Blood in the Water

Decimus 21, 1667
The Second Death of Reis

Decimus 21, 1667

We sailed onward toward that terrible ship and came within their canon’s range. We returned fire, doing some damage to their foresail as they attempted to turn broadside. Luckily Roderick proved not only capable, but wholly consummate in his control of the Black Rose and we were able to avoid much damage to the ship. I doubt even I could have steered her better had I been in my youthful days as a captain. To protect ourselves and our identities I passed masks to all in our party save Albrecht, to whom I gave a simple plain masque not in line with the theme the Count had picked. Had we remained in a peaceful Montaigne he had been planning to through a masquerade, but it never came to pass.

Instead I donned the masque of a fox, Noella the mouse, my Gallia the cat, Roderick the raccoon, Roy the bear, the Castillian became the wolf, while Alonso became the stork, the good doctor Gage became the raven, Isabella became the owl, and Albrecht the faceless mask.

Tied to their mainsail’s mast was Allende, and he was one of our foremost targets. This being the second time we have secured his rescue from the Crimson Roger. I am of course going to have to speak to him about his terrible habits. The plan was simple, ram the ship, focus on Reis, kill every man board, and rescue Allende. Again. I spoke the plan swiftly, but it hardly mattered. They had no men below decks as I had assumed, but rather their crew remained entirely on their top deck. The fighting moved swiftly.

The Little Mouse was the first to draw blood, firing at range to remove their long gunman. She did well, and he was killed before we boarded. The wolf was the first aboard, jumping directly to Reis. The main Reis I mean, for it appeared that he had many look alikes. If I remember correctly I counted four bearing his countenance. It seems that the art of disguise has become wholly common among men. I the Fox, with the Cat following, swung to the rigging to rescue Allende, while the others fought below us. I provided what aid I could shooting my pistol from above, but it seemed that Reis was wholly impervious to being hit with weapons or touched by bullets.

When the Wolf jumped aboard the men manning the canons fired upon him, being excellent marksmen, and he was whisked away according to that prophecy of the Sidhe that we had been foretold – that they would save his life one day and that it would involve a canon. The fighting continued in his absence. The Raven Doctor proved quite capable with his alchemical grenades, and between his proficiencies and the Stork’s arts we soon had the canon operators wholly destroyed. Their assault continued unrelentingly as I climbed toward Allende.

I saw the Owl secure the kill shot of the whelp Javier, which caused me to have hope that we may indeed win this conflict, or at the very least come out of it alive. Those hopes fell as I saw the Bear fall, nearly the whole of the crew rushing him as he landed aboard. One of whom bore the legendary axe that Reis had stolen earlier. My hopes were encouraged when the Wolf returned from Bryn Bresail, wielding the sword that Galina had described from her dreams, a blade made of water. Of all things it alone seemed capable of damaging Reis, and it alone seemed able to bypass or defend against his terrible scythe.

I watched in horror as the wolf fell beneath Ries’ scythe, and I drew my breath inward as I realized what needed to be done. Leaping down from the Allende’s side on the mast and its riggings I landed with cunning grace, and reaching down picked up the fallen sword, and swung at Reis myself. I may not have much skill with such blades, but the sword’s magic seemed to compensate for my shortcomings. I was at the least, lucky enough to avoid most of his blows, though I took more than I would have liked. I knew that if he struck once more, I would be finished, and my chance for justice lost. The battle raged on, but I do not recall much of it. The Raven was quite effective, as was the Mouse, and those who struck at a range while our melee combatants were either fallen or falling. Grande fought bravely, we all did, except for Reis.

With his comrades fallen and the efforts of the Raccoon and the Fox tearing away at him bit by bit, he attempted to escape by smashing his way through the floor, to no avail. Our blades struck him as he fell, and with the sword I bore I removed his shoulders of their tiresome burden. The battle was not yet ended, though only two of the crew remained, and much to my anger one of them escaped, fleeing into the water. Mutated beyond what I might have thought possible and no longer fit to be called a man the apparently amphibious creature disappeared into the waters of the river beyond the range of our guns.

The costs of the battle were great. Albrecht and Gregorio laid fallen by Reis, whose head I tied to my belt. Albrecht was beyond care, but the good doctor was able to revive Gregorio and Royston, though they were gravely wounded. I wrote a letter to Albrecht’s mother to inform her and his father of their loss. For all of it, I am glad I was able to kill Albrecht by the pirate’s hands. I was planning on doing it by the hands of Montague’s soldiers, but this seemed more expedient. He showed bravery, and his customary… corruption, but remains the last vestige of their old lives to be taken from them. I was also glad that we proved able to rescue Allende, and that the good doctor was able to stabilize him. Hopefully he is on the road to recovery under the good doctor’s care.

We set about securing the loot from the ship and discovered two things: The first that when any of us touched the hat, coat, or scythe, we were transported to a creature who asked us if we wanted immortality. Thinking it to be Sidhe, I asked what the price of the trade was, and when it told me there was no cost I knew it to be lying. I did not take the deal, nor did the good doctor who also picked up the garb. Using Alonso’s art I saw the hat and coat destroyed. The scythe however, proved more complicated. This in addition with Roderick’s insistence that the head I bore was actually Riant’s and not Reis’ has led me to believe that any man who dons these things becomes the immortal legend himself, and while the men may be mortal, the legend is that which cannot die. I hope that the legend persists in history only now, spoken in stories told to children by the fireside, and how the despicable pirate met his end at the hand of the heroic Fox and his crew.

In our searching we also discovered that the Crimson Roger had been scuttled by our long since departed enemy, Coral. We ran the ship aground, and I hung the bodies of its crew from its sides. Justice for the town of Durk and its fallen townspeople. We burned the ship, and determined that Royston, Galina, and I should venture to Bryn Bresail in an attempt to negotiate the destruction of the Scythe – and with luck – the permanent end to the legend of the immortal Captain Reis. We succeeded in arriving there, but the brothers would not touch the thing, and after having touched it myself I determined the thing that was offering the deal was no Sidhe, though it used its words craftily it had none of the ignorance or innocence that the Sidhe bear. For all their cunning and higher intelligences the Sidhe prove with each visit to be less and less fey and more and more contrary.

Of course the Sidhe brothers, nor their mother with whom we met, seemed to be able to take direct action. It seems that for all of it the only men or women on this earth capable of taking direct action in the course of human events to some degree of success is I and my crew or the villains whom we work against. They could not destroy it, nor could they safe keep it, nor could they do anything of use. The lady was however capable of encasing it in ice so that we could carry it more proficiently than by oar. A great help indeed. It was agreed that we should throw it into a volcano as that was the only thing that could destroy it according to the Lady. Her son however implied that it was not destroyed, only kept from the reach of others by the lava. It seems even the realm of the fey is but lies and shadows. I’ve no doubt that there exits some creature of the like of Coral, or of worse make, that shall soon fetch it out again.

We bargained with the lady that we should be transported to Charouse in return for throwing the Scythe into the molten pit of the volcano, but the Sidhe went back on that deal and demanded another price. So I gave them the mask of the Fox, for the younger wanted a face, which he in turn gave to his larger brother. I bought a new one shortly thereafter when were in Charouse and looked forward to the reunion of my crew when they arrive, for it seems that we have arrived ahead of them, on the same day in which we fought the Crimson Roger.

I think for my part I shall make no more entreaties or deals with the Sidhe for they have proven to be betrayers of their words, and have dashed my hopes of finding something more honorable than men. It seems that I have always been correct; and whether it be here or in Bryn Bresail, this world is nothing more than shadows and lies.

- R

Decimus 20, 1667
The Bone Spider

Undated entry (most likely Decimus 10, 1667)

The tenth day of Decimus still continued, so we moved on to our arrival in Newport. The experience in Bryn Bresail, as I said in my earlier entry, was refreshing. It was perspective altering, transformative, for me. As soon as we were on land again I took the opportunity to ask Galina to join me for a walk along the shore. Alone, we discussed many things. The end result of which is that we are both resolved to argue less in the future, and be beside one another no matter the obstacles. If we had different fortunes I may have been inclined to confess more, but it is difficult for me given my lack of faith in the subject so many passionately claim mastery of.

When we returned I pulled Gregorio aside as well, to begin the next phase in my plan against the Moncelles. With luck he’ll succeed in wooing the affections of Mirabelle. For now however, there were other tasks to focus on. With Galina at my side I used the globe that we had found to try and find my quarry. I had luck with one, but it seems the other is not in this world any longer. It was something I had come to suspect already, but confirmation of it was still a wound to me. I shall never meet my father unless we see one another in the next life, but there is hope that I could be reunited with my mother. The globe unfolded to show a map of the region, with the mark showing her roughly three days travel eastward from Barcino in Montaigne occupied Castille. It seems I may have to convince the others to travel there, if they can be so inclined.

We secured rooms at the Bannon, where we had stayed before, and I was looking forward to a luxurious bath and a sleep, but we heard word that the town of Durk was for sale by the local lord. Having come to some inheritance by the hands of the fey we were inclined to purchase it for ourselves to establish a base of operations of sorts. Apparently Isabella, Roderick, and Gage had been to see the Lord Roger French during my conversations with Galina, and had been asked to return for their audience with him in two hours’ time which would be just after our dinner. I went with them on their return to see what might be done.

The lord was dressed in the Montaigne style, complete with wig which he set aside as we entered. Isabella posed as the leader of our enterprise and began to work the deal. There was a slight discrepancy which caused us pause: the rumors were that the town was haunted, and no one else would go near it. The lord was agreeable that if we could rid the town of its ghosts we should be partially refunded some of our purchasing price. In the end, we agreed to do what we could, as we would most likely have to clear it of ghosts if we wanted to stay there anyway or have the land be of any use to us at all.

It was determined that we should sail for Durk, and eventually once more for Montaigne. We needed a faster and larger ship to accommodate us, so we spoke to the reputable shipwright, and I bargained us a deal to buy an unchristened three deck clip, which we christened the Black Rose. Galina and I took the officer’s quarters, the good doctor took the first mate’s, and Roderick took the captain’s quarters as he remains our captain though we no longer require the ruse of his having kidnapped the Count Della Montagna.

In the morning we shall hire a crew and sail for Durk, which we shall reach by the end of day tomorrow with any luck. I hope after that to restore Durk, and then continue on to a reunion.

- R

Decimus 13, 1667

When we reached what was once Durk we were all struck with the same feeling. There was something afoot there, an erie presence that bothered the marrow in our bones. I am no master of the mysteries of magic, but even I could tell that there was something beyond the mortal ken there. I was disheartened to find my assumptions correct. The town of Durk had been slaughtered by the pirates that had taken the city nearly a year before when we traded for the lives of Allende and Alesio. I felt shame at my fear of the Crimson Roger’s crew, and of our withdrawal once we had secured our friends. I do not think I shall withdraw from the Roger again. As an agent of Justice I should like to see each and every man, woman, and child among their crew hung and pecked like they did to the innocents here and no doubt countless elsewhere.

Seeing what needed to be done I scavenged the necessary tools from the town and then began to dig the plots for the dead. It was long and ardous work, but we buried them in a swath of land beside the church and just outside the town proper. There was a small hitch however. Isabella and the good doctor warned not to move certain members of the dead, those with small Syrneth armaments bound to them. The inscriptions written on them where in the Thalusi tongue, which we have encountered before and I knew enough of to translate the word: Spider. Since we could not move the bodies, we began to burn them, after entreating Alonso to discretely control the flames.

Among those dead was the cobalt man and crew member of the Roger: Jemy. He was the one I impersonated to force the other crewmembers off the Cresting Wave all those months ago. He was apparently a friend to Roderick, but he had been shot in the back, after apparently burying three of Durk’s children in properly marked graves. What happened next…. Well, it was the most disturbing form of sorcery I have yet seen, and has thoroughly convinced me of the hellish nature of the Syrneth that has been claimed by the Daughters.

Jemy, and the other marked corpses, assembled into what appeared to be, in its base form, a spider. An arachnid monstrosity constructed of the bones and flesh of the gathered deceased. Why the crew of the Roger should leave such a thing behind, I can only guess was to insult Jemy and his memory, and turn him into a creature of death when he had tried to be something nobler. Our normal strategies for combat were out the window, we had but one hope: destroy it before we found ourselves at its mercy.

The battle was fierce. In the course of it I managed to blow one of its legs off with my pistol. Galina threw her daggers, Noella shot well with her musket, Alonso used his archery and Grande used his teeth, Isabella remained at distance with her whip and pistol, while the good doctor proved quite the proficient grenadier with his alchemist’s fire. We had sent Royston into the forest to gather wood for proper grave markers, so he was absent from our battle with the bone-spider. It was Gregorio however who finally slayed the beast with his spear, though he took quite a few blows from the monster himself.

When the beast was finished I made sure of its destruction by firing into it twice. The artifacts were apparently of a single use in their nature, for they melted away into a mercurial pool and slipped through the earth. The haunted feeling however, still remained. We located its source eventually beneath the altar in the decimated church, and saw to its destruction and cleansing. Roderick also managed to find a journal of sorts written in Jemy’s hand, a sparse record of events from his perspective. With the altar restored we took a breath, finished the burying of the dead, and then returned to our ship, our mission accomplished.

We renamed the town Rosehaven after our restoration of it in a compromise between the names Haven and Rosewood. With our holdings established we hired a staff to maintain it in our absence, and agreed to set sail for Montaigne. We took with us Bella, Roy’s fiancé who did not wish to be parted from him, and Albrecht, who wished very much to return to Montaigne and fight the revolution and serve his country. The young man is quite disturbed, and with any luck the loss of him shall cause greater pain to my enemy. With them in tow and our new ship secured, we set sail for Montaigne.

- R

Decimus 15, 1667

I had a brief conversation with Montague through the use of our communications manual. He has secured peace between his men and the revolution. The revolution is currently being led by the woman Royston slept with the evening of the Count’s party. She is a fellow daughter, which strikes me as odd for she has taken Ysabette, Galina’s lady, captive and plans to execute her with her sisters, Rosamunde and Evelyn, on the twenty third. We shall hopefully arrive in Charouse on the twenty first barring any inconvenient weather which my sailor’s eye does not see.

The Musketeers have been reinstated under Karl Steiner until Jean-Marie’s return, which I found surprising due to the man’s nationality, non-membership in the musketeers, and reputation for cowardice. Leon is rallying his forces as well while a few of his nobles attempt to make their stand. The sun king is currently on the march from Castille, which places him between us and his other enemy – the Inquisition and Castillian patriots. I might hope for him to be crushed between the waves of the Inquisition and the rock of Montague’s forces in Charouse, but there is no way to communicate such a plan with the forces in Castille, and I doubt the leaders there shall think of such a strike on their own.

I told the rest of the party of the developments, and assured Galina that we should rescue Ysabette if we are able. Though I have reservations about rescuing the militant Rosamund and Evelyn from their justice at the hands of the revolution. We shall see what the future brings.

I was also able to aid Roderick in his reading of Jemy’s journal, the man was adept at codes but I observed the pattern and was able to solve some of the secrets he had laid within the journal. Javier and Riant went onto the island near Avalon to find Reise, and only Javier and Reise returned. Riant was the cruel man with the whip we encountered when first our crew came together nearly a year ago. I was glad to hear of his passing, for apparently Reise and Javier had told the others – or at the last Remy – that Riant was dead.

– R

Decimus 18, 1667

I received a message from Allende. Riese has opened the puzzle box that we returned to the crew, only to find it empty. In his rage it seems he has turned upon the person he procured it from, and attempted to slay her. He failed in his mission, but he is active and searching for Caborra. Isabella holds the map, but if she has learned all she can from it I shall suggest to her that she destroy it, so that it cannot fall into the hands of the Roger. We sail onward still and it looks as though we shall reach Charouse in accordance with our schedule.

- R

Undated Entry

Allende attacked Reise on his way out of Charouse. It was folly. He has been captured, but last seen he was still alive, flayed on the rigging of the Crimson Roger. In addition to this unsettling news, I woke to learn from Galina that she has had another dream. This time there was a lady who rose from the water and placed a sword of water into the land of an island. Roderick, clad in Royston’s armor, ran along the shore and stumbled upon it, drawing it from the sand. I do not know the meaning of the dream, but I suspect is it another premonition of some kind.

We sailed onwards, and then our eyes fell upon the ship with red sails with Reise himself standing upon the bow. I swore to myself to make every effort to destroy the Roger and its terrible crew, and if Reise should prove to be as immortal as the legends would suggest, though he had already died once, I swore to bestow upon him a fate worse than death. For I of all men know that death is often a merciful escape from justice.

Decimus 1667
Escape from Charouse

Decimus 11, 1667

The tenth day of Decimus was quite possibly the longest day in my life besides one. After Noella and I escaped the mob we retreated to the manor where we had some time to speak alone. I revealed my deception as far as the Count was concerned, and told her of her parentage, and a bit of mine and Gallia’s adventures together. Gallia arrived shortly thereafter, and had much to say as well. Properly, though probably never fully, chastised, Noella helped us to pack up the manor so that we could make a hasty escape.

During our time packing the others slowly began to arrive until we realized that Alonso, and Fyodor, had not been seen since the mob. Uccelletta went to find them, and spotted Alonso in the square. Fyodor was still not to be found, except that he had been seen going toward the palace. She went there, and he spoke of needing to do something, but to meet him later by a sewer entrance that was known to both of them at the palace.

I mean while wrote furiously to General Montague with the magic quill and book that he had given me for such purposes. I was still unable to convince him to return to Montaigne, as he did not wish to be considered a traitor. I had trouble convincing him without the evidence he sought as he did not want to be considered a traitor. I can understand his feelings on honor, but anything standing in the way of wisdom should be discarded. Still, I was unable to convince him to betray his morals for his nation’s sake.

As time drew on the peasantry did not settle. The riot had turned into full revolution, while the peasantry found themselves armed by the machinations of the daughter’s lady who had worked with Royston and the Count to secure arms through the Moncelle’s trade with Eisen. We came to realize that if we desired any of our friends or comrades to live, it was up to us to rescue them, and see them safely out of Charouse. To this end, we decided to take it upon ourselves to rescue a list of people:

  • Jean Marie…du Rogne – The Captain of the Musketeers, friend of Montague’s, and idol to Noella.
  • Anna…du Rogne – His wife and daughter of the endangered Emperor.
  • Noella – Herself wanted by both sides of the revolution, and in great danger from authorities.
  • Tristan Moncelle – Of personal importance to me.
  • Mirabelle Moncelle – Of personal importance to me.
  • Albrecht Moncelle – Their creepy son.
  • Dominique du Montaigne – Montague’s wife, and consequently her unborn son.
  • Belladona du Rogne – Royston’s betrothed, whom he refused to leave behind.

We took our tasks in order of proximity to the mob, and thus the most in danger. Royston went to speak to the Jenny’s Guild to see if the daughters could be of any use aiding us in the smuggling of these people – what the daughters seem to do most, and was told that the Santa Cecillia Ysabette’s ship and Gallia’s Lady of the daughters, was in port in Charouse. Gallia went and worked it out with Ysabette that if we could get them aboard, she would see them out of Charouse.

It also seemed bound by Fate that Roderick should put into port with the Chatter even as Gallia approached the riotous docks. However, to our misfortune, the Lady Wellington’s Revenge was also in port. Royston confirmed that this was most likely the ship of Eric Bannon, who was searching for his vengeance against Royston. When Gallia returned to the manor, the fighting had reached us. Noella ended a Montaigne Noble’s plan to thwart the peasants by ending his crossbowman, and it wasn’t long until he was lost in the crowd. In the meantime, we took our carriages, wagons, and things, and drove to the house where Gallia and the musketeers had sought refuge for Jean-Marie.

There was a surgeon there who had been in the square during the fighting, who seemed to be quite skilled at his craft. He still needed more time with his patient in order to see him through the danger, but it was agreed that he should have it upon the road. We lifted Jean-marie carefully and cautiously, and took him as far as we could to the docks before we had to get out and walk with him while the others loaded our things aboard the Chatter.

Aboard the Cecillia was an unexpected guest, Ysabette’s sister Rosamund, who took offense when she learned of the duel and Remy’s death. She declared that if Jean-Marie was on this ship when it set sail, she would sink it. Seeing that there was no reasoning to be done, we moved him to the Chatter. Once again the daughters proved useless when we were in need, despite the myriad of favors and tasks they have asked of us and the services we have rendered to them at great personal risk and cost.

We set about rescuing the Moncelle’s next as the noble quarter was in the throes of battle, and the palace was still well secured. We moved to their manor to find it opened, but with no signs of battle or that death, the harvester of all men, had come for his due. Instead, as we went through, we found soldiers of the peasantry, and leading them was one of Montague’s thirty.

I had abandoned the guise of the Count while we were packing in Charouse. Now going by the name of Jean Luther, and in a totally different face. It didn’t pose a danger, however, as Montague’s men, or at least his thirty, have come to know of the Chameleon, as they call me. I suppose that they must just assume that any man they do not recognize who stands beside my Gallia, whom they do recognize, must be me. That might be of use later, but at that moment, it kept us from being shot, and enabled us to receive the Moncelle’s from their captors.

Their son Albrecht is… disconcerting. He showed a particularly macabre interest in hurting himself in order to further aid the disguise of prisoner. He wounded himself by smashing his face with the manacles that were on his wrists because we did not allow him a dagger.

We led them to the ships in manacles and hoods so as to keep their identities secreted away from the angry mobs that were looking to kill every noble they could find. We managed to get them aboard the Chatter with little difficulty, where we stowed them away below decks. Then we turned our sights to the palace.

We went to the palace, and Anne, Dominique’s maid, gave Gallia the proof that I had been looking for on Montague’s behalf. I immediately had to return to the ship with it to write him, leaving the others to try and discover whether or not the ones we were there to rescue wished to be rescued. When I returned, after giving Montague the important news we discussed our plans. Apparently, Dominique and Anne were both being kept close to the Emperor, who was not letting them out of is sight, or the sight of his new right hand man: Fyodor.

Gallina feared my self-righteous wrath, while others thought it might be a boon, but I feared that Fyodor was the type of man who would think himself bound by the oaths he swore, regardless of how many he broke. He had broken his contract with the Count without thought, which meant he would attempt to compensate for that guilt and use that broken promise to reinforce his resolve to keep this new one. Humans are complicated.

At the moment we were in need of something more simple: a plan. The one we devised was to enter the palace as performers, and vanish away the two we were there to rescue with cunning and prestidigitation. However, our plans were interrupted by invasion. Montague and his armies were marching through a giant Porte hole in ten by ten ranks, storming the palace. The nobles in the palace began to flee and scatter as rats from a flood. We had to move quickly. We kicked in the door to find Anne and Dominique left behind, covered in blood, the hand of the emperor (his literal hand, not Fyodor) was all that was left behind. Apparently Anne had closed a portal on him, rescuing Dominique and Anne, at the cost of her hand. The surgeon, Gage, was able to reattach it, but was confident that she would never regain control of it.

We were able to quit the palace with haste, and return to the ship. Once there however, we faced the difficulty of the Montaigne Armada which had barricaded the port. Gallia consulted with her lady, and it was determined we should set sail for the land of the Sidhe, with Galina or Isabella at the helm, and Royston beneath the water. We did so, and found ourselves on the sealess shores of Bryn Bresail. The Sidhe brothers were there to greet us.

While we discussed plans, and ways to get back to our world, the good doctor took to shore and exploration for other Sidhe with which to deal. What he found was a creature known as a redcap. It seems that the good doctor and I were not raised on the same stories. He followed the creature’s advice, and picked three mushrooms, binding him in servitude to the creature. When one of the Sidhe brothers pointed this out, I went with him to remedy the difficulty and restore the mushrooms. We were lucky in that he was able to escape a difficult and no doubt evil fate.

My time in Bryn Bresail granted me some time to gain perspective. I have been so immersed in my passion and purpose that I have neglected those around me, and those purposes have been so small compared to the scope of the world. If I am to be Theus’ agent of justice, my sights should not be on personal justice for a long dead Edouard. As Theus’ looks to all of Theah, so must I. If I am to be his agent, I must seek Justice for all of those under His care, and not just myself.

I was also left to think on whether or not I must deny myself my desires and happiness in order to fulfill my oaths to Theus. There is nothing discouraging my pursuits, no sign from Theus that he is displeased with such thoughts, so long as they will not interfere with my purposes. There is still much to think on, and much to consider. I should speak with Galina soon. We have taken turns being angry with one another for the last year. Though those months in Charouse were a welcome peace between us.

Our deal with the Sidhe brothers for our return was the powers of the unborn sorcerer in Dominique’s womb. She and her husband Montague, whom the brothers summoned, agreed to it. In return Montague was returned to Montaigne, Dominique was returned to Carleon in Avalon, Anne and Jean-Marie were returned to their villa in Eisen with Anne’s hand restored, while the rest of us, Royston’s fiancé, and the Moncelle’s were returned to Inismore.

We were restored to the shores with a stockpile of treasure from the Sidhe. There has been some talk of purchasing land in Inismore, and I for one am planning to. Royston and the others expressed interest also, and we shall see what comes of it. In the meantime, I think I shall ask Galina to walk with me a little farther. And we shall see how we may move forward from here. The group of us have become akin to something closer than merely a crew, and it shall be interesting to see where the future takes us. In the meantime, I suppose I shall have to take up a new name, as the Count seems to be a wanted man and of no use to anyone now.

– T

Decimus 10, 1667
Black Threads All Around Us

Sextus 24, 1667

The travel from Frieburg to the Ussuran border has thus far been fairly uneventful. Rysling approached Gregorio with a torn page from a book. The page bore a sketch that was a fair likeness of Gregorio, though perhaps drawn when he was younger, or else the artist took some liberties with his handsomeness. The sketch bore the underscript “in regards to Javier”. Of course referring to Gregorio’s one-time ward. Sometimes I wonder if I should admit to Gregorio that his failure still lives, but those are not my secrets to tell.

Further, Rysling said that the page came from a book his brother, Wasser, kept in regards to who he wished to kill. No doubt the Count has a page of his own there now, which is unfortunate – the point of the Count is to make friends – not enemies. Gregorio took the page as a warning, but returned it to Rysling. The second page that Rysling had taken proved to be a man with the underscript “In regards to Elaine.” Though we showed it to Royston, he did not recognize the subject of the sketch.

That was several days ago. Today we reached the Ussuran border in the Drachenburg Mountains. Fyodor doesn’t wish to come into Ussura, so he is at the border while the rest of us march forward toward the caravan for Rysling and Tahnik’s sake. Our latest errand for the Daughters.

– M

Sextus 27, 1667

The caravan was amusing. Thousands of wagons, the most I’ve ever seen on one road. Bright and colorful and full of people and noise. I entertained a few children while Gallia took care of the business we had come there to see to. It was Royston’s task, but in many ways it had become her labor. She spent her time with Tahnik during the trip, and seemed distant to me, but her mind was probably focused on… other things.

One of the Fhideli placed a chalk mark on my shoulder blade, marking me as an easy fool for their tricks and deceits. I found it amusing, so I pretended not to notice it, but other than an old fortune-teller woman no one decided to try their luck. I kept the children entertained with whistling while Gallia spoke with their… whatever they call their wagon leaders, and arranged for Tahnik and Rysling to be taken in. With any luck they will have long and happy lives. We left them there, and returned to Fyodor at the border. The goodbyes were not overlong, which was probably for the best.

We then came to the point of deciding whether or not we go to Charouse by Porte, or by way of Eisen. In the end, we chose the way through Eisen. The others did not want to risk the animals, or simply leave them with Fyodor while the rest of us traveled. Hopefully we won’t run in to Wasser again, but with luck we should not have any need to pass through Freiburg, but will instead pass through the lands to the South of it on our way to Charouse.

The land is barren, and small talk can only take you so far. The little crew has come to the point where we are comfortable with silence, and do not feel the need to entertain one another. If all goes well the trip should be peaceful, and then we shall be in Charouse once more. It will be nice to be in more familiar surroundings once more.

– M

Corantine 17, 1667

The Count throws the best parties. A week after we arrived in Charouse I decided it was time to meet and greet the nobles there, including two of the subjects of my purpose: Tristan and Mirabelle Moncelle. They’ve had a son whom they named Albrecht.

Anyway, after we arrived in Charouse we secured a manor house for ourselves to use as a base of operations. The party yesterday was the beginning of the Count’s integration into Charouse society. The goal was simple: become a well-known, well loved, and greatly underestimated member of high society. I hope it will be a great success, and if the party is anything to judge it by, the attempt is going to go remarkably well.

My entrance was a thing of pomp and grandeur, and the party only escalated from there. I was able to speak to the Moncelles and introduce them to the Count. I met Dominique again as well, actually getting to speak with her for a few minutes. It seems that she has more love for her husband than for her father, and is looking forward to the birth of her son. I feel that she too thinks her father wishes her husband dead. Though I still wonder why he does not just order the thing done, it seems an artist by the name of Pascal was sentenced to assassination as the emperor arrived at the party.

Oh yes, the emperor arrived it was the height of the party for most. The difficulty for me was having the courage to face such a necessary evil. Power is a dangerous thing to use flippantly, and the Emperor has always been known to wield it whimsically, like a child might play with a stick, so too he plays with the lives and well-being of his subjects. I saw that he was well attended to, and well entertained, and well fed and dined, but had only the briefest of conversations with him myself. I wanted to leave the party as soon as I found he was coming, but… well, I am growing ever more tired of the Count’s cowardice, and I realized the usefulness of appearing to be on speaking terms with such a man to the rest of the high society of Charouse. That he chose to attend the party was the highest compliment and endorsement the Count could have received and it would have been a grave insult for the host not to be in attendance.

Seeing Mirabelle again was… challenging. I have not thought of romance since I was turned against it by her, but I suddenly found my thoughts assaulted by it, memories of it. Such thoughts played in mind all night long, though she was never the subject of them. She is beautiful still, but her eyes have grown cold. She did not see me, not the real me beneath the Count’s façade, but I saw her. It was the pinnacle of the test of my will and strength of purpose. They both left alive and well, though I was able to secure a foundation for my plans.

Other than that, the party was actually rather enjoyable. The Count danced with a few of the young and beautiful ladies who were in attendance, as well as Isabella. Galina and I were able to dance and dine together, with her posing as the Count’s betrothed. The Count rather seemed to enjoy having Isabella on one arm and Gallia on the other, but Isabella did not seem interested in such a joke, and seemed to prefer to give Gallia and I some distance. Royston danced with my Uccelletta at one point, it seemed there was a woman there who wished to lure him away from the party to her home. I sent Alonso after them, to trail behind and make sure it was safe. It was.

Royston returned all too quickly to interrupt mine and Gallia’s evening with news that his new lady friend wanted arms, and munitions, in regards to some strike against the Emperor. Having no great love for the man, his governance, or sensing anything of import in regards to his situation and my purposes, I agreed to see what I could do. I had already agreed to meet with Tristan, Count Moncelle I mean, in regards to a business arrangement he was hoping to produce, something of a ‘food for arms’ trade with Eisen. I’m to meet with him in a few weeks’ time to discuss the idea and see if it is something that the Count would like to become a financial backer for.

As for now I am exhausted from the party and the sun is already halfway up its morning climb. I need to sleep as the rest of the house has already succumbed to their beds.

– M

Septimus 13, 1667

The meeting with Moncelle went very well today. His business venture shows definite usefulness to my purpose, and he has agreed that the Count shall retain anonymity for his contributions, as well as five percent of the imported products for his own distribution, or stockpiling for the daughters, as the case may be. The plans are laid, and we are very nearly ready. We shall see what becomes of them in time.

– M

Decimus 10, 1667

The last few months have been fairly uneventful, today has had enough event to fill all of those slower days. Charouse, and probably the rest of Montaigne, are in for some difficult times ahead. Noella seems to have sparked a revolution.

Earlier today I received a message from Allende. Reis is back, last seen on the shores of Montaigne by Allende himself. That news however pales in comparison to the national upheaval that began later in that day. At roughly the same time I was divulging that information Noella set out into the city. Galina went after her, but it was not until later that I realized the severity of her request. She called me “Pa-pa” which brought an unexpected joy, but I realize now I was incredibly foolish to believe that someone could have come to show me any kind of love. I was Edouard once more, and once more I was shown that there is no such thing as honesty.

She went to the marketplace, and shot a man in cold blood. The man was an abuser, a cad, but he was a noble. Galina could do nothing to stop her in time, before she took the rifle from a Musketeer and fired upon the man. She dropped him with a single bullet. Unfortunately she was not at all intelligent about her actions, and was immediately arrested in the square and taken to trial. An urchin sent by Galina from the courthouse reached me in time, and the rest of our little crew made it there in record time, myself included.

I convinced Jean-Marie to convince his mother to name her, retroactively, a Musketeer. Her actions could be seen as honorable if they were in the line of duty. Secondly, I acted as her legal counsel. A move which I wish I had made under a different persona, but there was no time. The Count stood and spoke while she was on trial, questioning each witness, and pleading her case to the judge, and the large crowd that had gathered to watch the spectacle of the little mouse being put on trial for the killing of a murderous and dishonorable nobleman. The end result was a matter of cunning that I am actually quite proud of, though I still wish Jean-Marie had allowed me to act in his stead.

It came down to a matter of honor, and so to let honor be satisfied, and to let the judge keep his hands clean of the matter in the eyes of the people and the nobles, I suggested it come down to a matter of a duel. Remy stood for the nobleman, and I stood for Noella. She is capable with a sword, but Remy is a man like me, without scruples and with great cunning, though I know that none would have thought the Count capable of lasting more than six seconds against the great Remy DuMontaigne. Jean-Marie called upon her role as a Musketeer to stand in her, and thus my intended, stead. The two of them fought.

It was hard and bloody, and there was much at risk. Should Jean-Marie we would have lost the musketeers, but I told the rest of our little crew to be ready. The moment the death of Jean-Marie seemed near we would leap into action and rescue Noella. Galina would never forgive me if I were to let her perish, and for all the troubles she has caused me now she is still a cherished piece in my purpose. Fortunately we did not need to, the Musketeers beat us to it. When it seemed that Jean-Marie was defeated, having been driven to his knees and Remy raising his arm for the final swing of his sword, the Musketeers opened fire upon him, and the fight was both over, and just begun.

The crowd, angered and justified, stormed the place, and bloody warfare was opened up. I grabbed Noella and we ran.

I shall write more later, when I have the time.

– M

Una carta a mi madre

Mi querida madre,

Siento que ha pasado tanto tiempo entre las letras. Mi
trabajo con el gremio de espadachín me ha mantenido
viajando. ¿Recuerdas mi nota reciente sobre Newport y mis
problemas allí con AF? Parecen hace tanto tiempo. Por eso,
me alegro.

Mi nuevo empleador es El Conde Dante Della Montanga.
He sido contratado para él durante el año, que ahora se ha
ido medio. Él es un encantador maestro – ¡y un carácter
único! – Y me ha permitido mucha libertad para vagar, tren
y vivo como yo disfruto entre dos trabajos. Cuando el tiempo
me permite escribir una nota ya te diré más, pero estamos
fuera de Friburgo antes del amanecer de mañana.

Antes de nuestro reciente viaje, me pregunté a la
necesidad del CM para un grupo tan ecléctica de
guardaespaldas (incluyendo mi conocido AA – el que tiene
el lobo), pero esas preguntas han sido contestadas. No puedo
decir más en este momento, pero contaré detalles en letras
futuras como nuestra situación lo permita. Sólo confío en
que hago mi todo para protegerlo, para derrotar a sus
enemigos, para evitar el derramamiento de sangre, y disfruta
de la emoción de la lucha. (¡Por eso, usted puede estar
seguro, no estoy sin la abundancia!)

Por favor, oren para que Dios pudiera conveniente para
el contrato se extienda. Es un trabajo mejor que cualquier
embargo que he recibido del gremio y yo crecer cómodo. Por
favor, también pido sirvo bien CM. Y por favor, ruego que
viva el tiempo suficiente para verte de nuevo.

Tengo muchos deseos de pedir noticias de IA, pero no me
atrevo. Yo no confío en mí mismo para recibir otro informe
de su tipo en el espíritu en el que lo envía. Así que voy a
contentarme con cualquier noticia que tiene de Papá,
Roberto y Aricella. Por favor, haga todo lo posible para
hacerles saber que pienso a menudo y los echo de menos
profundamente. Rezo por Castilla, también. Estoy
agradecido Aldana aún no ha sido atrapado en las
tribulaciones contra Montaigne.

Y la confianza, querida madre, siempre te llevo en mi
corazón. Espero que estés bien. Favor de escribirme pronto.

Di todo corazón, su hijo,


Sextus 10, 1667

Sextus 11, 1667
The Siblings

Sextus 10, 1667

Much has happened in an otherwise short span of time, but I’ll start with where I left off in my last entry for clarity of thought. While eating in the Drachengarten, the dining hall of the inn in which we were staying in Frieburg, a girl entered wearing a golden scarf. This was the same scarf which Roy (which Royston has told us to call him), had been told to find and that the girl wearing it must be whisked away to Vodacce or Ussura for her safety.

There was a man chasing after the scarfed girl. She entered and exited quickly, coming through the front door and leaving through the back. Roy and the Castillian gave chase, while the rest of us focused our attention on the large man who was pummeling his way through the inn’s guards. He bore a breastplate marking him as nobility, or at least of Dracheneisen make which usually indicates nobility, though after having seen the man fight, and after a brief conversation with him, I cannot remove the possibility that he is no more a noble than a horse is a carnivore.

The others leapt to action quickly, with Isabella and Gallia leaping to the defense of the girl by attacking her pursuer. I for my part attempted to interfere with his pursuit in a more harmless manner and attempted to console him with some of the count’s cologne as the count feigned a reaction to the pungency of the man while going to introduce himself to another noble. For my actions I received a blow, but it was not worrying. I told him that the cologne could be poisonous if inhaled, and as I had rather clumsily sprayed him in the face by mistake, we ought to sit rather than fight. He believed me, and so we sat together.

His name, he told me, was Vatter, and he was a noble of Eisen and a mercenary in pursuit of his sister – the golden scarfed girl, whom he was pursuing because she would not do as she was told. A woman who does what she is told is like a man who always tells the truth: the rarest of finds. I did not say as much, but rather kept him talking amicably as I gave him a goatstone and a vial of water to act as medicine for the poison he may have inhaled. After our brief conversation I let him leave. The last I saw of him, he was on his horse riding away in the direction he thought the girl might have went, though I bought her several tens of minutes.

It seemed the Castillian had bested another such man dressed in the same tabard as the first in the alley behind the inn. Unfortunately the man was quite beaten, and pierced multiple times by the Castillian’s spear. None of our party are proficient with the medicinal arts or sciences, so I sent Isabella to go and fetch a doctor. She returned some time later with a man who had some skill in the medicinal arts, but was not overly studious. Still, he closed the man’s wounds and was able to aid him in some small fashion. I paid him, and he left, and we rested until morning.

Oh, and Royston managed to speak with the woman, who wanted us to deliver the man, her brother, to a flower shop the following morning. Or some such. She did not realize we had him in our custody already, I think, but it was fortunate for us that the Castillian had not killed him as would have been my instinct.

We arrived at the flower shop, which to be honest was more of an alchemist’s shop, in the morning. The woman did not approach the shop, but Royston spotted her and went to speak with her. Gallia went to arrange a meeting with Montague, and I inquired of the shopkeep as to where I might find an artisan in the ways of working Dracheneisen, and went with Isabella and Alonso there. The girl fled when I attempted to approach, and Royston gave chase. The Castillian had the morning off, taking some time for personal business I believe (most likely spending more time with the Jennys).

Once at the smith I commissioned a work of Dracheneisen in the form of a rose. It seems Eisen is unused to the idea of using Dracheneisen for anything other than weaponry. It was not my intent to form a sword, shield, or piece of armor from the material, but I would not call the rose innocent in its entirety. After that business was taken care of, I returned to the inn to have a bath and prepare myself for my meeting with Motnague.

In the meantime it seemed that since we had all gone our separate ways, we had left Rysling, the man in our custody, alone in the shop. His horse had wandered off and found some hay. Fortunately my Gallia was able to track him down expediently, and bring him and his horse back to the Drachengarten. Once she had returned Royston and the rest of us had a conversation that couldn’t wait until after I had finished toweling off. While I dressed behind the curtain Royston and Gallia and I spoke of their plans. In the end it was decided that Gallia and Royston speak with Tahnick, or so Roy discovered was the girl’s name, while I remain not far off in the dining room in an unrecognizable guise. Thus the plan was that I should listen as they had lunch, and scratch near my ear if I thought the woman to be lying.

Of course I thought I would never cease scratching, but I went along with their plan and was able to help them, I think. I suppose I could have taken the guise of Elrik Grimm, the traveling mercenary knight from Eisen, but instead went with something less threatening. I became Gerhart Stolt, a retired fisherman who had grown and lived all his life in a small fishing village on the northern shores of Eisen before coming to live in Freiburg with his son and family. He sat and listened, eating his soup and drinking his beer by the fire while the others had their meeting.

The two were willing to travel to Ussura, though the woman did not wish to travel with any man but her brother. He, for his part, did not want to leave without being able to get word to his lover in Charouse. Gallia agreed to trade horses with him, so that she could deliver a message to his lover and they would know that it came from him. The woman, for her part, was attempting to escape a betrothal she had no interest in, and a brother who apparently beat her. Royston joined Gerhart at the fireplace while Gallia and Tahnick spoke of it. Ghallia is freer with her truths than I am likely to ever be, but I will do everything I can to protect her from the consequences of such foolishness.

We stowed the siblings in our suite, and I had my things moved so that Isabella and I could switch rooms. She, Noella, and Gallia slept on my bed, whilst I slept on hers. This whole ordeal has only served to further my irritation against the daughters, who have been nothing but a barrier to me and my purpose thus far.

I met with Montague at the gate of the city and spoke with him concerning his plans. He still would not hear of any alternative, but we spoke more in regards to whom he trusts, and what he would consider valid evidence against Le Emperor. Afterwards, I spoke with the group concerning a course of action I was contemplating. On the one hand: I could easily forge such evidence, but if the act was discovered I would make an enemy of Montague. Perhaps there is more of Edouard left in me than I thought, for he does not want to antagonize such a dear friend. I must admit I see no reason to do so either. The other way, the more honorable way, is less efficient and far more difficult and laid with just as much danger, but it does not cost me my friendship. After asking each of the group what they might advise, I chose the more honorable path – though it be damned.

While we spoke I was distraught enough to break the character of the Count. I could not continue the charade while weighing such consequential decisions. Roy of course wished to address the issue of such deception, and I explained to them the story they had not yet been told. How I was born Dante Inganno, and after having my parents stolen from me at a young age I vowed to bring justice to this world and have since discovered that their deaths were part of a much larger conspiracy. Roy did not believe me that my name was truly Dante, so Gallia told him of her habit of calling me Tatcho, that is Truth, in her people’s language.

While we were speaking there came a knock on the door. Noella told us that there was a man downstairs who wished to speak to us, from her description we took it to be Karl Steiner, and headed downstairs in our time to meet him. He was not alone, but bore a retinue of men with him, and a woman whom I did not expect to meet again: Fauner Posen. She is as beautiful and no doubt as deadly as the tales concerning her, but I had no idea more than she as to why her presence was required. They came to tell us that Montague had survived an attempt on his life, though he was shot. Three Ussurans had attempted to shoot him, but had paid for their actions with their lives.

We sent Montague a few messages, and then removed ourselves to a vote. We had a choice before us, Ussura, or Montaigne. Gallia had sworn to Tahnick that she would ride with her to Ussura and see her delivered to the Basura Tibesti safely with a note from Nikolai. She and I shall speak soon concerning her newfound habit of swearing oaths without thought to the one she has sworn to me though she no doubt senses no conflict of interest. We chose Ussura, though the vote was a close thing, and decided that we should leave the following morning.

We went to see Montague one last time, and I spoke to him privately in the medical tent in which he was being attended. He had been grazed in the side and shot in the thigh, but was not dead, and his injuries unlikely to be fatal now that they had received a surgeon’s skillful attentions. He had decided to begin the march to Ussura in the morning. I spoke to him of the coming delay in my own arrival in Charouse, and he offered me the services of a Porte sorcerer. I told him I would consider it, but I know that I should be hard pressed to convince some to travel through such otherworldly means.

We returned to the Drachengarten and the others have gone to sleep. I alone sit by the fire and watch the dance of the flames as I write. I hope Gallia is sleeping peacefully, and her mind is not troubled by the memories she had to revisit today.

– M

Sextus 11, 1667

I awoke from dreaming of Gallia to seeing her as she roused me. She had another dream. This time it was not of birds or mothers, but of me and Royston. I, dressed in Montague’s uniform, sat playing chess against myself while Royston sat at the other side of the table drinking a bottle of wine. My uniform bore several bullet holes, including one that Montague had not received – in the chest near his heart. When Royston had finished drinking the bottle he laughed and fell from his chair proclaiming that the answer was at the bottom.

We went to speak to Royston. He had apparently received such a gift as a bottle of wine from his handmaiden, but had not yet uncorked it. He did so, and poured it into glasses we did not drink. There at the bottom, which Gallia had to become a cat to read, were the words that apparently were in answer: Rest in Peace Michael Radcliffe 1671 7th day Prophets Mass Beluved Frend, Former Knyht. This is apparently the man guilty for the crime of which Royston took the blame. In that, I can sympathize. I know it is like to be accused and punished for a crime one did not commit, though Royston takes his voluntarily at the behest of others. To him however, this was good news, as he took as a sign that by that time he may be restored.

We left shortly thereafter, once I had taken care of some things in the market place and we had restocked our supplies. There was one hitch however, in that our party was to ride separated, with Gallia, Isabella, and the siblings riding at a distance from the rest of us. I warned her the daughters would cause distance between us, and so far I have not been wrong in this, though I did not think it would come so literally so soon.

During the ride today I cut and altered Roy’s hair to help him better disguise himself, or at least not be immediately recognizable. We look to hit the mountain pass into Ussura while it is clear of snow. Then we will head back to Charouse, somehow. Hopefully, our delay will not cost Montague his life.

– M

Sextus 9, 1667
Our travels through Eisen

Quintus 18, 1667

We have been traveling for three days now after a brief stocking of supplies in Guarre de Puertofino. We left the villa after saying a brief farewell to Noella and the servants who are there, and began our way north toward the Eisen border. The traveling has been fairly easy so far. Isabella drives the carriage, and Fyodor drives his covered wagon. Galina rides her horse, Whitemane, or so she tells me is his name, and Alonso rides his dire-wolf, Angus. The rest of us: Royston, Roderick, the Castilian, and I ride in the carriage.

There is a distance between my Galina and I that I do not like. She was angry with me for my disappearing, I think, but I have since apologized. When I woke this morning it was Galina who woke me to tell me of a dream she had in the night. She dreamed that Matushka came and brought her as a sparrow to a place in the city of Charouse. She, the prince of cats (which is apparently a thing), and a cardinal bird whom she did not know, watched as General Montaigne spoke with one of his advisors. They were being sent to Ussura, and Montaigne’s advisor thought it the Emporer’s way of removing the general from service, amounting to his attempted murder.

It was a… complicated thing. In the following conversation, I apologized to her for disappearing, and promised next time to let her know. There was not much else to do but think on it, and consider it as we rode further north.

I spoke with Isabella as we traveled, and tried to learn more of her. She is apparently the sister of the famous explorer Marco. She has no husband, and she mentioned no other family, but she travels to become an explorer and wishes to find something to make herself more famous than her brother and his assistant, Antonio, whose name she pronounced with disdain. Speaking with her was a welcome relief and distraction from the repetitive landscape, as well as from the haunting purpose that plagues my own thoughts. The count seems taken with her, or at least taken enough to provide the compliments a man with no wife might give to a woman with no husband. He has grown into a fool in many ways, entertaining thoughts of love and women.

The night ended with us making camp, and we took to our tents. I write now by the fire in my pavilion tent in hopes that its warmth might see us through the mountains we are about to cross.

– M

Quintus 22, 1667

Noella has become a complication. She apparently stowed away inside of Fyodor’s covered wagon, much to everyone’s surprise. They found her this morning when Fyodor was removing some coats for the others. Apparently I am the only one who thought to purchase one prior to leaving, knowing how unforgiving the Eisen Mountains can be from the last time I crossed them. The Ussurans, by which I mean Fyodor and Uccalletta, are resistant to the cold and seem unaffected by it, but I have long since ceased to marvel at the blessings Matushka has given them.

Once she was revealed, she claimed a desire for adventure. The Count could not deny her that without being hypocritical, but pointed out that she was to learn at the hands of others. She challenged Royston to prove that she knew how to use a sword. She seemed confident, no doubt because she had seen him lose his duel at the Villa. She disarmed him quickly and the fight was quickly over. I had little doubt that Royston was unprepared for the strike, and that he was being courteous, as to keep from wounding the Count’s daughter who seemed a far more fragile creature before the fight began. She had to be taught to show grace in victory, but otherwise she did well. Galina is pleased I think, and seems to fill the maternal role for Noella nicely. I feel guilt every time I see the two of them, that I should hold Galina back from such a life of wife and mother that she would so love and excel at if she were released from my fate.

It was agreed that Noella should join us in our ‘adventure’ as she put it. We were too far out to return to the villa and make it to Frieburg in time, and speaking with Montague was of the utmost import. So we will travel on, and with any luck Noella will come to as little harm as possible. She is important to my plans.

– M

Quintus 30, 1667

We arrived in Drachenweis yesterday in time for dinner. It was glorious to be indoors again after so much travel. It was also nice to relax in a much needed bath. The count rather enjoyed playing games by saying things through the thin wall that separated the women and the men. Royston immediately become drunk upon the strong Eisen beer, and decided to go to the Jenny’s Guild. The Castillian went with him. There was not much else that happened that night, other than the preparations for the feast day that was to follow.

Unfortunately Royston has a knack for getting into trouble. While drunk and loud he offended some nearby Eisen men at their cups by calling the water ‘watered down beer’. I quickly diffused the situation so that it did not come to blows, as I do not think the three men who were drinking would have expected the response we could have provided them if they struck. The Jenny’s Guild that he spoke with did not in fact speak Avalonian, so very little was under stood between those who didn’t speak his language, and he who did not speak theirs. He somehow convinced Isabella to go and translate for him, as his contacts within the Daughters are made through the guild madams. Unfortunately the Madam was asleep, and their venture in the early morning bore no fruit.

When they returned the Castilian remembered the letter he had received at the swordsman’s guild the night before, and presented it to Royston. His face fell upon reading it, and Roderick’s smiled over his shoulder in the reading of it unknown to Royston. Royston immediately left for the swordsman’s guild without saying a word. Galina spoke to Roderick, but she would only tell me that it was going to be a mess. Yet another mess of Royston’s. I confronted Royston when he returned, but he would not make plain the contents of the letter, so I allowed Roderick to do it in his stead, which he was all too happy to perform.

A man by the name of Eric Banner, a knight of Avalon, is coming for Royston with a small army of men and a ship of thirty canons. It is good that we will not be at sea for a while yet, but it is bad news that one of us is like a fox with the hounds baying their hunting song. They are a long way off, but who knows what distance one might cover, and what shall come of it. Like Uccalletta said: is mess.

I went to my room, and when I returned Royston had apparently entered into a drinking game of cuffs with one of the Eisen men from the night before. He… did not seem as though he were all that friendly, but it is hard to tell when anyone is friendly if they are speaking Eisen. With Royston out of commission in his game, I went to the Jenny’s on his behalf to speak to the madam.

I dislike the guild for many reasons, but I went for Royston’s sake that he should be able to check in with those in his society should he need their aid against Banner. I took Isabella with me to translate, as the Count has no need to speak a language other than his own if there is a translator readily available. She was most gracious to accompany me, and Royston for that matter, for she obviously took no pleasure in entering such a place, or in what happened next.

Having no idea if the woman was the woman Royston was supposed to meet, other than that if she was: she would speak Avalonian. She knew a few words in Avalonian, but did not seem to me to be the kind that Roderick was looking for. Being there, and a wealthy noble, I immediately felt the attention of many eyes. If I left without purchase, it would have done them a great insult, and as I have no desire to make new enemies, for Theus knows that those I have are enough to occupy my attention, I purchased a large party for the others. They seemed happy to hear the news, with the exception of Galina who seemed to assume that I would also be attending the party. I had no intention of debauching myself or the count, and would never think to engage in those sacred distractions of the flesh until my purpose is achieved.

It is nice that Galina and I have put the business with the Daughters behind us and forgiven one another for our parts in it. I am glad to see it when she smiles, though she is often unaware of my gaze.

While we were at the inn a man in Montaigne uniform arrived with a woman, his wife. He was dressed in royal uniform of the Musketeers, and I recognized his face and costume as those belonging to the Captain of the Musketeers, Jean-Marie Rois et Reines du Rogne. I introduced myself to him and his wife and spoke with them briefly, it seemed they too were heading to Freiburg to meet with his wife’s sister, though he regretted his truths as soon as he spoke them by the look upon his face. We spoke pleasantly, until we were interrupted by Royston who was too drunk to notice his crassness and how it implicated the count.

Noella had apparently met the man before, and seemed quite in awe of him. He did not seem overly familiar with her at first, but was pleasant enough. We retired to our chambers, after a pleasant agreement to travel together to Freiburg beginning tomorrow morning.

– M

Sextus 8, 1667

We reach Frieburg on the morrow. The travel from Drachenweis was peaceful after the first day. It seems that with the death of their leader the lands of Eisen have become quite treacherous and many soldiers have turned to banditry in order to put food on their tables and money in their purses. It was unfortunate for them that a band of such ruffians laid a trap on the road through which we traveled. They were not expecting I think that the Captain of the Musketeers, and the rest of us, should have been so passionately induced to violence.

Noella shot well with a musket from Jean-Marie. I am unsure of whether it was such passion, or of the count’s jealousy over Noella’s paternization of Jean, but rather than show his clumsiness for battle, he attempted bravado. In the end, it was proven to have effective results. The Castillian and the others fought as well, and by the end of it only two remained and dropped their swords. We showed them mercy, in a fashion, and allowed them to take the swords of their fallen comrades, but we took their gold and their muskets. We robbed the bandits, and chased them off the road.

That night, at the fire, Royston and Alonso went off at Royston’s request to ensure the area was secure. The rest of us dined and spoke at some length, and when they returned Alonso’s true nature was revealed to the party. He is one of those Castillian’s of the line of Numan sorcery: El Fuego Adentro. I had thought it driven to extinction by the Inquisition of the Vatacine church, but it seems that Alonso may in fact be its sole surviving recipient. I am torn as to whether or not I should kill him. The church teaches that such sorcery brings about the destruction of the world, but I have little faith in the truths of men. Theus is truth, and the world in which we live apart from him is shadow and lies. I have learned that at great cost, and it is not a lesson easily forgotten.

The rest of the travel has gone smoothly, though the land seems gray and grim to me. It is nothing like the bounty summer should show. I hope Freiburg is more bountiful.

– M

Sextus 9, 1667

Montague is a fool. He reminds me of young Edouard sometimes too much. Too brave, too trusting, too talented, and too certain of truth, right, and justice to realize that there are no such things. He has his plans, and for all that I wish him luck, but I think he would have more if he simply turned his army around now, and marched to the Emperor’s doors himself. But I am getting too far ahead. Much happened today, I will attempt to start at the beginning.

We arrived in Freiburg, and spotted among the Montaigne soldiers stationed outside the city the sniper and assistant to Montague: Karl Steiner. Uccalletta approached him, and they agreed to meet in the town square in one hour for the count to rendezvous with the general.

Royston spotted someone of interest to him within the camp. A barefooted woman with bright red hair who was going around the soldiers as though she were their sister. Embracing them, comforting them, but never in a romantic fashion. She seemed, in all regards, a harmless and affectionate loon. Royston however reacted quite passionately to her presence, and immediately rushed to refine his appearance as best as he was able.

I do not know if it was the Count’s sense of fun, or his tiresome jealousy of every man Uccalletta regards, but he too began to refine his appearance and I adopted the face of Royston for my own. Calling myself Roderick Grayston so as to allude to the Count’s constant forgetfulness of names, I mirrored him and laughed at the jest. Noella would seem to be an admirer of his as well. He has admitted to the fact that he did not rob the avalonian lady of her virtue as he is accused of doing, but that does not mean that I am inclined to leave him alone with Noella.

The Castillian meanwhile went and secured rooms. I gave him money from my personal purse, rather than purse we have begun to collect for the party so that the count could secure a personal suite and we might have a private meeting place if we so desire it. Alonso took the muskets we had gathered to market, and returned with some money and a keg of gunpowder. If more of us are going to be utilizing such weapons I suppose it is necessary to keep our ammunition and powder well stocked.

Royston and Roderick Graystone, Galina, the Castillian, and Alonso traveled to the town square to meet the general on behalf of the count. He was meeting with the current leader of Eisen, whom I had no wish to meet. She is beautiful, but I have heard her reputation for being as hard and unforgiving as the Dracheneisen she wields. I instead waited until she and the general had finished speaking, and then moved to sit with him. He was confused as to the lack of presence of the count, but I told him that the count was on his way, and invited him to a game of chess while we waited.

He plays chess well though his time between moves takes a ponderously long time. We spoke in veiled rhetoric as we played and discussed the events that led to the summoning of the Count. The General plans to march on Ussura without spilling a drop of Ussuran blood. He thinks it the only way that Matushka will allow him to pass the border, and the only way he might find the winter there to be kinder than it ought to be. He thinks the entire march and invasion is the Emperor’s way of getting rid of him without getting his hands dirty, now that he has provided the Emperor with a grandson, or a soon to be born grandson. His wife is in Charouse at the general’s request, waiting to give birth. His plan is to wait until he has proof of such treachery, and then march back through the land until he comes to Eisen, where he plans to be arrested and ransomed.

He asked that I find proof of the Emperor’s desire to kill him, and that I ransom him when the time comes. I do not know that I can afford either, but he is a dear friend of Edouard’s. So much so that I offered to march in his place, while he slipped away with his select and prepare for his coup in more efficient ways than prison or Ussuran winter. If the goal is to keep from spilling a drop of Ussuran blood, I may accomplish this as well as he. He would not hear of it. He is too closed minded to the threads of fate to realize that they can be cut, or circumvented. Just because a path does not exist in the wood, does not mean that you cannot walk through it. It has always been the difference between us, even in our youth.

During the course of the suggestion, the count revealed himself to be in the disguise of Roderick Graystone. Montague took it well, and it was passed off as a jest, and a demonstration of my ability to change my person as easily as some men change their clothes. Still, he feared that the Emperor’s wife would know me by my aura, though I do not see her riding to Ussura to check. I shall talk with him of it again, and see if I cannot change his mind.

Royston in the course of the day was also tasked with a quest. It seemed the woman with whom he had met was his handmaiden, which is I suppose the Daughter’s way of saying his immediate superior. He was told to meet a woman wearing a golden scarf, and to get her to Vodacce – or better yet Ussura. While we spoke with Montague we arranged that he should take her to Ussura if necessary.

When we returned to the inn for our evening meal we sat at table to be interrupted by a man who seemed to recognize Royston, but meant him no harm, or at least did not draw the sword upon his back. He told Royston of the Eric Banner, who was sailing after him with men and a ship of thirty canons. He offered to tell Eric that we were in Inismore, and advised Royston to alter his armor and clothing; he could not very well hide while refusing to give up the markings of a knight of Elaine. The count was overjoyed at the thought of taking him shopping and providing him with a new identity. I cannot say that it is a bad idea, as we seem to be accosted regularly for the sake of those vendettas leveled against him.

After the man left, in walked a girl with a golden scarf. But I shall write more of that later. It is late. Galina and Noella have already gone to their beds, and I should retire to my own.

– M

Quintus 14, 1667
Fyodor and the Daughters of Sophia

Quintus 14, 1667

Much has come to pass since I last wrote within this journal, but I shall try to summarize it as much as possible. After recent events I think I shall be writing in my journal more consistently, as I need a medium through which to keep my thoughts in good order.

We sailed for two months aboard the Chatter from Carleon in Avalon to Guarre de Puertofino in Vodacce. It is a small city, or a large town if you prefer, roughly a day’s travel from Villa de Montagna. We traded along the way and had our share of good fortunes. We pooled our resources together for the sake of mutual benefit and purchased two canons for The Chatter and several canon shot. In addition to the vessel’s one cannon already I was mollified as to our ability to protect ourselves on the open sea. While it isn’t enough to go picking fights with anyone, it is enough to show any challenger that they do not challenge a toothless or ill-prepared ship, which is enough to deter aimless thuggery at the least.

We arrived in Guarre de Puertofino on the 28th day of Quartus. It was refreshing to be in the town once more. The Count Della Montagna is much beloved by his town, although they think him a foolish man, he is at the least, a kind and foolish man, and thus he wins their graciousness. The Castillian secured a carriage for our travel to the villa, and we set off.

There was a man upon the road there whom Uccelletta spotted. He was Fhideli, like my Galina, and she recognized him from her youth, though he seemed to recognize only Royston of our party. When Royston confronted the man, he presented his badge of the Swordsman’s Guild and gave challenge to a duel. Royston seemed both surprised, and as though he had expected such to occur with some inevitability. I guided him through the task of arranging the duel, and it was agreed that it should be fought on the grounds of my Villa, on noon of the next day, to first blood, and solely in melee. That was for Royston’s benefit, as the man was known for his skill with the thrown axe. Royston accepted the duel.

We rode on to the Villa and arrived in the early hours of the evening as the sun was becoming tangent with the horizon. I welcomed the others to my vineyard, and offered them to make themselves at home. It was good to see Noella again, and I introduced her to the company, such as it was. I can say that I do not appreciate the suggestions made by Royston in regard to her, for though she is my adopted daughter, I have still come to care for her. Perhaps not as much as the father she deserves, for my absences often prohibit the form of a closer familial bond, but still, in my way, I care for her.

Fyodor had made camp outside the Villa, and we invited him to sup with us, and to sleep in the comfort of my home. As the local Count it was my duty to see to it that the duel was fought honorably, and that every kindness was shown to both parties. He was welcomed in under the Count’s formal protection, which I did not offer lightly, but wanted to be sure that no member of my party besmirched their honor for Royston’s sake. They took to practicing with their wooden posts after a bountiful meal, and then retired to bed.

I spoke much with Fyodor over dinner, and found him to be a man of honor. I know that not every swordsman is a cad, but there are those who take to their profession for their love of sadism or their love of the ending of lives. He was not one of that sort, and for that I was glad. He was a man whose story I have come to know only a little of, but who took to his talents after his wife had passed on and after he had left his people. After questioning him on his past duels, and the form of honor, I was confident that the duel was in no danger of treachery, which put my mind at ease.

After dinner I spoke with Royston, and tried to urge him to yield the fight, if the matter of honor was so trivial to him. For a man disowned of his country and title he seemed to cling to what little honor he had, and was recalcitrant with me and my advice. The matter of honor seemed a simple one to me. A lady of his queen’s had her virtue taken, and Royston was found to be at fault. In punishment for this he was stripped of his title and rank, and exiled. It is a wonder he was not killed in Carleon when we landed there. As to whether or not the accusations were true, I could not convince him to answer me plainly, thus I can only assume they were true in at least part.

The morning came, followed by the duel. It was an exciting event at the Villa. Noella and the rest of the household was in attendance, and we all gathered to watch the fight. It was a close thing. Royston struck the first blow, but the Fyodor was protected by Theus and the blow did not cut him, and in return Fyodor disarmed him, to which Royston yielded the fight. Scratching his ear to draw the blood, Fyodor’s victory was granted him, and the matter settled. For all the pomp of the thing the duel only lasted less than half a minute, but I was glad to have it over. Though of interest to me was the style of the two men in their combat, and Royston wore his formal armor and dress, which caused me to realize that his former rank was no light matter. He had supped from the cup of the grail at the hand of Elaine and had been her seventh knight prior to his fall over the matter of the duel. It was… interesting.

I do not care much to know the secrets of other men, they have them, and I have mine. If I wish to know a thing about a man, I find I must learn it from those who observe him rather than from the man himself. For a man’s words are like an oasis in the desert of the crescent that one finds after days of thirst: an empty deceit of the mind meant to trick the heart to hope of advantage where none truly exists. Even so, I would come to know more of Royston and his secrets over the coming days than I would care to.

Directly after the matter of the duel was settled, a carriage came charging onto my courtyard drive. Drawn by two common horses the carriage bore four men on its top, two rifle men, and two men wielding swords and pistols. Isabella was quick with her pistol, and smart with her reaction, and shot the rope binding one of the horses to the carriage. It continued its run forward to be held back by Royston for a brief moment. Though it was he that the men were aiming for. Their shots seemed concentrated on Royston and Fyodor. The Castillain was quick to show his prowess in battle, and made a good show of his skill with the spear, which caused at least two of our attackers to falter in their course. The horse remaining in its binds could no more pull the carriage than I could turn wine to stone, which greatly slowed their process. I do not remember when exactly, but before the last man was taken Uccelletta saw to the freeing of the other horse.

Fyodor, Royston, the Castillian, Isabella, and Uccelletta fought bravely and competently, and the battle was over quickly. When it came to the last man of our attackers the Castilian climbed atop the carriage and grappled with him, convincing him to surrender. Bringing him down, we asked our questions of him.

He and his companions were hirelings, though not of the swordsman’s guild. They were thugs, and men of ill repute, hired to attack us by a man they did not know, with no means of confirmation of their victory save for the retrieval of their reward. Each of the four men had been promised 100g for the extermination of Royston and Fyodor. Having failed in their task, it fell to us to determine the remaining survivor’s fate.

For me, this was a position of some complication, as the men had attempted to kill Fyodor, who was formally under my protection as Count Della Montagna. They had also made a show of attacking me, my property, and my other guests. As it was, I asked the others what each of them would do with the man – kill him, or let him go. Unfortunately I acquiesced to Fyodor, since it was him that they had wronged most, and it was he I was under strictest oath to protect. He voted kill. I left the execution to him, at his request, but I very much wish that I had not. It should have been kinder to kill a man with a sword than with that vile bottle of liquid that corroded through the man’s flesh.

There was much discussion after that, and by the end of it Fyodor and Royston both had signed on for a year’s contract under the Count. Fyodor also asked the favor that we sail with him so that he could introduce Galina to his lady. There were secrets between the two, and I when I spoke to Galina in private and asked her to explain, she was forthcoming with me and explained all that she knew. She trusted Fyodor, and wished to go.

The Castillian wished to retrieve the money that was owed the men of ill repute. I did not care for their money, but if I was to have such a bountiful crew of aids I thought it wise to establish a fund with which to provide for room and drink for our little party. I also thought it wise that their employer saw their job as done, we went to the place of deposit from which they were to withdraw their reward.

One of the boxes of deposit contained a small black onyx, which Galina spotted a white cross within. The white crosses had been borne by the men who tried to kill Royston and Fyodor, and had been given to them by their employer, or so our questioning produced. The order of the White Cross is viewed as heretical by the Heirophant, and may or may not be responsible for the outbreaks known as the White Plague. We left the onyx within the box, and redeposited it.

We then returned to The Chatter and set sail for the island on which Fyodor’s friends resided. It was a fairly short voyage that took four days. Our arrival was to an Island that seemed to appear out of the aether, docked at her port was a pirate ship. They were not of the Brotherhood, but they were of the Pirate Nation, so we raised our Brotherhood colors as we sailed to dock, and had an awkward greeting with them. Introductions were made.

Isabetta, the first mate of the ship, came forward and introduced herself. This was the woman that Fyodor wished Galina to meet. She spoke some words, and then darkness overcame most of us. Their intentions were not hostile, but we had a conversation with the Sidhe brothers who had provided the mist through which we escaped that first day. Apparently, our sailing through the mists had forced their hand to deal on our behalf, and now a deal was struck. Eight days. We owed them eight days of our lives, and we were given the task of when they provide us with those days we must do one thing: survive. This was to be the first day, and we were tasked to survive, by any means necessary.

I awoke, and the Count made a brief reprimand to his men, and to Isabetta. She had acted without warning, which may have proved bloody, however briefly. Still, she presented her case. She, Fyodor, and Royston all belonged to an organization known as the Daughters of Sophia. Protectors of the world they called themselves, working against the forces of the abyss that sought to destroy it. They offered us membership. The trouble with secret societies is that once you have been offered membership, the alternative to the offer is rather final. Galina wished to join. The others seemed open to it, but I know my purpose and my fate. I know what I am tasked to do, what I must do, and there is no room for distraction. I have been distracted long enough. Still, the resources offered were potentially a boon in my purpose, and the alternatively was likely my death. Between the task the brothers had set us, and Galina’s eyes, I had no choice. I agreed.

The others each took the mark of the daughters upon one of their fingers. A ring mark that could be hidden by a piece of jewelry. I abhor the notion of any permanent mark, for obvious reasons, but was permitted to abstain from that specific element of the ritual. Though I did not escape the scrutiny of ‘aura’ that Isabetta performed on each of us. Uccelletta and Royston both had auras of red, for their service was to be served in battle or in elements of danger. Isabella’s was yellow, to show that she would help educate the women and children of the world. The Castillian’s was silver, indicating he was to achieve wealth and position through his service. Mine was black, to signify that I was surrounded by death.

We were each given potions of various purposes. Isabella and Galina took potions of immortality, I took one of disguise, and if I am not mistaken Royston and the Castillian took potions meant for the healing of wounds. We were also given a rose, of the same kind that Berek gave to Alieso in Carleon. Understanding its significance and its power more suitably now, I pinned it to the Count’s lapel as an amusing, albeit grim, reminder of many things. When our arranging was done, and our speaking done, we set sail to return to my villa.

Galina and I spoke rather plainly on the voyage back once I ensured some privacy could be obtained. I do not like being divided from her, and to have her join the daughters while I refrained would have broken me, even if they had not killed me. I also needed to be sure that she was still with me in my purpose. For if I did not have her, if I could not count on her, the way forward would be difficult for me. She is my support more than she realizes I think, though I fear this has estranged us more than either of us would like. I was angry to have been put in such a position, and to have thought that she might abandon me.

We returned to the villa, and found ourselves dreaming soon after we took our rest. Royston had gone away to the local Jenny’s Guild, but the rest of us remained at the Villa. Still, the only one not present for the dream was Alonso. We dreamed of the Sidhe again, and they gave us an oath to speak to induct us into their order. I paused and there to ask them questions, and spoke some of it through gritted teeth, but I was bound to say them and had no choice in the matter.

The oath was, to my memory, as follows: Cleanse my heart and my mouth, O Lady of Truth, that the words I speak may be as pure and as clear as the gift of water, the lifeblood of Theus. Hail, Lady of the Lake! I stand before you now, a faithful daughter or son of the Light, pledging my body, my mind, and my spirit to your service and that of our beloved land of Theus. Mindful that the pledge I make today shall bind me for my lifetime in this world and beyond: Wherever there is darkness, I shall bring light; where there is cruelty, I shall bring compassion; where there is ignorance, I shall bring enlightenment. I shall never betray my sisters or brothers, though my mortal life be forfeit. If my step should falter, your ineffable light will restore me and strengthen my heart. So long as there is breath in my body, I dedicate myself to driving back the darkness of Legion and the Barrier. This I pledge in the name of those who have gone before, those who stand with me now, and those yet to come.

After I woke from the dream, I left my things, and disguising myself as a common traveler I took a horse from the stables and rode to town. There I prayed at the church for Theus to guide me and to take my anger from me. I could no more stand having my anger turned towards my Galina than I could stand the thought of her abandoning me to my cause. I prayed there in the sanctuary for the entirety of a day, fasting as I did so, and then returned to the Villa.

My disappearance had not gone unnoticed, but Uccelletta was avoiding me, though the wrath had gone from my gaze. It was Royston who had apparently gone looking for me in my absence when he did not find me on his return. He did not believe me when I told him that I took a walk, so I told him the truth, though I am fairly certain he took it to be a lie as well. He is a smarter man that I credit him to be if he knows that men lie. The others have, I think, come to expect eccentricities of the Count, and do not press once an answer is given whether they believe it or not.

The night of my return a messenger came to the Villa bearing a letter from Montague. He was being called back from his attack on Castille that had begun during our two month voyage to the Villa. Le Emperor had called him back to Parix for some council, and Montague was in fear of his mortality. I wrote a quick message and Galina saw it swiftly back to the messenger that we should meet Montague in Parix. It was time I returned to Montaigne anyway, as I know that it is time for my business to begin.

Shortly thereafter, a Porte sorcerer arrived in my home, through one of their screaming portals. A messenger under Montague he spoke of plans. Montague wished to meet with us in Eisen, Freiburg to be exact. I would have preferred Parix, but I know that Montague has his reasons. I agreed that I should meet him there in four weeks’ time while he is on his way to Parix, then his messenger left the way he had come.

We readied our things, and the others are sleeping now. We leave in the morning for Freiburg, though I fear we shall have to travel by land. What I hear of Eisen in these times… I do not look forward to the journey, though I have hope that it shall be worth it. Montague is a friend, and I shall aid him as much as I am able.

– M

Secundus 24, 1667
An accounting of events written by the Count Della Montagna

Secundus 21, 1667

In the morning Chatter had returned with a tied note from the Pirates. Roderick said that they were willing to meet us. They chose a small town in Inismore called Durk, two days travel from our location in Newport, and said to bring no more than ten men. I would have liked to have brought all of the mad king’s armies down upon them, but with Allende’s life in the balance I did not even have the courage to suggest a more secure meeting place. I would have liked to meet them on the Straits of Blood, where no man may draw his weapon, but we sailed for Durk.

Before disembarking we looked to hire more men. The local Swordsman’s Guild only had two men for hire at our arrival. Both Castillian. One was an archer, Alonso, with a beast that was never far from his side whom he called Angus. The other was a man who fought with a spear. They both seem to be good men, though they both seem to be quick to fight and kill. Though neither of them are swordsman at all really, I suppose I should not expect differently from members of the guild. They are warriors, and it was comforting in a way to know that there are still those who act according to what they claim to be. We set sail for Durk in the morning, arriving half a day early at noon on the 21th of Secundus.

During the voyage we altered the name of the ship. After I convinced Roderick that he was the Captain he decided to rechristen the ship the Chatter, after his simian pet. Royston proved himself an adequate carpenter and was able to transform the cresting wave on the ship’s bow into a primate, though I did not think it a close likeness to Roderick’s monkey.

The town of Durk was a small village built into the Cliffside. It was peaceful there, and quiet. I had little doubt that the pirates had arrived before us. They would not have suggested a meeting place they could not secure before our arrival regardless of how early we were able to arrive. Before going into town I disguised myself as a Highland Pirate; Mac the Black. I thought it best the Pirates remain unaware of the Count Della Montagna so that there was no risk of them interfering with my vengeance. Twice now the others, Roderick, Isabella, and Royston have seen me change my face and character. I explained as to the Count’s love of the theater, but I know it is not long now until truth may become necessary.

The tavern was packed, with men both local and not. I found the bartender to be unresponsive, but got the impression that he was not free to speak as he would like. They had men in the tavern, no doubt. There was a child that stood out, studiously searching for something in his books. When I, or anyone else attempted to approach him a man would come up, grapple, push us away, and call us perverted.

Other than this the tavern bore no one of interest to us. Galina scouted the church and returned with a disturbing report. The women of the town were being kept in the antechamber of the church while the pirates occupied the fortified and barricaded sanctuary. On the bell tower were two sacks containing bodies. They were still alive, or at least one of them was. Alonso noted the presence of a wagon at the ideal vantage point for the barricaded church doors. I attempted to provoke the driver, but he proved to be a bribed townsfolk, rather than a pirate laying in wait for ambush as I had suspected him to be.

A little while before the appointed time for the meeting the perverted man ran from the tavern to the church. Fearing the townsfolk were about to do something foolish I moved to intercept him but I was again mistaken. The man was a member of the Crimson Roger. The pirates came out of the tavern and the man moved to the roof where he placed nooses around the necks of the bound Allende and Alesio. The boy from the tavern did the negotiating, and I found his manner to be prideful, arrogant, and most unfortunately of all: infuriating.

I’m ashamed to say that for all my rage, and for all my righteous purpose, I was a coward. I did, and said, what I needed to in order to have Allende and Alesio returned to us safely, and then we withdrew. Hatred burns in me for those abyssal pirates. My ire for them rises to almost the same level as my hatred for the others. I do not know the fate of the town after we left it. I hope that between their bribes and their threats the pirates withdrew after having received what they sought without further harm to the town or its people. I think it more likely that they raped, pillaged, killed, and burned whatever they could impeded only by the poor man with a stick trying to defend his home.

After we returned to the Chatter, distraught at my cowardice, I drank the first wine I’ve had since the night that Count Moncelle was murdered. Royston must have thought I was celebrating, as he joined me and encouraged the drinking with his laughter and smiles. I just wanted a restful sleep, and peace from my obsessions for a few hours. I fear Galina did not know how to respond to my inebriation, but she has much occupying her thoughts as of late. The wine gave me some much needed peace, but only for a little while, and the memory of the absence of my pain caused its renewed presence to crush me all the worse. I hope not to face such a moment of weakness again, though I know no that the drink offers me no solution, no solace. I am envious of Royston’s ability to find solace in drink and in women, but for me I cannot enjoy my drunkenness without thinking of its cause, and of that terrible night so long ago, and I cannot enjoy carnality without being reminded of the love I have lost and is now beyond regaining.

We returned to Newport, and explained all to Allende and Alesio as they woke along the way. Alesio, the Stryga, is convinced that Royston, Roderick, Isabella, Galina, and I are bound by fate. I was almost convinced of mine and Galina’s ties, but I am convinced wholly that my fate is my own to forge, and it lies with the others, not with the crew.

During the voyage I altered the contract we had established between the Castilian, Alonso, and I. I offered them each a year’s pay at one guilder per day for a year of service. They agreed almost without pause, as I believe that our unconventional crew has rather captured their hearts for adventure.

After we restocked in Newport we sailed onward to Carleon. It appears that Royston was no stranger to the mad dog Berek. With he and Allende reunited, Allende left us to be reunited with his crew. I took the rose that Berek had attempted to give to Alesio, thinking that I might give it to Galina as a thank you, and as a token of my vow not to worry her with my inebriation again. When I went to give it to her however, I noticed that it had turned black in color from the red it had been. No doubt a reflection of the darkness that fills me with such hatred and fuels my actions even now. I cast it into the sea as we sailed for my villa in Vodacce.

We have hired a small five man crew to man the vessel, and we sail under whatever flag suits our fancy. With any fortune, we shall sail quickly, and arrive without any further unfortunate events.

- M

Recent Timeline



Death of Eisen’s Imperator. Despondent about all that has happened to his nation, Imperator Reifenstahl commits suicide in his palace near Gottkirchen.


Joseph Volkner, Reifenstahl’s personal butler, inherits the Imperator’s Chair in the Vendel League. This surprise bequeathment in the Imperator’s will, written just before his death, makes Volkner one of the richest men in the known world.


Death of Eisenfurst Stefan Heilgrund II, along with his wife. Reifenstahl’s hosts when he hung himself, they also commit suicide rather than live with his blood on their hands. Their only son, Stefan Gregor Heilgrund III, becomes Heilgrund’s new Eisenfurst.



Rumors start to spread that Reis was killed by Bloody Bonnie McGee.


General Montegue launches an Invasion of Castille



Party arrives in Vodace.


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