It’s been a long time since I’ve organized my thoughts like this. Getting it down on paper makes me think about it, much like transcribing the Testimonium. I envy the true writers, though. I fear my own efforts, if they are ever read one day, will be deeply boring.
Hezke is gone for a few weeks. She told me what’s been weighing her down, finally. She’s chosen a dangerous path, but I’m committed to helping her and if we succeed it will be our life’s work. She told me she’s committed to resisting temptation and I trust her. I only hope she can trust her chosen ally and resist her enemies long enough to succeed. I’m happy, though. She trusts me and relies on me. Having someone really believe in me is the strongest feeling in the world.
The long work of getting Stragosa on its feet is almost complete. We’ve improved the city in every way except digging a moat- which is absurdly expensive and unnecessary. We’ve built almost every village we can manage and I hope to have a Confectioner operating in the city by mid-winter. At that point we’ll have all the food we can produce and it will be up to Reinhart to stabilize things with the military. Father apparently brought two thousand spearmen. I’m not sure he’s ever engaged in war himself before, but even I know what a waste that is.
My current frustrations lie with Silbrin and Borso. Both would be solved by transparency, but I’m also not sure how much I can trust either of them.
The Baroness exaggerates the status of her city to aggrandize herself. ‘A second district has been built’ means that a second district is being built- that sort of thing, but it’s constant. As far as I can tell, Silbrin is struggling due to far too many people and no infrastructure to feed them. In contrast, Corvo seems to be learning quickly. He’s started building villages for them, and has even discovered that such villages operate well on hills as well as plains- a boon to us all. They’ll probably need more villages and to tax them strenuously over the next year, but I believe Silbrin will survive. Hopefully they take my advice and leave some of their markets unused to slow their growth.
More personally, the Baroness and her strange Paladin companion originally claimed that she was no longer human- a fact that was disturbing enough that many were sharpening knives. However, in mixed news that was proven false when her Paladin killed her (later resurrecting her on the Miracle) and found Wrath on his soul and his Covenant broken. Those things would not have happened without her being human- happy news. Unfortunately, Areteus now is burdened by his Mortal Sloth and Deadly Wrath- a situation as dangerous as Suriel’s a year or more back. We will have to watch him closely. I hope the atonement from the Bishop is enough to heal him and the community.
Borso is another sort of problem. My fears were confirmed by a masterpiece song he commissioned and I heard in the morning at forum- his greatest drive is Greed for more gold. It affects every part of his interactions and I have fooled myself into thinking there might be something beyond it up to this point. I had hoped that gold was just his chosen method to help others and advance Mankind. But it is not so. He tempts the people with ‘silver for their pockets’ knowing that it will come back to him and what he pays is only a tenth of what he receives for their labors. He exploits the Princess’s generosity in using her lands for far less than any other noble. I have seen his ‘lack of coin should not get in the way of a good deal’ contracts- they indenture people, especially nobles, to him for years and cost three times the loaned amount to buy out of early.
Deep breath. I want Hestralian economics to work. I want to see how competition works toward innovation. But I don’t see it yet and I’m not sure Borso is the man to do it. I hope he can be convinced to do the right thing and set aside his Greed soon. The goal is to bring everyone together. But so far he just seems in it for himself.
On a brighter note, I continue to meet good people and grow my relationships with old friends. I met a huntress named Daciana at forum and hit it off immediately. She is so enthusiastic with how our little brotherhood operates that I feel like it must be Cyaniel himself guiding us together. Adrian approached me and wants to work with us more closely- I think he’s starting to see that what really unites us is the good in our hearts. That means a lot to me. He came from a pretty rough world before coming to Stragosa and it makes me happy to watch people grow. I met another young woman named Saiorse, a farmer who was going to help staff our Dairy, but she ended up going to Silbrin instead. Strangely, I’m at peace with it despite the strain on our resources. She is doing it to help those most in need and that’s admirable. Reinhart, Kirsa and I are getting closer. I love my brother, but I often kept the other nobles in our group at arm’s length to give him his space. I miss him, but his absence gives me the opportunity to know everyone a little more personally. Speaking of, Lord Volksnand is a godsend. I hope I’m not being completely deceived, but he feels to me like a good man wearing the clothing of an evil man. It makes me laugh when he speaks of villainy while selflessly helping everyone around him more than himself. As efficient as Bakara was, and the right man for the job at the time, Volksnand has added something we previously lacked in our ruling council. Ansel, Sif, Heinrich and Lysander provide me with a strong spiritual environment. It’s nice to finally talk with others who understand as I do and want to learn more about the philosophy and theology of our faith. Alonzo and Sif made me very proud this forum. Sif was knighted by Dame Rundelhaus, Ansel’s mother, which is a big commitment for her. She’s going to be an excellent Templar. I also got to know Alonzo better and he has gained a new passion for purity of action. I’m not sure I understand him fully yet, but he’s a wonderful artist and I look forward to sharing his enthusiasm. The Beggar Kings also deserve praise for bringing him closer to God with their beautiful music.
I could go on all day with the good people in my life, but I’ll save some for the next entry, I think.
Father is here in Stragosa. He is upset at his daughter for disowning the family name. Sebastian and I knew he would be, but it seems I was left holding the bag. I defended her choice as well as I was able- and as I had sworn to do- but Father was set in his purpose. He has cut her off from the brotherhood. I have mixed feelings. I want Father to reconcile with his daughter and meet his grandson, but at the same time I feel he is justified, politically. If I could choose the resolution it would be that Alexandria makes her own way, on her own merit, but that she and Father can treat each other as family again privately and spend some time together while he’s here. I pray for neither full support nor enforced distance from our brotherhood. She was never fully invested, more than materially, in the work we do and that’s ok. But she deserves credit for the help she has given us and I want to support her goals when they are good ones.
I had a revelation on Saturday evening. I used my Sacred Blade to face the plague wraith once more. The Lazarine who tricked me appears to be controlling it now. But my blade did not seem to do lasting harm to the creature, which made me think. The blade isn’t intended to defeat Malefic- it’s intended to defend against them. I drove off that creature and only one very tough Njord got sick and was subsequently healed. That is an accomplishment. But I’m not a monster slayer- monsters aren’t meant to be slain. They’re meant to be helped. Realizing this will help me work better with the Nuranihim. I can watch their backs while they help these lost souls and that feels pretty good.
Overall, I feel like I’m growing every day. I read a book on the Age of Heroes and even in there, before the time of Benalus, there is wisdom to be gleaned. One thing that resonated with me that I read from an ancient leader’s journal excerpt was that people sometimes need someone to more forcefully guide and train them into being good people. You can’t expect children to make all the right choices. That’s what parents are for- teaching them the hard lessons learned by generations past so they can stand on our shoulders and be even better. I can’t just present the information and avoid conflict anymore. I need to start really teaching and taking responsibility. I don’t know how I should do that or what it’s going to look like yet, but it feels like time to learn.