Updated: May 22
I had left us last – Mister Milford Brixton and yours truly – on our way to the house of Lord Hassildril in Grenoldraea, under the reluctant agreement of Mister Drazael that without the elven lord, the dwarf’s goal to retrieve for himself some of the treasure found amongst the entombed remains of giants long dead in the Muldraean district of Anzahl, would be squandered.
I hope you discovered in my last letter that I had written the second portion of my last tale in my cypher I taught you some time ago, otherwise that portion, this letter, and all those to follow will be in some strange gobbledygook that you will either take for a another language I had forgotten you can’t read, the inane ramblings of a drunk man, or that my tether connecting my mind to my body has finally gone slack from breakage and that I am now a shambling mound of fat, walking about without purpose or intent.
We were making a good headway towards the estate of Lord Hassildril who, much like his dwarven counterpart, had a guard awaiting outside to ensure no-one could force entry without his express permission. A slim wood elf, by the name of Laertes, stood outside in the traditional earthy tones that his race no-doubt are accustomed to due to their innate ability to hide in only mildly obscured environments. This elf played with a blade, flipping it into the air and catching it between his fingers, an action he seems loath to desist.
Brixton who, as mentioned before, seemed to already have met this Hassildril – as he appears to have met almost everyone in Vaingate – and so we were granted an audience.
Remember the library at your father’s old Estuary Estate, where he graciously let his honeymoon before practically banishing us to the Stretch? Remember how it seemed a great hall of books that covered the walls from floor to ceiling? How near every genre of text seemed to be stored here and only the rarest of copies escaped his miserly grasp? It was the same as this but in wine. Wine, dear Maria! Wine!
Bottles of all hues, some nearly the same but the slightest hint of shade in another revealing it to be utterly different. They some towered over others like a might pine, others sat as squat as dwarves on the shelves. It was like being some great child in a fermented store of candy. At a table – it seems all mortals of good business sit at tables when greeting guests – sat Lord Hassildril, the third player in this story that has impacted my day, and already I feel it, my life.
Lord Hassildril was a tall, imposingly regal figure. His high-elf heritage coming quite plainly through his aloofness that did in no ways come across as rude or inhospitable. Grand gems of blue eyes gazed from his sockets, and in an elegant glance seemed to take all set before him into consideration. Gilt hair flowed from his head, drenching his bright garb of red, blue, and gold in waves of sunlight. If this elf was merely but a lord within an elven dominated domain, I can only imagine the majesty of the true royal household of the elves.
This Lord Hassildril allowed us to approach and, in fact, offered us a glass or two of a lovely vintage of his wine.
Now, before, when I met Drazael, I had conversed with him in his native dwarven tongue; for practice and, perhaps, to show off somewhat, as I fear my usefulness may have been started to be questioned by some of the patrons of Brixton’s dealings. Drazael was surprised at such a display of bilingual expertise and I don’t doubt Lord Hassildril was so too, but – unlike Mister Drazael – Lord Hassildril actually gave me some practical advice, constructive criticism on pronunciation and linguist clauses, tenses and the such, and compliment my ability to master certain aspects of the language that others seem to struggle with. I continue to converse in their native language those I meet who are not of human ancestry, I find it polite, for they must tired of speaking such a low language as common when dealing with us short-focused, short-tempered, and short-lived humans.
Brixton went about convincing Hassildril for help. We all came to the agreement that, were Hassildril and Drazael to pair up, that it would be a good bluff, for no one would suspect the hated rivals to join together in one common cause. The elf complied and offered to helps us discover certain knowledges in regards to this excavation and that he too would like a certain cut of this wealth for his aid. We were then sent to visit a Milmor Glass.
Now, I have yet to understand the true purpose of the Daughters of Twilight. I believe them to be some religious order with priests and clerics and paladins and sundry, for they also seem to be of the intelligence gathering and protectively secretive sorts. For, when we approached the under-entrance to their temple, we found ourselves in a maze of knowledge. Books, scrolls, maps, scripture written on the ancient canvas of stone and metal work, others not so conventional. But it by far outdid your father’s library and, I might even say, the library of all holds or settlements I have visited, for it was as if I had walked into a fountain of knowledge, yet could not gain any sustenance from without first appeasing its guardians.
Messages carried by couriers we exchanged between rooms, runners darting from rooms one didn’t see within the walls until a humanoid emerged from one. It was a hub of information that buzzed like the hive of a queen bee.
Within a small-doored room, standing over a table – for I mentioned before that all good mortal of business do when making introductions in their own realm – was Milmor Glass.
Master Glass bore the colours of naturally dulled bronze, topped his crown with a brimmed hat, and wore an overcoat covered in pockets and buckles and belts. As those of gnomish descendancy are like to do, he seemed to be ready at almost any instant to invent, or pull out from his pockets some already invented item, and put it to immediate use. While tanned in his humble hue, his clothes were fine and well-made, splendid britches and stockings adorning his legs paired with, albeit, nobbling boots.
Now, what is this inquisitive and inventive gnome doing under a religious order’s temple? Well, Maria, it so happens that this Milmor Glass is the Quartermaster for the Daughters of Twilight’s temple in Vaingate: the Solanor Temple. As such, he must needs know and have contact with every aspect of the Daughters’ miscellaneous outlets so that me do well by his duty.
Again, I seemed to surprise another non-human humanoid creature by the display of my pan-lingual abilities. Milmor, another man who can source items and retrieve information, also seemed to want ‘in’, as they say, on this deal between Drazael and Hassildril. In fact, the man wrote up contracts for all to sign, and suggested that all three meet up in a place of neutrality, so that neither feel threatened by being in territory owned by the others. Brixton proposed his own barge that he had hidden away, and Milmor gave us the contracts.
We decided, since we were few, and I had little knowledge of the layout of the city of Vaingate, that Mister Brixton and I were to travel and deliver these letters together. Milmor had done an enchanting on the letters that, should they be opened by anyone but their intended readers – Mister Drazael and Lord Hassildril respectively – they would explode in a magical burst of energy. However, there was something in this man’s countenance that made be suspicious of his intentions – perhaps getting rid of middle men that might bare him a larger cut in the proceedings, or some special connection to the Barachial mages that he might try to sabotage this thievery of their property.
It was when we arrived as Hassildril’s, as he was closest – his estate being in the same elven run domain of Grenoldraea – that we alerted the noble elf to Milmor’s perhaps sinister intentions. He had his building evacuated and, when safely alone, opened the contract. He welcomed staff and guests alike back in once he had done so – permitting my suspicions by stating that ‘one cannot be too careful’, a sentiment I think I subscribe to and one an incoming player in this story might take to heart somewhat too personally.
Hassildril signed, gifting me a lovely vintage of his wine, and we went off to Mister Drazael’s home. There, he opened his contract – I must admit that I was still very cautious and so took some steps backwards, just in case – and he too signed the contract. We would confirm with Milmor and the others the location of the barge. It was on our way to the Druub – a district between the walled domains of the three races – that we stopped once more off at the Daughters of Twilight, meeting one Leitheoir Mystralath.
Now this is another significant character in the story of the never-ending night. We came upon Leith in his quarters. But of course, you want to visualise the man! Right-o. Right-o. Leith had bluish-grey skin, the kind you might find in the pigmentation of wood elves, for which he was one. He kept his dark hair in a cropped fashion – peculiar of the elves I have seen but practical, as I cut my own hair almost generously longer while still able to call it ‘short’ – and he stood some five-inches and six-foot from sole to crown. You can imagine the height he has, at least to one of only eight-inches and five-foot in height. For you who I know come from a family who count without the imperial manner, that is a different of two-and-twenty centimetres that he stands taller than I. In in that height, he is forever reminded to straighten, for – not only does his anxiousness, which we shall get to shortly, keep him as erect as a meerkat – but also his high-necked fur-skin long-cloak which he is never without. Upon the exeunt of a building or locale, he is always accompanied by his owl, seems to be left unnamed, at least to my knowledge.
On necessary thing one must know about Master Leitheoir Mystralath is that his subconscious mind seems to subscribe to a rather apprehensive disposition in almost all regards. For he seemed rather worried with his presentation towards Mister Glass when we met him once again upon his notification that he had more information to expunge from himself. He was also concerned with the exact legal and moral complications once might have to deal in when it comes to stealing ancient artefacts from a powerful mage’s school, obviously plotting something dangerous enough that they must needs hide it from their own ruling noble family, at least of the domain.
While Leith’s hesitations and qualms were well warranted, I felt that perhaps the battle within was far greater than the common morally correct man might even go through. For Brixton and I explained that the mages themselves might not behaving in exactly a legal manner and so our acting in such a similar manner would not go unwarranted, for is not call coin dirty money?
Is not the coin extracted from the poor farmer after a hard day’s work and an even harder season’s harvest not dirty money? Is not the wealth the plantation owner cashes out like a spendthrift from slaves held against their will, is that not dirty money? Are the pennies of copper and silver plucked from a child’s hand in rigged carnival and gala games not dirty; or the gold taken by the fraud who ‘converses with the dead’, merely preying of desperate, grieving widows and widowers, is that not dirty money? Yet do we not all allow this through our daily actions of ignorance? Through purchasing goods we purposefully blind ourselves to the origins of because we know that were we to know the extent to which others are harmed in the process of creating such goods, we could not in uncorrupted conscience consume the goods we so heavily rely on to lighten our already dreary lives, despite living in a much better quality than most, if not all, other beings in this world?
Can you tell I have been reading Samael Stardusts’ work?
I remorsefully digress to my previous point: Leitheoir “Leith” Mystralath is a bundle or nerves and fears that culminate into a very cautious yet brilliantly minded fellow.
It was then time for Milford Brixton to show us his barge and find a suitable location in which to moor is safely so that the three patrons of our expedition might discuss privately. Along the way, we ran into a small street urchin, a child who seemed to know Brixton – to no-one’s surprise, I’m sure by now – and beckoned us to follow them to another supporter of our deeds known as Mother.
Some crone-ish old hag of a woman, surrounded by children one can only hope are not hers simply due their sheer numbers. A lady who seems to feign concern and friendship, downplaying her greedy nature for the collection of coin. For the children too as they swarmed around us in ‘loving embraces’ seemed to have particularly sticky fingers, though I do believe nothing was actually taken from my person. I must say that her and her little spies brew some strong spirits that – for future reference – are sipping whiskey or some sort of drink to be consumed slowly, for I made the mistake of downing it as if it were some shot or bottle of mead.
There was a child with a glassy glaze about its eyes that bade my memory haunt itself with images of our own that had a soullessness to its gaze.
I know not from who or when all this information was from specifically, but I know that this is what we learned from a collection of Mister Drazael, Lord Hassildril, Master Glass, and Mother.
The ‘intel’, if I may borrow a phrase, was thusly:
1. That Druub carpenters were buildings wagons specifically commissioned by the Barachial mages in Rivertown.
2. That these wagons were kept on Barachial premises.
3. That jobless dockworkers or guild artisans were being employed by the Envoy to help in the excavation.
4. That homeless from all over Vaingate were being taken in as workers, but somehow brainwashed into dull, mindless husks of muscle and bone (whom a soon to be met compatriot later dubbed, the Wasted)
5. The Barachial Envoy are purchasing a lot of down – duck feathers if you are unfamiliar with the term, which I doubt you are – which could be used for packaging or even as material components for many dozen incantations, or one great spell.
Whether we learned them from one source or many, at one time or scattered throughout the night, from all four, we soon learned this culmination of information, for the night, and a lot of our journeyings back and forth from location to location had mine and my compatriot’s mind scrabbled, especially at this late hour when all we seek is sleep.
Brixton led us to his barge, uncovered it, and moored it to an accessible and memorable location for us to lead the three investors to so that they may discuss amongst themselves the share each of them and us should receive for this ‘heist’.
Leith was sent to retrieve Master Glass from the Solanor Temple, as Leith was lodging with the Daughters and slowly learning his magical abilities through them, and had – at least, I’m sure he said so himself – had somehow not yet met the gnomish quartermaster of the temple.
Brixton went off to the Mister Drazael to collect him from his estate in Thorasis as, I suppose, it was Drazael that got him all into this business, it made sense that the patron and the hired hand should go together.
This left me with Lord Hassildril. Now I cannot speak to the others’ experience with their wards they were to guide down to the new location of the barge. From Brixton’s expeditiousness in coming from such a far-ways away to the river not long after myself and Leith arrived, it seems chatter was on the bottom of the list for him and Mister Drazael, and Brixton must have taken him down certain shortcuts only he would know.
From how Glass seemed to perceived or interact with Leith upon our arrival at the barge – for he and Milmor got their first – that he did not exactly regard Leith with much importance which, if I may say, was a rather imbecilic of him, as Leith has proved to be a very powerful caster and a good man to have around, even if he does still get quite anxious; Brixton and I did indeed benefit from his company both practically and socially so.
I however, arrived at Lord Hassildril’s estate where his guard, Laertes, informed me that I was being followed. He instructed me to go round the back whilst he toom care of the stalker – which I should truly follow up on some time, but from where we were journeying thence, it could only have been one of Mother’s little spies. I was let in by a maid, who I mistook for Hassildril’s niece rather embarrassingly, and shared a good vintage of wine with him before escorting him down to the barge.
I shall conclude this section here and resolve the events of the meeting in the next letter. My Heavens, so much as happened in such a small amount of time and yet more still is yet to happen. You can only imagine the cramps I am now suffering in the wrist, including the cricks in my back you know I do so often endure when I spend hours at my desk, yet I have spent so little at this beside table. Perhaps it is that, or perhaps it is my age and drinking. Maybe I should listen to Herr Tunnefrick, but then again, life is life and if I am to live it, I should better enjoy it should I not? And what harm will befall me in future from continuing to drink that I have not already condemned myself to from my history of wassailing.
Please give my regards to Herr Tunnefrik, my best wishes to Frauline Dolores, and a stupendous scratch to General Purr. I do miss them so terribly much, but one must needs kill familiarity in order to cultivate new experiences.
My thoughts are with you, sweet and kind Maria.
Your husband by law and friend in truth,
Baron Edryn Styewell Krillinovich Montkoff