We all said a few words for our departed friend, and then lit the funeral pyre. When there was nothing left but ash, I gathered up his remains, and stowed them in a small clay container. I vowed to take Alex's ashes to the Northern Islands, and spread them over the coast. It was the least I could do.

Icarus called my uncle and I aside, and asked how and why the empire attacked the monastery. I told him bluntly that I had given all my information to my father. That I had betrayed him. To be fair, my father was a secretive man. I doubt that he had told anyone else what we told him. The rebels could likely recover. Icarus didn't shoot me like he said he would. With a sigh, he said it would probably be best if we got going.

Iroh and I said our goodbyes, leaving a teary-eyed Nadine behind. With Icarus going to inform the rebels of the attack, and their danger, we decided it would be best to head north, sneak through Cavalia, and find Eli. He was our only other friend at the moment, and according to The Jester, was to play a key role in the coming storm.

On our way north, we passed through a couple resistance settlements. I decided that I'd head into a Pub, and learn what I could. I disguised myself as a resistance soldier, and entered. After some small talk, I learned that the resistance had uncovered something in the glacier trail, just a bit out of our ways. It was a girl. A Samsaran. Apparently she had information that the resistance risked venturing almost into imperial territory to obtain. What's more, the drilling squad that had discovered her had been wiped out; killed in a horrific manor. We were already in deep enough. We decided we would check it out.

When we arrived at the drilling encampment, we found that the place was empty, save for a collection of frozen corpses. Whoever this Samsaran was, it was clear that they were quite deadly. It was dark and foggy, and we decided to uncover what we could. Inside the guard barracks, we found a journal. It outlined the status of the drilling operation just north of the encampment. I read on, and found several worried entries about missing squads and workers. Resupplies from the rebel base. Nothing about the purpose of the operation; nothing about this woman's importance. The latest entry, from a few days ago, seemed to be written in the final seconds of the writer's life. He said that they had finally uncovered her, and the operation was a success, she was still alive. But something terrible happened. His men were being slaughtered. There was the sound of mad cackling everywhere. The diary cut off mid-sentence, evidently the thing had caught the man writing it. It was at that moment that we heard movement upstairs.

My uncle and I sprang to action, chasing and catching fleeting glimpses of the Samsaran as she ran through the barracks. She ran outside, and I ran after her, into the cold and foggy darkness. For a second, I saw her hunched over one of the corpses; pale skin practically glowing in the darkness. Then she bolted, up towards the dig site.

We followed, until the creature was cornered. Iroh had already figured it out; The Jester was the one who had murdered the encampment's inhabitants. The cowering girl in front of us had played no part. I tried to speak to her, but apparently she didn't speak any common. She cowered away from my flame, evidently afraid.

My uncle and I helped her back to the Barracks, where we began stoking a fire, and feeding her. I used the potion of comprehend languages I had squirreled away, and we tried to make some form of communication. Apparently she had been trapped in the ice for a very, very long time and didn't remember much of anything. She didn't even remember her own name. But when I conjured an image of the Jester's face, she cringed. He was the one who had slain the ones who discovered her, all right.

And before we could learn anything more, the Jester appeared once again. In his usual mystical and nerve wracking fashion, he taunted us, and gave us clues on where to go next. Apparently this nameless girl had information that would bring about the end of this civil war; she just didn't remember it yet. Eli had similar information, but was in a similar situation with remembrance.

The madman gave us a map that would lead us to the fortress where Romulus had fled to escape Dothraki. Eli was being held captive there, we were assured. Curiously, our nameless friend could understand every word that the madman was saying. He called my bluff on threatening to kill the girl, and told me to go ahead and end her life. Then he disappeared. The girl ran. Wonderful.

Eventually, we tracked her down, found her some warmer clothes, and all went to bed. In the morning, we set off again, and were joined by a small white fox. The girl called it "Shepard." Perhaps it was her old companion? I'm not often fond of animal, but this one stuck a special chord. Perhaps it was just the fact that I wasn't bitten by it as it ran up to me, only met with a curious gaze. Of course, I was tackled to the ground by nameless a few moments later. All the same, a connection was made.

In any case, we kept up our pace, and eventually reached the place the Jester had marked for us. It was an abandoned castle, built into a cliff side. Easily defensible. Before we could finish scouting out the place, our nameless friend was blatantly walking towards it. It was too late; the guards had already spotted her. We rushed to her aid, and when they inquired as to why we were there, we attempted to lie.

Sadly, they identified us. My uncle and I were now notorious all across Aetheria. They also guessed at the identity of the Samsaran accompanying us. All too quickly, they invited us within the gates. We saw through their facade of hospitality. My uncle and I used our reputation to our advantage; we informed the guards that they would instead release our friend Eli, or die. They complied.

We waited on a nearby hilltop until dusk, with Iroh keeping watch. He alerted us when he saw Romulus himself, dragging a kicking and screaming Eli towards us. He handed the troublesome monk over, and then requested to speak with us, to propose a deal.

Romulus didn't wear the crest of the Empire or the Resistance. He seemed to be war-weary, but still willing to fight. We learned that in the last civil war, he had been one of the Jester's pawns, just like us. But unlike us, he had cheated death. Now it was his goal to bring an end to this conflict. An end to the Jester's sick games.

We decided to help him, and were invited within the castle walls. Inside was a ragtag band of freedom fighters, all wearing the same symbol. This group, I was beginning to take a liking to. We hung around camp, and were offered food and conversation from the camp cook, Jack Griffon. Eli was back with us, and was just as socially inept as always. Even through the pain of losing Alex, I found myself enjoying the company I was in.

I sat down and pulled out the violin that I had bought from an old man in one of the small villages we passed through, and began to play. I hadn't taken the instrument seriously since I had quit after my failed acceptance into the arcane university, but something felt different now.

As I played, I watched. I watched Eli snatch a loaf of bread from the air when Jack tossed it away from him. I watched an epic pai-sho skirmish between Nameless, Iroh, and Romulus. I watched as Shepard the fox came to curl up and eat at my feet. As the hour grew late, I watched a perplexed Nameless get thoroughly enchanted by Jack's tricks of legerdemain.

After I stopped playing, and found that Nameless had gotten into my pack and made crude drawings of trees and foxes on the backs of all my spell scrolls, I found it difficult to keep from smiling.

Perhaps things would get better from here on. Now all that was left was to find a name for the nameless girl, (perhaps Lynn? I like Lynn.) and figure out where to go from here. Jack said he may have a task for us. Come morning, we shall find out what the road has in store for us.

-Matau Ing'um

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