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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.