Distraction

Sitting at his workbench, Valentin is trying to modify a pump valve, his hands fumbling with the machinery as if he had forgotten what it was for. He is desperate to lose himself in his work, but his mind keeps wandering to a lovely face. ‘The very idea is ridiculous. I am too old for her.’

The metal parts in his hands felt like strangers, despite having fitted valves to piston’s dozens of times. No matter how Valentin turned the pieces, they would just not fit correctly. This was made all the worse by his increasing inattention. ‘If I were to marry Sophie, Camille would be at peace. Juliene might be safe. I might. No, I cannot ask that of her.’ With a shake of his head Valentin forces himself to pay attention to the task at hand. To the reliability of metal fitting with Metal.

Valentin takes out a file, and shaves a small amount of metal off of the recalcitrant piston. He goes back to trying to jam it back into place, despite the fit still not being quite right. ‘She is everything I could want in a wife. A brilliant mind. Possibly the most compassionate woman I know. She loves knowledge and learning as much as I do. She is beautiful. And she has so many books. I could easily’

Valentin’s inattention causes his hand to slip, throwing him forward. He lets out a gasp of pain as his arm slams into the edge of a nearby metal plate. Looking down he sees the cloth of his shirt has been sliced open, and below that his arm.

“Merde” he mutters under his breath, watching the blood start to stain the white cloth. Crossing the workshop he grab an old piece of mostly clean linen and presses it against his arm. Gritting his teeth, Valentin presses the gashed arm against a work bench while he ties the bandage with his other hand. ‘I don’t need to be happy. I have my work. And I have Julienne to watch over. That is enough.’

Valentin lowers himself into an old chair as he waits for the throbbing in his arm to go away and the sweat to dry on his forehead. Now he has no familiar distraction to pull him away from the thoughts run through his mind. ‘I could be happy with her. But she deserves better than me. Sophie gives so much to Luisant; she has a right to ask for her own happiness.’

Sinking deeper into the chair. Valentin closes his eyes and fights off the pain. After a long time he rises and goes back to work.

Journal Entry – Dead Wives

As much as I want to think that Camille is now at peace, I am almost certain she is not. Julienne sought me out during Market on Saturday evening. She has continued to have dreams about her Mother. I would like to dismiss this as lingering trauma from her kidnapping by Camille’s ghost, but that would be no better than lying to myself. Julienne is deeply afraid for me, worried that I will get myself killed and make her an orphan. I reassured her as best I could, telling her I take every precaution possible. What risks I take are for the good of Luisant and as minimal as they can be. I did not lie to her, but I certainly misled her. She must never know how close it has come in our continued explorations of the old laboratories. She certainly does not need to know about the time I was shot and healed in the gravity laboratory. Or about the fact that we went out mere hours later to confront an elf. She would just worry, when nothing she can do will change the circumstances. As much as I don’t want to risk her being orphaned, what I do must be done for the good of Luisant.

But the question remains, what do I do about Camille’s ghost. This shard of my wife that is so filled with spitefulness and twisted love. This shadow of the woman I loved with all my heart, whose appearance twists the knife every time I see her. It is clear that Friar Henri finding and burying her body did not resolve the problem. I cannot just ignore this problem and hope for the best. I need to find a solution. I need to protect Julienne.

So, what do I know? Her essence as a ghost indicates that her becoming Malefic is tied to something of a spiritual or mental nature. If it was simply her death or desecration of her body, her form would be something more corporeal. Second, her appearances have all centered around Julienne. Warning me about the danger presented by Truth. Kidnapping my daughter when she was sick. Julienne’s persistent dreams about her mother. Third, in each major encounter with her, the spirit Truth has made an appearance. Fourth, Truth appears to have some linkage to the Veneaux family and by extension to my wife and daughter.

So what can I do about any of this? In short, I need more information. I need to understand the nature of Truth and how it ties into the Veneaux family. I need to learn how Camille died, and what involvement she personally had with Truth. I also should figure out what is motivating her now, what she wants as a ghost. If I can put the pieces together I might just be able to fix all of this.

Of course it is not enough that I need to solve my own problem. Pascal Rocheaux shows every sign of being similarly haunted by his dead wife. Pascal is encountering early signs very similar to what I encountered with Camille. Objects being left places, glimpses out of the corner of his eyes. He believes it might be some sort of sick joke, but I have seen too much to believe the easy explanation. Given the circumstances of his wife’s death, she is almost a ghost and not some more corporeal form. Which means that we must work together to understand her state of mind and decisions before her death. I will not let Pascal down.

The Malefic are a puzzle to be solved, and if there is one thing I am good at, it is puzzles. With the right help I can solve this. Or at least I pray that I can before something tragic happens.

An Excerpt from The Journal of Valentin Mervaille – Musings on the mist

I had previously considered the pervasive Mist throughout Luisant to be a threat or at best a neutral entity. It provided some degree of protection against those who would threaten us, but at a great cost. Those who wandered off the path in the Mist, lost so much. Their Memories, time with their loved ones, and even in some instances their lives. I had some hopes that with time and effort, it might be possible to remove or at least somewhat lessen the effects of the Mist. I can lay much blame for my troubles on the Mist, and I have always feared it would take the rest of my family to me.

After the events of this last Market, I need to reverse my opinion. As much as it pains me to say, the Mist must be preserved. While it has taken much, it has at least returned Pascal to me, and that matters. Of greater concern is the fact that the Mist seems to be protecting us from grave dangers. If what we learned from Saint Arbor is true, the Mist is part of the prison holding the Feasting King. If it was to weaken it is entirely possible that his influence could spread throughout the town. Naturally this cannot be allowed.

Beyond the issues with the Feasting King, which I honestly cannot believe I just wrote. The Feasting King is at least the most direct problem we are facing. The Mist might be preserving us from an even greater problem, which is the Church of Benalus as a whole. I cannot deny the truth that Saint Arbor told us about the original nature of Heresy. And this is a truth that I have no intention of trying to hide. In the eyes of the majority of Faithful, spreading that truth might just make us Heretics ourselves. I am worried that if other Benalians were to learn of this, that the Church might attempt to purge our home. I wonder if inquisitors would view us as no different than the Vecatrans.

I can only conclude that while it brings difficulties, the Mist must be preserved. Of course protecting the mist brings with it a plethora of questions. If it was in fact created through the combined efforts of Benalians and Vecatrans, do we need to work with Vectrans to have any impact? Will the Spider Wedding strengthen the Mist? What other actions will either strengthen or weaken it? And those are just the critical questions, there are in fact many others. And I have answers to none of them. Every question I get an answer too, just leads me to more questions.