It’s early morning as I write this. I tried to sleep, but there was no point to it. No point, because I know in a few hours we will teleport directly to Pitax to attempt to end this war before it starts by taking the fight directly to Irovetti. We will storm the palace of a hundred doors, kill whoever opposes us, and hunt down Irovetti himself with the hopes of recovering both Briar and the Avenda’s shawl. This is a mission born out of desperation. Only by striking first can we hope to avoid a war that would kill thousands.
I know this is a noble goal. If war begins between Ursundova and her neighbors to the North and West, the battle will inevitably be carried deep into our kingdom. Even if we were ultimately successful in a military campaign, the toll of the conflict would fall heaviest on the common people—peasants run from their farms, soldiers overrun in battle, merchants cut down as they flee. If we were to forsake this opportunity to avoid greater bloodshed, however slim the chance, how could we ever face the widows and the orphans of the battles we chose to bring? How would we explain our choice to stand by and let the war come?
I know also Irovetti is a wicked man—a man who would literally feed his people to beasts to suit his ends. He has shown capacity for great evil, both in the nature of his schemes and the monstrous allies he has called to his aide. Surely there can’t be a place for such a man at the head of a civilized nation. Surely it is our duty to protect the people of Pitax from a tyrant who cares not for their fates or hardships. Compassion dictates that we must act to right this injustice, no matter what side of the border it occurs on. Iomedae teaches that we should face evil directly. We cannot turn a blind eye. Righteous purpose demands action.
I know finally that the men and women Jacek has chosen for this task are the bravest and best Ursundova has to offer. They all go selflessly, not for glory or treasure, but to do what must be done to protect the kingdom and her peoples. In a world plagued by greed, selfishness, and cruelty, Jacek has assembled an order of light to push back the darkness. We are not conquerors. We are not assassins. We are champions—all of us.
I won’t say that I don’t have my doubts. It seems like we’ve been dancing to Irovetti’s tune since the first invitation to the Rushlight festival, and with each new twist, we get drawn deeper into his plot. Knowing that his armies were already in place at the time of the Rushlight Festival, why would he have invited Ursundova at all if not to let slip that they were there? Why wait to invade if not to provoke us into preemptive action, and is so doing pull our armies away from our northern border so that Brevoy would have an easier path of conquest? Why plant information about magical weapons at the monastery if not to invite us to raid it? And why set a trap there that he had to know would fail, if not to let us know that he had Briar? Irovetti had to know how all of these events would play out, conceited as he is, he’s not stupid or careless. I’ve called Irovetti a gambler in the past, and others have interpreted this as some slight against him. No, in my younger days I lost too much money to people like Irovetti. He is a man who knows the odds before he makes his bet. And so far, he’s playing a winning hand.
So now we go, rushing headlong into a demon-infested fortress where Irovetti has all the advantages. It is the one chance he’s given us, no doubt with malicious intent. But we have to act now, despite the long odds, or risk the kingdom to a far worse fate. If somehow we can win, perhaps war can be avoided. And if we lose, perhaps the odds will become so one-sided as to spare brave men the need to lose their lives for a lost cause. Surrender may be the best option.
I don’t like where we’re going or the odds we face, but I have to have faith in myself and my companions. They risk the same stakes as I for the same noble cause. They think this is the best chance. I will trust that they are right.