A Grain on the Scale

Last Testament

Autumn, the Kobold caves North East of Hind, AT 342,
I am Ingo Gertroy. I do not think you believe that I am writing this for you, just as I am certain I do not know who I am writing this for. But the last entry of Nalaena’s journal should be written; she deserves that. It is my belief, that if you have read to this point, Nala means something to you, and if that is so, you deserve to know her end. Hers was a grisly and savage end that moved me to dark actions and still moves me to even darker thoughts. I hope you will excuse that I attempt to illuminate past entries and that I will undoubtedly put much of myself in these last few pages. After reading the later pages of her journal, one would know some of my darkness. I must suppose you are asking why I—whom she calls “a man with the mind of an abacus and a heart more jaded than my own—” might choose to write down her end rather than one of the others. Surely someone else knew her better or, at least, knew humanity better. This is true, but the telling of a thing is cathartic. And I am greedy. In truth, I need this as much as you.
Before I write of her death, I find I must write some about those of us who walked with her to her end and failed to save her from it. We; Elric, Suska, Tek, Lumus, Morgan, Nyan, and myself; took Nalaena at face value and made no attempt to scratch below her superficial shell. We all saw her as a she wanted us to: a lusty woman of ill repute, capable of slithering through back allies and enrapturing men’s hearts, possessing the ability to become truly dangerous if the need arose. None of use suspected her nobility. She, on the other hand, sussed us out rather well.
Elric did resent Nala for revealing his knighthood as a charade. It is an irony befitting a bard’s songs that a noble who threw away her nobility saw the false nobility of another when no one else did:
“He had all of the look of a knight. He shined in his armor like a metal peacock, and all eyes turned to him causing his cheeks to visibly swell from the smile forming. He turned his smile to all but me. He was not rude though he did try to dismiss me when I approached. I thought it was because he was fearful of being tarnished by my reputation. I soon realized it was because he actually believed in his code of chivalry, and that was what tipped me off to what he really was, for so few of the nobility give that which makes them noble more them lip service.”
Suska clashed with Nala. Suska has the surliness one might expect of her Dwarven heritage, but without any of the pragmatism that her race is also so known for. Instead, Suska is an idealist with little more than Elric to ground her. It was her belief that a handful of people could alter fate and lighten the load on the backs of the Vatasin Empire’s peasantry. I am flabbergasted at the hubris, but I, like Nalaena, have started to believe it to some degree as of late. As an avid pragmatist, I may be the only person more drastically opposed in nature to Suska then Nala was. I think Suska both pitied and resented Nala. She found her position in life pitiable, but I think Nalaena’s freedom in that life contrasted with Suska’s life of rigidity and made her somewhat resentful. I think Nala was right when she wrote,
“I am sure Suska resented Elric’s deception, and I suspect some of the resentment fell upon me as well. I did not deceive her, but she seems to hold me as lower than him. I think it is their relational undercurrents and my position that causes her to hold me so low in such light as this. Still she sees some measure of good in me, and I am thinking of taking her up on her offer. Hell, I will still be getting paid and I might do some good.”
It is here that my understanding is surmounted, for it is beyond me how a Paladin who had such conflicts could enfold a prostitute into her plans for relieving the oppressed of this Empire. I am no man of faith, but Suska’s decision must have been inspired; logic does not allow it otherwise.
Tec genuinely thought well of Nala; for Kobold culture does not hold her profession with the distain we humans have, and he personally felt beholden to her for her valiant protection of the Kobold children as we made our night-run for the protective walls of Hind. She wrote, “As the others fought to hold those nightmares at bay, I ran. I just grabbed the children and tossed them on the horses and ran to the cottage we had just paced. Once I had the little lizards safe, my pride forced me to return to the fight. I would be damned if they would look down on me.” As you have probably deduced, Nalaena was self-deprecating. I am an alchemist: I know more of formulas and chemicals then I do the minds and wills of men. That being the case, I suspect that this self-deprecating manner was born out of honest belief in the early portion of this journal, but I find its continuation merely habit in the later portions. Nala saved those “little lizards” while we fought the undead back. Had she not run, some of those scaly hides might not be still growing. As to the ambiguity of “they,” I do not think she spoke of us; rather, I think she spoke of the Kobolds despite the comical nature of such imagery. Saving the Kobolds meant a lot to her. The kids looked up to her and even played about her; none of the adults shooed them away. It shames me that I had to read it in her journal to realize why such an event would be so moving for her.
The length of this day sits upon me. My eyes flutter and no shaking of my head seems to end it. I will finish, but I must end here for tonight.

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