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Iron Quill - Obsession - Fool For Love


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Iron Quill: Obsession - Fool for Love


October 6

The supply train is six days late.  We’re running out of almost everything.  The rail workers are grumbling, and I can’t blame them.  There’s only so much I can do with rice and salt pork.  We’ve sent out foraging parties, but even they’re coming up with little but the odd small game or edible greens.  I just hope the supply train comes soon.


In happier news, I believe I have a secret admirer!  I don’t know who, but surely it must be one of the rail workers.   I feel eyes on me, but I’ve never caught anyone looking.  It’s shallow of me, but I hope it might be the Frenchman, Christian.  He’s handsome and gentle unlike so many of the others.  If nothing else, it is a pleasant distraction in this dismal camp.


October 9

I found a flower on my pillow in my bunk tonight!  So innocent and sweet.  Greta was there when I found it and teased me mercilessly.  She suspects it’s one of the overseers because she doesn’t think a worker would have the sensibility to leave a delicate flower.  I don’t care who my paramour is, I simply enjoy the spark of romance in this dead land.


October 12

Still no sign of the supply train.  Even the rice must be rationed now.  The foraging parties have seen signs of Neverborn activity.  There are rumors that they have destroyed tracks behind us or hijacked the train.  One of the pathfinders saw signs very close to the camp.  I have always been frightened of the Neverborn, but find myself curiously unafraid now.  I cannot account for it, except for being buoyed by my private intrigue.  There has been no sign of my secret admirer, but I still feel that I am being watched by loving eyes.


October 15

We have found some relief in a most unexpected fashion.  The foragers found three deer with necks broken set beside the trail.  Several of the more superstitious men swear they will not eat them, but I will prepare it all with gratitude.  Someone is watching over us and I, for one, will not take it for granted.  


October 19

My admirer has sent me another message.  In the kitchen this morning I found another gift, a tiny figure carved of knotwood.  It is a remarkable likeness of me, right down to the apron I wear in the kitchen.  I hid it before anyone noticed.  I spent the rest of the day in a daze, fantasizing about my mystery man.  I saw Christian in the chow line at dinner tonight.  We shared a look that I am sure confirms my suspicions.  I am all aflutter.


October 20

What joy!  Sweet Christian has invited me to a private rendezvous tomorrow night.  After I wash up the dinner service I shall meet him at the edge of camp for a star gazing date.  A date!  I feel like a giddy schoolgirl.  This beautiful man has swept me off my feet!


October 21

My hands are shaking as I write this, though I must confess I am unsure if it is from fear or excitement.  So much has happened tonight that my world is all askew.  


I skipped through my work today, feeling light as air.  I bathed and cleaned up my best frock.  Greta helped me do my hair and apply some of her makeup.  I’ve never had much of a hand at it myself.  I put a flower in my hair, the same kind he had left on my pillow.  I dare say I’ve never looked prettier.  


Late in the evening I walked to the end of the new tracks.  Christian was there, but had not taken such care in his appearance as I had.  Also he smelled of gin.  We sat together on a stack of rail ties and talked a while, gazing at the moons and stars.  It was disheartening to realize as we talked that he was perhaps not as soulful as I had believed.  While he was soft-spoken, his interests were those of every man in the camp - drinking and gambling and fighting.


I tried to steer the conversation in a more romantic direction, and asked him about my little statue.  It quickly became apparent that it had not been he who carved it.  I attempted to politely excuse myself.  I had no stomach to continue this disappointment.  He pleaded with me to stay, and when I declined became more forceful.  Then the unthinkable happened.


From the shadows there came a great rushing sound and suddenly Christian was torn from me.  I heard a most grisly crackling sound followed only by silence.  I was too frightened to move, and could only stare in the direction he had gone.  I caught a fleeting flash of a featureless white mask caught in the moonlight before it vanished.  For a long while I sat in stunned silence, then crept back to my bunk without a word to anyone.


October 22

I could not sleep.  I had to make sense of this.  Christian was clearly not the man I believed him to be, but who that man is may not be a man at all.  As my nerves calm things begin to fall into place.  The sense of being watched, the anonymous gifts left in secret.  It all makes sense now.  I feel as though I should be more afraid than I am.  Instead I feel a queer titillation.  I do not think the creature is a danger.  Quite the opposite.  Last night he protected me when Christian tried to take advantage, and I can only assume it was he who provided the meat when my pantry was bare.  Of course I cannot speak of this to anyone.  It is my secret alone, and a precious one it is.


October 24

The supply train finally arrived late this afternoon.  Sweet relief.  Fresh food, materials for the tracks, and more.  I was unloading of the food supplies when in walked a one-eyed stranger, grim and black-clad.  Without preamble or introduction he began questioning me about Christian and his disappearance.  I was quite taken aback.  I told him Christian had been courting me, and that I had last seen him two nights ago.  I left out the precise circumstances of our parting.  I do not think he believed me, but no matter.  I have a plan.


October 25

The workers found Christian’s remains this morning.  I saw his body, all crow-picked and mauled, when they brought it back to camp.  I felt a curious lack of sympathy.  Beneath the veneer he was a selfish, lustful brute like the rest.  I felt a fool for having believed he could be any more than that.  My eyes are open now and I know the direction my heart pulls me.


Tonight after the camp slept I crept away to the end of the track.  I brought with me a heart I’d woven of dried grass and a garter.  A simple gift, but made with love.  I waited for some time, hoping for a visitor.  I had abandoned hope and began walking back to camp when I heard a rustle of leaves in the stillness.  I turned back and saw that my heart was gone.  I peered into the darkness and again caught a fleeting glimpse of that enigmatic porcelain mask.  I called out to him but what could I say?  We gazed at one another for a long moment, then in a wink he was gone again.  How shy he is, how mysterious!  I was heartened to know he received my token.  


October 31

The odious hunter, De Guiche, has made himself an unwelcome resident of our little camp.  The workers idolize him, of course, with all his tales of battle and blood.  He has even enlisted some men to form a party to hunt my   the  no, my creature.  I cannot let this come to pass.  If even half his stories hold grains of truth, my noble creature could be in danger.


I cannot match a man for strength or speed, and I have no skill at arms but that does not render me helpless.  I stole what medicine I could from the medic and mixed it into tonight’s stew.  I’m not sure quite what it  will do but if nothing else it should ensure the men are too sick to hunt tonight.


I have packed a small bag with what little I have of value.  I am leaving this camp, this life.  I will go to my beloved creature and he will sweep me away from this place.  We will cast off all shackles and forge a new path together.  


I will leave this journal here so that someone will know where I have gone, and that it is of my own free will that I choose this path.  Love knows no bounds.



Roxanne Cardinal


October 31

There is little time but I must write this down.  I am a fool.  I went to the end of the tracks, my head full of notions of love conquering all.  I called out for my creature and he came.  He spoke my name from the shadows.  I thought I might faint, but I remained resolved in my love.  He spoke to me of longing and loneliness.  He echoed so many of the same feelings I had held for so long.  In my heart I was so sure that this would be a moment of transcendent beauty.  I beckoned him forth from the cloaking shadows and he came.  He stepped into the light of my candle and removed his porcelain mask.


I cannot put words to the horror of his face, the grotesqueness of his form.  I blanched and stepped back.  He reached for me, I think to offer comfort, but I recoiled.  Then I ran without another word.


I heard his anguished howl as I fled, desperate for the safety of the camp.  I cursed myself for a fool again as I heard the groans of many sick men.  I had poisoned them all, and now they all lay bedridden and helpless.  Even De Guiche was in a state.  There was no safety here.


I heard the night watchman scream first.  He was soon followed by another and another.  I am now hidden beneath my bunk writing these last words as an apology to whomever finds this journal.  I am so sorry.

I have doomed us all.

Edited by Haunter
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