The 17th day of Ripening Season, 342 years After Mourning
Hope dwindles further with each soul that passes. We lost fourteen today: seven men, three women and four children. Their names have been recorded in the ledger. I have given young Barly the unwelcome task of carting them away before the heat sours them. A hard task for a ten-year-old boy, Sisters forgive me, but there are so few of us who remain. I had no choice. I can only hope they grant him mercy in his grief. Should he see his mother’s face on each corpse, I pray his tears might blind him to the memory of her sunken cheeks and lifeless eyes.
Mercy. It is easy to forget that beautiful virtue’s name, or that she once played a part in our lives. Like so many others, I am weary. Weary of sickness and death. Weary of the silence. To whom shall I pray? This disease has not been cast upon us by any deity, and for all their silence I cannot believe the Sisters have abandoned us. Perhaps in my stubbornness I cannot see the truth. Or perhaps I do see something . . . In the darkness, in my dreams, a flame beckons me closer. I have not the strength to hide my shame or sweep it under the mantle. My hands tremble while I admit my fear here upon the ink-stained pages. Who holds the flame? Speak plainly and tell me what you wish me to see.
I am old and weary. Too old for the games of gods. Too weary for the games of men.