It's been five years since the last child was born in Arborvale. Five years since anyone in the village had the courage to give their life to the Mother so that new life could spring anew. I know that the Widow Cooper intends to make the sacrifice this year, and that takes a courage and conviction I can only hope to match someday. But if our village is to survive, we need fresh blood.
High Priestess Liselle has taken some… extreme steps. Sabotaging the bridge and placing me nearby to divert hapless travelers to the village is a lot more… active than we've been at procuring sacrifices for the Mother in the past, but the High Priestess promises us many children this year if we can bring in enough outside revelers. Widow Cooper can enkindle but one womb. We need more.
At first I worried. The Inquisitor's wagon, complete with prisoner and half-dozen guards, would have been perfect, but he refused to leave the Road despite every promise of feast and revelry. Fortunately, only two days into the festival, another traveling party happened along. This one was also Imperial but much more… diverse. They also seemed much more amenable to spending a few days in peace and revelry and took to my invitation readily. I sold a flower wreath to the highborn Lady, the lock of my hair woven into it permitting me to watch their movements upriver to make sure they made it to the festival in time.
I nearly despaired, though, as they turned around less than a mile away and returned. Apparently the Inquisitor's prisoner and her alleged crime was of sudden interest to these other Imperials. They convinced the Inquisitor, somehow, to permit the child among them to perform surgery on the victim's corpse, a task to which the lad seemed… disturbingly competent. Apparently they found enough evidence in the corpse that matched the prisoner's story to convince the Inquisitor to free her from her chains, although she was still bound to accompany them to Stonecrest for trial. The prisoner, Savra Sunstar, was… strange. I got goose-pimples when she would look my way. I really don't think she would be a suitable sacrifice for the Mother.
Fortunately, after completing this task, the band of Imperial agents turned back toward the festival and made good time. I lingered by the bridge for another day, but no additional people appeared to take my offer, and I didn't wish to miss the festival. My Aaron and I have been hoping for a child for six years now and I want to try to see if one of the sacrifices might enkindle my own womb at the festival.
I arrived shortly after the first Maypole dance. The visitors were having a good time. The lad seemed to have taken up with the four children of the village and was engaged in all manner of childish shenanigans. Obviously we won't be sacrificing him. He's too young. I don't yet know what we'll do with him when this is all over, but perhaps he could be convinced to join us with no adults to look after him any longer. The Imperial Assassin seemed… extremely awkward in social situations. Getting that one to partake in the sleeping draught would be extra difficult I suspect. The dwarf with the strange tattoos had, according to Widow Cooper, been extremely kind and helpful. She was saddened that his life would be sacrificed for the future, even if resigned to it. The soldier will probably take to the sleeping draught, if my knowledge of soldiers is any indication, and should give us little trouble.
That just leaves the halfling, Katra who was Given. One would think she would be favored of the Mother, and perhaps spared, but when I spoke to High Priestess Liselle I was assured that Katra was the highest priority. The Mother wished her soul above all others, and would bless three wombs for her small life alone. I don't know what it is about Katra that has elicited such desire in the Mother, but I am hardly going to question such generosity.
Well. I should finish this diary entry. The evening Maypole is about to commence. The Widow Cooper assures us that she will drink the draught along with as many of our guests as she can convince to drink it. We will perform the rites shortly thereafter.