Aramis Entry 0
[This small, leather-bound book has been treated to resist water and has yellowed pages full of cramped, spidery handwriting. This is the first entry.]
March 9th, 103 CY
Father Sloane suggested that I begin a new volume of my journal for my trip back to Oakhurst. The journal was his idea in the first place, so I saw no reason not to. This is the first chance I’ve had to write, as it rained on us for the entire journey, and we found no shelter on the road. But now we’ve arrived, and the rain has stopped, at least for now.
I write this from the room in my parents’ house which Orson and I once shared. They finished the little house we’d started for Celeine and myself, so Orson’s family could have a place of their own, as we’d agreed when I left. They offered to let me stay in their house instead, but the very sight of it was like a cold knife dragged over my skin. No, better to stay here with Mother and Father, and memories of happier times.
Orson’s son, my nephew, took his first steps just last week. I had never seen him before. Beautiful though he is, I had difficulty at first in sharing the family’s enthusiasm. Even should little Henri live to be an old man, in the end, the Raven Queen will still take him. All things serve the Queen.
I knew better than to speak of these feelings. I participated in the fuss over the baby as best I could, and by the time we went in for dinner, I was at least entertaining the possibility that Henri’s life would be a long and splendid one.
Madame Hucrele made sure that my family would be expecting me, so my homecoming was hardly a tearful event. Not like my departure was, at least. Life for them has gone on without me, the same as before… it is strange to feel unnecessary here, like an intruder in what once was my own house.
The family tried to delay the real issue as long as they could with talk of the flocks, but Father finally cut to the heart of the matter. Just as I expected, they don’t understand how I came to serve the Raven Queen. No, they understand, they just don’t agree. I explained that it was never my decision to make, that Celeine’s death was fated, the Queen’s way of bringing me to her. But they didn’t hear – or else they weren’t really listening. I thought I saw a glimmer of recognition in Mother’s eyes, but it may have been a trick of the light.
They were more accepting of Azal, but that, too, was an ordeal. They’ve never seen a tiefling before (as far as I know) and it was all I could do to keep the peace, especially with Father. Strangely, it was Iva who calmed him down. Perhaps I’ll get to know my brother’s wife better while I’m here.
Azal is in Maurelle’s old room for the night; my sister hasn’t been in it since she married Vardan, that boy from the Redwing farm. I’m sure Azal will sleep better than I will.
In the morning we’ll set out for Oakhurst proper, to visit Madame Hucrele (I still can’t call her “Kerowyn,” even after everything we’ve been through) and find out what else she can tell us. I only know that Sharwyn and Talgen went to explore the rift nearly a month ago, and that they haven’t come back.
Why did she wait so long to write me? Was she trying to protect my feelings? Celeine’s death brought us closer together (even though it meant I had to leave Oakhurst or drown in grief), but I can’t be more important to her than her own children…
No point in worrying about it tonight. Fate wills what it will, and there’s no sense in facing it bleary-eyed and full of yawns in the morning. I will write again soon. It seems to help. Father Sloane may be on to something.
Slept poorly. Troubling dreams; I consider it a blessing that the details have already quit my memory. The tea isn’t helping much anymore. Maybe I should try chewing the leaves.
Sneaked out of the house in the dead of night to visit the grave.
I’m sitting under the tree now, wishing that the weather would change so I could watch the stars. How many nights did we spend here doing just that, Celeine and I?
Not nearly so many as we have lost.
Don’t dwell on such things. Fate wills what it will.
I talked to her for a long time. The body in the ground isn’t her, this I know, and her soul has long departed, but still I could not resist the urge to speak. Not in this place. This place which I had never expected to visit again.
I told her about Brindinford, and about everything that happened there. I reminisced about our courtship. I told her about Henri’s first steps, about Maurelle’s marriage, about the missing Hucreles.
(I did not talk about Gerabaldi. That will have to wait for another time.)
I told her that I missed her, that I loved her, that I would never forget her. And I walked back under the tree to write.
I should mention that I did not weep. I might be done with weeping.
That’s all for now. I’ve got to sneak back into the house and try to get some more sleep. Big day tomorrow… big day.
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