Seems like everyone did our work for us– enemies and allies alike. And unfortunately, we did theirs, too.
Armos came for us in the early dawn. He brought an orcish mercenary troop with him. He might have beaten us, if we hadn’t already teamed up with Venak and his soldiers. There may be no love lost between orcs and elves, but I, for one, found the Eye of Gruumsh to be an orc of honor. Honor among outlaws? Perhaps. In any case… Cleric Armos died, choking on poisoned gasses, in the southern edge of the courtyard.
We ensured he, and indeed all of his troops, were laid to rest before departing in the morning. Venak’s man, too– he was placed in the green chapel for the time being.
Having been spared the trouble of hunting down Armos, I was relieved when our ally Ser Carrigan came to find us as well, seeking the book that Firiel had borrowed. We returned it, but not before he branded her as a liar.
Hearing her screams when the holy fire hit her– hasn’t she been through enough? Between Ilyria and the fire at the bridge, I’m not surprised she’s more than a bit heat-sensitive.
I leaped on Carrigan without thinking, hoping to bring him down and halt whatever he was doing to her. But it was already done and–
For all the roughhousing Rob and I did as kids, I still couldn’t throw a middle-aged paladin in clumsy plate mail armor.
I’ll admit it– I was angry. Firiel wasn’t just marked– she was hurt. I heard it in her voice, and it shook me. Firiel, Emilien, Tristram, and Ordune– they all have vulnerabilities. But none have expressed their weakness so sharply until that moment.
I looked powerless in front of my men. I may be commander of an army of only five, but they are my army, my men to discipline when discipline is needed. At the very least, I am to be consulted before anyone in my command is treated thusly. Even for acts they commit on their off time. As we move into the next phase of the plan, I need to make sure they know there is little difference between “company time” and personal. We will not win the hearts of the people if we are examples of mercy in the daytime, and unrepentant bastards when the wine is uncorked at night.
And now, I suppose, I need to come to confess my own vulnerability.
I mentioned that we did their dirty work? We killed one of our own. Driven mad by pain and blindness, he was locked in his druidic animal form. We could have… I don’t know what we could have done. Maybe if I’d been paying better attention, I’d have recognized him. I wanted to stay our hands, when we fought. I wanted to say “don’t kill this animal– it’s blind and uncertain.” I wanted to grant mercy. But I was uncertain, myself, if it was merely a driven monster, or something more, and I lack the understanding of natural things to know what I do not know. I was mute with indecision an lack of knowledge, and that lack led to his death.
There was no justice, there. There was no mercy, only a cease from pain. Ordune says that is a mercy in itself, but I disagree. The Lieutenant in me knows, we are simply too few to discard any of our comrades, even if they came through Ilyria’s fires scarred and broken.
The Lady in me weeps for the pain in those blind, maddened eyes. But for Emilien’s sharp senses, that would have been us.
Later, we found another spot where our enemies had done our work for us. A large circle of burned ash and destroyed men and horseflesh. Perhaps nearly a hundred men, all followers of Erathis.
The invokers who had raised the ritual against Ilyria.
Someone– and we found his footprints clearly in the ash– made sure there were no survivors to speak of what had happened.
We are heading for Sava next. Kyala might be there, and she might be a boon to our cause. In some ways, though, I hope she is gone elsewhere. She knew me before I became the Lieutenant. I fear that she will not recognize me for the Lieutenant, and will see me only as the girl who tagged along behind her, copying her style of dress and her mannerisms like a lovesick puppy. I fear she will let slip my name, that the burden of that life will return to me. I am not ready to take up that mantle yet.
Nonetheless, I miss it, deeply, and I have caught myself almost speaking my own name aloud, several times, as if the syllables are a balm against the screams of the world. I nearly spoke my family motto last night, when we discussed where to go next, what our plan of action should be. The words were on my lips, and I mouthed them without thinking. Mercy Tempers Justice Tempers Mercy. As we planned whether to drench the countryside in the blood of the clerics of Erathis, or to move forward with our lives, that motto came to me. As did memories of my first command, which I’ve recorded previously in this journal.
The next phase of the plan comes from the Lieutenant’s mind, but it rests in the Lady’s hand. We are moving towards Sava, true, but it is not a trip we hope to accomplish swiftly or in silence, this time. We are making our procession, from Psarios to Sava, then Masir, and onwards. The goal is to help solve the problems of the common people– the laborers, the artisans, the lesser nobility, even the clergy, now that nearly all who participated in Ilyria’s death are gone. It goes without saying that we extend our hands to help the elves and the arcanes, those who are left.
And whoever…. whatever killed the invokers. We will destroy it. Whatever it is, whoever it is. It’s dangerous, it’s malicious, and it’s trying to cover up its very existence. It is a secret that brings nothing but death. We will stop it. If the Harriers ask what our priorities are, they are to win the hearts of the common folk and take back this land.
But if I have to choose between stopping that thing and casting out the Regent and all his corrupt toadies… I will be the first to bend my knee. Those are hazards of the world, politics, and such things might mean death for one or five rebels. But whatever that thing is, the forces it wields are too powerful and dangerous to leave in the world.
I am signing this entry, because it is important that I hear my own name tonight, even if it is merely written.
Lady Gwenneffylasse Jader, Scion of House Jader.
Lieutenant Gwenn Jade of the Harriers for Ilyria.
Mercy Tempers Justice Tempers Mercy