1st Day of Aestra – 1282
The one month anniversary of my family’s passing came and went without notice. It was most likely for the best…I spent the evening by myself, lost in introspection and overwhelmed by grief. My claims of sea-sickness weren’t entirely false. The alone time was simply a benefit.
The nightmares have increased in frequency and intensity. Before I would have them once or twice a week. They would bring with them a distant, ethereal pain, more akin to yearning than grief; now, however, they come every night. They are much more vivid, as though I am reliving the moment of my brother’s murder over and over. But they don’t all concern the past. Many of them read like visions a future I pray never comes to pass.
When I awake from these dreams, I do so covered in a cold sweat. I wake unable to breath, gasping and sobbing until I become physically ill. Even the clothes I bought in Azmin fit too loosely on my frame. By my estimations, I have already lost nearly twenty pounds. I fear I am wasting away, driven by my sickness and nonexistent appetite.
If things continue to get worse, I will be forced to disclose my condition. When that happens, I will most likely go to Kaine. My trust in him is absolute. I cannot imagine telling anyone else aboard this ship. What would they think of me? Olivia Martel—Duchess of Ravinia—brought to her knees by a few bad dreams. I can only imagine the scorn. They see me as weak; I cannot let anything—affliction of the body or otherwise—worsen my already abysmal image. I cannot lose the minuscule amount of respect I am afforded.
I wish Faínor were here. He would know what to say…he was always an inspiring leader. Just being in the same room as him made your heart swell with courage and pride. Everything from his stature to his manner of speaking commanded respect. He should be the one here today…not me.
Nonetheless, it is me. I am the sole inheritor of House Martel and the lands of Ravinia. It seems so much like a cruel joke. I was never meant to rule. Faínor was the Heir, Corrin was the General. Sylvana was the Ambassador. Me? I was the embarrassment. The trouble-maker. I would do anything to take it all back, to study harder or train more. I would give anything to hug my brothers one last time…
As I write this, I feel a resolve unlike any other, pushing back against my overflowing self-doubt. It tells me to make my family proud. It whispers that I must train harder and watch my words with great care, knowing the dangerous game I am soon to embark on. If I have any hope of reclaiming my titles, I must garner respect like Faínor once did. I must command armies with the enthusiasm and confidence of Corrin. And I must learn to speak with all the easy elegance of Sylvana. Without their lessons, there is no hope for me.
How can I inspire thousands to our cause when I cannot even gain the respect of my friends?
They do not understand the weight I bear. They do not understand the depths of my pain. They cannot. I am a noble of Arcadia—that does not just mean I live in a manor and plan balls all day. I have responsibilities to the common people far beyond what any ordinary citizen could understand.
I remember my grand-father’s execution, though I was just a child when it happened. In public, Father called him a foolhardy idealist; behind closed doors, he told me that he died to spare the people of Ravinia from the King’s wrath. Archades had an army amassed at the border. Had my grand-father not relented and given himself up, Ravinia would have gone to war and countless innocents would have died.
That is what it means to be a noble. It means making sacrifices so others do not have to. It means putting the needs of your people beyond your own. It means taking the fall to spare others punishment. It is a weight every noble must bear and it is one they must do alone. Like my father and his father before him, I, too, will bear that weight. It is why I took the Arch Stone. It is my sworn duty to the people of Ravinia to keep them safe and if anything should go wrong—if the Stone should be lost—it should be my price to pay. That is not their responsibility.
In Azmin, I was overwhelmed by grief. I let it consume me. I did not consider the impact of my words and actions and—shamefully—I did not act the part of a Noblewoman. Now, that part of me is gone, drowned forever in sorrow and despair. The second we landed in Mara, I realized I had to change. My melancholy was replaced with a white-hot rage, threatening to boil over. How frustrating—to be home and not be strong enough to right any of the wrongs here. I failed the people of Mara. I cannot fail again. I will do whatever it takes to become more powerful.
As I write this, the crew is celebrating our victory over the magnificent dragon of the volcano. I see no cause for celebration. Dragons are child’s play compared to what we are to face in the coming months. If we have any hope of accomplishing our goals, we must become stronger. I must become stronger.
No one else will die due to my weakness.