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The War Journal of Glorious Wren

You may assume that this originally in Skytongue.

FY 770: Farewell to the Ice

I lead the spear south tomorrow. I don't know if Kaneko's advisers are right, but they've rarely enough been wrong, so I suppose relying on them one more time won't kill me. We're well-provisioned, and I have my blades; thus do I keep my trepidation in check. Half a year on the open seas, assuming all goes well.

The men and women of the spear seem eager enough, and I admit, the promise of spreading the banner of the Bull is a sweet one. Let things go well, and swiftly. I'd rather land again before too long.

FY 770: The Ocean Blue

The weather warms as we move further south. It's not uncomfortable yet, but already I miss the ice cliffs. We sail towards endless sand. How… pedestrian.

Some good fortune today - a Realm supply shipment, headed north. Undoubtedly going to fund their campaign in that region. Knocking it off and confiscating the provisions probably would have been enough, but I put a prize crew on it and sent it to one of our harbors. We're short enough on freighters, and resupply is easier via the sea.

FY 771: An End In Sight

We're in the right area now, at long bloody last. The whole spear is sick of the water, and we're low on provisions, and it's much too damn hot. According to the maps, there's a city to our east called Thorns. We'll put in there for resupplies and to inquire after our mysterious Circle.

FY 771: Oaths

Damn it all! Damned deathknight, twisted beast that it was, and damn its lord.

One of the deathlords has Thorns. I don't know when it was taken, but the deathlord is solidly in command. I assume he noticed us landing and sent a group out to “greet” us.

I thought the battle would never end. The vanguard was capable of keeping the minions of the deathknight at bay, but… far too many were lost, and even more once the dark warrior took the field. I made answer for them, though. A long battle, perhaps the longest single combat I've fought. Her armor was damn near to impenetrable, and her skills, a match for mine. I will never forget the sight of her Essence, unfolding in a black shroud, and amidst it all, a twisted mockery of the mark of the Unconquered Sun.

What are these creatures, these knights of Oblivion?

I kept the armor. It will serve me well, and remind me of this day.

FY 772: First Journeys

This circle has made… unusual allies. Still, they have accomplished much, and I have few objections to the alliance. Sanctuary is a useful haven, though I still find the climate here barely palatable, and the landscape barren.

Re-establishing the Deliberative… a considerable ambition. I am not certain if such a thing is even desirable. It was a thing of its time, and its time has passed. But I am a general, not a diplomat. I will fight for them, if their cause is just.

We must raise armies, that much is obvious. The 12th Spear will form the core of a new force. The region near Khirigast is rich, and it seems well-ruled; a fine place to put an academy. With the threat of Thorns just beyond the mountains, there would certainly be no risk of complacency.

The Mask of Winters, he is called. His maneuvers seem unsubtle; he's probing for something, and I know not what. Does he seek revenge for the death of his servant? The question implies an emotional investment that I've never known the deathlords to be capable of. Still, it is not impossible. Nothing is, I think - they are mysteries, all of them.

If he wishes a battle, I will be only too happy to oblige him. I've a great many losses to repay him for.

FY 772: Foundations Laid

I've begun the process of putting together a proper military force. I've spoken with the artificer, Azure Phoenix Ascendant, on the possibility of establishing a properly reinforced academy manse, but in the meantime, training grounds are where we find them. The local defense militia is effective enough in some ways, but they are a shield, and to my way of thinking, a sword is needed.

I've preferred to stay with the Bull's Wind/Spear/Blade structure, with the 12th Spear as the center of the First Wind of the new army. I've found an excellent resource in the monarch of Kirighast, as well - having led armies in the region, he's been helpful in filling in the gaps in my terrain knowledge.

It may be my imagination, but it seems like Thorns is turning up the pressure. I've begun training the vorwartsflamme in specific counter-tactics, just in case, but not enough is known, and even the library of Sanctuary says little.

The armies of men are simple, and the armies of the Realm are powerful. But of them all, I fear most what I do not well understand. And I do not understand how the deathlords fight.

FY 773: Turn, Turn Again

So Ebon Jade Duskchild is a daughter of the Realm. How… unexpected. Despite my thoughts on the whole wretched edifice, I'd have preferred to accompany the refugees to the coast, or better, Kirighast; I've no wish to see any fall to the deathknights' march, no matter their allegiance. Now, I suppose, they make for the Isle to tell their tale. If they survive to reach the coast, which is far from certain, given Thorns.

Thorns. Damn them for cowards. Twice now, they've fled battle. If the Sun wills it, next time I'll get to choose the grounds, and I'll finish them.

FY 773: Heaven and Earth

When the history of this time is written, I think they will find this year most momentous. It has its triumphs, and its tragedies.

We crushed the deathknights and their undead army. We selected grounds they could not retreat from, broke their advantages, fell on them unexpected, and slew them all. A great victory.

Then the Mask of Winters launched his counterattack. Vile plague.

It is likely fortunate that our assault forced his hand; had he been permitted more time, the situation might well be far worse. I find this small comfort all the same.

And yet, he may have underestimated our ability to act. The forces of Yu Shan itself marshal to defend Creation - surely a unified spirit and will not seen in ages. Even those Chosen of Fate who oppose the Unconquered Sun cannot help but come to our aid.

Still, a doubt lingers. Surely he could have foreseen that releasing the Great Contagion once more would bring down all Creation on his head, so what else might he be planning? What other schemes?

I must seize every weapon at hand. The Sidereal arts offer the possibility of great power, should its teachers deign to teach. Should they fail…

I will not permit the Mask of Winters to further corrupt Creation. I will defend those who cannot defend themselves, by whatever means I must.

FY 774: Time Enough

Chejop Kejak.

I will remember that name. He is the one we must convince. For all that I've heard, and as much as I distrust him… I do not envy him his choices. Neither can I be certain he was wrong, then or now. Those like Phoenix Ascendant seek tools, while those like Soul of Bronze seek raw power; I know all too well why such tendencies raise suspicion.

The most important lesson Kaneko taught me, that he tried to teach others, is that it is not enough just to win. True victory lies in placing all of the warrior's self, to the very limits of passion and ideals, into the blade. To fight for something, to prove meaning and purpose on the battlefield. To march to war thinking otherwise is to surrender before the battle has begun.

What do the Deathlords fight for? What passion gives them strength? What meaning do they carve out, with their blades of bone and iron? The Mask of Winters and his servants seem to delight in base sadism and corruption. Do they truly have no greater purpose?

The writings of Sanctuary have much to say on the Underworld, on necromancy and the walking dead. But nothing of the Deathlords. And the Chosen of Fate are as close-mouthed as ever. I must wrest some answers from someone, and if the Sidereals won't speak of it, I'll have to look elsewhere.

I am oddly disturbed by the lifespan promised us. Passion and idealism - these are the fires that stoke the hearts of mortals and Exalted. Can such things burn as brightly over a thousand years? Or the march of time time lay low the righteous, leaving only the hollow - the lukewarm, who care for little and hold no great causes?

Still: Whatever may come in peacetime, as long as there is war, it is the warriors who drive Creation. May the Unconquered Sun grant that ours are the equal of their burdens.

FY 793: Never Enough

Today, we held the funeral of Burning Sands.

I spoke. How could I not? In twenty years, I saw much of him. He was a good king, and a good man, and a friend. Now he is gone.

I know some of the secrets of the deathlords now. I know the true meaning of the deathk… no. I will give them their true name. The are the Exalted of the Abyss. They are the corrupt children of the Sun, turned from his gaze into blackness. I know how the plague might be ended.

I know how to kill a deathlord.

What have I paid for this knowledge? What did I sell when I spent my blood and essence to call up a ghost twenty years gone? And yet… this knowledge can save, will save lives. Once I know how to make use of it.

YD 29: Coming Together

I laid the blessing of the Unconquered Sun on the oath of the Council of the Pillars at dawn today, and I finally believe that a new Solar Deliberative is possible. The evidence is before me, the cities of Dammerung-Ort and Bergwachter - a new accord, united by the Unconquered Sun. Even after we have eradicated the Contagion once and for all, the Pillars will remain and grow, guided by the Sun and by the Exalted.

What is to say we cannot do the same for all Creation?

I am not sure the current structure is the correct one, but it may be good enough. If those like Azure Phoenix can be restrained…

I will wait, though. The watch over the quarantine continues, and my responsibility is to those under my command and my protection. Time enough later to sort out the politics.

YD 48: Years of Peace and Sorrow

I can no longer stay here. I love this city, and I have grown to love this land, but I must turn my hand to fell studies, and I cannot risk them. I will leave an agent here, and travel east, where if things go badly, it will fall on none save myself.

The Contagion ebbs and flows. It disappears from one area, and arises in another, driven by terrible magic. The only mercy is that the Army has pacified the region. We haven't seen raiders, bandits, nor barbarian tribes for years. And so the long waiting continues, until a cure is found. Rose still seeks one, but I suspect our hopes lie along other lines.

The Well of Udr, where the Great Contagion was born. There must be a path to it. I must find it.

YD 59: Need Best Unspoken

I understand, now, why the study of necromancy is discouraged. There are things that are dangerous to know. Truths that scorch the air when spoken.

The Labyrinth… what terrible madness it breeds. Ghost after ghost, I've called up, but none will speak of it. They cannot. Only when I turn to a more terrible breed did I find what I wanted. Specters, they are called, ghosts gone mad with Oblivion's taint. But they can be cleansed of madness, and they do not lose their knowledge when they are freed. It is from them that I have learned what I need.

I gave them the gift of Lethe's passing, once I was finished. It would be too cruel to send them back, now that I know what awaits them.

But I have found the path. There is a way to open the Labyrinth and bend it to obedience. We can follow the Labyrinth to the Well of Udr, even to the Void itself. No place in the Underworld is hidden.

What awful power it possesses. Sol Invictus, preserve your warrior. Let me walk its path but once in righteousness. And then, we will make an end to this.