Terrdi, Day 37 of Spring, 570

These feelings I feel, so familiar yet so strange, didn't I know before?

How did I miss it? Was I honestly that blind? How do I show it?

She'll never believe. It's hard for me to, myself. She'll probably laugh.

Terrdi, day 23 of Spring, 570

Toxicity. The idiocy of my urges amazes me, and yet I hurtle myself toward that which is worst for me at all costs. Broken promises, sleepless, tearful nights don't bring me pause. I lost something truly good for the cause of total submission to my addiction, yet it is all for naught. Once again I find myself crawling on paws and knees, begging for mercy from the endless darkness, but there is no end. The world is a vindictive lover that seeks to destroy my core, but I am blinded to it all.

What will bring me respite? Why can I never have true, complete, *lasting* happiness?

I should follow the path of the brokenhearted before me, and drown in the ales of the tavern. The darkness can find me and caress my flesh with its crude lashes there.

Or perhaps I should find myself a new addiction, one that is healthy albeit wrong according to the promises that I myself have made. For even if I am absolved of my promises, they are inextricably etched into my being.

I find myself looking behind myself, to see if in fact I actually leave pawprints when I walk, for it's as though I don't exist. The addiction claims me, over and over again, and yet it remains unaffected by anything I do. If only I could harness the power of my addiction and gain the same stoicism.

Fordi, day 78 of Summer, 569

I am rather enjoying my stay here in Peaceton. It is a beautiful place, with a hunting ground that Daimoth and I do quite well in. It's also a peaceful land, and I find the stresses of daily life to be so distant from my mind as they are geographically. I know we cannot stay here forever, probably wouldn't want to even though we could... but I am going to enjoy the serenity and freedom that Peaceton affords for as long as it lasts.

Lundi, Day 21 of Summer, 568

*Rushed, illegible handwriting covers the page. The only decipherable words, spread out, are "Why... stupid... sabotage..." The ink is blotched in places, and smudged with fingerprints in others.*

Merdi, day 10 of Summer, 568

At last, the kyuem on Kizmia's island has been placed, and the incursion was successfully defeated. I grow weary of all the ethereal activity going on, but I am pleased that I was able to be but a small part of this morning's success. Hopefully the next incursion in Greymyr Village will go as well. I will do my best to attend that one as well, although I fear my studies may keep me away from that one.

I have spent much time on Kizmia lately, annihilating the entire island with Kalian and a rotating crew of healers. It's very easy, far beyond my level, yet utterly relaxing. The riches to be found there are obscene. I am truly in my element there. So odd that the very creatures that destroyed my old life are the ones I now conquer daily...

On a recent hunt there, however, Kalian, Hex, and I found a rather large army of Umbrion's guards in the southern snells of the isle. Along with myriad fire beetles. They are all easy creatures for us in small quantities, but we very nearly succumbed to the throngs of guards.

After a rather lengthy battle with the guards and their beetle underlings, we managed to conquer the area. We were fortunate enough to find quite the bounty of coins on many of the guards, which was nice. But now I wonder what the meaning was of such a formidable showing of guards. The three of us did enter Umbrion's Keep, but were met with such a large amount of fire that we decided it was best to explore this when we had more than one healer.

Regretfully, my studies have not gleaned much on the life of Umbrion, this most tempestuous of the 'brion brothers. It appears that the tomes only know mostly what I already either knew or discovered as we fought the army: that guards protect the keep, that fire beetles aid in the protection, and that the keep is Umbrion's.

I will have to remember to return to the keep soon, to investigate. Perhaps the army was but a fluke, but I cannot say for sure. The ethereal creatures have been banished from Kizmia's Island, but will another force attempt to take over my beloved second home?

Day 88 Spring, 568

Strength is misunderstood and overrated.

Over the years, I have carefully cultivated every inch of my body to being the best fighter I can be for my purposes. Younger exiles look up to me; they are amazed at what I can withstand on the field, what I can kill, the furs I can recover.

Yet I feel so weak. Malnourished. I hunt to feel stronger. It is an insatiable addiction that festers within me. Still, no matter what my body accomplishes, I am left wanting more.

It's as though my eldest daughter doesn't even know me now. I feel the disdain in her eyes burn through me as we cross paths in the depths of the library. I want better for her, and my other children, than this. They yearn for what I do, only I just now realized it.

For years, I have studied in seclusion. Reading, learning, was something I felt ashamed of. But now I embrace it. The prowl needs me to be a femme who is more than a one-line joke, and so do my children. And, I need it.

My studies with Detha, and other trainers, have cultivated my body into a hard shell, built to withstand battle.

But what is that shell if it is hollow inside? When a well-placed pierce through the armor can make the shell crumble within itself?

Merdi, Day 85 of Summer, 566

Preternatural calm.

All has been well for quite some time. The menace is merely a nuisance now; the constant hurricane has been reduced to the occasional rain shower. I feel more consistently content than I have felt in years, perhaps ever. I lay in bed; my paw touches in wonderment at the life poking at me through my engorged belly. The time draws near, I can feel it. Sometimes he lays with me by my side, sometimes he is undoubtedly with others. But I am his. I am whole. Gil-Galad upset him with the mock "marriage" he staged recently, but it was not greeted with the same rage that he perhaps would have shown during the days of the hurricane.

Yet, I am afraid. I know how fragile this all is, and somehow I feel something may cause all this to implode. Something soon; something unexpected. Truly, I need to put such fatalistic fears out of my mind.

I must visit more with our mutual friend. I do not want her to think she is the flip side of a fair-weather friend: someone I only turn to when my life is in turmoil. He undoubtedly has no clue how much she has come to mean to me. He wouldn't understand the mixture of jealousy and sisterly love I feel toward her. He would misinterpret it, most likely. We both need her, for drastically different reasons of course.

The life within me is like a yin and yang. Such peace... yet, I am loathe to say, such evil within me. It must get out, and soon.

Soldi, Day 88 of Spring, 566

After so long of sounding like an emotional cripple in my journal, I can now gladly report that I feel alive. I am reborn. I feel stronger than I ever thought I could.

We have been hunting with new groups, new people. Fresh faces that bring joy to me in their presence with us. An adorable little tadpole of a Thoom has befriended me. Even her name screams "cute." Squirm has latched onto me as a surrogate mother. Where once I may have looked upon this with irritation, I find her exuberance to be contagious. I cannot help but feel happy every time one of her jubilant sunstones enters my mind.

The exiles we once shunned, we are finding to be great fun to hunt with. There are growing pains, as they are not used to our hunting style, and we are not accustomed to theirs. But getting acquainted with exiles in this manner is refreshing.

With these new experiences, there is a newfound sense of respect that I feel coming from others. And I am learning to respect others more as well.

He is with me. We focus on the task at hand, of hunting, of my coordination, of his leadership, of communication with our comrades. Not many words are spoken between us aside from the briefest of hushed murmurs to one another on the rare occasion, but we are growing. As a prowl, as a family, within the community.

Life is good.

Sombdi, day 52 of Spring, 566

Fleeting happiness.

So sweet, so poignant while in my grasp. But just as I feared, it was all too fleeting. I exist for the happy times, yet their persistent brevity makes the remaining time that much more painful.

In order to capture those briefest moments of happiness, I must endure an eternity of pain.

I can't help but wonder if it's really worth it.

He endured so much for me, once. More than anyone should be expected to, and he did it willingly. Perhaps I'm not as strong.

Or perhaps I am stronger. Perhaps it is sheer tenacity that keeps me here, when I endure nearly unbearable pain.

Or perhaps I am foolish in my unwavering devotion.

Perhaps my loyalty is as foolish as the loyalty I scold him for.

Perhaps the scars that bind me to him, however renewed, are only skin deep.

Or perhaps my heart is too close to the surface, and it was scarred along with my skin.

Perhaps I will bear all this in mind when I find myself crawling back for more.

Probably not.

Soldi, Day 11 of Spring, 566

Life fills me once again. Yet as this life fills me, I feel as if I am dying inside. What should be a glorious time for me in all aspects is tainted.

I am heartsick. I know I am not the only one. So I pour my energy into the hunt; into the precious moments I can steal away, as I fear they will entirely end soon.

I put on a mask with everyone I encounter. People tell me how I look like I am glowing, due to the new life within me. For those fleeting moments, I fool myself into contentment. If I could drink, I would. Anything to forget, to dull the sense of loss.

I still see glimpses of the life I want, the life that I was so close to attaining. They give me hope, and I reach, only to find I am reaching for a mirage.

He is here with me, but perhaps that is merely a mirage as well. I should devote myself to the life within me, but it only makes me feel bitterness for what should be mine.

He is only a shell now of who he so recently was. I wish to draw him out but know that I shouldn't.

So I wait. For deliverance, for death, for numbness, I do not care.

Release me. Release me from this waking death.