Aramis Entry 17

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[March 16th, continued]

[this is copied into the journal off to one side, the handwriting much neater than everything else on the page]

Orson,
I’ve gone to search for answers. If there’s a chance that I can find a remedy for Henri, I have to take it. I’m sorry for leaving the burden on you, but I must do this. For all of us. I have to do everything I can. Just like you did for Aramis. Just like Aramis is doing now.
Forgive me,
-Iva

[then the handwriting gets bad again, like he’s writing while he walks]

That, on the other hand, was definitely a huge mistake.

While we were in the Citadel, Iva left, and Orson blames me. He blamed me right in the eye; I’m leaving it black. Let it be a reminder.

She’s gone off to look for a cure for Henri. She’s a smart woman, but I’m not sure what a wool-spinner’s doing questing. Hopefully Garon can shed some light on where she’s gone.

When Orson hit me, I instinctively responded with sacred flame. I scared Orson, which was the point – but I also scared Mother. I’m sorry that happened, but it made clear what I’ve been trying to deny: I’m not a shepherd – or a Shepherd – any more. I don’t belong in their world any more.

And even if Talgen were fine, the prospect of returning to Brindinford holds little appeal for me now. Could I go back to consoling the bereaved, after everything I’ve been through here?

No. For good or ill, Fate has made me an adventurer. I have to put my old life behind me and embrace the new one – and that begins with saying goodbye to everything I knew. “Closure,” Father Sloane called it.

That meant saying goodbye to Celeine.

I went back to her grave and told her everything I could think of…about our “adventure” in the Citadel, and the dreams I had down there. I recalled the first time I brought her to that spot beneath the tree, how young we were when we kissed there, also for the first time. I told her about Sharwyn – I had to – and it was strangely liberating. My happiness is all my wife ever wanted, after all, and if Fate has brought Sharwyn back into my life, I would be a fool to refuse.

I still love Celeine. She’ll be in my heart until the day I die – and perhaps beyond. I could never forget her…but I have earned the right to love again, and I intend to use it.

I have to tread carefully, though. Sharwyn’s always felt guilty for wanting me; now she feels guilty for having me. She needs to know that I’ve decided to be with her. And I need to give her as much time as she needs to come to me.

I’m in no hurry, after all. After three years of celibacy, a little more time doesn’t bother me.

I’m headed back to the Ol’ Boar to ask Garon about Iva. I guess I need a room, too.

-Aramis


March 17th, 103 CY

Slept poorly. Don’t recall my dreams, which may be a blessing. Maybe it was the Gulthias Tree affecting me, after all.

Yesterday evening, Garon told me that Iva’s gone to Blasingdell. What is that woman doing? The roads are dangerous… I’ve got to conclude my business in Oakhurst and get on the road as soon as I can.

I also spoke to Bhavik, to see if he was coming with us. Fortunately, he’s decided to do just that. He says there are shifters in the area; I can only assume he wants to find them.

I purchased another ritual from Sister Corkie. I expect to spend the rest of the day mastering it, then enchanting a proper holy symbol. Hopefully I’ll still have time tonight to visit the shrine… or House Hucrele…

-Aramis


March 18th, 103 CY

Slept poorly. I think I dreamed of Iva, trying to get me to help her look for Henri, but the details are very vague.

Awoke far too early and headed over to House Hucrele, with some wildflowers I’d collected out at the ranch. “I’ve come to say goodbye,” I told Sharwyn. “We leave at first light for Blasingdell… we’ll find a cure for your brother there.”

I tried to leave no room for doubt, and she seemed to draw some strength from my conviction. “Be careful, sheep herder,” she said. Then, more quietly, for my ears alone: “Come back to me.”

I swore to do just that, and Azal, Bhavik, and I left for Blasingdell. Erky came along, too, hoping to start his business there. We’d scarcely walked an hour before the rain started to fall…

Now it’s nearly dark, and the weather has let up enough for me to write. If Fate is with us, we’ll arrive in Blasingdell before dark tomorrow.

-Aramis


March 19th, 103 CY

Slept poorly. Weather doesn’t agree with me, and I had a dream similar to last night’s. Only this time I saw Celeine, asking me to help look for our child. I told her we didn’t have any, but she kept looking…

Have any of us said ten words since we left Oakhurst? I know why I’m preoccupied – my thoughts rarely turn from Sharwyn – but I think Azal’s bothered by more than Talgen’s condition. I’ll have to ask her when the time is right. Bhavik seems like the type to keep his own counsel most of the time…

Erky left our company when we reached town. At the Griffon’s Nest, I found no news of Iva, but a man called Tomms said we should take our questions about the Stone Tooth to either the Scholar’s Nook (Ashrem Dewitt’s bookshop) or Moradin’s Forge (Sister Alonsa’s temple). We went to the Nook first.

But for the urgency of our mission, I could have spent hours in the Scholar’s Nook. Ashrem hesitated to send us to our deaths at the Stone Tooth, no matter how much we insisted, shouted, or wrestled. In the end, we convinced him to help us – but only if we convinced Sister Alonsa first.

Alonsa was also reluctant to help us. Once we convinced her that we weren’t tomb raiders, she told us where to find the Stone Tooth. I assume it’s because she’s descended from Durgeddin the Black that she loathes the idea of grave robbing.

The entire exchange frustrated Azal; as we headed back to the Scholar’s Nook, she lied and told me that nothing was bothering her. I’ll have to try again at a better time.

Ashrem gave us a map to Khundrukar upon our return, and we found Iva there – in armor, with a sword! She’s an adventurer like us – always has been – and she’s come here looking into stories of a child with a condition like Henri’s.

I stayed late into the night, helping her comb through Ashrem’s records in search of the child’s name. We didn’t find it, but it was easily the most time we’ve ever spent together without Orson around.

She fretted over my eye, but told me not to judge Orson too harshly, even though I’ve known him much longer than she has. She told me about her family’s secret martial history, watching the rift down through the years. She told me that she hated to leave the ranch, but sometimes you do what you have to do, or live in regret of what might have been.

I told her about Sharwyn, and she was happy I was – how did she put it? – “putting myself back out there.” It felt good to tell someone… someone who’s clearly very good at keeping secrets… but I still asked her to keep it to herself. Sharwyn doesn’t seem ready to tell Madame, after all.

I felt strange, embracing her before departing. I’ve never realized how attractive she is… and Azal, as well, has a beauty that has simply eluded me all these years. I feel as if I’m seeing the world through different eyes. Or maybe I’m just seeing women differently.

I’m not sure what we’ll find at the Stone Tooth. Ashrem mentioned the Great Ulfe, an ogre warlord from the old days. No one seems to know anything about duergar in the area. I guess we’ll find out for ourselves soon enough.

-Aramis


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Aramis Entry 17

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