Salt, Stars, and Sanity


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Evandrus, Son of Mars. Crown Prince.

Aboard the Silver Alaphina on the Crystal Tides, Bound for Striecial,

The Fifth of Ara, Sixteen Seventy-Four.

Dear Saphir,

Through my weary days I find my eyes drawn to the ring on my finger, your lovely gift. Like the sirens of legend the rich colour seems to trap me within it’s crystal depths. As I told you two months ago it has not left my person save for that single hour. It has been a constant reminder of you. Now I know why you sent it; I jest of course. Out upon the sea everywhere I look I see the same blue. Everywhere I look I see you. Though it has been a scant handful of letters, I feel as if I truly know you. You weigh on my mind at all hours. There are nights where I find I cannot sleep for my mind has been consumed with you. I feel myself longing for your correspondence. You may well find a stack of letters on your doorstep before long.

I feel, Saphir, that you are the only person with whom I might doff the crown and shed the mantel of Prince. With you, in the secrecy of letters as you so eloquently put it, I might be just a man. I admit that it is a selfish privilege that I have allowed myself and a precarious position I have put you in. Venus and Mars circle in the night sky as they have done for millenia. Your first letter, in response to me, was what drew me to you. The naked kindness you showed to me, the tether you selflessly sent. You are the sole star upon my horizon these dark days; Even if you would have me in the stocks or clapped in irons. To think I would go gladly.

The thought of you is no small comfort; It is not that I fear the sea,  It is the desolation, the loneliness. As I write this we have been at sea for ten days and I have not seen dry land since the second day. I feel melancholy creeping in, the stark vastness. As you look out to the sea, the sea and the sky are one. You can scarcely tell up from down, it is maddening. And the Shining Lord is no succor for he beats down upon the ship with his awesome and terrible might. As he reaches his apogee I cannot find the strength to join the men on deck.

At night the Star-Born Pantheon paint the sky and the waters, it is a beautiful sight. They take my breath away and I must confess that I find myself more often than not out reveling it in. This too is maddening but, it is a madness I cannot help but indulge. Saphir, have I gone mad? I have always heard that the Stars call to the Children of the Starry Heavens, before this voyage I never believed it. I can feel the fiery eye of Mars upon me Saphir. Can you too?

It seems that the priest assigned to me by Prelate Sareashen quite enjoys the life of the sea. The intense heat and harsh winds. I believe I will speak to the Prelate to see if young Hayen might be assigned to a ship. Maybe even the Silver Alaphina herself, the crew has been quite lively with him on board. I do not mean to bore you with deployment minutiae. Hayen was sent to protect and advise me. To protect me from what is the real question; I of course have my own personal guard. I would not hesitate to say that they are the two most well trained soldiers in our kingdom. The only conclusion is that Hayen is to protect me from either their sorcery. Or, much more likely, from being infected with their philosophy of atheism.


Evandrus, Son of Iron-banded Mars.


Silver Alaphina: Pronounced Al – ah – fee – nah

The Crystal Tides: The ocean to the west of the nation. Also known as the Ocean of Glass or the Crystal Coast,

Sareashen: Pronounced S – air – ah – shen.

A Little Friendly Seduction


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The Honorable Connor Roe, Opris, The Royal Palace

The Fourth of Ara, Sixteen Seventy-Four,

With Evandrus gone I have no real need to be here anymore. With him off in Striecial, there’s no telling when he’ll be back. For all we know they could stonewall him for a month. I mean we’ve only interacted with their colonies with any regularity. Who knows what their mother country is like. They did respond to his letters with and arraigned passage without much fuss. I don’t think anyone has set foot upon their shores before. I wonder what could have caused them to break that taboo. I’ve heard mention that they have had minor skirmishes with a cult. The cult going as far to attack their colonies. If they did spirit away our men, could they made to fight Striecial’s war? And if they didn’t spirit away our men, who did?

I fear that I will miss him. Evandrus and I have grown close over the last year, even more so after his mother’s death. I would even go so far to call him a friend, and as a child to nobility that is a luxury. True friendship is always a luxury. Though true friendship has blossomed between us I am a snake. At my father’s command I had set out to seduce him, to one day be Lord-Consort of the King. In truth father entertains the idea of any of his children being the King’s consort. Father is always trying to foist my younger brothers and sisters off on Evandrus. Even little Emma, by the Lord’s light, she’s only five!

Evandrus even knows that my father has set me this task. I finally worked up the courage to tell him in late Tal. He just smiled at me and said, “Yes, I know.” He knew. He. Knew! I still can’t wrap my head around it. He knew that my father sent me after him. Though, in hindsight, I guess it was obvious with each my siblings after him.

I have never been all that attracted to him to be truthful. He is handsome and I wouldn’t mind warming his bed on occasion. But only as an afternoons distraction, nothing more. And I do say we have had a great time in the ornamental gardens, but, I want a wife and children. With Evandrus I cannot have a child, I would have no children. It would be some royal surrogate no doubt chosen by a comity. And I would bring no real power or stability to Evandrus’ reign.

To be some well cared for consort is not my dream. In time I want to take over my father’s title and estate. I am the first born, the rights of primogeniture grant me his title and land. I have no real need to fight for a nobles affections. It is my brothers and sisters who should be vying for Evandrus’ attention. I should be helping them, not hindering them by being a competitor. I mean, I have the ear of our soon to be king, he trusts me. What I should be doing is turning eye to one of my siblings.

Besides I don’t know how Father could possible think that Iris or I could even turn Evandrus’ eye now. It’s all a moot point anymore from what I can tell. Someone has caught his eye. The special someone who sent him that ring. The sapphire betrothal ring he has yet to take off. Not to mention the letters he makes grand effort to keep hidden. Evandrus has never been one to hide letters, usually he just leaves them on his desk. Not that I try to read his private correspondence or anything. I cannot help it if my eye falls upon a few key pieces of information. But these letters are different, precious somehow. He locks them away in a special drawer in his writing desk. He keeps the key on him at all times, I’m even convinced he sleeps with it.

I have no to desire to stay here and play these courtly games of intrigue. As a rule I don’t enjoy gossip. Though I do revel in the occasional juicy tidbit. Of course I also wouldn’t mind finding out the contents of the hidden letters. Or about the giver of the betrothal ring, but that everyone wants to know about that. But with no one to seduce, Evandrus was fun for a laugh but no one else here has even caught my eye. All the other courtiers are simpering puppies, I don’t think I could find a wife among them.

In all honesty I just want to go back to the estate. I hope Father will give me permission. I am not one for large cities, even less for palaces. I revel in my freedom. To go riding with my favorite horse. To go hunting with my dog. To wile away an afternoon hawking. Those are what I enjoy. The only high society function that I enjoy is a good fox hunt, and only because I trained all the dogs from pups.

In comparison to what is now around me our estate pales. It isn’t a great manor or mansion; to be honest it is only somewhat bigger than a dower house. Roe House doesn’t do much in the way of grand balls and galas. The title had been granted to my grandfather some sixty odd years ago, back during the war. My grandfather had saved his whole battalion with a hasty decision. From what I understand he was able to maneuver his troops in such a way that the skirmish was won before it had even begun. Along with the title came a nice stipend and with a few choice investments, well the Roe family is what it is today.

Father, let Iris stay. She enjoys the romance and gleam of court. Let her have her motor car rides and horse drawn carriages. Let her stay and let me free. It is a solemn prayer, but I fear it will not be heard. Let alone granted.

Evandrus At Sea


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Evandrus, Son of Mars. Crown Prince

The Second of Ara, Sixteen Seventy-Four,

The seasons turn and now we find ourselves back here. To the month of Ara. As always I dread Ara, my thoughts turn to the maudlin during this time. The Mourners are out in full force and the priests wax eternally on about The Daughter of Sunlight and the last Son of Mars. My forebears are dead. The last Son of Mars chained and murdered in the square. All for a story. No living tongue can tell what really happened all those years ago.

The last Daughter of Sunlight died ten years ago and the Lord of Light has yet to choose a successor. Neither the golden armour nor the ruby of faith have shown themselves. With her death the armour and ruby disappeared in an array of fantastic flame. It is only a short while before He chooses another. And that woman will be transformed, with burnished hair and eyes that reflect the sun. It is only a matter of time. Will she bring peace or will she bring misery?

But now I sail away from all of that, to the isle known as Striecial. An island with steep cliffs and dangerous underwater rock formations. The ring of underwater outcroppings have protected Striecial for centuries. Formed by magic’s own hand, they are Striecial’s last and only line of defense. The only way to make landfall is to either be extremely lucky in choosing the right path, have a specially trained sorcerer called a Sea Singer on board to bewitch the rocks and tides, or to be on a Striecialian vessel. Thankfully we do have a Sea Singer with us, but we will not need to utilize his skills. We will meet up with an escort from Striecial sometime in the night.

I do not believe that I shall be in Striecial for more than a handful of days. They are a nation of isolationists, preferring to communicate with foreigners and the world at large through their colonies. It is unlikely they will abide by our presence for very long. To my understanding they live their lives in the continual pursuit of magic. Systematically trying to understand and catalog it. They are also a nation without religion. A fascinating concept if I do say so. An atheist nation is a rare and strange gem.

That is not to say that I have never met atheists, I have met only a handful. To think that a nation of people would willingly choose to put religion aside, to choose not to define themselves wholly by gods and dogma. To uniformly profess disbelief, or more commonly, to choose to ignore the existence of deities to focus with one mind elsewhere. It is such a foreign concept to me. People who do not refute the existence of the Shining Lord, but people who don’t bother themselves with his existence and worship. I almost envy these people.

Just before I left on the Twenty-Fifth of Ivaris the Heirophant of Shining Fire came to me. He wished to speak to me, to waylay any fears or apprehension that I might have going into Striecial. Or as he said, “That dammed place of sorcery and heathenry.”

To be quite honest I had no fear crossing the ocean. I hold no fear in going to Striecial. Many are quick to blame Striecialian Sorcery for our missing troops. I’m not so sure, there have never been hostilities between us. They are our allies, or, well, near enough to be our allies. We have never had poor relations with them. We’ve always had cordial trade relations between our two peoples, though we do generally interact through their colonies on the continent.

In truth I plan to speak with the Striecialian Council, if it is at all possible. I hope that they might know of what power, or powers, that could spirit away a legion of men. Maybe browse through their libraries if so allowed. Though my advisers think otherwise and caution me against speaking with the Striecialians I can’t help but think that they hold the answer to this mystery. If not, I shudder at that thought. The Council are the premiere sorcerers of their nation. Striecial is the cradle of magic after all.

As I sit in my cabin below deck I can only wonder how my father did this. To my knowledge he never made a state visit, at least not to Striecial or to their colonies. He’d scarcely left the country, let alone the continent. I continually ask myself how did he deal with advisers at every turn nattering on with their opinions? Heirophants insulting you one moment and the next giving advice. Balancing along the delicate knife edge of religion and politics. I cannot endorse one over the other, this is not Fourteen Sixteen. My own father was far from religious, it was Mother who was always at chapel or cathedral. There are so very many religions and sects and cults in my nation.