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Written By Medeia

Jan. 31, 2024, 8:52 a.m.(8/26/1021 AR)

It might have been silly to think we could enjoy an evening amid the darkness, but I think many of us learned something valuable while we made our foolish gamble.

I, for one, learned that Azazel has all the fragility of a toddler being told they must away to bed.

Who knew that insisting on using the door and sitting with proper posture could so enrage a being? Oh, he focused his many maws upon me and screamed at me, but I have four children! I will not tolerate petulant screaming just because you're not getting your way.

Written By Medeia

Jan. 31, 2024, 8:30 a.m.(8/26/1021 AR)

Relationship Note on Lianne

I didn't want to commit this to parchment before I had a chance to tell her to her face. I finally had that chance.

We walk different paths. But the paths we walk are within the same world, and sometimes they cross and we have opportunities to be reminded of our shared interests and purposes. We may not always be aligned, but there is a reason I accepted her offer of patronage without a second thought: I trust her.

If you believe you can attribute a life saved to me, there is a strong chance that I, in turn, can place some credit at Lianne's feet. This goes all the way back, at least, to when Skal'dajans threatened the Compact. I had a question tickling my mind. All I could do with it was ask it! It was Lianne who heard it, who had the means of turning that question into something usable. If not for her and her collaborators, a group of us wouldn't have been able to empower the rune that went to Pieros and saved lives by making their magic exact a heavy price and effectively taking it from them.

It has always been thus: My questions are encouraged and ideas are honed. While she bestows words like "genius" upon me, I tell you that this genius does not happen alone. It happens because I have had people - including Lianne - supporting it.

I have been her midwife and her protege, so many of our loved ones are shared between us for wholly different but no less genuine reasons, and I know now what I always knew - which changes nothing about her importance and place in my life.

Written By Lianne

Jan. 31, 2024, 3:03 a.m.(8/25/1021 AR)

I danced with Lord Onyx at what may well be the end of the world.

I watched him and Fortunato, shadow and lamplight, acknowledge the softness in one another, who they've both chosen to be.

I spent a rare quiet moment on this darkest of days sharing love and tears and a few good drinks with precisely the right people.

I kissed my children and took a bath.

I'm ready. However this story ends, I'm ready.

Written By Umbroise

Jan. 31, 2024, 1:13 a.m.(8/25/1021 AR)

In the depths of your greatest fear, you will find your greatest strength. Once you face that fear and come out the other side of it, you Become who you always were. You just had to accept it all along. Then the fear has no power over you.

These past few months, we have faced down the chaos of one existential crisis after another. Each choice made gives rise to consequences unforseen. Yet, we persevere. We remain.

I stand with the defenders of Arx. Should we prevail against our enemy, there may be a price to be paid. There always is.

When the balance is broken, and the pendulum swings too far, the backlash is equal in measure.

Let us not forget it, should we survive.

Written By Denica

Jan. 31, 2024, 12:45 a.m.(8/25/1021 AR)

When the window of opportunity closes, just smash open the glass.

Written By Thesarin

Jan. 30, 2024, 11:52 p.m.(8/25/1021 AR)

Relationship Note on Mia

I saw you'd wrote me to the Whites when we returned. Set down to endure for all time in the rolls, for any who'd seek it out.
I'll answer you the same way, then, and as things are it seems foolish to be aught but honest.

That you love me has been my greatest gift these years, and most days I ain't a notion how it came to be. At my worst I were awful, and at my best I ain't, I know, much better.

I've tried, and that's all I could say. For you, and for ours, I've tried so fucking hard.

Written By Insaya

Jan. 30, 2024, 11:08 p.m.(8/25/1021 AR)

Also for procedural flair I tried to conduct arrest an ancient, all-devouring evil bent on chewing up the Assembly and who may have eaten several noble policy wonks who were just there. Lurking? Loitering. The unarmed (but many-mouthed) assailant resisted the arrest, and fled underground. Pursuit continues.

Written By Insaya

Jan. 30, 2024, 11:01 p.m.(8/25/1021 AR)

The blood rain stopped falling, but the sun did not come up come up. I must have slept through much of the day. If not for Praesodymanin's prompts to stir me, I might have stayed all the day in bed. There were no cockerels to crow over the city; no pigeons cooing as they settle on the roof. There was no one to come and throw a rock at the eaves to rouse me, as I used to pay to have happen. There is no smell of bread baking, or cart wheels turning in the way. Very few babies crying and those far away. There are no bells ringing. Because this is not victory, and nothing which used to be commonplace seems so anymore.

My city is as altered in character for me as everything else. I wanted to show him everything wonderful about Arx, but each time I would take him somewhere, I found myself realizing too late that what I remember is gone, and will never be again.

I tried to not look disheartened before my guest, to take each new reminder of the darkness of these days... but because he is in me as I am in him, I could tell that there is nothing I can conceal from him. He is not without empathy, as I had feared. He is simply so ancient that while all my griefs, joys, loves, fears, and rages are new to me, he has chewed them all over before many times. He knows their savor. He has seen everything before, even this terrible darkness over Arx that seems to be the onrushing end of all things.

No, he tells me, nothing will ever be like it was. Even if we are victorious, and rebuild it all. But that is true of every past and every future, he says. Our lives, while part of a great wheel are more like spokes upon it. We are points on a ray, and along its path (without very extreme circumstances) we can only go forward. While there is melancholy to that thought, he admits, there is also cause for optimism: With each passing moment, there is opportunity to diverge from everything that has come before. And besides, my city was much more beautiful the first time it was nearly destroyed, because...

He forgave me my laughter as he forgave my terror and tears. Because I am young and foolish, and besides, he was only trying to impart some hard won wisdom so that I can someday be tolerable for him to converse with. He let me show him a few places, and because they are different we saw them together as for the first time. He has much to teach me about endurance.

I will try to meet him in the middle distance.

Written By Alarissa

Jan. 30, 2024, 10:23 p.m.(8/25/1021 AR)

I was guardian of his soul before. Now I am a guardian of his life in as much as he is of mine.

We were a tangle of limbs in the bed. The weight of Astrid, Danse, Siggy, Delia and Eleyna upon our legs and in our arms. They have been kept inside, away from windows and we shed armor and bathed before we gathered them up. If this is the last night that we will have with them, then I am glad that it was as such. They know something happens, you cannot hide that from the older ones at least. Astrid champs at the bit to join her father in battle.

I like the lines at the corner of his eyes. I know what they mean. I know that feeling. I hope that there will not be more lines anytime soon but I understand if there will need to be more.

I felt Valar as well, as real to me even though he is not in the same room and yet, he is just there. As I feel Victus beside me and Eleyna's head upon my shoulder. It is a strange feeling. Should we survive, I am sure that I will get used to it. He is honour incarnate. He seeks to ensure the comfort of his people as well. That they are being cared for.

This is it. What is in my arms, I fight for. Till my last breath.

You will not take them from me, they are mine.

Written By Tesha

Jan. 30, 2024, 10:20 p.m.(8/25/1021 AR)

Relationship Note on Arn

In these last days I wish you were here. Not because I want you to suffer right along with us, but because a part of me is still that scared and naive girl that misses her Uncle.

For now, they'll just have to make do with me being the stern and scarred one.

Written By Aconite

Jan. 30, 2024, 9:47 p.m.(8/25/1021 AR)

I did my best to prepare Whisper House and the Whispers for this. I am honored and truly grateful to everyone who came to our defense.

Written By Apollo

Jan. 30, 2024, 8:46 p.m.(8/25/1021 AR)

Tonight, I heard someone say that if Azazel allows any of us to survive, there will be ample time for regret.

Azazel doesn't get to allow anything. He doesn't get to choose. We do.

Written By Khanne

Jan. 30, 2024, 7:33 p.m.(8/25/1021 AR)

Relationship Note on Titus

I often told you, and anyone who would listen, that you left me speechless. Your words when you spoke to me under the stars... Your letters. I was just left... Speechless.

From the moment we met, our communication...

No.

Your communication. The way you spoke that first night, I just wanted to talk more. We could not see one another as we sat blindfolded, clumsily feeding each other morsels. I almost always enjoy the food at the Feasts of Senses, but that night, the food was secondary. We were too busy talking. We each gave one another a clue to search for after, creating our own scavenger hunt of sorts. I had to search for the eyes that matched the stone you gave me that night, and you had to search for the champagne silver hairpins.

I worried our paths would never cross again.

I am so glad that they did.

We spent a few years getting to know each other. We spoke of the histories of our families, the traditions of our lands, and pertinent to the times we find ourselves in now, the dreams of how we envisioned the future. We had our differences, for sure, but we respected one another and appreciated learning about those ways in which we balanced each other.

For without darkness, one cannot appreciate the light. Without suffering, we do not truly know joy. Life is about balance.

We balanced one another. We are an example of how people from different backgrounds and even different beliefs can better each other, make each other stronger, while still giving the utmost respect to those very things that make us us and make us different from one another.

I don't even know how long ago it was when you first told me you gave me your heart. "It is no longer mine, I am giving it to you. It is yours to hold." You vowed to do everything you could to protect me, to protect Halfshav... even if we never married. You kept that promise to the last, and I shall keep mine. If I survive this Reckoning... if Arx survives, I will make sure that you are returned to Sangris, to have the traditions of the fallen of Sangris carried out in your honor. It is the absolute least I can do for you after all you have given to me.

I do not need to visit a gravestone to feel close to you. Your heart is within mine. You gave it to me to hold. You and I will always be as close as if you were still next to me.

I wrote a lot for someone saying they are speechless, and it was rambling. I know. Yet it still doesn't feel like enough. I need the world to know your story. I need them all to know how absolutely amazing you were and what you gave to help others. I will keep your words with me for as long as I stand. I will continue to wield Hope and use it as my shield. I will never let it go.

I will keep your heart safe within my own for as long as my own beats.

No words will ever be enough, My Titus.

I love you and will love you.... To the last.

Written By Aconite

Jan. 30, 2024, 6:07 p.m.(8/25/1021 AR)

I write the names of those I knew. My feelings will have to come later or not at all...

Written By Aconite

Jan. 30, 2024, 6:06 p.m.(8/25/1021 AR)

Duke Titus Halfshav
Princess Sabella Grayson

Written By Apollo

Jan. 30, 2024, 5:49 p.m.(8/25/1021 AR)

Relationship Note on Avary

I met Archlector Avary somewhat by accident. My accident, not hers. I don't inquire after every question that crosses my mind - I'd never have the time - but it happened I had one about The Sentinel one day, and I wrote to her. It was a simple missive, not more than a sentence or two, a question about the doctrine of the Faith of the Pantheon. Does the Sentinel judge us only at our deaths?

A curiosity. It likely might have been answered in a word, a sentence, a single brief paragraph at most, and I would have been satisfied.

But what I received was pages. Pages, taking apart the question I had, relating it not only to Faith doctrine as it currently stands, but to history, the tempers of various holdings, why one might ask such a question, why it might or might not matter, and how her answers might be applied to how choices are made by living souls, trying to make their way through a life guided by faith but not dominated by it. Most people, in other words.

I find fewer things in life more gratifying, more rewarding, than a conversation with someone who cares about the matter at hand.

In days that followed, I met with her for further conversation. Corresponded a bit more. Received, on every occasion, that same deliberate thoughtfulness. The Sentinel is the most recondite of the gods of the Pantheon, she told me. And she hoped to change that. To guide an understanding of The Sentinel, of the principles of faith that would inform peoples' choices in ways small and large.

I found in our conversations an understanding of justice that includes empathy, context, forgiveness. Lives to be guided by intention, and evaluated not at their ends, neither our finest nor most terrible moments, but as a continuity, decisions we are to make made with reflection on the ones we have. And I also found a good deal of hope. That if the Faith - even part of it - is in the care of such a thoughtful heart, then the next generation might come of age with a model for how they might decide things for themselves, with due care.

And I found in her a companionship that nothing will replace. I can't say if she felt the same. She might have thought me a nuisance, and merely tolerated my presence. I considered her a friend, and saw ahead a hundred conversations we might have, if they proved more enjoyable than nuisance.

I saw her there on Sovereign bridge the other night. Wounded, and stepping only deeper into the path of harm. I tried to protect her. I didn't understand what she meant to do. When she spent her last breath shattering that mirror, my heart broke. No more conversations. Her ambitions withered on the vine. I had hoped to see who she would be while we rebuild the world. How it would differ for her attention and care.

And now I won't. And I do not think her death poorly spent. I understand now that what I saw in her as she approached that mirror was not desperation but a considered determination. A decision made and an intention carried through.

But I wish she were still with us. I will be mourning her for a very long time.

Written By Tesha

Jan. 30, 2024, 4:48 p.m.(8/25/1021 AR)

If I should die, please bury me with Calumar.

Written By Viviana

Jan. 30, 2024, 12:56 p.m.(8/24/1021 AR)

We broke the siege.

There were dragons --




Thank you, Blessed Felix Meadson, for the storta you made for me when I first returned from Setarco and joined the Champions. Sundown meant so much, and I sacrificed her in defense of the city.

Thank you, Mirari Corsetina, master weaponsmith for the glorious rapier that you crafted for me mere days before the final siege. Vanity was beautiful -- and she served me well, with my magic as I danced with my blade on the deck of Freedom's Phantasm in the bloody rain.

Thank you, Aleksei Morgan, for saving my life. I owe you. Nothing huge. Like a buddy punch to the shoulder. Maybe a firm handshake.

Thank you, Lianne -- for your practicality and foresight.

There were bigger sacrifices, but those are not my stories to tell.

With magic.

We are magic.

We will never forget.

Written By Medeia

Jan. 30, 2024, 12:14 p.m.(8/24/1021 AR)

Serasadin of the Venom. That is her name, the dragon that chose me to bond with so she might come to Arvum's aid. She's a stunning beauty - I've never seen a shade of green quite like hers anywhere, before. It reminds me of the earliest shoots coming up out of the ground in spring and those dangerous-to-touch frogs I saw on trips to the Saffron, with a touch of pearl. I think it may be uniquely hers. She is also quite imposing - each of her talons is nearly the size of me.

We went up for a survey of the damage, any lingering vestiges of Azazel's horde, and I was holding myself together well enough, until we circled over the Upper Boroughs. Some half of the sanctuary is just gone.

Sera and I share an interest in alchemy. I had told her about the sanctuary as we flew for Arvum, about the classes I held there, about the refuge it offered for people and ideas, and about the gardens. My beloved gardens.

She landed in the courtyard and sheltered me with a wing as I sobbed for what I had built. I knew it could happen, I had made the offer to Sir Jeffeth and the defenders to use it as they needed for a reason. But even something given willingly can still hurt upon consequence.

Through the bond we share, I was able to show her the sanctuary in my memory.

Then? The light went all wrong. Again. What little dawn we'd been afforded faded quickly. I am still hopeful that there will be a world left after all this, and that is why I am taking the moment to write this down. I will steal from Azazel this brief moment of memory.

Written By Medeia

Jan. 30, 2024, 10:55 a.m.(8/24/1021 AR)

I had very little time to warn anyone that I would be away for a while. I'm sorry if my absence worried you. I assure you, I would never have abandoned this city for any amount of time if I hadn't thought the mission necessary. This morning, Arx awakens to more than a dozen new dragons slumbering upon buildings and patrolling the skies. We were successful! And it seems, even if we arrived late, we arrived in time to help.

The mix of emotions I feel is nearly incomprehensible. Seeing the fleet from Nefer'khat arrive in the Bay of Thrax was like seeing dawn - bright and full of promise. It's hard to wrap my head around the fact that someone on the ground may have looked up and felt that when seeing us. It's one thing to strive toward the light and attempt to bring it to others, and quite another to realize you've done that. But this is in stark contrast to the horrors witnessed in getting here.

Nothing could have prepared me for seeing the city center overrun. Oh, I had the distinct gut-wrenching misery of seeing smoldering ruins left in the wake of Azazel's hordes on the ways to and from Cardia. This, however? This was more grotesque and cruel than any nightmare I have experienced. I am told I wept through the night when finally I found sleep.

Reports I have suggest our losses are uncountable. Millions and millions of lives lost across the whole of Arvum. There may yet be a scant few cites that stand that were not part of the Compact, but only Lenosia, Ostria, Setarco, Bastion, Sanctum, Artshall, and Farhaven remain outside of Arx. The names that have been added to the lists hit too close, and my heart is simply overwhelmed if I try to think about Duke Hadrian Mazetti or Dame Reese Grayson or Duke Titus Halfshav. There are many others, but each of them held special significance for me.

Especially Titus, as I hear we were just moments too late. Perhaps he wouldn't have done what he did? But that is unfair to me and my fellows. In truth, I suspect that my friend was always going to find this path. He had taken plausible deniability and even ignorance from me, telling me who and what he was. And still, I embraced him as a friend. I couldn't find it in me to shun him for any of it, not when there is a flower in my greenhouse from the earliest days we met, exploring the wilds outside his homeland - I was there as a favor to Calla. He was ever-loyal, always there when the people of Eswynd needed their allies. Titus nearly died protecting me and other people I cared for so many times. My hands stitched him back together so he could keep trying. Getting that arrow out of his face was especially challenging. Learning the truth of someone shouldn't immediately undo all the good they did. It should add another layer to your understanding of them.

More and more reports tell me that plausible deniability is a thing of the past, now. That my own patron was seen in battle beside - well, I won't write that name. The attention seems imprudent to draw, and it is information I have gained only in a report.

Of all the surprises, mostly bad, that have come from this situation, I can lay to rest one rumor: My cousin Kima is alive. She returned with us from Cardia. That is about all I can tell of that - it's hard to have a conversation in the air from one dragon to another.

This morning, I awoke with love in my heart and in my arms, with Serasadin (more about her later) slumbering atop the tower, and a world yet to save. I will do my best not to squander these opportunities and advantages - the blessed should shine their light where they can.

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