Villain's log -
I was finally on my way back to civilization. Or at least the closest thing these barbarians had to it. My fine firesilk toga and traveller's cloak had been marred by the dirt and blood of the campaign. I was so eager to get a proper bath and be truly clean again. Still that feeling was a long way away for me. Two days travelling back from the front lines we had passed through the checkpoint and were approaching the half way point. The thinning forest was giving way to the plains as I realized the barbarians assigned as my guards had fallen behind as usual. When I turned back to see what was distracting them this time I was stunned for a moment. I knew that face, though years had worn and cragged it's skin it was so similar to the face of my beloved son Zenith there could be no mistake. After all this time that scoundrel had tracked me down. If it hadn't been for his interference I would have many more children by now. I would finally get to see him burn. However these barbarian guards were unlikely to be alright with just attacking him now. No, I could wait, I knew he would come to me, that he would assume I don't remember him if I act normal. I approached the guards as one of them parted the group and spoke with Jeff or whatever his name was. The Sergeant Bore as I liked to call him always, seemed so rigid. At least he had been smiling since we crossed the border, a nice change of pace. The guard that went to check Jekk's papers started back seemingly convinced by a glance and a bribe. That guard Vick or whatever was always a sloppy barbarian, I would have to have him whipped later. I ordered them to hurry up, we were running late and needed to get back so I could confirm the Blessed before the arrival of Lord Eturius. Then I resumed my trip down the road. They followed me as did my past apparently.
That night I took care to observe the layout of the area as the barbarians set up the camp site. I still had a pair of skinned rabbits from the border post so I blazed them up with some spices from home and a thick wine glaze. Served on skewers over a bed of seasoned rice. Travelling with these soldiers the only way to eat a meal fit for someone of my stature was of course to make it myself. After getting to eat my cooking they had better do a good job helping slay old Jett when he finally attacked. Then it was time to wait in my tent. I bundled up opposite my bedroll and made contact with the ground. A single hand was all it took to sense the footsteps nearby. Then it was just a matter of waiting and trying not to get too bored and fall asleep. I caught myself dozing off a few times but then once I felt that first feint sense of steps on the perimiter of camp the anticipation of what was to come had me wide awake. He took his time approaching. Circled around far from the guards, most of whom were sleeping. Then he stopped just inside my tent and just stood there. He must have been waiting for his eyes to adjust to the darkness, all the better for when I showed him the light. I waited and he finally came further into the tent and drew his knife, but then he turned towards me. I must have been breathing to hard. I jumped out lighting a palm flare and blinding him temporarily. It was the perfect time to mock him, "I would recognize your face anywhere, it is a reflection of my sons, of her sons." He was quiet but the look of pain on his face was just what I was hoping for. He stabbed blindly at me and missed. The sounds of fire and fighting should draw the guars shortly to my aid. I would have just burned him to the ground right then, but I didn't want to burn up my tent and my things. I swiped at him with my palm flare but only managed to slightly burn his arm. The Sergeant showed up at the entrance to the tent but was still not being very helpful as I attempted to burn him again while shouting. "Villainous assassin I will destroy you." Then Bore was able to knock the fool in the back of the head. Still he ignored him and struck at me, I began to believe that he was ready to die to kill me. The other guard Hedge, or something, showed up and tried to distract him. I distracted Jedd with my flames and focused on my defense, but then that damn Bore threatened him with his sword and ordered him to surrender instead of striking him down. He did seem to have become soft over the last week of the battle campaign. He lost his killer edge, pathetic. Then that damn fool Jegg caught me distracted and his knife managed to slice my face. He nearly hit my eye! I was furious and struck angrily at him but was only able to burn him slightly. Thankfully Bore finally got his act together and with Redges help was able to knock him out. Finally Jess was unconsious at my feet and it was time to take my revenge. Once again fate delayed my reward as that damn soft Bore refused to let me burn him then and there. We argued over it and I told him how this fool was a wanted criminal and killer but he claimed the sovereignty of soil, I even told him that it was a personal matter. Something I always hate about working with countries not yet a full part of the republic. Independent barbarian nations with their crude laws and rules to protect the weak. I would have to petition for extradition. The barbarians chained him up and we took him with us as a prisoner.
It took us a couple more days to get back to Elestem. I made Bore give lashes to Vipps for his failures as a guard and allowed Nedge to stitch up my cut. I was very unhappy to be so far from any skilled healers. On the trip I overheard Jepp, so that's what his damn name was, trying to tell a couple of the barbarians that my people were the villains and I eventually had to tell them to keep away from him. I worried it may have struck a chord with Bore now that he was getting soft. A terrible thing to witness, when a fine killer loses his edge like that. Still if I could resharpen his edge he would be a useful tool in expediting this damn war. I was certain he would come to me at some point with questions about why it was personal, so I took some time to prepare a good sob story. The cut on my face was itching and I was still dirty from the road when we arrived back in the city, I barely had time for a quick bath at the Embassy before heading to the capital building to confirm the Blessed. The adjunct was fatter than I remembered, he must be spending his time in this city feasting while I have to almost starve out on the front. I decided to dismiss Bore for the day so I could have more privacy. They had prepared eight young maidens for the ceremony and all were acceptable. They all had the gift and I was able to confirm that they were untouched. However only two of them had any measurable potential the others were lucky to have enough magic to pass the test at all. I suspected it would not be as long as predicted before their bloodlines were bled dry. At least one of them had a gift for healing and was able to repair my cut into a handsome scar. While speaking with the Blessed I found that one of them was the sister of Lt Arddem, the skilled commander of the battle campaign. Bore and I worked with him directly and he had earned my respect both for his skill and his willingness to kill his enemies without hesitation. It was a good thing he had no idea what would happen to her. She was also quite lovely, made me wish I was in line for a new wife so I could take her as mine. I wouldn't have another chance at that until this war was ended though. I decided if I wanted that to be sooner rather than later it would be best to get Bore back on board and start taking more initiative with planning things out with Lt Arddem.
Late in the afternoon after I had finished with the Blessed old sergeant Bore showed up as I anticipated. He commented that my cut was looking much better. I told him with a smile, "I was lucky, one of the blessed has a gift for healing." It was only in my head to myself that I asked, "I wonder which of the Chosen will be accepting that gift from her?" Then again it doesn't really matter, I know we will put it to much better use then these barbarians. Bore asked about my history with Jepp and I delivered the sob story I had put together, told him just enough of the truth, and got just emotional enough, he seemed to eat it up. Then I segwayed into my ideas for the campaign and he seemed very on board. I could leverage his support with Lt Arddem who always treated him as a favorite. I never bothered to learn why. Still gaining further favor with him would benefit my plans so I invited him as my guest to the Feast for the Blessed tonight and then headed back to the Embassy for a proper bath and to change into formal robes and greet Lord Eturius along with the fat Adjunct. The feast was acceptable. The barbarian Lords and fatty gave a few speeches and Lord Eturius accepted the Blessed after they said there farewells to their people. The liquor at least was of fine quality and had been brought from home by Lord Eturius. Even the normally serious Bore ended up getting drunk and actually having a laugh with me. I even found myself enjoying the music of the barbarians. Afterwards I was able to spend a night in a proper bed and finally slept a whole night through.
The next day old Bore had some follow up questions about the Blessed. If I had known coming to the feast would peak his curiosity further I wouldn't have bothered. It seemed as though he cared what happened to Lt Arddem's sister and if he would ever see her again, perhaps that is where there connection comes from. After answering his questions and telling him I had come to grips with not being able to go with Jepp to watch him burn for his crimes against me I was able to find where I could go to enjoy some less than blessed barbarian ladies. After all I had done so well controlling myself with the untouched it was time to get some touching in. I dismissed Bore and told him to meet me the day after next at sunup so we could head back to the front and get started on ending this war. I spent the rest of the day and then the next enjoying what little pleasures this barbarian city could offer. When sunup on the second morning came I was stunned to find only Dedge was there and waiting on time. At first I assumed that Bore must have taken a liking to letting loose being back home and was hungover. After an hour when neither he nor the other guard had shown up I began to get suspicious. I pressed Dedge and he admitted to hearing Bore talk about going to see that damn scoundrel Jepp in prison. No good could possibly come of that and when I arrived at the jail I was furious. Bore had taken Jepp out of the jail with faked transfer orders and Viggs had been found nearby unconscious. He must have been trying to get him out of the city. I had them sound the alarm and reported immediately to the Embassy. That damn fat Adjunct wouldn't listen to my expertise on the issue and insisted that this is a problem I must deal with and that he didn't believe those two fools were any threat to the empire or to the ceremony. I knew better, that damn fool Bore must be in love with Arddem's sister and trying to rescue her. He was bold and foolhardy enough to do so and with that old scoundrels help he may be able to find his way to Riwelda. I was able to at least send a message from the Embassy with instructions to Bless her first, but if I had to solve this problem on my own then I realized I would need to utilize the barbarians to aid me. I had the Commander send a raven to Lt Arddem to alert him to the betrayal of Bore and to have him claimed a deserter and have an alert put out for him. I had Vick lashed again for his failures and then headed out with the soldiers and trackers to hunt Bore and Jepp down. At least now I will get to watch him burn at my hands..