Eighteen of the Twelfth Moon, 347

The brightening eastern sky is chasing away the battle frenzy from hours ago. The traitor struck last evening and, luckily for me, he proved to be rather unlucky. It had been a very careful attack, but alas it was doomed to fail.

I had decided that I would not wait ever ready for the sword to fall, and I would lure the Ba’al Verzi into the open. I made comments all day that I wanted to see my castle in the darkness, learn its every aspect with my other senses. I knew word would spread that tonight I would be alone in the dark, and then he would make his attempt.

It was interesting to know that I was being stalked through the dark castle. Ironic that the tables had been turned without my assailant realizing it. When I was in the throne room, I knew he was there with me. He must have been planning to jut out from some corner and slash me to death with the magical weaponry of the Ba’al Verzi. It must have been quite a surprise when I started laughing in the dark and then demanded that he face me.

I couldn’t see anything, but I have been in enough darkened keeps to sense movement even in the black. But my vision isn’t what it used to be, and no attack came. A few moments later I heard Alek call my name, very near to me suddenly. For a moment, I was filled with rage and suspected that Alek, playing the part of a faithful steward and bodyguard, had actually been the assassin all along. In the dark, I swore at him. He adamantly denied the charge and prepared for my attack.

Just then the door opened and two men walked into the room. I couldn’t see who they really were. Alek demanded to know who was there, Leo responded that it was he and his brother checking on me. As he spoke, however there was the movement in the darkness. Alek cried out suddenly and Leo gave a confused reply. Everything happened very fast, I was able to block several stabs with my sword, but I failed to parry one. A blade sliced through my chain mail and cut into my side. I stumbled back and expected another attack, but Leo let out a battle cry and swung his blade at the dark shape of my attacker. There was a sound of a body falling and all was silent.

We fumbled around in the dark for several moments. Alek had been knocked down, but suffered no major injuries. Leo was similarly unhurt. As for Leo’s brother Illya, when the lights came up we found his head neatly separated from his body. Clutched in his hand was the dreaded black, red and gold dagger of the Ba’al Verzi. Leo collapsed realizing that in saving my life he had killed his own brother.

A masterful plan had emerged. Illya Dilisnya had been the assassin all along, waiting for his moment to strike. Perhaps he realized that I knew of an assassin and hastened his plans. He must have heard that I would be touring the castle in the dark and came for me. He had brought Leo along, perhaps to lower my guard for the Ba’al Verzi are known to work alone. He must have planned to kill me and then kill his brother; cleverly he could have blamed Leo for the assassin and make himself my avenger. This plan likely failed because of faithful Alek had revealed I was not alone.

Leo is mourning while being hailed a hero. I regret he needed to kill his brother, but better the murderous swine die than me. After the commotion was dealt with, I apologized to Alek for accusing him in the dark. He noted that I had nothing to apologize for, saying that distrust kept men like us alive. Truly, Alek is more a brother to me than either the child Sturm or Sergi- the brother I have yet to meet.

I write this in my bedchamber watching the sunrise. I’ll need to sleep soon. Only Alek, and Lady Ilona after she tended to me, saw how close it had come. The enchanted blade of the Ba’al Verzi had cut through my cloak and my enchanted chainmail. Had I been but an inch in the closer, the blade would have sliced through my lung. Even still, the shallow cut it left did not respond to Ilona’s magic. Perhaps this will heal on its own. In time I am sure I will wear this scar like a badge of honor. Indeed, it is evidence that even the Ba’al Verzi cannot stand against me.

Eighteen of the Twelfth Moon, 347

Lost in the Mists ignatiusvienna