Kingmaker

Regrets of a Different Life

“I tell you what, cher. It’s been one hell of a month.” Ray closed his eyes as the Cheyos reached his lower back, rubbing with his knuckles.
“Oh yes?”
“Mhmm. It ain’t erry day you get the recipe for the death of a creature of legend from a strange blood seer in the woods. Oh, do I love this place for that. Only in this part of the world, cher.” Demoleon continued, flirting with his hips for a moment before returning up to massage his shoulders. “I’ve done a lot of research on the rest of Golarion, and lemme tell you cher- ain’t nowhere as interesting as here. Especially right now, these past few years. Ursundova draws on trouble like its a lifestyle. They can write that in the constitution, too.” Demoleon smiled and stood, signaling the end of the massage. Ray rose slowly and stretched his arms wide, letting loose a few audible pops and cracks. “Ooie! You do an old man good, cher.”
“You take some… particular attention. Though you shouldn’t hunch the way you do, pretty soon and you’ll actually need that walking stick of yours.”
“Oh boo.” Ray threw a flirtatious smirk over his shoulder. “You ain’t that kind of doctor.” As Demoleon slipped a silk robe over his feline features, Ray moved to the window and peered out over the streets of Tatzylford. It was about as quiet as it ever got this time of evening. Groups of people on their way to bars or other places of hospice, or to their homes with private plans of their own. Ray had a clear view of the Inn, which not four days ago had seen the Zmei’s fire. At this time of night, the carpenters had all gone home, but piles of fresh timber were stacked alongside, and the framework webbing of supports underneath of the roof tiles shown under the moon.
“Y’know,” said Ray thoughtfully, “Sometimes I miss home.”
“Home?” Demoleon looked up from brushing his coal black fur.
“Yeah. Back in the Hooktongue. I had certain… amenities. I worked hard to achieve things in that swamp, and I left because it all got so boring. Now I look back at it, and well. It don’t seem so bland in comparison.” He gave a weak, crooked smile.
“Well, you’ve come to civilization and truly lived for a while. And if you can survive the attack of a Zmei- more than once- I don’t know that there’s much else Ursundova can throw at you that will actually threaten you.”
“Oh don’t tempt the cosmos like that, cher. Now I know I’m in for it.” They both chuckled. The Cheyos set down the brush and fastened his robe fully.
“Well, if you don’t mind, there’s someone on the roster after you.”
“Ah, yes. Arright, cher. I’ll be back next time. To celebrate living, right?” Ray grabbed his longcoat, satchel, and staff, and hastened to pull his loins on. Demoleon smirked again.
“Right. See you, old fool.”

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Half Moon at Horizon
Leilania Considers Tatzlford’s People

At dusk I was led out of Tatzlford by the moon’s pull. She took Nibbs and I to a clearing by the river, a natural cathedral surrounded by reaching pine trees. There I took a long smoke as the waters rolled past. Nibbs at my back, my eyes sought out the moon as she rose above the horizon. There, beneath her pale light, was a stag framed against the twilight sky.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly five years since I’ve come to Ursundova. Surely it’s a long stretch of time, long enough for even someone like myself to find a place and purpose. When I first arrived the moon led me to Tatzlford straight away, she told me that nowhere else in Ursundova would suit me. The people of the city welcomed me in the same way they’ve welcomed so many others. Since then I’ve learned to love this strange little town.

What makes this city special is its people, a strange mix of builders, pilgrims, and wanderers. Loy and Letricia have been happy enough to let me guide the city’s development, first by bringing the Way Watchers here, and then through encouragement of settlers of a like mind. Being surrounded by the fey as we are, the city has attracted its share of free thinkers and wild spirits. It’s made Tatzlford a fun place to be. There’s always something to celebrate here, always someone having the best day of their life. I haven’t felt so at home since I left Mirenai.

But since the attack of the Zmei, I’ve been thinking more and more about the ones that founded this city. The Rezbins are simple, hard working people who have never lacked for a kind word or hesitated in an act of generosity. They smile, they laugh, and wish others well even when I know they do not feel it. For better or worse, their town—founded under the blessing of Erastil—has become something much different. Sometimes I think I am to blame.

The moon does not meter its light for those of different beliefs, she shines for us all. The Rezbins pray to Erastil and I pray to the moon, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be united in friendship. In the same way they have welcomed me and my friends into their home, I must make sure that they remain welcome here as well. They are good people, and they deserve to love this city as much as I do.

Each of the cities of Ursundova has its own character. Tuskendale hammers like a carpenter through the night, never content to sit still. Elkhorn is always solemn and serious to a fault. Candlemere skulks on its island, while Shrikewatch puffs its chest like a soldier standing at attention. It is only Tatzlford that shows a little bit of character from all parts of the Kingdom, the only city where all faiths and creeds are welcome and accepted. I will work to keep it that way.

Nibbs and I will take a ride into the woods tonight to visit with old friends among the fey. Tomorrow, we will invite the Rezbins to dinner at the garrison. It’ll be good to catch up. Tatzlford is my home, and it’s only right for me to honor her parents.

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Two Ways Down

Means felt something wet drip from his eyebrow to his cheek. It was the cold streak that woke him. His arms felt on fire, which made him think of Ends, the fire-scorched spellcaster that had hired both him and Ways. As the world came slowly into focus, Means realized that his arms were not, in fact, on fire, but were stretched painfully above him. He was bound with rough rope, his hands above his head. He opened his eyes, looked down, and immediately regretted it.

He must have been six hundred feet in the air and there was nothing between him and the far away ground but the wind. His feet kicked for a moment, but there was nowhere on the sheer rock face behind him for them to find purchase. He looked up and saw the ropes. They secured his wrists and then disappeared over the upper edge of the rock face. Another spatter of something wet hit his face and he turned. He then saw the flying man.

It took him a moment to recognize Gaeren Stormcrow, the man the three of them had been sent to kill. The first part of the assault had gone well enough and then everything went to hell rapidly. Some gnome had enchanted them and Gaeren himself had been possessed of more magical tricks than they had counted on. Now he was… floating above him. Well, him and Ends. Both of them hung from the rock face.

“Good Morning,” Gaeren said, almost cheerily. He was biting into an apple, which sprayed slightly into Means’ face. “So happy that you’re awake, as I am truly weary of looking at the lot of you. I shall make this simple. You will tell me who hired you and I shall have my men pull you up and send you down the long path of the mountain.” Gaeren cut a sliver of apple with a small knife. “Tell me nothing, and I will stop feeding Click.”

As if on command, an enormous beetle trundled over the cliff’s edge, walking down the rock towards the ropes. Means vaguely recalled the beetle – it had assaulted Ends. Gaeren continued, “Click prefers apple to hemp, but he’s not generally too fussy. If he gets through the rope, you will reach the base of the mountain faster, but not, I fear, to your benefit.”

Means inclined his head to Ends. “He…he hired us.” The Oracle seemed to still be insensate.

Gaeren took another bite of apple and hovered over the spellcaster with the scorched-black arms. “Well? How would you care to get off of my mountain today?”

Ends did not open his eyes, but his voice was a rasp. “Motya. I only know him as Motya. He hired us in Restov.”

Gaeren seemed satisfied with that and looked up. Means’ arms screamed as he was dragged roughly back to stable ground. Ways was being untied, apparently having been held up top. He looked back at the flying man who floated over the fort’s small wall and disappeared.

“I quit.” Means spat and began walking, trying to return feeling to his arms.

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Lem vs. Introspection - Round 30
Lem Gets Hitched

Journal,

I’m married. It happened. Gods be praised.

As I write this, Nina is asleep in the other room. Given the light leaking in past the curtains and the rumbling in my stomach, it’s probably somewhere around noon. I’m sure it comes as no surprise that last few days were a helluva thing.

Let me backup a bit journal, because there’s a few things that need mentioning. First, Herodes and I did in fact make it back to Ursundova. It wasn’t an easy trip, but the closer we got to home the easier it got. We found that both Ursundova and Tuskendale has grown quite a bit since we left, I mean, there’s a whole new district under construction and some big scaffold they tell me is going to be a palace.

Everyone seemed appropriately relieved to hear that Herodes and I had returned, but no one more than Isadora. I don’t know how she had done it, but anticipating our return date, she had apparently set the whole wedding up to go at a moment’s notice. I’m pretty sure she would have made it happen that afternoon if Leilania would have let her. But Leilania insisted that no wedding would be official without a real stag party.

So that night, straight off the road, Leilania dragged me to Demoleon’s for a night of debauchery. Now listen Journal, I did my part to resist. I told them about Iomedae the whole way there and most of the way through dinner. And I’ll have you know that I didn’t partake in any particularly debase acts. I only drank a little more than my fair share. Hell, I even blushed when it was appropriate. I’m not going to say I didn’t enjoy it, because I certainly did. In fact, after a year in the field with Herodes I probably had learned to enjoyed it more than I would have before. I’m a little bit sad to admit that moderation does improve excess. Does that make sense? Well even if it didn’t, I’m still going to say it.

The next day was the wedding itself, and like I said, Isadora totally had it covered. The ceremony itself was held down by the lake at the park, and it seemed like Isadora had convinced half the city to come out and wish us well. Jacek and Katya were there to officiate over the wedding, but Herodes was the one who actually recited the vows and blessed the union. I think I may have even seen him smile when he said “Man and Wife.”

Leilania made a pretty good best man, and Isadora sang for everyone. A bunch of the fey were there, as were the Gideon and the misses (though Marcy still refused to speak to me). Ulgar even came out to swear some kind of oath to the health of the union on his hammer, I’m not sure exactly what my responsibility is to him now (maybe we’re married too in way?). But the star of the show was certainly Nina herself. She was more beautiful than ever in a dress the fey had spun for her from the threads of some kind of forest spiders. I might have been a little more down on the method of production if Nina hadn’t looked so amazing in it.

Isadora had arranged a room for Nina and I at the Inn, thus saving me the embarrassment of whisking my new bride away to a closet under the stairs back at the castle. Now that I’m married I may need to think about an upgrade in my living arrangements, possibly to something that includes multiple rooms. For now though I’m happy enough to spend some time at the Inn letting other people wash the sheets for us.

Tomorrow Nina and I are headed out into the Narlmarches for our honeymoon. She’s been a little tight lipped on what I should expect out there, perhaps because she doesn’t want to scare me too badly. Joke’s on her though—after a year of fighting every kind of nastiness in the muck and the dirt, anywhere we go is likely to feel like heaven. As long as we’re together.

Go easy on me journal, I get to say sappy things like that now that I’m married. I’m in love, I’m married, and I’m home. It doesn’t get much better than this.

I’m sure that it won’t be long before I’m called on to head back out to be the champion of Ursundova again. Roland is already chomping at the bit, so much so that he tried to show me an appointment book at the wedding. I’m sure it’ll feel like trying on old clothes to get back on the road and make a show of being the flag again.

But things sure have changed, haven’t they journal. I’m not the precocious little rapscallion I was when I first signed up for this adventure. Every step along the way, every victory and every defeat, every triumph and every tragedy, they’ve all been leading me to where I am now. And I’m proud of where that is. Not in that loud, boastful way—no, I mean the kind of pride that raises the chin and swells the chest. I’d like to think that my dad would be proud of me too. Maybe someday soon I’ll have a chance to find out.

That’ll be a journey for another time. Until then, I have a wife to attend to.

And Nina, if you ever happen to be reading this, know that you’ve made me the happiest I’ve ever been. Not just today, or yesterday…but every step along the way. You’re the best.

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Quarter Moon Among Rising Embers
Leilania Responds to an Attack on Her Home

Last night a Zmei tried to burn my home. From above it roared, loosing torrents of flame with maliceful purpose. The Inn, the Town Hall, and my Menagerie were all burned to some extent. As I rushed to extinguish the flames, I was struck with a moment of clarity. In it, I saw the moon gazing down between glowing spirals of rising embers. She was watching me.

I transformed into a water elemental and doused the flames. Others helped, including new faces from both Tuskendale and Casmaron. The damage was less than it could have been, but more than I would have liked. I knew immediately that we had to take the fight to this Zmei and kill it before it returned, but I had no idea how to go about such a task.

The path forward is less clear that I would like. The Zmei made it clear that it would come back in three days, unless a particular maiden was brought to it and made its bride. Given that we had no way of finding the beast itself, my friends and I focused on finding the maiden, a girl the Zmei called Vadania. Apparently she had lived in Tatzlford, so I’m sure I must have met her, but I don’t remember her.. No others seemed to know more than me, none could speak to where she might be.

It was Ray’s magic that gave us direction. He told us that we had to find the Seer of a bandit named Dovan, a scoundrel that has eluded my watchers since before I arrived to lead them. To my considerable annoyance, Eoghan revealed that he knew where Dovan had been hiding all along—he just hadn’t seem fit to share the knowledge. Now Gaeren has entered into a deal with Dovan, trading his Seer’s expertise for information for asylum. Regardless of whether such arrangements are his to make, I note that I have agreed to no such deal. If Dovan thinks he can escape me by fleeing to Casmaron, he will find himself very sadly mistaken.

But first we must deal with the Zmei. It’s already been two days since the attack, and we appear to be only marginally closer to Vadania. If Dovan’s Seer is correct, then we will find her in the woods west of Tatzlford. We head there now at best possible speed, knowing that if we fail that Tatzlford will pay the price. This Zmei strikes me as a cowardly brute. I do not think it would give us the satisfaction of a fair fight.

I feel for my friends. The people of Tatzlford have more resolve than anyone gives them credit for, more courage in the face of danger, more strength to pick up and rebuild. I am proud at how quickly they responded to the fires and how much care they showed for the wounded. This is not the first time tragedy has visited them, nor will it be their last. It angers me that such good people should be faced with such craven evil.

As angry as I am, I look to the moon to show me the way. Like the turning of her faces, I know I must be metered in my response. Nothing good has ever come from acting too quickly or too rashly. All good things come with time, all good things with patience.

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Letters to Nothing

Ray approaches a solitary tree on Candlemere, many miles from the city’s edge. Kneeling underneath of it, he takes out a piece of parchment and an inkpen, and begins writing.

You know what this means. I bring you my dilemma. The zmei, Vedanya, and Mama Cena. I feel that I should not interfere, that her fate is part of the grand plan, but the others around me think otherwise. I ask you this- allow them to go through with the ritual to free the girl and destroy the zmei, or fight to leave it all alone?

He folds the paper neatly in half and sets it at the base of the tree, then lights a blue candle whose wax has fastened it to the tree after many months of use. He turns and looks out over the Candlemere dusk, contemplating the events of the past two days. The attack on Tatzylford by the zmei, Vedanya’s three headed tattoo, and Mama’s ritual to destroy the beast and free the girl from her fate. Everything he believes in goes against interfering with it, that this is all part of the greater plan. Who are we to get in the way? What do we accomplish by saving this one girl, when many more like her get hunted by zmei all across Golarion?

Darkness settles over the Candlemere landscape, giving the area its infamous gloomy appearance. Ray is broken from his silent reverie by the light of the candle behind him being snuffed. He smiles.

After waiting for several moments, he turns towards the tree once again. The candle sends a fine white plume into the air, weaving amongst the branches. And where the letter used to be now sits a leaf. Ray stands and moves to pick it up, finding as he does so that the other side is covered in blood.

“So be it, then.” he mutters as he wanders into the darkness.

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Lem vs. Introspection - Round 29
Lem Retreats

Day 324

We retreated today.

It wasn’t our call. Lord Helmond—the closest thing we have to a commander on this side of the wound—ordered us back to the third ring to regroup and resupply. When we protested, he informed us that our position was being abandoned with our without our consent. All of Helmond’s orders arrive via courier, I’ve actually never actually met the guy. But whoever he is, I know I hate him.

Over the last month we had pushed down into the wound as far as we could, down to a place marked on the map as ‘The Fallen Gatehouse’. It wasn’t easy, but Herodes showed the way, both for me and our men. We passed two of the inner rings with minor losses, using our forward movement to surprise the demons we came across. On the third day the sky was thick with ash, so thick we had to put scraps of cloth over our mouths to keep breathing. We came to a sharp cliff and followed it to the west.

There, standing astride what had once been a road, was a half-ruined fortification whose older stones had scattered like the bones of some great creature. Herodes told us that the ruins lay on one of the oldest paths up out of the wound, one laid by some of the earliest crusaders against the demons. In times long past, the gatehouse had kept the unwary and unwanted from going too far in, rather than keeping the demons from coming out. Herodes said that it had been nearly two centuries since the ruins had last been in human hands.

Holding the gatehouse meant that any demons coming up from the southern end of the wound had to get by us. Our men, bedraggled as they were, helped shift the fallen stones to block the path, then joined us on the battlements before night fell. We had few supplies and little hope of holding out, but we knew we were making a difference. Every day we held the gatehouse was a day longer the others had on the rim to rebuild our defenses.

Ten days we stayed on that wall, under near constant siege, surviving on Herodes’s magic and what few supply trains were brave enough to come to meet us. I ran out of bolts on the second day, I ran out of arrows on the third. But we still had swords and shields, and the demons hadn’t finished coming. By the end of the first week we had lost half our men, but somehow we held the gate. We didn’t back down.

I gather there were two more days of fighting and bloodshed, neither of which I remember too well. The next thing I remember clearly is Herodes showing me an order with Lord Helmond’s seal on it. “You are over extending our lines,” his letter said, “Fall back to the third wall.”

The Third Wall—the wall we held for six months to no avail. While we had been there, the demons had chosen the fights for us. At the Gatehouse, we had the upper hand. They couldn’t surprise us, they couldn’t get close. And by then we learned too many of their tricks to be easy prey. We were saving lives…and Helmond made us pull back.

Now we are back where we began, only our company is a hundred and fifty souls lighter. New reinforcements roll in everyday. We feed them dutifully into the meat grinder.

Helmond made the right strategic decision. We were too far forward, and by being so we were putting other lives at risk. We thought ourselves heroic, but really it was just foolish pride. We lost a hundred and fifty at the Gatehouse, but that wasn’t the real cost. I hate to think how many Helmond lost trying to keep our escape route open. That doesn’t mean I don’t hate him. It’s not easy giving up land won with your friends’ blood.

It’s now less than two months before we will return home. Herodes and I are already planning our return journey, studying maps and readying supplies. But strangely, the more I try to think of home, the more I am distracted by the battle here. When I close my eyes, it’s all I can see. Such is the way of war I suppose.

Helmond has sent word today that he award medals to Herodes and myself for our valor on the battlefield. I for one hope he doesn’t plan to deliver them in person, because I’m not sure I could control myself. Taking a swing at him might not bring back my friends…but it might make me feel a little better.

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Responsibilties
Gaeren drowns his self-pity

Like most of Gaeren’s adventures, he had ended it at the bar.

Everything ticked off like a checklist in his head: Headlings dispatched and their remains incinerated, Zmei fled, though he had promised to return, wife found and returned to bed. He had expected to find her fairly hysterical – she seemed to have grown up so sheltered at times. But his presumptions were now as shredded as when she had asked him to spar and then given him a welt for taking it easy on her. Very little was as it seemed.

And how true that was here. A girl no one really knew well with an odd birthmark, being hunted by the Zmei. The birthmark story made sense, but, then, how did the creature know her name? Had they met? What must that have been like? “Nice birthmarks, means I’m going to rape you and the child born of it will tear you apart. Tea?” There were elements of the tale that simply didn’t add up.

But he was hardly in a position to protest the improbable. He had surprised himself when he recognized his own sense of responsibility about family. Ervel had pitched him to Restov’s minor nobles as an up-and-comer, which Gaeren supposed was true, so long as he didn’t end up in the Champion’s court of Ursundova. But far more improbable things invaded his mind darkly as he drank. Ursundova was never going to let the Republic go. Jacek was content to let them have their little experiment in democracy, so long as they acknowledge his rule. No one else on the council was particularly interested in undoing the trappings of nobility. The one person he thought might have believed differently was off on a quest, and seemed to be terribly different from the man in those letters Gaeren had read.

No, the impetus just wasn’t there. Ursundova would gobble up the Tors and throw festivals about “Unity” and generally let the Republic do anything Ursundova didn’t mind it doing. Armed rebellion was a fool’s errand – the Duchy had more resources and more people. Gaeren didn’t mind dying for a cause, but wasn’t about to throw his life away on a hopeless one, not when he had…

“Responsibilities.” He muttered to himself, drawing a quizzical look from the weary bartender that he waved away. He had a responsibility to the Republic, to the Duchy, and to his wife. How would he balance all three of those? He shook his head and stood, wobbling slightly. All of those responsibilities would keep. Right at the moment, the evidence pointed towards an innocent in danger. Someone had to do something. That was a responsibility he knew of old. It was a start.

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Lem vs. Introspection - Round 28
Lem at War

Day 183

We were attacked twice today, once in the middle of the night, and once before dawn. We lost seven men, with sixteen more wounded and returned to the rear. There is never enough healing magic. We send the injured to the rear lines where the cleric adepts can heal them. They return later if their injuries allow.

New recruits come in at dawn. We put them on the wall while the veterans sleep. There’s little shade here, and some days the sun seems far too close overhead. Other days the clouds move in and its like the sun never existed at all. Today it rains ash. This is a place of extremes.

The demons mostly come at night, or on days when the sun is hidden. They usually have poor order, which works to our favor. The cliffs in this area of the rim funnel the enemy toward our position, an old fortification that has seen countless battles. Usually the demons seem happy enough to die snarling and stamping beneath the wall. The first wave last night were walking corpses that spit acid. They proved little threat.

Occasionally there will be a leader among the demons, something with more than animalistic intelligence. This was the case with the second wave of the night, in this case it was a winged creature that fired lightning from his hands. We didn’t seem him until he was close enough to the wall to catch several of our archers off their guards. Fortunately, they did not suffer.

Herodes and I must always be ready for their leaders. I’ve learned to save Springsnap’s bolts for the stronger demons, as their is seldom time to recover them from fallen enemies. As I write this, I have seventeen bolts remaining in my quiver. I have tried crafting my own, but there are no trees here, and what wood we have is suitable only to fuel the bonfires we keep at night. If I am lucky, the resupply run will bring more bolt with the new recruits.

When the more powerful demons show themselves, its up to Herodes and I to put them down as quickly as possible. Most aren’t expecting us among the other men, and leave themselves open to attack. When we are lucky they go down without a fight. When we are unlucky, others are brought into the fray. The lightning demon took both of our strengths to best him. The ones who died, died while we were distracted.

I’m not sure what I’m learning here. We fight, we bleed, we die, and the monsters keep coming. Surely we are saving lives by manning this wall, but we don’t see that from here. All I see are brave men going to their deaths. I don’t doubt that there is honor in how they die. But they deserve better.

Today I’m halfway through my tour. In another six months Herodes and I will return to Ursundova. When we leave, we are to have faith that other heroes will fill our place on the wall. So as long as there are brave men to fight it, this war will go on. The alternative is too terrible to imagine.

Iomedae inspires courage in the face of evil. She teaches sacrifice for the greater good. I see Iomedae’s spirit in the face of every man on the wall. I hope they see it in mine as well. I miss my home. I miss my friends. But I am needed here. I can not come home yet.

Nina, forgive me. You know you mean the world to me. But the this fight needs me. Iomedae’s blessing is a gift that is hard earned. She demands sacrifice. I am giving all I can.

But still, these men deserve better.

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Full Moon at Apex
Leilania's Responsibilities Grow

The moon tonight floats high above, casting circular moonshadows at my feet. I stare upwards and listen to her sing the praises of all she sees. The world is a small place to the moon. From where she soars, nothing is hidden.

As the Kingdom grows, so do my responsibilities. The watchers expand in number as they expand in reach, and I must marshal their efforts toward worthy goals. In the past few months, I’ve spent far more time reading and writing letters than I have in the forests, and that bothers me. I’ve divested as much of my responsibilities as I feel comfortable to my more apt students, but some decisions must always come back to me. This is the responsibility of rulership, this is the burden of command. I could do without such feelings, but clearly they need me, and thus far the weight is not too much to bear. I miss my carefree days, but know that the moon has found its purpose for me…at least for now.

Plus, there is much cause for pride from this burden. As the Watchers grow, so does their influence. We have multiple patrols going at any time now, their journeys reaching from Fort Oleg all the way to the Whispering Grotto. We have disrupted bandit camps, run off poachers, and brought the fey closer to the Kingdom. We’ve strengthened our friendships with the Nomen in Casmaron while hardening our defenses against those who would be our enemies. I am proud of my Watchers, as proud as I’ve ever been of anything.

Of course, there are still problems to overcome. More and more I get the feeling the Jacek sees the Watchers as pawns to be moved around a map rather than the assets they are. And I think Ulgar sees my men as competition for some army he has yet to raise. He resents that they should protect the Kingdom while he still works to fill his garrison. And then there’s Candlemere…I’m not sure what I can say about that. Perhaps nothing is for the best.

The short of it is, the Kingdom’s continued success has cursed its rulers to disagreements and distrust. Because they have no external enemy to face, they bicker among one another, not realizing what cost their arguments have on the people they govern. They don’t seem to see their positions as the burdens they are, they don’t seem to feel the responsibility riding on their shoulders. I suppose that power is the worst kind of curse, because it is a curse that feeds itself. I hope that each of us has the strength of will to control its hunger.

For now though, I have a moment of quiet contemplation. The wind is light out of the east and the moon smiles. She’s proud of us…all of us. Despite our tribulations, we are growing strong. And as the moon sees us, perhaps soon we will see ourselves. It will be something magnificent indeed.

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