I didn’t realize it before, but I’m afraid of death.
Sorry, that’s a really heavy way to start a diary, isn’t it? But I had to write it down. I want to face it cleanly. I’m not sure who I expect to read this. Maybe I just need to tell myself, so I won’t be surprised later. I don’t know.
So yeah. I’m afraid of death.
This came as a surprise to me. My “educators” took great pains in teaching me to be brave. Forcing me to ignore fear, more like. I think my favorite was the snake pit. The poison wouldn’t instantly kill me, after all. Actually, compared to my family, the snakes were pretty decent. I only got bitten twice, after all.
But I learned, oh yes. I learned to handle all sorts of weapons, I learned how to keep my body strong, I learned how to move, how to fight. And I decided I was strong.
My so-called teachers didn’t seem to agree, though. They kept giving me harsher and harsher challenges. And dammit, I kept succeeding. But for some reason, they were never happy with my results. I could shoot with both pistols and rifles with excellent accuracy, over reasonable distances. I could fight men twice my size, with swords, spears, or bare hands, and win. Well, not all the time, but I could! But they were looking for something else. I sometimes thought they were trying to kill me, and were disappointed that I kept surviving, somehow.
But I wasn’t going to give up. I wasn’t going to die for them. Someday, I would escape, and find my parents, and we’d be a family again. Even as the years past, and I grew older, that thought kept me going.
I hadn’t always been trapped in that place, of course. At one time, I had been a pampered little girl named Irene, whose mommy and daddy loved her very much. Everyone was nice to her, and gave her nice presents and pretty clothes, and everything was wonderful.
And then her mommy and daddy disappeared.
My mother was a rich woman named Beatrice Bellvaunt, and my father was a poor man named Simon Tolliver. I had no idea that they had come from different backgrounds, of course. To me, they were just mommy and daddy. But I learned later that the older generations of the Bellvaunt family were very much against their marriage, and that it caused them a lot of problems. But dad had a very important person supporting him, and eventually even Grandfather Malachai couldn’t prevent their marriage. And then I was born, I suppose. Irene Bellvaunt. I’m not sure why it wasn’t Irene Tolliver. I suppose Great-grandfather just hated to let anything go.
Anyway. Everything was beautiful, and I lived with my parents for five wonderful years. I can’t remember it anymore, except in fragments, but I remember being happy. And then, my mom and dad suddenly disappeared, and everything changed.
I didn’t know what had happened, at the time. All I knew was that mom and dad didn’t come home one day, and then Grandfather Malachai was suddenly there with a bunch of rough-looking men. He had me taken away from my home, and brought back to the Bellvaunt House, a mansion really, where I was placed in a place he called “The Project”. He explained that I was going to be doing important work for the Bellvaunt family, and that I should be proud to be selected. I had no idea what he meant, and I kept crying for my parents. Grandfather simply snorted and left.
It was months before one of my teachers finally admitted that my parents had disappeared, leaving me all alone. I was devastated, then, because it meant that no one was coming to rescue me. Now, I almost feel grateful to that teacher. Until that point, I had thought that my parents had abandoned me. The thought that it might not have been their fault saved me, a bit.
In order to “encourage” me to improve, the people teaching me would often tell me stories about a god named Lysysteri. He was a warrior god, who likes fighters and people who were brave. My teachers would tell me to think about the god, and try to do what the god would do in all situations.
Honestly, after listening to the stories, I couldn’t help but think that, if the god were in my situation, he would simply kill everyone and leave. Not something I could really copy myself, unfortunately. Plus, he seemed like a real prick.
Eventually, my “educators” seemed to give up on me. I wasn’t required to train anymore, or practice with weapons, although no one stopped me when I practiced on my own. They didn’t let me keep any firearms, of course, they weren’t that stupid. But they left the wooden practice weapons unsecured. Despite being the ones who had demonstrated how dangerous those weapons could be. You’d think they’d have remembered.
Well, that’s a little unfair, I suppose. There were basically two groups of people in charge of me: the weapon instructors, and the book teachers. I suppose I should be grateful they bothered to teach me any common knowledge at all. They certainly didn’t put much effort into it. But I was taught math, and writing, and a truly limited amount of history. I didn’t realize just how limited until later.
Oddly, it was those general knowledge, book teachers that were in charge of my security, instead of the ones who knew how to fight. Furthermore, while my martial arts instructors, though harsh, treated me with a certain respect, the book teachers all looked at me with contempt. It was years before I was able to figure out why. Those book teachers were actually people from the Bellvaunt family, close servants of my relatives. On the other hand, the weapon instructors had to be brought in from outside, so the family didn’t trust them.
I learned this by eavesdropping on their conversations over the years. From beginning to end, none of them ever introduced themselves to me by name. They avoided conversing with me, and around me, at all. But they were not very cautious about checking on my actual location when I was not currently in classes, and I had found a hidden spot where I could listen to my guards without being seen.
One thing I learned by listening, was that I was not the only one contained inside The Project. Some of my cousins were also undergoing various trainings, although I was the only one studying weapons. According to what I overheard, their parents had actually volunteered them to undergo this training, and I was the only one who had been kidnapped to participate. My so-called teachers seemed to think that the others all had better prospects than me, being “loyal” members of the Bellvaunt family.
Over the years I spent inside The Project, however, the expressions of my teachers grew grimmer and grimmer. Whatever results they were looking for, they weren’t finding them, and it was making them frustrated. I heard that several of my cousins had been dropped from the project, though I wasn’t sure what had happened to them afterward. But it gave me a bad feeling, and I began looking for an opportunity to escape before I was “dropped” myself.
And then came the day that I heard that my cousin, Nerissa, had succeeded in connecting with a god named Silarchai. I had no idea what that meant, of course, but it sent another ominous feeling down my spine. And then one of my guards mentioned that I was going to be officially dropped, and I realized the time for my escape was upon me.
Fortunately, I had already finished my preparations. My jailers were actually horrible at security, and I had access to a number of materials I should never have been able to get my hands on. Including a map of The Project, as well as one of the city outside Bellvaunt House. I worked out the places guards were stationed, and I was able to avoid most of them. Those I couldn’t avoid, quickly fell to a wooden practice sword. They had guns, but they barely knew how to use them, so for their own safety I took them with me as I left.
In a very short time, I was out of The Project, and the Bellvaunt House, and moving quickly through the city itself. No one stopped me, although I felt many gazes upon me as I ran. I might have been recaptured then, either by my family or the police, because I made little effort to hide myself. But I was lucky, or I planned well. Either way, thanks to memorizing my city map I reached my destination before anyone could stop me.
My destination was a bar on the west side, one named Cymphica Atri. That bar was owned by a friend of my parents, who was also the very important person who had helped them get married, though I didn’t learn that until later. Her name was Miss Metria, and she was an ancient undead.
- Not only a new POV, but a new framing device! Why is it a diary?
Because she isn’t deadWho knows? 😛
- I tried to make her less erudite than either Zedda or Metria, and left in a few things I would normally consider errors. The sentences were simpler as well. Is that enough to make her voice distinct, do you think?
- This should have been done much, much earlier. #BlameErGen 😉
- I plan, once I finish up this book/arc/whatever, to pack everything into a pdf without these notes. Hopefully that will be a better reading experience. Well, it’s still far in the future, though. There is a great distance to go. 😐
- …I just noticed, but there’s a new tab on my post editor. What the hell is Xposts?