Female mercenary leader, Mariqah, puts faith in an organisation of rebellious world changers in an alternate history where the British colonialism still exists. These world changers seek to abolish all form of imperialism. Mariqah is in tw minds however, as she has friends in both camps. Things go horribly wrong when she sets foot into Bengal which is torn by civil war - where there seems to be deceptive conflict between factions.


36. Extract from the Journal of Mariqah de Saint-Omer

 I have concerns. Stinging doubts that I don't want to face, that I hope are not true. Khadir showed me a letter that he found on the Glider, addressed to Richard Shankar from General Brammer. The contents, as such, were nothing of great importance - but the two seemed awfully well-acquainted. Should that give me cause for concern? Should I be worried? It was Richard, after all, that suggested both Brammer and Singh to me before I planned to journey to Bengal...

 I have to think on this some more.

 Reynold has notified me that he is on his way home and I wrote back to him - thanking him again for granting me Normandy. Khadir suggests that we sell the land to a king, but I argued that it would be good to have a place to go to, should things cock up. Khadir didn't like the idea, but I've put it down to the fact that he doesn't like money-counting or politics or Norman weather, for that matter. Either way, I've told him that the fortress should be renovated, the people informed and I'll soon send a contingency there to spruce up the place. If the land can bear crops and there's enough jobs to go around - taxation and trade should increase our income.
 Hopefully, I have wealth enough to start that up though.

 My men are resting, still flustered and quite traumatised from their experiences in Bengal. I caught a fever shortly after we captured the Harbinger and was bed-ridden in the captain's cabin on the entire voyage home. The doctor took good care of me, as did Noel and Khadir in turns - and my back has healed to a great extent since, as has the little white scar on my lip. Callum seemed less than happy about the relationship between Noel and myself, but he forgot about it quick enough. He's going to be in Masyaf for some time, doing business and talking with Richard.
 I've tried not interact with him.
 Whether he had a hand in it or not, I don't trust him. I never really did to begin with, but I trust him even less now.
 But there are many funerals to be had, now, so I suppose the unfurling of conspiracy can wait. We don't even have bodies to bury... The lads are morbid and agitated - though characters like Noel tend to lighten the mood every so often. I suppose it is an ordeal that only time can heal and my apologies are being accepted on the tongues of a few - but can they really forgive me?
 Those who were injured to the point of amputation have been given jobs in Normandy - as farmers or artisans - so they might work for something and continue to earn a living. They write to me and though its clear my slate is still filthy, their moods are lightening in my favour.

 And perhaps... Perhaps I ought to write about Bengal.
 Up until recently, I had always considered it my home, my motherland. And now... I know I'll never go near it again, not after everything that has happened. I have no place in that would-be nation and it has no place in my heart any longer. It's made me think much of my family, though. My family before Masyaf, before Khadir and Uncle Haytham, before the Redcoats and Reynold.
 It feels like a distant dream now, a memory that I can't quite recollect - and this terrifies me.
 They are still my family.
 I wonder how they are. My father. My brothers. My sisters. Our other relatives who didn't care much, but were still in and around. That life... I've ignored it for so long that now it sticks out like a sore boil in my mind - ready to burst in an instant.
 And there's my mother... She never did like me much. Her home was her garden - each of her children, a beautiful flower by her reckoning. But I... I was her weed - her means to a marriage that she otherwise would not have had, and thus had little time or use for. I don't know... She's long gone now, I probably shouldn't speak so ill of her.

 I betrayed them, though. I betrayed them all by leaving them. What was I meant to do? Bear it all with patience?
 As my father set me up to marry a man I despised, who everyone despised for monetary benefit? As my brother stole my wealth, gambled with it and then beat me if he didn't get 'his cut'? As my 'fiancé' did everything in his power to make every night a living hell for me?

 Should I have stayed, seen it through? Where would I be, what would I have been?

 Would I have been happy?

 Am I happy now?

 Will I ever be happy?

 The words of the old man come back to me.
“The grass is never green enough.”
Were they intended as words of wisdom or a curse against me?

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