(this letter is sealed with wax embossed with Count Ector’s personal seal)

 

My loyal scouts, and dear friends,

 

This missive finds me journeying back to Vindolanda by the central road. I regret that the urgent affairs of the past month do not grant me the time to thank you properly for  your recent efforts. The reports you have filed offer more information than I have had in a year…nay, longer. Your courage and tenacity in the Wounded Land of Tristram speaks highly of you all. Know that I am honored by your service, and heartened to see that true Yrken remain to stand forth against the darkness to the north. You have my thanks, and the thanks of my people.

I regret that I must attend to some very weighty matters shortly, and can not spend more time expressing my gratitude. For there is another task I request of you. It is, if anything, more dangerous than your first, and more critical for the security and safety of my people. You have all shown yourselves to be true Yrken, so I know that the oaths you took those weeks ago will be honored, and I may reveal this to you without fear of unfortunate rumors developing.

Our beautiful land of Galava is hard-pressed. I need not tell you how much was lost in the last Eldren War. Very few of the armsmen I sent north returned, and those that did can not defend these borders. The weakness of Galavan arms is apparently well known to those who would seek advantage…the Sea Lords raid the coast incessantly of late, and the Duke…for all that Erekose has done before to wound my people, he has now crossed a line that can never be forgiven. The names of the fallen Defenders are much on my mind, and given the recent events few offer to take their place. Unless things change for the better soon, I must consider the Troos border indefensible…this is not acceptable. The options before me are quite limited…I can not move arms from the coastal garrisons, or further encourage the Sea Lords. I fear that the other northern lords are in much the same straits as I, and little help will be offered from that quarter. I have received an offer of aid from the Order of the True Ambrose, but I am loath to rely on zealots, however noble, to defend what Galavans should defend…yet, I will have no choice if you are not successful.

The Lord Protector has authorized me to send you covertly to Vagnicae. There you shall ascertain the condition of the Citadel, and seek to extract the Treasury of House Bainne. In his wisdom, the Protector has granted me all rights to that in payment for the depradations of the Duke’s House against mine. All that needs be done is to recover it safely to Vindolanda. With these funds, I will be able to train and equip new soldiers to defend the Troos border…indeed, perhaps enough to curb the Duke once and for all time.

I am sure my words seem cavalier, pray do not think so. I am well aware that I ask you to go through deadly danger to the very place that Eldren landed those years ago. In that time, no scout has ever come within sight of the city, and only  your comrade Seanee has ever returned. For such risk, I offer you much beyond the rewards of service. For such bravery, your names will written among the ranks of Yrken heroes should you succeed.

And now I must conclude, for time is pressing. I have sent one of my craftiest commanders, Taggart, with galleys and sufficient men to bring you safely to the vicinity of Vagnicae. He should arrive in Riverside within a week. His orders have been made clear, and he will discuss them with you at length when he arrives. Upon your success, you shall use the boats to bring the Treasury contents to Vindolanda, where I can promise you my friends, you will be heralded in my court, and in the streets.

Finally, the Protector has asked me to convey his admiration for your exploits, and to give you the benefit of his wisdom. He forcefully re-iterates the penalty for stirring that hive of vileness, Caer Eldren, but congratulates you on the audacity shown in retaking the Tower of Malvagel. Should you be successful in gaining alliance against the fiends with the tree creature you mention, he states that the Tower and all found in it shall be yours in reward, but he gives the following guidance : “To those who would look in the Third’s Orb and seek to find wisdom, beware…you will certainly find what you seek.” I can not claim to know what he means by this, but perhaps, you shall. The Orb is yours until further notice…

May Ambrose’s light bless you and keep you…may the Star of the Morning always guide you in your travels. I am, respectfully and thankfully, your Count.

 

Ector Arturus