Horace’s Journal

Subject matter aside, writing a journal from the perspective of a side character about a main character’s birth circumstances was a pretty interesting and entertaining exercise. I caught myself wondering about Finn’s parents’ lives right before Finn was born, and what they went through to have him. So, I wrote this “document” up, and provided some fake context for it in the form of a scholarly article. I think I miss being in school and writing history papers. The footnote format is made up and isn’t meant to be formatted to any particular style.

Word Count: ~2800
Rating: PG
Warnings: References to miscarriages and stillbirths.

The Carrier, Carried: Finnegan Arber-Uthordar’s Birth

These journals regarding Finnegan “The Carrier” Arber-Uthordar’s early life was retrieved from an old, metal chest in Isaea. Before the discovery of these primary documents, little was known about his life before his involvement with the Seers of Geldorg and his work as a licensed mercenary. The journals provide historians and biographers with a glimpse into his infanthood and the circumstances of his birth. There still exists, unfortunately, a massive gap between this time frame and his adulthood that remains unexplored. Based on other sources found and verified (see Agrat Arber-Uthordar’s journals from 481 to 483), we can assume that those years were especially tumultuous for Finnegan[1].

These journals additionally provide us with solid evidence that Finnegan was indeed one of those men who used a catalyst to magically change his sex. The journals penned by Horace Fletcher, his father, detail the difficulties he and Victoria Fletcher, his mother, experienced with their son’s birth. The journals are actually self-censored; that is, after Horace Fletcher wrote them, he later scratched out Finnegan’s former name beyond repair or interpretation, and did the same for pronouns referring to Finnegan. “She,” “her,” and “hers” were all replaced with “he,” “him,” or “his,” respectively. The date that Fletcher did this is unknown, and Fletcher provides no explanation for why he does this, either. Handwriting analyses support the idea that it was Fletcher himself who retroactively corrected the journals. Knowing that Finnegan later stopped speaking with his parents[2], one can imagine that Fletcher desired, in some way, to have a closer connection to his son despite their relationship being broken beyond repair. Perhaps rewriting his journals to reflect Finnegan’s identity as a man was his method for accomplishing this, or perhaps he used this method to cope. Without documentation detailing why Fletcher made this decision, historians can only suppose and presume.

These journals also provide us with evidence about the use of magic to heal people’s injuries or illnesses, an art lost to time. We know that magic was more powerful in the past and that it is all but extinct now[3], but sources such as Fletcher’s journals can give us more information about the process of casting, who used it in society, and what roles casters played.

Fletcher also writes at-length about his racial makeup and the anxieties that rose because of that, as well as his desire to “pass” for human. This period in Veiadokuur’s history created great divides between the races, and seeing the view point of a mixed-race man in an especially separated area provides evidence as to just how serious anti-orc hatred was, and reasons why Grant Willowleaf rose to power and committed the atrocities he did[4]. Fletcher’s anxieties about being of orc descent indicate that Finnegan may have had a challenging upbringing due to his own mixed lineage, which likely further complicated his understanding of not only race, but gender as well due to cultural differences at the time[5].

The journal entries selected for this sampling are complete and unabridged. Between these individual entries were many more that mostly recorded Fletcher’s finances, news, and day-to-day mundanities. These have been removed from the publication for the purpose of being concise and to present the information most relevant to Finnegan’s early life. Horace Fletcher’s complete journals can be viewed at the Farcal University Orc History Archive, as well as journals from both Finnegan Arber-Uthordar and his husband, Agrat.

 

13 Yue, 457

Victoria pulled through, ancestors and gods be thanked. Our daughter did not. She would have been our second child had we been able to carry her to term. She was born far too early and was too frail. I saw her and held her for about five hours before she passed on. She was stronger than our son, who died after only three hours. Victoria did not want to give her a name, but I called her Cassandra, privately. I thought it would be fitting of her. She had her mother’s hazel eyes and brown skin, and what hair she did have was very black, like mine. She weighed hardly more than a loaf of bread, and I could hold her in just my hands. We buried her in a lovely little box made from cedar out by her brother.

Victoria is in incredibly low health and spirits. I’m keeping my eyes on her and my hands outstretched. After our son, she wandered to the river during the night. I am still grateful for the tracking skills hunting has given me, otherwise I fear I never would have found her. I worry she may try to do the same thing again. She has been praying harder than ever and seems to go into a trance when she does. I don’t understand the religion of Chessere—I suppose it will never come to me naturally—but I suppose she’s praying that Cassandra’s soul will go on to join Chessere’s essence.

I wonder. No matter where Cassandra ends up, I hope she is in peace, and happy, and with her brothers and her siblings who were never even born. Weather: Very cold. Victoria and I have sat under blankets all day and I have kept a kettle of tea brewing for her. She is very chill and her fingers and toes are reddened. Will keep an eye on her health as the weather gets colder.

 

22 Jath, 458

Victoria approached me again. She wants to try again, one last time. She fears that the older she gets, the less likely she’ll be able to get pregnant and carry our baby to term, so we will try for one more year. After that, Victoria thinks we should stop. I’m in agreement. These past months have been so difficult for both of us. I doubt we can handle any more loss.

At the same time I wonder if my blood is why Victoria and I are having difficulty. She does not know of my blood, and I have no reason to tell her, especially since she has become more religious as of late. I fear how she would react if I told her. But perhaps it’s true that humans and orcs should not have children together, if it’s only leading to such pain for us. My parents lost a child before having me as well. It hurts to think that this may be the case, but I want to try. Raising a family has been our dream and I don’t want to give up so easily. Weather: The snow has melted completely save for some shady patches. The leaves are sprouting and the birds are coming back. I feel more hope than ever, but I remain cautious.

 

16 Yue, 458

Victoria is pregnant! She is at least very certain of it. She’s been ill these past few days and even though she is sick, we are both hopeful. Besides that, the warm weather has flushed out game in the woods again, and Victoria can sell her tapestries and fabric more easily now that travel is possible. Winter is over and things feel very, very promising. Very excited, very anxious. Victoria says I am smothering her but I am also praying to all the gods I know that this will be a success. Weather: Warm and bright! Hunting is easy and the plants are growing fast. Mild rain today but nothing stormy. Saw an elder mockingbird today so spring is finally here.

 

8 Ere, 459

We have tried to avoid feeling too excited for this try. Victoria has felt no movement in her belly yet, though she continues to grow. I fear that this one will be another stillborn. I hesitate to talk to her about drinking a mixture of spiny milkweed and whiteroot, but it would at least spare her—and me—the pain of waiting until she gives birth to see that this one came out already gone. But she is so, so hopeful, and has not complained of pains. Victoria makes the trip to Chessere’s church every other day, if only to speak to Pure about her hopes and worries. I still am uncomfortable with their doctrine, but Victoria is lively again. In her previous pregnancies, she would not be able to walk and work around this time. If Chessere is what it takes to make us into parents though, I’ll happily convert. Weather: Colder by the day. Hints of snowfall here and there, but nothing heavier than flurries. Victoria got a big order of woven scarves, so she is hard at work all day long, leaving the room only to eat, sleep, and visit Pure. On her days off, she rests all day. I keep telling her to slow it down. She doesn’t listen.

 

12 Ere, 459

Victoria felt the baby move! She is certain of it. She invited me to touch her belly and feel for kicks as well, and I felt it too, but gentler. She’s convinced that this one will succeed and be very strong when he or she is born. I still worry, of course. The baby rarely kicks and seems to be very still. But I am much more hopeful now. Victoria says that the baby is preparing to be born, and is saving his energy for that first week. Victoria is also certain that the baby is a boy. We would be perfectly satisfied with either, of course. I have begun attending church with Victoria. It’s disheartening when Pure speaks of orcs or hobgoblins, but at the very least, Chessere seems to have granted us some favor. Maybe she is alright with the human parts of me. I am mostly human, and was raised in human society, and look human, so it may be best to align myself with them and stop trying to tread the boundary, at least internally. Weather: Warmer today. Maybe Chessere convinced Thelary to shine her light a little brighter![6]

 

17 Selor, 459

Victoria gave birth. Not good. Both in bad shape.

Archivist’s Note: Here, Fletcher neglects to write for several days. This gap matches his journaling patterns and habits from previous infant deaths. It is likely that during this four-day gap, Fletcher found no time to sit and collect his thoughts for the day. Like previous attempts, Fletcher did make sure to write an entry on the infants’ births to record their birthdays. These days mattered to him, and on their birthdays he always included a secondary note or minor acknowledgement.

 

22 Selor, 459

These past few days have been nothing but exhausting. Our son—named Finnegan—is still alive[7]. Thank the gods for all they’ve done for us, especially Chessere.

When he was born, he was premature like Cassandra. He’s very small, and we keep him wrapped in the finest swaddles we have to protect his skin. He barely cries, but when he does, it’s a soft, whining sound. His little hand can only barely cup my fingertip. But gods—he’s so strong for one so little. After Victoria gave birth, I rushed them to Pure. He knows of how long Victoria and I have tried to be parents, and how long we’ve suffered through death after death. And he did an amazing thing. Victoria and Finn both were so, so close to death, but he saved them. He touched Finn first, since he was so little, and warm light came from Pure’s chest. It covered Finn and color returned to his face and he breathed deeply and he let out a lout wail. I swear, he even grew a few inches, and gained weight, as if he’d been in Victoria’s belly longer! Pure healed Victoria, too. She told me it was like being doused in warm water after coming in from the snow, and her blood pumped faster. She is tired but stable, and little Finnegan seems to be doing better, too. We are not yet past the first week mark, so we keep watch on him always. Vitoria and I no longer sleep at the same time, just in case his condition worsens overnight.

Each day we take him to Pure and Abigail. Pure keeps Finn energetic with his healing, and stabilizes him when he’s not well. Abigail knows everything about pregnancy and childbirth, and she has saved many premature babies in the past, so her help is very important. She tells us how to care for him and what he needs to be strong. And she will monitor his growth, too.

I’m holding Finn against my chest as I write. He’s very sleepy and looks so peaceful. I have been a father for about five days now, and it’s the greatest feeling even with all the stress and long nights. It’s what I’ve wanted for so long now. He’s the most precious thing in my life, and I want nothing more than for him to live. I join Victoria and Pure in our prayers to Chessere at church these days, when we’re able to go. The other attendees sometimes give me strange looks. I hope it’s because I’m a newcomer, and not because of my pointed ears. I fear how the congregation would react if they knew of my background, so it’s best to keep it secret. I will raise Finn as if he’s entirely human. I do not want him feeling as lost and conflicted as I have throughout my life. But please, Chessere—please let me keep this one. Weather: Very, very cold. Victoria and I keep Finn next to our bodies at all times to keep him warm. He’s very small and we fear what the cold could do to him.

 

17 Selor, 460

Finn is one year old! With every day that passes, he grows stronger. I can’t believe that we’re so blessed to have such a healthy child! Even though I spend so much time with him, being a parent still feels so new. I can’t believe he’s still with us. And that his health is improving! Neither Victoria nor I have ever known such joy. Finn is quiet for a baby, and doesn’t cry as often as I think he should. But it’s comforting to think that this may be because Pure uses holy magic to heal him. Pure has also told us that Finn is stable now, and Abigail agrees. She says that his behavior and size are normal, even if he’s a bit small. Thinking about watching Finn grow older and stronger makes it hard to stop smiling. I even fear Victoria will ask what those gaps are, where my tusks used to be! But now I know that Chessere is, indeed, loving and kind to those with human heritage. Her grace saved my son. She let Victoria and I finally be parents. Our lives are bright, and Finn is our light. Here, I will make a promise to my son so it’s official: Finn, I love you, and will do whatever it takes to support you throughout your life. Your happiness means so much to me, and I promise to help you find or maintain your joy, no matter what or where it is. Weather: Pleasantly chill. No flurries or wind today, and just enough sun to make things a little warmer outside. Tomorrow will be mild and nice, as well. I have a good feeling about the way things are going, and look forward to whatever the future brings for me and my family.

Archivist’s Note: In a journal entry dated on Finnegan’s 26th birthday, Fletcher wrote a short entry that was mostly destroyed by water damage. Only a fragment of a line remains legible: “realized I have failed to keep my promise, and I’m sorry for what it did”.

 

[1] Worth mentioning here is that Agrat Arber-Uthordar was not the most complete journalist. But, we know that he traveled with Finnegan during this time period, and he wrote briefly about his mental state and his interpretation of Finnegan’s. We can infer from these entries that both of them experienced a great amount of stress and anxiety. For further reading on their work as mercenaries, see: “Necessary Experience: The Mercenary Work of Agrat and Finnegan Arber-Uthordar” by Thaldor Kenekin, pub. 695 in Orcish History volume 15, issue 3, pgs. 68-92.

[2] See: Finnegan Arber-Uthordar by Vutal Nok’thah, pub. 698 by Greyraven College Press, first ed., pgs. 178-79.

[3] See: A Brief History of Magic by Dewey Lightshroom, pub. 679 by Farcal University Press, second ed., pgs. 565-67.

[4] See: Willowleaf’s Life, Part One by Frederik Guthankorta, pub. 690 by Hulorgak University Press, first ed., pgs. 85.

[5] See: Gender and its Effects in Cultures: A Comparative Study by Susan Kokota, pub. 702 by Farcal University Press, first ed., pgs. 138-47, 266-280.

[6] Archivist’s Note: Fletcher was aware that Chessere and Thelary are from separate religions despite his limited understanding of their history and practices. This statement was meant to be humorous.

[7] Archivist’s Note: As mentioned in the introduction, Fletcher blotted out Finnegan’s old name and replaced all female-gendered words referring to him with male-gendered ones.

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