This message was found by an Order Draconis scout travelling the borders of the Sands of Memory. It was secured to the leg of a vulture who, upon removal of the message, awoke as if from a trance, promptly taking to an east wind to see what fare the desert would offer it. The letter is translated from a Draconic tongue, written using Elven characters. Due to the inherent disjuncture between the two languages, the exact translation is rough at best, but to a learned eye, it reads as follows:
I have long trod upon these lands of Mordia, but only rarely has my current resolve and faith in our ability been tested as it has this day. I am at least glad to report that my arrival in the city of Therradale has been noted and, until my actual entry to and through the gates of the city proper, was without incident. I further report, with all due humility, my efforts in preparation for the great a-fourth-year Festival of Peace, both in assisting the caravans as they traversed the unforgiving wilds and in making ready the fairgrounds themselves. I would like to note in particular the efforts of Shauna, sorceress and trader in the arts arcane. Her assistance and cooperation on my journey proved invaluable and she was most generous in donating a fair sum of money to our cause – a sum which was ultimately entrusted to the governance of Therradale. Alas, I have reason to doubt if her donation would ever see the treasuries of our order, but her generosity would soon be proven to be almost boundless in the hours to follow. It is of these hours I must now write, entrusting the events of this past day to the Order so that I may ask your guidance. I pray by Scale, by Fang, by Wing, and by Claw for clarity in the days to come, for I have admittedly faltered along my way and as a result I now fear for the very stability of our entire kingdom.
I have learned the profound lesson of how small, seemingly unimportant events can so quickly spiral out of control. From these minor, trivial events were born a tempest of calamity, catching up an entire populace in its destructive wake. From all that I can gather, it would seem that it all began with a common urchin of perhaps twelve years of age. I may be mistaken at the exact count of years, but he is certainly little more than a measly whelp of a lad; a common vagabond with slippery fingers and an appetite for the possessions of others. In short, the boy was a thief, though his wiles deceived even a trusted member of the Order at first.
I first encountered the boy while making my rounds through the city on my way to the central plaza to report my arrival. I was halted in my tracks by a horrid tumult of noise and clatter on an adjacent road, so I turned my attention toward its source. My surprise was immense when I lay witness, on a day meant to be full of cheer, revelry, and song, to what appeared to be a kidnapping. A great, burly oak of a half-orc went barreling through the crowd with little to no regard for the safety of any who dare stand in his path. He would crash and plow through any obstacle, man or beast, on his way to a tavern on the main avenue. After indiscriminately clearing the main room of its inhabitants via the nearest available window, he promptly locked himself inside. All this time, mind you, he travelled with a tiny lad (who, at first glance, appeared to be sore wounded or perhaps even dead) in tow. He was absolutely brutal with the boy, carting him about as one might lug about an old sack of stale, useless grain.
My interest piqued, I approached the tavern with caution, pressing my ear to the door only to hear another raucous din and the wailing of the child. With not a single guard on site, most likely due to the ordering and peacekeeping required of the festival preparations, I found myself uniquely able to address the situation. Taking matters unto myself, I entered the tavern through the same portal used as an exit by its recent patrons – the shattered front window. There was no reasoning with the orc as he continued to shake, bludgeon, and flagrantly abuse the mischievous scamp, and it took all I had to get him to leave hold of the boy. I set out to check on the boy, and while offering a few words of consolation and defense on the boy’s behalf, it was only by pure chance that the little cretin attempted an escape!
I managed to secure a hold on the boy’s arms and, giving the half-orc (who I later learned went by the rather abrupt name of “Crump”) his moment to explain himself, I discovered that the boy wasn’t in fact a victim. Quite the contrary, it seemed as if the entire preceding scene was one giant ruse to distract any bystanders from his numerous pouches and pockets brimming over with the gold he had stolen! From the Sands to this city he had pilfered and pick-pocketed away, collecting a sizable pile of loot for himself. I promptly placed the child in bonds and set a guard on the vicinity while I went off to fetch the proper authorities. I hadn’t much time to address my deputy at that moment, otherwise I would have noticed his traveling partner – a woman dressed in a dark shroud that covered most of her features. Woe betide our great empire for such an ill twist of fortune!
With the stolen goods in tow, I made my report to the central guard station and with the King himself before returning to the scene of the crime. I was prepared to assist those guards that had been dispatched to my aid in any way they might require. This was not to be, however, as my arrival was greeted with the poisoned bolts of a band of true kidnappers! As fate would have it, that foul, despicable little runt had escaped under the nose of my posted guard and the tavern-owner alike. All nearby city guards gave chase through alley and avenue, ultimately losing the child in the teeming throng of festival-goers as he made his way to the city center to retrieve the goods I had turned in – a true act of foolish, youthful naiveté if ever I had heard of one. This left my deputy – who, as it turned out, was a druid of the southlands appointed to duty here on the festival grounds – alone to contend with those who would bind and kidnap his companion. This companion was none other than the Princess herself! Now you may understand why I so lament my earlier oversight, for at this very moment the Princess’ location and safety both remain unaccounted for.
After clearing my wounds of the accursed poisons coursing through my veins, I passed in and out of consciousness until properly tended to by the Court clergy. It was at this time that I was informed that the King had been slain in his own home by one of the highest appointed officials of the city – the very Mayor, a slithering sort of man by the name of Baronne. It was later revealed that this same villain was at the spearhead of a coup by the rebels of Danden, whose goal it was to kidnap the princess and murder the King. Luckily, only one loss was suffered by the royal family, as the King was successfully resurrected by the members of the church. Still, though the return of one monarch is wondrous news in such time of trouble, it does not by any means cushion the blow of another loss. Therradale and Mordia alike have lost much this day, and I cannot help but feel at least partially responsible.
It is for this reason that I must ask both the forgiveness and the blessing of the Order. I view today as a day of great shame, and in order to properly make amends I have claimed this task of retribution as my own – I shall not rest until the Princess of Mordia has been safely returned to the royal family. This I swear on my honor as a Brother of the Dragons: For my past misdeeds I shall atone and repay old failures with the triumphs of tomorrow.
I do not make this claim lightly, though I am hard put to the task, and for this reason I request guidance from you, my brethren. Many items of import are most troubling about this whole affair, not the least of which is the simple magnitude of the Dandenian infiltration within our empire’s inner circles.
Consider the sheer depth of Dandenian influence implicated by the involvement of the Mayor. This man was considered a respected official of great import and of noble degree. To have an agent of Danden operating under our very noses in such a position of power and influence is, if nothing else, testament to the cunning and shrewdness of the rebel faction. It is sobering to think that a coup of such magnitude and with such skill in its planning could have been orchestrated without our ever having heard of its conception. This makes me wonder what else Danden has been plotting and with whom? Who can we trust from this point forward, and how can we truly discern the rebels from the rabble?
Not the least of my worries concern the group with which I am to travel. I have already made mention of several of my personal qualms, but I do not think it can be emphasized enough how truly crucial our mission is. To entrust any but the best of the best with a task of such significance would be the greatest folly. The druid’s abilities remain untested, and though he has sworn a pack oath, I am yet to see any inkling of personal involvement in the whole affair from this man. Crump, the Half-Orc, has proven to be an addle-brained halfwit who strikes first and assesses the situation later. Our cleric cannot ride, and his history as an urban-stationed healer makes me question his usefulness in battle and afield.
Finally, I come to the one greatest thorn in my side; that intolerable vagabond who I’ve been given the responsibility of babysitting. What accursed devil signed this horrid little imp into my service, and what misdeeds have I performed to deserve such a fate? To be saddled with a –
The following passage is illegible, due to the rapid scrawling hand and the juxtaposition of sounds in both the Elven and Draconic languages. That which has been successfully gleaned from this particular segment of the letter, however, is probably better off left unread as it seems to lean in the direction of the horribly profane.
- have to bear another moment with that sodden little cutpurse it will be the end of me!
But all of these misgivings and doubts pale in comparison to the one glimmer of hope that keeps me on task and looking upward rather than at my soiled, road-weary boots. But glimmer is too humble a word. My faith in our order and in our cause has been bolstered by nothing short of a sunspot on our own soil – a bastion of beauty and benevolence that will forever wound the eyes for want of ever gazing upon another vision of such staggering beauty and immense power. I cannot properly describe my elation when, in my moment of greatest doubt, I was visited by one of our matron mothers. Truly I am honored, my brothers, to claim audience with a great Blue Matron Dragon. She assured me that our cause was true, my hesitance unwarranted, and granted me the incredible opportunity to travel with her own daughter, a gem amongst so much gravel, the most venerable Cinderburn.
Such an opportunity has rekindled my hope for our success despite the many obstacles that would stand in our path. I ask and pray that you, my brothers, assist me in this endeavor in any way you might. I ask for guidance, for help, and for your prayers in our time of trial. Indeed our need is greater now than ever I can recall, and in return for your ever open eyes and ears abroad on our behalf I pledge anew my loyalty to our fraternity, the blessed and far-revered Order Draconis.
In Honor and Shame Akin,