers to find better use for them. Maybe she’ll do for them what I couldn’t.
We’ve got other new faces in town as well. We’ve established a dwarf named Ulgar Ironbeard as the general of Ursandova’s military (such as it is), and placed a Chelaxian wizard named Darrgan as our new arcanist. Other immigrants from the North have included a Cleric of Sarenrae named Gideon who’s almost painfully nice to be around. Katya made him head Priest with barely a second thought. So far, he’s been excellent at it.
I’m not going to lie…the months after Dyimi and the others fell were pretty bleak. We’re still recuperating from how far our losses set us back. The Sootscale Kobolds actually broke away from the Kingdom for a few months, but Gideon and Leilania have convinced them to rejoin us. We’ve also lost control of a few square miles up north, but Neddar expects to bring them back into the kingdom shortly. There’s surely other challenges to come, but I think Ursandova’s well-positioned to rise up to meet them.
So journal, things have changed, but not all for the worse. Ursandova’s not just recovering—Ursandova’s getting stronger, thanks to what we did, and who we lost. I saw what the trolls had assembled in their layer, and I know what would have happened if they had risen to march against us. I don’t know if the people of Ursandova know how close we came to having this whole thing fall apart. If Ursandova survives, maybe the sacrifices Dyimi, Anton, and Variel made will mean something after all.
What I can’t figure out is what I’m supposed to do with myself. People treat me like a hero just because I came back alive. They call me champion because Katya told them that’s what I am. But I feel like I’m playing a part in a play for them, complete with a costume and lines to repeat. I feel like anyone who really looked could see right through me.
Honestly journal, the nightmares are bad…but my dreams are far worse. Because in my dreams they’re all still alive—beside me—just like it was. So when I wake up and they’re not there it just cuts a hole out from under me. I feel like I could drown in the despair if I let myself. It’s so tempting sometimes, I don’t know how I resist.
I miss them Journal…all of them…so much. Sometimes I think I miss them more than I care for myself. But if that were true…
…I think that’s enough for now.