The Undiscovered Country

As I live and breathe

Mortimer held the silver mask in his 4 fingered hands for a moment and thought to himself “Jack’s a genius” Mortimer had seen the battle mages wearing these masks and commanding armies of undead. Surely here then was the source of their necromantic control, a secret he must master if he was to truly command those restored to undeath.

He slipped the mask on. The fit was clumsy, made for taller leaner human features than his squat head and large nose. The effect however was certainly not lacking. Mortimer had heard your life flashes before your eyes when you die, so when someone else’s played out before him instead, he was not worried.

He saw the followers of Acererak perfecting his teachings, amassing armies of the undead, reading for war, marching followers across the barrier. It was true, it was all true, Acererak had discovered the power over life and death. A power that would be Mortimer Greysproket’s for the mastering. Sure the East and West might have to fall, to once again rise to the high wonders and Magic and Science that had once made the West the wonder he had only read and dreamt about, but that was worth it, surely?!

Beneath the mask, Mortimer smiled.

As he watched he saw the chosen of the Battle Mages gift the silver masks to those that would become their… But there was something else, something wrong, he wasn’t witnessing an anointing he was witnessing a sacrifice! The masks killed their wearers and…

The realisation came to late, Mortimer felt the cold magic touch his heart and his excitement and hope turned to mortal dread as he realised he had failed, failed and now he must face the thing that truly held terror before all others for the diminutive wizard: His own mortality.

“Jack’s an idiot!”

In his panic Mortimer’s mind raced, eXistential Markup raced through his genius brain as his will to live, his will never to feel the grave’s chill embrace, formed from the Necromancy he knew a final spelt to keep his soul ‘alive’ within his own undead risen form, now the end looked so near.

His last breath shaped the energies of the grave into his last desperate workings, and then…

The gnome breathed again, damp cold cave air.

He could barely move, barely breath, he was shaking, but he was alive, and it was time to keep it that way.

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I'm A Beholder!

The Beholder slunk back to its lair in a confused daze. What had just happened? Things had certainly not gone to plan, that was sure. After sensing intruders in the vicinity, it had expected a small diversion, fresh snacks and a return to its favourite dark corner. What it had not been anticipating was a chat!

Where to start. It frowned its eyes….even if it had offspring, it thought indignantly, they definitely wouldn’t have so few eyes and so many limbs! Though, it conceded, the strange dark aura that one gave off was vaguely familiar. And as for the gobby one – since when was it ok to treat meeting a Beholder like you’d dropped by to borrow a barrel of zombies. Even the hairy one didn’t flee in terror.

It shuddered. Perhaps it was losing its touch!

It blinked its eyes in disbelief and tried not to grind its teeth. It needed to pull itself together, especially if there really were others wandering around. It was some time since it had tasted minotaur, but it recalled they were delicious. Plus – if that mouthy creature was still around…there would be repercussions!

As that thought lingered….unbidden, from somewhere in the depths of its mind, a strange melody drifted. It seemed familiar somehow, but it couldn’t think why. It grew louder, more insistent, until the temptation to shout out words of accompaniment was almost unbearable.

People think I’m just a myth or fairy tale,
Used to scare the children into line.
Folks were out to get me,
That’s the way it seemed,
Still I loved to hear their screams.

People see my eyes – yeah I’m the Beholder.
There’s every trace,
Of fear in their minds.
I’m so tough – Yeah!
I’m A Beholder, I could’ve told ya, I’m alive!

Thought I was the biggest, baddest, scary thing,
Feared throughout the wide far lands and more.
Remember I ain’t lying,
As you lie there dying.
Don’t you think that you can mess with me!

When ya see my eyes – yeah I’m the Beholder.
There’s every trace,
Of fear in your minds.
I’m so tough – Yeah!
I’m A Beholder,I could’ve told ya, you will die

When ya see my eyes – yeah I’m the Beholder.
There’s every trace,
Of fear in your minds.
I’m so tough – Yeah!
I’m A Beholder, I could’ve told ya, I’m alive!

Almost as suddenly as it had begun, the melody began to disappear, like smoke from a corpse.

If there were minotaurs in Wave Echo Cave who dared to disturb its rest, or if the little strange ones were to return…

The Beholder bared its teeth in as close to a smile as it could manage.

Then the real music would begin.

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TODO

• Heal colony of the Grey Disease
⤷ Travel Arnest, consult spiritual leaders
⤷ Investigate spiritual consequences of Barrier
Prevent onslaught of Red Hand Hommlet safe for now
Travel Westerlands, consult spiritual leaders gods are dead in the West
⤷ Morningstar is going to have died, resurrect?
⤷ Locate Acererak’s remains
Locate map to Acererak’s remains ✔︎
Investigate Wave Echo Cave ✔︎ nb: gateways to Grey Wastes/Hell are possible

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I will survive
I just got rid of all my magic and now I'm surrounded by murder

At first I was afraid
I was petrified
Surrounded by Minotaur
On every side
But then I spent so many nights
Thinking how father did me wrong
And I grew strong
And I learned music to get along
And so Im back
From a sandy place
I just walked in to find Minotaur here
And that sad look upon your face
We should have changed that stupid lock
We should have thrown away the key
If I had known for just one second
Monsters would bother me

Mage magics out the door
I’ll not turn around now
‘Cause magics not welcome anymore
At school they who tried to hurt me
I said goodbye
Did they think I’d crumble
Did you think I’d lay down and die
Oh no, not I
I will survive
Oh as long as I know how to music
I know I’ll stay alive
I’ve got all my life to play
I’ve got all my songs to give
And I’ll survive
I will survive (hey-hey)

It took all the strength I had
Not to fall apart
Kept trying hard to mend
The pieces of my broken lute
And I spent oh so many nights
Just feeling sorry for myself
I used to cry
But now I hold my head up high
And you see me
Somebody new
I’m not that chained up little boy
Learning magic just you
And so we ever meet again
Just expect me to be free
And now I’m saving all my power
Play music for people loving me

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A bedtime story, from Rodric of Warbeck

“I’m sorry to trouble you, my lord, but she would insist.”

The plaintive voice of the lady-in-waiting startled Rodric of Warbeck from his reverie. He had been sitting by the fire, mulling over memories and a goblet of wine. But now -

“Papa! Papa! I want a story!” Anarië rushed into the room, shoving the hapless lady aside. “This silly woman says I have to go to bed, but I haven’t had my story yet!”

He turned in his plushly furnished chair and gave her a stern look. “You’re a big girl now, Anarië. You’re nearly nine. It won’t be long before we have to find you a husband. And who’s going to tell you bedtime stories then?”

“All the more reason to have one now!” She smiled at him, a look of victory on her face. As determined as ever to get her own way. One more way she took after her mother.

He rested his goblet on the side table and stood up. “Come on then.” Picking her up in his powerful arms, he carried her out past the lady-in-waiting, who was standing at the doorway, head bowed. “And you’re not to call Eliza a silly woman, it’s not nice.”

“But she IS a silly woman, Papa!” she said as he carried her up the stairs.


“Once upon a time, there was a boy called Jack -”

“Not that kind of story.” She was tucked into bed now, fine bedcovers pulled up to her neck so that only her pouting face was showing.

He sat on the bed beside her. “Well then, how about the story of how King Aelfric conquered the southern Orclands and built the tower of Hommlet?”

“Bo-ring. I want one of your stories.”

Of course she did. One of his tales from his adventurous past. Carefully chosen and edited, of course. There were some things a little girl didn’t need to hear about yet.

“Very well. One day, we were all in an inn when we saw a mysterious stranger sitting in the corner -”

“Heard it.”

“One night, just as we were making camp, a whole tribe of hobgoblins -”

“Heard it.”

Of course she had. She had heard all his stories over and over again – at least, all the stories he was willing to tell. “Right then. How about the time we were locked in the dungeons of the great lich-lord and -”

“Heard that one too. Don’t you have any other stories?”

He did. Of course he did. And she was growing up, he’d said so himself. Maybe it was time for her to hear a story that didn’t have a happy ending.

“Have you heard the one about the magical deck of cards?”

She looked intrigued. “Nooo…”

“Well settle down and I’ll tell you.” He sighed to himself as he thought back to those days. The deeds they had done. They had started to think they were immortal. But then…

“We had fought our way through all the caverns of the goblin king. We had found lots of goblins, but little treasure. You can imagine our disappointment. We looked through every room, every midden, every heap of dung. Nothing. And then Oldred -”

“The clever thief?”

Rodric smiled. “The clever thief, yes. He found something, jammed into a crack in the rock wall, way down near the floor of the cave. Where maybe even the goblins wouldn’t have seen it.”

“A deck of cards?”

“Exactly. A small deck, no more than a couple of dozen cards, all different designs. Well, he pulled one of the cards from the deck and do you know what happened?”

“No?”

“The air shimmered, and a great heap of gold pieces appeared, right out of nowhere.”

Anarië’s eyes lit up. “The goblin king’s treasure was hidden in the deck of cards!”

“Yes. That’s what we thought. Ansa – you remember Ansa, the shieldmaiden from the north?”

She nodded. “I like her.”

“Ansa snatched the deck from him, and started pulling out card after card. More treasures appeared. A sword, gleaming with magical power. A royal charter to an old keep out in the east marches. A heap of jewels. And then…”

His voice faded. The silence grew. “And then what?”

“And then something else appeared. A living skeleton, in a black robe, with a huge scythe. It called out ‘I will fight her alone’ and then charged towards Ansa. Of course we all piled in, and then more of the things appeared. We fought them, destroyed them, smashed their spines and knocked off their heads, and then we looked round and Oldred…”

The memory was as vivid as ever, torchlight shining on blood and bone, details of flesh and gristle that a lifetime of strong wine had been powerless to erase.

“Oldred was in pieces. There was nothing we could do.”

Anarië’s eyes were wide. He decided to spare her the rest of Oldred’s story, how they carried him out in half a dozen dripping sacks, how Ansa had screamed about digging the grave deep so the wolves wouldn’t find him.

“The mules were still outside the cave. We loaded the gold onto them and set off towards town. But it was nearly nightfall, so we’d only gone a mile before we decided to make camp and get some rest. We were worn out.”

“What did you do with the cards?”

“I thought we had left them behind. But when I was making the campfire I saw Ansa fiddling with them. Shuffling them, running her fingers against them. I told her to put them down, and I thought she had, but next time I looked up she was fidgeting with them again. I could tell she wanted to draw another one, in spite of everything. I told her to hand them over. She refused. I said it was for her own good, I said we should just bury the damn things and forget about them, but she got this funny expression on her face.”

“Like what?”

“Like… I don’t know… like she had decided that she had no choice, maybe.” Even after all this time, he had never been able to decide what had been in her mind at that moment. “Then, she drew a card. And she was gone.”

A sharp intake of breath. “Vanished?”

“No. No, she was still there, sitting in front of me. The deck of cards in her hand. But she was gone. When I looked in her eyes there was nothing. As if she was staring at a distant mountain.”

“Like when Master Egian does his puppet show, and afterwards the puppets just sit there looking like this?” She tilted her head and put on a blank expression.

“Yes. Yes, a bit like that.” Too much like that. “I tried to revive her, but it was no good. So I made her as comfortable as I could and next day I put her on the back of one of the mules and took her into town.”

“Did you find someone to make her better?”

“I took her to the priests of St Ruth. They said they’d look after her. Pray for her. Last I heard she was still there. Still the same.” Well, not quite the same. She appeared to be getting older, according to the last letter they’d sent him, but there was still no sign of her coming back. It was no way for a warrior to go. Killed by a playing card.

Anarië was silent now. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d seen her so lost in thought.

“Anyway, that was me on my own for a bit, but not for long. Soon afterwards I met your mother, and she made me happier than anyone ever has. Except you.” He kissed her gently on the forehead. “Now go to sleep, and remember – no playing with strange decks of cards.”

“No, Papa.” She rolled over and curled up under her sheets.

He blew out the candle and shut the door behind him. He hadn’t told her everything, of course. Not about travelling to the keep in the east marches, nor about what he’d found when he got there. Maybe when she was older.

Still, it had all been worthwhile. Soon his beautiful daughter would be married to a handsome lord, they would have children of their own, and no one from the House of Warbeck would ever have to face the horrors he had faced. For Anarië they would always be just stories.

He smiled, and padded across the hall to his bedchamber, leaving his daughter to sleep. Safe and sound, now and forever.

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Season 4 Session 12
I still can't believe we did that...

When we last saw our heroes, they were rowing towards the town hall in the sunken city of Rhest, calling out to the Ogre guards, when a great black dragon emerged from the top of the building and arced into the sky. Things looked bleak indeed.

The adventure continues…

On seeing the dragon, Anarië takes Lubash and Krom by the hand and calls out words of encouragement, heartening them for the battle and strengthening them against fear. Unfortunately, the rest of the group are in the other boat, too far away to benefit from Anarië’s influence, but the whole group is empowered by Tuakiin’s word of blessing..

Meanwhile the dragon surges through the sky, quickly closing the distance to the boats. Its fearful presence causes both Kai and Tuakiin to quail at its sight. Lubash rows his boat towards the others, but no sooner have the boats come together than Anarië takes him by the hand once more and takes him with her through a dimension door…

…right onto the back of the dragon.

Anarië instructs Lubash to grapple the dragon’s wings, and he enthusiastically complies. As he wrestles the monster she settles down in the comfortable saddle with which the dragon has been fitted – only to fall with it as Lubash pins one of the dragon’s wings, causing it to plummet straight down. She slows her fall with magic, but Lubash stays with the dragon, keeping it restrained as it smacks into the water then vanishes beneath the surface.

On the boats, the rest of the party see the small bubbles rising from the now submerged dragon and ogre – and the enemy ogres approaching in their own reed boats. As she descends, Anarië fireballs the ogre team. They all survive, but their boats are destroyed and they are forced to swim. Krom and Tuakiin maneuver their boats over the dragon’s location.

Under the water, Lubash holds his breath and holds the dragon, his grip all the more powerful for Anarië’s inspiring words and Tuakiin’s blessing. It flails at him with its tail, but still he clings on, getting in a few kicks with his hobnail boots. Anarie drifts down towards them, but realising her spells are useless when she cannot speak the words of command she swims back up towards the boats.

Ser Gweneth’s intervention is more powerful. Divebombing the dragon in full plate armour, her greatsword thrust downwards, she wounds the creature mightily. Kai too plunges into the water, attacking the dragon with martial arts strikes. The dragon responds with a few swipes and bites at them both, but saves most of its effort for trying to whip Lubash from its back with its tail and free itself from his grapple.

Lubash holds firm.

Above the surface, the ogres swim closer. Krom sends some arrows their way, but they prove relentless. Unable to fight the dragon underwater, and confident of her colleagues’ ability to handle a few half-scorched ogres, Anarië prepares to dimension door her way to the top of the town hall. At the last minute, she accedes to Tuakiin’s request to bring him along too.

Suddenly Krom is all alone. Mindful of his friends’ limited breath, and the difficulty they may have in coming back up, he lowers a weighted rope into the water for them to climb.

Down below, Lubash still holds the dragon firm, however hard it lashes him with its tail. Kai and Ser Gweneth continue their attacks, although Ser Gweneth eventually decides her greatsword is too unwieldy underwater and switches to her backup dagger.

On the roof of the town hall, Anarië and Tuakiin find stairs leading downwards. Tuakiin goes down first, remarkably stealthy despite his armour, and finds a two-headed giant lurking at the bottom of the stairs. Its back is turned – it hasn’t noticed him. He promptly smacks it from behind with his glass staff, causing it heavy injuries and setting it on fire. Anarië follows up with some heat rays, and Tuakiin’s second strike bursts both its heads wide open.

Unfortunately, Tuakiin’s divine smite causes his earlier blessing to end, and the dragon finally wriggles free of Lubash. Ser Gweneth and Kai strike it as it powers through the water away from them, but it does not stop. Lubash is not finished, however. Half running, half swimming after the dragon, he hurls a javelin straight at the back of its neck, piercing its throat and bursting its acid sac.

The dragon is dead.

The ogres, on the other hand, are still very much alive and dangerously close to the boats, despite Krom’s arrows. Kai makes it back up onto the boat with Krom, but Ser Gweneth is stuck at the bottom of the lake, short of breath and weighed down by armour. Kai decides to do a little waterbending, and pulls Ser Gweneth bodily up to the surface. This causes her a few bruises, but these are nothing to a tough knight like her. Lubash ascends under his own power, rearing up behind a swimming ogre and bashing its head in with his hammer.

The ogres attack.

Climbing into the boats, they attempt to rush Ser Gweneth, but fail to push her back over the side. Having just killed a dragon, our heroes are in no mood to take any nonsense from a few minions and quickly finish them off.

Exploring the town hall, Anarië and Tuakiin find the dragon’s lair – now empty apart from a substantial hoard of treasure. There are two other doors within the building, both human-sized. Anarië opens one, discovering a well-equipped torture chamber, currently not in use. Tuakiin takes the other door, and is greeted by three arrows from the hobgoblin lying in wait behind it. He swiftly dispatches it, with the help of a quick fire bolt from Anarië, and they continue their explorations.

Next to the town hall, connected to it by a wooden walkway, is a building holding a sunken pit in which three harrowblades and a number of familiar-looking eggs with arcane symbols painted on them are contained. The pair cleanse the pit with fire, leaving nothing living.

By now the rest of the group has rowed over to join them. They all take advantage of the lull in fighting to get some rest, heal some wounds, and examine the dragon’s treasure. This turns out to comprise more money than they can carry, a number of magical items, and an arcane deck of cards which Anarië finds lying in a darkened corner.

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Under flight of dragon, among the carp pools.

Novice Hui scattered the feed into the koi pools distractedly. The huge fish usually held a particular fascination for the small boy, and he would imagine they were all wearing finely crafted coasts of the best scale armour. On this particular cold crisp morning the clouds were mostly that of his own breath. He couldn’t then, say that the dragon played amongst the clouds, but the long serpentine form wove around unseen obstacles nevertheless, sometimes back on, or through the loops it made. It pawed lazily at the sky, a token — the ancient flew because the spirits of air owed it deference and kept it aloft. Hui had seen such creatures in scrolls, but never simply playing amongst the snow covered peaks.

It gave a twist and took off toward the heavens, its white mane and moustache flowing along its azure form.

Hui turned to run, to tell the masters a Dragon had been seen in the skies once more! Instead he faulted, behind him hearing the turning of stone on stone. He looked back.
In the carp pools, as a distraction for the pampered fishes, he would have thought stood twenty slim stone pillars, made up of multiple sections, carved with the characters of everyday words. They turned lazily sometimes, the novice had seen, as he fed the fishes every morning and eve. They had never read anything sensible, they had never moved with any purpose. Till now.

Before his eyes one pillar spun its segments right and left, as if looking for the correct combination to open an ancient lock.

Hui took off at a run, up winding rocky steps until he came level with an outcrop 20 feet away. Excitement setting the little one on edge he threw caution, and himself, to the wind, and leapt the gap, his feet peddling the air hard as he sailed gracefully over on a gentle breeze.

“San!” The Master commanded, and 40 students standing in the dust of the flat rock plateau in unison turning hand from hip to drape over head in practiced slowness, not a single eye turning to regard the boy, who now sprinted up to tug on the robes of the elder monk.

temple.jpg

From two rows back Zai-wei feared the master might strike the boy for his insolence, but something the boy said stirred the sensei. Instead he listened with intense interest, kneeling to speak on the boy’s level. Then nodded and rose, leaving the students to hold their form.
Hui took off along the paved path in the mountainside, taking the long way round this time, but at a run, and with childish abandon that was seldom seen in the monastery.

In contrast, Master Wei walked careful, neither begrudging the intrusion, nor anticipating the ‘discovery’. A small smile turned the corner of his mouth to see the exuberance of youth, but this turned to a contemplative scowl as he saw the silhouette of Chao Feng playing amongst the clouds. For the ancient one to dance overhead at something like this could… could, be a portent.

As he reached the koi pools, the young novice had all but got his breath back, he was stammering about the pillar. Portent indeed, for this pillar had not turned in over a year, Wei had feared the boy entangled with it lost in lands no Monk had trod in decades. Now it moved, gave a message, Master Wei’s lips moved as he read the words that lined up in his head, then aloud, aware of the growing crowd of interested monks.

“Fought selflessly, without forsaking self”

“Mastered the elements, and learnt to be an element to a master”

“Made an enemy of a brother, and a brother of an enemy”

“Discovered the world anew; taught if of old”

Wei considered this, but even his vast well of self-restraint and inner peace gave way to a small chuckle of happiness and pride, he turned from the pools and looked at the expectant faces.

“Sound the gongs! Prepare, for the last pilgrim to walk down those steps and wandered the land, soon returns to us as a man, and… as a brother!”

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The Last Will and Testament of Tuakiin folas Yuvonviing

I, Tuakiin folas Yuvonviing, of no fixed abode, being of sound mind and disposing memory, do hereby make, publish and declare this to be my Last Will and Testament, hereby revoking all Wills and Codicils by me heretofore made.

Article 1

I direct my executors to pay my enforceable unsecured debts and funeral expenses, and the expenses of administering my estate.

Article 2

I do hereby give to my good friend Kai, of no fixed abode, my glass Staff of Striking, that it broaden his learning of the martial arts.

Article 3

I do hereby give to my former acquaintance Captain Brond, of Drellin’s Ferry, my shield and longsword, to accompany his rapiers as a decoration.

Article 4

I do hereby give to Anarïe of Warbeck, formerly of Theria, currently of no fixed abode, my black amulet, known as a Crossing Amulet.

Article 5

I do hereby give to the dragon Venomfang, of Thundertree, my jewel-encrusted armour she so desired, should it be recoverable. My debt is paid, you nikriin.

Article 6

All the rest, remainder and residue of my estate, real, personal and mixed, of every kind and nature, and wherever situated, is to be sold at auction, the proceeds of which to go to the reconstruction of the Sleeping Giant Taphouse, in Fandolin.

Signed,
tuakiin.png

Tuakiin folas Yuvonviing

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Ogre write home
Extract from treatise 'Rise of the Ogres Union'

Researching the rise of the Ogres union. Exact origins of the idea are hazy and subject to much rumour. Some unfounded conspiracy theories even attempt to connect the famous ‘Bard’ to the narrative, but this and currently all other suggestions, are only conjecture.

The letter below is believed to be by Lobash, the first known union Ogre that spread the idea through a large portion of the land. The letter was translated from Ogre by academic archiving documents.

Dear female life giver,

I work very well, I am Ogre union representative and speak to Ogre in every land I travel in. I let all Ogre know their rights. I wear good armor and cape, I have much gold and much respect.

Tell male life giver, that will no longer speaks my name for I would not work with metal as generations have done, that I hope I bring him honor. I not abandon Ogre ways and fight well.

Tell all in the gathering of shelters, that they must join union. If humans bad and not pay, they can smash their face and get new, better job. If all Ogre do this, all will be happy.
Bad things are coming and Lobash must go fight them.

I will die or return victorious and claim male life givers words.

Salutation to indicate correspondence ends here.

(what appear at the end of the documents is believed to be the mark of Lobash, as it appears on other documents attributed to him, such as the ‘Friends of the Ogres union’ also known as ‘The Hunting Lodge Treaty’)

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Anarië's eighth letter home

Dearest Mama,

Our rural cousins continue to disappoint.

This morning, my travelling companion Rhavaniel Taurelasse arrived here in this woodland realm, accompanied by half a dozen human refugees. A sentimental gesture on her part, but well-meant. Alas, the leadership here proved unsympathetic to their plight. Mistress Rhavaniel and Master Kai argued that the principle of charity required these elves to take in the poor wretches, but clearly that was never going to be accepted. I did think, however, that my clear case for accepting these people as part of a wider strategy of constructive diplomatic and economic engagement with the Kingdom of Arnest would prove more persuasive.

Alas, as is so often the case with rustic folk, they were unable to look beyond their own insularity and resentment. I was able to persuade them to look after the humans for a year and a day, which is at least some small success, but I fear that it will be a long time before this community is able to adopt a more outward-looking stance towards its neighbours. Perhaps the post-war environment will enable His Majesty to annex this territory and install a more clear-sighted leadership, for the good of all who live here.

I have at least experienced one moment of unexpected delight. You will recall, of course, how I used to find such joy in my singing lessons with Mistress Faith, at least until that unfortunate incident with the Karolithian footman. Well, I finally had an opportunity to display my vocal talents during a funeral celebration this evening. Mistress Rhavaniel taught me one of her wife’s songs, its rustic simplicity being more well-suited to the occasion than the classical repertoire with which I am familiar, and I performed it to some acclaim. In truth, however, I fear that my more refined technique and sophisticated delivery was somewhat lost on these uncultured folk.

Tomorrow we depart for our next destination, and a strike against the enemy that will be the culmination of all that we have achieved thus far. I hope that, this assignment being completed, I can be reunited with you and Papa before the passage of too much more time.

In marked contrast to our previous engagements with the enemy, on this occasion we have excellent intelligence concerning our target. I am confident that this mission will be an unqualified success.

Your most loving daughter,

Anarië

PS: I trust Papa has informed His Majesty of the peculiar circumstances surrounding Master Burne’s transportation of the village of Hommlet beyond the Barrier, as I related in a previous letter. It would be unfortunate if His Majesty were not fully informed about why the forces in this key strategic tower were unavailable to impede the oncoming march of the enemy, causing them to approach the capital at least a day earlier than might otherwise have been the case. I remain hopeful that His Majesty’s loyal Barons have rushed so swiftly to his aid that this delay proves immaterial, and I dare say that His Majesty will be more than understanding of the impulse for self-preservation that drew Master Burne away from his solemn charge to defend His Majesty’s lands.

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