Ninth of the Fourth Moon, 350

After many months of planning and rushed projects, Castle Ravenloft was ready to receive my brother Sergei. It was beautiful once again, filled with exquisite furniture and treasures galore. Truly, it is the home of a king and its new fame is already reaching the far areas of the realm. It is massive, with winding corridors and dozens of rooms. It’s difficult to get anywhere in the castle, owing to my constant eating of cold dinners from the kitchen, but ease of access aids invaders as well as inhabitants. With my legion of servants, I scarcely care.

That being said I would prefer warm pheasant every once in a while.

With a great deal of pomp and circumstance, Sergei arrived this afternoon. I met him at the drawbridge with a large contingent of retainers and many of the townsfolk had journeyed up the Pass to see the Prince. I admit there was some anxiety, however pleasant, in meeting my kin. I had communicated with Sergei and Sturm throughout the years, but letters from home never really substitute for meeting someone.

He rode up on a brilliant black stallion, clothed in high regalia of a Priest of Pelor. Normally I wouldn’t have regarded this man in any matter beyond an assessment of his stance and body type, but he was my brother and I judged well. Sergei was young (as young as I when I first ventured out on the road to war), had powerfully built frame with coal black hair and he had the bright blue eyes of my mother. Seeing my mother’s eyes staring back at me was bittersweet. I didn’t need to see the swooning of the court ladies to know that Sergei was devilishly handsome. Had I ever been that fetching? Some of the women that had attempted to steal my heart claimed I ever was—- but now I doubt it.

At the very least I am taller than Sergei.

Sergei was deeply respectful towards me and my court; indeed I would have thought it a farce had I not seen the look on his face. He was beaming with love and hero-worship—-and all for a brother he had never met. I found myself envious of his innocence. I welcomed him to my court and we began the day long feast. He told me of the boorish Sturm, but spoke of him with admiration, and he told me of our dreary refuge to the west. He said he was proud of me that I brought our family back to the greatest it deserved. Such flattery—-but it was truly genuine.

After many hours of wine and the charms of the court, I have retired to my room. I think I put on a good front, but Alek knew better—-though he didn’t ask about it. I find myself angry. I am the lord of this nation, master of this great castle, the commander of a hundred victories—-and I am envious. While I was away I missed Sturm growing up to nobility; I missed the birth of my youngest brother; I never kissed my mother goodbye as she left this world; I never made peace with my father. There were a thousand joys and triumphs I missed while winning this kingdom. And looking at Sergei, I see a youth that I lost, nay wasted.

What good was all this? No amount of gold or blood will buy back what I gave to victory.

Ninth of the Fourth Moon, 350

Lost in the Mists ignatiusvienna