The moon lays low above the slough once again, this time with her face hidden in shadow. With Drelev’s tyranny overthrown, the people of the fort wander the streets with guarded gaits and worried faces. They have yet to decide if we’ve come to set them free or force another yoke on their shoulders. We have tried to show them, both in word and deed, that we mean them no harm. But such deep-seated fear is not so easily swept aside. There is much to do here.
In a way, it’s not hard to see how they came to this place. There are enemies all around, barbarians to the north, warrior tribes to the east, and monsters to the south. The incomplete walls of their fortress town and the blades of their master’s hired soldiers surely must have seemed the only possible bulwark against the darkness beyond. I can understand why it came to this. The tragedy is that we did not come sooner to undo it.
I am anxious to return to Tatzlford. I am anxious to see my friends again and sleep beneath familiar trees. I know the others feel the same, I can hear it in their voices and see it in the way they look behind them. They have lives and families that are far away. I don’t begrudge them the desire to be home once again.
But at the same time, I think there is promise here. The people of Fort Drelev have been mistreated, abused, and frightened into a sense of reactive anger. But the land they live in is a beautiful one, and if they were encouraged to regather their strength, I’m sure their minds and spirits could be changed. Not all will stay—some may go to Ursundova, others to the River Kingdoms or North to Brevoy. But a few would remain, and on the foundation of their courage a new country could be born.
I do not take credit for it, but I am proud of what Tatzlford has become. In a few short years my friends have built the town they wanted, a place that they could unreservedly call home. I see something of the same spirit in these people. But before that can happen there are other challenges to overcome and other tyrants to put in their place. We’ve done it before. We can do it again.
The moon will begin to show herself again in two days, by which we will have likely returned to Ursundova. I will greet my friends and tell great stories over pipeweed and firelight. And then I think I will return here, to see the task done. The moon’s light will return in time to guide the next battle. And then perhaps to peace. I still hold out hope.