Curse of the Crimson Throne
22 Lamashan, 4704
I have to start a new diary because Daddy took away my last one when he saw what I had to say about his shitty choice of suitors. He can go to hell.
4 Neth, 4704
Daddy had me parade out like slave at auction for the latest fat toothless bastard he thinks he can buy off with my hand. The Viscount Jabiri looks like a toad in a wig and smells even worse. If Daddy likes him so much, he can marry the creep himself—I’m sure Mother would be relieved.
17 Neth, 4704
I snuck out last night to see the opera. It was a bore, but I overheard the most interesting piece of gossip. They say the King of Korvosa is old, childless, and desperate for a wife. I can understand why he’s been a bachelor for so long, with only puffed up colonial strumpets to choose from.
But a Chelaxian lady of beauty and refinement could win his heart… and inherit his kingdom when he kicks it! A far sight better than marrying a hairy toad. But Daddy would never let me travel to Varisia, chaperon or no.
28 Neth, 4704
Daddy brought in another would-be suitor today, Margrave Vrytoris. He had to be almost forty but still had his looks—until I saw the tail. The margrave was a tiefling!. That is simply the last straw.
I don’t care what the priests say, devils creep me out. If that’s the sort of thing Daddy wants to promise my hand to just to get ahead at court, he’ll have to find himself another daughter. Korvosa is looking better and better.
11 Kuthona, 4704
I got away! I’m on board a ship right now, sailing for Korvosa. I had to pawn some of Daddy’s old baubles, but it’s what he gets for trying to shop me around like some prize horse.
I’ve been learning more about this old King, Eodred II Arabasti, and his tastes in women, wine, and everything else. He’ll be mine in a fortnight, I swear. Those colonial girls don’t stand a chance.
They say the throne is cursed, but that’s just provincial superstition. But the king can’t be long for this world at his age and it wouldn’t do to leave that pretty chair empty. This is so exciting!
16 Abadius, 4705
Arrived in Korvosa. The “city” is a cold, damp colonial village filled with Varisian half-breeds. I almost climbed back onto the boat! But Daddy would clap me in irons if he ever got his hands on me and I’ve nowhere else to go. Have to stick with the plan and hope for the best.
27 Abadius, 4705
Just back from my debut at the Jeggare Ball. It seems there are a few men and women of breeding in Korvosa after all, and pretty ones too, especially that Marcus Endrin. Pity none of them are royalty. Maybe I can fix that once Father Time collects my husband-to-be. The King wasn’t there tonight, but I made enough of a splash that he’s sure to be at the next grand event.
5 Calistril, 4705
I had my first meeting with the King today. He is old and fat and wrinklier than a prune and he stinks of eel pie. But his crown! So many diamonds and rubies, set in the finest gold. And the way everyone rose when he entered the room… royalty really is different.
Though I was seated halfway across the room from him, I pulled the usual tricks and his eyes never left me all evening. I will be Queen… assuming the old fart can survive until after the wedding. I’ll have to speed things along.
16 Calistril, 4705
I saw the Crimson Throne today. It’s the only chair on the entire first floor of the Castle. It’s a brooding thing with heavy cushions and a tall back. I swear it looks like it’s just waiting for me.
I was invited to the Castle for the King’s birthday party, a debauched affair with wine flowing freely and Varisian dancing girls twirling about. But I made sure His Majesty’s attentions were focused solely on me. By the end of the night, he was eating out of my hand.
Literally, actually. I can’t quite scrub the old man smell off my fingers. But it’s hard to do that without removing the scandalously large diamond engagement ring!
The gods must be smiling on me, because the royal fool is easier to play than the dimmest boys at court in Egorian. How he ended up on the throne, I don’t know, but he can’t sit it much longer at his age. Then it will be mine, with the wealth and riches of his entire kingdom!
I never thought I’d be excited about marrying someone.
31 Pharast, 4705
I’m Queen-Consort! We held the ceremony in the throne room yesterday. I wore white and gold, while the King—my husband!—wore crimson. It took forever for that bore the Archbanker to drone his way through the ritual, but finally he was done, we declared our vows, and sealed the contract with a kiss! How’s that for a match, Daddy!
It won’t be long before I’m sitting on the Crimson Throne. Though the King was surprisingly energetic on our wedding night. Ugh. But the old man can’t stay that aflame with passion for very long before his heart gives out.
7 Gozren, 4705
Yes, yes he can. I may have made a mistake. Gods, he’s waking up again.
25 Gozren, 4705
We spent the last two weeks touring the countryside, which mostly seemed an excuse for His Majesty to bed me in a variety of new settings. Ugh.
Varisia does have a wild beauty about it that’s absent from Cheliax. The trees are bigger and bramblier, the mountains more jagged, the farms fewer and more spread out. Even the stars seem brighter. But the land is so vast and empty that I feel frightfully alone, even with the old fart breathing down my neck.
12 Desnus, 4705
Now that the honeymoon is concluded (ugh), I let it be known that I would take over managing Castle Korvosa, just as a Chelaxian lady would run her husband’s household. But then that hulking Seneschal, a man with a face like a peasant, tells me that he runs the Castle according to that thrice-damned City Charter.
I can’t manage the servants, I can’t tend to the Castle accounts, and I certainly can’t rule until my husband keels over (fingers crossed).
What in the Nine Hells am I supposed to do all day?
17 Desnus, 4705
I found the Castle library. The Chelaxian items are all a hundred years old or more, full of stilted speech. I tried the colonial fare, but Korvosa’s poets are too fond of bucolic pastoral odes (blech) and can’t follow basic pentameter. Their romances read like children’s tales—where’s the sex? The gore? The illuminations? I shall have to send to Cheliax for proper literature.
I grew so desperate I actually started reading history. Most of it is dreary accounts of wars and edicts, but I found a few volumes of lore on the Thassilonian ruins beneath the city. It seems that Korvosa was once the capitol of Sorshen, the ancient Runelord of Lust. Far more interesting than endless lists of begats and bygones.
21 Desnus, 4705
Got a letter from Daddy today. So good of him to remember that I exist.
He congratulates me on my marriage and quickly shifts to wheedling for money and royal favors.
It would be amusing to keep his hopes up for a little while, but too much bother. He’s beneath me now.
24 Desnus, 4705
It’s become clear that the old fart’s approach to rule is one of benign neglect. He buries himself in his pleasures (ugh), while that shovel-faced old snoop of a Seneschal runs things day to day. The King rarely puts his foot down on anything (unless he’s dancing with me, the clumsy oaf) and his councilors are able to run mad with power, tossing gold to the commoners and building ugly monuments to His Majesty’s inflated ego. This hands-off approach will end when I’m on the throne, and that Seneschal will be gone, too.
7 Sarenith, 4705
Gods, when it’s not cold and damp it’s hot and muggy. Doesn’t this vile hamlet have a pleasant season?
10 Sarenith, 4705
I threw out the last of my old clothes from Cheliax. They were adequate for the daughter of a Count, but too rough and plain for a Queen. If I can’t run a household I can at least manage my appearance. I’ve contracted with the city’s finest tailor to produce a series of brilliant gowns for me, based on the latest fashions from Egorian.
I thought I looked good before, but the options available to royalty are… stunning is too small a word. And the accessories! Just the jewelry left over from the old fart’s rotten mother outshines anything Daddy could ever afford.
Once I can pry the treasury key away from that stingy Seneschal, I’ll commission my own accouterments. It’s important for a Queen to maintain her majesty, after all.
22 Sarenith, 4705
The old fart dragged me out to the Avenue of Arms for the Riverwinds Festival today. He proceeded to get very drunk and then tried to feel me up, right there in public. It’s bad enough behind closed doors but out where the common trash can see? I tossed my drink in his face and stormed back to the Castle.
We had a terrible row when he staggered back to our room, but it became rather one-sided when he passed out on the floor. If he weighed any less, I would have rolled him down the Castle staircase. He’d better drink himself into the grave soon, because I simply won’t stand for this!
3 Rova, 4705
It’s been a busy few months since last I wrote. Over a dozen major balls, festivals, and social gatherings. The old fart has so far managed to keep his lewdness restricted to the bedroom, which I dread like the plague these days. (How can that leathery sack of fat and brittle bones have such an inexhaustible appetite?)
I was terribly homesick on Signing Day. Daddy would always get us balcony seats along Thrune Square where we could watch the feats of strength in the morning, head down to peruse the vendors during the afternoon, and then scurry back at dusk to see the Empress’ grand fireworks display dance across the sky in living crimson, purple, and gold.
Here, all we had was a single fencing contest—which should have gone to that dark-haired girl with the scar if the judges had any sense—and then a tepid display of crude bottle rockets. And Korvosa claims to be a Chelaxian city!
When I come into my throne, I’ll drum some patriotism into these colonials’ thick heads.
18 Lamashan, 4705
After hosting and attending more balls, banquets and cotillions than I can count, I’ve reached some conclusions about the leading lights of Korvosa.
- Lord Glorio Arkona: Always smiling but has hungry eyes, like a cat among mice. NEVER BE ALONE WITH HIM.
- Lady Eliana Leroung: Bright, friendly, and dumb as a post. Keep her close.
- Lady Zenobia Zenderholm: Ridiculous name, no sense of humor, and an enormous pedant. The perfect chief judge, I suppose.
- Archbanker Darb Tuttle: Will talk your ear off about coinage if given half the chance.
- Commandant Marcus Endrin: Pretty but insufferable.
- Seneschal Neolandis Kalepopolis: An inveterate snoop. Have to watch him.
- Field Marshal Cressida Kroft: “My family has defended this city since blah blah blah…”
- Headmaster Toff Ornelos: A human weasel, but there’s power there. Have to work my charms on him.
Not worth a copper, the lot of them.
13 Neth, 4705
What kind of madman forbids the lighting of fires for two whole days when there’s frost on the window panes. I live in a Castle and yet I can see my own breath in my own bloody room because the thrice-damned fire went out and nobody will bloody relight it until tomorrow night!
I don’t care about “commemorating” the Great Fire—if it wasn’t important enough to recognize in Cheliax then it’s not important enough for me to be shivering in my nightgown. And if the old fart tells me one more time that our “shared body heat” will warm us through the night, I will jab this pen through his eye.
5 Kuthona, 4705
Came down will a cough the other day and the old fart treated it like the plague. At his age, I’m not surprised, but he tried to have me see a doctor. As if those leech peddlers could do anything but make me sicker. Doctors are always bad news, like Daddy’s friend Dr. Davaulus. That man should have been an undertaker for all the good he did his patients.
I told the old fart that I’m the bloody Queen and I won’t be treated by anyone less than an anointed priest. So he got a cleric of Asmodeus to cure my cough—and lecture me about my temple attendance. I keep all the major holidays, which was good enough in Cheliax, so I don’t know what she’s going on about.
31 Kuthona, 4705
Here’s to a new year and 365 new opportunities for my beloved husband to pass beyond Pharasma’s gates.
11 Abadius, 4706
I’m starting to worry that the King is growing bored of me. The old fart’s eye keeps wandering to the nearest wide-hipped strumpet. I haven’t borne him any heirs. What if he decides to annul our marriage? First thing tomorrow, I’ll talk to the Seneschal about firing all the pretty servants.
16 Calistril, 4706
By decree, his Royal Fartness’ birthday is celebrated with wild drinking, scantily clad dancing girls, and general debauchery. Who does he think he is, Cayden Cailean?
He’s barely looked at me all day, instead craning his neck at every envious harlot that drifts by. It would be a relief, were it not so humiliating.
I memorized the face of every little tart he was mooning over—should they find their way into the Castle again, I’ll have them driven out with whips.
6 Pharast, 4706
I had to sit through a day of boring parades and displays of martial prowess celebrating the founding of Sable Company. I thankfully avoided getting hippogryph shit on me.
The sole highlight of the day was seeing that dark-haired fencer again. She’s apparently a captain in the Guard and one of their best by the looks of it. She defeated the Sable Company fencing team almost single-handedly and then had the sublime courtesy to pass her red rose of victory on to me.
A woman of taste and ability. I need to ask after her name.
19 Pharast, 4706
I’ve done some more reading about Runelord Sorshen.
She was an immortal queen of unearthly beauty who built one of the greatest civilizations of Avistan in Varisia of all places. But I have to fault her for lack of ambition—she spent too long resting on her laurels in Thassilon. And how could a being of such power let her kingdom be devastated by the Earthfall? Were I in her shoes, I would have done things differently.
Enough day-dreaming. I have to go keep the old fart company. Maybe I can spit in his tea when he nods off.
30 Pharast, 4706
I’ve been Queen for a year and the old fart is still going as strong as ever. He eats and drinks and ruts like a young wastrel, but he just keeps going without even the decency of choking on a fish bone. Are the gods trying to punish me? What about this supposed “curse”? Shouldn’t that be kicking in? Some days, I just want to tear my hair out.
2 Desnus, 4706
I had to sit through an interminable state funeral today at the Pharasman Cathedral, for some nameless bureaucrat. My only respite was that charming Guard Captain Sabina, who escorted us to the Gray District and back. She has raven-dark hair and a courtly demeanor about her that is rare among these rustics. It’s strange, plate mail has never struck me as sightly before, but the good Captain wears it with such elegance. Pity about the scar on her cheek, but she’s nonetheless still quite lovely. Such marvelous eyes.
We were left alone under the portico for a good half hour, giving us plenty of time to talk. She is a pleasant conversationalist, particularly for a lowborn colonial. Once I had her confidence, she cut loose with some of the most delightful barbs about our esteemed company. The stories she told of Guard details gone wrong had me in stitches. I swear, chatting with her was the most fun I have had since I arrived in this backwater.
I’ve asked that the dear Captain be assigned to all subsequent escort details. If I have to wade through the rabble, I want to have her swift sword and sly tongue at my side.
29 Desnus, 4706
At yesterday’s Breaching Festival I had the opportunity to spend more time with Sabina Merrin. We spoke at length about the weather, the food, the fashions at court, and the latest juicy scandals. She kept asking after my own health and happiness in such an adorably awkward fashion.
It’s clear the girl has quite the crush on me. (Who can blame her?) It’s the sort of weak spot I’d exploit to my advantage were she some House Guard in Egorian. But there’s such a shining look of devotion in her brown eyes whenever she gazes at me that I couldn’t bear to betray her. Gods help me, I actually want to keep her close.
What an odd sensation, to want someone in your life without a plan to use them for your own ends. Maybe the Varisian air is getting to me. Or perhaps Sabina is just that special. I need to find a post for her at the Castle.
12 Sarenith, 4706
I managed to convince the old fart—don’t ask how—to let me take on Sabina Merrin as my handmaiden and bodyguard. The joyous look in her eyes when I gave her the news warmed my heart. We spent several hours going over her new duties and getting to know one another better. She comes from local merchant stock, but has a courtly refinement about her. She went to the local fencing school, apparently a place of some renown, but left to seek her fortune after a dispute with the headmaster. She has a degree of focus and determination I’ve never seen before in a woman of her station. And her beauty is even more radiant when clothed in something other than that stuffy Guard uniform. I told her far more of my true feelings about the old fart than I should have, but somehow it doesn’t worry me. I know she would never betray my confidence, just as I would never betray hers. It’s so exciting to finally have a friend in the Castle!
25 Sarenith, 4706
I was touring Old Korvosa today when I heard the local gutter trash call me a “harlot” not once but three times in an hour! I’d have had Sabina thrash them, but the rapscallions kept themselves hidden among the throng of smelly, gap-toothed commoners. Sometimes I wish all the grimy little wretches would just die off and leave us in peace. If that whole rotten island sank into the bay, it would do the rest of Korvosa a wonder of good.
Also, I must remember to never visit Exemplary Execrables again. Disgusting and vulgar about sums it up.
3 Erastus, 4706
I introduced Sabina to the Castle library. Poor girl had never seen so many books in one place before. Until now, her reading had mostly been limited to those penny-dreadfuls they hawk in the Gold Market, but she deserves better than that flimsy trash.
She actually enjoys those interminable martial histories of the settlement. Must be a soldier thing. Though I must say, she can make them sound quite stirring when she talks about them.
I’ve been reluctant to share my Chelaxian romances with her. Too sophisticated for colonial tastes, most of them. But there are one or two I think she’d really like.
13 Erastus, 4706
Sabina was out on the training yard this afternoon. I had a chance to see her practice before the old fart summoned me to dinner. She’s nothing like the stiff, mechanical fencers who tutored my brothers back home.
She flows across the yard like a Varisian dancer, her golden armor gleaming in the sun and her raven hair a fluttering sable banner. That big heavy sword darts like a conductor’s baton in her hand as she parries and thrusts. In half an hour, not one of the Castle guards landed a blow on her.
I could have just watched her move for hours.
1 Arodus, 4706
We kissed today.
We were seated in front of my dresser, where she was finishing my hair while we teased each other mercilessly about last night’s banquet.
She was adjusting my earring when she suddenly cupped her hand around my ear, leaned in and kissed me. She tastes like wild berries, the kind that grow on the scruffy Varisian hillsides: sweet and sour at the same time, in that way that leaves your tongue tingling.
She was of course immediately apologetic for overstepping her bounds. The silly thing apparently never imagined I’d return her feelings. I’ve thoroughly dispelled that misunderstanding.
So thoroughly, in fact, that she’ll have to wear a high collar for the next few days to hide the evidence.
I might have felt guilty about our little tryst if I didn’t know that the old fart has been sneaking whores in and out of the Castle twice a month. Ugh, what if he gets a pox? I’ll need to keep some petty cash on hand to pay for cures if he ever spreads that common filth to me.
22 Rova, 4706
I’ve never felt this way about someone before.
I go through the motions at court, but Sabina is always foremost in my thoughts.
By Shelyn, I love everything about her. How she shifts seamlessly between refined manners at court and barracks hall humor behind closed doors. The way she can pick me up with just one strong arm and make me feel like there’s no safer place in the world. The way she sets her jaw just so when she’s frustrated. Even that long scar on her cheek simply adds character.
She’s a fighter, she’s my fighter. I’ve never had one before. Every other knight in shining armor who’s wooed me always had a tarnished heart inside.
But not Sabina. The sweet girl has absolutely no guile. She wouldn’t last a day in Cheliax, so it is good that I am here to protect her. A strange thing to say about a bodyguard, but my Sabina is as outmatched by well-spun words as I am by well-swung swords. Together, though, we will be unstoppable… once I ascend the throne.
She’s convinced I will be the greatest Queen in Korvosa’s history. Even “I” know that’s crazy. But hearing her say it makes me want to make it so. I just want her to be happy.
29 Rova, 4706
We had an enormous row. The old fart said I’d been “neglecting” him in favor of my handmaiden. So I called him out on his open philandering and he had the gall to chastise me for not birthing an heir! It’s his lazy, drink-addled seed that’s the problem. Not that I want to squeeze out another little Eodred, but I will if I must in order to secure my place on the throne.
Now he’s spending the night with “friends” at some tawdry pocket mansion in South Shore, while I sulk in here. I’m sure he’ll come back smelling of tavern wench in the morning. Ugh.
He made enough of a stink that Sabina and I will have to be more cautious, too. Asmodeus take that horrid old man! Why is he still alive?
8 Lamashan, 4706
Sabina has to be the strangest, most wonderful person I have ever met. I try to give her gold and jewels, but she graciously declines them. She wants neither wealth nor titles, just my affection. This lack of ambition would be unthinkable in Cheliax, but my Sabina is a simple Korvosan girl with no interest in jockeying for status. It’s terribly refreshing, though it does throw me for a loop now and then. How can I show my favor without gifts and rewards? She means the world to me and I want her to know it.
17 Neth, 4706
The old fart is off visiting the Admiralty in Veldraine, so Sabina and I spent the day together sealed up in my chambers. I had to send her out every now and then to keep up appearances, but otherwise we were inseparable. If only every day could be this way. Hells, if only my honeymoon had been this way.
She’s asleep beside me now, enjoying a well-earned rest. Sabina has such perfect skin, with none of that dusky Varisian quality that afflicts so many otherwise tolerable people in this benighted city. I swear, though she’s of merchant stock she must have Chelaxian noble blood somewhere in her lineage. How else could someone of such low birth move with such grace, act with such courtesy, and taste so so sweet? Good breeding always shows, like Daddy used to say.
She can never be my official consort, but behind closed doors she is mine and I am hers. I don’t know which of us is luckier: her for being plucked from obscurity to the right hand of the Queen, or me for having found such a precious diamond in the rough.
Even if the old fart lives for another 20 years, I made the right choice coming here.
9 Kuthona, 4706
I almost died today. Shelyn have mercy, my hands are still shaking.
I was outside the Jeggare Museum, where I had been standing in for my gout-riddled husband at the annual ball. They were bringing my coach up when a flock of thrice-damned pseudodragons swooped down and spooked the horses. They nearly trampled me!
Thank Asmodeus my dear Sabina pulled me out of the way in time. One of the footmen was crushed under the coach wheels—his blood got all over my Irrisen fox coat. It’s completely ruined, and I’d only worn it once! Ugh. I had the guards fetch a palanquin, I’ll never travel by coach again. And I ordered those murderous horses put down. If only something similar could be done about the pseudodragon pests.
The old fart keeps trying to “comfort” me, but I put him off with talk of my “delicate condition.” If fate had been kind, it would have been him out there having his brittle bones ground into meal.
Tomorrow I’ll visit every temple in the city and offer a prayer of thanks to each. That’ll give me time alone in the palanquin with Sabina, too.
I can never thank her enough for all that she’s done. No Queen has had a braver knight or truer lover.
1 Abadius, 4707
A new year and the old fart is going as strong as ever. Gods, I’m coming up on my twentieth birthday and I’m still not on the Crimson Throne!
Let this be the year you take him, Pharasma, please. I promise to be a fair and wise Queen, with Sabina at my side to ensure my kingdom is protected and my subjects safe. The old fart has accomplished nothing in 20 years of kingship. Let me take his place.
Or at the very least, make him smell better.
16 Calistril, 4707
The old fart is trying to humiliate me. At his own birthday party, no less!
His hands were all over the serving girls and he practically leered at every young thing that trotted by. His tongue was hanging out so far I had half a mind to cut it off.
I’m his WIFE, much to my regret, and he should at least have the decency to keep his affairs PRIVATE, as I have done.
I swear I’ll kill him for this. I can’t even throw him out of my bed, not without an heir in my belly (ugh). Instead, I’ll have to make the old fart’s life a living hell. Maybe I can shame him into the grave and finally move on.
I wish Sabina was back from her training…
30 Pharast, 4707
Another year of my life given up to this sham of a marriage.
31 Pharast, 4707
I had a terrible nightmare. I dreamt I was trapped in the Castle for 100 years, growing older and older until my hair turned white, my teeth fell out, and my skin looked like a dried up walnut. And in all that time, the old fart kept on drinking and whoring and soiling the Crimson Throne with his odious presence. By the end I was left on my deathbed alone, unloved, and unmourned while downstairs the old fart celebrated his marriage to a fresh young wife.
On waking I was so distraught I ran to Sabina’s quarters in my small clothes. I just lay there in her arms until I stopped shaking.
I won’t let this horrible city devour me. I will be Queen in my own right.
Perhaps I could introduce my gourmand of a husband to some risky foreign delicacy like Tianese puffer fish…
15 Gozren, 4707
The old fart keeps going on about the fighting in the Bloodsworn Vale. It’s so stupid. If the crown needs revenue, there are better ways to go about it than sending Guardsmen and adventurers out to fight and die in order to open up a trickle of trade with Nirmathras.
Just raise taxes! Those fat commoners cluttering up the streets can spare a few extra coppers for the majesty of the Crimson Throne. Honestly, Korvosa will be better off once I’m in charge. (Hint, hint Lady of Graves)
4 Desnus, 4707
I hate him. I hate him, I hate this miserable little village with its puffed up petty nobles and grasping rabble, I hate the damp, I hate the cold, I hate the food that stinks of old fish, I hate that I have nothing to do but sit around and look pretty, I hate those leering wizards, I hate that snooping, sneering Seneschal, I hate the servants who gossip about me like I’m some slattern actress, I hate the hussies my repulsive husband drools over, I hate absolutely everything about this thrice-damned city.
That felt good to write.
I don’t really hate everything. Certainly not Sabina! And a city that could produce her must have some virtues. (Korvosan crabcakes are certainly delicious.)
It’s just so hard, sometimes.
26 Desnus, 4707
I filched the Seneschal’s key to the treasury. He was off snooping on the old fart, so I was able to slip into his office and snatch it. I just wanted a look at what will be mine someday soon (please, Pharasma, please). To remind myself that all my suffering will be worth it.
And boy, will it.
I never imagined so much gold could fit in a single room and still leave space to walk. The Seneschal has been holding out on me, too—there are gorgeous jewels, bracelets, and crowns in heaps! All of them itemized and quantified, no doubt, which is why I haven’t touched a thing.
I just pray the old fart doesn’t squander it all before he finally kicks it. Maybe I should pour something slippery over the steps outside the bedroom, give fate that extra nudge.
No, that would be going too far. And raise too many questions. He can’t have more than another year in him, anyway.
29 Desnus, 4707
I’ve made some inroads with the Acadamae at yesterday’s Breaching Festival. Nothing quite catches a wizard’s wrinkly ear like flattery from a pretty girl. I played the attentive pupil for the Headmaster’s little lecture on mystical wards and encouraged him to come directly to me with counsel on arcane matters. I need more allies in this wretched town, since the seneschal shut me out of running the Castle.
I also got to chatting with that repulsive sack of lard Togomor about Sorshen. The fat toad kindly offered to lend me some texts on her from the Acadamae library. There’s something off about that one, though, even aside from the extra 250 pounds. He never blinked during our entire conversation and not once attempted to look down my top. How can you deal with a man like that?
But I would dearly like to read those books, so I suppose I shall have to speak with him again—so long as Sabina is always within earshot.
22 Sarenith, 4707
I was out at the Riverwind Festival today when I overheard those vile social climbers the Carrowyns call me a “commoner queen.” The nerve of those up-jumped fishmongers! The Empire may not recognize the Crimson Throne, but my family has held lands outside Egorian since before the Even-Tongued Conquest, while the Carrowyns’ writ of nobility is so fresh the ink is still wet!
Those horrible old bats can forget about ever attending another royal ball again. Them and their greedy merchant friends.
Honestly, these thin-blooded little lordlings are even more worthless than the crowds of beggars that trail after my palanquin. At least the beggars know their place.
14 Erastus, 4707
They’re celebrating the 300th anniversary of Korvosa’s founding. The noise is giving me a headache. I don’t know what these bumpkins have to be proud about. Their miserable little city has succeeded only at being a dumping ground for the Empire’s surplus population. Their only history amounts to squabbles with savages. They have no arts, no culture and no cuisine, just shabby imitations of true civilization.
Sabina wouldn’t want me to write that. I try to share her enthusiasm for this warren, but it just can’t compare to the simplest market town in Cheliax. The only thing it has going for it is the Crimson Throne. Maybe once I’m in charge I can fix that, make a city we can both be proud of.
5 Arodus, 4707
Sabina and that big red chair are the only things worth a damn in this miserable outpost. It still amazes me that she’s proud of this dreary place, but she’s never left this backwater and so can’t know any better. Once the old fart finally drops dead and my reign is secure, I’ll take her on a tour of the mother country, show her the spires of Egorian, the marble halls of Westcrown, the great docks of Ostenso. Then when we return we’ll see about bringing some of that glory to Korvorsa.
13 Rova, 4707
The old fart has a bastard brother! He would vanish for hours at a time, once every month. Whenever I inquired, that sneak of a Seneschal would cover for him. But yesterday I spied him skulking off and managed to follow in secret (the wheezing old ass makes enough noise climbing stairs that Sabina could have clattered after him in full plate and he’d be none the wiser.)
He stumbled up into a secret attic chamber. I was able to peer inside and see him sitting down to play cards with another old fart who could have been his spitting image—if it weren’t for the horns and the tail.
Not only does my husband have a brother, but I actually married the handsome one. Asmodeus preserve me.
The two of them gave off that sense of mutual loathing common to proper Chelaxian families, but clearly the old fart still has some sympathy for his tiefling brother else he’d never visit him at all. That’s more sympathy than he’s ever shown for me.
I need to think on this discovery awhile.
1 Lamashan, 4707
I had the strangest experience tonight.
I was inspecting the treasury again, dreaming of what will be mine, when I found a hidden door in the old stone wall. Inside was a small room with a single stone case at its center, covered in some foreign gibberish. I thought the Seneschal was hiding something, so I pried it open. I caught a glimpse of some sharp blue teeth scattered inside the case and then there was a bright flash of blue light that seared my eyes.
After that my memory grows cloudy. I think I sealed the case and somehow ended up back here in my chambers.
My head is just pounding. I have to write in spurts because the words keep swimming on the page. I should call a doctor, or maybe a wizard. But there is this niggling voice in the back of my mind telling me not to worry, that I’ll be fine. It will all be fine.
I just need to rest. I’m sure I’ll feel better in the morning.
But I can’t tell anyone about this, not even Sabina. If they think I’m hearing voices, they’ll cart me away.
2 Lamashan, 4707
The old fart says I was tossing and turning all night, but I feel refreshed. The headache is gone, but I can still hear that voice. It sounds like my own, only colder. More commanding. The way I always pictured the Empress must sound.
We had a visit from the barbarian chieftain Thousand Bones today. The old fart was too sleepy to attend, so the Seneschal was going to treat with the savage on his own. But the voice nudged me to insist that I be allowed to sit in on the discussions in my husband’s place. And a good thing I did!
The witch doctor claimed to want a permanent peace settlement with Korvosa, but you can never trust these brutes. He actually demanded that his tribesmen be allowed to inspect the chambers below the Castle at their leisure. I told him in no uncertain terms that the Crimson Throne would never tolerate such a concession. I did my best to copy the voice’s commanding tone—it must have worked, because both the Seneschal and the savage turned a shade paler and the negotiations ended there.
The nerve of it, thinking they could poke through the Castle grounds like hogs rooting for truffles. What if they found the hidden room with the teeth?
Wait, why should I care if the tribesmen found that musty old room? Ugh, my headache is back…
3 Lamashan, 4707
Had a very strange dream last night.
I saw myself dispensing justice from the Crimson Throne, a beautiful and radiant Queen in a gown of starlight with a crystal crown on my head. All around me, the drab colonials marveled at my grace, my wisdom, and my power. I strode out onto the gleaming streets, unescorted. The beggars and vagrants were all gone, the empty storefronts and crumbling slums replaced with gleaming brick houses and shops selling the finest goods. The people were all young, happy, and well-fed. And they loved me.
Children frolicked as I passed by, while their parents sang out praises. They were my people and I was their Queen, holding their little lives in my hand. Merchants would rush outside to present me with their luxuries. Whenever their gifts were not to my taste, I would simply twist off their heads and continue my parade.
I climbed to the top of the Great Tower and looked out across Korvosa to see gilded rooftops and towering spires of marble that rivaled even the glory of Cheliax. No longer a colonial backwater, this great city was now the cradle of a new empire, grander than any before it, and I knew I would rule it until the end of time. And then I smiled a bright wide smile full of sharp blue teeth.
The voice keeps telling me that I can make all of that happen, if I just reach out and take what I want. And I want to make that happen (without the ugly teeth of course!)
But something still troubles me. If that was a vision of the future, where was Sabina? She should have been at my side, my darling and my protector.
And she would have stopped me from killing those people. Why did I kill them? How did I kill them? It all made sense in the dream.
Ugh, my head…
7 Lamashan, 4707
I’m a daughter of a noble house of Cheliax and Queen-Consort of Korvosa. My mind is my castle. I just need to seal the gates and all will be well.
Easier said than done.
9 Lamashan, 4707
The voice is always there. It won’t SHUT UP. I can’t even tell it from my own thoughts half the time. It’s shouting at me now for writing this. Gnawing, biting, tearing at my mind with those horrible blue teeth!
I’m scared. I’m scared. But the old fart is just looking for an excuse to kick me out on the curb and if I tell Sabina, she won’t hesitate to call a doctor right away. I can’t afford that. I can’t afford to let anyone know about this.
What am I to do?
11 Lamashan, 4707
I can make it stop. It’s those creepy blue teeth, they’re to blame. I know it. I just need to go back into the secret room and smash them. That will make the voice go away. It has to. And no one will be the wiser.
I’ve stolen a mason’s hammer, and I have the Seneschal’s key. I’ll smash the teeth tonight. Then it will stop.
I’m leaving this open on my dresser in case something happens. Sabina, if you find this, please save me.