We have looked into the cosmos and seen god. What separates halfing from automaton? Wreathed as I am in metal and gunpowder, it is my ability to define my own destiny that distinguishes me from machine. Then what is an automaton to the living? A corpse or iron and steel, animated to serve. Then what is an automaton to a machine god? What is an automaton to Deliverance? For if Deliverance governs the rules and laws of machine, the living who manipulate such machines are as much slaves to such a god as the non-living. Are the living, too, toyed with and killed for the sport of our gods? Then my destiny is not my own.
It is my torturous ability to love and to hate, to laugh and to mourn, that makes me halfing.
The Empress is dead by my hand. Her body is consumed in the fires of Bretheda.
Gentle waves lap the shores of Hellfire, a muted applause for our celebrated return. The manor and countship have passed into my hands. The weight of such wealth and property are a heavy burden on my heart; they are a dissonance with those dear to me, who surround me now, sharing in my fortune and misfortune. For all that we have won or plundered, it those that I love that is my most prized treasure. Do the dead still love? Are the non-living subject to such passions?
Marcel desires me for his own family. To become as him, a creature of the night. I should not see another sunrise. What should become of my own vitality if I should sustain myself on the vitality of others? Such power and fear, such influence and wealth, abilities and lifespan that reach far beyond those of mortals.
I receive a letter from my mother’s sister on the Seaglass Islands. Family I have known not; family I have known not that I have. I should be welcomed at Brooke’s Hollow with open arms, with love and with joy. It is my fame and influence that brings such tidings to me.
And what of my own family? The faithful crew that has travelled with me for so long? Would I cast them aside for such riches? Or cast them into a life of darkness as I keep them yet closer to me? Are the non-living subject to such passions?
A torturous choice. It is my ability to define my own destiny that distinguishes me from machine. The blood that run through my veins is my blood. The love that courses through my being is my love. I live again today. Marcel will leave for the East alone and his family will not strengthen.
My family sets sail for home. To Freeport.
Count Olo Loamsdowne-Burrows