Lady Fenton’s Bow

Gwenn returns with her journals.

I wish Rob had never died. I wish I’d never run off, never joined the resistance. Some days, I wish I’d stayed in Kindel and politely discussed the world outside while nibbling on sandwiches and deciding what dress to wear to the next party.

And then I meet someone like Lady Cale, and I remember that I would have been perfectly content that way, but I would be embarrassed to meet myself.

We made it to Fenton’s Rest with no trouble. Learned that Felicia’s grandfather forbids “ladies of the night” from operating in the town (and later learned why– good man). Firiel met with Felicia to discuss progress, and found the woman was acting oddly, glancing at a stone embedded in her chair…. I swear, it’s as if Firiel hasn’t been paying attention to her very own hitch-hiker! Indeed, Felicia’s grandfather is clearly dead these 12 years, and was turned into or imprisoned in a stone where he now guides his grand-daughter in administering his domain.

Aside from the manner in which very old artifacts seem to become quite addled, I think it’s not such a bad way to live on, for all that.  But in truth, Will Fenton didn’t choose it, and I continue to be conflicted over those questions. Those who would choose such immortality probably do not deserve it. Including me.

But I digress. As usual.

We spoke with Will Fenton for a bit, as he took over Felicia’s body to talk with us. He told us about some rumors in Mesir and Kindel, including a factory in the Regency holdings up in the mountains. Weapons– powerful ones. He gave us the option of going straight for Kindel, if we were willing to leave right away. We are more cautious than that, however. I am not one to go diving into a situation that I don’t know and can’t get intel on before we arrive.

Also, I’m scared to go home. I will face my fate when it is time, but right now is not that time.

When the conversation was winding down, I asked my companions to wait outside. It was really a minor, personal thing I wanted to talk to Lord Fenton about, but I didn’t want them to tease me about it any more than they already do.

I asked about Marco Venadi. Lady Venadi, too, but mostly about Marco. I was trying to get a sense from Lord Fenton of whether they’re, well, good people. Whether they’re just rulers, if they’re known to help their neighbors, how they treat the poor of their city, that sort of thing.

What I got was an earful about the devilish machinations trapping them in Sava.

And, of course, Lord Fenton recognized me. At this point, is there anyone who can’t see my parentage on my face? Truly, I should be honored– mother was quite pretty, and it’s nice to think that there are people who still remember when a Jader held the Regent’s scepter.

After our tete-a-tete, Felicia returned to herself. Thankfully, Will Fenton had protected her from our private conversation. I really do not need Lady Fenton knowing a) who I am, or b) that I’m interested in Marco Venadi. Not that I am, of course.

We decided to head to Mesir, by way of Cale’s Cross, and were just about to get the horses when we were attacked, in broad daylight, by a long-ranged archer and some thugs who infiltrated the crowd. With Felicia’s help, we subdued the attackers– only one of Lady Fenton’s guards were slain, for which I am both sorry for the loss, and grateful that the bloodshed was not more. We killed one of the attackers and captured a handful of the rest, including the bowman. A few of the men on the ground fled, though Felicia’s guards may have captured them later. No civilians were hurt. Nothing can express my relief when that was discovered.

The archer is a zealot of Erathis whose bow was likely built in the very factory we’d just learned about. It’s an exquisite thing of beauty– nice pull, a pulley system to reduce the strain of drawing it. I have no doubt that he easily hit me from so far away because of the manufacture.

He accused us of terrible things, but we calmly pointed out that he was the one who had attacked us, in the middle of a town filled with innocent people. Not the other way around. For all that we might have unconventional ways of doing things, we are generally careful not to get many innocents caught in our cross-fire.

He wasn’t pleased by my rebuttals. We helped Lady Fenton secure the prisoners. I complimented him on his weapon– we can be enemies, but we can still appreciate fine works of craftsmanship.

This is the crux of it, isn’t it? I don’t want Erathis for my enemy!  I don’t understand why a beautiful thing like that bow cannot co-exist in a world with druids and mages. It makes no sense to me that they should want us eradicated, every one. Erathis is not my enemy. She is the goddess of civilization! But there is a cancer within her ranks, and that cancer wants to suppress the secret of what happened at Ilyria, and stamp out the existence of the Harriers. That cancer is what destroyed that circle of invokers and divines. I am at war with that thing, whatever it may be. If it truly is Erathis, or her divine servant, then I have utterly misunderstood what I was taught of her creed.

In any case, after the attack, we got back on the road, arriving in Cale’s Cross the next day. The town is on a crossroads, and if these abusive taxes weren’t levied as punishment for Tristram’s involvement in the resistance, I cannot understand what they are there for. It’s insane, and it shows in every point of the place, from inflated prices for drinks, to every scrap of luxury removed from the Cale Manor house.

Though… that may have been for show. Lady Cale indicated that she gives the appearance of austerity to appease her subjects. For indeed, we did visit Tristram’s mother, who is…. typical? She treated me much like an annoyingly disobedient servant.

In the scheme of social niceness, she should have treated me better, but she’s not required to. I’m Tristram’s commander, which gives me some status when dealing with Tristram, but not necessarily with her. I must admit that cutting into their conversation as I did was done, in part, to test the lady’s patience. I wanted to see how courteous she might be to her son’s friends and companions (or cohorts, as she called us!) Doubtless if she’d known my real name, she’d have been all smiles and niceness while trying to figure out how to manipulate or maneuver me.

That is the life I don’t wish back.

But she offered Tris a new life, one in anonymity, perhaps, but he would be safe. Far away, across a sea, he could start over under his uncle’s protection.

After we left, I asked if he wished to take her offer. It is, after all, safety she offers. He could be free of this life, free of the Harriers. With what Lady Cale offered, we could all be safe, though neither Firiel nor I truly have that choice. I doubt Ordune does either. Not really. Not even Emilien can disentangle himself from our fate– we wouldn’t let him go even in death, by all the heavens!

Although he refused the kind offer of Lady Cale, we did proceed to Kollund on a personal errand for our knight. We’re there looking for a friend of his, though I’m not entirely sure why. It’s no worse reason than we had for heading for Mesir, though, and perhaps his friend will prove to be a potential ally, the way I hope Kyala is for us. We arrived a bit past sunset, easily lying our way past the guards on the wall by “pretending” to be merchant agents for the new tavern in Aethmell, seeking a meeting with David Numaire. Half-truths are easier to uphold. Tris brought us to a goliath-run inn here in the city, and that’s where we’re staying for tonight.

I write this journal entry, lying in the largest bed I’ve ever been in. It’s easily longer than I am tall by a foot, and quite wide– do they sleep three to a bed among the goliaths? There are two of these monstrosities in the room I share with Firiel.

And though they’re taller than average– tall enough that Firiel needed a set of steps to get into hers– all I can think is that it’s trivial to get into for a particularly tall or athletic person. Especially one with wings.