December 10, 1051
It has been one year since I stepped off the ship that ported in Rivera Harbor. Since that time, many things have come and gone, dreams have risen and faded into the mists of time. One day, I too will fade, and I sit here with pen and paper and ask myself: what legacy will I leave behind, if any?
All great things begin with a spark, igniting like black powder making connect with fire. But soon after the great exploration of boundless energy, high expectations, and toiling many hours in all manner of weather and conditions, there undeniably comes a time when we must ask ourselves one simple, but critical question: was it worth it?
I, Carina Araya Sastre, write this with a labyrinthine and melancholic heart and mind. I have hit a profound crossroad where I must make one of two decisions: do I stay, or do I go? Over the past year, I have bared witness to a collection of events that both trouble and enlighten me in and around Rivera. It has given me much time since then to attempt to process everything in my mind and to come to some of my own formal conclusions.
I would not deny that Rivera’s humble beginnings were infused with an adrenaline shot much like my opening passage, where a great and lively interest was brought forth from people who came from all walks of life and answered the Duke’s call for settlement in and around the area. Never before in my life had I see the amount of coming together as I did here in Rivera. The monthly markets were packed to the brim with a large influx of high quality goods and friendly merchants who had chosen to settle. There were dangers too, with the Queen’s men making increasing demands upon Rivera and her citizens, I myself having been a victim of a close-call. It would be the first of many.
I joined with many of the more prominent businesses and well-enamored residents. Madame Elizabeth being perhaps the friendliest and more dependable carpenter I know; her manor palace on the east side of town, still a sight to behold in all its grandeur and splendor! Lord Henry Golden Hand, whom I had originally grown weary off at the start when he came into my barn in the middle of the night, but later proved himself a smart and agreeable fellow who had a knack for creating some some of the most brilliant jewelry I have ever laid eyes on. Sir Dandelion Hammerfist, and his apprentice Sir Mavrum, along with Sir Amlaib, Sir Derkin, and Sir Wszerad, the finest smiths we could have ever asked for. Brother Zewi, whose preaching of the Holy Light was both heartfelt and inspirational in times of darkness and chaos, a true champion of the divine who was taken from us too soon. Sir Verin and Miss Antigone, two of the friendliest farmers you could ever hope to meet, who you could always depend on for a smile to brighten up your day and some of the freshest produce you could ever find in and around Rivera. Sir Xukas, a humble potter who graced me with a painting of my sisters and I in the middle of work; a work of art I still hang up and admire fondly. Sir Tiberius and his friend Miss Tillie, fellow foresters and tailors who were instrumental in helping make my business a smashing success. Miss Sam and her husband, who frequently found use for the dung that our animals produced, and was always quick to offer excellent drink, food, and a smile. Monsieur Pierre, who was the funniest man with the most outrageous accent I’ve ever heard from any individual in my life, oh how I wish his restaurant had gotten off the ground. Miss Zeyiah and Sir Reppoc are two of my newest friends, who have helped me a lot with coping with the radical changes that have taken place in Rivera. I have recently grown to like and admire Miss Alanna very much, but I fear she will be forced into a similar situation that I am considering. There are many others whose names escape me or have otherwise become cloudy in my mind, but all of them and more helped to lay the foundations for Rivera.
And now many of them are gone. Some have been taken from us too soon, others could not make a go of it with mounting pressures from the Queen, and other incomptances from above. Many others returned to their homeland, poorer than when they arrived. And now, after all that has been said and done here, it is my time to make a decision as well.
From the standpoint of a entrepreneur, profit is everything. If you don’t make money, it’s either because of one of three things: 1) You’ve got a terrible reputation for offering prices that are no on par with the expected service, 2) The economy has tanked and so have prices; competition can make or break a business so easily, and 3) There is insufficient demand for such business because of depopulation and other means. While my supply lines haven’t completely dried up, it is getting harder and harder to be able to pay a fair wage to the farmers for their goods when no one is buying my wares. The investments into the infrastructure that created the new portside marketplace seems to have results in a great loss of overall capital for me. My investments into the banking system has returned nothing, and I have since started to wander if I fell for a scam. But perhaps the biggest let down of all is the lack of inspiration coming from the top. We came here at the whim of the Duke and his call for settlement and assistance. It has one been said that a great leader is a leader of the people. One who can inspire his subjects through charismatic zest and proud leadership. One who rules in the best interest of his people and makes them feel like they have a voice. As of late, it seems all that comes from the top is petty squabbling and a battle for influence and favour. In the past year alone, I have seen His Greatness a mere two times. I do not feel the inspiration and pride that I felt a year ago now.
I stroll the almost deserted streets of Rivera. The buildings are still standing, and sometimes still you may find the increasingly rare great-gathering in the town square, but there is more foot traffic coming from outside the city than within the city itself. Projects remain unbuilt, bandits roam the cities freely as the The guards seem to prefer their own self-interest to protecting the people, though this is not indicative of the force as a whole.
But I ramble. My own self is changing as well. I feel something within me stir that has laid dormant since times uncertain, though I have no definitive proof of its existence. I find myself increasingly under more and more stress as tensions mount in and around me. I can no longer sing or otherwise speak for prolonged periods of time since the day I suffered some sort of injury to my neck. As often as I pester my sisters for further explanation on this, they still refuse to tell me. In this regard, I am quite fearful of the future.
Many great offers of kindness have been given to me by several wonderful individuals. The people of Earnest, Gila, and Valorwind have expressed a great desire for me and my sisters to relocate and offer our services to their settlements. As the days go by and I further worry about the fate of Rivera, their offers seem more and more favorable and worthwhile. And yet, still, my unwavering loyalty to Rivera remains, I, as one of its first occupants have remained on this spot since its inception. But I do not blindly follow unstructured chaos when I feel it increasingly around me.
It tears my heart in two, and as I wipe the tears away that have fallen atop my desk, I know that no matter what decision I make, no one will be immune to the aftermath. I could always return home, I have just enough for the cost of passage back to the Mainland with my sisters. I am sure my parents would be glad to see me after so long, and yet, I feel I cannot return home, no, not yet.
May the Pantheon of Gods give me strength as I, a humble servant, must decide the next chapter of my life in this mortal coil.