The following excerpts are from the presumed journal of Obsidian.
Something must be done. Zachary and Marcus are both beginning to chafe despite the infinity of shadow available to them. The only thing that’s kept Marcus from cracking the egg is that he’s finally survived a lover for whom he is actually grieving. His funk should be worth a couple of hundred years, damn his flinty heart. Zachary moped for a proper half millennium and I... Well.
They both know the Pattern far too well. There must be some way I can blunt their increasing mastery.
I’ve divined a way to confound my children, but it will be very taxing and I will be exposed for the time it takes to make the changes. I’ll need to act fast though. Marcus’ recent fascination with the Pattern in the Lake is sure to lead him to an insight that will allow him to cross over. I’m sure the family would make short work of such fresh meat.
I was wrong about Marcus. Zachary lit upon the truth and far more thoroughly than I could have feared. My control of Shadow is not what I thought it was. Somehow word of the Sampo has been whispered on the winds. Zachary found a people whose legend songs spoke of it and he saw right to the heart of things. At least he had the courtesy to come to me with his account.
I had to break a promise to myself and overcome my son. He’s now lying beside me in a coma, where he’ll stay until I set things to right. Now I have to go find Marcus and cleanse the shadow realms.
That cheeky puppy Marcus managed to elude me for over a year. I can only imagine what would have happened if he’d expressed some of my other abilities.
As it was, I caught him on the verge of discovering the true Pattern. He was one step away when I trumped him forth from there. Now he’s resting peacefully besides his brother for what’s probably the first time. They’ve always been like cats and dogs those two. Well, I might as well fix that too. What’s one more violation on top of everything else?
With those two under ice, it’s time I got after that damn song cycle before it permeates every damn shadow out there. Goat raping bardic cultures! It’s going to be one bloody century.
It’s taken me two centuries, elimination of three language families and hundreds of shadows but it is no longer sung, spoken or whispered of. No indeed. Instead, the whole of shadow is echoing elegy after elegy and curse after curse against the dreaded deathbringer. Me.
Damn kids. This had all better work out. I’ll be screaming myself awake for the next thousand years, if I manage to stay my hand and live that long.
And now I must steel myself to the task of recovering it from luut maassa.
I have gained a new son and lost my heart. Francesca was waiting for me on the other side somehow. I know not whether she had some way of knowing or if she’s just that patient. Damn her eyes either way. I’d hardened myself for any encounters once I crossed over, but she must have been planning this for some time, despite the discrepancy. If I’d had the chance, I would have split her neck to belly, but she was on me before I could move. One touch was all she needed to hold me fast and enslave my mind. Well that I was wise enough to leave it behind until I knew that my porch was secure.
Only my mercurial bloodline was of value to her, but she did find it amusing to play out my own fantasies about her as she imposed the role of stud goat upon me. I died every time she whispered her love for me, clearly lying and so very cognizant of the fact that I still drank it up, loving her and hating her inextricably. I don’t know how long I was her puppet, but I’m sure it took years before my seed quickened inside her.
And with that, she was done with me. She didn’t find me a threat though, so she didn’t take much care disposing of me. She left me a burned hunk of flesh in a shadow of hungry flies, but the very thing she wanted from me ensured I would survive.
I was exhausted nearly to the point of collapse when I reached my Pattern and crossed back to Obsidian. Weakened and feeling beaten, nevertheless I’d been able to fix up the misdirections and traps that Francesca had undone. The porch was safe for at least a brief time and I fetched it back. Urgency spurred me on, despite being at such a low ebb. The changes were no small thing, but I’d planned this for so long and so carefully that the new shape and nature of the Pattern was already formed in my mind as I began to reshape the one at my feet.
At last, I reached the center and could return to Obsidian, collapsing into my sturdy bed for several weeks of recuperation.
Once my strength returned, I set out again to rescue my child from Francesca. I can only imagine the use she’d have put him to. I shudder to think. This time I was better prepared and had the additional advantage of her disregard. I found her at last, mere hours after François had been born, suckling him at her breast. She was weak, though clearly elated with the prospect of whatever triumphs she anticipated with her new minion.
Luck was with me then. Others, I know not whom, struck against her at that very moment, perhaps to take advantage of Francesca’s brief post partum vulnerability. She froze before me, caught in trump contact and psychic battle. I didn’t need any more invitation than that and I snatched up my boy in one hand as I split her from crotch to chin with my sword. I left her for dead in much the same way she left me, and to be honest, probably with the same results.
She is dead to me now. Her abuse of me was harrowing, but not out of line for family. But she planned to shape my son into a weapon, use him to her own ends, throw him to the wolves. That I will not forgive.
With my help, the forest has grown out quite well in just a decade. The Pattern was straining against it, and I finally allowed it to reconfigure itself. It went perfectly. Everything is in place now. None would suspect that the forest was less than centuries old, if not millennia.
I have also pruned and reshaped the memories of my older sons and soon I will take them from the ice to introduce them to François and to let them walk the new Pattern, just as they remember doing all along.
And they will remain safe. Francesca cannot extend her reach here, nor the rest of my hated family.