Today I must discuss death and loss.
As you will no doubt be able to discern from the date of this letter, it is written only days after my brother, Aleksandr Rastilov, fell in combat. We were on an expedition south when Sasha was ambushed by a vile aberration, and by the time we were able to fell the beast, it had already crushed the life out of him. We were able to bring Sasha’s body home and lay him in state beneath the capital, but I find that this fate brings me little comfort. For now, I feel lost without him.
This is the lesson of grief. When we lose those who are close to us, it is easy to lose ourselves in the pain of it. It is easy to forget who we are or what we must do, and dwell instead only on the hole their departure has left in our lives. But that is exactly what we can not do, for we must press on. The ones we lose are precious, but we must trust that their loss is part of fate’s grand design. We must remember our dead, but live for the living.
Pharasma is the only one who knows how long we have to live, and she guards this secret until the moment death is upon us. That is her gift to us. If we were to know the time of our passing—if we knew how much time we had left—then we would be paralyzed by the knowledge of it. Knowing the hour of our death would change how we lived, what we risked, and where our lives took us. Not knowing allows us freedom; to live, to love, to strive, and to dream. If I had known that our expedition south would have resulted in Sasha’s death, I know I would have never let him go. But in so doing I would cripple the man he was, and undo all he wanted for Ursandova’s people.
The worst mistake I could make at this point would be to dishonor Sasha’s sacrifice by forgetting what it was meant for. Everything Sasha did was driven by a sense of divine duty and purpose—this was his gift from the Goddess Iomedae. As such, Sasha did not take on the role of Baron out of pride, to gain wealth, or for title. He did it for a vision for what this nation could be. In his death, Sasha’s vision must become immortal. It is up to us to see it done.
Sasha was a man of strength and determination. It was his voice that led Ursandova forward. I must now take that voice into myself and use it to lead our people. I can not replace Sasha, but I will do what I can, both for the Ecclesiarchy, and for Ursandova as a whole. I am lucky that there are others like me who loved Sasha as I did, and will join me in completing the journey he started. None of us can hope to fill his shoes, but together, perhaps we can walk his path.
Sasha is gone, but we carry on. When I am gone, I expect you to do the same. In reading these letters, you have come to seek my insight as to what is best for the spiritual health of Ursandova. I say it is this: Let no sacrifice go unremembered, and let no man die in vain.
As for my brother…I will miss him. I trust that when I move beyond the mortal that the heavens will allow us to meet again. Perhaps he will be proud of me. That is all I want.