Letter from Dana Isabella Scordato to Counte Scordato

Dead Brother,

I pray event back home are going well for matters in Stragosa have taken a turn for the worse. I apologize for the delay from my last letter but much has happened that has prevented me from writing.

Four months ago, I lost two hundred marines saving our distant cousin, Sir Reinhardt Sonnenhiem, from certain death. Acting in his roll as Lord Marshall of Stragosa, he was leading his men against the heretics. Myself and my own force provided support on both of his flanks. We had just routed a force of dark riders when Reinhardt’s own men turned on us, falling to heresy. I personally led a charge to rescue him from a duel with his own traitor turned captain. We were successful in saving him however we lost the aforementioned 200 marines to do so.

Afterwards, I took to investigate one of the main sites we have found in the valley, and came to an ancient elven site. It had twelve statues, with two oddly enough human. I must tell you I felt I was being watched the entire time though. I heard rumors that the same elf that killed father was also seen in Stragosa shortly after my scouting expedition. I am not sure if the two events are tied or not.

Once I had cleaned up from the trip, I set out to coordinate the defense of the Princepessa’s city of Portofino and the House Drake city of Silbran. While I was with Captain Maria di Segrati in Silbran, we were attacked by forces of Kuarlites. The small team of Spotters I was with were vastly outnumbered by the horde and one after one fell in combat. I only survived due to being knocked unconscious and my warhorse somehow escaping. I have since returned to Portofino.

I write you this letter on the eve of my trip to Stragosa to see if this war is salvageable. I am sorry brother but I must also apologize. For I intend to seek out the elf. Both honor and duty require me to do so. I must also get answers to the elven site I visited for one of the statues confused me greatly. I know this puts my marriage at risk should I perish but it must be done. I will however make sure contingencies are in place to ensure our interests are protected should anything happen.

I close with this. If the valley is held, the land surrounding the ancient dwarves fortress is legally our now. My guess was right on the land being valuable since dwarves once held it. For the very first mine Sergio, you remember our old tutor and papi’s friend, opened was a gem mine. The fortress is in good condition and I have multiple forces of Spotters moving to man the battlements when the mountains open in spring. As they do not require large amount of rations, once we erect additional defenses, it will be well secured outside of a large army assault.

That is all for now. I hope to write to you in a few days hence, with my success in Stragosa but if not, know I love you brother.

Harvesting the past, we flourish.

Love,
Isabella

The Message

Gideon could smell the smoke rising. The sounds of battle and yelling of combatants rode the wind. He stared out the window, watching the fires blaze and the shadows of figures rushing each other, full of fury and intent.

He turned back to the letter in front of him. The writing was scribbled and distorted, a hand writing as fast and recklessly as it could, desperate to get it’s message out.

“To Lord Percival:

Lurian is coming. Lurian is coming. Lurian is coming. Lurian is coming. Lurian is coming. Lurian is coming. Lurian is coming. Lurian is coming. Lurian is coming. Lurian is coming. Lurian is coming. Lurian is coming. Lurian is coming…”

It extended to the bottom of the page, that same phrase that pulsed behind the Lurihim’s eyes and rang in his ears. There was another on the desk, addressed to Sir Sanguine. And another, for Seneschal Kirsa. And a third, for Father Ansel. And a final one, for Bishop Adeodatus. All contained that same phrase, repeated over and over like a mantra. Gideon hoped that if he wrote enough letters, spread His Message widely enough, that perhaps the urgency of it would abate from his mind.

Gideon’s personal journal lay on the floor nearby, swept off the desk in his frenzy to compulsively spread the message of the Archangel that pounded in his skull. Half of it was introspection and contemplation on the healing arts and the Miracle until it abruptly became that scrawled feverish message halfway through.

Lurian is coming. Lurian is coming. Lurian is coming. Lurian is coming. Lurian is coming. Lurian is coming. Lurian is coming…

~Yes I am, Gideon. And when I arrive, I will take them all. My Hand will claim your friends and allies. And then I will claim the rest of Stragosa while you watch.

All will be Mine. Except you. You will be my Herald. You will be the last.~

Gideon was sweating. He clutched his head, eyes squeezed shut.

“Damn it, Lurian… stay your Hand, you bastard…”

~I will not, Herald. All are Mine in the end. Look out the window for the proof. It has already started. It is already here. Now return to spreading My Message.~

“Yes, Lurian…” The priest muttered. He turned back to the page automatically and began to write again.

Lurian is coming. Lurian is coming. Lurian is coming. Lurian is coming…

Letter from Sir Ansel to Dame Gloriana

Dearest Mother,

I am heartened to hear of the fall of the Black Monestary of the Kaurlites. It is a blessed occasion when Humanity bands together to push back the Thorns. Truly, I am relieved. This city was once a stronghold of the Kaurlite, and it is joyous that that history is one further step diminished. I hear a raiding force remains, in route to the Black Tower. I pray that the Throne’s forces will find and overtake them before they inflict much more harm.

The black band known as the Hollow Men cut off the hands of many women and children this last season. Sir Sanguine says they did it to lure the Frateris Sanguine into a trap, goaded on by the hot desire for vengeance. He hid the knowledge from us so that we could focus on our work, and quietly arranged for the miracles of Lurian to be called upon to restore our loved ones to wholeness. I think his leadership here was wise, though I do wish he would have consulted with us more. I do believe we could have kept our hearts level, and possibly captured some of these blackguards. Markus has faced this trial in a manner that makes me proud.

The city rulership has asked me to serve as Eparch, and I have accepted. I hope that I can provide righteous guidance to those in power, and help everyone here find more meaningful lives.
One question that comes up frequently is the role of sorcery in our society. In order to understand this place better I have studied the rudiments of Magic, and in so doing have noticed that the names of the rebellious angels who now are the Thorns are reversed and included in the incantation of every guild spell. I am not alone in noticing this, and it has led to questions about whether Magic, or Mankind’s ability to wield it, is part of how the world is wicked? The church teaches us that it is slothful to turn to the supernatural, but is otherwise silent of the deeper implications of magical power. Do magicians open the Judgment the rebellious angels are sealed in to draw power from them? Are ancient false gods and demons being invoked, or revered? Is the presence of the guilds in our society a fundamental compromise of the ideal of the Throne? These are things I feel I need to know to give proper council to the rulers here, and to guide the course of the Frateris Sanguine and others.

I pray you and your men every blessing and fortune in the field. If your time and the campaign permit, I would be grateful for another visit. In particular I feel our prior lesson has settled well, and I am now ready to learn the Langschwert technique if you are able to teach it to me.

Love,

Ansel

Artistic Ambiguity

Most Esteemed Abbot Euphonus –

Good News! The Fortress Monastery in Stragosa is about to be consecrated. I already burn with ideas. I have an inkling of a notion that to inspire more, I need to move away from this focus on specificity and return to grander, more ambiguous ideas. To inflame the passions of everyone involved in a grand moment of history or a grand theme of art could inspire both those who love goodness as well as those who hate impurity. In any case, I will send you my notes as I compile them. Perhaps you will feel inclined to share your discoveries here with us as well. There is still so much to do!

In Homage to Benalus and with Honor to the Emperor and under the guidance of the memory of Padre Pietro,

Alonzo d’ Melano
Bard Laureate of Silbran

To El Maestro di Mille Delize

To El Maestro di Mille Delize
I have done as you have asked and learned some fascinating things. Despite having followed them and learned what I could, I learned much less than I expected. I was surprised to find their information gathering skill the same or higher than my own. But despite this, I have still learned much. Their current practice and occupation seems the least of their skills. They are a skilled craftsman and inventor, who’s focus seems lit on the incendiary. Specifically those outside the techniques of Capacionne-born technology. But I also learned that if they are capable beyond natural means of creating this fire, they are unrelated to the guild. Unfortunately I was unable to determine the full truth of their abilities. Additionally, I have been told that their current services are quite addictive, though they had few, if any, customers at this last gathering. Unfortunately I don’t know how much of that is innuendo or if it just emphasizes the skill of their practice. I know they prefer wine to beer, and the current deal they have arranged with the Farmer’s Daughter.
Despite my small harvest, what I did learn has given me much to think about. I don’t know how much you knew about them before, but I hope that this service has been performed adequately.
With Regards,
The Friends of the Orange Baron.

Humorous Songs of Stragosa

Dearest mother,

as I learned from my youth in our household, you have always been fascinated by the forms of expression that constitute ‘art’ in cities and cultures far away from our own. To give you a better impression of the macabre and frankly crass moods that are evoked in the scummy taverns of Stragosa, I enclose a transcript of a most… unsuitable song performed in the recent past. Despite its allusions, please rest assured that the bards were investigated by the Inquisition and found to be devoid of any heresy. It was meant to be a comedic tinge. I found it disturbing and alarming, and clearly the Prosecutor present at that time felt the same way, for he immediately produced a ball of fire in his palm, stalking towards the bard. Now that, and I cannot emphasize this highly enough, was highly amusing.

Without much further ado, here is a transcript of this humorous song. At the end of the letter, I shall also enclose a more sombre sonnet that I composed myself after the departure of a certain lady. I feared for her death at the time, but even moreso feared for her undead return.

==

(Gothic Paradise)

As I ride through Stragosa where I Master the Coin,
I take a look at Borso’s pouch, and realize that he’s purloined,

The city’s resources and labour and time,
Which to my mind surely is an Imperial crime,

But that’s just typical for a Hestrali like him,
Who despite their fashion, wine and music are just a bit dim.

At 2:30 in the morning I’m diggin’ graves,
Charming maidens, fighting zombies, and dissin’ knaves,

I’ve been charmin’ and fighting so long that,
Even fire mages think that my mind is gone.

I’m a noble of the land, I’m into Benalian faith,
And one day I’ll find and marry my perfect soul mate,

But if I finish farming, reaping and building this iron mine,
Then tonight we’re gonna party like it’s Lion Age 599.

We been spending most our lives
Living in a Gothic paradise,
Farmed canvas more than thrice,
Living in a Gothic paradise,
Burned some heretics, it was nice,
Living in a Gothic paradise.

A local scum boy tried to steal my pouch last week,
I just smiled at him and my knight stabbed him in the cheek,

I ain’t never punched a Njord even if he deserved it,
A Gothic noble striking smelly fur bois? That’s unheard of.

I never wear white, no — I always wear black,
And all the lonely ladies agree that my knight is a snacc

If you do come to Stragosa you’ll likely turn up dead,
Because monsters will find you, even asleep in your bed.

Got here last year but feels like most our lives,
Living in a Gothic Paradise
Turns out corsets are full of knives,
Living in a Gothic Paradise.
Been Tarrantist once or twice,
Living in a Gothic Paradise.

==

(A Sonnet to Spectres)

Last isthmus I gave you my chart
the very next day
you sank to your grave
This year
a ghost ship appears
you turned into something spectral

==

EvV, Lion Age 604

A Plea for Release

Dated a full month after the conclusion of November’s Forum, after his Raven reporting success in his orders to recover Zurihim Artifacts, Sir Connor sends another Raven to his Liege; Count Archibald.

“Your Grace,

I trust that in the time that has passed, the successful delivery of the Zurihim artifacts has reached Lord Romulous Archibald in the University, and study is underway. It was a great honour to serve House Archibald in this manner, and further discoveries of great historical value will most certainly continue to be shared with the University.

It is with humility at this time, however, that I request that you consider releasing me from my Oath of Fealty without sanction. My service to House Archibald has been a great privilege, and your willingness to elevate me to Nobility was beyond anything I dreamed of. Yet, I now feel a pull in my very soul that my path leads me to service to Benalus as a member of the Church of Mankind.

The glory that I have achieved through recent Triumph, and fulfillment of my Oath of Merit, I hereby offer unto the House and Order as Influence to be done with as you see fit.

Be my request accepted or declined, I await your response in Stragosa with the expediency you deem appropriate.

-Sir Connor Rosewood,
Knight Errant of the White Ravens”

A letter to Mother Elizabeth Daunce of the Lurihim

Dearest Cousin,

I pray that this letter finds you well. I have now been in Stragosa for nearly a year and a half, and I must admit that though I am getting settled there are still things which constantly surprise me. I have been made a District Magistrate, which is an exciting new responsibility, and have been responsible for hosting a number of important city events, so it seems that uses for my skills do exist here. Stragosa is a place unlike any other that I have ever experienced, or even heard of. There is great potential here, great possibilities for the combined skills and strengthens of mankind’s nations to create something unique, something that truly befits the Throne of God on Earth. But there is also much to do to make that possible, for, while Stragosa may hold a diversity of people and possibilities, it also holds a mind-boggling array of difficulties. There seems to be a dearth of peasants willing to work the land, likely in part due to the sheer number of malefic in and around the city, not to mention the mass of Kuarlites that remain in the valley. There are efforts to mount a great campaign to eliminate the heretics, but as every Rogalian knows, armies do not march on empty stomachs-and of course, much of the potential farmland in the valley goes unworked for a lack of knowledgeable farmers. And so it goes. It seems that, like a tangled ball of yarn, pulling one string to free it only tightens other knots. I can only pray that being here in my youth shall make me a stronger ruler in my own right someday-at the very least, I suppose, I will have experience facing some rather challenging issues.

It’s not as though things are terrible here, though. I have made friends among the representatives of a handful of Rogalian houses, and am working to form alliances, or at least individual friendships, with members of houses from elsewhere in the Throne. Naturally, much of the rulership here is Gothic. I sometimes wonder if they don’t quite know what to make of me-it seems that even in my most serious and somber moments I am far more emotive than they. At the very least, I feel I am developing a good working relationship with them, and am hopefully proving my worth through my efforts. Alas, the one thing this valley seems to lack is men of high birth looking for a marriage match, so I suppose I shall continue waiting for father to find the correct match for me. I will confess to a bit of jealousy watching the various little romances and courtships blossom around me, but perhaps that simply isn’t within what God has planned for me.

Pray for me, cousin, that I may find wisdom to make good and godly decisions in this endlessly complicated place, and pray for the whole of the Stragosa valley, that we may weather the upcoming challenges of the winter. As always, you are in my prayers.

May God watch over us all,

Alexandra

The Soul and Its Burdens

Blessings Unto Our Lord Benalus Who Protects Us All,

Brethren, it has been commanded to me by the Seventeenth Preceptor of The Tower to write down these words. May Durna strike at the hands of any who would steal this book. May Manach’s doors be ever closed.

It is said that the soul has many parts and that those parts can be seen in every part of life, from the smallest of vermin unto the greatest of Kings. Gratus of Merlanda said it thus: “The animal knows its own life – vir, it knows its needs – apetite, it knows its options – instinct.”

From Gratus we can see that the next step is the Common Man – The common man has all of the attributes of an animal, but those attributes have grown into the Human Qualities.

Vir remains although some amongst the benighted call it Corpus or Flesh. We contend that that is an insufficient category to describe the entirety of the lifeforce that is the physical body and so we will continue to use the ancient Vir to describe what we are attempting to explain.

Appetite grows to the Human Quality of – Meaning. The Human has more than just the essential appetites required for survival. Meaning encompasses all of the things that make a Human live in an appropriate way. While everyone must eat food and drink water, Meaning is unique for each Human. Thus we see the vast multitude of ways to live in our Blessed Kingdom.

From Instinct grows the Human Quality of – Act. Knowing one’s options and strategies to survive grows into the ability to plan and think into the future. The Holy Towers of Menach, may his Name rise up forever, cannot be built on instinct alone, no matter what that fool Ablatius thinks. To Act is to secure one’s Meaning. When these two Human Qualities interact all things can be accomplished.

Now we turn to the Difficulties of the Burdened.

Those amongst us who are born to Rule and to Teach can at times find themselves Burdened by a surfeit of these Human Qualities that can, if not dealt with carefully, become Consuming.

The Hero’s Vir can become Wyrd if they sacrifice the Vir to accomplish the tasks set before them. The Meaning can become sacrificed to the Purpose of the task set before them. The Act can become Judgement when the needs of all must be placated over the needs of the Hero. Hark well, those who would take upon them the Burdens of State – the sacrifices are Great and the suffering is Deep.

This is why we must Honor but also Watch those who would take on the Burden for the benefit of us all. Do not take on the Burden unless you are called to it, for it will burn you to Nothing in time.

Glory and Honor to Our Protector King Benalus on this First Year of His Reign
Glory and Honor to Dread Manach, May His Name Conquer Every Sky
Glory and Honor to Tower 5, May We Grow Forever

Letter to Lady Alexandria Vosslyn

Dear Lady Alexandria,

It is with a sorrowful heart that I write to you.  No doubt your brother and other members of the Frateris Sanguine have told you of your father’s orders to shun you.  I do not fully understand the implications of you forging your own house, but rather than pride at your success it seems your father has been deeply wounded and feels betrayed.

I have vowed to honor your father’s wishes, and, as you know, I am a man of my word.  This does not mean I have given up on our connection as sworn companions, merely that we have been called upon to lay it aside for a time.  I hope you will find it in your heart to forgive your father his anger, and seek reconciliation with him.  Likewise, for my part, I will offer him council toward forgiveness and reconciliation when he is ready to hear it.

Graf Trakt has made an exception to his request to cease all collaboration for me to fulfill my spiritual duties.  That means should you wish to discuss matters of faith, the burdens you carry as a noblewoman, or the disposition of your soul, I remain at your service.  Likewise, when it comes to all things pertaining to the Malefic, I am free to seek you out.  We can continue to discuss your dreams, and so forth.

Sincerely,

Sir Ansel Rundelhaus, Knight Protector, Ever Vigilant Order of Templars