Queen Pria Tesju
Queen Pria Tesju
Her quickness of wit is matched only by the speed of her gunsView Character Profile
The Journal Entry’s title
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The Lake of Mists and Veils (Background)
Perhaps it began with House Surtova parlaying with Choral the Conqueror. Or maybe it was when Surtova betrayed Baylov to seize the throne of Issia, all those centuries ago. Or maybe our fate was tainted from the beginning, and we were helpless in front of the Lake of Mists of Veils, the thing that promised power… for a price. My blood, as it turns out. Pria paused in her writing, stretched her claws from her quill, and squinted at her journal. The Open Gate Inn was a good tavern, but the taproom was less well lit than she would have preferred. Still, worth the coin. Less chance of being pestered here than a low-rent place, and it was close to Bartolo's School of Swordplay. Tomorrow. Pria took a sip of her wine to steady her nerves, and a delicate bite of goat cheese. Goats did well even down here in the heartlands of Restov. Goats were the ultimate survivors. She dismissed the idle thought, and turned back to her journal. She’d been circling around a beginning, avoiding the truth she hated to admit to herself. But either way, I should begin with where my thread entered the chaotic tapestry of fate. I was born on a moonless night on the River Shrike, aboard The Whisper, a stealth ship. My father is Amurrun, which the fur-less call Catfolk, and my mother, the exalted captain of this band of ruffians, is human - Issian, of course. And then, I suppose, I grew up from a kitling into a kitten, and into myself. Growing up on a pirate ship is just like growing up anywhere else, I imagine. You dodge the kicks and, later, the odd grope that comes your way. You keep your whiskers down, run fast, and talk your way out of trouble, if you can. And you learn to be blind, to turn your eyes away from the carnage you help wreak on the unsuspecting world around you. Just a powder runner, me. I’m not the one who aims the cannons. I only fire in self-defense. I could almost believe it for a while. And each night, my mother would tell anyone who would listen about the wrongs done to the great House Baylov that landed her on this sorry ship, with this sorry crew. Three centuries on, and she vowed - while in her cups, at least - to claim her family’s rightful place as ruler of Brevoy. As if a petty pirate could depose the great House Surtova. That is, until the book. Pausing, Pria stroked the quill against her whiskers. How could she explain the change that had come over her mother? In less than a week, her hair had begun to twist and move on its own. Her crew were no longer cowed by words alone, but by scorching purple darts of magic. And her eyes, when she turned them on Pria, were full of hunger. The book had been locked in a chest, inside another chest, surrounded by carved bones and wrapped in chains. None of the crew had wanted to touch it, and two abandoned ship when it was brought on deck. But my mother was entranced with it. She spent hours alone with the book in her quarters. Once I walked by and heard her arguing with it. Suddenly our raids were no longer cautious affairs, but manic, daily, ruthless. We left nothing and noone alive. We burned the ships we sacked. And, on Mother’s lips, a chant of the Lake of Mists and Veils, and a blood price to be paid. Blood of her blood. I don’t know when father realized her plan. He told me in few words, as was his way, to pack my things, to hide in the aft. And then he set fire to the powder store in the prow. The explosion must have been visible for miles. I don’t know what happened to them next, but I suspect they were picked apart by other pirates. I swam to shore. Hid in the forest. Hitched a ride with some merchants as far down the road as they would take me. “Scuse me, is this seat taken?” An enormous Orc dressed in leather and fur, a huge sword strapped across her back, slopped a mug of ale on the table with a fizzy splash, breaking Pria’s concentration. She waggled her green brows at Pria. “Only I’ve been searching for a pretty pus-” In a moment, Pria’s battered pistol was in her hand, replacing her quill. “I’m afraid it’s not available,” she said, her voice melodic and polite. Leave the weapon do the talking, she thought. It said more than a firm “no” ever could, and was more likely, in Pria’s experience, to be listened to. “Alright, no need for that.” The Orc put both hands up and took a step back. “Just wondering if you was interested, that’s all.” She grabbed her pint and threw over her shoulder, “ask for Shel, if you change your mind.” Then with a shrug, she walked back over to the bar. “Hey Adam, how about a refill? And what’s this I’ve heard about a call for adventurers?” Well, at least I know my charms work here in Restov, Pria thought wryly as she watched the muscular woman - Shel, she assumed - leaning against the bar. Pria might even have been tempted, another day. But she couldn’t afford to take her eye off the prize. She stroked the soft feather of her quill for a moment, her eyes back on her journal. This, really, was why she was writing. A new creed. A new leaf. But now it is time to choose my own destiny, she wrote, her hand shaking. I have seen my mother rejoice at taking a golden toy from a dead child’s hand. But while mother spoke only of wronged ancestors, my father murmured more intriguing tales. His brief stories spoke of bravery and flashing steel, but also of kindness, compassion and justice. Perhaps that is the way for me? In bringing those stories to life, perhaps I might pay back a little of what I stole from others aboard The Whisper, when my eyes were still closed. The strong do what they can and the weak do what they must. It is the way of our world. But a sword can liberate lives rather than gold. A blade can cut away evil. And, I hope, guilt.