Journal of Hans Steinberg

2 Septumbre, 77th Year of the Great Coronation

Marlowe won’t stop complaining of a headache. The physiker said there was nothing wrong with him but he hasn’t slept for two days. My wife believes him to be troubled by evil spirits— superstitious nonsense like that reminds me that whatever breadth of common sense I married into carries its cost. Still, if my father had gotten his way I’d be a fat, rich landlord with a shrewish and unpleasant wife and spoiled, fat children.

I much prefer my Marlowe—sheepish and worrisome, but always clever—and dear Esmerelda. Superstitious though she may be.

Tomorrow we shall bring Marlowe down to see the satrap. The man’s knowledge of herbs may serve my boy well, even if his spiritual knowledge does not.

Lord Hauser is said to be entertaining his strange guests, still. At night the manor veritably glows. It fills me with disquiet, for reasons I cannot immediately understand. Some of us work for a living.

7 Septumbre, 77th Year of the Great Coronation

They wish to take my boy. Those black-eyed fiends will die if they touch Marlowe. They are devils in the flesh.

It was the satrap’s fault for letting slip about my son’s headaches. I’d kill the greenseer were he not dead already. They found his corpse in his hut— and, I’m told, they hope to find the rest of him soon.

The first to approach me wore fine robes, and Seamus told me later he had been one of Lord Hauser’s guests. He told me that he represented people who could shape my son’s gift into a powerful instrument for change. He told me that all things had a greater destiny—a greater service—and that I should not hold him back from it.

I told him to get buggered by a horse.

That night two of them rattled the door to my house. A crossbow bolt sent them running. They’ll not come around again, I’m sure of it. Still, I will not give up my vigil tonight.

Their eyes were black too, like the first man. All the way through. No iris, nothing. Hard to read. Even still, I could see hunger in them.

9 Septumbre, 77th Year of the Great Coronation

Taen preserve me. Ondarin watch over Marlowe and my wife. May He let them into his heavenly realm without judgment. Let Him see my sins, my negligence, and grant me only a moment with them before I am damned.

I am surely damned. No glut of blood will sate the rage in my chest, nor wash away that blood which has been spilt already. Fear holds so many shutters closed, doors barred. I have nothing left to fear, having been left nothing to lose because of those hungry men with their damned black eyes.

The butcher’s knife will do, though it could use sharpening. I still have twelve quarrels for my crossbow. The lights in Lord Hauser’s manor dance and waver, and at night craven cries waft through the air like a diseased wind.

I will visit the Lord Hauser and his guests. I will teach them why you should not take everything from a man yet leave him live.

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Journal of Hans Steinberg

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