Dreams of a Fallen Crown:Characters:Eino Suutari
The Personal Journal of Eino Suutari, Exerpted.
Entry - 'Bridges to Nowhere'
They call the place 'The Chasm of Seven Sighs', but they really should call it 'The Chasm of Seven Thousand Rickety Bridges To Nowhere'. Supposedly the local god is mad about his bridges, with the emphasis on MAD. After dueling the Wild Hunt in the Chasm tonight, I'd certainly agree that someone or something there isn't flying with a full gasbag.
Fox's intuition was dead on target about the Hunt intercepting their quarry at the Chasm, and his whirlwind got us there with typically impeccable timing. There was already a thunderstorm raging (I love it when Heaven plays along with style), and our erstwhile brother was just dropping a bridge full of Realm troopers into the drink. Poor fools never had a chance, really, but the Fire Aspect with them wasn't so easily disposed of. Fox took the opportunity to slip across the chasm and introduce himself to a Dragonblood who had no idea he was firing the last arrows of his life, and as ever he managed to do it entirely under the collective nose of a full Talon of Realm soldiers. Meanwhile I took a leap out to land myself between Fire and his supporting troops, and give him two barrel's worth of my regards.
Fire launched himself at our as-yet-unnamed falling brother, and the look on his face was priceless when my fire took him in the side. Our brother displayed some deft footwork and made his way onto another bridge, just in time to be charged by an onrushing Water Aspect in full display. She joined battle with a furious martial arts assault, but he managed to parry or soften every blow as his Anima erupted like a beacon. Yes, he was definitely one of us, if the gigantic golden figure of a robed and helmeted Judge was any indication. Water didn't have much time to admire her doom displayed above her before our brother cut her down with his dire lance and sent her plummeting into the abyss. She was far from alone down there, what with the corpses of at least 50 troopers and her archer compatriot having preceded her.
As Water was being summarily dealt with, Fire decided to return to my bridge and have a word about my flamewands, just the two of us plus a good score of his troops. Very cozy. I explained how the bridge rush hadn't worked out so well the last time they tried it, then cut the ropes and sent another platoon of soldiers on the long fall. It was about this time that Fire, bereft of a bridge to stand on and realizing that he was the only surviving Dragonblood among a thoroughly routed assault force, decided to execute the better part of Valor. He screamed grave threats of vengeance and took off like an exploding air boat, leaving his troops to flee into the darkness.
All in all, a good night's work.
Turns out our brother is named Oath-Graven Diamond, and he's every bit as cheery as the name implies. Looks like there's quite a story behind him too... he wears the armor of an officer in the army of one of the Realm's noble houses, and judging by his looks and bearing I'd say that if he isn't one of their noble sons I'll eat my floppy hat.
Which brings me to my point in putting all of this to paper. I can't stop thinking of how mouth-foaming zealous the Hunt was in trying to bring Diamond down. He isn't some outsider, some animal in their sight... he's one of their own. One of their highborn. And they were giving absolutely no quarter. It really says something about this Immaculate Order that runs the place, and how tight their grip is on the minds of their people. It's really rather unsettling, knowing what we know, Fox and Diamond and I... feeling what we feel, and seeing just how ingrained this Anathema garbage is in the hearts and minds of the Realm. It's wrong... it's all so very wrong. Much as I hate the Guild, theirs is a pretty petty variety of evil in the face of the Immaculate Order. These people KILLED us, in ages past. I remember it, as my dream journal attests. And the Realm is an entire empire wholeheartedly devoted to eradicating every attempt to return the world to righteous order. Every fiber of my being is telling me that my vendetta against the Guild is just a warmup to the REAL battle to come. We're going to have to learn everything we can about how we were once usurped at the height of our power, to have any chance at all. And we're going to have to find a way to weaken the grip of the Immaculate Order on the Realm itself.
Who knew being a god was so much trouble?
Entry - 'Never Thought I'd See The Day'
So I made a donation to a temple of the Immaculate Order today.
I never thought I'd see the day that I'd commit such a sentence to paper. I never thought I'd see the day that I'd commit such an ACT. But the truth is, as ever, stranger than any fiction. Allow me to elaborate, starting with our return to Chiaroscuro:
Fox couldn't pass up the opportunity to act as host and tour guide, and Diamond seemed rather poleaxed by the sheer vibrant diversity of the city. Understandable, even I was surprised at how the place bustles and thrives with visitors from all ends of Creation. Of course that's what makes it such a great base of operations down here, and I've always been nothing if not adaptable. But I think Diamond is coming to grips very quickly, he seems to be made of stern stuff. But more on that in a bit.
Fox also couldn't pass up taking us close by the local Immaculate Temple during his tour, and the shabby state of the place really seemed to take Diamond off his keel. My opinion was best expressed, I think, by the bystander urinating on the temple walls, but where I had an aversion to what the place represented, Diamond seemed shocked by the fact that it had been allowed to fall into disrepair. Seeing Diamond's reaction, Fox decided to take us inside and introduce us to the current priest, this Hideo he's mentioned in passing before.
Inside we found the disarray that one would expect, with one exception: the Earth shrine was in perfect, even immaculate, repair. The reason for this jarring exception was revealed as soon as Fox called Hideo in to meet us. It turns out that Hideo is an actual Earth Elemental, wearing the vestments of an Immaculate. Bizarre, yes, but he's also quite personable, if completely off his nut. But whatever Hideo's state of mind may be, Fox has elaborated that he is quite the philanthropist and giver of charity, and really cares for helping the downtrodden. This I certainly can't argue with, and there is something supremely satisfying in seeing a bastion of the Immaculate Order twisted right onto its ear and doing genuine good for the community. Apparently Hideo has some sort of unfortunate history with the local spirits, but Fox wouldn't go into any detail. But I think at this point it's perfectly understandable why I left Hideo with a contribution to his 'temple'. I'm going to have to visit more often in the future.
Further regarding Diamond: my hat is safe from digestion. Diamond is indeed Realm nobility, a son of their House Cathak by his account. I've learned a good many things about him over the course of the day, and they all bode extremely well for our long-term goals. To begin with, he's an infantry commander with some experience under his belt. So he doesn't just swing a mean dire lance, he also knows how to command and direct troops and keep a fighting force in fighting condition. On top of that he is (naturally) well-schooled in the inner workings of the Realm and the nobility's games of power and politics. He also has managed to secure a considerable stock of funds from his personal wealth, which is going to be /extremely/ useful in broadening the scope of our operations. I know for a fact that Fox has been cooking up some juicy schemes to really ramp up our efforts, and this is going to cut some serious corners off the timetable. Which, it turns out, Diamond is quite amenable to... as it so happens, he appears to see eye to eye with Fox and I on some fundamental concepts of ethics and philosophy. What's more, I've felt that..... click with him, that same surreal sense of old familiarity I felt with Fox, and as we conversed around a generous supply of liquor (note to self: see more of that dancer!) I experienced yet more of those overlaid memories that mesh with the dreams I've been having off and on. Diamond belongs with us, and we all know each other somehow... something to do with our Exaltations, obviously, but at the moment it appears that we have served Unconquered Sun side by side before. As Fox would say, auspicious indeed.
On a side note, we have a party to attend. As we walked Diamond caught sight of a Realm servant-type bustling about on a buying spree, and Fox engineered a very unsubtle but highly successful collision with the man to get a look at his shopping list. Diamond also took the opportunity to speak with him, and determined that one of the local Realm snobs is throwing quite the affair, and Fox and I both smell a golden opportunity. We're going to acquire a guest list, and I for one feel that a duly-appointed delegate of the Haslanti League would be well-served to find himself in attendance, for the mutual benefit of League and Realm of course.
Second, and final, side note: I can speak High Realm! As I listened to Diamond and the servant conversing in their tongue, I realized that it was sounding.... not familiar, but /just/ outside of understanding, and with a bit of concentration the words began to make sense. By the time they were done I had felt something take hold in my mind, like the last piece of a puzzle clicking into place, and I was able to address Diamond in his language. Was he ever shocked! Heh, I've always had a knack for dialects, but this is just beyond all expectation. Another aspect of my Exaltation, no doubt. I'll keep my ears open and see what else I can pick up, as a skill like this could be infinitely useful. Especially in combination with some of the tricks I hope to learn from Fox.