Blog for Stephanie Bryant, a writer with too many hobbies and not enough time.

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June 2013

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Before the Ink Dries

Everything has changed, and yet… nothing has. So many secrets…. I vowed not to keep secrets from my unit, so when Tristram asked me about the arcane spell I cast earlier, I hesitated only a moment before explaining the source of the power. I’m still not sure myself how it came about, only that I’ve felt… blessed, ever since we buried the priestess of Phayrd. It was the right thing to do, and I don’t believe this will be a permanent thing. Just a… thank you, perhaps, from her lingering spirit.

I withheld the test from Emilien, due to Ordune’s reluctance. Inviting him into the Harriers can wait for another time, I suppose. I need every man and woman in my unit to believe in and trust each other, even if pride keeps them from being best friends.

I think Firiel might well be my best friend.

And she’s a blood-drinking dhampyr.

Dear gods, Firiel. What am I going to do with you?

That revelation was something of a shock, I must admit. I certainly didn’t expect her to confess to… what? What do you call it when you learn your companion, the person who has slept in the same room for you for weeks, is a legendary creature, with an unliving, endless hunger for human blood? Well, perhaps not human– I have not asked if animal blood will suffice. I do not know– she might not, either.

Tomorrow, we will test the limits of her thirst, and see if blood is all she needs to sustain her, or if she must also consume food normally. What this change will do to our supplies, I do not know, but I must know. I am grateful that her vials are small– I mistook one for an ink pot, after all!

90% of being an officer is supplying your men. I have known that since I was a cadet under Captain Ethonn. My first real command was a supply mission, as odd as it turned out to be. But… this. I have never had to supply blood to a soldier before.

Tobacco. Liquor. Women (and sometimes men). Clothing. Grain. Bread. Meat. Leathers. Armor. Weapons. Ammunition. Disguises. Rope. Tackle. Soap. Water. But never blood before. An army, even an army of five, marches on its stomach. I had thought I knew the needs of my unit. I had thought by simply asking them, I would receive answers. And now I learn that one of my most trusted has kept a need this deep and dark a secret?

What are the others keeping from me?

I can’t second-guess them, though. We all have our secrets, and despite not keeping mine from them, I respect their right to have privacy from me. Even if– when– it might endanger our entire unit. That is a risk we take in being who we are. I did not ask for this command because they are safe, or follow the rules, or are open and honest with everyone. We’re scoundrels and liars. No. We’re the scoundrels and liars that even the scoundrels and liars feared. I didn’t want anyone on this team who wouldn’t slit the throat of someone they’d taken weeks to get close enough to assassinate.

There’s a price to having those kinds of tools in your hands.

Do I sleep easily tonight, knowing that her hunger might overwhelm her?

Yes. I do. I sleep as easily in the same room with her as I bathe when Ordune is standing nearby.

I trust her. She is mine.

None of my Harriers would ever act to harm any other Harrier. Their trust cannot be doubted. Ever. It is why I wanted to bring Emilien in– I believe with my whole heart that he is one of ours. And it is why I chose not to do so when Ordune was so reluctant– if he is not also Ordune’s, then he is not yet a Harrier.

And yet just as surely, I belong to them. I’m the sight on their bow and the quiver supplying their arrows. I am the hand that guides, but little more. I have plans, indeed, but when one of them balks, I change course, adapt to their wishes. I owe them that. I want… I need the Regency to be brought down, but there are many ways to do it, and I am not wed to this path. I have simply chosen the course of action that I believe has the best chance.

May the gods help us and have mercy on us.

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