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The First of Ara, Sixteen Seventy-Four,

This month honors Ara and her sacrifice. Acolytes of her sect are wed to Ara at sunset on the Thirtieth of Ivaris every year. I can already hear their wailing cries, it’s usually by midday when I can hear them here on the estate. During this month they mourn her loss, the death of their wife. If I were a person of love, someone who isn’t selfish, I would see the sorrowful beauty of such a time. But, fortunately, I am not. I am a spiteful and wicked person who enjoys their sleep.

I hate this month and really it shouldn’t even be called a month. Fourteen days to hunt down and kill the Sons of Mars. I can’t believe that, I mean truly how many Sons of Mars could there have been? To say that all the Sons of Mars were hunted down, to every soul, in the span of a fortnight is insanity. That would be hundreds, if not thousands. I don’t care how big your army is, there is no way you could cull an entire race in a handful of days. I mean, really, mythology and legend has gone too far. To take it as a story and parable is just fine, but to take it as fact; That I cannot fathom.

Take the jungles far to the south for instance, great trees that pierce the sky. Myth claims them to have been giants cursed by the Shining Lord. Legends are regularly stretched and embellished. Obviously a man stumbled upon those trees and spun a tale. So too was a tale spun about the murder of the Sons of Mars. And all one needs to do is to look to the crown and know they failed. There on the throne sits a Son of Iron-Banded Mars. The Sword of Stars.

We are some distance from the town and yet this year their wailing has woken me up. It seems they have started early this year. In truth the early disturbance was a group of traveling mourners, though I did not find that out until much later. Apparently they are a new order within the sect. It seems they are on a pilgrimage of sorts, visiting every chapel, convent, or temple of the Shining Lord. Something about plans to make the trek every year. I really don’t know but I don’t believe it could be possible to get to them all during Ara, unless they plan to sprout wings and fly.

Tam informed me that the servant boy, Alex, was the first to see them. Apparently he had been sent on an early morning errand for fresh produce and had passed them on the road. Gossip burns like a grass fire in any close or semi-closed environment. Naturally the entire staff knew within an hour of his return. The poor boy, it must have been a shock to him to find them on the road crying and screaming.

I have found this morning that I am no longer welcome in the kitchens. Welcome as an observer, yes, but not as a conversationalist. Mrs. Argall and the new housekeeper, Mrs. Ruane have become as thick as thieves it seems. The pair gossip back and forth and when I attempt to join their conversation they grow cold and refuse to acknowledge my words. Though I am happy to say that they have not forgotten who is their employer as they snapped to attentiveness with a quick array of orders.

It seems that Mrs. Ruane won Mrs. Argall over with her piety and devotion to the Shining Lord. As with all things involving the worship of the Lord of Light Mrs. Argall was thrilled. From what Tam said Mrs. Argall spoke of nothing else all morning. Now there are two religious fanatics who live in my home.

Tam says that Mrs. Ruane is trying to whip the staff into form, a task set to her by Cossett. That they are an embarrassment to a noble house, that the staff have no sense of decorum. To allow me to continue our familiarity was highly inappropriate. That is true, it is highly unusual for someone of my status to sit in the kitchens and gossip with the servants. Distracting them from their jobs and generally being a nuisance. I have lost a small place of comfort. If anything I have found Tam useful to inform me of the servants gossip. I at least have one friend left here in this birdcage.

At the morning meal a pervasive veil of gloom fell upon my day precipitated by the new housekeeper. As Mrs. Ruane directed the staff, Cosset and Uncle flirted back and forth in what could only be described as a stage whisper. Mrs. Ruane brought it upon herself to mention the Mourners on the road. That is how I have found my peaceful silence broken. Out of the kindness of his heart, and some not so subtle prompting from Cossett did Uncle dispatch a number of footmen and his varlet to invite them to stay on

the estate for the rest of Ara.
I held no qualms or enmity with the cult, up until they roomed just down the hall. There are more than fifteen guest rooms that could be used for them but, that would require opening and airing out rooms that have lain dormant since cousin Roman and Lord Lyon stayed with us. There is no need for the staff to do those duties when there are guest rooms already service and ready. And so shall the Mourners of Ara keep me awake with their wailing for the next fortnight. I’m sure the six of them have to sleep sometime, they can’t wail all night.

10Can you truly continue to mourn someone long since dead? Is that loyalty, blind faith, or mental deficiency? A tree is but a tree, nothing more and nothing less.