Aramis Entry 5

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[March 11th, 103 CY continued]

We must find some proof that Talgen’s band is alive, and soon. We entered a burial chamber just off the room with the fountain; when we found no trace of the Hucreles inside, Azal fell down, weeping.

I’ve only seen her cry on one other occasion – that night at the tavern, when I told her and Talgen I had sworn myself to the Raven Queen. Azal was so furious with me… She seethed with rage, and Talgen said “What would your parents think?” I told them that it didn’t matter. I knew Madame was proud of Talgen, but I’d never heard Azal breathe a word about her parents, so I asked her if she cared what her parents thought.

Azal burst into tears, and I hated myself for being so thoughtless, but Talgen and I coaxed her story out of her. She spoke of her youth in the orphanage, under the eyes and the thumb of Brother Angelo… of her years spent on streets and in sewers, struggling to survive, never knowing her mother or father…

As meaningful as it was for Azal to lay her history bare to Talgen and I, the most important thing was that we accepted her for who she was – flaws, pain, and all. My misery was nothing compared to hers, but we all found our burdens lighter in each others’ company.

Since that night, Azal has spoken little of her past. There has been no need. She has been as close a friend as I’ve ever had. But there are times, such as this, when I feel like I barely know her at all.

After saying a few words to honor the dead, we pressed further into the dungeon. I saw glittering in the rats’ nests, and felt grateful not to be in the company of adventurers who would have stopped to pick every coin out of that filthy mess. I also shudder to think what others would have done to the sarcophagi in the burial chamber.

I made another stupid mistake… I triggered a trap and got lungs full of sickly green vapor. Why do I keep taking these chances? Gods know I don’t have a death wish… Am I testing the limits of fate? More likely, Owen’s zeal for this adventuring life is winning me over. He seems more careful now; I hope I wasn’t too harsh with him.

More rats here; their lair is full of the old remains of humanoids. The largest was terribly familiar, old and scarred, one side of her face bashed in – by me, years ago, when we drove her pack from our land. These rats gave the scarlet plague to Celeine and I, and I’m sure that realizing it cost me my wits in the battle. I’m also certain that the rat bit Azal in the fight.

My Queen, I know that you will what you will, and that your servant has no right to ask you for any boon. But please, I beseech you, spare Azal from that plague.

[The ink on the last line is smeared; the book was closed before the ink dried]

is that a body?

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Aramis Entry 5

III godfear