Realms of Myth

Correspondence with the Marchioness Lucinda

Arthur Miller (1)

I have never written a letter to such an esteemed personage as yourself, so I pray you forgive the impertinence.

I am not sure what sort of news would interest you, so I will fall back on the time honored tradition of all men and talk about myself. If you do not find this correspondence to be offensive, I beseech you to tell me what you would like to know and I will do all that is in my power to ascertain this information.

In some ways the university is all that I had imagined it would be (particularly in regards to the academics). A community of intellectuals discussing weighty and important matters. There are, of course, some poseurs but, for the most part, the students and faculty are intelligent and thoughtful men.

Having been impressed with the mystical abilities of the half-elf, Thalañiarion, I am seeking instruction in the mysteries of wizardry, in addition to the more traditional scholarly pursuits.

Since my travels led me through the lands of Faerie, I am also spending some effort researching the ways of the Fae.

I hesitate to mention it, since I am likely merely being paranoid, but, while the academics have been as I imagined, as I said, I have been mildly disturbed by some of the moral behavior that I have observed. These are supposed to be holy men, but I am detecting more behavior that does not comport with the tenets of the Light than seems appropriate. Some other students have noted the same thing, but it may just be that we are reading in things that are not there. Regardless, I will endeavour to keep my wits about me.

It is certainly the case that I have taken on a great number of tasks, and I will be happy to take a break to visit the Sharp’s soon. It seems that the devastation that befell my family was not as total as I had originally believed. I am eager to talk to Mr. Sharp and find out what news he has in this matter.

I will leave this as a short letter, as I am uncertain as to the propriety of sending this note at all.

May the Light long preserve you in safety,

Arthur Miller

Marchioness Lucinda (1)

To the esteemed and learned master of the sword and mine valued supporter and benefactor, Arthur Miller, I greet thee well and send my felicitations,

Let me please first thank thee for the kind and caring missive which thou didst send, and know thou that I do enclose with this letter by return post such fondness and appreciation for thy thoughtfulness and ardent desire to be most sensitive and correct as it is possible under the circumstances for me to convey.

I would have thee know thine attentions by post are not the least bit impertinent, as might be perceived if someone similar to thee but unknown to me had arranged to place a letter of theirs in mine hand. I am so very pleased to have thine attentions to take mine own mind off of matters that weary me here, and pushes somewhat the loneliness away.

Know thou that I would be pleased to hear of thine exploits in Entingfast and how thine studies progress, and do thou convey unto me what news thou hast of thine companions as well, Sir l’Estrier, Sir Cael and the young Lord Maralad and their affairs and further exploits – and be certain to give into their keeping my wishes for all of thee that every fine thing for which you all could wish yourselves come swiftly to thee.

As for poseurs, I have had a belly full of them, but fear there will be no reprieve nor relief from their presence. They seem in all ways to have become a permanent fixture in the palace or the castle or the monastery, withersoever we should wander on Progress.

As for myself, I should wager I am much settled into the routine of what being me must surely have been like in my life before my fall into the sea. Your mention of the Fey doth make me to shudder, I freely admit but, as it is said, knowledge hath power. Have thou a care, nonetheless.

As for the moral character of your colleagues at university, I am somewhat troubled myself in the same regard. Perhaps it is a matter of the fact that I have so recently come back to court as a “clean slate”, as it were, but it seems almost as if there were a pall or a shadow hanging over all of humanity here, and in its midst I begin to see a few, here and there, that seem bent upon fostering it, coaxing it forth. I find solace more and more in the chapel when I am not about the duties of my station. I do continue to while away the days seeing that the affairs of mine realm (who knew it was so vast or requires so much intimate attention?) are ordered according to the lights of their Majesties. They grow easier with my rule, and perhaps in time I will be allowed to see to mine own affairs. I think that my past life doth require of them to take a more cautious approach. It saddens me to think I might have been such a person as to cause their majesties any distress in matters of state.

I plead ignorance, in that I know nothing of these Sharps thou dost mention – who are they? I have an inkling by the context they may be family to thee?

It seems they may have good news for thee, I would be so pleased to hear of it when thou dost have the right and fullness of it.

For the nonce I will take my leave if thee, good Arthur.

From this vantage point it seems to me that despite the schooling for thee to which I attend, some more fitting reward might be in order in return for the kind service thou hast shewn me.. I shall think me on’t in the meantime.

Written by mine own hand (a talent and aptitude recently rediscovered, it pleaseth me to say) at the halls of Courtrai, where I am attended by the good Wemblian brothers of Thornhill Abbey, on this 25th day of August, in the year of the Light sixteen-hundred and forty-three. All the blessings of the Light be upon thee and thine.

Arthur Miller (2)

To the most excellent and honoured Marchioness Lucinda, who shines as a beacon of Light, your faithful subject, Arthur Miller, greets thee with respect and admiration.

I am pleased that my letter met with your approval, and I will continue to write missives as long as they find favour in your eyes.

You had mentioned that you might be interested in news regarding Sir Cael. He has traveled with me to Entingfast and is planning to remain here for the foreseeable future. I do not fully understand the reasoning, but he has been requested by his superior to ‘watch over me’ as I undertake my studies. I feel some pride that I am considered important enough for such worthies to take an interest. Luckily, this pride is tempered by the fact that I have no idea why they consider me important, thus protecting me from hubris.

Sir Cael is a man of outstanding character. He is forthright and will not tolerate immorality. Alas, while these are noble traits, they do not endear him to some of the more … flexible … people here at Entingfast. He has attached himself as a magister at the university, but he is having some difficulty attracting students.

While I admire his dedication to strict honesty, I feel that he needs someone campaigning on his behalf. While being a successful merchant does require scrupulous integrity in some matters, there is also an understanding that embellishment is sometimes expected. Thus, though I endeavour to maintain a low profile, I am doing my best to covertly increase the stature of Magister Cael. Increasing the number of students under his tutelage can only cause an increase of Good in the world.

In regards to the realms of Faerie, there is a good deal of information here at Entingfast. However, I begin to consider that it may behoove me to reach out to the pagans for a different perspective. Although I overreached myself with Lady Bess in our previous encounter, I believe that a more humble request for pure knowledge may meet with a more positive response. Through my interactions with Thalañiarion, I have come to realize that many pagans possess high moral character. As such, I think that it would be a proper course of action to seek their wisdom in matters which they may have more direct experience than those associated with the Church.

Thank you for sharing your observations regarding those who seek to foster immorality. What you have seen appears to comport precisely with what Sir Cael and I are seeing here in Entingfast. It is, alas, quite troubling, as it appears this moral decay is more prevalent than I would have hoped. In these dire times, however, I am pleased that you are able to find solace in the chapel.

I pray that, in time, the King and Queen will recognize your goodness and intelligence and allow you a greater degree of autonomy. Trust, once lost, can be difficult to regain, but if anyone deserves a second chance, it is you.

Thomas Sharp was my father’s cousin. He and his wife, Mary, and daughter, Katherine, kindly took me in when my family suffered its misfortune. I stayed with them for seven years, putting aside my past as a merchant’s son and focusing instead on the tools of warfare. Thomas is a man of impeccable honour, Mary is sweetness personified, and Katherine is an intelligent and dutiful young lady. I feel most fortunate to have landed in their care. The next time I write to you, I should have met with them, and I will have more information regarding the state of affairs left to my family’s business after the perfidy of Rustin.

As to a further reward, there is no need, for it is my pleasure and honour to be of service to you. Indeed, it is a source of happiness to me that I was able to provide some assistance to you, and I only regret that I was unable to do more. I treasure the ring you gave to me at our last encounter. It is my most prized possession.

I remain your humble servant in the Light, Arthur Miller

Arthur Miller (3)

To the intelligent and admirable Marchioness Lucinda, your devoted servant, Arthur Miller, greets thee.

Sir Cael and I will be traveling soon to Erebord to meet with both Sir Cawdry and my family. I will be certain to keep you apprised of any interesting developments that arise from these meetings.

Until then, life continues on as normal here in Entingfast.

Before he left for his duties as an ambassador, Thalañiarion gifted me with a book of elfin poetry and history. It was a perfect gift from a scholarly man, as I do not speak the language. Thus, it provides a double incentive to learn: A new language as well as the history of an ancient people.

My translations go slowly and are, undoubtedly, imperfect. What I have discerned so far both troubles and intrigues me. It casts a different light upon what I am learning from the magisters in philosophy and theology. It would likely not surprise you to learn that this is my favorite subject. Alas, I am forced to keep silent the new ideas derived from Thalañiarion’s book. I suspect the philosophy master may be one of those seeking to foster immorality, and I do not wish to give him any reason to cause my dismissal from the university. It rankles at me to hold my tongue, but patience is critical when playing the long game. I will endeavour to keep my head down and exhibit said patience until the moment is right.

I have convinced my friends to seek the teachings of Sir Cael. I hope this will give him a boost in gaining a name for himself and will enable him to attract yet more students in the future. The Light willing, we have many years ahead of us before I graduate, and the more successful Sir Cael is, the better.

I remain, as always, your humble servant in the Light, Arthur Miller

Marchioness Lucinda (3)

From the hand of the humble servant of the royal chapel at fair Rotherham, on behalf of the splendid marchioness of all the Shanrian Marches, Lucinda of Lamnedd
To my most worthy and faithful servant in the Light, Arthur Miller, greetings.

I read with some envy of thine prospective travels! I look forward to thine fulsome recounting of the events of thy journey to me upon its conclusion, if I may make so bold as to ask, who hath not the slightest right to ask such an thing.
I chuckled to read your mention of Thaliñiarion’s history, but delighted he hath afforded thee the opportunity to expand thine portfolio of languages. I prithee do take thee on a sojourn amongst the elfs, if’n thou mayest. Such is the best means extant to soak up a tongue and learn to listen to it and speak it in all its nuances, in my relatively short time in court.
In all seriousness, have a care to husband the knowledge thou dost glean from their records and keep it close. There may be those who would accuse thee of heresy if it were to temper thine standing upon matters involving right religion. The church seems to have grown ever more hostile to the very idea of heresy, All are seemingly aghast at the Holy Office in far Paraños, but what have they really done about it? We may yet witness their ratification by the church at large and the Holy Father away in Vitalia.
I bid thee, good Arthur, do instruct Sir Cael to exhibit the arms of Lamneth upon his house, as I would allow it to be known, for his benefit, he hath mine favor, and that should provide him with some attention from the students, at least those hailing from here in the Marches, which I am certain number more than a few, for howsoever long he wishes to teach down here, south of Kingsbridge.
For mine own part, things remain as they have been and I grow more easy and accustomed to my place, station, and duties.
From the reactions of the people and especially mine household staff, it would seem that I was not a particularly attentive nor sympathetic magnate, except in rather a mercurial and quixotic manner. It is with particular pleasure I apply myself to redressing past wrongs and rewarding loyalty of long-standing. I am slowly discovering debts of gratitude long owing and taking some care in choosing commensurate rewards. The beatific smiles are mine own rewards in return, especially from the common folk. The reserved or even cagey responses, especially from among my vassals, maketh me sad, for it maketh me mindful of a cur that was last kicked and hath forgotten how to properly respond to kindness. This I shall mend only in the fulness of time.
The escheat of the estates of Earl Fisher, Rustin, hath created opportunities a-plenty for joint ventures and cultivating a more healthy communication and commerce with the Marches.
I fear me I have no more time of the moment to spare for converse with thee, my dear and kind gentle man. I count myself fortunate to have the attention and support of thee and thine strong and upright friends.
Many orisons to the Light have I commissioned on thy behalf, and a number repeated in mine own voice for thee and thine. Thou hast indeed made of me thine humble bedes woman, and I smile and laugh lightly with pleasure to say it.
May the Light illuminate thine every step.
Lucinda of the Marches

Arthur Miller (3.5)

To the resplendent and righteous lady, Marchioness Lucinda, your obedient servant, Arthur Miller, greets thee.
Your lovely letter has arrived just before Sir Cael and I were about to set off for Erebord.
Let it be known that you may ask anything of me. My service is yours to command. I would assuredly be most pleased to tell you anything of interest that occurs on our forthcoming journey and will do so as soon as we return to Entingfast.

It is quite kind of you to bestow your favour upon Sir Cael, and I will let him know forthwith.
In prior days, it is quite possible that I would have dismissed the knowledge in Thaliniarion’s book, blinded by what I was sure was true. Recent events, however, have caused the information to enter a less prejudiced mind. I will assuredly heed your words, however, and only reveal my thoughts on such matters to those of a sympathetic and discreet nature.
I am saddened to hear that your subjects look upon you with a measure of suspicion. I am glad, though, that you are pressing forward with your good works regardless. I hesitate to bore you with clichés, but it is true that doing good is its own reward. And, in time, I am certain you will rebuild any lost trust with all of those who come to know you.
I must say that it also makes me smile, the image of you dispensing favours to one of your surprised subjects.
I apologize for the briefness of this letter, but I fear that I am causing Sir Cael to wait idly by. I will write again as soon as I am able.
I remain, as always, your humble servant in the Light, Arthur Miller.

Marchioness Lucinda (3.5)

To my right reverent and respectful vassal, Master Arthur Miller, from the scion of the Shanrian Marches, Lucinda of Lamneth
With fulsome wishes for thy health and continued happiness, Master Miller, I greet thee well. May all rhine affairs conclude to thine best advantage, howsoever thou couldst wish of them.
It is with gratitude, as ever, that I take a break from the grinding affairs of state to read a bit and share some of thine light. I confess me, feel sommat akin to thee in a feeling of the expansion of consciousness as knowledge grows. It beseemeth me that such expansion is the necessary result and consequence of taking more learning into one’s mind, as I have had to do every minute of every day since I returned first to the royal court, and then to mine own palatine courts.
Cliche or no, thine words hold truth. The Light and the good it doth are their own rewards. So hath it been for me in regards to coming to know the people of mine suite, mine larger household, and of mine estates, more thoroughly.
I trust thine studies proceed apace. It would not do for thee to fall behind. No, not at all.
I understand, as I must, that thou hast little time to write except when thou’rt on break from classes, but I would not wish for thee to make any other wait upon thy writing to me. Rush not, gentil homme, but allow thine letters to take shape in the fulness of time, to spread a soft gentle light and give me, obsessed as I am with the steady flow of days and state affairs, a welcome divertisment from the demands of class and station.
Things proceed apace here, as they must. I continue to grow into my duties and cultivate closer bonds with those who serve me closest.
Written at the house of the Lyrites at Prudel, South March, by mine own hand as I take pride in it, this sixteen-hundredth and and 46th year of the Light
Lucinda of Lambeth

Arthur Miller (4)

To the noble and good lady, Marchioness Lucinda, your faithful servant, Arthur Miller greets thee.
I have met with Thomas Sharp, and we have made an assessment of the remaining assets of the Miller family. While the fires and debts have wiped out our vertically integrated land holdings (primarily warehouses, stores, and estate), the damage caused by the attacks at sea were less than total. Four good, seaworthy vessels remain, intact and free of debt.
I am writing this letter from the Sharp’s home near Erebord. Despite having ships, a great deal of work will be needed to put the company to rights (if it is, indeed, even possible). One of the first orders of business will be to locate an investor/partner. I will be staying as long as I can before returning to Entingfast (though this will only be another week, at most).
If I am unable to locate financing on this trip (and it would be surprising if I did), I will leave the matter in Mr. Sharp’s hands for the time being. With my position at the university being as precarious as it is, I cannot risk returning late from the holidays.
Thomas is busy with his fighting school, so he will probably not be able to dedicate much time to seeking an investor. Fortunately, I have a fairly good memory of the people associated with our company. I will write to some of the men we previously traded with and gauge their interest in partnering with me in future endeavours.
My father’s reputation was sterling, but I am unsure if this reputation will extend to his seventh son. There is, of course, but one way to find out.
It was good to see my new family again after so long. Mary’s health is still a matter of some concern, but she soldiers on like a true stoic. I think Katherine may be too independently-minded to ever find a husband. I do not think her parent’s mind too much, though, and it is a very happy household.
Sir Cawdry continues assisting Lord Lucien with the rebuilding of Erebord. Work is coming along nicely, though he suspects there may be an excessive quantity of graft involved in the construction. He plans to investigate this, when he has time. I will have to follow up with him the next time we speak.
I remain, as always, your humble servant in the Light, Arthur Miller.

Marchioness Lucinda (4)

From Highton Hall in the Thistle Downs by mine own hand as it please me or by my humble chaplain Durgood, to the fine and upright man of letters and the wider world, Arthur Miller, thine good lady in stewardship of thine continued edification, Lucinda of the Marches.

I greet thee well, fine master Arthur and weet well how kind it is thou hast taken the time and continue to do so to correspond with me at this distance having a care to lighten my load of affairs of state. With this letter by return messenger, as always my fond thanks to thee.
Thou dost delight me, verily I must say, with this news of thine family and thine salvaged fortunes!! If’n thou hast ships at loose ends I would take it as a kindness, who hath no grounds on which to expect any such consideration from thee, for thee to address a letter to mine butler, Avery le Bottelier and see how he might help put those ships to good use, to our mutual profit. In the meantime I shall instruct him to expect thine missive and give it due consideration for mine own sake. He shall be informed of mine pleasure in the matter.
In addition, in return for whatsoever considerations thou might determine to be worthy of the gift, i prithee fly my pennant on thine ships and display the charge of the Low Marches, that all may know the high esteem in which I hold thee.
I prithee, do thou let me know if’n it would be desirable for thy Mary to be looked at by mine own personal physicker. Sir Ephraim can be dispatched to see her personally, should thou deem it advisable.
Is thy Katherine a woman of steel then? It may take a man of steel to settle her. For the sake of the school, it might be an auspicious time to seek out a younger master who hath some love and admiration for Thomas’ teachings into the school to help and in time to wed good Katherine, thus securing the future of that fine school of such excellent repute.
I eagerly await the completion of the work at Erebord and Maralad. I wish most ardently to visit on progress when all is in readiness. I found their Majesties’ judgements in that case most inspiring. I strive ever to match their standards of justice in mine own courts.
In that vein, although I weet well that Lord Lucien and Sir Cawdry both are most like forever to be welcomed to enjoy the royal court, I would deem it a kindess if’n thou wouldst mention unto them that, as their suzerain, I am a little hurt they hath yet to bend their search for suitable marriage matches here to mine own court. I hath, as it happeneth, a vested interest in their marriages as it affects affairs local to mine honour and responsibilities of the Marches. It would be a signal pleasure for me to aid them in their searches for suitable matches. It speaks ever so highly of Sir Cawdry that he seek to improve Lord Lucien’s estate in the long game rather than the short, and for his own part that he hath an eye out for a young lady of great compatibility, not just ambition. He doth his lord great credit.
Ahhh … it would seem we hath reached the end of the time i set aside for this task. While Durgood hath finished, I cannot help but be pleased with the extent of the work I completed of mine own hand.
I look forward to thine next missive, master Miller.
I send thee warmest wishes and the sure knowledge that thine star is on the rise. Forget the troubles of thine past.
With most humbles prayers that the Light spangle thine every step, dear friend.
Lucinda of the Marches

Arthur Miller (4.5)

To the exceptional and gracious lady, Marchioness Lucinda, your reverent servant, Arthur Miller, greets thee.

It is always a great pleasure for me to receive a letter written from your own hand. I receive them with both happiness and gratitude.

I shall write to Avery le Bottelier forthwith.

A appreciate the courteous manner in which you have done me this favour. (You had written previously that your subjects looked upon you with some distrust. I can only imagine that it will be a short time before they come to love and esteem their liege lady.)

I would, of course, be deeply honoured to fly your pennant on the ships.

No physician has been able to discern what troubles poor Mary. If anything could be done, it would mean so much to all of us. I know I should keep hope in my heart, but I fear that I despair.

As to Katherine, well, I understand that independence can be considered unseemly, but I must allow that I do not find it so. Strength is to be admired, wherever we might find it. I find it admirable that she has turned away from the path of least resistance to find her own happiness … or perhaps I am biased, as she is as near to a sister as I have left. I would not dare to tell her what to do, but if Thomas found a good and honourable man to attach to the school, well, who is to say what would happen? …

Lastly, I have passed on your offer of assistance to Sir Cawdry. I am certain he will be most appreciative of your kindness.

Let me again express my gratitude for the interest you have taken in my affairs. It is a signal honour that I feel most keenly.

May the Light warm you always.

I remain your devoted and grateful servant, Arthur Miller.

Arthur Miller (5)

To the brilliant and serene lady, Marchioness Lucinda, your dedicated servant, Arthur Miller, greets thee.
Sir Cawdry has come to visit us here in Entingfast. He brings disturbing news of a strange, twisted wizard.
He tracked the diversion of Lord Lucien’s funds to a small town where some interesting matters developed. While visiting the house of one of the locals, the lady of the house went down to the cellar to fetch some wine. Shortly thereafter he heard a cry and a sound of thunder.
Racing downstairs, he found the woman had disappeared without a trace, while in her place was a fiendish imp. After a brief scuffle, the imp fled. A search of the cellar revealed a strange sigil. Throwing caution to the wind, he touched the sigil and was magically transported to a tower.
Inside the tower was a demented, paranoid wizard. After a brief conversation, the wizard threatened Sir Cawdry, who thereupon dealt him a severe blow to the face. He moved through the tower and found the missing local, hung up in a cage. After liberating her, he felt pity for the curious wizard and decided to show him mercy.
The wizard was to be married to the local nobleman’s young daughter. Sir Cawdry did not let this fact interfere with his attempts to dispense justice, and he roused the local gendarmes to arrest the wizard. Things went awry, and the wizard fled using a different magickal sigil in his tower.
The authorities attempted to find and apprehend the wizard, but he sent out his imps and they paralyzed Sir Cawdry and killed the guardsmen by stealth in the night.
It eventually was discovered that the sigil led to a nearby castle. Alas, no trace of the wizard could be found.
During their conversation, the wizard had mentioned that he had learned his arcane skills from another wizard who lived in the area. It is possible that this castle had been the abode of said mentor.
In addition to the dead guardsmen, the nobleman’s daughter was found in a comatose state from which she did not awaken. Sir Cawdry sent for assistance from the capital, but it does not appear that anyone was able to revive her. Perhaps when I become more proficient in the arcane arts, I can see what I can do. Of course, if the mighty wizards and druids of Fallond cannot help, it seems unlikely that I would be able. Still, there is only one way to find out.
I pray that this letter finds you in good health and good spirits.
I remain, as always, your humble servant in the Light, Arthur Miller.

Marchioness Lucinda (5)

By mine own hand, Lucinda, Marchioness of the Shanrian MarchesI take quill in hand to address thine startling news with all haste
First and foremost, i prithee WHERE did this alarming coil unwind?!
As my vassal, I am doubly concerned, first for Cawdry’s safety, but also insofar that since it affected his estate, hath this in fact taken place within my domain? Is this a matter I should needs be addressing?
Imps?! Magick portals?! Apportation?! It sounds like a snippet from a fairytale! Then again I am minded of the fairytale through which I myself lived and, indeed , am still haunted byte this day …
Do thou send to me soonest all such details as to the name of the town, the lord, the land and such and all other details as thou canst ascertain.
On the wings of a pigeon, if one can be found, that this news be transported soonest.
I pray thou hast not been subject to any other such similarly harrowing adventures, good master Miller
With fond concern
Lucinda of the Marches

Arthur Miller (6)

To the clever and radiant lady, Marchioness Lucinda, your obedient servant, Arthur Miller, greets thee.
The darkness seems to be spreading here in Entingfast. I have just last night observed a mysterious and unnatural collaboration of villains.
I was up late studying some interesting material on the fates of the old pagan gods, when I heard a jangling sound that struck me as out of place here on the university grounds. I set aside my work and sidled up carefully to the window. Looking out, I saw four knights (or at least men in armour) being led through the dark evening by (what appeared to be) a monk carrying a strange candle. Looking more carefully, I noticed that the knights wore the surcoat of St. Cordall.
Clearly something was terribly awry. Determined to apprehend these scoundrels, I moved throughout the house, attempting to rouse my fellows. Alas, they were fast asleep and could not be stirred. I checked other, nearby houses, but all of the residents seemed to be in the same state of unbreakable slumber.
My last battle with three men (and those unarmored) had very nearly caused my demise, so I’m afraid I told myself that discretion was the better part of valour, and I decided to merely watch. I was fortunate in that the light from the moon was shining in such a way as to give me a good vantage of the goings on.
I detected one of the knights reaching into the watering trough near the chapel. He appeared to withdraw a key ring, which he used to open the doors to the chapel. My eyes being drawn to the double doors, I almost didn’t notice, but out of the corner of my eye, I detected something even stranger: One of the knights seemed to slip a pouch of some kind into the trough, after.
The five of them went into the chapel, and I remained where I was, keeping an eye on the doors.
A short time later, the five of them emerged, and one of them seemed to be carrying a sword. I couldn’t get a great look at it, as they were wrapping the sword in cloth as they exited the chapel.
That was all I was able to determine.
Today, there was an announcement that the chapel’s chaplain (a good man) had passed away during the night from old age. Shortly after the announcement, Mother Marianne and her retinue of four knights departed Entingfast.
I am deeply disturbed by the events I am witnessing around me.
Despite the darkness around us, it is my great hope that you are in good health and good spirits.
I remain, as always, your humble and servant in the Light, Arthur Miller.

Marchioness Lucinda (6)

From Her Grace, the Marchioness of the Shanrian Marches, to the most excellent and discreet Master Miller, her trusted man of letters, may this be delivered in timely fashion.
Another tale of Darkness, I do start to fear for thine well-being, but also for the people of the whole of the south realm!
The great bishop Lyondyke is a good and pious soul. I cannot think me he would tolerate such skullduggery.
I am afraid this Mother Marianne thou hast mentioned is a stranger to me, although her reputation is great enough that all my ministers vouchsafe her probity and character in general, purportedly a great pillar of the Church in the South March.
Sayest thou they committed theft from the ancient chapel there?
Followed by an announcement of the chaplain’s death from old age?
That is passing strange, and too convenient by halves, from where I sit. I may be back in the circles of power but a short time, especially compared to many here, but even to mine own nose that tale doth stink of lies. There can be little doubt that the old man was murdered, clearly having happened upon the knights in the act. Thou didst mention only 4 knights, yet thou didst say they were 5 in number total. What couldst thou discern of the fifth?
I cannot imagine what sword would be worth such dark dealings, but that chapel doth date back to the first years of the church in this realm, and it was often the custom for the church to usurp the holy pagan places where their dead were buried as holy places of the Light to make the people more inclined to come to the Light. But what sword would be worth a farthing after an age in the earth?
I am grateful for hearing such news as thou hast forthwith, good Arthur, but I could certainly wish for tales of a more calm and pastoral, domestic tenor. Still, so long as thou dost remain safely ensconced kin thine studies, I can certainly have no complaints. I hear nothing but good reports of thine humble demeanor and diligent studies from those factors of mine that happen through the city.
Written at Rolluntollun Chase along the banks of the mighty Rolluntinduil with sincerest prayers for the continued health and well-being of thee and thine,
Lucinda of the Marches

Arthur Miller (6.5)

To the shining and just lady, Marchioness Lucinda, your faithful and devoted servant, Arthur Miller, greets thee.

I must apologize for the dark tone of my recent letters. The times being what they are, it is easy to become inured to the darkness. Your words make me realize that it is in these times that we most need to focus on the good things in our life, hence this note.

I should mention that things are, indeed, going well for me here at Entingfast. I am striving to perform at a high level in all of my classes, and I hope to make everyone proud of me. I continue to learn a lot, both in my official studies, as well as by my extracurricular research.

My study of the Elfin language and histories is proving to be quite interesting. I agree with your advice regarding discretion in these matters. As such, I have been doing my utmost to keep my thoughts to myself, even when sorely pressed.

Although I study hard, I do find time so spend with the friends I have made here. They are a bit younger than I am, and, as such, have some interests that diverge from my own (it does make me wonder, when did I get old?), but they are good-hearted men of fine character.

We do engage in the typical drinking and philosophizing that you might expect of university students. Some of our debates last long into the morning, and I am surprised that we have not already solved all of the problems of the world, our discussion is so … elevated and learned (well, at least it seems that way when we have been drinking for long hours!)

I pray, as always, for your happiness and well-being.

Your humble servant in the Light, Arthur Miller.

Marchioness Lucinda (6.5)

From the Marchioness Lucinda of Lowmarch to her faithful scholar-in-training, Master Arthur Miller presently of Entingfast, may this be delivered with all due haste.

It is so good of thee to tender thine apologies, good Arthur, and so kind of thee to send such light-hearted news to let me know that, amidst the rising tide of darkness the light still burns as ever it did. What a comfort that thou dost hold thine lantern high for those younger to glimpse the Light, also.
Truly, though, I must say it cometh as no real surprise to hear thee reveal that it is so, for that is the sort of man thou hast impressed upon me that thou art.
Thou must reveal to me such revelations as thou hast discovered in learning the elfin tongue and unraveling the complex tales the fine Thaliñiarion didst try to regale us with such thin and meager success. Something tells me that much is to be revealed when translated and read aloud by a native speaker of the Shanrian tongue – or tell me, didst translate it into the Scholar’s Tongue instead? In either case it will be well-received by mine ears.

You make me laugh, good man, both for your drunken philosophizing (which I can scarce credit thee with!) and thine questioning the effects of dauntless Father Time’s hourglass. For this I thank you. We are none of us younger. Indeed I was surprised in myself the other day to think it has been more than a handful of years now since thou didst perform thine unmatched service to me and after did depart for school.

I look forward with great anticipation to having all of thee, the fine Earl Lucien and his knights Lord Cawdry and Sir Cael and thine retinue, as a part of mine train to enjoy the winter court with us in Rotherham. I know for certain there are a number of distinguished members of the scholastic community there about the crown, as they prop up the royal government at almost every level, as well as His Majesty’s and Her Majesty’s households. Thou wilt find great divertissement among them and much cheer – I am sure of it!

Take care, my loyal scholar, to save the best of thine drinking talents for the Winter Fête, for there wilt thou represent me and mine honor. I expect a good showing, along with mine other good lords and knights.

I dare say we shall not have occasion to write again before we meet at Maralad, where for a day or so I am quite sure we shall fill the castle and the surrounding villages to bursting, before setting off to Fallond and the Great Bridge, then fair Rotherham itself.

Written this chilly November day by the hand of mine faithful clerk, Rounceval, here at the Hall of Pounacious on behalf of Lucinda of Lowmarch, all the great blessing of the Light come unto thee for which thee and thine do wish for thineselves

Arthur Miller (7)

To the luminous and virtuous lady, Marchioness Lucinda, your grateful servant, Arthur Miller, greets thee.
I was walking through town today, and out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of a woman wearing a particular dress, and, for a moment, I thought it was you.
I hope that that the sun is shining on you and that the Light smiles upon you.
I remain, as always, your humble servant in the Light, Arthur Miller.
Marchioness Lucinda (7)
Whatever holiday is next after Arthur sent this missive, maybe his birthday, a bundle is delivered by a man wearing Lucinda’s badge. In it: a very good heavy wool cloak for the winter of the richest, most vibrant forest green, lined in angora rabbit skins, also a pair of fine white leather gloves with a golden quill embroidered on each canon, and a ranger’s hat in the same green with a fine silver pin holding a glossy spray of short iridescent white feathers from which a pair of pheasant tail feathers sprang in a graceful arc.

Arthur Miller (8)

To the glorious and sublime lady, Marchioness Lucinda, your respectful servant, Arthur Miller, greets thee.

We recently held a friendly poetry competition for the winter holidays. I comprised a beautiful poem in your honour. After the competition, I discovered something … I am, apparently, more adept at appreciating poetry then I am at composing it!

I suppose it did give my friends a good opportunity to laugh (admittedly, at me, but still …) I guess a dose of humility never did anyone any harm.

If nothing else, I like to think that I cut a dashing figure in the wonderful new garb you so generously sent me. If, as they say, “Clothes make the man,” then I am doing quite well, indeed.

I thank you most heartily for the thoughtful gifts and the kind thoughts. Know that, in turn, you are ever in my thoughts and prayers.

May the Light shine upon you this holiday season (and always).

I remain, as ever, your humble servant in the Light, Arthur Miller.

Marchioness Lucinda (8)

You and Sir Cael and Sir Cawdry receive an invitation to attend Winter Court and the Mid Winter Festival in Rotherham as a part of Lucinda’s household/retinue.

Arthur Miller (9)

To the mighty and benevolent lady, Marchioness Lucinda, your dedicated servant, Arthur Miller, greets thee.

I could not have landed in a better situation than I find myself in, here in Ristenby. I will allow that I miss the camaraderie of my friends in Entingfast, but I find the peaceful life of a scholar suits me well. My studies are progressing well and there is so much to learn. It is quite exciting.

The people and atmosphere are exactly as they should be. It is how I thought things would be in Entingfast. The monastery is filled with spiritual men as well as scholarly men.

I also spend more time than ever before in quiet contemplation, and I find myself thinking of you often. I am so thankful that our paths crossed, although I certainly would have preferred that the circumstances had not been so dire for you.

I hope the affairs of state do not weigh too heavily upon you. I know that you are capable of handling anything, but I wish you could concentrate on the acts of charity and kindness to your vassals that bring you so much happiness, without having to worry about dark deeds and existential risks.

You know that I would do anything in my power to assist you with your burdens (and if there is something that is not within my current capabilities, I am happy to apply myself to learn how to make it within my power. I am, after all, in the perfect place for such learning!)

I apologize if this letter comes across a little dry. When things are going as well as they are here in Ristenby, it can be trickier to come up with interesting things to say in a letter. Chaos and consternation are good for that, if nothing else.

May the Light’s radiance bring you peace and happiness.

I remain, as always, your humble servant in the Light, Arthur Miller.

Marchioness Lucinda (9)

To my faithful servant on his quest into the great questions of the universe, Arthur Miller, at the monastery of Ristenby, from his grateful benefactor, the Marchioness Lucinda of Low March, May this be delivered with all due considerations for speed.

In the hopes that this letter find thee still as joyously engaged in thine pursuits as thine previous communication did indicate, and conveying to thee such wishes for thine blessings and for those who are dear to thee – Greetings.

En primes, I must say that I am heartened by thine news of the light state of the place wherein thou dost now pursue thine studies. This gives me hope that world is not lost in shadows, but the spark of hope burns bright, still. Some say that there are no such things as coincidence and, insofar as we were met, I am inclined to agree.

Affairs of estate are what they are, and when thou dost write to me of the events of thine life in the world of scholars I do shake loose its hold on me, if only momentarily.

Had the circumstances under which we were met had not been so dire, I doubt me that the bond resulting would have been so strong or been infused with such life.

I have taken to mine heart thine advice and do when I am able divert myself into making inquiries where I may to see what good and Light I may spread.

At present the only concern I have not the tools to address is the dire slumber under which the girl I have recently discovered is the missing princess of the Low Countries, Hesperia, has fallen. I am still in search of a holy man to address that Black Curse.

Have no fear for finding things of interest to me. Interest is not so much what I look for in thine letters, It is the innocuous events of your mundane days of study that I find diverting, in which lie the ennui that allow me to distance myself from court to join thee in my mind, if only for a little.

My thanks for thine effusive blessings and well wishes. Know that I am thine loyal bedeswoman and ply the Light with blessings of thine own, that thou shalt have all that thou dost desire.

Written with joy by mine own hand this, 20th day of January at Tavistock Priory where I reside with the good sisters of St. Kelwé

Lucinda of Lowmarch

Arthur Miller (10)

To my esteemed and well-beloved patron, the noble lady, Marchioness Lucinda, your faithful servant, Arthur Miller, greets thee.

I wanted to share with you something odd that I’ve been experiencing here at Ristenby. I believe you are aware of the somewhat odd circumstances that preceded my rather abrupt departure from Entingfast. I’ve also discussed the sense of unease I had while I was there. I now find, more and more, that I receive a palpable sensation of a man’s character. It is not really an intuition, but something that I can’t quite explain. The sensation is greatly enhanced by touch. (A simple handshake is what precipitated my hasty departure from Entingfast).

Of course, here at Ristenby, it is almost entirely men of good character, so the feeling is not unpleasant. I do not know what this means, if anything, but it is certainly unusual!

Although the majority of my time is concerned with the study of Natural Philosophy (the subject being deep, complex, and fascinating), I have also begun recording my thoughts regarding ethics. Given the variety of my influences, it is largely incomplete and not yet useful to distribute.

I do believe, however, that there are two primary ways to combat Evil. The direct route, as favored by Sir Cael, is a perfectly valid option, particularly for those who have willingly embraced Darkness. Evil must be rooted out wherever it has taken hold, and destruction is a swift and straightforward means to accomplish this task.

The route which I tend to favor is the path of redemption. I believe that even the Darkest heart can be redeemed in the Light, if given a chance (though I have been informed by ‘one who knows’ that time may not permit this in the upcoming days). I also think that, in the long run, this would be the most effective way to keep Evil from returning.

My father taught me, as a trader, that there are two proper ways to earn a profit. Deal sharply with those men and always press for your advantage. Or treat others as you would treat your friends. The former leads to greater margins and quicker profits, while the latter leads to a good reputation. While I prefer the latter method, sharp dealing is not wrong, especially when dealing with bad men. In combating evil, as well as in trade, one must be flexible, to bring about the most good.

I have told you of my admiration for my friend, Thalañiarion, and how he used magick only for information and healing, never to harm. I had intended to follow in his footsteps, but recent events have caused me to stray from this path to begin learning some battle magick. In the times of impending strife, I fear it would be selfish vanity for me to not use all of the tools at my disposal in defense of your land.

I regret that I have been unable, as of yet, to discover any way of helping the Princess Hesperia. While one cannot cure all the ills of the world, it is heartening to be able to ease the suffering of which we are aware. I will continue to research the issue, since, here in Ristenby, a place both scholastic and truly holy, it seems possible to find the answer.

I am pleased that you are finding time to perform your charitable works. You are the finest person I know and most deserving of happiness.

I shall continue to study diligently to justify your faith in me.

May you continue always to be blessed in the Light.

I remain your humble and grateful servant, Arthur Miller.

Marchioness Lucinda (10)

To the fine man of letters, my assiduous scholar, Magister Sir Arthur Miller, from his faithful and devoted sponsor, the Marchioness Lucinda of Low March, by mine own hand, may this be delivered in as timely a fashion as might reasonably be accomplished.

With all the blessings of the Light and every wish that thou dost achieve every blessing of the Light that thou couldst wish for thee and thine, I send thee warmest greetings. As always thine letters I receive with great pleasure for the momentary escape it affords me from the cares of running so vast a portion of the kingdom as it has fallen upon mine own shoulders to bear.

It beseemeth me that in the course of thine studies there taketh place a flowering of the senses spiritual. Is this something thou didst expect and doth pursue as one of the fruits of thine studies?

What a great advantage in the wider more secular world to know a man’s character simply by shaking hands with him! I find myself considering the advantage thou mayest provide me here in mine own work, the great counsel and guidance thou mightest provide me over the course of my days in dealing with the myriad men of affairs and representatives of government both foreign and domestic. Then I bethink myself that to pull thee from thine studies is no reward at all for the great good thou hast already done me, especially for so selfish a purpose and considering thine studies are supposed to represent mine grateful gift to thee. Especially when thou hast provided me with such cause for pride in the manner in which thou hast pursued and executed those studies.

Still, I find it behooves me to keep thee in mind once thine studies are completed that I might summon thee on the occasions I find most needful to have thine advice and counsel when I am most sorely beset in negotiations. I would not command it of thee, but I would consider it a fair display of our continued mutual amity and affection. Of course, thine studies of the niceties of morality and questions of ethics no doubt are honing thine senses rather finely in that regard, and I would not have those senses abused, for they could hardly be otherwise in such an environment as the court of any great magnate or sovereign.

To that point on which thou hast expressed a desired tactic for dealing in the future, I must agree in general on the desire for the rehabilitation of those who can be redeemed, but in practice, seeing of the world what I do and have from the throne of mine honour, thou art sure to eventually come to the sad realization that there are those that can only be addressed as thou hast described as Sir Cael’s preferred mode of action.

The conflicts within the realm, even amongst the wide sea of the commonalty on whom we all depend for the food and goods that sustain us, there seems to be a rising tide of Darkness. Quarrels are rife and violence so much more often the tool with which they are approached and resolved. I have scanned the records of years past and, while things seem to have been so for many a year, I find the further I go back in the records, the more peaceful the people of the realm were.

As for the cause of it all, it remains invisible to me.

If there is “Evil” or Darkness at work here, it beseemeth me it is not one that hath a face to which one may point and address and hold accountable. In many cases emotions run high and are allowed free reign, only to have the perpetrator fall to his knees afterwards and beg forgiveness, like a child who knows not how to control his rash impulses. But I begin to see, as thou didst point out to me, where others make excuses and even the Church doth indulge … and, indeed, sell indulgences like a merchant at market that they not suffer for their trespasses.

A great Shadow I see lying across our fair realm and, indeed I have spoken to Their Majesties concerning it. They, as I do, seek to thwart it where they may, but some of it would seem to be entrenched in the very customs of the people and, again, there is the difficulty of this slippery slope on which we find ourselves, this permissiveness that allows us ever to slide more into Shadow.

The good works of the Church cannot be denied, but they seem to be taking part in the greasing of the slope with their boundless forgiveness which re-names accountability as rigid intolerance, and casts the ancient charity of tolerance as the slippery slope into heresy.

It is my firm belief that at some time in the coming years the tools of war are going to be needed to finally stop the slide into Shadow. At the bottom of that slope lies the Pits of Darkness. The closer we find ourselves as a realm, as a people, the harder and more bloody the fight will be to climb back into the Light. It is a marvel that the Church itself seems to hasten the slide rather than guard us from it.

Shun none of the tools thou dost find thineself presented with to learn in your time at university that may aid in the coming struggles, for struggles aplenty are without doubt on their way.
Thou hast mentioned as well some uncomfortable truths thou hast been learning regarding the Light and the pagan faith and practices of old.

Could this Darkness be a result of sliding back into pagan ways?

The king did create a wondrous peace in the realm by bringing the Light and the pagans into balance, and I am pleased and seem to see greater peace with those lands in my purview which fall under the pagan faith. This doth make me question the stance of the Light, and causeth me great consternation.

But I am no theologian, and would rather err on the side of silence and allow others more learned than I debate such matters. Hence, my ready willingness to see to thine further education. Any man with the presence of manx and character to step up and rescue his liege as thou and thine hath done must be given the very best tools with which the defend us all when danger threatens again.

As for the princess, mayhap thine spiritual pursuits, thine meditations and aspirations to an understanding to the divine will reveal to thee at some point a remedy for that poor girl’s plight.

So, for now, I will say thee farewell. The questions of the spirit of the realm doth trouble me, but it is good to know that I have a stalwart and dauntless heart also beholden to the Light in which i can confide when these matters trouble me.

Written at Castle Bagley on this modest February day by the hand of mine chaplain, Rounceval, in the year of the Light sixteen hundred forty eight, her Grace Lucinda of Lamnedd, Marchioness of Shanria

Arthur Miller (11)

To the fair lady, Marchioness Lucinda, who shines unto me as a beacon of Light and goodness, your faithful servant, Sir Arthur Miller, greets thee on this fine March day, one thousand six hundred and forty-eight.

Throughout my life I have occasionally been (what I once would have described as) plagued by visions, often dark portents. I had always assumed this was due to my being a seventh son (of a seventh son). It was not until your grim ordeal in the waters of Faerie that I began to conceive of them differently. I had visions of you floating in the water, alive, and a premonition that you had washed ashore on a sandy beach. When we recovered you safely, though not unharmed, it was the first time one of my visions had helped avert tragedy.

These strange divinations had always struck me as ‘magickal’ in nature, however, and not, in some manner, of the Light. This new sense that has come upon me, I think it may have something to do with the holy nature of the monastery in which I reside. It intrigues me, and I have begun researching through the manuscripts in our libraries and praying for guidance.

Few things would please me more than to use any powers at my command to be of service to you in any way you see fit. The work you do is of the utmost importance, and the pleasure I would derive from being able to assist you would be coupled with the pride of knowing that I am helping in such important affairs of state.

Beyond that, you should have no concern for feelings of selfishness in this matter. I still have enough of the merchant in me that the first thought that popped into my mind was what an advantage these senses would have in trading in foreign markets!

Though I would prefer redemption for even those who dwell in Darkness, I must steel myself not to shrink from harsher measures when called for. To allow innocents to suffer for the sake of redeeming evil would be a terrible vanity. The sort of hubris that is caused by one thinking he is above the world and not a part of it.

There can be no doubt that the Light is good. It is, perhaps a tautologically so. I wonder, however, if, as is so often the case, that misplaced pride might be the cause of the moral decay we observe around us. Not the honest pride an individual feels when accomplishing a difficult task or after a hard day’s work, but a collective, unearned pride.

I am speaking a cliché when I note that ‘power corrupts’ (or at least it is often so). The dominance exhibited by the kingdoms of the Light may have caused many to believe that they do not need to humbly follow the precepts of the Light, but instead that they are owed power and status as their right.

It is possible that those in the pagan lands, as outsiders to the dominant paradigm, still strive to uphold proper ideals, taking the best of their pagan faith as well as the best of the virtues of the Light, which have been, to some extent, imposed upon them.

Conversely, it could be, as you say, that many of those in the empire of the Light have done the opposite, sliding into the hedonistic ways of the ancients (as great as they were) and eschewing their duty to the Light.

I will assuredly keep the princess in mind, while I continue my spiritual studies. It has long been my assessment that, in the matter of learning, a specific goal can help motivate a broader study of principles.

In my next letter, I will strive to speak of more pleasant matters. The rather dark nature of this current note leaves me feeling that such lighter topics are out of place.

I pray for the Light to shine its blessings upon you, and I remain, as always, your grateful servant, Sir Arthur Miller.

Arthur Miller (12)

To my beloved patron, the exemplar of the Light, Marchioness Lucinda, on this beautiful September day 1648.

One thing I’ve come to appreciate in my time here in Ristenby is working in the garden. There is something peaceful about the simple act of pulling weeds and tending the plants. There is a kind of satisfaction in eating the food that you have grown yourself. I don’t want to oversell these virtues, of course, since I imagine if this was a person’s livelihood, it would become tedious and backbreaking. I also have to allow that I do enjoy the greater variety of foods we can purchase at the market. Still some of my best thinking is done in these moments.

Since time is (presumably) pressing, I have been concentrating my efforts on learning charms that I am already familiar with from observing my friends/allies, Ogham and Thalaniarion. Their magic showed great usefulness when I travelled with them, and I hope that it will serve me as well in the trials ahead. (Though I am also adding in some good, direct human charms as well.)

I thought I should let you know that I have been using the ring you gave, me those many years ago, as a focus for some of my magic. I wanted to make sure you were okay with this. If not, I will, of course, desist immediately.

May the Light shine on you always.

I remain your grateful servant, Sir Arthur Miller.

Marchioness Lucinda (12)

From Lucinda of Lowmarch to her faithful bedesman and notable scholar, Sir Arthur Miller, may this be delivered with all due consideration. I give thee all honors and all reverence, wishing thee, an it please thee, health and the blessing of the Light with such happy success as is to the utmost of thine desires, forever.

Most honored and most dearly well-beloved friend, I recommend me unto thee, desiring to hear and truly know good news of thine welfare and that of thine honorable brethren and of thine cohort of esteemed friends, with prayers unto the Light Eternal that I be granted always to know all such goodly things of which thou canst indeed think and wish for, for the Eternal Light knoweth how my joy is always increased whenever I have happy news of thee.

By the great love that hath long lain between thee and me for, lo, these several years, I am so much surprised that up to now I have had no letters of thee, and that no reports of thine health have come to mine ears. Therefore may I entreat thee that, for the sincere joy and pleasure of mine heart, it pleaseth thee to keep me informed of all such by messenger as often as it might indeed please thee. And may it also please thee to know, because I am quite certain that it would please thee much, due to the great love and esteem in which thou hast myself beholden, that at the time of sending thee this letter I find me hale and of good health, praise be the Light.

I must confess me of the smiles even thine briefest of missives do bring to mine face, and admit to the truth of having laid such missives aside that they be the last thing i peruse with mine eyes for the pleasure they doth give me and the deep quietude of sleep they invariably afford. I must admit, for mine own part, I have always wondered how it is the simple folk can bring to light so bright a smile for one such as I even as I happen upon them by chance, as I consider the difficulty of their lives, fraught with such constant physical effort such as thou dost describe. I am much relieved to read, in the same breath, that thou art mindful of how heavy such a life of toil might be, had one no other choice, as so many all over the wide lands of mine own Marches, not to mention this great kingdom of Shanria over, have none. I can liken it only, I think, to the pleasure of taking a rough and ready courser out for a long ride, until the fatigue in the body demands a rest and a moment’s repose, before returning. When the body is dulled by fatigue, it beseemeth me, there is more space, if I put it aright, for the thoughts to roam more freely.

What a wonder it is, and a marvel, to see thee write so glibly of the most obscure of Arts, the very secrets of the universe, which in less than the span of two fistful of years thou hast plumbed. Thou has magick at thine beck and call, at thine very fingertips!! A veritable Magister of the Chaos that Once Was!! That it was my modest offering to enable such a feat to be accomplished, and by application of such assiduous study and practice, I am embarrassed to admit a flush of unseemly pride, and a certain frisson of the dangers which must indeed be inherent in such a pursuit and practice. I cannot fathom the resources at thine disposal, nor even the limits of what might be accomplished with thine Arts, so little of it reaches the eyes of those who do not pursue its secrets with purpose. I trust as I have in all these years, that the course thou dost assay is the right one for the path thou wouldst tread, even to the point of entertaining the possibility of seeking such charms, as thou hast named them, as may be useful in the law courts and pursuit of good government, to the benefit of mine own humble self and the very crown of this great kingdom – being ever so cautious of the tender honor of those already in place in the structure of the governance of this great land of such craft and trade. It would cause mine conscience great suffering were thou to come to any danger or difficulty for pursuing the simple purpose of making thineself a useful servant of the realm.

Know thou with a surety I approve most heartily of the use to which thou hast put the ring I gifted thee, and in light of keeping proof of the fact close at hand, I recommend that thou dost always maintain this letter in thine other bona fides in whatever cartulary it has suited thee to maintain such papers. I wouldst fain see any harm befall thee should it become an issue, especially if i were not able to come to thine aid in the matter.

I thank thee again for the very great affection and kindness that thou hast had and pray still have for me and mine, and for the other favors without number which it has pleased thee in thy charitable kindness to do and to show to myself and the interests of mine station and estates, may thou walkest in the Light eternally, and those who depend upon me, without our deserving any at all.

I beg thee, let me thus experience, my dear Sir Miller, those depths of affection which thou dost retain in thine sweet, most kindly heart, for me and mine. And if there be anything at all that I can do for thine honor or pleasure, may it please thee to communicate thy gracious wishes and desires, which I am and will always be ready to obey and fulfill to the limit of my time, ability and resources, as mine heart obliges me so to do.

Written at Elleswoerth Hall, Cleveshire, East March, this cold, late September day,
in this year of our Grace in the dawning of the Light one thousand six-hundred forty-eight.
Thine humble bedeswoman in the Light, so please thee,
Marchioness Lucinda of Lambeth

Arthur Miller (13)

To my most beloved patron, Marchioness Lucinda, whose goodness and kindness are beyond reproach, your grateful servant, Sir Arthur Miller, writes to you on this lovely October day, one thousand, six hundred and forty-eight.

Struck by a strange impulse, I went on a long walk today. I am not certain as to why … perhaps I just wanted to experience the splendor of the land. Autumn has always been the most beautiful time of year, oddly enough, I suppose, because everything is dying.

I stayed out for many hours and watched the most glorious sunset. As they often do at such times, my thoughts turned to you, and I wish you could have been here to see it.

Having been to Faerie, I find that the night no longer holds much terror for me. I appreciate the cold beauty of the evening sky. There is a feeling of peace and tranquility that comes from being alone in the dark of a new moon; the crisp air, the stars shining down upon you the only light.

When I finally returned to the monastery, I felt compelled to write to you. It was a day of no consequence, yet it was a magnificent day all the same.

I pray that the Light shines upon you and that your days are filled with grandeur and happiness.

I remain your grateful servant, Sir Arthur Miller.

Arthur Miller (14)

To the resplendent and glorious lady, Marchioness Lucinda, who stands as an inspiration to all who know her, your devoted servant, Sir Arthur Miller, writes to you on this chill November day, one thousand, six hundred and forty-eight.

It was with great pleasure that I received your most recent letter. Your good opinion means the world to me, and I seek always to act in a manner which will justify your kindness and graciousness towards me.

I hope you did not find me too glib, regarding the nature and study of Natural Philosophy. In my efforts to comprehend its secrets, I take matters most seriously indeed. I do not wish, however, to create a barrier between me and others, regarding my status as a user of charms and incantations. In some of my past dealings with wizards, I have found them, sometimes, to be a bit arrogant. The tendency for power to lead to Vice is ever-present, and I would like to avoid this trap.

Regarding any dangers I may face as a result of my studies … I do not wish to sound overly dramatic, but I would gladly face any danger on your behalf. I have no desire to take risk foolishly, but I value you above all others and would happily do whatever is required to further your happiness.

As to my studies themselves, it is a peculiar line that I walk. The study of Natural Philosophy requires rigorous logic, careful study, and thorough research. On the other hand, my investigation into the unusual spiritual powers that I seem to be evincing is largely inward- looking. It is less a matter of logic and more one of belief. It can, at times, be difficult to be in the correct mental state.

I am relieved and pleased that you find favor with my use of your ring. I treasure every gift you have given me, and I enjoy having an excuse to keep this reminder of you close to me.

I remain your grateful servant, Sir Arthur Miller.

Arthur Miller (II-1)

To the noble and beneficent lady, Marchioness Lucinda, who is the embodiment of charity and kindness, your obedient servant, Sir Arthur Miller, greets thee on this auspicious June day, one thousand six hundred and fifty.

It feels quite strange, but I am about to leave the monastery at Ristenby and move on with the next stage of my life. I received my degree with only a little ceremony (it was much more subdued than at Entingfast).

Many of my friends made the trip to congratulate me, which was heartening. My original inspiration to study magic, Thalaniarion was there with his powerful mentor, Lord Peregrinus. Sir Cawdry took a break from his busy affairs and Sir Cael, of course. Lady Bess also showed up, though I think her motive was to recommend to us an elven friend of hers, Mister Oak.

Now that I have gained some competence in the matters pertaining to Natural Philosophy, I believe it is time that I move back out into the world to see if I can accomplish some good. You know of the trials the realm is facing, and I wish to do what I can to help.

The first order of business is to attend to the Lady Hesperia. With the fairly unusual training I have undertaken here, I feel I may be well-qualified to address her unnatural state.

I have been persuaded to take a brief detour to Entingfast to conduct some research into that matter I wrote about so long ago, with the treacherous knights and the faithless monk. Once we have finished our examination, we will depart for Bagley on Yar.

I should note that if you have any instructions for me, I will hasten to obey. I will, of course, keep you informed of my whereabouts and plans for travel, as I am able. It brings me joy to know that you receive my letters with pleasure.

I apologize for the sloppiness of my writing. I was unsure where we would be going, as I had to pray for guidance last night. The others are now waiting on me to depart.

I would be remiss in ending this letter, however, without mentioning that Lord Peregrinus evinced great interest in the guesting cup at Rothemham. I told him that I would pass on this interest to you. He noted that you had … put him off when he sought to examine it years ago. I did not wish to commit too fully to helping his cause, as I am certain you had good reason for your actions. I did tell him that, with your permission, I would seek to study it more closely, now that my abilities in such matters have increased from where they were years ago.

Know that you are very precious to me, and I pray, always, for your well-being and happiness.

I remain your grateful servant, Sir Arthur Miller.

Arthur Miller (II-2)

[A hastily scrawled note. It lacks some of the more careful phrasing of his other letters.]

Marchioness Lucinda,

So as not to be alarming, let me say, up front, that I believe there is no imminent danger. However, it has come to my attention that the Guesting Cup at Rotherham is likely cursed. There is a very reasonable chance that all who have taken a drink from the cup over the last few centuries have been marked by Cernunnos.

I had noticed strange markings on Sir Cael. Further examination revealed that Sir Cawdry and I also had these markings. The markings are not visible to Sir Cawdry or Master Oak. We requested assistance from the Lady Bess, since Master Oak recognized (from my description) the markings as being from Cernunnon. She confirmed the curse of Cernunnos and indicated that it was likely due to the alteration of the former drinking horn. She is preparing documentation on (what she believes is) the best means of dealing with the situation.

She has indicated that, in the short-term, the curse will likely have no effect, unless the afflicted person should happen to die, whereupon Cernunnos would intervene in a negative fashion upon the person’s soul.

It is my hope that Lady Bess (or one of her fellows who knows best about this matter) will arrive in Lambeth to offer his or her expert counsel to your wisdom.

I am currently outside Bagley on Yar. It is my intention to travel down to Lamneth, though I am uncertain what I can do.

I could not bear it if anything were to happen to you. Please remain safe.

Arthur Miller

View
A gift
(and Green Lords)

Arthur Miller

I imagine this tool should be reserved for weightier matters, but I’ll absolve myself by pretending that this is a good test of the device’s efficacy.

I was hoping you might be able to advise me on a matter. In some ways, I know many things and have a store of experience under my belt. In others, I am like a child, ignorant and fumbling. Not surprisingly, it is a matter of the latter variety that I seek your assistance.

I was contemplating sending the Marchioness a gift, something to show my appreciation for all that she has done for me. Is this too presumptuous? Wholly inappropriate? Simply a stupid idea?

On a different matter, with a different person, I have rather botched things up, so I want to make sure that I am doing things properly this time. I recall the adeptness with which you arranged a meeting for me with the Marchioness so many years ago, and I realized that, if it isn’t an unwelcome inquiry, that you would be the perfect person to advise me in certain matters of propriety.

Oh, I suppose I should mention that this is Arthur (and not Sir Cael), though I imagine that went without saying.

Hmm. I guess I should stop writing now … I’m a little hazy on the prop

Sir Cawdry

Sir Arthur,

I’m sorry to hear of your past that has made you cautious of giving gifts. But by my esteem you have given the Marchioness a gift beyond measure: your esteem and your true service.

The urge to give a gift is the sign of a fit and worthy heart. The challenge is that she has the resources of a queen, and so any gift that might move another woman, she could procure to herself. And any gift of person that might be given to one of equal station would not be appropriate.

For this endeavor, I esteem you have two options: the endearingly personal (which would be a powerful signal of your intent), or the unlikely – the outlandish thing that she would not in the compass of her influence have access to.

Of the latter, I could think of: a barrel or bottle of wine from the monastery you are being “gifted to” that is fine and that they do not sell beyond their walls. A pet you have trained yourself – perhaps a songbird or something lovely; or something you have gotten like an elfin hound or an especially beautiful cat bred in the mountains and raised by human hands so it is tractable. These also have the virtue of being something pleasant and present to keep you in her mind.

Of the former, I think perhaps to your interest – perhaps a charcoal rubbing of a fresco that impresses you or makes you think of her, or a pressing of flowers like the heavy daffodils that bloom south of Fallond only at the onset of winter. If you do take this course, I urge you to perhaps… consult with me on the crafting of the message that accompanies it.

I wish you more unimaginable success than you have already had in all these things. I also wish you caution, and to hold closely the reins of a young man’s spirit that moves you in this direction.

Many blessings in the Light,

Cawdry of L’Estrier

Arthur Miller

Sir Cawdry,

I appreciate your willingness to assist me in this matter and your suggestions are most welcome.

The gift I had in mind is something that I’ve been working on for a few years. It is an illuminated manuscript of a minor (but in my view, extraordinarily important) Shanrian work, The Foundations of Morality.

There are, unfortunately, fewer illuminations than would normally be optimal, as illumination is quite expensive, and I was unsure of my resources when I began the project.

I must also allow that I have, perhaps, strained my artistic capabilities in their creation, but I hope that the overall effect is still pleasing.

In addition, I have added footnotes (carefully delineated so as not to impair the original work) that I like to think enhance the document, though this may have been foolish arrogance.

I am unsure if this is an appropriate gift. The Marchioness is quite intelligent, and I believe she would find the manuscript interesting, but I would not wish to imply that there was anything deficient in her morals with such a gift.

Please let me know if this seems inappropriate or insufficient in any way. If it does meet with your approval, I would certainly welcome your assistance in crafting the message that accompanies it. I would very much like to avoid a misstep.

May the Light shine upon you, my friend.

I remain your humble servant, Arthur Miller

Sir Cawdry

Fine Sir Arthur,

A fine secret project! I’m certain it will be to her delight.

Cawdry

Arthur Miller

Ah good. I’m glad you think it sounds like an acceptable gift.

(Also, these tablets are really quite handy.)

One other favor, if you don’t mind (and you should certainly feel free to decline, if it makes you uneasy). I was wondering if, the next time we meet, if I could give you the book and have you deliver it to the Marchioness for me.

I have spent a considerable amount of time working on it, and I would feel better entrusting it to a friend. You could also assess whether it meets the necessary standards for the Marchioness. I would hate to make her uncomfortable with a paltry gift (and I would, of course, prefer to avoid the embarrassment associated with it!)

I understand that my feelings regarding the Marchioness are silly and implausible … for so many reasons. It is why I kept them secret for so long. And, of course, if she were to find out, it would be most awkward, indeed.

Anyhow, I think you for the assistance you have already rendered to me in this matter. I appreciate your advice, since I am filled with uncertainty in these types of situations.

Sir Cawdry

Dear Arthur,

I am hearted and unsurprised that you are aware of your heart’s desires and that you have them in hand. Who can say what the future brings?

I would be honored to present the book to Her Grace. I have some business which takes me toward Lambeth in any case.

In the meantime, tell me more about the Green Lords … I’ve thought about your … chant … regarding the Marchioness’ welcome cup and Rotherham. The Gods seem to bear somehow on magick…. Or perhaps there’s a book I could borrow and read?

I agree, the tablets are remarkable. I’m surprised there aren’t remnants of these from the Caledorans scattered across the kingdoms!

Arthur Miller

Hmm.

My education (aside from my religious learning) growing up focused somewhat heavily upon that great race, the Philosophers … and to a lesser extent, their usurpers, the Caladorans. As such, I have a tendency to filter my thoughts through the lens of their knowledge. When I speak of ‘gods’, this would, of course, be the term used by the pagans and would not find favour in the Church of the Light.

But let’s see, as to the Green Lords. There is a great stack of them, to be sure.

One who strikes me as possibly the most relevant, is Cernunnos, known by some as ‘the horned god’. He the god of the crossroads and he oversees the gates between worlds, between the spirit world and the mortal one. He could be seen as being associated with the Underworld, insofar as he bears a role in guiding spirits from the world of Flesh to the world of Spirit. In some ways, he is a god of transitions. In some ways he bears a similarity to the god Pan, in his association with the wildness of nature, but also the wildness of civilized man.

Different regions and peoples sometimes had differing versions of the gods. Some aggregated traits and spheres of influence, while others were particularly polytheistic.

Sometimes Cernunnos has attributes split between other gods: Tarranis “The Law Giver”, Teutatis “The Divine Warrior”, the “Gray Goose of War” (consort of Epona), and Esus “The Wanderer”. These four are associated with the Square and the Wheel, invention, geometry and higher maths and with travel and the crossroads.

Esus, I know well. Although he is sometimes known as a trickster god (in a manner similar to some interpretations of Hermes), he is also a patron of travelers and merchants.

There is also Herne, who I mention, since he is known as The Green Man. He is similar in many ways to his father, Cernunnos. He is linked strongly to the forest. Although associated with hunting, he looks darkly upon hunting for sport. The white stag is sacred to him, and when the white stag is seen or found slain it presages a great sacrifice, usually the loss of an important or notable life.

He also leads the Wild Hunt and chases the Sluagh, the Fallen, the Lost, to bring them to the Underworld, to his father. The Wild Hunt, as its name suggests, is chaotic and dangerous.

There is certainly more, but before I continue on, is this the sort of thing you were interested in learning about? Or did you have a more specific goal in mind?

Sir Cawdry

So these Green Gods… are they actually Fae, like the creature that held the Marchioness hostage?

Arthur Miller

In the sense that they are more of the world of Spirit than that of Flesh, this could be said. Though the Green Lords are not diminished (or, at least, not to the same extent) as the Lady Bizarre.

Although I use the word ‘Fae’ myself, I am not certain if it is the most useful or descriptive term. What we think of as the Fae are so varied as to make the term, potentially, misleading.

View
Good Morning My Human Companions
(A note left for you early in the morning.)

I have been troubled by the amount of ravens that have been gathering. There are many more of them than is usual. It has kept me up most of the night… I am starting to think less about us being followed. If we were being watched and followed , I would think it would be done in a way that is less obvious. My theory on this is that the places where the ravens are gathering may be marked for disaster. I am usually not as concerned of death being elfin, mortality is very different for my people. I do not wish for you to die. Perhaps this is a selfish thought.

There is much work to be done, we will have to work hard to prevent the demise of many including yourselves. Death is lurking…. If the ravens are any indication, Death is not that far behind.

Taking into consideration the ghost ship with the pirates appearing to us and the recent ability for you to notice the appearance of the wode torques upon you…I would say it is an indication of a rise in spirit magicks.

Since I could not sleep and I know we have a bit of work a head of us, I have decided to go out and hunt down some breakfast for you all. I am very glad that you informed me about the human laws about hunting deer. I will be sure not to do so while traveling with you. It is a ridiculous law but perhaps your nobility has some sort of dietary restrictions that make deer meat important. I hope to find some raccoon. They are pretty tasty this time of year.

Hope you are sleeping well. Please do not anger any more gods while I am gone… Actually lets just not anger them.

Be back soon,

Oak

View
From Entingfast to Bagley on Yar
Things seem to be going poorly for us

The magick in the armor seemed far stronger than I (or my allies) could handle. On top of that, I did not have the necessary supplies to even attempt the ritual necessary to dispel such magick. Then, I realized that freeing this soul would be a most appropriate use of the power of the Light. Warning my companions (this was the first time I had attempted such a thing), I prayed and allowed my soul to enter the spirit the world. From there, the Light was able to channel the necessary power through me to allow the enchantment to be broken and the slave’s soul to be freed.

Oak had wished to take Albion’s scabbard with him, since it might be useful, but he also did not want to cause offense to us by desecrating a grave. (It is my (strong) belief that one cannot do good by doing evil). Instead he contented himself with taking an impression of the scabbard.

Now that Sir Cael was able to speak, we discussed our next steps. Not surprisingly, he thought the wisest course of action was to pursue the missing sword, Albion. (He had visions of a dark portal opening in a chamber with the seven swords placed around it, and a huge demonic form emerging from the portal). I managed to construct a reasonably compelling argument as to why we should first stop at Bagley on Yar to attempt to help the Princess Hesperia.

Sir Cael and Sir Cawdry went to speak to Bishop Lyondyke to let him know what had occurred, while the rest of us traveled to a port near Ristenby to gain access to a ship that could take us to Bagley.

(Note1: We noticed a surprising quantity of ravens at Entingfast, an event that would occur throughout our travels).

(Note2: Sir Cael and I both had visions of being attacked by three imps. Sir Cael’s vision included an image of, presumably, Emory Taleboi.)

On the ship, we discussed various elements of our past adventures. Oak said mean things about the Marchioness and I became defensive.

A strange occurrence aboard the ship (well, the first strange occurrence): A ghost ship appeared out of a rapidly coalescing fog (instant fog seems never to be a good sign at sea). After some investigation (from the relative safety of our ship), we noticed that the ship was the Raven and that it was piloted by a number of scurvy pirates (is there any other kind?), foremost of which was Earl Rustin. Sir Cael shouted a challenge, Rustin laughed, and the ship disappeared.

Disturbing as this incident was, more troubling was something noted later that night. While talking to Sir Cael, I noticed that he had strange markings on his neck. After we all gathered around and took a look, it was discovered that Sir Cael, Sir Cawdry, and I all possessed this mark. I made a quick sketch of the markings and Oak identified it as a torc. (Only Sir Cael and I could see the mark). Oak said that it was apparent that the three of us had offended Cernunnos in some way.

Given the danger inherent in the torc, Oak thought it best to request assistance from Lady Bess. He threw his golden acorn into the cooking fire and shortly thereafter Lady Bess appeared. She indicated that if we died with the torc active, our souls would be forfeit to Cernunnos (so we should probably avoid that).

She told us that the curse was due to drinking from the tainted guesting cup at Rotherham (sorry about that guys). At the very least, we would need to restore the horn to its former glory to appease Cernunnos. She said that she would write up a petition to formally request the cup be delivered to her and the pagans. She said that it might be best if we added our names to the petition. I assured her that the Marchioness would do the right thing once she was apprised of the facts.

We waxed philosophical for a bit. I took the position that the ‘gods’ should be good, that intentions matter, and that if a simple human like me could forgive large transgressions, the ‘gods’ should have an even greater capacity for forgiveness. No one really bought this line of argument, the general thought being that outcomes were more important than intentions and that gods had no need to be good … that they simply were.

I wrote a quick letter to the Marchioness (I like to play to my strengths) and Lady Bess agreed to see that it was delivered ahead of our party journeying down to the Low Marches to see the Marchioness in person.

(Note 3: Three ravens were following us while aboard the ship. Sir Cael found them disturbing and shot one of them. As it fell to the sea, I noticed that it had transformed into an imp during the fall. Oak had protected the ship from imps, which might account for why they were merely following us.)

(Note 4: We believe that we are being watched, magickally, but there is little we can do about it for now. We must be careful not to give our enemies to much information by the direction of our travels. I argue (admittedly, ex-post) that this trip to Bagley on Yar is a perfect way to confuse them, as it has nothing to do with the events troubling the realm.)

(Note 5: The (currently) cursed horn is said to open the way between the mortal world and the spirit world on Samhain.)

We have now arrived at Bagley and are preparing to seek access to Princess Hesperia.

View
Arthur Conduit
Midwinter Festival

Arthur Miller

On one of the later days of the midwinter holiday, Arthur ‘Revealer of Secrets’ Miller will mention a couple of things to Sir Cael and Sir Cawdry.

“Oh hey, I’m not sure if you guys are too interested in things like this, but, last night, I finally recalled what was bugging me about that Hosting Cup. I knew I’d seen those figures on it before. You might already know this, but I’m pretty sure they are images of the Green Lords. Also, I’m pretty sure that it was originally a (pagan) hunting horn.

“And did you guys also get a … weird feeling when drinking from it? Not unpleasant, to be sure, but it definitely felt as though it contained some sort of energy. I wouldn’t be shocked if it was an object of some power.

“Hmm. I wonder if the Marchioness would know more about it. Though, I suppose, that this type of thing might be more in Lady Bess’s wheelhouse.”

Arthur Miller and Sir Cawdry

[Would Arthur know anything in particular about the Green Lords? Or would that be unlikely to be in his area of study?]

Cawdry pulls his faded gloves off and takes a wooden cup of mulled wine liberally watered down with boiling water, little bits of clove floating on the top in the swirling hot mist escaping in the cool air.

“I expect the tingling that the two of us experience will almost always be different, Sir Miller,” he smiles sideways at Cael.

Arthur expects he should get this, but the meaning just eludes him.

“I think all this attunement to magic must be bringing you to life. I didn’t feel a thing, and was too busy sussing out the staff’s reaction to Lucinda’s presence to notice, honestly. Plus, I know shockingly little about the Gods of the Green.

“This must be a very old household and this whole land at one time was of the Green faith…. It’s not surprising that a welcome cup would be enchanted…. It might be useful to figure out what the horn does. Do you think your studies have progressed far enough that you could investigate? I’m certain Her Grace wouldn’t mind…. If you think it’s interesting enough, I can ask the staff, and procure it for you to take a look at?

“As far as Lady Bess is concerned, well, I’m not sure that’s something we should trouble her with at this juncture. I expect it might be a bit like being a foreigner in a distant land where people introduce you to every vagabond and wanderer because you must have much in common.”

“Ah, yes, I wouldn’t want to bother Lady Bess with something trivial.

“Hmm. I doubt that my skills are advanced enough to glean anything of particular import, but I wouldn’t mind taking a closer look. As long as I don’t drop the blessed thing, it probably can’t cause any harm.”

He turns to Sir Daelin, “That reminds me, it’s been quite some time since you quoted ominous scripture at me full of portent. Has the Prophet not been speaking to you lately, my friend? What do you see for our future? Any portents about this legend of a Green-blessed warrior who will be joining us?”

Sir Cawdry

At a meal, as an aside, before the other nobles.

With a slightly naughty air of intruge, Cawdry says, “Your Grace, a topic has arisen that has piqued my interest. As you know, my good friend Sir Arthur has been studying natural philosophy, and brought to my attention that the welcome cup we all drank from is a gorgeous piece of antiquity and bears not only the likenesses of the Green Gods, but perhaps some sort of… magic. I wonder if we might trouble the staff for Arthur to take a look at it…?”

Marchioness Lucinda

The room went silent enough to hear the ringing of a hair pin upon the flagstones.

Lucinda’s face went utterly blank.

She picked up her cup and sipped her wine as a quiet buzz broke out down the length of the hall.

She cleared her throat and silence returned.

“How very curious, Lord L’Estrier. I had not even paused to look at the cup, much less its fittings. As I recall, it is actually something of a drinking horn, isn’t it? A VERY ancient sort of object, at least in these lands. Although I believe the Valkurs are still prone to use them, a hold over from ancient days there.”

“Here now, cup boy! Do thou go fetch for us the Lord Butler.” The boy sprints to the service hall at the end of the Great Hall. “How curious! I daresay none of us shall eat another bite till this matter is further examined,” she smiles and chuckles. “And how clever of thee to find something so diverting to make our supper so much more interesting and enjoyable.” The Lord Butler appears, looking a little apprehensive.

“Ah, there thou art, my good Lord Butler! Do thou us the kindness of going to the aumbry by the door to fetch Sir Arthur the Guesting Cup. Some questions have arisen regarding it.”

The Lord Butler bows from the waist with obvious relief and strides quickly to the Servery. Supper quietly and gradually resumes. The Butler returns presently and presents the cup to Sir Arthur with a bow of the head.

Lucinda cocks her head to the side as Arthur examines the cup.

Whilst mine own household, to the best of mine own knowledge hath forever been declared for the glory of the Light, such is not true of half the lands throughout the kingdom, and as I consider I am reminded that Hunston Hall escheated back to into mine hands with the execution of the late Contessa Tara Maria for treason. She and her whole cabal were among the faithful of the Green Lords. I’d no occasion to visit this estate to the best of mine knowledge – Chamberlain, be thou mine memory as so often thou hast so kindly been these past few years – This is mine first sortie here to Hunston Hall, is that correct?"

The Chamberlain’s face colored and his discomfort was clear as he hesitated …

A small frown creased Lucinda’s face.

“Hmm I see from thine face it is not so – speak on, good my lord, have no fear of provoking any ill-will.”

He bowed his head and composed himself.

“As thou wishest, Thine gentle Grace. In the days prior to thine misadventure in which thine memories were banished whither no man can say, Lady Tara Maria and Lady Sylvanna of Eastwood were, betimes, boon companions to thee, and in later days, the late Contessa Shannon of Glastonport, daughter of the outlaw Rustin Kingfisher. I do not know if any hath had the temerity to say it in thine hearing, but the former were referred to in popular songs as “Merry Mary” and “Quite Contrary”. Although Thy Grace was nominally raised in a house of the Light, it pleased thee to tweak the noses of the princes of the Church and the great society wags to hold closest to thee these willful women when thou didst entertain thoughts of defiance of the proprieties that hedge thine life around from break of day till well past sunset every day. The why of it was clear enough, Thou wert always strong of mind, from thy very childhood, BUT, if not for the loss of thine memory and the stewardship of the crown, it is likely those three would have drawn thee into their treasonous plot in some regard, especially considering thine ties to the pirate James the Black, and thine head be forfeit. praises to the merciful Light that it was not so. Despite the resulting trials, my gracious Lady, much good has come to thee as a result of the trials thou hast suffered."
Lucinda nodded her agreement for a moment.

“And I am given cause to celebrate what would otherwise seem to have been a terrible trial and misadventure more and more as time passes.” She looked down the tables at her retinue and took in the utter silence that had again fallen, then laughed lightly. “Look at you all!” She laughed again, “What is this timidity?! Think thou I am offended by the truth of the less than exemplary life I lived before my memories were taken? It is nothing less than a blessing, I say, that I have been, in effect, granted a second chance to rise to become the lady I should have been before, but for reasons unknown had not been. I begin to suspect that it had sommat to do with the company I kept. So eat! Drink! The Mid Winter Revel is upon us!! But more importantly, tell us of this drinking horn, Sir Arthur! I am quite frankly intrigued.”

Sir Cawdry

Cawdry smiles and laughs during the back and forth, but Sir Arthur knowing him well, realizes he looks a little like someone has stuck him in the nutsack with a fork.

Arthur Miller

Glancing over at Sir Cawdry, he gives him a sympathetic smile. (Though, perhaps about to make a fool of himself over the horn, he realizes it might be an empathetic smile).

While the Chamberlin and the Marchioness speak, he takes the horn from the butler and lifts it near to his eye and inspects it closely.

After doing this, he closes his eyes and clutches the ring in his pocket [part of his ‘focus’ for Psychometry, Second Sight, and Clairaudience] and endeavours to use Psychometry to obtain arcane knowledge of the horn, to go with what he knows of it from his studies.

Arthur Miller

Arthur takes the Cup in his hands and settles back into his seat with it cradled … he slumps into his seat …

He breathes deeply and moans a little.

All noise in the hall dies.

“He guards the in-between places, the doors between worlds, the borders between places, where the water meets the land, the sea the shore, where the crossroads meet. He the door of consciousness from the Mortal World to Spirit, the keeper of the Fire … the Fire in the Head. He is the rising of consciousness above animal needs to the fire of the highest reason. He is the Hanged One, The Keeper of the Oaks, He Who Bestows the Wand of Hazel. He is Guide of the Dead, the keeper of the Underworld and its riches. He leads the dead to their reward…”

The words echo with the power of a hundred voices throughout the hall, though seeming to emanate from Sir Arthur’s lips.

The seams of all the mountings that had been added seem to glow white hot as Arthur holds the Cup aloft and cries out, but just as quickly, he comes back to himself with a snap and heaves the cup back at the Lord Butler, who nimbly catches it.

Arthur appears a bit shaken, trembling slightly. He shakes his head, as if to clear it, and starts to speak. “I believe th…”

He then notices how quiet the room is, and he sees the way that (almost) everyone is staring at him, and he trails off, looking somewhat confused.

Arthur Miller

As the silence deepens, Arthur shifts uncomfortably under the scrutiny of the gathered guests. He turns to the Marchioness.

“I … Your Grace, I apologize for the disruption.” He glances around at the others and offers an apologetic smile. “I … I’m not quite …”

He starts to lean back against the nearby table then corrects himself and straightens up.

“I’m sorry, I’m not quite sure what has happened.”

Arthur Miller

Arthur glances around again, quickly, and gathers his wits.

Almost to himself he says, “Right, the horn.”

He faces the Marchioness and addresses her but also the hall at large.

“As suspected, the cup has been adapted from an ancient pagan hunting horn.” As he speaks, he points at various features of the Guesting Cup. "You can see here where the hinge for the lid has been added … and … here and here … where the wyvern’s talons were placed to hold the newly formed cup upright … and again, here, where the mouthpiece has been stoppered.

“Here, of course, you can see depictions of the Green Lords.

“The horn was adapted into a Guesting Cup by a noble lord of the Light who possessed good intentions. However, I believe that something went awry, although it is not clear what. When it was a simple horn, it was,” he pauses reflecting for a moment, then continues in a somewhat questioning tone, “an opener of ways … doors.”

He then finishes with a note of warning.

“Something about it seems … corrupted. I believe it to be a dangerous item. It may be a good idea to have someone more adept in the Art than I am examine it.”

He smiles apologetically to the Lord Butler and adds almost as an aside, “Oh, you shouldn’t be in any jeopardy from merely holding it. I tossed it away in surprise, not fear.”

View
Discreet Inquiries require ... Discreet Answers

From Father Lazarus, Master of Letters, Hall of the Middle Kingdoms, at Entingfast, Entingshire

Sir Caudrai
We greet thee well and send our felicitations that all are well and will continue to be so for thee and thine and howsoever better thou couldst wish for thine conditions to be, may they be so, we fervently pray. Hail!
I beg thine humble pardon to address thee in so bold a manner as one unknown to thee, in the hopes that mine credentials and the tenor of thine own recent inquiries may suffice to fulfill the proprieties required of thine dignity and appease thy noble honor.
I am writing thee at the behest of the Chancellor of Bishop Lyondyke’s university here at Entingfast, at the instigation of Archbishop Pendley, in response to the inquiry made on thine behalf by Sir John of Orr, Commander of the Knights of St. Tarran in Fallond and the knight Sir Cael of Daelin, regarding two country Leeches by name of Gruble and Banks.
To wit, may it please thee, I have been urged to communicate to thee my acquaintance with two clerks by those names whose memory stands out in mine mind’s eye for the fact that they were closely associated in their time here. I never knew any Leeches by those names, an it please thee, my apologies for mine ignorance, but I considered that perhaps they might have moved into simple medicaments in their lives of service. Forgive my presumption, I humbly beg. The two clerks of which I spoke achieved their Mgrams as members of my Hall some 3 or so years past.
My records show them to be members of the ranks of the Brittinite friars of St. Wembly, attached to the priory of Fravale, in the South Riding of the Low Marches.
I had no knowledge or acquaintance with these men prior to their studies here. In my professional estimation as a member in long and honorable standing in the community of scholars here at the university, the two were apt enough pupils to warrant the effort at their education, and I remember being somewhat disappointed at the fact that they both chose to be satisfied with the Mgram when they could have done so much better. Disappointed, but for some reason, sad I am to confess it, not surprised. There always seemed to be, may the Light punish me for my lack of charity, something amiss with those two – as if they shared some delicious secret between them, like the fruit of some forbidden tree. They were outcasts to a large extent, eschewing the company and revels of their fellows by their own choice. If’n they have turned to Leechcraft, it is with some relief that I apprehend the news. I had not previously considered it within the scope of their spirits.
It is with heavy heart that I must report that I have had no intelligence of them since their graduation, my apologies for the dearth of knowledge I have to share.
If they are there with you at L’Estrier, may the Light shower all of thee with its manifold blessings, or,if it be not so, upon thee separately as is thy won’t, whithersoever thou mayest be, to the fullest extent of thine pleasure.

Thine humble bedesman in the Light, if it please thee,
Father Lazerus
Written by mine own hand at Lazarus Hall on this 30th day of July, in the year of the Light sixteen hundred and forty-three

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A concatenation of letters

A note left at Lambeth for Cawdry

I wanted to thank you for speaking on my behalf (many times) at the court. I become quite nervous in those situations and never know quite what to say.

It also didn’t escape my notice that you stuck out your neck for me in that other matter. It is greatly appreciated.

Know that if the need should arise, you can call upon me.

(Sir) Arthur Miller

A letter for Arthur at University from Cawdry

Dear Arthur:

It was my pleasure to repay your effort and loyalty in what small ways I could at court. Lady Dacre made certain I could speak correctly by the time I was 11, and made sure to understand the moral boundaries that those who can must obey in order to remain within the bounds of the Light. I hope that my help proves to be of service to you.

I am heartened to hear you are enrolling in the university – and astounded that you will be studying the ways of Magick.
Traveling with Thal has opened my eyes to things I did not imagine existed outside of stories; and impressed upon me that what I have seen is only the barest beginning of what is possible. What traveling with Thal did not do was elucidate my mind with an understanding of the forces, bounds, and ways of Magick.

I anticipate being in the capitol a good deal over the next few years as I labor to help Lucien re-create Erebord and its destiny. Perhaps we can meet from time to time and speak of magic and the progress of the world?

One final suggestion that I thought might be of use: I’m certain that if you wished to write to the Marchioness Lucinda, your letters would be welcome indeed, and perhaps the only ray of genuine contact in her life. However; you should assume that your letters are scrutinized by the most devious persons money can buy; therefore you must cleave only to the events of your days and hers; there must be absolutely no mention – no matter the truth or your desires regarding it – of attempting to free or restore the Marchioness. At such a time as she is formally relieved of her status as Marchioness, that might change, but until then, I urge you the utmost caution.

I hope you are amenable to contact as time goes on. From what I know of education in the capitol, I am looking forward to many stories of your tutor-to-be.

Lucien and I shall be doing a thorough winter cleaning in Maralad.

With Regards,

Cawdy of L’Estrier

Arthur Reads the letter and destroys it….

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Thal and Caudraí
A chat on the way to Lambeth - disposition of Thal

The next evening in one of the little towns strung out along the marches, but in the shadow of Lam-beth, Thal went up to the room that he shared, customarily now, with Arthur, although Arthur was still downstairs. A soft knock on the still open door.

It was Cawdry-once-Lucien.

“I wonder if we might have a few words,” Cawdry began, softly, easing into the doorway.
“I owe you a great debt, Thaliñiarion,” he said with the sort of heart-breaking earnestness of young men.

“You kept my secret. You helped me to save the last Dacre, the only remaining piece of my lost life,” the valet struggled to contain the tears – whether they were of gratitude, of relief, of loss wasn’t quite clear.

He breathed, while Thal waited with true elfin patience.

The courtier wiped his face. “You were – you and your brother – were the first to come to Lucien’s aid. Even after you lost Elassar in that stinking place, Digby, you cleaved to our cause without waver-ing. Lucien knows everything you’ve done. And I will make sure that their majesties – in Lambeth now – will know how you have been instrumental in the bringing to justice of at least one of Shanria’s most notorious lords. And for other things that we’ve done that are more subtle, but perhaps more meaningful to them.”

He looked toward Lambeth castle, still invisible in the long distance. Cawdry seemed to be hurry-ing, now. "I expect that any reward you cared to name could be yours. I expect it could be arranged for you to be Ambassador to Shanria from Rolluntinduil. I imagine your contract with the guild in Fallond could be improved – or removed, since it exists as a legal thing of the Kingdom. If you wanted it, I’m sure a knighthood in Shanria could be arranged. I will – that is – "

And the young man was back, and his tears were gratitude, “I suppose I am trying to say thank you, because you came to help in such a time, and you were steadfast – even when my lies were laid bare to you. These things are rare in the world, and I am so… grateful,” he straightened back up, unsure of the physical expression allowable between elfs and men.
Cawdry chose to mirror Thal’s customary reserve out of politeness, “I think those things should be rewarded.”

And Cawdry looked up at Thal.

“Very good. And now that we have got to know and trust each other, we should consider joining to-gether for other adventures in which we share an interest.”
“Emotions were strong in what played out, and yet there was a kind of flow. Fate had a strong hand so that our choices were sometimes easier than one might expect.”
“In these travels you are learning the peculiar balance. Our party members have great gifts of wis-dom and judgment, yet at times it is best to understand that the world is as people chose to see it. Mo-rality is as complex as the power it would dare to judge. Events are more likely to make us ask what is the best choice of bad options, and real power can be an ugly thing when seen up close and abrasive when borne out of duty.”
“Talk of compensation is appreciated, but also awkward. With awards comes visibility and respon-sibilities. I have a mind to advance the cause of elf kind and relations between men and elfs. There are problems such as with the Dark Lady of the North, but even more than that it seems both elf and man would do well to know each other better. The distance that has settled between us offers little defense and spawns vulnerabilities. For all my magick gifts and diplomatic arts, what is best is hard to judge as I only understand human society from the outside. An embassadorship would seem to be perfect, but such a position is highly visible and also constrained. Perhaps there is something similar with even less obligation, such as becoming an Agent or Vassal of the Crown? I am curious what other options you might see, Caudrai, and what you would recommend.”
Cawdry nodded and withdrew.

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An awkward chat

It’s a couple days of inns along on the journey to Lambeth and the royal court. The day was long and sunny and warm. Arthur has gone up to the room after supper. Thal is still downstairs with the others.

After a few moments alone, Lu – … Cawdry comes into the open door, knocking on it softly.

“Mr. Miller,” he says with the same soft tone he used in Fallond, the last time they spoke.

Lucien says, with emotion in his voice, “I have come to -” and he swallows and looks up, “Arthur. I don’t really know you, and I feel responsible for that. You must feel betrayed by my lying to you about who I am. I’m very sorry for doing that. I hope that you can find it in your heart to look past my flawed way of doing things and see my gratitude for your help.”

He sighs and looks at Arthur.

Arthur stares at Cawdry for a few long moments. He also sighs and gestures for Cawdry to come in and take a seat.

“I am the one who should apologize. I took things far too personally, when, in truth, it had nothing to do with me at all. You had a critical duty to discharge, and it is not appropriate for me to sit in judgment of someone who is doing what they know to be right. It is the …”

He trails off, starts to say something more, then waves it off and waits for Cawdry.

Arthur’s tone is not hostile, though it does come across a little flat.

“This isn’t a matter of appropriate and not appropriate. That boundary was crossed back in Digby….”

Cawdry smiles ruefully. “When that gabby wizard Pandri led me down to the dungeon, you didn’t realize it, I don’t think, but you became my anchor. I’d been taken in broad daylight by wizards. One of my companions had been murdered before my eyes with no more concern than felling a seagull.”

“It gave me the fortitude to face that tower of quiet idiots,” Cawdry smiles.

“I owe you a debt of gratitude. You have been instrumental in my being able to get back the one person left who was taken from me,” emotion overcomes him, and he looks out the window, wiping his eyes.

Arthur appears mildly uncomfortable … unsure of what to say.

“Er, it is quite alright. You can always count on me, you know. I … I know what it is like to lose your family … everyone you ever knew. To get them back, well, I feel like almost anything would be permissible.”

He continues almost to himself, “What I think is permissible, well …”

He trails off and then refocuses on Cawdry. "But that is an old argument.

“In your quest you did little that would offend the Light, and, as I say, I believe I can understand, at least to some degree, the overwhelming nature of the compulsion that drove you. I do my best to keep things in perspective, and am quite sure I did not do so in this instance. The failure is mine.”

Cawdry waves away the acceptance of blame, looking thoughtful.

“You know it’s interesting. I was speaking with Cael on the ride, and we spoke of the Light…. Many report feeling tested by the Light, and he suggested that some of my trials on this journey were such a thing,” and Cawdry looks more relaxed.

“But that’s not how I experienced all this. From the moment that Thal and Elessar arrived – and then Ogham at Lindsey where I felt trapped and hopeless, it has felt… well…” he looks up at Arthur, as though the man might understand what he’s saying, “as though the Light has been saving me. Over and over. Perhaps it is some grace passed on by Lady Dacre,” and it becomes obvious how Cawdry never called her Mother or Dolores, but always Lady Dacre.

“When I was in Fallominster, it occurred to me that I think people misunderstand the Light. I don’t think it’s the fire burning us like steel. I think it is the hand of the smith, doing its best to make us better,” he looks at Arthur, “trying to save us.”

He continues on, quickly, “I know you judge that I have done things wrongly, against the good. I agree with you. I have found no end to the multiplicity of darkness inside me since all this began, and I am horrified by it. I accept your blame, Arthur, and not only because I think you are blessed of the Light. I… we all need those close to us to remind us which path we are choosing. I am grateful for all you’ve done in that vein – and others. Perhaps some of my counsel may also end up being of use to you.”

Arthur crouches down, contemplating.

“It is likely that the truly righteous man feels, believes, thinks, and does the right thing. It is possible that Sir Cael is one of those strong souls.

“I am not.

“My feelings are often not worthy of the Light. I think where feeling is awry, belief can also falter, as belief is a combination of thought and feeling. I grow stronger at the end of the chain, and I do my best to think about and deduce what is moral.”

He seems to warm to his topic.

“A person can base their actions on feelings, beliefs, or thoughts. As my feelings and beliefs are often impure, I strive to always align my actions with my thoughts.

“Thus, my understanding of the Light is not intuitive. A more righteous man would probably do a better job of articulating true morality.

“All of that being said, I am inclined to agree with your observations on the nature of the Light. The Light is good. If Sir Cael is correct, and the Light does test us, it must only test us when it is certain we will pass the test (or if failing, the failure must be in such a manner as to allow us to overcome this failure through self-improvement). Otherwise, we will be led into Darkness.

“It is, I think, the Dark that tests us … tempts us. The Light, as you say, supports us, elevates us.

“Our friend Edred … he has, I think, fallen prey to an excess of Lust. It is my belief, however, that he is not a bad man. We should act as the Light does and support those who have succumbed to weakness. It is only those who have truly embraced the Dark that we should condemn.”

“It is clearly a fine thing that all faculties have access to the Light,” Cawdry begins, sound like a perforce political agreement. But more genuine as he goes on, “That way all people have the ability to find the Good,” he smiles, “I thought I just thought that up, but no, one of the great Philosophers wrote it.”

He chuckles, and sits companionably for a few moments.

Serious, "And speaking of politics. I hear that you have lost much in your life. You’ve done a great service for House Dacre in helping to rescue Lucien – and in assisting in the uncovering of evidence of the treachery of Rustin & Penwyth. I anticipate that their majesties’ attention shall pass over us like a lighthouse, magnifying our possibilities for a moment.

“I expect Lucien will be able to ask for a boon for each of his rescuers – or give it directly. What is it that would serve you best, or that you desire? A posting of some kind? A knighthood?”

Cawdry seems intent on getting something of the world for Arthur out of all this.

Arthur gives a half-smile. “Perhaps you are of the Dark, looking to tempt me …”

He thinks for a moment.

“I would, of course, like to see my family’s fortunes restored. However, as we lost that largely through misfortune, as opposed to perfidy, I think that is something that needs to be rebuilt, not given.

“Hmm. There is also …” He trails off.

“Well, no, that wouldn’t work.”

He thinks another moment, then says almost shyly, “While I don’t know that I deserve a reward for performing my duty as an ancillary of House Dacre, I would dearly like to go to University.”

Cawdry smiles and breathes out through his nose.

“I’m sorry to hear of your house’s misfortune. Perhaps the university could help with that as well!”

Cawdry stands, offering Arthur his hand. “Peace and gratitude” he says like an awkward toast.

Arthur shakes his hand.

“Er, I’m glad we had this talk. Thanks for coming by.”

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Musing upon memories of the Marchioness

Arthur: Thal, it has been good travelling with you.

Thal: It has, indeed. Well met, fellow thinker. I have noticed your interest in intellectual pursuits and learning from books, and it would please me if you would take this. It is a small book with my attempts at translating the language and idiom of some elfin poems about times of old. They can be read many ways and deliver many lessons.

Arthur: Thank you, Thal. About the Marchioness. The wild power within her, is it dangerous?

Thal: That is the imprint of the twisted energy of the Lady Bizarre. She has tied the mind and soul of the Marchioness in knots so that now Lucinda of Lamneth is bound within herself.

Arthur: So this enchantment presents no danger to others?

Thal: It is not dangerous, but would be very difficult to undo.

Arthur: So she could be saved?

Thal: It is possible, though it would take a great power. But what happens then? The Marchioness got where she was by playing the game. You’ve seen how these people in power behave. If she were restored she might continue as before, or there might be struggles of vengeance. Either way, what really would be changed?

Arthur: I see.

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