Spoiler: Music to Read to:Show
(For those who have been a part of my story arc for the last year, the finale was yesterday! My last journal for it is here.)
In my short life, there has been an understandably low amount of days filled with the simplest, genuine peace. My life has been a tangle of the most terrible events and unfortunate twists of fate. Sad consequences of horrible choices, near-death experiences, bitterness, hatred...but most of all, fear.
Fear that I would lose. That evil would conquer good.
That good, unlike the stories of my childhood, would not prevail after all.
After Lothar was murdered, my life was swallowed up by the desire to find his killer and bring them to justice. All I ever wanted, since the moment I found my beloved master curled up in a pool of his own blood, was to avenge the dear sweet man that Garenhoff would call The Pure. His heart was gold. His soul was angelic. No man in the world will ever be quite like he was.
And, unsurprisingly, his killer ended up being just as unique.
It takes a unique man to kill a unique man.
A unique type of evil to demolish a unique type of good.
Iskandar Essa, was, by almost all accounts, the most unique of men. From his earliest days, he was eager to become a politician. To help make the world a better place. And by all accounts, his desire was genuine.
Essa's trial was not open to the public, and no one was allowed to be there except the highest ranks in the city. Not even Essa's family and friends were allowed to go. And, just as quietly as he had fallen into darkness, Essa was sent to prison for life. I did, however, take some blueberry muffins to the Essa household, where his daughter, a tall girl named Zaafira, answered the door and let me in. She and her mother recounted Essa's last days: how he would pace nervously up and down the home, saying my name several times. His advisers were convinced he was going mad, and it was in that conversation that I knew...this was not a surprise to anyone.
Not even his family.
Zaafira and her mother told me that they were going to sell the mansion and retire to Lion's Arch and live out the rest of their days there quietly. And it was then that I pitied them.
I will go on and live the rest of my days in peace, knowing Essa will not hurt me.
And they will go on the rest of their days in misery, knowing that Essa will not change.
Evil is not just the enemy of good. It's something profound and real, yes, but it has consequences. And Essa's evil will have long-term consequences that have already ruined his family, the Ministry, and perhaps Kryta as a whole. Under a new Elonian delegate, things will change, for sure. Whether for better or worse, I don't know.
Iskandar Essa was not just a Minister. He was a father, a husband, a provider. No matter how evil he was, I will never forget the look on his wife's face when she saw me enter her home. It was a look of shock, recognition, grief, and raw pain.
I was the cause of a family's destruction.
Mute was the cause of this grief.
And perhaps this was all a coincidence. That I was the one. The one to get Mute, the one to make Mute, the one to receive Mute's gift, the one to become Lothar's favorite pupil. Maybe all of this was just chance, that Essa would find out about Lothar's power and kill him in an effort to receive it. And maybe it was just chance that I went to Doric and was discovered by the Sylvari assassin. Maybe it was all chance that Valek touched my hand to Mute and healed me. And maybe it was just chance that Essa found out that Mute existed once that happened.
Maybe everything was just a coincidence.
But maybe not. Maybe this was part of my purpose in life. My calling.
To use this sword for good. To make this world a better place, with Mute by my side. Because that's another truth about evil: it is only conquered by good - nothing else. And if I don't use Mute for good, I am no better than Essa himself.
The shock of Essa's fall is the most potent thing, however, about this entire story. The people of Divinity's Reach are still reeling from the surprise and terror Essa caused when he tried to shoot Valek in the head. They are still talking, in hushed whispers, about how a little asura and a Canthan man saved an Exemplar from Essa's attack. They are still gossiping about the climax - the moment Essa dug his dagger into Valek's chest. The moment his assassins pounced on the Canthan man as the little asura pinned Essa down with Earth magic.
People still talk. People will always talk.
Scandals happen in big cities all the time. But this was beyond a scandal. To the people of this city, it feels like they were lied to their whole lives.
And perhaps they were not. Perhaps Essa was only corrupt for the past three years, since Lothar died. But we will never know. We will never know what caused him to spiral into a web of darkness, forever shrouded in greed, jealousy, and murder.
And perhaps it is better this way. It is better to pass quietly, into the night, than to bring down the populace with you.
But peace? Peace is a thing hard won here. Genuine peace - it is a thing of childhood, of ignorance. Now that I know what happened...now that I know everything I have been seeking to learn...I cannot find genuine peace. For despite my safety, a family is grieving because of me.
And that is the irony of all things good.
That we, as humans, as mortals, as imperfect souls, could seek to do such good things to the world, and yet evil can always, in a blink of an eye, twist your good intentions into a grief that lasts forever.
That's a powerful word, despite it being so small.
And that is another truth about evil, I think.
It will always hate good.
And in all of my good intentions, to protect my family, to protect Garenhoff, to avenge my master, to bring peace to those who mourn him, and to protect my sword - despite all of these, I feel as if I was focusing on the wrong thing all along.
Good is not just about protecting people.
It's also about saving those who are already lost.
What if I had done something differently? Would Zaafira have someone to walk her down the aisle when she gets married? Would Essa's wife have a lover in bed with her for another forty years? Would Kryta actually change for the better, because Essa stayed in the Ministry?
And despite the peace I will feel tonight as I crawl into bed, knowing that I will live to give birth to my child, knowing that Valek is going to be okay, knowing that Lothar is avenged, and Mute is safe...despite that peace, I cannot help but feel a sense of guilt.
And maybe the guilt will go away. Maybe one day, I will never regret a single decision relating to Essa.
But another truth about evil is that it is hard to ignore. Goodness is easier to ignore, because it is a normalcy in the world to be good. Strangely, goodness is so common that it is harder to appreciate in full. And yet when evil comes, when the darkest of days dawn, people are complete unable to erase it from their minds, for years.
Evil is stronger because it is rarer.
And maybe that is why I find it difficult to mentally move forward with my life. I have been in this dark place for so long: a place of revenge, a place of bloodlust, a place of hatred. Finally seeing the sun and feeling a cool breeze on my neck is such a strange experience.
But I think I can appreciate this new life.
And that is a truth about goodness. It is the strongest weapon in the world. So fragile, and yet impossible to kill.
And so, despite my guilt, despite the tinge of fear that this nightmare is not over after all, I will push forward, basking in the light that this goodness and joy has brought me, and push myself out of this darkness I have been in.
Evil has not conquered goodness. Not today.