Alain's Reports and Letters

by Edwardstanford

Alain de Grocie
City of Landsrue
Monday of Elihu’s Remembrance
43rd Artis

Archdeacon Hubert
Personal Secretary to Belasius
Royal Chapel
City of Landsrue

Father Hubert,

In accordance with the instructions I received from yourself & His Grace the Archimandrite yester eve, I proceeded forth into the city. Thereupon I met with a dwarf hight Ryde, who has traveled extensively, especially in the furthest South.

He tells me a tale which I scarcely find credible, save that I am certain he believes it, and that he offers certain indications of its veracity. He tells me that VECNA’s influence moves once again upon the face of the earth; indeed, that the Hand of VECNA may once more have been uncovered.

In proof whereof, in addition to his own word, can he offer the curious killing of the Storyteller. He and I found the body while it was yet warm. The marks upon it were most curious, as you can discover with greater particulars by consulting with the Seargent-of -the-watch & Cpt. Pettigrew. Truly his death is wrapped in mystery.

While this is yet hardly more than a rumor, yet it seems to me enough substance to hazard further investigation. In aid whereof, I purpose to travel with this Ryde to the city of Kessel, where he hopes to “consult” and interrogate one of the deceived who give aid and comfort to those who despise Mithras, whom he believes can be forced to shed further light upon this matter.

I write this to you, for you should know of the little I have learned, especially if I return not. I feel this dwarf to be trustworthy, yet am I mortal and capable of error. And even if he prove faithful, yet our quest were perilous.

I leave the question of whether this preliminary report be of gravity sufficient to warrant reporting to His Grace in your capable hands, Father, knowing that your knowledge is greater & your wisdom deeper than mine own.

May You Ever Walk in the Light

Alain,
Son of Fortinbras,
Baron Grocie

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Report of Sir Alain de Grocie 20th Instant
Year of Mitras ??
5 leagues east of that pass known to me as Ogyre Pass.

Situation report

Sir,

I pen this note in haste, though my situation is not yet dire. We must lighten our load, so I will have no further opportunity to make use of the pigeons you so kindly supplied me with: I have thought it better to use them than to return them with no message at all. Winter is coming on, we have just slain an Ogyre, and its mate is prowling somewhere about the vicinity, so we must depart in haste. I regret that for this reason neither my report upon the Monastery of Cabo Gran Mihiel nor my map of our journey is complete.

AdG.

The Monastery of Cabo Gran Mihiel

I have learned in conversation with Sir Ryde (see previous reports) that as his memory returned, following his misadventure in Stygia, he was staying with a small monastery deep in the south: I have not yet formed a clear picture of its location. The monastery claims to be dedicated to Epimetrius, but further conversation with Sir Ryde reveals that the Light there dwelling has been most cruelly perverted. Truly, sirs, you had warned me that away from Landsrue I should encounter those who claimed to be brothers, but were twisted: Ryde apparently had the misfortune to live among such.

His memories of that time are in part blotted out by the horror he experienced, so that it is no kindness to him to inquire of these matters. I have thought it my duty, nonetheless, that our order may be forewarned.

By Sir Ryde’s account, he was, during the years he dwelt at the monastery, employed both as a smith and an executioner. In the latter capacity he was apparently ordered to execute many families whole, down to the youngest child. And this at the order and encouragement of those who claim to be disciples of Epimetrius! He is not clear on the purpose of the killing, but from what I can deduce of his disjointed story, execution may not be the proper term. Religious sacrifice may be more accurate.

I will enquire further on the morrow.

I must send this report now, as I have no further time. If I do not return, nonetheless, be warned!

AdG.

I intend the attached map and this account of our journey to be of aid to future travelers in the Northern Lands, as the library has no reliable maps of this area. It is unlikely that my poor efforts will be of great assistance, as I am neither scribe nor cartographer, but for what Light they may shed, I am amply repaid the effort.

The Voyage up the falls of Rauros, aided by Dwarven magic, for all they call it “leverage”, is truly one of the wonders of the world! To rise effortlessly up a precipice of over a mile is a joy and a blessing.

A voyage by boat from Rauros to Banghall on the Deeping takes approximately two weeks. Regular service appears to be available. Travelers must purchase a pass to be permitted in these lands: I suspect that having a dwarf along to negotiate drops the price considerably.

Bangall on the Deeping is a marvelous freshwater ocean. A good passage, as we made, requires over a week to cross it.

Schelteburg is a rude mining camp. When we reached it, it was in a condition of famine, caused in part by the greed of the local Lord (who was being disciplined by the Kings authority as we left) and in part by a cutoff of supplies from the countryside, which we now believe to have been caused by marauding Ogyres having taken up residence in the pass. The pass is approximately a week by foot along the riverside trail from Schelteburgh.

We are now a days ride east of the pass. We have slain one Ogyre, but others are about. We are about to move on in haste, in hopes of avoiding them, and are abandoning supplies (including our pigeons) in consequence. We believe Belegost to be approximately 40 leagues ahead. Mitras willing, we shall arrive safely.

AdG.

[Map is forthcoming, once it gets in the right format]

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His Grace the Archimandrite,

Sir,

This continues my last report, sent via carrier pigeon en route to the dwarven city of Belegost.

I am happy to report that our entire traveling party were successful in reaching Belegost, and in lifting the curse which Ryde bore. With the memories of his retainers restored, he is Lord Rydetalin Tethamagrion daraChinstal Clay, Master of Belegost now, and sends his greetings to your Grace by means of these his retainers who bear this message. I pray that he may now find the peace and light which have so long eluded him.

In assisting Lord Ryde in this matter, I have carried out the principal assignment you set me, I hope to your satisfaction.

As the Church is always interested in eyes and ears outside of Landsrue, I would report the following points of interest learned along the way:

  1. I met a renegade Albidarian, traveling up from the South, near Banghall-on-the-Deeping. I do not know what he sought there, but he had learned of the Church’s difficulties with healing, and seemed grimly pleased by them. He claimed that his sect did not share them, but did not realize that this implies that they have fallen away from the Light. I feel he intended no good. I am concerned that he was so far from home.
  2. I have encountered two shrines to Sagron, in which the touch of her Spirit is strong, in the Northlands. One is also near Banghall-on-the-Deeping, and one is within Belegost itself. It is good to know that the Light has strongholds even here.
  3. I hear many reports that further to the North, among the Northmen, the gyodies go mad, and have been doing so for about a decade. I feel that I should investigate this matter further: the Church must surely have an interest in the misfortunes which befall our sometime friends and bitter enemies. I would prefer to consult with a superior first, but the delays of travel make this a difficult task, since I lost my pigeons on the journey. I have therefore chosen not to return to Landsrue for further instructions, but rather to proceed via ship to Karlsbad, where I will confer with the Abbot and ask his advice regarding the desirability of making such an investigation.
  4. News has just reached here of the King’s abdication: it is not considered to be of great moment locally. Many other curious tales reach my ears, of treason within the Church, of Southron Kings on the march, conquering the border realms, of horrible forces loosed upon the world by the unspeakable followers of S*t. But news from distant places is always unreliable, when passing through other hands, as you must know well. Best not to speak of such things: I am sure that the Church is in good hands, and that all her true sons walk in the Light.

Hoping that all I have done and purpose meets with your approval, I remain yours in the Light,

Alain de Grocie

Sealed this 3rd day of Mars, by my hand with my family seal.

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Fortinbras de Grocie
Kessel
Anagvti 13, 997

My dear Father,

I write with two purposes in mind. The first is of lesser import to the world, perhaps, but is paramount with me: the second is a matter of State at the highest level.

First, I must apologize. I had harsh words for you when last we spoke: I cannot unsay them now, but I can repent of them, for I was wrong, and you were right. I accused you of unfeeling ruthlessness, of brutality, and of arrogant overbearance: you told me I was a naïve fool who would never understand the art of ruling, and to go back to the Church that was unwise enough to have me.

Naïve fool I was, yet I do presently understand much that I declined to understand then. I have been on detached duty for nearly a year now, with no superior to report to and only a few commoners for companions. They are good folk, able and skilled, yet ’tis I who must lead. I forgot that for a time, which was bad – and then I discovered that they had forgotten who lead them, which was worse. I reestablish my authority now, slowly, but it is a painful process – and those who I sought, in ignorant kindness, to raise up into over-familiarity have paid a heavy price. A valuable lesson, and one I wish I had been wise enough to learn from your precept than from harsh experience.

We yet disagree on some points, you and I – I still say that the way you treat your peasants is unnecessary, unwise, and immoral. But on a major point, I must own myself to have been wholly wrong. I beg your forgiveness for my waywardness.

And now, I must on to weightier matters, though none so close to my heart.

I have heard, as no doubt have we all, of the victory and subsequent death of our most noble Price Edmund, and the recent ascendance of the Marshall. I have also heard of your own good fortune, and I congratulate you. Yet there is information I have with which I must acquaint the Duke of Eastbourne.

I know that you have never been a man of the faith, yet hear me out: there is evil afoot in the world, and it may threaten Landsrue, Eastbourne – and Kessel. I will speak first of what I know.

I know that well before the battle of Kingsford, the Archymandrite Belasius had reason to suspect that the ancient Stygian enemy, the Pythonic Church, was preparing for a major push into the North. He believed that the Church’s difficulties with healing may have been caused by the mystical forerunner of this event. So much, I heard from his own lips.

I know that he believed such forces were aiding Percy Fraubard in his quest for power: I do not know if he thought Percy a duped pawn, or a willing Traitor to Landsrue and the Light, but I suspect the later myself. I am fairly sure, having been there, and in some of the high councils of the day, that his belief lay behind his to break the Church’s traditional neutrality by facing down Fraubard at the battle of Kingsford. He, and the Church, have paid a heavy price. And the Stygian threat remains.

I myself can personally attest to the fact that Stygian agents, invested with the dread power of the Python even as true priests are with the power of their God, have been in place in Landsrue for more than twenty years, plotting, scheming, and preparing. I know that they lent undead zombie troops to Percy’s planned attack on Landsrue. I know that they hunt for me even as I write. I do hear reports that nations further south are under attack, and that they steadily fall further under the dominion of the Python.

Whether Fraubard is knowingly in league with them, or whether they advance his candidacy to sow dissension and strife among us, I do not know for certain. Yet his sister knew of the plan to use undead forces in the attack on Landsrue last summer – I can bear personal witness to that – and was closely allied to a Stygian priest posing as a southern merchant named Svrishti. He presently resides in Kesh-Necht: he and I try conclusions now. Wish me well.

I do not warn you against Percy Fraubard. You need no warning from me to look after the family interests, nor do you need my inexpert advice on how to play the Great Game. And the fate of Edmund is no proper concern of mine, nor that of any Churchman. But wittingly or no, Fraubard has help from allies that do not wish to play the Game, but to overturn it, and to cast us all into shadow and horror.

I warn you of them. I warn you of the dangers of allying with them, and also of opposing them. They are skilled and subtle, commanding great magiks, able to raise the very dead to fight at their side, and able to disguise themselves as harmless: their agents may indeed be among you now, as they have been in Landsrue and Kesh-Necht for decades. I warn you that as Percy’s power grows, and that of the Church wanes, so theirs waxes. I warn you that against their power, armies and skill and allies and wealth may not form much protection. I have no advice to offer for now, save that you be more watchful, and wary, than ever, and that you try, as best you may, to preserve your freedom of action. As you taught us, ’tis always a good policy, but now more than ever. We may need the resources of all of Eastbourne, and not merely our ancient family holdings, yet.

I pray that this warning reaches you, and is not intercepted. I have sealed it with my personal seal, given to me by your hand so many years ago, that if it reach you, you may know it is of me.

Meanwhile, I am in good health, if some little danger. I pray that you, Mother, Michelle, Patrique, and yes, even Gunther and Wilhem are safe (though you need not go out of your way to tell those last). I will write again soon, I hope, and more frequently than has been my wont, yet I cannot travel openly. I write from Kesh-Necht, yet I shall be far from here ere you receive this, and I cannot tell you where to respond.

May the Light always shine upon you, and preserve all of us.

Alain de Grocie

Order of the Tower

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Alain de Grocie
Knight of the Order of the Tower
Companion to His Highness Edward, Prince of Wundt
(Sealed with my personal Seal)

Master Smith Rydetallin Tethamagrion Dara Chinstal Clay
Lord of Belegost
(His Eyes Only)

Anagvti 29, 997

My dear Ryde,

I am writing to you from EaglesReach, care of your friend Lord Aramsham: partly for the pleasure of letting you know how our quest fares, and partly to acquaint you with diverse information you will need to better safeguard your domains. I trust that this finds you and Gillian in good health: commend me to her. (Also say that I have dined with several hobbits since taking my leave of your home, but none set so beloved a table.)

Mariam is well, and sends her love. Llwyd is altered, but was healthy when last I saw her.

Ash, I regret to say, is no more. Of that sorrow I shall speak anon. But so much has happened that I must keep my thoughts in order.

But first, I thank you again for the gift you gave me: I have now slain a total of three ogres, and wrestled with a river dragon and three golems besides, yet the armor bears but a single mar upon it. But for your magnificent aid, I fear I should have failed. I must hesitantly admit that another smith – the same one that spoke to me just outside of Banghall-on-the-Deeping – did some minor work on it, and saw fit to change the decoration pattern slightly. I hope you’ll approve when you learn the tale in full.

As you know, following the directions of your . . . let’s just say mentor in a letter, I think . . . we left Belegost at the beginning of Thaw, and journeyed south to Karlsbad (I saw service there a year ago Thaw, when I was but a boy). I assume by now that other travelers have brought you tales of the battle of Gods that occurred near Karlsbad, when snakes rained from the skies and all the priests of Thor passed away. Our ship was on the fringes of that battle, but survived unfoundered. I hope that Thor himself survived, but fear the worst. However, there is little I can add of that, save yet another eyewitness account.

At Karlsbad two things of note happened: We made acquaintance of a potent mage hight Moreau, who now travels with us, and a geas was placed on Llwyd. A Druid there desired him to take a message to the great Druid. It seems that the druids have long guarded the ley lines, or something else concealed in those swamps, in response to prophecies of their own, and that they now see that time ending. So many folk have prophecies that point to a mighty struggle in the next few years!

From Karlsbad, we proceeded to Peim’l, and thence overland towards Ancaster. Here we met with a strange and ominous adventure. We met a ghost walking abroad, who did not know he was a ghost. He led us back to a tomb in which he lay buried: a spectre came up out of the tomb and clouded my mind, so that I attacked my companious, grieviously dismembering two of them ere they subdued me. (Fortunately, all recovered eventually). The tomb had lain there, imperfectly shielded by a guardian who spoke ancient Elvish, for near a thousand years. A seal was involved, in the shape of a seven sided woven chain thing. We believe it was the seal of spirit. It is yet guarded. We departed hastily, thankful to remain alive.

We guested some days at Ancaster Abbey with the Sagronian sisters while we recovered, and learned an interesting thing. Did you know that Pythonian agents had infiltrated Landsrue’s nobility eighty years ago and more? One such was defeated there. There are others: we learned there that Hubert, secretary to Belasius, was one. (We have dealt with him). We believe Percy Fraubard and his sister to be two others, but cannot prove it yet.

And now comes the part of this missive you must study most attentively: some days south of Ancaster, near Taunton, we came across a region of wild manna, where the plants took on strange and hungry forms. We penetrated to the center, and found the empty tomb of one of the guardians of the seven seals. We believe it was the seal of Death. The Seal was broken. We penetrated to another place, where all seven seals lie buried, and learned several things that you must be warned of, namely:

Har Vecna Rah was originally one of the seven who built the seals against Set.

From any seal location you can travel to a cavern, and thence to another seal’s location.

One of the seven (Water?) was once in Belegost, in the tomb where Har Vecna Rah was buried. This may have been why the battle of Unnumbered Tears was fought.

We appeared in the tomb briefly, but could not escape the locks that you have set. We hope we caused you no disturbance.

At least three of the Seven are broken.

And you were right. The Necropolis is a bad place to be.

We continued on to Kesh-Necht, with some few difficulties along the way. In one of them Llwyd was altered into a woman, and Mariam briefly into a man (she recovered, but he/she did not). He calls himself Gwynn now. He departed from us at Kesh-Necht, to carry his message and fulfill his Geas. May he walk in the Light.

In Kesh-Necht I was privileged to witness the kindling of the light: Ryde, Mithras himself came down and touched every hearth and lantern and candle in the city. I believe the Faith there is much restored: perhaps it will hold until the cirsis is passed, but at the least, our enemies must now wear it down again. But I get ahead of myself.

In Kesh-Necht we found one whose name you will remember, Svrishti, whom Borgnon feared. He was a powerful necromancer, who planned to corrupt the ceremony of the kindling of the lights at Shavrat. His zombies poisoned Ash, and I could not stay the venom. We sent his body to the sea. In the end, we defeated Svrishti, though he fled us, and I do not doubt that we shall meet again. In that meeting, Ash will be avenged.

Svrishti has been aiding Percy, as we suspected. Whether Percy knows he is being supported by the Python or not, I do not know. Yet I hope you can counsel your King against aiding him in any way. Whether he be dupe or devil, his success can only bring disaster to all who now prosper. And though human politics matter less to you than they do to me, I tell you truly: The Prince of Wundt lived at the time of Shavrat, two weeks after the battle in which Percy claims to have slain him. Do not believe Percy when he claims to speak for the King, Landsrue and Beltesheim, and say likewise to your fellow Mountain Lords.

Svrishti was also allied with a white dwarf. That one had a mining accident, but others are sure to be about, perhaps even in the North. Be wary and watchful. Our enemies love to inflitrate rather than challenge us openly, though they grow bolder. It is possible that those who bought the tomb carvings from Gillian were such: she presumably could not tell the difference.

We have now come to Eagle’s Reach. We were raided by Hobgoblins and a dragon the day of our arrival: they are driven off for the moment, but we anticipate a return. We are prepared for them.

For you, my dear friend, be wary, and be warned. The end of a thousand years of peace is at hand, and the ancient enemies rise up. EaglesReach is now a fortress under siege. Belegost remains an important fortress to the Light, in ways you doubtless know better than I, you who can no longer leave her. I did not understand why when I left, and dare not say more in a letter. The time of your testing will be soon, I think. May fortune favor you, and the Light shelter you.

There is much more I hope to tell you over a pot of ale when next we meet, but for now, time is fleeting. These are dark times indeed, but the Light shall prevail. I remain

Yr Faithful and Ob’t Servant

Alain

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Dame Bridget de Grocie

29 Agnavti

My Dear and Honored Mother,

It is my pleasure to write and let you know that I am in good health and spirits. The Church has continued to place distinctions upon me of which you would be proud, I have made fine companions, and am seeing much of the world. The last only is a sadness, as it prevents me from visiting home as often as I might, or from telling you whence you might forward mail to me. I shall not likely be here long enough for a reply to reach me. I am courier for a message of some urgency, and do not yet know all the places to which I must carry it.

I write to you from EaglesReache, which is the second dwarfen city I have seen on my travels, and by far the least like what we expect of Durin’s Folk: would you credit me that this is a city of gardeners? ‘Tis true: the ground hereabouts bursts with life, and flowers meet one’s gaze in every direction. The fruits are plentiful, cheap, and always in season. Oh, the locals have their foundries and their smithies, their mines and their secret ways (and, I daresay, a pot or two of gold hidden about), but they are yet greener than rumor would have them.

They are not great gourmets, of course, but one cannot have everything. Far too many of them still regard oatmeal as the only staple, and salt as a luxury for feast days. Yet even in food, things are not entirely barren. We are staying with Lord Arrasham, a local of some repute, to whom my friendship with Lord Ryde provided a letter of Introduction. His chef is of the Hobbit kin, and like all her folk, prepares miracles hourly in the kitchen. ( I beg you: if you have not done so yet, retain one as soon as you may: you have never truly tasted either food or wine until they have been prepared by one of that race. I must warn you, however, that given their druthers, they use pepper in great quantity. ) It has been particularly pleasant because, as you know, meals in the Church, while plentiful and frequent, are rarely fancy.

Still, Durin’s Folk are brave, honest, and worthy of trust, and that is no small thing in these times.

I pray that this finds you well. I hear that Father has secured for himself the Duchy of Eastbourne: I am sure you will enjoy returning to your birthplace, and seeing once again the beloved gardens of your childhood. I know that you will find the associated duties tedious rather than difficult, but on the whole, I should think that you would find the change a pleasant one: I trust that it be so, and for all the family likewise. I miss Patrique, and have no news of him or the Starks.

I remain,

Your Loving Son,

Alain

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To Roger Krinth, by will of the King and grace of Mithras Lord of Kesh-Necht, Alain de Grocie, Knight of the Order of the Tower, sendeth greeting and wisheth continual success to all thy desires.

I write this letter to introduce you to the bearer, Gryphon Fields, a mercenary captain commanding a skilled band of some thirty Wundtmen. I attest that he has all the honor one may expect of a mercenary, that he and his fight well and bravely, and that he and his are dutiful sons of Father Church.

When last we met, you were in need of men, the surrounding country having been drained of the able-bodied. It therefore occurred to me that you might desire to meet such a man. He has recently become unemployed. I have made him no promises, nor do I ask you to do me any favor by him, but if, as I believe, you still have need of such as he, it would please me to be of service to you. These are difficult times, and all men of courtesy should do what is needful. I have told him that I believe it to be worth his while to travel to you, but that I can make no guarantees.

I remain your humble servant,

Alain de Grocie
Twenty-Third Guyekoni, 997

Alain's Reports and Letters

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