Sylvangarde

Letter to Lord Vors, Lamashan 12

My Lord,

As ever, I hope this missive finds you well. There seems never to be a dull moment around here. We continue to make progress little by little. Haven and Tatzlford are developing steadily, and we are expecting to formally incorporate Oleg’s trading post within a few months. Normally, I do not approve of expanding our territory faster than our growing infrastructure can keep up, but I feel it is past time that I gave Oleg the official support that he deserves, as for all his gruff exterior, he and his wife have been good to me this past year.

Now that I think of it, sometimes it is amazing to realize that it has already been over a year since I first set out from Brevoy. So much has happened—most of it beyond my wildest imaginings. I could not have imagined, when I first left the north, that I would be charged with the ordering of an entire sovereign territory, particularly one as…diverse, as this one has proven to be. I certainly could not have imagined that I would now be happily wed to such a lovely, beautiful, and talented woman as Coriella. Over all, it has been strange, unlikely, yet wonderful—a phrase which could describe the current course of Sylvangarde as a whole, in addition to my marriage. The future is unknown, but for now I am pleased to see that my tiny little realm has drawn to it a number of people who are as diverse in their origins and makeup as they are united in purpose. They came here looking for better lives and better opportunities, and to that end have come together to overcome many unprecedented challenges. I like to imagine that the people here share my vision of a community built upon mutual trust and cooperation.

I will be forever grateful that everyone put their trust and faith in me as I made the unorthodox decisions that have shaped Sylvangarde since its founding. Giving full recognition to all non-hostile sentient beings within our bounds, such as fey and kobolds, has certainly caused much head-shaking and incredulity, but in recent months I have seen firsthand the wonderful fruit of those decisions, and a (pleasantly) surprising outpouring of support from the citizenry regarding them. I hope that I have not yet exhausted everyone’s patience, however, as I fear I am not stopping there. As I write this, I have just concluded negotiations with a tribe of lizardfolk to the south. Their ways are still strange to me, but Coriella seems to know much about them, and their leader is surprisingly erudite, so I have little fear in dealing with them.

I must say, every such diplomatic victory bolsters my hope. Our fey allies have proven invaluable to the overall defense of the realm, and the kobolds have proven to be an unexpected economic boon. As our mining operations develop, that should prove all the more true. Now, with the peaceful contact with the lizardfolk, we have simultaneously removed a potential threat and gained yet another unlikely ally. Though they are not yet encompassed within our claimed territories, and would likely retain their sovereignty in any case, and I could not command them, they will likely prove a deterrent to any hostile forces or creatures from that direction, or would at the very least give us warning.

All in all, I am heartened by my experiences of the past weeks. The grand experiment proceeds apace, and though we yet have much work to do, I am confident that we will meet the coming challenges with all the tenacity and vigor of those who know they work toward something greater than themselves. Thus, my Lord, I wish to leave you with hope. Until next time, be well, my Lord.

Melchior

PS: The young swordswoman who recently came from Medvyed, Arturia, has proven herself to be a loyal and scarily competent companion. Between her and Coriella, I feel remarkably secure. I do hope that you are not depleting Medvyed of all such exceptional young men and women!

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Rova 9, 4714

My lord,
As always, I hope this finds you well. I am sorry to hear that matters at home have occupied your attention to such a degree. I admit, I have had scant opportunity to keep up with current events in Brevoy, but I had hoped (rather optimistically, I suppose) that political matters there would improve after I had left.

Perhaps this letter and the news it bears will serve to divert you more pleasantly.

Firstly, I must say that I was struck quite speechless when I discerned the nature of your exquisite gift of the past month. I had not known that such a thing was in your possession, and I can only guess at the possible repercussions of your bequeathing such a thing to me. I shall simply say that I am grateful on behalf of the people in my care, honored by your continued trust in me, and humbled by your generosity. I hope only that it has not cost you overmuch to accomplish this.

As it is, I am certain that by now you have heard of the circumstances of the arrival of the item in question. (I presume my letters always arrive well after the fact). The matter was resolved quickly enough by a band of excellent fellows sent at your own behest. I think they will work out rather well, though they were a bit taken aback by Sylvangarde’s rather, ah, unique social demographic situation. Perhaps I should spread the word farther out and thus better prepare potential settlers for what they may encounter.

Another recent occurrence ended surprisingly well, though has somewhat sobering implications. An apparent itinerant minstrel named Grigori ended the territory some weeks back, and proceeded to stir up a bit of trouble among the populace. He was remarkably well-informed on many matters pertaining to events in both Sylvangarde and Brevoy, and his efforts seemed largely directed toward discrediting me personally. I have dealt with him in as humane a manner as possible, though his easy knowledge of our inner workings is both uncanny and disconcerting, and it will be looked into.

To ease your mind, I have saved the best news for last. Pray restrain your mirth, but I fear that Coriella and I are to be wed by the close of the month. I know quite well that your duties in Medvyed are legion, however I wished to personally invite you to the ceremony all the same. There are as yet no estates in Sylvangarde that may be let, and you may find the accommodations still rather rustic, but a place shall be made ready for you just the same. I do hope you are able to attend, though I should certainly understand in the event that duty and politics (if not convention) prevent it. Though the gods know that I have my misgivings, I feel that I should invite Iacobus as well. I am not certain that he would even desire to attend, but extending an invitation is, of course, the civil thing to do, and I would not wish him to feel slighted.

But there you have it. For good or ill, we all move forward. I eagerly await your reply.

Sincerely,
Melchior

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Note from Lord Vors to Melchior

I apologize for my remiss correspondence, Melchior. Family affairs have kept me from being properly attentive even to those I have the strongest wish to support and encourage. You are an example to the House and have succeeded in your endeavors beyond our expectation. I have been told that the coming winter is expected to be hard. We have an item in our vault that I believe may assist you. It will create a (relatively) warm haven for five miles in every direction. Erastil guide your steps.

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Desnus 8, 4714

My Lord,

My deepest apologies are in order for neglecting our correspondence. I can venture a guess as to your reassurance: administering territory is no small matter, so of course it must often take precedence. All the same, I regret allowing it to slip by. No doubt you have been waiting, both keenly and patiently, for news. So, here it is.

The past several months have been quite interesting. We had managed to dig in tolerably well before the coming of winter and, having subsequently survived that, construction of the town continues apace and spring planting is well under way. We’ve had a few setbacks here and there, but overall our fledgling settlement is developing quite nicely. Unsurprisingly, there have been scattered run-ins between settlers and local fey, but happily, most such incidents were resolved to mutual satisfaction. Whatever the new town’s residents think of my strange notions, the fey are tolerated and, for their part, do not trouble their new neighbors overmuch.

One sad incident took place some months back, and involved a tense investigation of werewolf activity. We tracked the poor beast down in short order, and attempted to cure his affliction, but it was not to be. The fellow died what I thought a tragic death, but even that could not have been more heartbreaking than learning of his victims, among whom numbered a most unfortunate little girl. It pains me even now to write of it, recalling her father’s grieving face and his rebuke. He did not blame me for his daughter’s death, and in fact evinced scorn at the suggestion that I might have some responsibility in the matter. He, and others, may be right in that. And yet…

Perhaps it is merely the naiveté of a callow youth, but I take my responsibilities to these people—my people—seriously. This town was founded on the hope of better lives, and the name it bears is an implicit promise that those hopes may be defended. I am no fool. Well, perhaps I am, at that, but I know my limits, as I come against them daily. The father’s sorrow-filled face tells me that I cannot do everything, but the daughter’s peaceful countenance tells me that I can still do better.

Forgive my impassioned pen; my heart, it seems, is still readily moved by these recent events. Fear not, as things have not been as gloomy as all that. More people arrive in town almost daily; certainly faster than houses can be built. Our young town does not yet have all the comforts of civilization, but eventually we shall have a proper road to Restov. In the meantime, farmsteads are springing up all across the countryside, as we begin truly to tame the wilderness. The winter months were a bit lean, but that was to be expected, as there was no harvest beyond the wild plants and game. The lack of income has slowed our construction efforts a bit, but we seem to be making a recovery. I must say, the people who have flocked to our banner are a brave and stoic lot. It must be borne in mind that many of them arrived at this muddy, rubble-strewn site in the middle of the godsforsaken wilderness, sight unseen, just ahead of winter’s onset. But then, I of all people have little to wonder at what drives people to seek their futures within unknown frontiers.

On the subject, I can happily relate that we have just recently incorporated one other, small settlement into our growing territory. It is a tiny hamlet that the residents named Tatzlford, presumably a nod to the pair of tatzlwyrms that Kurik, Coriella, Baelana, and myself took down some months ago. On that exact spot, I believe. I shall have to ask them why they chose to settle in such a locale. It is a lovely forest. It was a bit of a push to extend our influence all those miles through the forest in just a few months, given our resources, but I was keen on rendering assistance to Tatzlford before midsummer. Now the lands in between have been secured, and roads are being constructed. The cost of our abrupt expansion has fortuitously been mitigated by the lumber camps and sawmills we have set up in our wake. I admit, it makes me wince a bit to see that noble wood under the axe, but I believe I have managed to impress upon the people a habitual mindset of (at least) grudging reverence. A few of the aforementioned incidents involving conflict with the fey occurred, unsurprisingly, in regard to the logging. However, we have come to a proper understanding of one another, and the loggers know to curb their enthusiasm or at least to exercise discretion while at the task, so as not to incur otherworldly wrath.

I have been thinking that perhaps I ought to give more thought to expansion in other directions. Certainly, I would like to secure the lands between Haven and Oleg’s place, if for no other reason than to facilitate travel between us and Brevoy proper. Though I personally have little ambition for expansion and the acquisition of territory, the safety of my people remains paramount, and I realize that is best ensured by safeguarding nearby lands. As I represent only one of several such expeditions to these lands, I suspect the final shape of our holdings will not be overlarge. I wonder how fare the other expeditions. I have heard little of them, but look forward to making contact. Given time, we should together serve to protect one another, and the people of Brevoy, from incursions by any uncouth force from the south. It pleases me to to think that, by my efforts, I am making Brevoy safer for you as well, my lord.

Where was I? Ah yes, expansion. As I said, I would like to close the northern gap. Other directions demand attention too, however. I would like to secure more of the forest to the west, around Tatzlford, and thus guard against any hidden dangers that may yet lurk within. To the east lie mostly hill country and grassland, as well as the promise of a secure river course extending to Restov itself. However, I am at this moment a bit hesitant to move eastward, as the caverns of our friendly kobold neighbors lie not far to that direction, and I have not as yet determined how best to incorporate the kobolds into our community. While Mikmek (our magister) is a friend, and folk have tolerated him, I realize that the potential for misunderstandings would be greater with more extensive interracial contact. I know there are those who think me a fool in this, but the kobolds too are sentient creatures, no more firmly oriented toward the sinister by nature as you or I, and thus my conscience will not suffer violence to be applied unthinkingly, where a hand extended in friendship might suffice. I expect difficulty in this, but my heart tells me that we shall all be the stronger for it, in the end.

To the south lie lands even less tame than those we now inhabit. To the south, also, lie the River Kingdoms. We have,as yet, had no official contact with Mivon, though I suspect it will only be a matter of time. We will want to secure as much of the river as we can, to safeguard trade. Not that there is yet any trade to safeguard. All in due time, I suppose.

On a more personal note, you may be wondering why I am just now able to write so lengthy a letter. As it happens, in my overworked state recently I hit upon a simple solution to my lack of time and energy, and thereby acquired an enchanted ring of sustenance. Thanks to that little bauble, I now only require a mere two hours of rest each night. Coriella thinks it is her doing.

I think we will soon set out for more exploration, having accomplished much this week in our various official capacities. First, I’d like to try my hand at some magical crafting of my own. I think I’ve got the theory down.

I think perhaps I will suggest the construction of a dance hall at the next council meeting. Everyone has been so busy lately with building and farming, perhaps some dancing would raise their spirits.

I think that shall suffice for an update. As always, I hope this finds you in good health. My next letter hopefully shall not be so long in coming!

Respectfully,

Melchior

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Lord Vors to Melchior Lamashan 20

My dear boy,

I cannot tell you how I empathize with your current travails. My counsel, however, is simply that, whatever your tribulations, they always seem overwhelming. Indeed, I suspect that unless one feels overwhelmed, one is not doing one’s job properly. Of course, I have not tried to govern fey before, let alone putting them in a position of such trust. I can quite see your point of view, but I believe you have many battles ahead against the prejudice of generations. Keep your spirits up, remember to keep time for yourself and let others assist you. Man alone was not meant for such burdens.

As winter closes in, I have provided some supplies that should help you and your people pass the season more comfortably. They are a gift from Iacobus, actually. I mentioned the late start your settlers got and he, quite nobly, insisted on sending a token of his esteem. He fairs well in Pitax, though I have several times invited him home to heal the breach in our little family, he feels duty-bound to remain in his position until a suitable replacement is found.

I am gratified to hear, by way of Lady Coriella, that your personal life progresses well. She is quite the earthy creature. Please convey my regards to your lady,

Lord Vors Medvyed

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Melchior to Lord Vors, Lamashan 12, 4713

My Lord,

It is with some abashedness that I pen this letter, as I realize how melodramatic my last one must have sounded. I can only imagine your profound amusement to have heard the news of my success, not from my own hand, but through official channels. Dealing with the Stag Lord was an adventure in itself, however brief. I shall have to save the particulars until such occasion as our respective duties allow us to catch up in person. Suffice to say, our preparations were largely sound. With a bit of guile, we infiltrated the fort. One of the bandit lieutenants, cannier than most, apparently saw through our act, but chose to take our side in the ensuing struggle. The Stag Lord himself proved little more than a drunken bully. I will spare you the unpleasant details of our victory, but you know the gist of what followed. Straightaway, we sent proof of the Stag Lord’s fall to the Sword Lords. And the rest is history.

My lord, you can not have imagined my shock upon learning what the Sword Lords had seen fit to lay upon my shoulders. My task was to draw maps and bring bandits to justice—what do I know about building a nation, let alone ruling one? This escalated rather quickly. Of course, I have no grounds for refusal. My sense of responsibility impels me to devote myself to whatever task I am given. Though this is not something I might have chosen for myself, and I am dubious about the suitability of my qualities for such an endeavour, I have no intention of abusing the trust that has been placed in me by yourself and the lords of Brevoy. I know not what their aim is in funding a new territory, but for now my sole concern is the welfare of those people who have chosen to make their lives in this untamed place.

At the moment, I am up to my eyeballs in logistical concerns. I have chosen an inner council of sorts from a pool of who I deemed the most qualified individuals in these parts, and we are feverishly making our preparations. We have decided upon the site of the late Stag Lord’s fort as the location of our fledgling settlement, as it is ideally situated along the river and lake shore, it is defensible, and has structures in place. We are just getting started, but we hope to have something livable in place before the winter snows begin. In any event, I shall not bore you with finer details. So many details! Were I not in possession of the excellent education you have provided me, I would surely be lost in a sea of details! As it is, there is so much to be done that I fear I have not been sleeping adequately.

I am suddenly reminded—surely, you recall what I have written of my elven companion, Coriella? Well, she and I are on speaking terms again. In fact, she has hardly left my side since I had my throat c became injured during our scuffle with the bandits. Fear not, however, as I am in quite good health, and in good spirits. In truth, I fear I am in love. Coriella, for all that she is deadly and formidable, deep down is quite affectionate, though I gather that she has had a difficult life, and has some difficulty getting close to people. In any event, we shall see how things unfold!

And now, my lord, I fear I must bring this letter to a close. I still have a mountain of papers to sort through, funds to disburse, workmen to hire, building plans to look over, etc. I suspect I may be busy with such affairs for quite some time, so forgive me if there are lapses in communications between us. That said, I shall do my utmost to keep in touch, as now, more than ever, I wish I had the pleasure of your company, and could ask your opinion on several matters. Kurik will surely scold me if the morning sun finds me still at work, but what am I to do? If only you knew of the innumerable concerns I have. For starters, my Chief of Intelligence is a faerie dragon and my Minister of Magical Affairs is a kobold. And that should tell you all you need to know about how this new nation is shaping up. But it will surely be a sight to behold if it works out!

And with that, I must sign off. We are all well, and I hope this letter finds you in equally good health and spirits. To assist in that, I am enclosing a parcel containing some of Svetlana’s homemade fangberry scones. Be well, my lord.

Melchior
Lord Mayor of Haven, of the newly-founded territory of Sylvangarde

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Lord Vors to Melchior Arodus 17th

My dear Melchior,

I am gratified to find Thonolan’s plan so well suited to your goals and resources. As per our agreement, I have sent a troop from Medvyed to act as guards for the mine. They will stay for six months, at the end of which term, Thonolan and I have agreed to give them the choice to remain in his employment or to return to Medvyed.

Your exploits in the arena of diplomacy are no less startling than your rapid success in the execution of your charter. I understand that Lord Mayor Sellemius himself has taken a personal interest in this venture. You do an old man proud.

Tidings of Iacobus have improved, as well. It seems that Pitax has invested itself in trade with Restov, in no small part due to Iacobus’ efforts on the swordlords’ behalf, I am sure. He sends word that he is well and greatly appreciates the opportunity to regain the favor of his family. His overtures give every evidence of sincerity, yet I am wary of deceit. To be unable to divine the deception of one’s own child is a sad thing, yet I hope for his sake that he truly has come to repent his ways.

May the Gods smile upon your future,

Lord Vors Medvyed

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Melchior to Lord Vors, Arodus 16

To the Esteemed Lord Vors,

My Lord, it is with equal parts excitement and trepidation that I pen this missive, for on the morrow, we set out for the lair of the Stag Lord himself, a bandit chief of no small notoriety in these parts. This self-styled Stag Lord has drawn the attention of the Sword Lords, and they are keen on seeing him removed from power. I hope, as I am sure they did, that confronting the Stag Lord will deal a blow to the banditry in the entire area. I suppose…it is up to me, and my few allies, to deal with this threat. I am…uncertain of our chances, despite our many preparations. Perhaps my fears are a disservice to my companions. Faithful Kurik, surely, would sooner tie me fast to a chair, I think, than to allow me to proceed toward certain doom. Thonolan, though largely untried, seems steady enough. Mik-Mek, the kobold, will be joining us as well. Given the proximity of his tribe’s home to the center of bandit activity, this is his fight as much as, if not more so than, our own. And then, of course, there is Coriella, the seemingly fearless elven huntress. At risk of my own continued well-being, I invited her to join the up-coming fracas. It was a nervous thing, considering the circumstances in which I last saw her, not to mention the enormous pall of dread I’ve endured at the prospect of meeting her again these past weeks. Now that I consider it, however, with her on our side, I feel a great deal better about our chances. She is as formidable as she is…well, she is quite formidable.

All jesting aside, and at the risk of sounding morbid, I come to the heart of the matter. Forgive my uncharacteristic candor, but I am uncertain if I shall survive the upcoming encounter. Itinerant wandering through an untamed wilderness is, I suspect, not quite the same as assaulting a fort full of armed and hardened bandits. Thus, I felt I should give some notice, should I not succeed. The most uncomfortable thought is knowing that I lead friends into danger. But I feel that I must do this. I have little else to devote my life to, at present. And if my efforts result in some positive impact upon the lives of any present and future inhabitants of these lands, I feel that is a cause worth any danger to my person. I can scarcely bear to burden you with such bleak thoughts, but more troubling to me than that is the thought of going off to what may possibly be an ignominious death in the gods-forsaken wilderness without professing my deep respect for you, and the gratitude I hold toward you for all that you have done on my behalf in the absence of my birth parents. It is my hope now, as always before, to perform accepted duties in as admirable a fashion as I might manage, in hopes that you may be proud of me.

Fear not, however. If you could but see me now, you would not see me wholly gloomy. As I said, there is excitement in equal measure, in my mind. For all that I am uncertain of victory or failure in the coming days, at present I feel curiously unburdened. To be sure, I cannot forget the efforts of yourself, Kurik, and all others to cross my path that have aided me in reaching this point in my life with, if not courage, exactly, then perhaps…confidence; contentment; determination. Confidence in my abilities with spell and blade, hard-won. Contentment in knowing that in such circumstances as these, no one could ask for more assistance from better friends and loved ones. And determination, with which set out to discover what “Melchior” shall become, having alread become something other than I was. What am I, if not the son of Malachias, and your devoted servant? As you are aware, I have known naught else before now. What would I be, should I see the other side of this trial that looms before me? It is perhaps a trifling thing to the Sword Lords, these scant few bandits, yet curiously meaningful to me. It occurs to me that this is (assistance from Kurik, Coriella, et al., notwithstanding) the first thing in my life that I have undertaken of my own will. Though others might have managed it before (and may yet get their chance), at this moment, this matter is mine to see through to its end, if it is within my power. And that I am resolved to do…to whatever end it may take me. If I am not to return, know that I proceed believing that my course is as right and as good as I can fathom it. I hope you can draw comfort from that, if necessary. And, of course, I hope that you and my father (gods rest his soul) will be proud of me, in any event. It is all that I have ever really hoped for myself.

Be well.

Melchior

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Melchior to Lord Vors, Arodus 9

To the Esteemed Lord Vors,

My lord, as always it is good to hear from you. I fear I am both literally and figuratively wandering through unfamiliar territory with this mission, caught between freedom and responsibility in ways that are strange to me. I have little to guide me, save Kurik’s hard-headed wisdom and my own conscience, yet the burden of responsibility does not abate. The Swordlords may believe they have given me broad liberties in how I choose to go about fulfilling the dicates of their directives, however, I feel curiously ever the more constrained. I just wish to do right by everyone. Does not everyone deserve happiness? Who am I, then, to give it to them or to take it from them? Such are the problems I wrestle with of late. Even Iacobus I would not deny a fair chance at a good life; how much the easier it is to feel sympathy for a bandit, whose circumstances, sribed by fate, seeming by necessity may drive an otherwise simple man to a low sort of life, bereft of dignity and decency. Would not such a man wish to regain what he had lost, and legitimately, were the opportunity presented? My charter suggests (if not outright demands) application of “the rope or the sword” in cases of unrepentant banditry, after all. Thus, I thank you for your foresight in sending Thonolan. For such bandits as I am unwilling to slay outright, yet for whom I may have little trust, having Thonolan on hand as a rehabilitative option, with honest work, is nothing short of a blessing. I expect it will work out splendidly.

Thonolan himself is quite a nice fellow. A little rough around the edges, and perhaps a tad fatalistic, but he is quiet and well-mannered all the same. We are getting along rather well, I would say. You would scarce believe me, but the very day we set out from Oleg’s with Thonolan, we discovered an untapped gold mine! Or rather, we found a rather large gold vein within a large crack in the side of a hill, which could potentially become a gold mine. The gods work in mysterious ways, it would seem.

It would seem that I have traded one form of unpleasant politics for another. Since arriving in the Stolen Lands, I had come upon rivalry between a colony of mites and a tribe of kobolds that had them both riled up, to the detriment of any and all neighbors. I have since encountered both groups, and believe I have resolved the situation satisfactorily. The mites were filthy, sadistic little creatures with seemingly few redeeming qualities, while the kobolds, despite being a bit uncivilized, appeared to have less of a desire for bloodshed. We happened to rescue a kobold prisoner from the mites’ underground lair: a rather canny fellow named Mik-Mek. In gratitude, he led us in safety to his own home, whereupon we met with his chief. Long story short, it became apparent that the entire conflict, as well as numerous other miseries, were instigated by their itinerant shaman (an unpleasant “kobold” of curious purple coloration, later discovered to be the reincarnated form of a wretched, evil gnome; crazy world, is it not?), whom we dealt with judiciously. The kobold tribe is now quite happy and grateful. I am quite certain that a lasting peaceful accord can be reached with them, to our mutual benefit. Unbelievably, the tribe actually inhabits a long-abandoned silver mine. If they would be amenable to mining the silver and trading it with us, we would benefit from the resource, while they would benefit from the trade and civilized contact. I admit, kobolds would make for rather odd neighbors, but one needs all the allies one can get, after all. Even now, we make our way back to Oleg’s from the kobolds’ lair to share the good news, Mik-Mek riding along with us as a liason of sorts. I fear Oleg’s reaction to a live kobold within his trading post (particularly after the recent incident with the bandit), but he is ultimately a practical man, and I trust he will see the benefit in a local alliance. Oh dear, I had forgotten Coriella’s recent violent tendencies toward scaled creatures. I do hope that won’t present a problem. Perhaps I should simply “man up”, as they say, and speak with her directly. I have not seen her for several weeks. I hope she is well, and has calmed down somewhat. We shall see, I suppose.

With that, I suppose I shall sign off. I hesitate to bore you with such details. Compared to the intricacies of daily House politics in Brevoy, my own activities must seem incredibly trivial. But as always, I value your correspondence and your advice. In reading your words, I am made to feel as though I am less of a disappointment than I often assume. But I shall not burden you with my own self-doubts a moment longer. Know that myself and Kurik are well, and that, so far as I can ascertain, we are making progress in successfully accomplishing our objectives in this wild land. I shall continue to keep you updated, as per usual. Thank you for your gift of the gem; I expect we will be arriving at a confrontation with the Stag Lord within the month, and I suspect we will need every advantage.

In parting, I wish you health and happiness. I shall write again when I can. Be well, my lord.

In gratitude,

Melchior

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Lord Vors to Melchior , Erastus 24, 4712

My dear boy,

I cannot express how gratifying it was to hear from you. I fully comprehend the communication roadblocks you must pass through, ere a missive reaches me and your kind words warm an old man’s heart.

Your adventures to date seem varied and exciting, you have certainly demonstrated an adaptability that is admirable. I have a certain confession to make—Kurik has also corresponded with me and he has told me somewhat of your struggles with the ultimate disposition of any bandits you take alive. Believe me, the difficulty you have increases my respect for you. I often wish that Iacobus had your forbearance toward the mistakes of others-his work in Pitax, while producing results that have initially been celebrated in Brevoy, his methods often lack, well, morality. It pains me to speak so of my only son, however it behooves one to scrupulously honest in all such matters. But I digress; I have some advice as to your own dilemma.

Accompanying this missive is a young man called Thonolan, whose venture I have agreed to finance in exchange for starting up a work program. Thonolan is a stone carver and former quarrier. He looks to turn an untapped source of rocks into a profitable mine or quarry. If you would be willing to assist him, he and his guards would train them and put them to work—for an amount of time determined by local regulators. That’s you, I believe. Regardless of whether you choose to accept this offer, Thonolan has agreed to assist you to the best of his ability in exchange for financing.

Things remain quiet upon the estate, although a colony of mice has apparently set up shop in the cellar. Cook was livid when she discovered that they had devoured the cheesecake she had been saving for Sunday. Khalad has assured me that they will be dealt with by the time I return from our family conclave. I feel the burden of my position more oppressively with each passing year, yet I cannot abandon my duty in the absence of a capable successor. Someone must maintain the delicate truce currently so strained in our realm. I must admit that no matter how much I miss your presence, I am glad to see you spared the unpleasantness of the political scene.

May the Gods smile upon your fortune,

Lord Vors Medvyed

P.S. I believe that Thonolan has an item for you I believe may assist you in your current assignment regarding this ‘stag lord’.

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