The crystal crackles to life, occasionally distorted by the sound of a breeze. His voice is soft and tired-sounding.
“It’s… been a long time since I’ve done one of these. I’m not even sure why I grabbed the recorder. I guess… It’s been so long since I’ve felt that feeling. This… awful feeling of impending doom. It’s still familiar, of course, but I’ve…. ya know, I’ve felt a lot of other things lately too… Love. Peace. Joy. I guess I was starting to forget.
I guess she figured it was time to jog my memory.
It’s cold out, colder than it ever got in Eversong. Colder than it got in Mulgore, too. I’ve spent the day out by the lake and it’s been snowing off and on. It’s pretty… sounds kinda romantic when I put it like that I guess… I should back up.
I knew this was coming. It always came after Pilgrim’s Bounty but before Winterveil. Maybe that’s part of why Winterveil scares me so much. All the wreaths and the holly, the red berries just look like eyes watching me, reminding me of what I’ve done. It happened this morning. I could feel this tugging, deep in my core, this awful, familiar violation. This slowly creeping dread, this feeling that something terrible is about to happen. I guess… it’s sort of like when you’re out on your own and someone buys you a drink. And it seems fine, but suddenly your head feels thick, and they seem a bit too interested in making sure you finish it. You know something bad is coming. You know you don’t want a part of it. But you know at this point it’s too late, you don’t have a choice.
So I did what I had to do. I stayed calm, didn’t let on as Pryn and I got ready for our respective jobs. I told her that I was going to be working late with some project with the Argents, so I might not be home until later than usual. She accepted the lie without even a blink and when I dropped her off at the Cathedral on my way to Argent HQ, she kissed me goodbye like always. …I deserve this.
I didn’t go to muster. I’ll deal with the repercussions when this is over. Instead I went to the Keg and left a note for Collin. Long project with the Argents, sorry I won’t make shift. And then I headed out to the lake.
I picked the lake because it’s far away, it’s cold so it’s been relatively quiet. On the north side there’s a lot of brush and boulders and things to hide around. Plus ya know. The water. And then it started.
I’ve never lost a limb. And I’ve never died. But a soul-burn is the worst possible pain I can imagine. It’s… just like it sounds I guess. Imagine if all of your blood were replaced with acid. Imagine if every breath you drew, every bit of oxygen in your body turned molten. You’re burning from the inside out and there’s nothing that can make it stop. It’s fire, under your skin, making your flesh blister and every scar you ever had open and howl with steam.
You want to scream but you can’t draw breath. You want to cry but you don’t have enough there’s nothing wet left in you. All you can do is curl up and try to stay sane. I wish I could black out. But I can’t.”
A cough and the sound of spitting. “You don’t really blister, I guess. But Light… it’s so fucking hot… It’s snowing and it’s so hot. I bit into my tongue at some point. It’s bleeding pretty good and it’s all I can taste. I guess it’s better than bile.
Oh yeah. That’s something I haven’t had to deal with before. I guess in previous years I was close to starving, so there was nothing to come up. Yeah… Not so much these days I guess.
So… the question I like to avoid. ‘Why’. Why does this happen.” A shift of leaves as he moves.
“I guess it doesn’t really matter anymore. Why bother hiding it? This is my punishment. And today is the anniversary of my crime.
Fuck… ….Fine. I don’t want to talk about this, but fine.
My name is Jaxkol Dawnsedge. But it wasn’t always Dawnsedge. I was born Shadowfel. My family is warlocks and mages, and I was supposed to follow suit. I… was supposed to be like my mother. A warlock, manipulating souls, manipulating fel, commanding demons. But my talents lie with portals and cantrips, ya know. Mage stuff.
Mother got jealous. Tried to subdue part of my connection with the arcane. Tried to push me into demonology. One day…. four years ago today, I guess, I was put in charge of a summoning ritual. My job was to create the binding circle, mark the runes, create the inscriptions. And… I missed a line. Fuck I hate talking about this.
I fucked up the circle. No one noticed. I was fourteen, I shouldn’t have been — they shouldn’t have expected me to — ugh… I fucked it up and they didn’t notice. But the demon noticed. And it broke free. It tore my brother up pretty bad. It went after my father. It took all of us to bring it back down, force it back through the tear in the nether and banish it right back where it came from.
And… my mother was pissed. She caught me by the hair, and she caught me by the soul. There was anger in her eyes. I remember her grimace. There was hate there.
I took my athame and I cut my hair. And I took my training and I… Tore my own soul in half to get away. She… kept the other half. It’s how she’s able to do any of this. How she can track me. How she can punish me.
I was a coward. I should have let her just do what she wanted to me. I was a coward and I ran and she reminds me frequently. Four years ago today… And I’m reminded that my brother walks with a limp because of me. My father almost died because of me. I had one job and I failed. And she won’t let me forget that.
So… Fourteen years old and wandering hungry and aimless on the street. Whenever she burned me then, I didn’t know what was going on. I knew the thirst. I knew the pain and the weakness. I know I got mistaken for a thistle-head, writhing in the gutters. But I didn’t have to worry about anyone… ya know. Worrying about me. It always seemed like such a nice thing, to have someone worry about you. Care about you, want you to be okay. And it’s nice in theory. In practice it’s just… awful.
Cuz… Instead of just hurting on your own, now you’re making someone hurt with you. I haven’t… found a way around that yet. This is my burden to bear, no one else’s. Every time a wave of burn would start to fade, every time I started becoming capable of coherent thought again, I’d wake up in dread of seeing a familiar face over me. They know that it happens, I’ve never hidden that it happens. But I can’t let them see me like this. Vyn would want to go to war. Pryn… Light, Pryn would… I don’t know, but I don’t want to find out. She’d…. she’d suffer. She’d suffer and I can’t stand for that to happen to her. She already suffers so much….
I already know Sera would just march into Silvermoon again and get himself executed in some half-baked mission. Vali…
I think she’s the one I want to know about this least of all. She’s always been clear with where we stand with each other, and I have so much respect for that. I don’t like to think of what she’d say. She’d ask the questions that I avoid, the ones that haunt me when it’s quiet. Questions like why. Why did I fuck up the circle. Was it intentional? Was it rebellion? Why did I run. Why do I keep running. Why. Why.
Her opinion of me has never been that high. Which I trust. She sees me. Not some… projection. Not something I could be. Vyn sees me as this… baby version of him that he thinks I can grow into. Pryn and Sera…. I don’t know. I don’t know! I don’t know anything anymore.
I’m raw. I’m tired. I’m so… so tired… And it’s snowing. But… at least it’s pretty, I guess….”