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I am sure that a fear of the blank page is the curse of many a writer, or in my case, diarist. Although I have kept this diary since I was 12 years old, there have been times when I have just not had the inclination or energy to write in it. Such, it seems, has been the case over the past few weeks. What with reorganising the accommodation in the castle, sorting out village matters and my general duties as steward, it seems I have had no time to put pen to paper of late.

What has passed?

Helene still wants to open herself a little shop, and she wants space for Horace to work on whatever it is he does. She promised him a place to stay and some work to do. I am not entirely sure what she wants of him. We spoke about his lost wife, Rebecca and Helene wasn’t sure she could replace her. I told her that it isn’t a case of replacement. Nobody could replace Alex, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t love again. I will have to sit down with my team of stewards and see what we can do. First priority for the village is getting the accommodation sorted, but there will be a need for a place for people to work and such.

Talking of Horace, he and Aoibheann had a fight, during which he went off on his usual rant about us not caring, about us sitting in the posh house and not doing anything for the villagers or him. He seems to be thinking that we have trapped him, the islanders and the villagers here to starve them or something, despite the fact that I have been managing to keep people fed. Aoibheann and I agreed that we needed to do something because he was making people unhappy with his complaints.

To my surprise, Aoibheann and I talked about relationship matters. It started because she was telling me about Helene and Horace, but we went on to talk about Helene and I, and how things were progressing with Aoibheann and Maric. She actually told me they had spent the night together, chastely (as I had told her I had done so with Helene), and even admitted to unchaste thoughts. The poor girl is clearly missing him badly, and is afraid of how things will be when he comes out of torpor. I tried to reassure her that I did not think she needed to worry, not if the feelings I was picking up across the mental link were anything to go by. We also talked a little about the healing process and the need to start feeding him soon. I really must go back over his notes and develop a more detailed plan of action. Gwyn came along and we talked about other stuff, including pirates, which made Aoibheann cry, possibly because she misses the kids from Jasper Cove. I remember her playing pirates with them in the pond. At least she seems more relaxed in Gwyn’s company, allowing herself to be cuddled, and even falling asleep in Gwyn’s arms, which meant we had to carry her down to Maric’s chambers.

I had another conversation with Helene later, and her loneliness and her needs. This time I dropped the hint that I might not be as unavailable as I had been before, given how open my relationship with Gwyn has become. I am not sure she entirely understood, but at least, if the two of us find ourselves in an intimate situation, she will know there is less to worry about.

We didn’t get much of a chance to talk about it, as we were interrupted by a young lad from the Islander encampment, indicating that they wanted to talk to me. We went down there and I was greeted by a lady by the name of Phaedra. Ket’Lyn was there, who immediately attached herself to Helene, which seemed to make them both happy. Phaedra wanted to talk about the general state of affairs, being unhappy that they were unable to forage and farm, and not wanting to be a drain on the resources of the village. I assured her that they did not need to worry for the moment, and reinforced the warning about venturing beyond the boundaries. There was also an issue with the health of some of the youngsters, but that was something that Helene and Ket’Lyn could deal with, as they are both healers. Galyanna appeared briefly to tell me that she needed to journey back to hell, and would be doing so in a few days. I offered her some assistance from the guard, if she needed it, and she said she would think about it.

Aoibheann and I had another conversation about various things. Part of that was about her losing weight, and she wanted to know if she could do anything about that – perhaps with one of Helene’s potions. I suggested that maybe just eating more regularly would be a good start, and that maybe Helen could provide a potion to stimulate her appetite. We also agreed that we would try to sit down and have a meal together at least once a day, just to make sure that she got at least one proper meal a day. I suggested that she should try to reduce her stress levels as well, but we were less certain how to manage that. We did come up with the idea of perhaps having more events to keep the villagers occupied, and particularly the younger ones. Perhaps a sports day or something.

We also spoke of Gwythyr and of our answers to his questions and what that had resulted from that. We spoke of Valene’s grief over Faermorn, Aoibheann’s grief about the Huntsman, and her fears about Maric. She told me that she had been writing him letters and was worried that he would think them stupid. I assured her that this was very unlikely and that he would almost certainly love them. We also spoke of how we should handle his awakening. I felt that it would be best if it were I, and maybe the senior vampires among the guards who were there, and once he was more stable, then I was sure he would want to see her. She told me to tell him that she would be wearing a red dress for him. This clearly meant something to her, and presumably to him. I told her that I was sure she would look lovely in red, and sent her over to the tailor to make sure she had something suitable.

We chatted again, the next day, about the arrangements with Vedis and Nemaine, and how we were going to get supplies. I told her of my ideas of trading through the Shadow Roads. I could bring back eggs so we could start raising chickens, and if I could fathom a way of containing air – perhaps a waxed tent and some of the roses – I could bring back rabbits and goats. Plus, of course, seeds and stuff so we could start growing stuff. That, of course, would require negotiating with Nemaine. With so few deaths among the guards, I don’t know what we can offer her. Aoibheann did give me a lock of her hair, but I fear it is going to take more than that.


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