Chaos in the Empire (Parts One and Two)

Note to Continuity Buffs: “The Herald’s Reports” take place several years before the “War of Souls” trilogy. Characters and situtaions mentioned are drawn from “Heroes of Defiance,” “Citadel of Light” and “Odyssey of Gilthanas.”

Part One

Dear Herald,

Yesterday, most of the Imperial family of Ergoth was wiped out by a group of dedicated assassins. Exactly who they are and what their goals are is still unclear, but I wanted to make sure that this report got to you should further violence occur and my own life be claimed. (A ship is leaving Gwynned for Palanthas is eve, so I needed to pen this missive in a hasty fashion.)

It appears that a number of groups devoted to furthering the cause of Evil have combined their efforts to strike fatal blows at those of good heart.

It started three days ago, when a messger who claimed to speak on behalf of Raekal, who is some form of legendary “boogie-man” to the Ergothians, forced his way into the Emperor’s presence. He said that the end of the Empire was at hand and swore that gods Morgion and Sargonnas would soon claim its throne. The Emperor naturally had him thrown in jail.

Two days ago, a mysterious illness started effecting the Royal Guard and many members of the court. The illness was particularly troubling to me, because it reminded me of an affliction that afflicted silver dragons roughly a decade after the War of the Lance, an affliction that had partially be caused by a divine curse. The symptoms were lethargy, fever, and purplish skin blotches. The disease proved highly resistant to the efforts of mystics to cure it.

As you are aware, Herald, Solamnic Knight Linsha Majere and I have been present at the Imperial Court for the last few months, assisting in furthering Princess Mercidith’s education and serving as diplomatic envoys to the Court from the Knights of Solamnia and the Citadel of Light, respectively. (Functioning within the strongly patriachal society of the Empire has brought with it a series of unique challenges, which I will make a report on, should I find the time. But, the Emperor has resigned himself to the fact that Mercidith is most likely to inherit the throne, and he was doing his best to prepare the Court for her ascendence. Who imagined that it might come so soon?)

But, I digress.

Lady Linsha and I were commanded to leave the capitol with Princess Mercidith and an entourage. We were working into the night to prepare the caravan when assassins invaded the Imperial Palace, stealing past reduced number of guards and into the inner chambers of the Imperial family. Their mission murderous mission–to bring death to all in the Imperial line!–may have been successful, if not for a chance encounter that Lady Linsha had with one of the killers as he was stealing from the chambers of the Imperial Mother; and Princess Mercidith being awakened by “Lord Julius,” a guardian spirit who has been with her since her early childhood. She fled her would-be assassin, but had a mysterious encounter with a Kagonesti elf in the hallway.

It is hard to say if the Kagonesti would have slain Mercidith or not, as I was attracted to the scene by the princess’s terrifyied shrieks and the other elf fled rather than face my blade. Mercidith, after calming herself, claimed that the Kagonesti had destroyed “Lord Julius” and stated that all of the Empire of Ergoth would be plunged into chaos if she didn’t devote the resources of the Empire to locating and capturing the elf-prince Gilthanas and the silver dragon Silvara. Apparently, the Emperor had refused to aid the Kagonesti and whoever her mysterious allies are in this venture, and she had therefore lent the magical might to the cause of “Raekal’s” followers to destroy Mercidith’s dynasty.

I at first thought that this was a nonsense–Gilthanas of Qualinesti had been assumed to be dead since shortly after the War of the Lance–but Lady Linsha informed me that Githanas had appeared on Sanscrist Isle over a decade ago. She had further heard from her friend Rig Mer-Kel that Gilthanas had been in Eastwatch as recent as four years ago.

While I remain a bit leery–the Kagonesti drew flower designs on the cheeks of Princess Mercidith with the blood of a fallen guard before I arrived, so she is clearly unhinged–I have chosen to travel south and secure passage to Eastwatch there. Along the way, I will be visiting the Solamnic Knight who serves as the local governor of the southern Imperial province and request that he send some of his men to Gwynned to aid Lady Linsha and Mercidith. It would be terrible if one of the few bastions of order and good that have remained intact into this “Age of Mortals,” fending off both Great Dragons and Knights of Takhisis, were to fall due to the actions of a group acting in the name of deities as twisted as Morgion, Sargonnas, and the local demonic figure Raekal. (I hope that Lady Linsha and the Solamnic Knights will be able to reveal the full motivations and source of power behind those who have struck against the Empire. Time will tell.)

I will have time onboard the ship to Southern Ergoth to write a more detailed account of Raekel and the various legends that surround him and his followers. For now, I just wanted to appraise you of the situation here in Northern Ergoth.

I hope this missive reaches you in good health, and I hope it will be useful to your continuing chronicles of Ansalon in these troubled times. I realize that it is rushed.

Iryl Songbrook
Writing from Gwynned, in the Empire of Ergoth

Part Two

Dear Herald,

I am writing this report from the home of Lord Vaas DiKahn, the noble who rules Thonvil and its surroundings. Word of the attack on the Imperial Palace had just reached Lord Vaas and he was most grateful for the detailed, first-hand account of what had occurred that I was able to provide. He is preparing a ship to carry me to the Solamnic outpost Eastwatch and he has refused any offers of payment. He says it’s his duty as a loyal subject of the Empire to lend assistance to its allies in these troubled times.

Lord Vaas is far calmer about the situation than anyone in Gwynned was. When I pointed this out to him, he laughed. He stated that it was a combination of living with white dragons and ogre raiders on the island to the south, goblins and gully dwarves to the east, and obnoxious Solamnic refugees and their Sword Knight leadership. He elaborated upon this last statement by explaining how the Solamnics who had been granted new homes by the Emperor north and east of Thonvil had been staging attacks and raids against the goblin communities of Sikk’et Hul. The Ergothian Empire had been at peace with the goblins for centuries, but the Solamnics were stirring up so much trouble that that goblins were starting to do retaliatory raids. The Solamnics have been requesting that Lord Vaas also send troops into Sikk’et Hul to stop the “evil goblins,” but he has so far only offered to mediate the dispute.

Lord Vaas also has other problems to deal with, bigger and more mysterious problems.

Thovil and its surroundings have always been believed to be a land where sprites, flitters, pixies, brownies, nymphs, dryads, satyrs, and many other more obscure fairy folk live. It is rumored that the former lord of the region was part fairy himself and that is now-abandoned family home, Castle DiThon, stands upon a gate that leads to the fairy realm.

Several months ago, solid proof emerged that Castle DiThon’s gate was no mere rumor. You may recall my mention of the thousands upon thousands of flying pixies that we spotted on Shallsea? A similar event took place here, when countless thousand of pixies burst from Castle DiThon. They plagued the city for nearly two days, laughing and giggling as they played pranks, stole food, and generally amused themselves at the expense of the Humans here. Lord Vaas was too embarrassed to send a messenger to Lord Wilhelm in Winterholm to request the aid of a Solamnic sorcerer that lives in that city, and tried to negotiate with the fairy creatures. Their response: “You and Grimsbody would get along just fine!”

At dawn of the second day after the fairies arrived, a tremendous rainbow burst from the castle and stretched over the eastern horizon. The pixies then took to the air, singing a crazy song, and followed the rainbow east. However, since this incident, the dryads and nymphs have all been more aggressive. They’ve been actually seeking out victims to abduct. A community of nymphs, dryads, and enslaved townsfolk and farmers is rapidly growing within the dilapidated halls of Castle DiThon.

Another problem facing Thonvil is a small cult devoted to Morgion. It was first detected three years ago when a follower was discovered placing a dead animal in a village well. The cult believes that if they manage to spread plagues like those that existed during the Shadow Years they would be able to attract the attention of the god and bring him back to Krynn. Lord Vaas executed the captured cultist, but evidence of the cult’s continued existence has been uncovered several times since despite the best efforts to eradicate it. It is particularly disturbing to note that a member of the cult openly revealed himself in the town square on the evening that the Emperor and the Imperial family were attacked, declaring that the Empire was about to fall before the united forces of Morgion and Sargonnas. Needless to say, the cultist was overcome and slain by the townsfolk even before guardsmen could arrive; for all their faults, the Ergothian common men and women are loyal to their leaders and their Empire. However, it is troubling that this incident proves that there is indeed some form of coordination taking place between the forces of evil that wish to bring death and suffering to Northern Ergoth.

I am thinking that perhaps I will spend the time waiting for the ship to be ready not just taking advantage of Lord Vaas’s hospitality. I cannot do much in assisting with wiping out this cult, but I can perhaps be useful in convincing the dryads and nymphs in releasing their captives. At the very least, I should be able to determine why they are taking them; I got along quite well with the dryads of Silvanesti when I was a young girl. Chances are, Lord Vaas will at first refuse my assistance–by Ergothian cultural standards he would be a bad host not to–but I’m sure he will see reason.

I will probably write my next missive during the passage to Southern Ergoth. I will update you on what I learn from the dryads, should I choose to confront them.

Hoping this missive finds you in good health,

Iryl Songbrook
Writing from Thonvil, Summer of SC36

About Steve Miller

Steve Miller lives, writes, and watches way too many movies in Washington State. He started his professional writing career doing feature articles and reviews, but soon detoured into writing roleplaying games. With a little luck, he'll be balancing criticism and more creative writing in the years to come.
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