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War-Journal of Bue Geirsteinson - Part XVII

by Jacob Skytte

Vatermont 28th, the year 1000 After Crowning of the First Emperor of the Thyatian Empire

Our return to Norstedt brought a pleasant surprise, but also turned out to be yet another sorrowful day for me. I knew that this war would require many sacrifices on my part, but I still was not prepared for the pain I would face throughout it.

Waiting for us at Norstedt was my sister Lis, the skald Ralf Silk-Tongue and the woman I had not been able to get out of my head, Asta Katlasdottir, alive and well! I rushed to her side, wishing to embrace her in relief, but she held up a hand, and made me keep my distance. Concerned, I heard her ask me if we could speak in private, and I readily agreed.

Once we were secluded in the great hall, she told me in a heavy voice that though she had survived the day until the time came that Ralf could heal her, all was still not well. I asked her what was wrong.

"Bue," she breathed softly. "My feelings for you are strong and I can see that you return them. This would be a dream come true, if but for one thing: My actions at the battle against your father. I used sorcery against him, and it was an act for which there are consequences."

She sighed deeply and put a finger to my lips, silencing me before I could speak. "I have been expelled from the shield-maidens, I have lost my honour. I know that you might not care about that, but I have to. I must return to my family in Ringmark, where I have to find a way to restore my honour. Until such a time comes, I cannot be with you; my presence would bring shame on you. I know that you are to be jarl of Noslosford now, and I will not be the one who endangers your position."

I spoke out, because I had to. "I care nothing for this position of jarl, and if it means losing you, I will readily give it up. If you truly feel for me, as you say you do, then let me help you restore that honour, stay with me or let me come with you."

She shook her head sadly. "I must do this on my own or I will have regained nothing. I cannot be the one for you as long as I carry this stain. You might not mind, but I would. I will not hold you back, make you less than you could be..."

"You never could, Asta," I replied. It is only without you that I am less than I could be..."

Tears sprang from her eyes. "Oh Bue, do not say that. Do not make this any harder for me. We must part until such a time that I may have regained my honour. If that time comes, I can only pray that you will want me back."

"All right," I replied. "I will respect your decision. But I swear to you, Asta Katlasdottir, that I will wait for as long as it takes, and once you find that you are able to return to me, you will find me here, waiting. Waiting for you, my love."

With a sob, she fell into my arms, and our mouths met, but only for a brief kiss. She broke the embrace and turned from me, wiping at her eyes. "Live well, Bue," she breathed, a barely audible whisper. It sounded final, but I refused to believe that it was. Before I had a chance to speak to her again, she was gone, gone from my household, from my life. But not from my heart.

The rest of the day seemed unimportant. There was the swearing of oaths of fealty to King Hord, followed by the feast in my honour, to celebrate my ascent to jarl of Clan Noslosford. The words seemed hollow to me, the food like ashes in my mouth. Only my sister Lis could coax a smile from me, and that only because I did not want her to see my despair. Ingibjorg attempted to strike up conversation between us, but I ignored her. Ralf Silk-Tongue wished to cheer me up, but his stories all seemed glum and filled with despair.

Hord seemed pleased enough at the feast, and seemed to not mind my dark mood. Perhaps he thought my mood was due to the fate of my family, which it probably should be, but the only thing on my mind was Asta, and how unfair it was that she could not be with me and I with her.

As the night drags on, I am left to pen these thoughts in my journal. The war is over, I have won. Why then do I feel like I have lost everything? I am left to hold the reins of power, to be jarl of a clan that used to mean everything to me. Now it seems truly unimportant. But it remains my duty to be the best jarl I can be for my clan. I will be a slave to that duty until a day comes, when I will be free to pursue my happiness with Asta. I only pray that she will know what to do, and that she will succeed in her quest to regain her lost honour.

The end of the War-Journal, penned by Bue Geirsteinson, jarl of Clan Noslosford in the year 1000 After Crowning of the First Emperor of the Thyatian Empire