Twentieth of the Ninth Moon, 350

Alek continually reminds me that I should find a woman to bear me a son, “so I may know a father’s joy and liven my mood”. With the recent developments with Sergei, I seem to know a father’s frustration.

It started some weeks ago with the death of High Priest Krik. I barely knew Kirk, only was under his tutelage for a few months in my youth, and I did not mourn his passing directly. I did, however, loathe another reminder of my own diminishing mortality. Alek jested that if religion didn’t increase the lifespan of the most faithful, what use would it be to a man such as he. I find myself agreeing with him.

The news struck Sergei very hard, as he grew up under the direct guidance of the grand priest. Sergei wanted a national day of mourning for Kirk; something I found preposterous. Kirk never came to these lands, and the rabble are lazy enough as it is. Sergei was impassioned, and Lady Ilona gently supported him. Against my better judgment, I allowed the day of mourning.

In the weeks since, Sergei has immersed himself in charity work in Kirk’s name. He’s built two new temples to Pelor and Heironeous in Barvoia and spends his time serving the poor and begging dregs. He’s become quite the local hero, and now everyone talks of him like he’s the one that saved them from Slyarc!

What’s more important, Sergei doesn’t understand the balance of power I have with the land. People pay taxes to pay for services and protection. Sergei then builds these two lavish temples and is feeding the poor. I still have enemies. What if one of the less loyal boyars starts spreading rumors that I am wasting money on the poor, as opposed to investing it in road construction or military upkeep? Would they start skimping on taxes? Would they start sowing seeds of rebellion? All distressing thoughts. I have sent Alek as an envoy to meet with the boyars and see if he can sniff out any treachery.

The worst was yet to come. I had summoned Sergei with the intention of gently chastising him about his activities. I wouldn’t expect for him to know the nuances of ruling a nation, but he needed to understand he was more than a mere priest in these lands. But when he came to me that evening, his mind was furthest from his church as possible. Sergei’s face lit up as he told me his great news: he’d met a girl. To hear him talk of this woman was like hearing a newly healed blind man describe his first glimpse at the sun. Sergei loved this woman with all his heart and was planning on leaving the priesthood for her. He eagerly sought my blessing as his elder.

I was surprised at my rage.

After all that with the day of mourning and the temples, he turns his back on a pious life? A Von Zarovich abandoning his duty? The stain on my name alone should have given him pause. But the moral implications, all the ripples through the echelons of power, none of it mattered to him. He wanted her and would give anything for her. My initial anger subsided somewhat, and I became very cool towards Sergei. I told him that if he wouldn’t listen to reason, he could depart the Castle that evening and go live with the muddy common-folk he so loved. He seemed deeply hurt by this and it pleased me to see something other than joy or hope on his face.

He left two weeks ago and hasn’t returned. The word from my spies tell me he is living as a common laborer for the temple of Pelor, having fully abandoned his priests robes. I was amused, but Lady Ilona scolded me for abandoning my kin. Though I hated to admit it, I knew she was right. A Von Zarovich should not live as a groundskeeper. I sent word to Sergei that I was sorry and welcomed him back to the Castle with my blessing for his new love. He sent a message back, full of joy and gratitude. He will be here tomorrow and bring this woman with him.

And then I’ll get to see who this ‘Tatyana’ to steal my brother’s heart so swiftly

Twentieth of the Ninth Moon, 350

Lost in the Mists ignatiusvienna