[Fragment of a journal laced with perfume smelling of bergamot, jasmine and cedar]
29th of Blathe
Finally, I have found a solution! For the Imperial Dramatic Academy examinations, I shall reenact Elsa de Longpré's most famous role! Her final performance! The one where she died, on stage! The most perfect actorly act that has ever been acted! Then they will be forced to advance me!
1st of Feainn
This role is... too difficult. My teacher is still not pleased. Perhaps I simply lack the talent... It is hard to measure up to Elsa's legend...
5th of Feainn
Yes! Now I know what I was missing. I must FEEL the role, recreate the entire evening at the amphitheater. With candles, wine, the works! Just like Elsa once did! The aura of that place might provide the help I need – they say Elsa spent nearly her entire life there. Folk claim the amphitheater's haunted and that is why no more plays are performed there. Apparently, everyone who has tried to act out Elsa's scene on that amphitheater's stage has died in mysterious circumstances. Old wives' tales. Even if it is haunted, I believe Elsa's spirit will give me its blessing!
7th of Feainn
Tonight, I set out! I have prepared candles and acquired two bottles of the very same wine Elsa drank right before her death! I will rehearse and rehearse and rehearse! Until at last I feel, I believe, indeed, I AM Elsa!
[fragment of a script, highlighted in red ink]
The day now dies. It collapses into itself, as does my soul... Darkness like a stifling vapor shall soon swallow me. No! Now I am at last ready to renew the memory of ghosts in my heart.
I shall light the candles.
Let the first flicker for the lad, a mere child, who was smitten and perished on the field of battle at high noon without a murmur.
Let now the second flicker for he who wished to fetch me a jewel from the bottom of the well, and never surfaced to see the light of this world again.
Let the third flicker for the husband – handsome as a statue, cold as a stone! – who left me alone and in darkness departed. Anonymously he died, in the woods, he perished.
Let the fourth flicker for he who loved so beautifully, so heatedly delighted and in this fire was consumed.
Let the fifth flicker for you, my beloved, my faithful companion, my hapless husband! Wracked by disease! You lie in the earth most shallowly of all.
All candles now flicker.
So lovely, so white.
Men, boys, husbands – mine, all! I love you to the last.
Now behold the wine. I drink it and with it sanctify your memory.