October 29th, 1537
Another dreadful party at the Chetwood estate. Barely edible food, wine watered down to criminal levels, and entertainment so dull our hosts fell asleep! Why we indulge this “noble” family in rags I’ll never understand, but father always says that being of true nobility means we must tolerate our lessers for the sake of stability.
I find myself growing bored with my lessons. Sums and histories – arithmetic to run a world I currently hold no stake in, and names and dates of men long dead. They say those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it, but why must I repeat it every hour of every day to please a headmaster more interested in my father’s coffers than my advancement of knowledge?
I asked again about beginning work on the sciences – astronomy, natural philosophy…and alchemy. My lord-father grew incensed at this. He shouted and yelled, threw parchment across the desk. He repeated, once again, what he’d told me so many times before. That these weren’t “proper pursuits for a man of breeding.” But my dreams…they stir a passion so deep and primal in me that I find myself contemplating disobeying my father’s will and studying in secret.
They are terrible, fell images from beyond the colour of sleep, piped into my thoughts as though transplanted there by some dark and nameless god. I question everything I was raised to believe was true, and am drawn to the brutal, nightmarish imagery.
Angels, faceless and grim – their wings are hacked off by members of the faithful, and they are cast down from the heavens to settle into a dying and decaying swamp. Hordes of demonic creatures spring forth from the Pit, hurling themselves en masse against the gates of Paradise.
The strong rule over the weak, and those that fail to fall into line either die, or kill and become masters themselves. A red-skinned, horned brute sits atop a dais of bone and rock, basking in the glory of fear. Fear of him. Fear of his power. Fear of what it would mean to fall under his scrutiny. The lesser devils and demons defer to him – their eyes are gleaming, and all hunger for his power, but find themselves unable to meet his gaze.
He stands, and comes towards me. Towering over me, and whispers to me the secrets of attaining power like this for myself. He tells me the achievement of true power is strength for strength’s sake. He tells me that mortals can achieve this power through alchemy and experimentation – no price is too high, no sacrifice is too far in the pursuit of knowledge. He tells me that he is Sraosha, and that his lieutenants plot against him and work towards his downfall – should they achieve it, they will earn his respect as his betters. Should they fail, he will crush them without a second thought, for nothing is as contemptible in this realm of the damned as failed ambition.
Every night I awake, and every night I contemplate on the words of Sraosha. I shall keep this journal as a living document of the work I intend to do – the east wing of the manor has several abandoned rooms. I shall tell father that I intend to turn it into a private study. Let him think that I intend to review Estate Management and the Classics. If the Earldom is to be mine, I shall have it on my terms – with a being such as Sraosha guiding me, how can I fail?
Giles Daubney II
Heir-Apparent to the Earldom of Bridgewater
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