The Great Conflict, and the world, has ended. Magic is forbidden so that the world can heal. I believe it’s stolen your memories, too. Which is why you and I are keeping this journal. You, reading this tomorrow, and me, writing this today.
Remember this if you can:
Your name is Carth. You are a warrior, aged boy. You are in the service to the Warlord’s clan in his mission to restore order to the Realm. Ask daily for your payments. For an index of items, places, people and locations, refer to the scrolls next to this one.
* * *
You’ll never guess what you did all day! You marched. Shocking, I know.
The Warlord’s army camps, split into groups in accordance with their tribes; all of them huddled by separate cookfires, devouring their rations. Others spoke of gods, their speech littered with curses.
It’s utterly baffling. These people cursed lightning lords! Masters and creators of storms and stones! For such powerful things, you wondered what good it does curse them.
And would they be saying such things during a thunderstorm?
You tried to ask Clarissant why you want to fight the monstrous warband that the Warlord has sent you in pursuit of. Clarissant answered by thrusting a scrap of meat in your face, red juice dribbling between her fingers. “Eat,” she said.
You snatched up that strip of meat and tore at its stringy tendons. When you finished it you wiped your mouth with the back of your hand and half-growled, “More.”
“You’re hungry,” Clarissant said. “That’s good. You must keep eating, boy. Keep up your strength.”
She gave you more just like you asked. Strips of meat thick as tree bark with patches of crisp burn. It tasted like horse. You’ve probably still got some stuck between your teeth if you’re curious.
Then you slinked off to write this letter to yourself. A man was about to put out his cookfire when you caught his arm. “I need to write,” you told him and he seemed to nod his assent.
Maybe he knew you—not that you’ll know.
You huddled up and scratched out a note. Anthea had chided you for leaving your berries uneaten, but you’ve got to get ink from somewhere. A thin stick and some berries is enough to give yourself this message.
You heard men in the distance tell their legends of half-gods and heroes. I’ve written a few of them down for you in your index. My favorite is the one where a lightning lord must attend a wedding dressed as a bride in order to retrieve his magic sword.
Clarissant and Anthea had asked you for own legend. They wanted to know if you could remember anything, or if you could recall enough to event one. So You sewed together scraps of memory, mixed with other legends you heard tonight and gave them the legend of Tinker Taker—he was the first to claim Grayfell (I cannot say if you fully invented this name) as the First Holding of some long-forgotten empire.
He was a reaver before that and had spent six days on stormy seas. On the seventh, he spied the timbered fortifications of Grayfell rising up like an obscene gesture along the coastline. “If there’s a meal on the table and a fire in the hearth,” said Tinker Taker, “I won’t be setting foot in a longship for the rest of my life.”
And there was. And he didn’t.
You’ll notice how the legend doesn’t tell you what happened to those who made the meal and lit the fire. We’re going to do the same—understand me, Carth? There are some things that are best left forgotten.
Special thanks to my patron on Patreon, Alicia Cameron