The Burden of Guilt

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Book Text

By the hand of Arnald Edraam:

Everyone knows my name. My surname that is. I share it with my brother, one of the leaders of the Endless Court. I wish I could say that he were the black sheep of the family, a lone traitor among a line of honorable men and women true to Telara. But I cannot.

The Edraam family has served the Destroyer faithfully for centuries, millennia even. When King Aedraxis pierced the Ward and Regulos began his return to Telara, my family emerged from the shadows to declare themselves as some of the first of his loyal followers. I was dragged there with them, but it was not my wish to do so.

Page 2

I sensed my family’s allegiances at a young age. I’d heard the rumors from the other young people at court about how you could tell an Endless. It was mostly silly stuff, children’s stories of men and women with pale skin and a rotten smell. But there were other ideas that were a little more credible.

It was said you could tell someone in the cult of the Destroyer because though they would pretend to be devout, they would never look at a statue of one of the members of the Vigil straight on, as if they were afraid they would attract the gaze of the gods.

Page 3

I noticed it about my father first. He was the worst at hiding it. Every time we attended a congregation, he would shuffle faithfully along with everyone, but I noticed he would never look at the statues completely. His eyes would travel that way and cut out before they could reach their destination. I only noticed later, too late, that my mother did as well. She was good at it. Her eyes would nearly reach the stern gaze of Thedeor, but at the last possible fraction of a second, they ducked away like a frightened hare into the moors.

I had begun to watch my father, taking note of his general comings and goings. He always had excuses for where he was going, but often enough, they just didn’t line up. He would claim to be meeting with his serfs, but I would later hear that all petitions had been turned away for the day. At night, he would often go out for his walks. “Time to reflect,” he called it, swearing he was staying within our gardens. But his shoes would come back spotted with the raw earth of the woods and not the well-tilled soil of the gardens.

Page 4

When I say I figured out my mother’s allegiances too late, it was because I went to her with my suspicions. One night, after my father had gone out, I told her I thought he had been acting odd, and described to her what I had seen. She looked at me then, appraising me, and finally said, “Come with me, Arnald.”

That night, she took me to the woods, donning cloaks that hid our features. I thought perhaps we were going to spy on my father, but when we marched into a grove in which moonlight pooled like water, I was surprised to find us surrounded by figures as heavily cloaked as ourselves. My mother pulled me into the circle, and it was then I heard my father’s voice, saying, “What have you done? Is he ready?”

My mother responded, “He has figured out too much already. He has to be. If he isn’t, we will have to deal with it.”

Page 5
I remember how she held my arm as a man came to the center of the circle, carrying a young woman who looked like she was sleeping. What followed, I will not repeat, but her screams haunt my dreams still.

I learned my birthright that night. As the oldest of my siblings, I was expected to carry on my family’s secret rites to Regulos, working with the other families of the Endless Court to herald his return. It was never said what would happen if I refused, but I saw other heirs brought to the circle – friends I had known all my life from the Court of Mathos – who would later die under mysterious circumstances. I can only surmise that they refused to carry on the torch. Coward that I am, I went along with them. It was only when the Ward finally broke, and the actuality of Regulos’s return was on us, that I finally ran. I ran as far as I could go, and only came back years later to help fight with the Order of Mathos against my own father and mother, brother and sisters.

Page 6

So you see, it would have been me to bear the title of
Lord Edraam. When my father and mother were killed fighting the Order, however, my brother succeeded them, being content to continue their dark works. Now, he is the undead visage of his Death lord, leading hoards within the Endless Citadel.

With all that said, how can you trust an Edraam? Most can’t. I’m watched constantly, expected to reveal my true colors at any moment. It is all I can do to shove aside the doubts and remind my fellows that I have nothing left of my family’s lands and privileges. All I carry is their blackened name, and the burden of guilt that it brings with it.

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